A Budding Rebellion

A Budding Rebellion
Posted by CN Staff on March 11, 2008 at 16:37:40 PT
By Evan Hill
Source: Recorder
California -- When the Drug Enforcement Administration sent letters last year to California landlords who rent to marijuana dispensaries, reminding them - not so subtly - that it's a federal crime to do so, they opened another front in the battle to define how pot clubs operate in the hazy border between state and federal law. The letters state that "federal law takes precedence over state law" and that Proposition 215 - which in 1996 legalized medical marijuana in California - offers landlords no defense against penalties of 20 years in prison and the loss of their property.
Numerous pot clubs have closed in anticipation of eviction. But some are pushing back, and using the courts to do it. Steven Schectman, an attorney with Arcata-based Pacific Law, is leading the charge against the DEA on their behalf. In late January, he sued the agency in federal court, alleging it violated pot clubs' civil rights and seeking an injunction to halt future letters. "The DEA is perceived to be a super-entity in the United States, and that's because they've been abusive in their police powers," Schectman said. He also successfully defended a Los Angeles club, the Arts District Healing Center, from an eviction brought after its landlord received a letter. Schectman argued that the landlord had no right to evict the club because the tenant hadn't broken the lease contract, and a judge agreed. Dale Gieringer, California director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, calls this the "Schectman ploy." The strategy has emerged as a model for how the fight between pot clubs and the DEA could play out over the coming months. The letters began arriving at the doors of Southern California landlords in June and in ensuing months spread throughout the state. That summer, at a house in the Berkeley hills, a group of attorneys met to formulate a strategy that could protect both dispensaries and their landlords. Among them were Schectman and medical marijuana champion William Panzer, a lawyer and co-author of Prop 215. They figured sympathetic landlords could file eviction proceedings as a way of demonstrating to the feds that they were taking the warnings seriously. State courts, they reasoned, wouldn't evict clubs that hadn't violated their leases. This avenue would work best where the lease didn't spell out that tenants were selling medical marijuana, Panzer said. If the lease put the owner on notice, he explained, they'd have a harder time arguing against federal forfeiture. Whether that strategy puts the DEA letters to rest for clubs and landlords all depends, attorneys said, on if the Department of Justice actually follows through on the DEA's threats of federal prosecution against landlords. Javier Pena, special agent in charge of the DEA's San Francisco division, said the letters are not a threat, but a courtesy intended to "educate [landlords] as to what the law says." He estimated around 50 have been sent in the Northern District so far. Pena wouldn't say how many clubs have closed, or comment on the DEA's plans or Schectman's defense strategy. Joseph Russoniello, U.S. attorney for California's Northern District, said the letters do have legal teeth, but that "right now we're in a wait-and-see period." He also made a notable distinction between commercial dispensaries and small-scale medical operations. "Prosecuting medicinal providers is low [priority] if they're true caregivers," he said. Russoniello said a typical "caregiver" would operate "at cost with no profits" and have a small staff. He said large, profiteering commercial operations "do not meet my definition of low priority." "That does not mean and should not be taken to mean that there's going to be a crackdown by the U.S. attorney," he said. In the Arts District club case, after the club's landlord went to Los Angeles County Superior Court to get an eviction, Schectman successfully argued that the club hadn't broken its lease contract with the landlord. The lease stated that the club was renting the property for "dispensing medical cannabis and other related uses, all to be legal in the City and County of Los Angeles, California." Panzer said Schectman's strategy may open landlords to the risk of prosecution. "If the lease on [the property] said, 'This is for a medical cannabis dispensary,' then none of this works anyway because the landlord was on