California, San Francisco

Medical marijuana by city.

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California, San Francisco

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:12 pm

cbs5.com wrote: Jun 9, 2006 5:32 pm US/Pacific

Marijuana Club Proposed For Fisherman's Wharf

cbs5
Simon Perez
Reporting

(CBS 5) SAN FRANCISCO Some neighbors are pretty upset at the idea of a marijuana dispensary trying to get a perrmit to set up shop in Fisherman's Wharf. But the man who wants to open the store says neighbors have no need to worry; he'll be different.

"It should be treated just like a Walgreen's, basically. Patients are still going to need a place to get their medication," said Kevin Reed, president of The Green Cross, which used to dispense medical marijuana in the city before the city cracked down on the proliferation of cannabis clubs last year.

Reed has been meeting with community groups, making them this promise: "We will definitely be different."

The proposed store at 2701 Leavenworth would not violate the city's new code, which only bans marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools or recreation centers, or in residential areas entirely.

The city enacted the code after many neighbors complained of people smoking on the streets, double-parking, and loitering.

Reed guarantees none of that will be allowed at his place and is setting up nearly two dozen cameras to make sure.

Anthony Gantner of the North Beach Merchants Association has heard Reed's promises but says right now, the merchants aren't for or against the proposed store.

"If there is to be a medical marijuana dispensary within our neighborhood, it's going to be somewhat of a leap off faith," Reed said.

Other neighborhood groups are more certain they don't like the idea. In addition to the tourist attractions, they complain Galileo High School is just a few blocks away.

At the Buena Vista Café, owner Bob Freeman says he's not on a crusade to stop the dispensary, but, "I just don't know if it fits in with this family-friendly-type neighborhood in terms of Fisherman's Wharf."

The Planning Commission has a public hearing July 13 on whether to allow a new type of business at Fisherman's Wharf.


<center>(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)</center>

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Fight Envelops Fisherman's Wharf

Postby budman » Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:09 pm

Marijuana Fight Envelops Fisherman's Wharf

The New York Times
By JESSE McKINLEY
Published: July 3, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, July 2 — The newest attraction planned for Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco's most popular tourist destination, has no sign, no advertisements and not even a scrap of sourdough. Yet everyone seems to think that the new business, the Green Cross, will be a hit, drawing customers from all over the region to sample its aromatic wares.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/green-cross.bmp></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Customers and employees at the Green Cross, a medical marijuana club, before the business was forced out of the Mission District in San Francisco by neighbors who complained of rising traffic and crime.</td></tr></table>For some, that is exactly the problem.

The Green Cross is a cannabis club, one of scores that sell marijuana to patients with a doctor's note. They have sprouted around California in the decade since the passage of Proposition 215, which legalized the use and sale of marijuana to those suffering from chronic pain, illness or infirmity. San Francisco, a hot spot in the AIDS epidemic, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposition in 1996 and has about 30 clubs, serving some 25,000 patients and caregivers.

But none of San Francisco's medical marijuana dispensaries, as they are formally known, have been located in places anywhere as popular as Fisherman's Wharf, where most people come to enjoy chowder, Ghirardelli chocolate or cable cars. Now, with the opening of the new club just weeks away, some residents and merchants are fighting to keep it out.

"The city is saturated with pot clubs," said T. Wade Randlett, the president of SF SOS, a quality-of-life group that opposes the planned club. "Fisherman's Wharf is a tourism attraction, and this is not the kind of tourism we're trying to attract."

Emboldened by a series of regulations passed last fall by the city's Board of Supervisors, some neighborhoods are resisting new marijuana dispensaries, which they say attract crime and dealers bent on reselling the drugs. In the debate over the new rules last year, several neighborhoods successfully lobbied to be exempted from having new clubs.

Other neighborhoods managed to get clubs shuttered, including a previous version of the Green Cross, which was forced out of a storefront in the city's Mission District after neighbors said they had seen a rise in drug dealing, traffic problems and petty crime, a charge the Green Cross denies.

The proposed dispensary comes at a time when medical marijuana's legal standing is murky. Last summer, the United States Supreme Court upheld federal authority to prosecute the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes, despite voter-approved laws allowing medical marijuana in California and nearly a dozen other states.

That decision prompted California to stop issuing identification cards to patients, for fear of opening state workers up to federal charges of abetting a crime. (Patients can still be issued cards by San Francisco and other California cities.)

Clubs in San Francisco now must go through a permit process, which includes public hearings, and the proposed dispensary at Fisherman's Wharf is the first to have done so. A hundred people packed a neighborhood meeting on June 13, peppering the club's owner, Kevin Reed, with questions. Outside, fliers were handed out imploring residents to "Stop Marijuana Store!" and listing the planned club's proximity to schools and hotels.

Elizabeth Naughton Moore, 33, who lives about a block from the planned location, said she dreaded the thought of walking her 18-month-old son anywhere near it.

"Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see this is not an appropriate location," Ms. Moore said. "I understand patients need to have access to it, but I think with 30 locations, they have options."

All of this upsets Mr. Reed, a soft-spoken, sharply dressed 32-year-old who founded the first Green Cross in 2004. He said he had spent tens of thousands of dollars on security and other expenses to make the new club a model for marijuana dispensaries.

"I've changed so much and brought so much professionalism to the movement, but the public can't see that," Mr. Reed said. "I took it from the 1960's" into the 21st century.

The unopened dispensary at Fisherman's Wharf — located in a nondescript storefront tucked under a weary-looking bed-and-breakfast — has all the trappings of modern retail: high-speed Internet access, high-tech security cameras and high-end merchandise. An ounce of marijuana will sell for $300, and Mr. Reed's outlet will have a whopping 55 varieties. Framed photographs of San Francisco scenes adorn the club's black walls, and the glass-topped counters gleam under track lighting.

"I would love to offer it out of a hospital, I would love to offer it out of Walgreen's, but the truth is, they're not allowing that," said Mr. Reed, who uses marijuana to treat a back injury. "So somebody has to open a place like this and show that it can be done right."

What that includes, Mr. Reed said, is abiding by a batch of new rules. Chief among those is a stipulation that forbids clubs from opening within 1,000 feet of a school or a community center. Mr. Reed said that the tourism appeal of Fisherman's Wharf had nothing to do with his decision, but that the location met the requirements of the new rules.

"This wasn't our original location, nor was it our ideal location," Mr. Reed said, adding that he would not be selling marijuana to tourists, only to those with doctors' notes. "But it was really hard finding legal areas."

One of those legal areas happened to be at the wharf, which is zoned primarily for commercial use. But Christopher Martin, whose family owns the Cannery, a three-story retail and restaurant complex a block from the proposed club, said that the neighborhood had been trying to become more upscale and residential, and that a pot club should not figure into the plans.

"We are trying to build a more stable, more interesting community here," Mr. Martin said.

What local merchants say they fear most is the clientele's smoking in the neighborhood, congregating on sidewalks or clogging streets with double-parked cars. Mr. Reed said that his security personnel would prevent loitering and that 16 security cameras would constantly monitor the club and the area.

"Criminals that deal drugs don't want to come into a store where they are being recorded," Mr. Reed said.

The pot clubs themselves, which are usually cash businesses with ample amounts of product, are sometimes targets of crime. Four in San Francisco were robbed in 2005, and last weekend, a club downtown was robbed during the Gay Pride Parade.

And while the law was passed with seriously ill patients in mind, like those with AIDS and cancer, some critics say that now even people with commonplace aches and pains can get a doctor's recommendation.

But what both sides can agree on — in classic San Francisco fashion — is that the problem is really Oakland's fault. In 2004, Oakland, the smaller, less glamorous city across the bay, banned many of its cannabis clubs, driving some to reopen in San Francisco. Other cities in the state have also instituted bans or new restrictions.

