California, San Diego

Medical marijuana by city.

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California, San Diego

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:08 am

SignOnSanDiego.com wrote:
S.D. urged to take stand on medical pot


Council puts off immediate action

By Craig Gustafson
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 26, 2006
The San Diego Union-Tribune

With medical marijuana dispensaries under mounting pressure from law enforcement agencies, supporters have urged the San Diego City Council to call for a halt to federal raids, and to regulate the shops through local authorities.

But city officials, already saddled with a pension crisis and numerous financial problems, didn't appear too thrilled to tackle the issue.

Nearly 70 supporters packed the council chambers yesterday, giving council members a brief two-minute plea to help keep dispensaries open so those with painful ailments wouldn't suffer needlessly.

Local law enforcement agencies and federal drug agents raided some marijuana dispensaries July 7 and made 15 arrests. On Friday, federal agents visited 10 shops and warned operators that they are operating illegally.

Supporters of medical marijuana asked the council to pass a resolution that would prohibit local authorities from assisting federal agencies in the arrest or prosecution of patients or dispensary operators. They also want the council to develop regulations to provide seriously ill patients safe and legal access to marijuana.

Council President Scott Peters, who has supported the use of medicinal marijuana, said he would need to seek input from Mayor Jerry Sanders and the Police Department before deciding whether to put the proposed resolution up for a vote. He also said the council's schedule is full until September and no immediate action could be taken.

The mayor's spokesman, Fred Sainz, said Sanders supports medicinal marijuana but hasn't studied the issue of regulating dispensaries.

State voters approved the use of medicinal marijuana with a doctor's recommendation 10 years ago, and follow-up legislation in 2004 tried to provide mechanisms for distribution. State law, however, leaves it up to local municipalities to regulate distribution.

Many have interpreted the state law as providing for dispensaries, but the San Diego County District Attorney's Office views them as illegal.

Under federal law, marijuana is illegal under any circumstance.

County supervisors sued the state of California this year to try to overturn the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the bill permitting retail sales to qualified patients. The case is pending.

City Councilman Jim Madaffer said there's no need for the city to take any action until the case is resolved.

“Until there's clarity between state and federal (laws), I think any city laws are pointless and perhaps placing the city at potential risk,” he said.

Ron Little, a Point Loma retiree who uses marijuana to alleviate osteoarthritis, said it's disappointing that officials are playing politics when science clearly shows the benefits of medicinal marijuana.

“This is clearly part of the cultural divide that's been fought on a number of issues,” he said.


<hr>

Craig Gustafson: (619) 293-1884; craig.gustafson@uniontrib.com



<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Five Arrested, 13 Dispensaries Raided by DEA in San Diego
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Get the pot to the patients

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:02 pm

San Diego City Beat wrote:Editorial

Get the pot to the patients

San Diego City Beat
July 26, 2006

People who wish to make it safer and easier for sick folks to get their hands on the marijuana that ameliorates their symptoms are a passionate bunch, and, without a doubt, we stand with them. But if they advocate for a laissez-faire government attitude toward the recent explosion of pot dispensaries in San Diego, we cannot abide.

Let there be no more confusion over whether or not medical-marijuana dispensaries are legal in California—they are not. Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996, simply allowed people, armed with a doctor’s recommendation, to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Senate Bill 420, passed in 2003, provided more specifics and established a voluntary ID-card program. San Diego passed an ordinance that set guidelines for how much pot patients and their caregivers can cultivate and possess. But none of these laws legalized large-scale storefront dispensaries. For better or worse, it is illegal to sell marijuana, medicinal or otherwise.

Nevertheless, at least two-dozen for-profit operations sprung up citywide, with the tacit approval of the city of San Diego, attracting the attention of federal agents, who have, on several recent occasions, raided many of these dispensaries, confiscating property and records and handcuffing and detaining people inside.

While we condemn any heavy-handed, thuggish behavior on the part of narcotics agents, medicinal-pot advocates and the operators of these dispensaries shouldn’t be surprised or outraged that these places are being shut down. Not only are they illegal, they’re also counterproductive.

Widespread existence of unregulated dispensaries only invites trouble. Sure, some of them are run by genuine advocates motivated only by the spirit of Prop. 215 and the desire to help people in need. But, inevitably, there will be opportunists bent on exploiting the situation for their own financial gain. It is these people who will get in the way of a righteous cause by selling pot to people who can’t demonstrate a medicinal need for it, or preying upon the truly needy by selling it to them at exorbitant prices, and confirming the fears of those who oppose its legal use.

But if patients can’t get the stuff at a corner store, what are they to do?

State and local laws envision a system in which individuals (caregivers) cultivate marijuana and provide it, at no profit, to ill people with legitimate doctor’s notes. The idea is for these caregivers to provide for only a handful of patients apiece. But, given the high number of people with ailments that can be relieved with marijuana, that system is not realistic. There just aren’t enough people with the time and know-how to be caregivers.

What’s needed is a carefully controlled, tightly regulated system that allows the few to provide for the many. Our recommendation is for San Diego to allow a nonprofit organization to distribute marijuana to legitimate patients from several locations—perhaps southern, central and northern outlets. The pot, which is inexpensive to grow, should be sold as cheaply as possible, covering only the costs of growing the plants, keeping the facilities up and running and conducting semi-regular audits to make sure everything’s on the up and up.

We call on Mayor Jerry Sanders, who supports medicinal marijuana in concept, and the City Council to either reconvene the medical marijuana task force that designed the quantity guidelines or form a new one to come up with recommendations for such a system. The task force should review all existing systems elsewhere—six California counties and 24 cities currently regulate dispensaries or have recently passed regulations, according to Americans for Safe Access. The panel should include representatives from the police department and the city attorney’s office as members or as staff support.