notice from the get-go," Panzer said. On the other hand, former San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, who represents 14 clubs in the city, said it might still help the landlords to try to evict a known dispensary. "Presumably if the landlord follows up on the warning, then the DEA would not move to forfeit their property," he said. A landlord for one club that Hallinan represents has brought an eviction action, and Hallinan has not yet filed his response. Though Schectman's client was spared from eviction, San Francisco solo Matthew Kumin, who does legal work for several pot dispensaries, gives the DEA points for their tactic, saying it's a cheap and effective way to scare landlords into getting rid of their clubs. In recent years, federal law enforcement's anti-pot-club strategy seemed to consist of raids of the premises. "The DEA scored a big hit with this landlord letter. I don't quite understand why they didn't try it many, many years ago," he said. But Schectman, whose suit against the DEA remains in preliminary stages in the state's Central District, said the agency has now made itself vulnerable to legal attack. "What the DEA has done with these letters is it has exposed itself." While the San Francisco board of supervisors has rallied to medicinal marijuana's defense in the wake of the DEA's actions, some observers said the federal government risks stepping on a different kind of hornets' nest if it pursues forfeiture. "It's a very nasty and politically unpopular tactic to go after property owners," Gieringer said. "Republicans don't like it when you go after property owners." Source: Recorder, The (CA)Author: Evan HillPublished: March 10, 2008Copyright: 2008 ALM Properties, Inc.Contact: NORMLhttp://www.canorml.orgCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #19 posted by greenmed on March 14, 2008 at 11:11:17 PT
Rimonabant does seem to be a nasty drug. Even the administration at FDA had to concede its danger when it rejected Rimonabant's approval for smoking cessation therapy. Side-effects include depression, anxiety and promotion of neurodegenerative disorders.Nicotine addiction is a hard one to break. I believe it is considered as addictive as cocaine. I have heard from other former smokers that cannabis helped through the rough times, especially the first few days and weeks when that "itch that can't be scratched" is strongest.Ex-smokers deserve the utmost respect.It's never too late, or early, to quit or cut back.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on March 14, 2008 at 11:08:23 PT
I'm glad you feel like I do. These are very exciting times. 
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Comment #17 posted by greenmed on March 14, 2008 at 11:03:07 PT
It is an optimistic time. We didn't get a good start to this millenium... I feel hopeful that January 20, 2009 will be the first good start toward a truly progressive 21st century.We will get there from here, eventually... perhaps sooner than we all thought possible.
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on March 14, 2008 at 09:13:35 PT
Thanks, Greenmed.
Rimonabant is scary bad stuff, I think. Instead of blocking a person's ability to experience pleasure... had they thought about maybe replacing a not so helpful pleasure, with another that would keep a person calm and happy and not feeling desperate about not having nicotine or the foods they tend to desire? Apparently not. Cannabis was very helpful to me in quitting smoking years ago. I stayed quit, eventually from pot, too, for over a decade... then I went back to nicotine as a way to deal with the weight problem I developed. But I recognized then, that cannabis did indeed help... it may have even made it possible that time.I was hoping this news was something comparable to what I experienced then... but wasn't.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 14, 2008 at 08:20:11 PT
These are the most exciting of times. There's an old expression that says you can't get there from here or something close to that. Now as I look forward I think that we might be able to get there from here in time. Even though our news is slow it doesn't bother me because the future looks much brighter then it has. Change is in the air.
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Comment #14 posted by greenmed on March 14, 2008 at 07:29:16 PT
You're welcome, FoM.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 14, 2008 at 07:24:07 PT
Thank you for the links.
