Trouble Ahead for Medical Marijuana in California
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Trouble Ahead for Medical Marijuana in California
Posted by CN Staff on December 13, 2009 at 10:18:10 PT
By Alison Stateman, Los Angeles
Source: Time Magazine
CA -- California and Los Angeles have been pioneer sites for the expansion of the legal right to use marijuana. But, now, local officials may be at the forefront of curtailing some of that exuberance. If the Los Angeles City Council has its way, the plethora of largely unregulated medical marijuana facilities that have become a neighborhood blight in parts of the city may finally be brought under control. L.A. officials and medical marijuana advocates estimate may there be as many as 1,000. But in a preliminary vote on Tuesday, the council indicated its intention to cap the number of such dispensaries at just 70.
At the same time, the language of the Medical Marijuana Ordinance now being debated is putting dispensaries under increased scrutiny. At the moment, the proposed ordinance would allow the facilities to accept monetary contributions for their services, a way of finessing the stipulation under state law that dispensaries remain essentially non-profits. Currently, all dispensaries stay in business by selling marijuana, a status that City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich and Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley believe already violates the non-profit requirement. According to their interpretation, recent court decisions have shown that marijuana collectives cannot sell the drug over the counter for a profit, although members can be reimbursed for the cost of growing it. "Whatever [the L.A. City Council does] come up with, we will study very carefully and if they're proposing anything that is inconsistent with California state law, we will ignore their act and enforce the law as we're sworn to do," Cooley tells TIME. See pictures of America's cannabis culture. --,29307,1899641,00.htmlThe proliferation of dispensaries has become a nuisance in many parts of the city. Says Jose Huizar, a councilman for District 14, who spearheaded the proposed regulation: "People have been taking advantage of us for too long and we want to strike a balance between providing access to those who truly need medical marijuana and neighborhood concerns." Huizar's constituents complained about decreased quality of life and increased crime in the areas around the dispensaries. "Within a two-and-a-half mile radius and for a population of 40,000 people, we have 13 dispensaries operating, which is just ridiculous," says Michael Larsen, public safety director of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, which is part of Huizar's district. "It's literally the wild, wild West." See pictures of the great American pot smoke-out. --,29307,1892924,00.htmlHuizar says he came up the idea of capping the number at 70 by allocating two dispensaries for each of the city's 35 community planning areas — and because he felt that what the cash-strapped city could adequately regulate. The dispensaries that remain, he says, will be charged fees to help cover the expenses. "I thought we need to start as restrictive as possible, get control of this out-of-control situation and then we can start loosening up if we realize there's a greater demand or adjustments we have to make to provide people with access," Huizar says.Some medical marijuana advocates say placing an arbitrary cap on the number of dispensaries is a faulty way of bringing a problematic situation under control. "It's the prerogative of local government if they want to establish regulations that limit the number of facilities in a city or county. We would prefer that the market, the patient demand, dictate the number of facilities that would exist or that the quality of the operation did," says Kris Hermes, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group for prescription pot.Patient registration in the state is voluntary so it is impossible to get an exact number of how many patients utilize dispensaries. However, Hermes estimates that out of more than 300,000 patients statewide, tens of thousands reside in Los Angeles. "Now is the time to better evaluate what those caps mean. It may mean that demand is concentrated in a few spots in the city and that can create its own set of problems and unintended consequences, perhaps lines out the door or lack of competition creating more of a monoculture. It's important to keep that competition going so that we can supply affordable medicine to patients and give incentives to operators to do their very best in terms of providing services to patients."Unfortunately, the lack of resolution on the issue continues. The final city council vote on the measure was delayed until next week to consider the impact of a last-minute addition to a provision barring dispensaries from operating within a certain distance of sensitive-use areas. Previously, sensitive-use areas included schools, public parks and places of worship, but the council went on to include private residences in the list and increase the operating distance from 500 to 1,000 feet. Some opponents say that the provision is not viable, and will force law-abiding dispensaries to either relocate to largely remote, industrial areas of the city or shut down altogether. "Council members have to come to their senses and recognize how dramatic this is," says Paul Koretz, city councilman for District 5. If most dispensaries are zoned out of existence, there may be nothing left to adjust if and when L.A. revisits the issue.Source: Time Magazine (US)Author:  Alison Stateman, Los AngelesPublished: December 12, 2009Copyright: 2009 Time Inc.Contact: letters time.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on December 13, 2009 at 20:54:44 PT
*smile*... Very true, Observer.