The City Council has been very, very quiet on the dispensary issue. Perhaps they think the work was done with the 2003 guidelines. If so, they were wrong. San Diego has become a battleground, and resolving battles requires leadership.

On Tuesday, City Council President Scott Peters told a group of activists who asked for the dispensary issue to be docketed for discussion that the docket is full until after the City Council’s August recess. Fine—then let’s get that discussion docketed for a meeting of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee soon after the break.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors, leading the charge to overturn Prop. 215, has shown itself to be completely backward on medical marijuana and hostile to the people who find the herb helpful in dealing with pain and suffering. The City Council, on the other hand, has been just the opposite, and we commend them for it. Now let’s finish the job.

7/26/06


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Advocates' report endorses dispensaries for medical pot

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:14 pm

San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:
<table class=posttable align=right><tr><td class=postcap>The Report</td><td class=postcell>Medical Canabis Dispensing
Collectives And Local Regulation
</td></tr></table>Advocates' report endorses dispensaries for medical pot

By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
The San Diego Union-Tribune
September 9, 2006

Some of California's leading medical marijuana activists released a new report Thursday touting dispensaries as a benefit to both patients and the communities in which they operate.

Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based advocacy group for medical marijuana patients, said in its analysis that storefront dispensaries are the most effective way for chronically ill people to obtain their medicine and for city and police officials to make sure the drugs are not abused.

The 23-page report was released outside the San Diego Convention Center, where the League of California Cities is holding its 108th annual conference. The issue of medical marijuana is not on the agenda for the four-day meeting, which concludes today.

Elected officials from three California cities joined Americans for Safe Access and a University of California researcher in presenting the report, which details medical marijuana policies and promotes specific rules to grant patients safe and routine access to marijuana.

Some two dozen cities across the state have passed ordinances regulating dispensaries – something elected officials in San Diego County have refused to do. The politicians who spoke yesterday said the laws helped set ground rules for everyone concerned.

“We have not experienced any complaints,” said Lee Pierce, a Santa Rosa councilman.

Mike Rotkin, a Santa Cruz city councilman, told reporters that the ordinance his community adopted has helped patients, police and residents.

“All these people have realized that if it's regulated properly, it doesn't end up in street-dealing or kids lighting up in class,” Rotkin said. “This is about medicine.”

University of California professor Amanda Reiman conducted more than 130 patient surveys over six months before concluding that dispensaries are the best way to provide reliable access to medical marijuana. She said politics too often influence government policies.

“It's really hard to argue science against ideology,” she said. “That's been a big issue in drug policy.”

But Damon Mosler, who oversees the narcotics unit for San Diego County district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, said there is nothing in the state medical marijuana law that permits selling the drug from a storefront.

“The dispensary mechanism is illegal,” he said. “There probably are solutions, but they have to come about through legislative changes. Then, of course, we would accept something like that.”

The activist group chose San Diego as the place to release its findings not just because hundreds of elected officials are attending the League conference but because San Diego has become the epicenter of the fight over medical marijuana.

Federal law does not permit the use, cultivation or possession of marijuana and does not recognize any medical benefit the drug may have for AIDS, cancer and other patients. Even so, California and 10 other states have passed laws that permit sick and dying people to use the drug to ease symptoms.

The San Diego City Council adopted guidelines for complying with state medical marijuana laws in 2003, becoming the biggest city in the nation to set rules on how patients could use or grow the drug. But the San Diego ordinance did not address the issue of dispensaries, which began popping up all over the city.

Late last year, local law enforcement officials joined federal drug agents in raiding more than a dozen of the storefronts, seizing pot, equipment and patient records. They followed that action with a July sweep that netted 15 arrests and effectively closed every dispensary in San Diego County.

Early this year, the county Board of Supervisors sued the state of California in an attempt to overturn the Compassionate Use Act, which was approved by 56 percent of voters in 1996, including a majority in San Diego County.

A trial in that case is scheduled for November. It will be defended by the state Attorney General's Office, the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Safe Access and the Drug Policy Alliance.

Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, is confident the county will lose in court. If and when it does, she said her group will help San Diego officials develop guidelines to regulate the safe dispensing of medical marijuana.

“We're reaching out to the city,” she said. “They don't have to reinvent the wheel. Other cities have done it and done it successfully. We want to create policies that will work for everyone.”

<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com</small></center>

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Medical pot activists arrested

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:59 am

The San Diego Union Tribune wrote:Medical pot activists arrested

Advocates protest outside conference

By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
The San Diego Union-Tribune
November 1, 2006

Armed with bullhorns and posters – and seemingly the will of voters – dozens of medical marijuana activists staged a protest outside a Mission Valley hotel yesterday.

The hour-long demonstration, called to counter a two-day drug-abuse prevention conference under way at the Marriott, ended in a standoff in the hotel parking lot.

Police arrested seven people on suspicion of trespassing, including Kris Hermes, a lawyer for Americans for Safe Access, the Berkeley group that organized the demonstration.

Craig McClain, a partially paralyzed 50-year-old man from Vista, was cited and released at the scene because he uses an electric cart. McClain broke into tears as he was ticketed.

“It's a dramatization of the fear patients face every day,” said Steph Sherer, the Americans for Safe Access executive director. “We don't have a choice. We have to use this medication.”

Police said the arrests had nothing to do with the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws. The suspects simply refused to leave when officers told them to disperse, Lt. Jerry McManus said.

“They didn't really commit any other violation,” he said. “More than likely, they'll be cited and released for a future court date.”

Under California's Proposition 215, which passed with support from 56 percent of voters in 1996, qualified patients can use marijuana to relieve symptoms caused by the effects of AIDS, cancer and other ailments. The drug remains illegal under federal law.