The rising neighborhood opposition to the clubs also stands in striking juxtaposition to the personal political beliefs of many in San Francisco, a city that prides itself on a progressive attitude.

"Every single person I've ever spoke to and every meeting I've ever went to, if there was any opposition at all, the first words out of their mouth is, 'I voted for this,' " Mr. Reed said.

Mr. Martin concurred. "Both the merchants and the residents — though philosophically we don't have a problem with medicinal marijuana being available, we all voted for it — we think customers are going to be better served in another location," he said. "We just think it's the wrong time, wrong place."

Mr. Reed has assured city leaders and Mr. Martin that he would be a good neighbor, and he hopes to open in August if his permit is approved.

For their part, tourists seemed unaware, and largely unbothered, that they might soon be wandering past a cannabis club. "I think it's a pretty eclectic neighborhood anyway," said Tony Accardo, 54, a financial analyst from Dallas. "My only concern would be if it attracted clientele that might affect the neighborhood. You know, riffraff."

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Fisherman's Wharf bid tests new pot club laws

Postby budman » Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:38 am

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Ordinance 275-05 - Medical Cannabis Guidelines and Medical Cannabis Dispensary Zoning and Permitting

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Article 28 of the City and County of San Francisco Health Code, Medical Cannabis User and Primary Caregiver Identification Cards

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Article 33 of the City and County of San Francisco Health Code, The Medical Cannabis Act


The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:Fisherman's Wharf bid tests new pot club laws

MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN SAN FRANCISCO: Businesses, residents organize against entrepreneur's proposal to open medicinal weed outlet in midst of city's top-drawing tourist attraction

Erin Allday, Chronicle Staff Writer
The San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, July 9, 2006


<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/green_cross-kevin_reed.jpg width=300></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Kevin Reed stands near security monitors at the site of his proposed new Green Cross medical marijuana club near Fisherman's Wharf.</td></tr></table>At a busy intersection near Fisherman's Wharf, on a corner where the city's tourist hub bumps up against the quiet residential streets of Russian Hill, a recently stubbed marijuana roach lies in the gutter.

It's just one roach among the cigarette butts and other litter on the street. But a new pot club attempting to open up nearby has local residents putting up stiff opposition, fearing it's only going to get worse -- a lot worse.

"It's tough, because people think we're objecting to marijuana usage as a whole, and we're very supportive of medicinal marijuana," said Ryan Chamberlain, a nearby resident and a member of San Francisco SOS, a civic group organized around quality-of-life issues. "Our problem is the way that medicinal marijuana clubs are being managed. They bring people that abuse the system."

The Green Cross, proposed to open at 2701 Leavenworth St., is the first pot club in San Francisco to face the city's new permit process, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors last year in an attempt to better regulate the business of medical marijuana.

Though it is still illegal on a national level, and federal agents have said they will go after growers, sellers and users -- and have done so -- medical marijuana has been legal under California law for 10 years.

The aim of San Francisco's new permit regulations is to curb the abuses that pot clubs' neighbors have frequently cited: customers buying drugs they intend to use not for medical conditions but to resell on the street; illegal drug use in nearby parks and alleys; and increases in overall crime. Pot clubs have also drawn complaints of increased traffic and noise.

The regulations would force pot club owners to take more responsibility for their customers and work with planners to develop security plans and customer guidelines, city planners said. Aside from the Green Cross, at least four additional pot clubs have submitted applications for permits in San Francisco. Currently, 30 to 40 pot clubs operate in the city -- no one knows exactly how many -- all of which must apply for permits no later than June next year.

Kevin Reed, owner of the Green Cross, still has a way to go in the permitting process -- his first formal Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for Thursday -- and already he's up against serious opposition from neighborhood businesses and residents. At an informational meeting last month, 100 neighbors turned out, mostly to criticize Reed's attempt to open the club, and residents have organized e-mail lists and letter-writing campaigns to rally forces.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/green_cross-ashtray.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>The Green Cross club's management is trying to get official approval to open at 2701 Leavenworth St.</td></tr></table>Neighbors' primary concerns are over potential increases in traffic and crime, and fears that a pot club would draw illegal drug users to the area. They also point out that three schools are within walking distance, although all are far enough away that the club meets regulation requirements that pot clubs be at least 1,000 feet from schools.

Additionally, neighbors -- primarily nearby business owners -- believe a pot club just doesn't fit into the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood or the residential areas beyond.

"We're trying to plan this area, to upgrade it, to make it charming. Fisherman's Wharf is the No. 1 visitor attraction in the city, and we need to preserve it," said Chris Martin, director of the waterfront's Cannery complex, which is just a block from the proposed club. "To us, this issue is kind of like having a Home Depot in your area. It's kind of like having a McDonald's on the corner. We'd oppose any of those."

The Fisherman's Wharf site would be Reed's second attempt at running the Green Cross. He closed his first establishment, in the Mission District, last year after neighbors complained of a rise in crime and noise.

Reed said police never proved that crime increased because of his business, but said he's all for increased regulations, and has listened to his potential neighbors in Fisherman's Wharf. He plans to install security cameras in and around his business and hire guards to patrol the street in front of his store. He won't allow smoking on the premises.

"If you don't allow patients access to medication in an environment that is professional and regulated, you're sending them to a crack dealer on the street. Then the patients suffer from the reality of the 'not-in-my-backyard' guys," Reed said. "What we really need to concentrate on is finding ways of regulating it and taxing it and allowing it to help our society."

Chamberlain and other neighbors have said they appreciate the efforts Reed is making to ensure the security of his shop, but they doubt it will be enough.

"Kevin Reed has been very nice, he seems to be very responsible and I think he's a great entrepreneur. But there are elements outside of his control," Chamberlain said. "You can't control your customers to that degree. You can't follow them all the way home, and you can't get into every nook and cranny of their lives and make sure they're being responsible. It's a bigger problem than Kevin Reed can rectify."


<hr class=postrule>
<small>
Pot club regulations<ul><li>The Planning Commission will review the application and consider zoning and traffic issues and hold public hearings. </li>
<li>The Police Department will perform criminal background checks on owners and managers and review security plans. </li>
<li>The Fire Department will review fire safety plans. </li>
<li>The Building Inspection Department will look at access for the disabled and issue structural permits. </li>
<li>The Public Health Department will issue the actual use permit after getting approval from other departments, considering health code issues, and holding a public hearing.</li>
<li>The Health Department also will inspect the club twice a year.</li>
</ul>
E-mail Erin Allday at eallday@sfchronicle.com.

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Postby budman » Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:06 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:Medical Pot Club Tests San Francisco Law

Forbes
By JORDAN ROBERTSON , 07.12.2006, 02:52 PM


Fisherman's Wharf is home to cable cars, postcard views of Alcatraz and the scent of sourdough. And now the fragrance of fresh marijuana?

City planners are considering whether to issue a permit for a medical marijuana dispensary in the heart of the city's tourist hub, despite outrage from neighbors and businesses. The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday, and some have vowed to appeal any permit the city grants.

"The wharf is San Francisco's Disneyland," said Rodney Fong, president of the Fisherman's Wharf Merchants Association. "About half the people who come are with kids, and the things they are looking for are family attractions - sea lions, dining. So a marijuana dispensary doesn't really match the market we have."

The Green Cross is the first cannabis club to seek a permit under strict guidelines the city adopted in November to curb street crime around its roughly 30 dispensaries and prevent sales to non-patients.

This left-leaning city quickly became a hub for cannabis clubs after voters in 1996 made California the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana. But the Fisherman's Wharf fight highlights difficulties in the 11 states that allow medical marijuana as they seek to regulate the drug without banishing patients to dark alleys and rough neighborhoods.

