In California Mayor’s Rise Is a Sign of the Times
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In California Mayor’s Rise Is a Sign of the Times
Posted by CN Staff on December 28, 2013 at 07:46:36 PT
By Norimitsu Onishi 
Source: New York Times
Sebastopol, Calif. -- When Robert Jacob ran for the City Council here last year, he had already made the list of “Forty Under 40 of 2012” in a local business magazine. So it was to be expected that his business gave him face recognition among voters on the campaign trail, many of whom greeted him by exclaiming, “You’re the pot guy!” A founder of Sebastopol’s lone dispensary for medical marijuana, Peace in Medicine, and a strong advocate of its use, Mr. Jacob far outraised and outspent his rivals by running the most expensive campaign in Sebastopol’s history. He won and quickly became vice mayor but was not done.
This month, Mr. Jacob, 36, was chosen as mayor by the City Council — the first person from the medical marijuana industry to become mayor of an American city, according to cannabis advocates. The selection spoke to the wider social acceptance of marijuana, medical or otherwise, in the United States, one year after Colorado and Washington voted to become the first two states to legalize its recreational use. That it happened in Sebastopol, a city in Sonoma County that retains its hippie past despite the gentrification in recent years that has made it known more for its pinot noir than its traditional Gravenstein apples, was hardly a surprise. Mr. Jacob’s political ascendancy also points to the marijuana industry’s growing economic power, and it hints at what may lie ahead in Colorado and Washington. In its list of “Forty Under 40,” The North Bay Business Journal listed Mr. Jacob alongside people from the food, wine, tech, finance and other more conventional sectors. In Sebastopol, a city of 7,400 people an hour north of San Francisco, his medical marijuana dispensary was the 14th-biggest business in 2012, funneling $46,400 in taxes to the city. Still, the federal government regards any use of marijuana as illegal. What is more, in the last couple of years, United States attorneys have shut down hundreds of dispensaries across California after sending warning letters to operators, landlords and local officials who passed or put into effect ordinances regulating medical marijuana businesses in their municipalities. In the letters, the prosecutors, working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, threatened the recipients with criminal charges and the seizure of assets. So as both the mayor and a medical marijuana businessman, Mr. Jacob could be seen as a symbol of how federal laws lag behind the times, or he could become an inviting target. While joking that talking about his dispensary’s position in relation to federal law “makes me sweat,” Mr. Jacob said he felt confident about its legal status. City officials said that no one associated with Mr. Jacob’s dispensary or in the city’s government had received a warning letter from the federal authorities. “We don’t push the envelope,” Mr. Jacob said. “We really operate within a medicinal perspective, from our name to our advertising to the way we display our medicine to the way we treat each individual patient’s needs when they walk through the door. We’re an organization that respects the intent of cannabis as medicine.” The dispensary, which opened in 2007, is in a nondescript gray, two-story building on one of the city’s main avenues. Nothing outside indicates the nature of its business. Inside, Peace in Medicine cultivates the atmosphere of a clinic or spa, with works from local artists on its walls, a world away from the clublike ambience and images of fast cars, Bob Marley and bikini-clad women found in many other dispensaries. Lawrence McLaughlin, the city attorney and manager, said the thought that the mayor was engaged in an activity considered illegal under federal law was “not a worry at this point for me.” He added, “I can see the trend where things are going in the United States over all regardless of who’s in power in Washington, being that marijuana use is being legalized in more and more states.” A resident of Sebastopol since 2004, Mr. Jacob is a relative newcomer. He grew up in Rodeo, in the East Bay, the son of immigrants, his father from Mexico and his mother from Iraq. He moved with his family to the Central Valley, but uncomfortable in the area’s conservative culture because he was gay, he said, at 15 he decamped to San Francisco, where he first lived in a homeless shelter for youths. In San Francisco, Mr. Jacob went to high school and also worked for several social services groups, helping victims of domestic violence and H.I.V.-positive youths. After moving here, Mr. Jacob said he found many people “hiding in their homes and basement and cabins, cultivating cannabis,” which inspired him and a handful of other business partners to take their first anxious steps toward opening the dispensary. “We went to a pay phone and I called the Police Department,” Mr. Jacob recalled. “I said: ‘Hi, I’m Robert. I am a medical marijuana patient, and I want to grow cannabis in Sebastopol. Can you tell me what the rules are?’ ” A police officer explained California’s regulations to him. “Then we all got into the car and drove away from the pay phone as fast as possible,” he said. “We were afraid that they were going to come down and get us.” The dispensary found a receptive community here. Sebastopol’s population has grown older and wealthier in recent decades, but its politics are rooted on the left. Green Party candidates have made it to the City Council. In the past year, the Council has passed ordinances requiring solar power on new homes and commercial buildings, as well as restricting drive-through businesses and chain stores. Its divisions, said Sarah Glade Gurney, a council member and former mayor, are divisions inside the left. “People like to argue with the Greens, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t green themselves,” she said. As for Mr. Jacob, who was unanimously chosen by the Council to be mayor, he said that he wants to be known for more than being the first medical marijuana insider to become mayor of an American city. Referring to his management experience overseeing 45 employees at Peace in Medicine, he said he would work toward uniting the City Council, which had been divided in recent years over development projects, including a CVS pharmacy. Having supported the new restrictions on businesses, he said that he wants to preserve Sebastopol’s small-town charm. “There’s been a lot about me being the marijuana mayor,” Mr. Jacob told a gathering at a Christmas luncheon at the Fire Department. “I’m doing everything I can in many ways to change that perspective. And if that means I’ve got to put on dress shoes that hurt my feet and a tie every day, and wear a nice suit and make sure it’s pressed and pay for a dry cleaner, I’m going to do that.” A version of this article appears in print on December 26, 2013, on page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: In California, a Mayor’s Rise Is a Sign of the Times.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Norimitsu Onishi Published: December 26, 2013Copyright: 2013 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on December 29, 2013 at 19:02:11 PT
When the naysayers whine...