The National Marijuana Initiative, a government effort to join police and prevention groups in fighting drug abuse, concludes its annual conference today. Conference officials said they sympathize with patients, but they want to make sure drugs are not readily available to children.

“When you don't have those controls, you have really unfettered access,” said John Redman of Californians for Drug-Free Youth, a San Diego nonprofit that co-hosted the conference. “There's nobody telling them how much they can or can't have.”

<hr class=postrule>
Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com



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Medical marijuana patients arrested

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:00 am

The North County Times wrote:Last modified Wednesday, November 1, 2006 12:28 AM PST


Medical marijuana patients arrested

By: North County Times -

SAN DIEGO - Angry medical marijuana patients were arrested Tuesday when they staged a protest at a convention of federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents at the San Diego Marriott in Mission Valley.

Officials from Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based group that has advocated on behalf of medical marijuana patients, said seven people were arrested, and one man cited, when the protesters refused to leave the hotel after demanding to see DEA Chief Karen Tandy.

A San Diego Police Department spokesman confirmed that there was an incident at the convention that involved arrests.

Local medical marijuana patients have been angered by a crackdown by federal agents - supported by county law enforcement officials - that has essentially shut down marijuana dispensaries.

California voters approved the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, which makes it legal for seriously ill people to use marijuana to ease their pain or symptoms.

However, federal law says all marijuana use is illegal, and San Diego County supervisors are suing to overturn the Compassionate Use Act.

Vista resident Craig McClain, who said he has used marijuana for years to ease severe spasms from having his spine crushed in a construction-related accident, was the protester who was cited and released.

"I can't believe I'm having to go through this all over again," McClain, who, though relegated to moving around by electric scooter because of pain, lobbied for the Compassionate Use Act 10 a decade ago. "I feel like my vote never counted."

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Medical Marijuana Sting Targets Doctor

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:24 pm

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:Medical Marijuana Sting Targets Doctor

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Sun, 21 Oct 2007
by David Hasemyer, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

<span class=postbigbold>2 Undercover Officers Pose As Patients in Investigation</span>

SAN DIEGO - When an undercover police officer asked Dr. Robert Sterner to prescribe marijuana for his dog, the doctor joked that only two-legged patients were covered by the state's medical marijuana law.

So the officer suggested Sterner appoint him caregiver for the dog, a designation that would allow him to obtain marijuana in the animal's name, according to a Medical Board of California accusation. While a hidden camera rolled, Sterner said, "There you go. That's being creative," according to the accusation.

The police officer walked out of the doctor's office with signed authorizations that allowed him to buy marijuana for his dog, as well as for himself.

<table class=posttable align=right width=280><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/sterner_robert.jpg alt="Dr. Robert Sterner"></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>Dr. Robert Sterner talked with patient Rudy Reyes recently. The Medical Board seeks to revoke the physician's medical license, accusing him of gross negligence.</td></tr></table>Now the Medical Board wants to revoke Sterner's license, accusing the 50-year-old Middletown doctor of gross negligence in issuing medical marijuana recommendations to two undercover police officers. He is also accused of incompetence for his lack of knowledge about the safe use of marijuana and its therapeutic value.

Sterner was among a number of doctors targeted in a sting by the San Diego Police Department, including one doctor whose office consisted of a desk and three chairs but no medical equipment. The doctors were investigated because they seemed to be issuing a significant number of marijuana recommendations to young patients who didn't have serious medical conditions, according to the accusation filed in Administrative Law Court.

Sterner's attorney, Zenia Gilg, said the sting was illegal and nothing more than harassment.

"The purpose of the undercover investigation of the San Diego physicians, including Dr. Sterner, was clearly to intimidate and silence them," Gilg said a letter to the Medical Board.

The police investigation follows years of debate over a 1997 California law - born out of voter-approved Proposition 215 - that allows marijuana use for medical reasons. California was the first of a dozen states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, although federal drug laws still make any use of the drug illegal.

Some say medical marijuana laws properly legitimize marijuana as a therapeutic drug. Others say they are just backdoor attempts to legalize marijuana.

Since the California law went on the books, the Medical Board has investigated 20 complaints filed against doctors who prescribe marijuana. Five doctors have been disciplined statewide.

In addition to Sterner, three other doctors with San Diego County connections have faced or are facing accusations from state medical authorities in connection with prescribing marijuana.

In an interview, Sterner defended his prescribing practices, saying he must rely on the symptoms described by his patients. He spoke contemptuously of the police, saying they were simply trying to "lampoon" his practice by going undercover with a hidden camera.

Sterner said he is a Harvard graduate and has a bloodline to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a document he pointed out was written on paper milled from cannabis hemp. He spoke passionately about his belief in the marijuana's medicinal value.

"I want to see as many options as possible available to my patients," Sterner said. "It causes no harm and provides great benefit."

Sterner said he has been practicing medicine for 24 years and until he began prescribing marijuana the Medical Board had never taken issue with his conduct.

"The accusation is snatching at straws," he said, adding that despite the police sting no criminal charges have been filed against him. "There were no laws broken."

<span class=postbigbold>Detectives Posed As Patients</span>

The San Diego Police Department sent two undercover narcotics detectives to Sterner's office last year posing as patients complaining of insomnia and migraines, ills far less serious than those contemplated by the framers of the marijuana law.

Before the officers met with Sterner, his receptionist spelled out the arrangement, according to the accusation: A six-month recommendation for marijuana use would cost $125 and a one-year recommendation $200.

Sterner gave the first detective, Kimber Hammond, a quick exam while the doctor's dog Junebug curled on a chair next to the examination table, according to the accusation. Sterner took her blood pressure and temperature, shined a penlight in her eyes, listened to her chest with a stethoscope and tapped her wrist with a small hammer to check her reflexes.