"Then local officials may themselves be curtailed with some of that same exuberance. With the ballot box, of course." 
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Comment #17 posted by observer on December 13, 2009 at 20:46:59 PT
Curtail Errant Officials
But, now, local officials may be at the forefront of 
curtailing some of that exuberance.Then local officials may themselves be curtailed with 
some of that same exuberance. With the ballot 
box, of course. Local officials, most of them, need to remember they 
are less popular than cannabis. More of their 
constituents would vote for legal cannabis, than vote 
for the politician in question. 
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Comment #16 posted by rchandar on December 13, 2009 at 17:10:20 PT:
Top Ten Follies of the Bush Administration
1. Oh my god! I just shot my friend! (Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a best friend while hunting)
2. Iraqi reporter throws his shoes at George, gets 15 years
3. George's decision to build a "Border Wall"
4. George's daughter arrested for taking prescription drugs
5. Ahmedinejad defies US, claims that Holocaust never happened and sponsors a symposium to that effect.
6. Dick Cheney's prolonged period of "hiding" from terrorists.
7. Decision to appoint Navy captain at the head of the UN delegation
8. DEA chief Asa Hutchinson's plea to "not punt on third down" with the WoD (seriously, how many of you tokers watch football?)
9. Iraqi ambassador to the UN stating that Bush "be tried as a war criminal", on the eve of "Shock and Awe"
10. How many of you have watched Osama Bin Laden on "The Family Guy?" Sick of it? Looking for someone to blame?There's a lot of much heavier stuff, but this was what I could come up with that'd be "lighthearted". 
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 17:10:02 PT
I understand what you are saying about Obama. I look at how our country has been running on empty for years now and no matter who was President this is the crash after the artificial bubble. What goes up must come down. It's a cycle but it's hard on the down side for almost everyone including us. I look for little steps without a stumble. I am happy if it all happens that way.
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Comment #14 posted by rchandar on December 13, 2009 at 17:02:59 PT:
I do admire his achievement. It's not easy at home, however, when I'm out of work and see absolutely nothing really changing that. I don't doubt that Obama will continue to brighten the horizon on many things, but awesomely fear next November. A lot of defining factors will make or break him, be part of how he will confront a growing Republican base that is de-basing itself on the recession. I'll write you back in the summer about how I see Barack doing: it'll be clearer then.I was listening to a couple of NPR spin-doctors read his Nobel speech. Giving Barack the Nobel Peace Prize represents an enormous amount of international leader-making: such a move makes clear that many important foreign governments and thinkers see him as a world leader who brings promise to both democracy and multinationalism. Whether he will succeed in this form is a matter of question: the people at the rallies were always tremendous in number. For him, so much is tentative, if only because most of the thinking that Bush-Cheney had was so laughable it doesn't merit any re-visitation. Like, when George appointed a Navy captain to lead the UN delegation: more than a few eyes opened then. But Obama is characteristically different: he, at least, believes that having a brain to think is a good thing, maybe an indispensable thing.--rchandar
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 16:34:38 PT
I do believe that Obama is finally the President that will allow change to happen. He said he tried almost every drug all but heroin. He is a drug wise President. You can't walk into the world of illegal substances and walk out without being heavily impacted by the experience. We are the change and he will allow change to happen I think.