The city made the Green Cross close its previous location in the Mission District in March after neighbors complained about rising traffic and crime, which owner Kevin Reed said were unfounded. He said he was forced into the wharf after being rejected by dozens of other landlords.

"Nobody wants this in their back yard," Reed said. "They're fighting for their beliefs and their family values. But if they continue fighting on the path they're fighting now, they'll put us all out of business."

Mayor Gavin Newsom said Reed has been responsible and should not be punished for flaws in the new rules, calling it an "unintended consequence" that the club wound up at the wharf.

"The intent of the legislation was to generate less controversy, not more," Newsom said. "We may not like what he is doing, but he is playing by the rules we set up."

San Francisco's clubs were largely unregulated before the new rules, and according to some accounts, non-patients could freely acquire marijuana.

Now the owners of dispensaries must submit to criminal and employment background checks, pay for a permit and business license, and are forbidden from operating within 500 feet of schools. That buffer zone grows to 1,000 feet if pot smoking is allowed on the property, as it is at most San Francisco dispensaries.

The Green Cross storefront is already built out - minus the marijuana. It is all sleek sophistication, from the black walls and piped-in jazz to the swarm of security cameras. If the permit is granted, the Green Cross also would have to clear police and health department inspections before opening.

Patients who present a government-issued medical marijuana card and a doctor's note will be presented with a selection of 55 different marijuana strains displayed in a glass counter studded with hundreds of tiny neon green lights. Prices are roughly $300 an ounce.

Pot smoking would not be allowed on the premises, and security guards would patrol the area, Reed said.

"The criminal element that breaks the rules just doesn't want to come into a store like mine," said Reed, 32. "I've done everything by the book."

An official with an Oakland-based pro-medical marijuana advocacy group said fears of such dispensaries are misplaced.

"What we're seeing ... is a 'Reefer Madness' frenzy that makes people act irrationally, and condemns dispensaries and dispensary operators," said Kris Hermes, legal campaign director for Americans for Safe Access. "And it ultimately prevents them from coming to the aid of patients."

Reed has earned some supporters in the neighborhood, including the managers of Pergamino Coffee and Tea, a crowded cafe around the corner.

"It's not like he's opening up a drug haven," said manager Glendene "Peaches" Montague. "It's well-monitored, well-secured, and obviously he's done this before. But only time will tell."


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SF commission denies permit for Fisherman's Wharf pot club

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:43 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:SF commission denies permit for Fisherman's Wharf pot club

The San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, July 13, 2006


(07-13) 23:06 PDT San Francisco (AP) --


A medical marijuana dispensary will not be setting up shop near the city's biggest tourist hub after officials denied it a permit late Thursday.

The San Francisco Planning Commission voted 4-2 to reject the application by the Green Cross.

Dozens attended the commission's hearing to voice their opposition to the pot club operating near Fisherman's Wharf, a bustling waterfront area known for its cable cars, postcard views of Alcatraz Island and shops along Pier 39.

Commissioner Michael J. Antonini said he voted against the permit because of concerns by local merchants, who feared the pot club would scare off tourists, as well as concerns by residents, who argued its presence would impair the quality of life in the neighborhood.

"The people who were against granting the permit were from the neighborhood where it would have been located, and those in favor of it were mainly coming from the outside and asking that it be imposed on that area," Antonini said.

The Green Cross was the first cannabis club to seek a permit under strict guidelines the city adopted in November to curb street crime around its roughly 30 dispensaries and prevent sales to non-patients.

This left-leaning city quickly became a hub for cannabis clubs after voters in 1996 made California the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana. Voters in 10 other states have since enacted laws that allow dispensing pot to treat specific medical problems, although the federal government continues to outlaw marijuana.

San Francisco's clubs were largely unregulated before the new rules. Now the owners of dispensaries must submit to criminal and employment background checks, pay for a permit and business license, and are prohibited from operating within 500 feet of schools. That buffer zone is 1,000 feet if pot smoking is allowed on the property.

The Fisherman's Wharf fight highlighted the difficulties of regulating the drug without banishing patients to dark alleys and rough neighborhoods.

The city made the Green Cross close its previous location in the Mission District in March after neighbors complained about rising traffic and crime, which owner Kevin Reed said were unfounded. He said he was forced into the wharf after being rejected by dozens of other landlords.

But local residents who spoke against it at Thursday's hearing noted the number of schools and community centers located within walking distance of the proposed dispensary.

"This is a family neighborhood — it's not right for such an adult-oriented and, to a great degree, counterculture environment," resident Ryan Chamberlin said before the hearing.

Others urged commissioners to consider Green Cross' clean operating record and the patients who need the drugs.

"This is a test case for the medical cannabis dispensaries, and you are going to hear vociferous opposition from neighborhood groups," said Michael Aldridge, a nearby resident who said he would buy marijuana there for unspecified ailments. "Remember, in each place there are people like me who need the dispensary, and Green Cross meets your requirements."


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Owner To Fight Decision Barring Wharf Pot Club

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:37 am

CBS 5 wrote:Jul 14, 2006 6:15 pm US/Pacific

Owner To Fight Decision Barring Wharf Pot Club

CBS 5

(AP) SAN FRANCISCO The attorney representing a man who had hoped to open a medical marijuana dispensary near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf said today that Kevin Reed will appeal the San Francisco Planning Commission's decision to turn down his application for a pot club permit.

Reed had hoped to open a cannabis dispensary at 2701 Leavenworth St., a stone's throw away from the popular tourist destination Fisherman's Wharf.

Up until March, Reed operated a dispensary called The Green Cross on Fair Oaks Street in the Mission District, Elford said.

Pot clubs began to appear in San Francisco after California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing patients with permission from a doctor to purchase medical marijuana.

There are around 24 pot clubs operating in the city at present, Elford estimated.

In November, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors amended and unanimously passed the city's first set of medical marijuana regulations, allowing dozens of clubs in the city to remain open, albeit under stricter guidelines.

Elford said he didn't hear an overwhelming amount of concern Thursday evening from community residents near the proposed Leavenworth Street site about pot club clientele or about drugs being bought and then re-sold on the street.

Rather, the opposition centered on a "technical argument," that the dispensary shouldn't be allowed to open within 1,000 feet of any recreation area open to the public.

Opponents pointed to a rowing club and a senior center within 1,000 feet of 2701 Leavenworth St. in support of their argument, he said.

"If those are the criteria, then there's nowhere in the city a dispensary can open," he said.

The Planning Commission "is going to have to make some very difficult calls in the future," he said.

The Green Cross has a significant following because it can provide quality services to its patients, Elford said. The Mission District dispensary served as many as 200 to 300 customers at its peak, before the stricter rules were introduced, while a typical day saw around 50 customers, he said.

Reed's appeal process to the San Francisco Board of Permit Appeals will last around two months, attorney Joe Elford said. Reed has 15 days from the date his application is formally rejected to file an appeal. A hearing is then scheduled within 45 days of the appeal date.

If the appeal to open a cannabis club at the Leavenworth Street site doesn't pan out, Reed is likely to look for another line of work, Elford said.

"There are absolutely no plans to look elsewhere," for an alternate to the Leavenworth Street site, he said.


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At San Francisco's Wharf, a Fight for Medical Marijuana Ensu

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:38 pm

ABC News wrote:At San Francisco's Wharf, a Fight for Medical Marijuana Ensues

Regulations Severely Limit Where Cannabis Clubs Can Operate

ABC News
By JAKE TAPPER and DAN MORRIS


<table class=posttable align=right width=188><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/green_cross.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Peter Curran, who suffers from full-blown AIDS, displays his city-issued medical cannabis ID card at an AIDS hospice in San Francisco.</td></tr></table>July 25, 2006 — - San Francisco has more cannibus clubs -- the dispensaries of marijuana for the medical treatment of the nasty side effects of chemotherapy, glaucoma or AIDS -- than any other city in the nation.