I love the sound of the Beatles, Niel Young, Mozart, rain on my roof and the sweet sound of the naysauers whining.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on December 29, 2013 at 11:02:47 PT
That is so scary, and we all know, it could be true. 1984 has finally and completely arrived. I like this Mayor Jacobs. I especially liked the story about the phone booth. I so hope things go well with him.
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Comment #4 posted by Ray Walker on December 29, 2013 at 05:42:13 PT
  TS/NOFORN Let me be the first to welcome you to America. You obviously haven't been here before. We Americans have a guide book thats a little tattered, but still applies, its called the Constitution and you might want to read it(maybe a few times). If you want freedom for your family and way of life then Mayor Jacob just might be the better answer.
Close your mind and you make the world smaller.
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Comment #3 posted by HempWorld on December 28, 2013 at 18:53:50 PT
Dear mayor Robert Jacob!
As I would say (and re-phrase):Rise and Shine my good man!
Make it hempen...
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Comment #2 posted by Paulpot on December 28, 2013 at 17:33:37 PT:
This is the very reason for the crack down on the dispensaries. 
To prevent those in the industry from taking part in the political process as we see in this story. 
There would have been others and more money had it not been for the harsh government reprisals. 
Obviously they can't stop everyone.
Well done Mayor Jacob. 
May there be more like you.
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Comment #1 posted by observer on December 28, 2013 at 12:58:09 PT
Police State Game Plan
re: "There's been a lot about me being the marijuana mayor," -- TS/NOFORN -- Confidential --Standard Operating Procedure. Background: Dopers who slip through the cracks and seize power from our forces, like Sebastopol mayor Jacobs, are threats to our children, our communities, and our way of life. Dopers who are vocal and contagious, present a dual threat to the stability and goodness of our great nation. Thus, such threats must be eliminated to preserve healthy communities -- drug-free communities -- where our kids may live and thrive, free of the darkness and blight that drugs bring to their young lives. (a) direct NSA to "mount a surge" on mayor Robert Jacobs. Get everything: mobile phones, landlines, office phones, nearby pay-phones, all PCs, tablets, TVs, etc: all have proven excellent means of neutralizing such targets. Don't forget many new cars also have interior-audio-capture features. Take this at least three hops out: friends of friends, etc. This is often where the real "goodies" can be found. (b) dig up some plausible indiscretion (pot smoking, girlfriend, tax infraction, medical records, wetland rule breach, etc.). See Harvey Silverglate's "Three Felonies a Day" for assistance. In our (NSA/DEA/etc) experience, you should be able to quickly think up several plausible felonious activities that the target commits, each day. (c) Use the NSA/local police department's Best Friend: the doctrine of "parallel construction." This well-established and venerable doctrine "allows" the police to falsify facts to the prosecutor/judge, to pretend they got wind of the mayor's indiscretions some other way than the way they actual got it (i.e., by illegal, domestic, non-terrorism-related spying). "Anonymous tips", "routine traffic stops", etc. are the preferred method. Dig up that dirt! Remember we're the good guys here; we know who's Wearing the White Hats: that's us of course, not some pot-slinging dope seller like Jacobs. (d) Voila. Your job as a secret, compartmentalized intelligence analyst as done: another wicked doper in the bag! And just think of the young lives spared from the blighted example of a doper who somehow wormed his way into office. Also, be sure to note the arrest stats properly - this will be useful in demonstrating departmental "need" for increased funding next FY. Questions should be referred to:NSA - - Operations Division, 
  700 Army Navy Drive,
  Arlington, VA 22202
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