During the exam, Sterner told Hammond that hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine hurt a person's brain but cannabis "adds to your brain," according to the accusation. He also prescribed a drug that state authorities say was meant to disguise a positive drug test for marijuana.

When the other undercover detective, Conrado DeCastro, visited Sterner, the doctor called the marijuana recommendation "insurance" against criminal charges for possession, according to the accusation. "It has credibility and legitimacy," Sterner told the detective, according to the accusation.

When DeCastro asked Sterner to issue a marijuana recommendation for his arthritic, 9-year-old Labrador retriever, Sterner "replied he was not sure if Proposition 215 applies to dogs as well as people," according to the accusation. Instead, he suggested that DeCastro share some of his marijuana with the dog, Storm, according to the accusation.

But after DeCastro proposed having Sterner appoint him Storm's caregiver, he got the doctor's signed authorization.

Gilg, Sterner's attorney, said the conversation makes for good television but nothing else.

A caregiver recommendation goes to the patient, who then designates someone to obtain marijuana for them, Gilg said. Not the other way around as the Medical Board and undercover officers say happened, she said.

"It's almost laughable what went on here," Gilg said.
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San Diego opposes county on pot suit

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:20 pm

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:San Diego opposes county on pot suit

<span class=postbigbold>City files amicus brief for medical ID cards</span>

By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

December 28, 2007

In the legal tug of war between the county and state over medical marijuana, the city of San Diego has sided with Sacramento – and voters.

Lawyers from the City Attorney's Office have filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit between San Diego County and the state Department of Justice.

County supervisors hope a panel of appellate judges will relieve them of their obligation under state law to issue identification cards to qualified patients.

The case asks the 4th District Court of Appeal to reverse a ruling last year from Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr., who said the county must follow state law and issue the ID cards.

“The city has a compelling interest in ensuring its citizens have the benefit of the medical marijuana program,” states the amicus brief, which was filed last week.

Identification programs assist police and offer comfort and security to those who are entitled to use medical marijuana, the nine-page brief says.

To date, 35 of the state's 58 counties have agreed to issue the identification cards to medical marijuana patients. The idea is to provide a way for police and other law enforcement officers to distinguish legitimate patients from recreational drug users.

San Diego County sued the state rather than issue the cards. Supervisors said they could not endorse a program that violates federal law, even though Nevitt said the state law requires no such thing.

San Bernardino County is a co-plaintiff in the case. Merced County had joined the suit, but supervisors there opted out and agreed to issue the ID cards.

Marijuana is illegal to use and possess under federal laws, even though California and 10 other states have adopted legislation permitting medicinal use of the drug.

Patients and their advocates have said for years that marijuana relieves chronic symptoms of cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

California voters adopted a legal allowance for the medicinal use of marijuana in 1996, with 56 percent in favor. In San Diego County, the initiative received 52 percent support.

But implementation of the law has been slow because of the federal ban. The initiative did not specify how much cannabis a person could grow or possess, or outline how the drug would be acquired or transported.

Follow-up legislation passed in 2003 said qualified patients can possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants.

Amicus briefs have no official bearing, other than to alert judges of third-party interest in a case.

Attorneys defending the state medical marijuana laws welcomed support from San Diego, one of the largest cities in the nation to pass guidelines spelling out how much marijuana a patient can cultivate.

“San Diego's brief very strongly makes some points that I don't think any of the other parties can adequately make, which is how very important it is to have these ID cards and the burden it's placing on police to not be able to easily distinguish medical marijuana patients from recreational users,” said Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group co-defending the case against the state.

“Legally speaking, I can't say (the amicus brief) will help a tremendous amount. However, it does demonstrate to the court that it's not the entire county of San Diego that's opposed to the medical marijuana law.”

A spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, who was the city's police chief from 1993 to 1999, said Sanders supports medical marijuana for legitimate patients and has told San Diego police to respect the state law.

But Aaron Klein, a medical marijuana patient from North Park, said at least half of the officers he and other patients encounter do not tolerate marijuana possession or use.

“The majority of police officers are not educated about Proposition 215,” Klein said. “They tell people medical marijuana doesn't work, that it's a farce.”

More than 20,000 patients in San Diego County have no regular access to medical marijuana since last year, when law enforcement officials cracked down on shops that sold the drug over the counter, Klein said.

“A significant number of those people will be dead before somebody does something,” Klein said.

Oral arguments in the legal fight between state and county attorneys will not likely be heard by appellate judges until summer. A ruling is expected later next year.

<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com</small></center>
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The Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:18 pm

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise wrote:Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Page 1

City of San Diego Bucks County, Backs Medical Marijuana ID Cards

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise
From Staff and Wire Service Reports


The City of San Diego has filed an amicus brief backing the state in its bid to force San Diego County to issue identification cards to medical marijuana users.

Lawyers from the City Attorney’s Office last week filed their brief in the lawsuit between San Diego County and the state Department of Justice.

County supervisors hope a panel of appellate judges will relieve them of their obligation under state law to issue identification cards to qualified patients.

The case asks the Fourth District Court of Appeal to reverse a ruling last year from Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr., who said the county must follow state law and issue the ID cards.

“The city has a compelling interest in ensuring its citizens have the benefit of the medical marijuana program,” the city says in its brief.

Identification programs assist police and offer comfort and security to those who are entitled to use medical marijuana, the nine-page brief says.

<span class=postbigbold>‘Qualified Patients’</span>

In 2003, the Legislature enacted Health and Safety Code Secs. 11362.7 through 11362.83 to provide a uniform system of “identification of qualified patients and their designated primary caregivers in order to avoid unnecessary arrest and prosecution.”