Yet, that doesn't mean cannabis clubs make welcome neighbors, even in bluest of the blue San Francisco, a city that prides itself on being tolerant of almost every lifestyle. A ballot proposition in 2002 that called for the Board of Supervisors to explore the possibility of establishing a program whereby the city would grow its own medical marijuana and distribute it was supported by 62 percent of voters.

But the reality of the program is apparently harsher than the notion. However accepting San Francisco may consider itself to be, the city may also be showing standard-issue NIMBYism.

The Green Cross is one of about 40 cannabis clubs in San Francisco. It is owned and operated by Kevin Reed, who explains that there are differences among the 55 different types of marijuana his store offers.

"'Indica' would be used more for the body pain, somebody that had extreme body pain or insomnia. It would help people sleep. It is what most people identify when they think of marijuana is," explained to Nightline. "'Sativa' is the more euphoric high. It is what most people use for depression."

But the controversy in San Francisco isn't about what Reed is selling, but where he wants to do it.

Touristy Fisherman's Wharf is known for families of tourists, cable cars, and seafood. But many business owners and neighbors there do not want marijuana users added to that mix -- even if they have prescriptions to buy it.

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom sees their point. "I'm not sure that's the message we want to send folks. 'Get your crab and maybe your clam chowder and sourdough bread, and maybe walk next door and see a medical marijuana club.'"

But the mayor himself is in part responsible for the eruption of this controversy.

Last summer the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that stricter federal drug laws overrule more permissive ones passed by the states, like the medial marijuana provision passed by California.

Since then, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has arrested some cannabis club owners. Those arrests led Newsom to draft news rules and regulations for his city's cannabis clubs, so as to fend off future DEA busts.

"In the past there was no process," Newsom explains. "You could just open up. All of a sudden you're a neighbor and you look next door and all of a sudden there's a medical marijuana club and you had no input, and no ability to have any feedback."

Newsom adds: "I believe very strongly in medical marijuana. So does the rest of the state of California. And I would argue the majority of Americans. But it's got to be done right."

When the clubs first opened, neighbors were complaining that they attracted too much traffic, crime and customers who didn't seem to have any actual ailments. Some of those customers smoked marijuana right outside the store, or resold it.

So, now the Bay Area cannabis clubs have restricted locations. They are no longer allowed to be within 1,000 feet of a school or community center. They are barred from certain residential neighborhoods. And every club has to go through a registration process, with a $10,000 application fee.

"We felt we needed to put in some common sense restrictions. Because if it is being abused -- if we're flaunting ourselves in an arrogant way -- if we're jumping up and down and saying, 'We don't care about the federal government's feelings,' clearly we're inviting ourselves to put the whole program at risk," the mayor says.

The Green Cross is the first cannabis club to go through the city's new regulation process. And because of the restrictions, it had to move from its semi-residential location, and find a new place to do business. Joe Elford, the attorney for Green Cross's owner says the Fisherman's Wharf location was one of the few options his client had.

"You end up with only very small slivers of the city even being available for cannabis dispensaries to operate," Elford says. "And that's why Mr. Reed (the owner) in large part, chose this location.".

But many of Fisherman's Wharf's residents are not happy about that decision. Ryan Chamberlain is a neighborhood activist and he has made it his mission to keep the Green Cross cannabis club out of Fisherman's Wharf.

"It's not so much the marijuana. If a patient was discreetly walking in and out of a location, if that were like a dental office, not a big deal. What we're worried about is the things that seem to surround those clubs," Chamberlain says. "What we're worried about is an increase in people camping out in those parks smoking marijuana."

And the new regulations that Mayor Newsom instituted offer neighborhood planning boards the power of the veto.

Ten years ago, 56 percent of Californian voters supported Proposition 215, legalizing medical use of marijuana. But just try to find a Californian today who wants a marijuana store in his neighborhood.

The result is that even though Green Cross met the city's rules and regulations, its fate was still left up to the neighborhood planning commission, which earlier this month held a hearing on the issue.

A parade of professionals, business owners, a park ranger and a policeman all came before the commission to say essentially the same thing: medical marijuana, yes, but not in my backyard.

"We feel that it is an inappropriate location for this site to be a cannabis house," one neighbor told the commission.

Yet some neighbors in support of the cannabis clubs countered those arguments.

Neighbor Maria Molloy said, "I thought we already voted on this? ... I'm not sure how these conservative neighbors got the impression that they could override the city's vote. But I urge you to please hear the voice of our progressive city."

One of Green Cross' medical marijuana customers, Michael Aldrich raised another issue for the commission: "Please remember that in every one of these neighborhoods there are patients like myself who need to have a dispensary reasonably nearby."

But when the planning commission voted, the result was 4 to 2, against Green Cross.

"That's classic,'" complains Mayor Newsom. "I mean, everybody wants to treat drug addicts, heroin addicts, they want to provide them methadone, but just don't open the methadone clinic near me. Everyone says, 'I want more supportive housing and affordable housing for the poor and working families, but just don't open it near me. Homeless shelters, but not near me. ... It's no different with medical marijuana clubs."

The board vote was a crushing blow to Green Cross owner, Kevin Reed, who is also a medical marijuana user.

"I'm in daily pain," he says. "My back is always in a very constant pain."

Reed says he prefers medical marijuana as a treatment for his chronic pain because he worries about the side effects of more traditional pain killers. "I've seen the effects of people getting prescribed drugs, pills. I've seen so many people throughout my life get addicted to these pills. I just don't want to be that person."

Reed's attorney plans to appeal the commission's decision. "Hopefully they will do the right thing and give Mr. Reed the opportunity to open his club," Elford says.

If he fails, Elford worries that the law that allows cannabis clubs in San Francisco will be meaningless. "If you can't even open it up in one of these small slivers, then where can you open it up? ... That's the problem. It appears you can no longer open it up anywhere in the city of San Francisco."

The mayor is not backing down in his support of legal medicinal marijuana.

While he worries that these "not in my backyard" activists could eliminate all medical marijuana clubs, he says, "We're going to fight against that temptation. I believe so fundamentally, so strongly in medical marijuana. We believe that it also needs to be done appropriately. So it's a balance. And it's a work in progress, like anything else."

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

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Supes panel OKs a grace period for pot clubs

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:43 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:Supes panel OKs a grace period for pot clubs

Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writer
The San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, August 3, 2006


A Board of Supervisors committee voted Wednesday to relax the city's new medical marijuana regulations to give pot clubs operating in residential neighborhoods a grace period before they have to shut down and relocate.

An ordinance passed in November establishing rules for where cannabis outlets can be located, how they are run and by whom restricts them to commercial and industrial areas.

The proposed change -- approved by the supervisors' Land Use Committee and sent to the full board for the first of two votes on Tuesday -- would give clubs in residential areas at least a year longer to remain in business while searching for a new location.

Critics of marijuana clubs assailed the move as tolerating neighborhood nuisances, while supporters said it was important not to cut off access to the drug as suppliers adapt to the new rules.

"This area in the Haight is known as a drug-dealing corner," said Arthur Evans, referring to a section of his neighborhood that is home to a cannabis outlet. "Supervisors, this club has a record of lying in representing itself, and it continues to be in violation of the law that you yourselves passed and promised to enforce."

But Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, an advocate for legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes and author of the new pot club regulations, said it isn't surprising that adjustments need to be made to ensure the results are what lawmakers intended.

, and that should not be a surprise given that that this was an 84-page document initially. This is the first time as a city and county that we have invented a complex regulatory system."