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Comment #12 posted by greenmed on March 14, 2008 at 00:11:42 PT
FoM #10 and Hope
Here's a link to the podcast mentioned in the UPI article:, I found it an interesting interview of three CB researchers. At the end, the first interviewee returns to propose Rimonabant an assist for nicotine withdrawal(!), as Hope deduced. Good catch, Hope.Related links:
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on March 12, 2008 at 12:33:56 PT
"So this tends to indicate that that if the link involving endocannabinoids and the reward pathway, using inhibitors, can be interrupted, it could turn down the drive to seek addictive agents like nicotine."This article jumped from being about endocannabinoids to be, really, about endocannabinoid inhibitors.*sigh*That seems foolish and bassakwards to me. Which brings to mind a line from one of the epistles of Paul, I believe, that stated that, at least in Paul's opinion, I guess you'd have to say, "It is God's will for you to have joy."Hmmmm.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 12, 2008 at 12:09:18 PT
UPI: Smokers May Use Marijuana Drug To Quit
 March 12, 2008 NOTTINGHAM, England, March 12 (UPI) -- Smokers trying to quit might be helped by marijuana-based medicines, researchers at The University of Nottingham in England said.Teams of pharmacologists have been studying the marijuana-like compounds -- endocannabinoids -- that exist naturally in the body, since the mid-1990s. This led to an explosion in the number of researchers looking into the medical uses of cannabinoids and marijuana compounds, the researchers said. "The brain is full of cannabinoid receptors and so not surprisingly with diseases like depression and anxiety, there's a great deal of interest in exploiting these receptors and in doing so, developing anti-depressant compounds," David Kendall, a cellular pharmacologist, said in a statement. "So this tends to indicate that that if the link involving endocannabinoids and the reward pathway, using inhibitors, can be interrupted, it could turn down the drive to seek addictive agents like nicotine."The findings are available via a podcast of the British Journal of Pharmacology.Copyright: 2008 United Press International
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 12, 2008 at 11:24:29 PT
News Article Ferom
Medical Marijuana: Oregon's Flaming SuccessDr. Phillip Leveque March 11, 2008
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 12, 2008 at 09:51:24 PT
Bruce Mirken: Standing Pot
March 12, 2008
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 12, 2008 at 06:17:18 PT
Alternet Article
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Comment #6 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on March 11, 2008 at 23:16:28 PT
Wups, yes, of course.....
That's what the song Dankhank posted is all about, Gilligan's arrest. Well, that goes to show you what real, legal drugs will do to you. I also blame them for the doughnuts or donuts, as it were. Anyways, I bet Jim Backus toked. The Skipper, too.
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Comment #5 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on March 11, 2008 at 22:39:48 PT
Didn't Gilligan get busted years ago?
It seems like maybe Mary Ann had admitted to the occasional toke before, too. But then again, I've been known to forget that FoM has doughnuts for the cops. (Firefox's spell checker thinks it should be spelled donuts, btw.) Off topic - The Texas Dem Caucus results are finally in with a big win for Obama, so as I add things according to CNN's data, Hillary's delegate gain for her 2 BIG wins in the BIG states of Ohio and Texas is +4.Obama's little itty bitty 20+% win in one of those little itty bitty states Clinton is willing to concede to the Republicans, Mississippi is giving him a delegate gain of +9!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 11, 2008 at 21:35:44 PT
Thank you. That is cute.
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on March 11, 2008 at 21:06:14 PT
Mary Ann
lyrics from the pot version of Gilligan's Isle ...Originally heard it I think on High Times Radio as intro song, think show2.I'm gonna send it to you FoMdo you still have a place to put a song up?you should have it, now ..Just sit right back and you'll hear about our little pal GilliganJust answering his door might bring ... ten years in the penThe feds they stood in wait for him, psyched up and ready to pouncefor Gilligan now faces jail for less than half-an-ounce ... yes less than half-an-ounceThe rumor was that MaryAnne sent Denver's little score this tiny bit of tasty bud is what Bob's busted for what Bob's busted for.So join us now if you want to free this innocent little plantThere's Bubblegum and Ganga, too ... the Collier and the Kindthere's Jamaican , Californian and Netherlands Marijuana's in style ..........,, couldn't find the lyrics online ,,, so here they are ...
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 11, 2008 at 17:50:10 PT
A real big fish. I think we need to change directions and soon.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on March 11, 2008 at 17:48:04 PT
They caught a big fish, huh?
Mar 11, 5:57 PM EDT'Gilligan's' Mary Ann Caught With Dope
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