Medical Marijuana Shops Abound in California
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Medical Marijuana Shops Abound in California
Posted by CN Staff on November 05, 2009 at 14:31:15 PT
By Marcus Wohlsen and Greg Risling, AP Writers
Source: Associated Press
California -- The medical marijuana dispensary in this California wine country town is in a former auto dealership, and has more registered patients than the town has residents. Los Angeles has more pot shops than Starbucks or schools. The surge in medical marijuana in California has left many communities scrambling to regulate the free-for-all, while others are trying to ban the drug altogether. The issue took on greater urgency after the Obama administration announced looser federal marijuana guidelines last month.
Some local governments are looking to take an approach similar to Sebastopol, where officials welcome the business as a strong source of tax revenue during the recession. The Peace in Medicine marijuana dispensary is a clean, modern operation and could easily be mistaken for a doctor's office, if not for the three security guards and overwhelming skunky smell of pot. "I guess I had my prejudices that it was going to have bars on the windows and be something very obvious and unappealing to the public," longtime city councilman Larry Robinson said. Now the dispensary is about to open a second location, next to a Starbucks. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world to be leading this thing," said Peace in Medicine's operator, Robert Jacob. In Los Angeles _ the marijuana dispensary capital of the country _ about 800 dispensaries are estimated to have opened despite a 2007 order halting new pot operations. The explosion is blamed on a loophole in the City Council's moratorium. Final regulations are still not in place. The struggle is blamed on the vagueness of the ballot initiative that California voters passed in 1996 legalizing medical use of the drug. The measure makes no mention of how or where the drug can be sold. "I think Los Angeles has made this more difficult by not having acted sooner," said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group. "There has been pressure for a long time on the City Council to do something." Federal crackdowns followed the 1996 vote, and fear of prosecution kept pot storefronts out of many areas. But looser federal guidelines, first signaled by Attorney General Eric Holder in February and further outlined in an October memo, have emboldened would-be dispensary operators. The new guidelines simply instruct federal prosecutors to avoid prosecution when dispensaries comply with state medical marijuana laws. Sacramento is looking to other pot-tolerant cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Malibu for insight into keeping medical marijuana available but in check. Most of the state capital's 39 registered dispensaries opened this year before the city passed an emergency moratorium in June. "They're seeing a little bit of leniency in the federal government that they haven't seen before," said Michelle Heppner, who is leading the city's effort to regulate dispensaries. "They're seeing this as a perfect time in their movement to progress." One key for cities is finding a way to ensure dispensaries truly operate as nonprofits as called for by state Attorney General Jerry Brown. Officials in Fresno have decided the best way to avoid problems with dispensaries is to not have any. In 2006, the City Council passed a zoning ordinance requiring any pot dispensaries to comply with both state and federal law, and the U.S. government still bans the drug outright. A state judge last month sided against nine Fresno dispensaries that opened this year, upholding the zoning ordinance that forbids them and ordering them to close. Smaller cities are also turning to zoning laws. In Claremont, a college town about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, Darrell Kruse sought to open a dispensary in mid-2006 but the zoning code did not permit them. Kruse opened Claremont All-Natural Nutrition Aids Buyers Information Service (CANNABIS) anyway. Several months later, he was convicted of operating without a business license and fined. A state court rejected his appeal.Greg Risling reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Tracie Cone in Fresno contributed to this report.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Marcus Wohlsen and Greg Risling, Associated Press WritersPublished: November 5, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Associated PressCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #6 posted by rchandar on November 07, 2009 at 21:36:42 PT:
Politically Speaking...
...we've got three years (conservatively) to make the legalization conundrum stick. What this translates into, in very basic terms is: at some point, either three years or seven years from now, we'll have a different administration, probably either Democrat or Republican. When this happens, a strong system of legal precedents, court decisions, and most importantly, a burgeoning over-the-counter industry, will withstand legal challenges.There are many reasons I say this. First off, MMJ survived 8 years of GWB. That's an astonishing achievement, but more importantly:the number of MMJ initiatives actually mushroomed under Bush, which attests to the grass-roots thing. More importantly: the Dutch coffee shops survived 7 years of CDA rule. So, a system was in place, had a significant political lobbying reach, and fought every attempt to shutter that system. It's a golden opportunity, folks. And a good time to be doing more than just smoking...--rchandar
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Comment #5 posted by schmeff on November 07, 2009 at 14:06:55 PT
Let's get our own facts straight before throwing stones.Over six thousand Starbucks locations in LA? Don't be ridiculous! Your number MIGHT be the total number of Starbucks locations in the entire US.
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Comment #4 posted by rancher on November 05, 2009 at 21:09:52 PT:
Lazy media and thier boring stereotypes
Great fact checking dongenero. The media are getting lazy. The story in Time reported today cites the same misinformation. 
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on November 05, 2009 at 16:05:26 PT
Sen. Webb
If I was in the Navy this is the kind of guy I'd want for my CO. what a great guy! true leadership
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Comment #2 posted by RevRayGreen on November 05, 2009 at 15:36:31 PT
GrASSley pulls ammendment & links to Iowa story
Senator Webb wants to understand why we have 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s imprisoned. Sen. Webb understands that the War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs™ has a lot to do with it. Sen. Webb understands that discussion of marijuana legalization must be on the table. I’m not sure which concept is more misunderstood by Senator Grassley: science, democracy, free speech, or justice. Wait, maybe it’s compassion:  QUESTION: Would your amendment have even stopped the discussion of legalized marijuana for medical purposes?  GRASSLEY: I think that would not — let’s see. Yes, the extent to which it would be decriminalization, the answer is yes.excellent summary, good news clip w/Terry on the Omaha Station........check my blog out for today,PLEASE feel
free to comment.
Grassley Grandstands While Iowans in Wheelchairs,Canes,Cancer and IOWA DOCTORS Testify 4 Medical Marijuana over 4 Months 4 Cities
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on November 05, 2009 at 15:06:31 PT
Pharmacies abound in California
More "pot shops" than Starbuck's?When I go to google maps and key in "los angeles Starbuck's I get 6,331 locations.All estimates I have seen for los angeles MM dispensaries range from 800 to 1,000 or so."los angeles school" gives 180,865 results.Just for fun I wondered, "how many pharmacies?", as that is a more apt comparision, since we are talking medical after all. "los angles pharmacy" in google maps results in 10,851 locations.AP could stand to do a little fact checking I think. I've begun to think this problem is being overstated for obvious purposes.
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