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 legalizing pot for people who have a legitimate medical need. Mayor Gavin Newsom, all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors and the city's elected district attorney are on record in support of making marijuana available for medical purposes even though sale of the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Until supervisors took action last year, San Francisco officials were in legal limbo, watching as the number of clubs dispensing marijuana grew from nine to more than 40 in a five-year period. Residents across the city complained that the clubs were operating in close proximity to each other, attracting drug dealing and other criminal activity and in some cases doing business near schools or youth centers.

The new ordinance, which took effect Dec. 30, prohibits a club from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or youth facility, bans the clubs from residential neighborhoods and requires all clubs -- including those already in business -- to apply for permits from the Planning and Health departments starting next July.

Last month, the city's Planning Commission voted down a proposed club near Fisherman's Wharf after area merchants and residents protested.

Today, between 30 and 40 clubs are believed to still be in operation, city officials say.

The amendments proposed by Mirkarimi and approved by the committee Wednesday would allow a club operating in a residential area since April 1, 2005, to stay in business provided it submits an application by June 30, 2007, for a permit to move to a new site. The club would be able to stay open while the permit application is under review.

The amendments also would clarify notification rules for permit applicants, saying that all residents and owners of property within 300 feet of a proposed club must be advised before the city takes action.

One other proposed change that has troubled some residents is the elimination of employment history checks by the San Francisco Police Department for anyone wanting to work in a pot club. Police would still perform a criminal background check on dispensary workers.

Mirkarimi said his office has been contacted by dozens of people objecting to his proposed amendments, with some of them "calling us drug lords or potheads."

The supervisor said he wants to be responsive to complaints from residents, but added: "I'm also very concerned about the alarm that has been manufactured by various entities in the public who are misinterpreting or misconstruing these amendments."

Medical marijuana advocates lauded Mirkarimi's proposed amendments as sensible. Dale Gieringer, of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said a pot club "adds to the local color" of the city.

"This is San Francisco. This isn't Los Altos. I really think we have to take a common-sense view on this," he said.

E-mail Charlie Goodyear at cgoodyear@sfchronicle.com.

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Pot crimes may get less police attention

Postby budman » Wed Sep 13, 2006 10:48 am

ScrippsNews wrote:Pot crimes may get less police attention

By CHARLIE GOODYEAR
ScrippsNews
September 13, 2006

Famously tolerant San Francisco could become an even friendlier place for pot smokers if the Board of Supervisors passes legislation that proclaims most marijuana violations "the lowest law enforcement priority" for city police.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced the legislation last month before supervisors took a four-week late-summer break. His nonbinding ordinance directs police to essentially ignore all marijuana crimes except those involving minors, driving under the influence of the drug or the sale of marijuana in a public place.

Ammiano said Monday that his legislation is consistent with Proposition W _ a measure passed by 64 percent of city voters back in 1978 that called for an end to marijuana arrests and prosecutions _ and with city policy permitting the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

"It bears a revisit," Ammiano said. "This is catching us up to what today is bringing us. I think it's definitely worth a look."

If passed, the ordinance would commit the city to refusing federal funds intended for the investigation or prosecution of marijuana offenses. It also would prevent a federal agency from commissioning or deputizing a city police officer for assistance in such cases.

Under the ordinance, an oversight committee of 11 members appointed by supervisors would review police arrest records to determine whether law enforcement is taking a hands-off approach to marijuana offenses.

Ammiano's ordinance has been assigned to the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee of the Board of Supervisors and will be the subject of a hearing in the coming weeks.

The legislation has the full support of groups pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal and state level, such as the Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

"The public would be better off to stop wasting money arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning people for marijuana, and to start collecting tax money from them instead," said Dale Gieringer of NORML's California chapter.

According to the group, San Francisco police arrested more than 1,000 people in 2004 for marijuana-related crimes, and the city spent between $2.5 million and $8 million prosecuting them.

Ammiano said he hopes San Francisco's law enforcement community will agree with his legislation.


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Feds Raid San Francisco Marijuana Dispensary

Postby budman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:41 pm

KTVU wrote:Feds Raid San Francisco Marijuana Dispensary

POSTED: 1:48 pm PDT October 3, 2006
UPDATED: 2:14 pm PDT October 3, 2006
KTVU

<img src=/bin/video_icon.gif> Video

SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal police and drug enforcement agents raided a warehouse Tuesday that housed a medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco's Mission District.

While chanting protesters in front of the building claimed the dispensary was merely serving the needs of the ill and infirmed, DEA Agent In Charge Javier Pena said the business was actually a "large scale marijuana distribution operation with lots and lots of marijuana."

Pena added that "there was a lot of money involved."

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan would not give any details surrounding the raid as he stood in front of the warehouse and only offered that it was a "long-term investigation."

Agents spent hours at the warehouse, loading into a van computers, printers and boxes labeled "MJ & Hash" during the raid that began around 1 p.m.

Kevin Reed, the owner of the now-defunct Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary and who was at the raid, said that several patients were lined up and taken away in handcuffs.

"At least half of the dispensaries in San Francisco are closing down because of (this) raid," he said.

At least 20 protestors and members of the community stood outside and chanted "DEA, go away!" and "Patients rights!" on the street outside Mission Caregivers, at 1756 Mission St.

San Francisco police officers stood outside the door to the dispensary to create a "safety zone" for the federal agents.

<hr class=postrule>
<small>Copyright 2006 by KTVU.com and Bay City News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed</small>

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6 arrested in S.F. pot club crackdown

Postby budman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:50 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:6 arrested in S.F. pot club crackdown

Demian Bulwa, Jaxon Van Derbeken and Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writers

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
The San Francisco Chronicle

(10-03) 15:17 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal drug agents raided three Bay Area buildings connected to the same medical marijuana club today and arrested at least six people, advocates for the clubs said.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials would not confirm details of the raids or arrests, citing a sealed search warrant.

A marijuana club in San Francisco's Mission District was raided by federal drug enforcement officials around 10:30 a.m., according to protesters outside the building this afternoon. The building, at 1760 Mission St., is listed as a business called New Remedies, but there is no sign on the single-story brick building.

Federal agents also searched a warehouse about 2 1/2 miles away and arrested at least four people there. Medical marijuana advocate William Dolphin said the warehouse, located at 790 Tennessee St., was a growing facility for New Remedies, which also has been known as Mission Compassionate Caregivers.

Dolphin said two women also were arrested at what he called an administrative office for New Remedies in Oakland. The office is located at 17th and Franklin streets, near Lake Merritt, he said.

"Obviously, the DEA is on a little bit of a rampage this week," said Dolphin, citing other pot club crackdowns in Granada Hills, San Fernando Valley and Modesto.

Under Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996, it is legal in California to use medicinal marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor, and the Bay Area is home to a number of marijuana clubs.

Federal anti-drug laws, however, contain no such exemption for cannabis.

DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry would not give details of today's "law enforcement action," citing a sealed search warrant.

At 12:45 p.m., federal agents brought five people out of the front door of 790 Tennessee St., a brick and stucco warehouse building with blacked-out windows and at least three surveillance cameras on the outside.

A federal agent at the scene indicated that three men and a woman had been arrested and another woman had been detained for questioning.

Neighbors said there has been a long-standing rumor -- fueled by the smell of cannabis -- that marijuana was being grown in the building, which is located just off 19th Street east of Highway 280.

The building has a logo hung outside leftover from a former business, but no other signage.

There are currently an estimated 30 to 40 clubs in San Francisco, according to city officials. Last year, facing a growing number of unregulated clubs, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that established rules for where the cannabis clubs can be located and how they are run.

The law banned the clubs from being located in residential areas, but supervisors agreed in August to give existing dispensaries a year to relocate before that part of the ordinance is enforced. The new ordinance also requires all medical marijuana businesses to apply for permits from the Planning and Health departments.

E-mail the writers at dbulwa@sfchronicle.com, jvanderbeken@sfchronicle.com and mlagos@sfchronicle.com.