The legislation was based on a proposal by a task force convened by then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Counties are supposed to issue identification cards, under state Department of Health Services guidelines. To date, 35 of the state’s 58 counties have agreed to issue the cards. . The idea is to provide a way for police and other law enforcement officers to distinguish legitimate patients from recreational drug users.

San Diego County sued the state rather than issue the cards. Supervisors said they could not endorse a program that violates federal law, even though Nevitt said the state law requires no such thing.

San Bernardino County is a co-plaintiff in the case. Merced County had joined the suit, but supervisors there opted out and agreed to issue the ID cards.

Lockyer issued an opinion in 2005, in response to a request by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, saying cities could not implement their own identification card programs, but that those which had already done so could keep them in place until the statewide program was implemented in their counties.

Counties may not, however, delegate their authority under the state law to cities, Lockyer said.

<span class=postbigbold>Federal Law</span>

Marijuana is illegal to use and possess under federal laws, even though California and 10 other states have adopted legislation permitting medicinal use of the drug.

Patients and their advocates have said for years that marijuana relieves chronic symptoms of cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

California voters adopted a legal allowance for the medicinal use of marijuana in 1996, with 56 percent in favor. In San Diego County, the initiative received 52 percent support.

But implementation of the law has been slow because of the federal ban. The initiative did not specify how much cannabis a person could grow or possess, or outline how the drug would be acquired or transported.

Follow-up legislation passed in 2003 said qualified patients can possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants.

Amicus briefs have no official bearing, other than to alert judges of third-party interest in a case.

Attorneys defending the state medical marijuana laws welcomed support from San Diego, one of the largest cities in the nation to pass guidelines spelling out how much marijuana a patient can cultivate.

“San Diego’s brief very strongly makes some points that I don’t think any of the other parties can adequately make, which is how very important it is to have these ID cards and the burden it’s placing on police to not be able to easily distinguish medical marijuana patients from recreational users,” said Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group co-defending the case against the state.

“Legally speaking, I can’t say (the amicus brief) will help a tremendous amount. However, it does demonstrate to the court that it’s not the entire county of San Diego that’s opposed to the medical marijuana law.”

<span class=postbigbold>Mayor Supports Law</span>

A spokesman for San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who was the city’s police chief from 1993 to 1999, said Sanders supports medical marijuana for legitimate patients and has told San Diego police to respect the state law.

But Aaron Klein, a medical marijuana patient from the North Park area, said at least half of the officers he and other patients encounter do not tolerate marijuana possession or use.

“The majority of police officers are not educated about Proposition 215,” Klein said. “They tell people medical marijuana doesn’t work, that it’s a farce.”

More than 20,000 patients in San Diego County have no regular access to medical marijuana since last year, when law enforcement officials cracked down on shops that sold the drug over the counter, Klein said.

“A significant number of those people will be dead before somebody does something,” Klein said.

Oral arguments in the legal fight between state and county attorneys will not likely be heard by appellate judges until summer. A ruling is expected later next year.

<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company</small></center>
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Many in drug sting lack military ties

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 21, 2009 12:35 am

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:Many in drug sting lack military ties

<span class=postbigbold>Sweep said to focus on off-base housing</span>

The San Diego Union Tribune
By Jeff McDonald Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. February 23, 2009

SAN DIEGO — When city, county and federal law enforcement leaders announced a major drug sweep in military housing this month, they listed an impressive haul: 33 arrests, $19,000 in cash, seven guns and assorted amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana and narcotics.

“The message here is clear,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Feb. 10, standing before news cameras at the Hall of Justice. “Don't mess with the military. We want to protect them like they're protecting us.”

But court records and interviews with defendants show another side of the three-month investigation dubbed Operation Endless Summer.

Although the sting's stated intent was to catch drug dealers and violent criminals preying on military families in a Pacific Beach neighborhood, only a handful of the defendants had any connection to the military.

At least 14 were medical-marijuana patients who said they thought they were supplying pot to chronically ill people. One was a clerk in a smoke shop.

Most of the 33 people who were arrested only went to the Pacific Beach neighborhood because undercover agents directed them to a house set up for the investigation there. The gray single-story bungalow on Pico Street is in an enclave of privately owned homes mostly rented to Marine Corps and Navy families.

The portrayal of Operation Endless Summer as a military drug sweep has flummoxed defendants and their lawyers.

“I'm not in the military, and not a single person I know tried to sell to the military,” said Donna Lambert, a cancer survivor who runs a medical-marijuana collective and was arrested on suspicion of illegally selling drugs.

The undercover agent “presented himself as a legitimate patient,” said Lambert, who faces up to four years in prison if convicted. “Yes, he was verified. And yes, he had the appropriate paperwork.”

At the Feb. 10 news conference, Dumanis was joined by San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne and officials from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

They said the investigation began after military families in an unspecified neighborhood complained that drug dealing was prevalent around their homes.

In addition to money and weapons, the sting netted 2 pounds of methamphetamine, half a pound of cocaine, 1 gram of heroin, 6 pounds of marijuana, 400 pot plants and 175 OxyContin and ecstasy pills.

“This was a true collaborative effort,” Dumanis said in an interview last week. “It came from the community up. That's how law enforcement works best – when we partner with the community about concerns in their neighborhoods.”

Court declarations signed by Operation Endless Summer investigators make no mention of complaints about drug dealing from residents in military neighborhoods.

Instead, they spell out how agents used confidential informants to arrange drug buys at the Pico Street house, and how San Diego detectives posed an undercover officer as a patient after learning medical marijuana was available on various Web sites.

“The buy/walk operation focused on subjects advertising the sale and delivery of marijuana,” states a declaration against a medical-marijuana collective member from Spring Valley.