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Comment #12 posted by rchandar on December 13, 2009 at 16:21:39 PT:
I don't live there, but I can understand it as well as you could. The council's intentions reflect a lack of faith in the kind of positive effect a legal MMJ system could bring. I could be wrong, and that's not debatable. However, tough-on-crime thinking goes hand in hand with economic depression and recession, and so does the increase in the popularity of MJ or other drugs. Their sentiment is that the system didn't change crime or criminal activity, but adherence to a regulated system is supposed to develop and popularize such change.The rhetoric of drug prohibition remains in place, whether we like it or not. It depends on time-honored plaudits of the same type of thinking: our kids are at risk, we can't live a "normal" life, the weed is strong and creates psychosis, and us simpletons who are out of work need something tangible and uncomplicated to base our lives on. I want to point out that these kinds of clashes will never go away regardless of the government's particular mood: the stain of brainwashing and penultimate judgment does not leave American politics whether a government is liberal or conservative. The Dutch battle it out with prohibition every year. When I was born, the USA had 200 million people. Now, it's 300 million. The idea that a "change of heart" is going to sweep the American public is some pipe-dream: it's not really possible. But faith and belief in a legalized MJ system can continually fight prohibition: that's in place, and that's what should be nourished and nurtured. I can see why FoM repeatedly touts Obama: yes, a second term and Obaman success can negotiate so we will always have a chance to put our information on the table.As a kid, I never took the "Reagan Revolution" very seriously. It was a kind of joke, something my parents would laugh at over cognac with friends. I did not understand how one man singlehandedly screwed up American politics so completely and permanently, so that every crevice of the American consciousness was tinted with violence and grandstand egotism masquerading loosely as "heroism." Its probably because Ronnie was so unchallenged by most Americans, that the spin doctors and culture hawks built an infinitesimal system of calculating and re-calculating the severity of "deviant" behavior. And it's something, what with more people in the world, we'll have the capacity to fight now.Peace.rchandar
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 16:10:52 PT
What Just Happened
I am really flooded with the importance of what just happened. MPP will be able to figure out how to proceed in D.C. I am looking forward to seeing medical marijuana in Washington. This is great. Happy Holidays everyone.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 15:45:12 PT
Congress Opens Door To Medical Marijuana in D.C.
December 13, 2009Washington, D.C. -- The Senate passed legislation Sunday that opens the door to the District of Columbia legalizing medical marijuana after over a decade of Congress blocking the issue through budget restrictions.Nestled in the $447 billion omnibus spending bill approved Sunday by a vote of 57-35 is language that frees up Washington D.C. to use local money to implement a medical marijuana measure approved in a referendum by nearly 70 percent of voters in 1998, resurrecting an effort that has been stalled since Congress imposed a rider blocking money to actualize the measure. The House version of the spending bill passed last week included similar language, and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation this coming week.While the text of the D.C. referendum allows for “all seriously ill individuals… to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes when a licensed physician has found the use of marijuana to be medically necessary,” the measure’s advocates still face hurdles in making legalized medical marijuana a reality, including a cautious City Council and the possibility of further interference from Congress, which could have 30 days to review the 1998 vote before it becomes law.“It's too early to say what will happen," said a spokesman for Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray in an interview with The Washington Times Thursday, anticipating the lift on the funding ban."It's been 11 years since anyone has looked at this,” Council Member Phil Mendelson told the Times. “I don't know what the next steps should be."There’s also a chance federal lawmakers could reimpose the budget rider. But advocates of legalization are hoping to steer clear of Congress and proceed by jumping straight to regulating medical use of the drug through rulemaking, according to Washington City Paper.“I wouldn’t submit a thing” to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s delegate to Congress, told the City Paper last Wednesday, arguing that the body had already made its position clear on legalization by lifting the funding restrictions.“The Congress speaks when it says, 'We overturned that [rider].' That means you can do it."Copyright: 2009 Capitol News Company LLCURL:
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 15:37:16 PT
Hemp World Thank You
Here's the link.Congress Lifts Ban On D.C. Medical Marijuana LawBy Ben MorrisThe U.S. Senate today passed historic legislation to end the decade-long ban on implementing a medical marijuana law in Washington, D.C. This marks the first time in history Congress has changed a marijuana law for the better. Only Obama’s signature is needed for the change to become law.This is not only a huge victory for medical marijuana patients in the nation’s capital, it marks a historic shift on the medical marijuana issue nationwide. This is the first time Congress has given its assent to a state or local law that permits medical use of marijuana. Coming on top of the announcement that the Justice Department will no longer interfere with state medical marijuana laws, this shows that the ground has fundamentally shifted.Before the D.C. law can go into effect, the city council will need to transmit the original 1998 initiative to Congress for a 30-day review period, which is not expected to present an obstacle. The law will take effect at the conclusion of this review, and the D.C. government will then be charged with creating regulations to govern the implementation of the initiative’s language.It seems that Congress is finally listening to voters, who have supported protection for medical marijuana patients for well over a decade, as well as to the medical community’s growing recognition of marijuana’s medical value. Lifting the ban on D.C.’s law falls far short of sweeping, national reform, but it is surely a sign of good things to come.The U.S. Senate today passed historic legislation to end the decade-long ban on implementing a medical marijuana law in Washington, D.C. This marks the first time in history Congress has changed a marijuana law for the better. Only Obama’s signature is needed for the change to become law.