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UPDATE: FEDS RAID EIGHT MEDICAL MARIJUANA LOCATIONS

Postby budman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 8:08 pm

cbs5.com wrote:UPDATE: FEDS RAID EIGHT MEDICAL MARIJUANA LOCATIONS

10/03/06 6:15 PDT
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)

Federal authorities raided eight different Bay Area locations today associated with growing, prescribing and dispensing medical marijuana, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Drug enforcement agents and federal police seized 12,743 plants, more than $125,000 in cash, cars, computers and manicured marijuana from at least eight locations, five in San Francisco and three in Oakland, all associated with New Remedies Cooperative and Potent Employment Solutions.

Sparky Rose, the executive director of the organizations, was one of 15 people arrested. All are expected to be arraigned Wednesday in federal court.

The raids were a collaborated effort by at least three different federal agencies. The sheriff's offices of both Mendocino and Santa Clara counties also helped in the investigation, which culminated in the raid of dispensaries, grow sites, at least one personal residence, administrative offices and a storage area.

At 1760 Mission St., federal police and drug enforcement agents boxed up marijuana and hashish inside a medical-marijuana dispensary that also served as a grow site.

The raid started at noon and went on for an hour as federal agents used a sledgehammer to pound open two automated teller machines inside the front office.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan was at the scene but left around 12:30 p.m. DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena said at the time that the raid was part of a "large-scale trafficking" operation and part of an ongoing investigation.

Outside, at least 20 protesters marched with colorful signs and chanted, "DEA, go away" and "patients rights."

Shona Gochenaur, executive director of Axis of Love San Francisco, said several of the people arrested were patients.

"This is despicable and atrocious," Gochenaur said. "I saw them take out an elderly man who was shaking."

Three San Francisco police officers and a sergeant were at the scene of the Mission Street raid to provide a "safety zone" for the federal agents.

Several blocks away in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, another operation was also underway at 790 Tennessee St. Federal agents were inside the warehouse until at least 2 p.m.

Also in Oakland at least two people were taken away in handcuffs from an administrative office located at 1710 Franklin, According to Dolphin, who also said all three locations were affiliated with New Remedies, which was formerly known as Compassionate Caregivers.

DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry said she did not know of any patients under arrest. She also said the search warrants are sealed and she could not release any more information on specific locations targeted.

Javier Pena, who directed the raid, said the people arrested today are nothing but drug dealers, in the business to make money.

"Federal drug laws prohibit the cultivation and sale of marijuana." Pena said in a statement. "Anyone who breaks these laws to run a lucrative drug trade, buy fancy cars, boost their bank accounts, and exploit vulnerable citizens is not compassionate, they're criminal."

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Drug agents arrest 15 in raids on major marijuana club

Postby budman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:29 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:BAY AREA
Drug agents arrest 15 in raids on major marijuana club

13,000 pot plants, $125,000 seized in S.F., Oakland

Demian Bulwa and Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writers
The San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, October 4, 2006


Federal agents went after a major Bay Area marijuana club Tuesday, raiding eight locations in San Francisco and Oakland, arresting 15 people including the group's leader and seizing nearly 13,000 plants.

The target of the raids, which prompted swift criticism from some medical marijuana advocates, was New Remedies Cooperative and its 36-year-old leader, Sparky Rose. The San Francisco resident is well-known in medical-marijuana circles and has been under investigation for several months.

The group, formerly known as Compassionate Caregivers, ran a dispensary in the Mission District, a pair of cultivation warehouses on Polk and Tennessee streets, and a temporary-employment agency for pot growers called Potent Employment Solutions, said Javier Peña, who heads the Drug Enforcement Administration's San Francisco office.

Rose, whose convertible Porsche Carrera was one of four cars seized by federal agents, was arrested at his home on suspicion of conspiring to distribute marijuana and laundering proceeds, Pena said. In addition to the plants, federal agents seized $125,000 in cash Tuesday.

"Make no mistake, the defendants were in the business of dealing dope," Peña said in an interview. "They were using the pot clubs as facades to make millions of dollars. We're trying to show the public these aren't for the sick or ill. (The goal) is to pocket drug proceeds."

The raids prompted a group of protesters to gather outside the New Remedies club on Mission Street near 14th Street, where federal agents used sledge hammers to break up ATM machines inside the business. Authorities said marijuana was being grown inside the dispensary, one of an estimated 30 to 40 medical-marijuana clubs in San Francisco.

Representatives of the New Remedies Cooperative and Rose were unavailable for comment. But other advocates of the medicinal use of marijuana said the raids were uncalled for.

"This is an outrageous waste of resources,'' said Shona Gochenaur of Axis of Love San Francisco, a medical marijuana advocacy group.

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly said he was concerned about a raft of recent federal raids on pot clubs in Northern California.

"Generally speaking," Daly said, "swooping in is not helpful in terms of the safe distribution of medical cannabis to those who need it."

Under Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996, it is legal in California to use medicinal marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. Federal anti-drug laws, however, contain no such exemption for cannabis. Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Casey McHenry said Tuesday that "everyone that sells marijuana or cultivates marijuana is at risk."

New Remedies continued to operate even though the government moved in November to seize $1.5 million in assets, records show. The company, which has operated more than a half-dozen storefronts around the state as a nonprofit enterprise, bought marijuana from growers and distributed it from Oakland by courier vans, the government alleged in that civil action.

Prosecutors said the club's patients were given the names of doctors willing to prescribe medical marijuana and would then receive a prescription without being given a physical examination. One doctor saw 49 patients in one day, at $150 each, prosecutors said.

Besides Rose, those arrested Tuesday were James Daley, 56, and Sean Anderson, 22, of San Francisco; Johnny Seto, 32, Mark Miller, 53, and Tracy Smith, 32, of Alameda; Kevin Ellis, 28, and Jason Matthewson, 29, of Pinole; Alfaro Munoz-Bebullida, 33, and Steven Navarro, 35, of Richmond; Mistalee Chiame Wang, 25, and Jaime Perreira, 26, of San Leandro; Ben Blair, 31, of San Pablo; Irene Matsuoka, 27, of Crockett; and Amber Froiness, 26, of Berkeley.

Page B - 2

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Federal Officials Claim Operation was not Medicinal

Postby budman » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:38 am

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:Posted on Wed, Oct. 04, 2006

Agents raid marijuana co-op

FEDERAL OFFICIALS CLAIM OPERATION WAS NOT MEDICINAL

By Josh Richman
MediaNews

Federal agents raided several Bay Area sites and arrested 15 people Tuesday morning to shut down what supporters called a medicinal marijuana cooperative, but what federal officials called a drug-dealing operation.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided sites, including the administrative office of New Remedies Cooperative -- formerly known as Compassionate Caregivers -- at 1710 Franklin St. in downtown Oakland; its dispensary at 1760 Mission St. in San Francisco; and what apparently was its marijuana-growing operation in a warehouse at 790 Tennessee St., on the edge of San Francisco's Potrero Hill district.

Seized were about 12,743 marijuana plants; computers; four vehicles including a Porsche Carrera convertible; $125,000 and three bank accounts belonging to New Remedies, Potent Employment Solutions LLC.

Operator Sparky Rose, 36, of San Francisco was arrested Tuesday, as were Ben Blair, 31, of San Pablo; James Daley, 56, and Sean Anderson, 22, both of San Francisco; Kevin Ellis, 28, and Jason Matthewson, 29, both of Pinole; Irene Matsuoka, 27, of Crockett; Alfaro Munoz-Bebullida, 33, and Steven Navarro, 35, both of Richmond; Johnny Seto, 32, Mark Miller, 53, and Tracy Smith, 32, all of Alameda; Mistalee Chiame Wang, 25, and Jaime Perreira, 26, both of San Leandro; and Amber Froiness, 26, of Berkeley.