One defendant was working the counter at a Pacific Beach smoke shop when he sold a “large glass smoking device” and supplied marijuana to an undercover officer, according to a court file. The file makes no mention of the Chula Vista man posing a threat to military families.

Dumanis said that all 33 suspects are serious drug offenders, and that court files do not list all the evidence collected by investigators.

“We didn't just trump up this idea,” said Dumanis, who faces re-election next year. “These were people who were preying on military housing, and the operation was designed to catch those people.”

NCIS Special Agent in Charge Pete Hughes was more nuanced during an interview last week. Illegal drugs are often sold in military communities, Hughes said, and the Navy must discourage such activity.

“This wasn't us targeting people who were targeting military families,” Hughes said. “The Navy community is in and about San Diego, so San Diego's problems are our problems, as well.”

Lansdowne declined to be interviewed. Assistant San Diego Police Chief Cesar Solis said that his department does not target legitimate medical-marijuana patients but that the 14 defendants were not abiding by the law.

“The relationship between a patient and a primary caregiver wasn't established,” Solis said. “It takes more than just providing marijuana. What we had was basically hand-to-hand sales.”

A lawyer representing Lambert and another defendant disagreed.

Gerald Singleton said his clients are members of permissible collectives and therefore are allowed to grow marijuana for medical use, transport it and seek compensation when suppling it to other members.

“If they are marking (the price) up and making a profit, that's different,” Singleton said. “But in situations like this, where they only make enough to cover their expenses and their time, then that's allowable.”

The city of San Diego in 2003 adopted guidelines for growing and storing medical marijuana, but other officials have taken a harder line.

The county Board of Supervisors has refused to issue ID cards to qualified patients – a state law the county has fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – and a regional task force repeatedly has raided storefront dispensaries in San Diego and San Marcos.

Singleton said this latest sting is another example of local authorities unfairly targeting medical-marijuana users.

“It looks like what they're trying to do is get a lot of publicity, and they're using this military-housing thing to go after medical marijuana,” he said.

Dumanis received similar criticism in May, when she announced the arrests of 96 people around San Diego State University on drug-related charges, including 75 students.

The announcement of Operation Sudden Fall made national news. Scores of people were labeled as serious drug offenders even though charges were never filed or eventually dismissed against at least 14 suspects. Most of the others received probation or diversion programs after admitting they sold or possessed modest amounts of drugs.

Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; jeff.mcdonald@uniontrib.com

Jeff McDonald: (619) 542-4585; (Contact)



<small>© Copyright 2007 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. • A Copley Newspaper Site</small>
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San Diego Medical Cannabis Dealer Headed to Court

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:30 pm

Digital News Report wrote:San Diego Medical Cannabis Dealer Headed to Court

Digital News Report
By S Wilson on June 20th, 2009

Digital News Report- Last February Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries that are established legally under state law. However, with the recent one year sentence handed down to a Morro Bay dispensary owner, many have sought clarification over the Obama administration’s official stance on the matter.

There are currently over a dozen similar cases pending, including that of San Diegan Eugene Davidovich, whose home was raided in February under “Operation Endless Summer.” Davidovich was one of dozens of individuals arrested during the operation.

“An undercover detective from the San Diego Police… lied to his doctor about his identity and condition,” Davidovich said. “He joined the majority of the medical collectives and coops listed on the San Diego section of the CA NORML list with the intent of shutting them down.” After verifying the detectives’ recommendation with his doctor, Davidovich says that he delivered ¼ ounce to the undercover officer. He now faces four felony charges, $65,000 bail, and what he describes as, “permanent profoundly traumatic damage to my professional and personal life. “

The raid was supposedly aimed towards cracking down on drug deals near military housing. Some of those who were arrested were in possession of harder and non-medicinal drugs such as Ecstasy and Meth. However, of the 33 arrested in the initial operation, fourteen were medical marijuana patients including Davidovich.

“Every attempt made to date by collectives and coops to follow the law in San Diego has resulted in long investigations [and] prosecutions,” said Davidovich. “Collectives [have] to operate so deeply underground and under such intense daily fear and pressure, that the potential public benefit they could be bringing to the community and to patients is stifled by this environment of fear.”

Davidovich’s hearing is scheduled for July 15th at the San Diego Superior Court. More information on his case can be found at his website.
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Doctor not accompanied by cloud of smoke

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:58 am

SignOnSanDiego.com wrote:The San Diego Union-Tribune | Logan Jenkins

Doctor not accompanied by cloud of smoke

2:00 a.m. June 29, 2009


Close your eyes.

Now imagine a garden-variety marijuana doc.

You projected someone goofy, right? Dr. Feel-Good?

Or venal? Dr. Slime-Ball?

Anecdotal evidence abounds that unscrupulous marijuana doctors will recommend weed for anyone who claims a malady, genuine or not.

I asked Dr. Bob Blake if the stories were true.

“Oh, God, yes!” he said. “Guaranteed.”

Then how could this ER doctor – “highly respected,” according to Palomar Pomerado Health spokesman Andy Hoang – get involved in the demimonde of medical cannabis?



“IT'S A NEW DAY: WE'RE REOPENING OUR SAN DIEGO CLINIC!!!!”

The bulletin atop Medical Marijuana of San Diego's Web site reflects, one gathers, the euphoria of the cannabis community.

“Two years ago,” Blake writes on his home page, “Medical Marijuana of San Diego temporarily relocated to the San Diego/Orange County border because there were no dispensaries or co-ops available to supply medical marijuana to our patients in San Diego County, the Board of Supervisors refused to implement the (medical) marijuana laws, and the district attorney served notice that all dispensaries were to close.”