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Comment #8 posted by MikeC on December 13, 2009 at 14:57:34 PT
Hemp World...
That is terrific news!!! This has been a great year for marijuana reform.
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Comment #7 posted by HempWorld on December 13, 2009 at 14:39:15 PT
From MPP: Congress voted to finally lift ban.
The great news just keeps coming in. Minutes ago, Congress voted to finally lift the 11-year ban on Washington, D.C.’s medical marijuana law. The House voted 221-202 and the Senate voted 57-35 to approve the measure.For the last 11 years, under a provision known as the Barr amendment, Congress has prevented Washington, D.C. from implementing the medical marijuana law passed by 69% of voters in 1998.
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Comment #6 posted by EAH on December 13, 2009 at 13:22:06 PT:
Fools Rush In
The fools that are on the LA city council must on drugs if they think they now eliminate hundreds of dispensaries with a cap. They think they can "catch up"
on events by just declaring that the "extra" ones close. They are apparently much too stupid to realize that the people who ran those dispensaries and the 
herb that moved through them aren't just going to disappear. Many and probably most of these people will move underground. The city will then lose 
the ability to control and benefit from the economic activity. If their answer is, well those people will operating illegally and will get prosecuted, then they are ignorant of reality and in denial.
While on occasion some underground cannabis sellers are raided and arrested, most aren't. It's possible to sell cannabis quietly in suburbs for years and not get arrested. It's too easy to hide and too hard for cops to find them all, even if they had the time and resources to do while continuing to do everything else they need to be doing.
The LA council is drunk with it's own sense of power. The answer to all this idiocy is the end cannabis prohibition.
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on December 13, 2009 at 12:40:13 PT
US MN: PUB LTE: Drug Policies Make No Sense
US MN: PUB LTE: Drug Policies Make No Sense Sun, 13 Dec 2009
Source: Duluth News-Tribune (MN)I can't believe law-enforcement officers spent time and money going after hemp/marijuana farmers ( "Two Hermantown men charged in pot bust," Nov. 6 ). Federal, state and local drug programs are political like alcohol prohibition last century. Such policies make some rich while everybody pays, whether with taxes or lives. As long as there's demand for any product there'll be supply. Many statesmen and stateswomen, including George Schultz, President Reagan's secretary of state, favor the legalization and safe dispensation of such chemicals ( probably in drug stores ), their taxation used by schools and other institutions to educate, prevent and treat those who abuse and use harmful drugs. Right now, people are buying drugs in alleys and causing harm to themselves and society by resorting to stealing and other crimes to support habits. The U.S. prison population has doubled to more than 2 million mostly due to drug offenses. That's a huge cost to all levels of governments. I served on the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee in 2005 and 2006, when we borrowed more than $100 million to build additional space at the Faribault, Minn., prison to house meth offenders alone. Several years ago, I served on Minnesota House Agriculture Committee, and I couldn't believe the committee defeated a bill to legalize farming hemp in Minnesota. I co-authored this legislation and thought the bill would pass easily. But after retail and other business and consumer representatives testified for the bill, a Women's Temperance lady and the director of Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension voiced opposition and the bill died. We import hemp products instead of giving our farmers a chance. My family grew flax and hemp on our farm in Bosnia. The crops were useful and necessary as people made clothing and other products since there was a lack of money and material after World War II. Mike Jaros Duluth The writer represented District 7B in the Minnesota Legislature for more than 30 years, resigning in 2008. 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 11:24:00 PT
US: Reconsidering War on Drugs
By Matthew BergerWashington, Dec 12 (IPS) -- As the war on drugs moves closer to home and a new administration presents new ideas, policymakers in Washington are taking notice of 30 years' worth of ineffectual drug policy and beginning to think about different ways of addressing the northward flow of narcotics.URL:
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 10:43:16 PT
News Article From The Huffington Post Blog
President Obama: Free The Medical Marijuana Researchers!***December 13, 2009The War on Drugs continues, four decades after President Richard Nixon commenced hostilities. President Barack Obama--the third president in a row to have used illicit substances in his youth--is no drug warrior. URL:
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on December 13, 2009 at 10:30:52 PT
OMG It's out of control!
... As it always has been!Nobody can stop this! LA City Council let this genie get out of the proverbial bottle!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 13, 2009 at 10:25:36 PT
About California
I find all this going on in California interesting. One thing I am sure about is we will never return to the way it was. 
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