All are scheduled to make their first federal court appearances today.

A California law approved by voters a decade ago permits medicinal use of marijuana, but federal law bans the drug entirely. Federal officials implied Tuesday this operation wasn't just medicinal.

``Federal drug laws prohibit the cultivation and sale of marijuana. Anyone who breaks these laws to run a lucrative drug trade, buy fancy cars, boost their bank accounts and exploit vulnerable citizens is not compassionate, they're criminal,'' Javier Pena, the DEA special agent in charge, said in a news release.

Compassionate Caregivers shut its Oakland headquarters and six other locations in June 2005, a month after Los Angeles police raided the West Hollywood site, arrested several people and seized the company's assets.

Compassionate Caregivers had reopened its Oakland dispensary within weeks but shut it down for good in September 2005 after the city refused to renew its permit, citing building code violations.

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Artist grows pot plant for gallery show

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:34 pm

The Times-Leader wrote:Posted on Fri, Oct. 13, 2006


Artist grows pot plant for gallery show

KIM CURTIS
Associated Press
The Pennsylvania Times-Leader

SAN FRANCISCO - With its pointy, jagged-edge leaves, it could simply be a robust houseplant. But in this hip downtown gallery, placed under a display case, it's art.

It's also illegal.

Michele Pred's "Marijuana Project" is part of a new show at the Frey Norris Gallery called "Who's Afraid of San Francisco?"

The 2-foot-high cannabis plant stands in a plain, plastic pot on a square, white podium. It's covered by a clear, Plexiglas box with air holes. On the wall nearby is the artist's medical marijuana card and grower's permit, which she obtained for this project.

California is one of 11 states that allow medical marijuana, though it remains illegal under federal law.

Also displayed are buds encased in resin and mounted in petri dishes, which Pred calls "Marijuana Culture." She recently stopped by the gallery to sign a set of three dishes that sold for $1,200.

"This symbolic five-leaf imagery that you see on T-shirts or caps - you associate that with a certain kind of person or lifestyle," says the 41-year-old Berkeley artist. "I wanted to demystify it. It's a plant. It's a weed."

The show was the idea of gallery owners Raman Frey and Wendi Norris.

"We were talking about current events, social issues in San Francisco that take on a much larger national context," Frey says, rattling off a list of San Francisco-centric issues such as gay marriage and anti-war activism. "They begin here as social experiments then diffuse out to the rest of the country. At first, when they arise, they freak everybody out."

Lawrence Rinder, dean of the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, called the show "intriguing." He said Pred was clearly trying to make a point with "Marijuana Project."

"I smelled it and that was interesting," he said. "Most people would look at this and ask, 'Why is this art?' ... Art in our society is extremely broadly defined."

Frey and Norris solicited proposals from about two dozen Bay Area artists who were engaged in social issues, settling on the 26 works by nine artists that make up the show running through Nov. 16.

Frey, whose ground-floor, unpretentious gallery that showcases local artists is a few blocks from Union Square, wants to spark discussion about everything from medical marijuana to legalizing all drugs among his clientele, roughly split 50-50 between locals and tourists. The work shown here isn't always this edgy, though it is contemporary. In the coming months, it will feature the work of Hisashi Tenmyouya, a "reformed" graffiti tagger and Susannah Bettig, whose paintings of women, on the surface, are full of pastels and flowers, but underneath, are fiercely feminist .

In its current exhibition, hanging in the center of the gallery is a silver chandelier decorated with plastic syringes and colorful garlands of empty pill capsules.

"Blood Money and Tears" by Laurel Roth and Andy Diaz Hope is "meant to mimic the allure of the drug culture," Frey says. Attractive, yet dangerous. Other works illustrate Chinese and Mexican immigration, gay marriage and sexuality - paintings and drawings with much genitalia and leather.

Frey calls Pred's "Marijuana Project" a "comprehensive catalyst for discussion."

Pred, a mixed-media artist who specializes in working with everyday objects, insists she smoked pot only once, in high school, and didn't like it. She also isn't a hard-core advocate for legalization. While she believes the drug should be legalized, she dislikes the current underground nature of obtaining it.

Pred went to a doctor in August, complaining of headaches and sleep problems. He charged her $150 and gave her an identification card. She called his clinic "sleazy."

"Here's this doctor, making a mint, churning out all these people," she said. "They don't even listen. They don't care."

She then applied for and received a grower's permit, allowing her to grow six plants for personal use.

She did some research on the Internet and at a local hydroponics supply store, then bought a clone, or small starter plant, from a pot club for $15. She bought grow lights and special fertilizer, spending about $1,500 altogether on the project. Her electric bill alone increased by $100 a month, she says.

"I wanted to have it grow in the gallery as a living piece of artwork," says Pred, whose previous works included sculptures made of items confiscated at airports and shown at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York. "People can come back and see it taller and bigger."

Despite the gallery's tourist friendly location, the plant, which the artist plans to donate to a local pot club, hasn't generated much controversy. Pred wasn't surprised.

"It being California, and it being San Francisco," she laughs. "Controversy? Nah."

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Sparky Rose released on $1 million bond

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:20 pm

cbs5 wrote:cbs5
October 17, 2006

A medical marijuana dispensary director who is accused of marijuana cultivation and money laundering was granted release on $1 million bond by a federal magistrate in San Francisco today.

Sparky Rose, 36, director of the New Remedies Cooperative in San Francisco, is one of 15 people arrested in a sweep by federal agents on Oct. 3.

The agents also seized nearly 13,000 plants, a Porsche car belonging to Rose and $125,000 in raids of the dispensary, related offices in Oakland and San Francisco and two San Francisco warehouses where marijuana was allegedly cultivated.

All 15 defendants are charged in a federal criminal complaint with marijuana manufacture and distribution and Rose is additionally charged with money laundering.

U.S. Magistrate Nandor Vadas granted the bail release for Rose after prosecution and defense lawyers told him they had agreed on the $1 million amount.

The bond will be made up of $200,000 in equity from the Maryland house of Rose's mother and stepfather, plus individual surety bonds signed by Rose's ex-wife and two friends.

Defense attorney Nanci Clarence said it would take a day or two to complete the arrangements for the bond.

Clarence told the magistrate that prosecutors have informed her that an indictment in the case is expected to come from a federal grand jury in Los Angeles rather than San Francisco.

Through his attorney, Rose agreed to delay further proceedings until next month while the indictment is awaited. Vadas scheduled a status conference before a magistrate in San Francisco on Nov. 14.

Clarence said outside of court that Rose operated the medical marijuana dispensary "in a very businesslike way'' and that Rose "exemplifies the notion of a responsible dispensary.''

The cooperative was formerly known as Compassionate Caregivers Inc. and at one time operated dispensaries in Oakland, Los Angeles and several other cities.

Although a California law approved by voters in 1996, the Compassionate Use Act, allows seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana, federal drug laws make no exception for the state law.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration regional chief Frederico Pena said after the Oct. 3 arrests that anyone who breaks the federal laws to run an allegedly lucrative drug trade "is not compassionate, they're criminal.''

An affidavit filed in the case by a DEA agent alleges that cash deposits to a New Remedies Cooperative bank account in Hercules amounted to more than $2.3 million between December 2005 and July 2006.

The affidavit said the money was used to pay employees of the cooperative, including $331,000 paid directly to Rose during that period.

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Marijuana club director released on bail

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:23 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:Marijuana club director released on bail

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
The San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


(10-17) 15:03 PDT -- A federal magistrate today approved a $1 million bail release for the head of a Bay Area medical marijuana club that was raided two weeks ago by federal agents. Sparky Rose, 36, director of the New Remedies Cooperative, was one of 15 people arrested during the Oct. 3 sweep of eight sites and the only one still in jail. He is charged with conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana and with money laundering.