During this two-year dark age, as county supervisors remained hostile to the permissive state law, Medical Marijuana's local patients were forced to drive to Orange County to receive their prescriptions. And then

“With the new Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the federal government would leave medical marijuana alone and only go after those breaking both federal and state laws, the climate changed. When the Supreme Court refused to hear the final appeal of San Diego County, dispensaries started opening up all over San Diego.”

As it happens, Medical Marijuana of San Diego, one of an estimated 20 county doctor's offices that prescribe cannabis, is rebounding from its own rough brush with the law.

In 2006, Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted a sting at the clinic. A Medical Board of California investigation determined that Dr. Alfonso Jimenez, an osteopath, had recommended marijuana without adequate exams. In April, Jimenez lost his license to practice medicine.

This left up to 10,000 of Jimenez's cannabis patients with invalid prescriptions. The only way to save the practice was to put it in the hands of a doctor in good standing.

Enter Dr. Blake. For 20 years, Blake was the chair of Pomerado Hospital's Emergency Department. For two years in the mid-1990s, he was the hospital's chief of staff.

“Before losing his license, Dr. Jimenez turned over your care to me,” Blake assures patients on his Web site. “I stand behind EVERY patient's letter of recommendation for medical marijuana written by Dr. Jimenez.”

Blake's nearing 60, but the tan, lean vegetarian looks 50 in baggy shorts, T-shirt and sandals as he sips iced tea at the Pannikin, Leucadia's coffee hangout.

He grew up in North Park, went to St. Augustine High School and spent his free time gliding over the water – as a sailor and a surfer – and underneath as a diver. To stay in shape, he swims two miles most every day, from Swami's to F Street and back.

After graduating from UC Irvine's medical school, Blake went into emergency medicine.

In 2005, he'd had enough of the pressure and long hours. He started looking for a niche where he could use his skill at sizing up injuries and dealing with pain.

Around 2000, a family member had become a “chronic pain patient” after a car accident. Having explored the usual “modalities,” a colleague of Blake's suggested cannabis.

His relative started out with two doses of cannabis a week – and then two a month. “The metabolites continue to work after the euphoria is gone,” Blake said. Unlike opiates, “the benefits for long-term pain management are excellent.”

He thought about working with medical marijuana right after quitting Pomerado, but “I didn't feel like getting in the middle of the firestorm.”

Early this year, however, as the legal climate was shifting, Blake contacted Jimenez and began an internship to learn the hemp ropes, so to speak.

Then Jimenez was stripped of his license. Taking a deep breath, Blake plunged. “I had no idea what I was entering,” he said of the challenges of assuming a stigmatized practice.

I asked him if his friends and former associates were taken aback at his offbeat course. He said no, not at all. (That's one advantage of living in Leucadia, I suppose.)

Still, he's leery of the counterculture image of medical marijuana. He said he'd like to tone down the Web site and advertising he inherited from the flamboyantly hip Jimenez.

Blake's looking for an office in Mission Valley to add to his space in Dana Point. He says he spends about 15 minutes with patients – as much as a half an hour with new ones. He insists upon medical records to back up claims of distress, whether mental or physical.

If anyone showed him a marijuana bud in his office, he'd kick the person out. He practices medicine in a separate universe from dispensaries or co-ops.

Though a strong advocate of cannabis as a pain reliever, Blake says he opposes legislation to legalize the drug.

The country's mainstream isn't ready for such a radical change, he says. He worries about traffic safety if pot were legal.

Besides, it would be bad for business, he says with a smile.

Logan Jenkins: (760) 737-7555; logan.jenkins@uniontrib.com
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Dope deliberations

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:38 pm

San Diego City Beat wrote:Dope deliberations

<span class="postbigbold">Civil Grand Jury appears to be investigating local medi-pot system</span>


By Dave Maass | San Diego City Beat | 10 Nov 09


While medical-marijuana opponents have District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis leading their posse, San Diego’s safe-access community has once again turned to the San Diego County Civil Grand Jury to investigate the government on its behalf.

At least two complaints have been filed with the official body that investigates local government on behalf of citizens, and CityBeat has confirmed the jury has called at least one medical-cannabis supporter in for an interview. Badge-bearing jury members reportedly have been spotted in the audience at the city of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force meetings.

Grand Jury proceedings are confidential, and foreperson Victoria Stubblefield could not confirm what the jury was investigating.

Patient and aspiring collective operator Marcus Boyd provided CityBeat with a copy of the complaint he filed with the jury within days of the Sept. 9 raids of 14 dispensaries in San Diego County. Boyd specifically targets Dumanis, accusing her of using “televised shock and awe enforcement tactics to effectively harass and terrorize the seriously ill and dying patients.”

Boyd received a letter acknowledging the jury received his complaint but has not been contacted since. Attorney and Southern California NORML board member Mara Felsen told CityBeat she accompanied another complainant to jury interviews, though she was not allowed to sit in.

Unlike Boyd’s targeted attack on Dumanis, Felsen said her client was posing more of a “policy issue and a question.”

“How is one to know what is legal and illegal, what dispensaries can do and what they can’t do?” Felsen said. “These are very clear, very basic questions of law. If an agency is enforcing the law, the law has to be clear so the public can follow it. Otherwise, it violates the due-process laws of the Constitution.”

In 2005, the jury concluded a previous investigation into medical-marijuana policy with a 58-page document slamming the county for doing “absolutely nothing” to promulgate protocols and procedures for providing patients with safe access to cannabis. Although the jury has subpoena powers, its findings—which can take a year to complete—have no enforcement teeth.

“We make recommendations and then, of course, [it’s up to] public pressure to implement those recommendations,” Stubblefield said. “We have found the people in the city and county are good people who want to make agencies more successful and work better for the community and the citizens, and there’s an effort to bring positive change. That’s what it’s about: good positive change.”

In the meantime, Boyd is stoking the pressure with a new website, bonniedamantis.wordpress.com, which includes a clearinghouse of legal information, the “San Diego Electronic Prohibition Tracking & Information Collection System.”

“The SEPTIC system was born out of the need to provide the medical-marijuana community with a central location to track the efforts to deny safe access in San Diego County,” Boyd said.

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Leader of San Diego dispensary group has a history

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:50 pm

Leader of San Diego dispensary group has a history of fighting government regulations

The Weedly News – July 9, 2011 (see comments)
http://theweedlynews.com/?p=5158

By Christopher Cadelago
San Diego Union Tribune - 2:27 p.m., July 8, 2011 (censored comments)
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011 ... na-effort/


Randall Welty, left, submitted signatures to the City Clerk’s Office in May for a referendum lifting regulations imposed on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Patient Care Association

The coalition of 63 medical marijuana collectives in San Diego claims:

•46,504 verified patients

•3,375 served daily

•1,486 employees

•$3.1 million in annual taxes paid

•$151,680 in rent paid monthly

When medical marijuana providers sought to repeal new restrictions on collectives in San Diego, they turned to a hard-charging veteran of the adult entertainment industry with a record of wrangling government regulations.

Waldon Randall Welty leads the Patient Care Association, a coalition of 63 dispensaries in the city. Welty, 64, lives in San Bernardino County and has ties to three collectives in San Diego. He spearheaded a signature-gathering effort that could force the city to repeal its regulations of medical marijuana shops or put the matter on the ballot.

A native Texan whose thoroughbred Rock Opera was ridden by famed jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., Welty’s background is in strips clubs and adult book stores. Some involved in the repeal effort worry that his past is a liability they don’t need.

Welty has a rap sheet, including charges of assaulting his wife with a baseball bat in 2008 that resulted in a guilty plea to misdemeanor aggravated trespassing in Santa Barbara County.

Flesh Club, his Inland Empire cabaret locked in years of legal battles with the city, defiantly bore the banner “The pride of San Bernardino.”

Those who enter the public arena should be allowed their foibles, Welty said.

“The reason we have third-rate politicians and we have third-rate intelligentsia in our political circles right now is because it’s almost impossible to get through life without a seriously embarrassing moment, either one that has been contrived by someone else, is a lie or you’ve actually been dumb enough to do,” Welty said in an interview Wednesday.

At least one dispensary director has left the trade group over concerns about his involvement. Welty said he is not embarrassed by his past transgressions, but does not want them to hurt the cause.

“Whenever I’ve fought the battles that I’ve fought before, I fought them just for me. I was accountable only to me and if I lost it would only hurt me,” he said. “This is not the case in this fight and there would be a lot of people hurt if this is not eventually faced and faced in an adult manner.”

The San Diego City Council in April ratified an ordinance requiring the city’s estimated 160 collectives to shut down and apply for permits. Dispensaries would be limited to some commercial and industrial zones, at least 600 feet from one another as well as schools, playgrounds, libraries, child care and youth facilities, parks and churches.

The law sparked formation of the trade association. “Almost all of them understood that this would be the end of it if something was not done, if people did not pick up the flag and march forward with it,” he said.

Welty runs meetings of the nine-member board that votes on group issues, although he does so on an interim basis.

“All of the members of the PCA look forward to holding official elections in the fall to select a permanent board,” the group said in a statement from its spokesman, a dispensary director who declined to be identified.

Attorney Jessica McElfresh, who represents many dispensaries across Southern California, said Welty has a track record of going head-to-head with municipalities.

“He’s not afraid of a good fight,” she said. “But above all, he wants the same thing we all do, which is safe access and reasonable regulation.”

Welty said he does not run or profit from a collective in San Diego, but he has been involved since 2009 because a family member is the director of Green Earth Herbal Collective, Ocean Beach Wellness Center and Green Rose Organic Wellness.

His leadership in the coalition has sparked shouting matches.

Kim Twolan, director of Mother Earth Co-Op and a member of the city’s regulation task force, left the association after her colleagues refused to distance themselves from Welty.

Activists, including some from the Americans for Safe Access San Diego Chapter, at one point called a meeting to collaborate with the association board and ended up airing their differences.

“I am really upset that he is trying to project himself as the face of medical cannabis in our community,” said activist Terrie Best said, who also was turned off by his demeanor and the fact that he refused to step aside. “When you get in the same room with this guy, you want to take a shower afterward.”

Manta Management Inc. is the parent company of Tropical Lei in Upland, Flesh Club in San Bernardino and the now-defunct Hawaii Theatre in Industry. Over the years, Welty has had numerous run-ins with code enforcement and law enforcement.

He opened Flesh Club as a topless bar in 1994, and it was shut down a year later under a local zoning ordinance. Authorities said Flesh Club provided sanctuary for paid sex, which Welty denies.

A court found the city’s rules to be illegal, and the establishment reopened in 1999. A jury later awarded Welty $1.4 million for lost profits. The city is appealing the award.

In 2002, then-Gov. Gray Davis returned a $10,000 contribution from Manta Management. Davis’ spokesman said the donation “didn’t pass the smell test.”

Welty also ran an adult bookstore and peep-show arcades and lost a battle in court to open a two-story nude juice bar in Garden Grove.

Recently, he won a fight to put a 13,000-square-foot luxury home atop a ridge in Santa Barbara County, over the objection of one supervisor who called it “an audacious, monstrous development violating our policies.”

“I have learned my lessons over 40 years and I know how to win fights,” Welty said. “I am going to win this one in San Diego.”
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