Today, Rose was granted bail by U.S. Magistrate Nandor Vardas with the approval of federal prosecutors.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized nearly 13,000 marijuana plants, $125,000 and four vehicles, including Rose's leased Porsche, at a dispensary in San Francisco's Mission District and other sites in San Francisco and Oakland.

The raid was one of a recent series of enforcement actions by federal authorities against medical marijuana clubs and suppliers in California, where voters passed an initiative in 1996 allowing patients to use the drug with a doctor's recommendation. Federal drug law prohibits marijuana possession and cultivation, classifies it with the most dangerous drugs and recognizes no legitimate use.

The case originated in the Los Angeles area, where a related organization, Compassionate Caregivers, was raided last year by federal agents, prosecutors said in court filings.

Rose worked for years in Web site design and marketing, fell victim to a downturn in the Internet business and took a job with Compassionate Caregivers in San Francisco in 2003, his lawyer, Nanci Clarence, said in court papers. The local organization was renamed New Remedies last year.

Clarence disputed an Oct. 3 assertion by Javier Pena, regional director of the DEA, that Rose and his fellow defendants were "using the pot clubs as facades to make millions of dollars'' under the guise of serving medical patients.

"This was not a sham,'' Clarence said today. "This was run in a transparent way. He filed tax returns, he paid estimated quarterly taxes, he paid workers' comp and health insurance and he ran it like a business, just the way local authorities and state authorities have asked him to.

"This is a clash between state and federal governments, and on some level a culture war."

E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com.


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Left behind

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:46 pm

The San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote:Left behind

The San Francisco Bay Guardian

October 18, 2006

<span class=postbigbold>Feds let thieves loot wallets, jewelry, phones after pot club bust. </span>

By G.W. Schulz

When federal agents raided the San Francisco medicinal marijuana dispensary New Remedies Cooperative (formerly know as Compassionate Caregivers) and related Bay Area locations Oct. 3, they arrested 15 people and confiscated their valuables in addition to thousands of pot plants.

One arrested employee, who asked not to be identified, told the Guardian the agents collected personal belongings that include cell phones, jewelry, wallets, and wedding rings and placed them in evidence bags. He said arrestees were told they could reclaim the items later in the property room of the federal building downtown on Golden Gate Avenue.

But apparently, most of the items were simply left behind at the ransacked facilities. Over the next several days, the employee told us, his office and the Mission District dispensary were looted.

After posting bail, our source said he got a call from his credit card company notifying him that someone had gone on a shopping spree with his Visa. He suspects either someone broke into the facility or the doors were simply left unlocked by the agents.

Drug Enforcement Agency spokesperson Casey McHenry confirmed to the Guardian that leaving valuables at the scene is department policy, designed to take suspects to jail without contraband. Local police didn't participate in the raids, consistent with city policy and state laws legalizing medical marijuana, which the feds don't abide. (G.W. Schulz)

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Pot club advocates: S.F. permit process is too confusing

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:56 pm

The San Francisco Examiner wrote:Pot club advocates: S.F. permit process is too confusing

Sajid Farooq, The Examiner
Oct 26, 2006 2:00 AM (13 hrs ago)

SAN FRANCISCO - Planning Department backs restrictions; deadline for registrations in eight months

With less than eight months left before all medical cannabis dispensaries in The City have to be registered under new permitting regulations, some say the process is too ambiguous or difficult to understand.

Last year The City created a permitting process to better regulate the clubs and control where they opened. The dispensaries are illegal under federal law but allowed in California under state law, created by the voter-approved Proposition 215 in 1996, to serve patients with a doctor’s prescription.

After months of debates, the Board of Supervisors settled on an ordinance that prohibited clubs from opening within 1,000 feet of a school, youth center and community clubhouse or neighborhood center. It also limited patients to one ounce of marijuana per visit instead of the previously allotted pound. Since the measure was passed, 12 clubs, out of 28 in The City, have applied for a permit. All dispensaries have until July 2007 to apply for a permit or face closure. During the process, some club owners, residents and even city officials have complained that some of the restrictions, such as the definition of a neighborhood center, are confusing.

“I don’t think [the law is ambiguous],” said Dan Sider of the Planning Department. “Certainly there are allegations.”

What constitutes a neighborhood center was at the center of the debate when the Green Cross, the first dispensary to go through the permitting process, went before the Planning Commission this summer. The Planning Department said the proposed location for the club at 2701 Leavenworth St., near Fisherman’s Wharf, met all the requirements of the ordinance. But residents complained that there were several gyms, a park and other community gathering areas nearby.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s office, which drafted the regulations, said the ambiguities were already there because restrictions such as prohibiting the establishments from opening within 1,000 feet of a school or community center were taken from either state laws or existing planning documents. The Planning Department’s zoning administrator pulled the definition of a recreation center from the planning code just last Friday, according to Sider.

“In our experience, the city staff were all very friendly, but most of the clerks did not know what we were talking about,” said Kevin Reed, the owner of the Green Cross. “Let me be clear [that] city staff have all been incredible — responsive, supportive and helpful. But there is not a lot of coherence, and there is very little understanding about the regulations that were adopted.”

Before a dispensary can open it must be approved by the Planning Commission, the Department of Public Health Department, the Fire Department and the Police Department. Reed’s club was denied its permit before the Planning Commission in August. But last week the Planning Department approved a permit for a club for the first time, according to Sider. Hope Net, on Ninth Avenue, still has to be approved by the DPH, which is yet to look at a permitting application.

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LGBT Center “Filters” the Internet

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:55 am

Beyond Chron wrote:<table class=posttable align=right width=175><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=/bin/lgbt_center.jpg></td></tr></table>LGBT Center “Filters” the Internet

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca‚ Oct. 31‚ 2006
Beyond Chron

How well I remember going to the dictionary to look up “Homosexual.” I was in my early teens. “Homosexual” was a word that haunted me day and night. I was terrified that it applied to me. What I found in the dictionary was all that I would know for years. It wasn’t much.

Lack of information was our greatest enemy in the dark ages of the 50s and 60s, a time in America when kids learned about sex from the streets and safe sex was doing it in the car in an out-of-the-way spot. Queer existence was reduced to a handful of words, most of them negative. In no classroom in America was it ever mentioned that Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, or even Oscar Wilde was queer. All that talk about comrades in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was just about friendship, we were told, not things that go groping in the night.

One of the truly revolutionary things gay liberation did was to make queers and queer issues household words. Suddenly, kids didn’t have to go scrounging around in dusty libraries with some bespectacled librarian breathing down their necks to find out what they needed to know about their own budding sexuality. That’s not to say that it was all peachy to be queer. But at least Maria could find information and even books about why she felt all gushy around Judy.

Given this history, the queer community is the last place you’d expect to find censorship. Unfortunately, as always, it’s a case of how soon we forget. The San Francisco LGBT community center is restricting certain sites from its public access computers. According to one guy who frequently uses those computers, it even blocks access to medical marijuana information. The guy wrote a letter to one of the local queer papers, which prompted a response this week from the center. It seems that the center has received complaints about people using the computers to surf porn sites. It’s not surprising: Queer parents complain about dildoes in the windows of shops along Castro Street.

The center spokesperson explained in his reply that the filter is temporary, an experiment. It’s an optional part of software installed to keep people from messing with settings that affect the computers’ hardware. I can understand stopping people from changing settings. But a filter to block certain sites? That’s too scary coming from an LGBT community center. While porn is filtered out of the center’s computers, is homophobic right-wing Christian propaganda? Can one can go to any of those sites without problems?

The center is currently seeking comment on the censoring tool. The community needs to tell the center in no uncertain terms: No filters! Porno is not the issue. Freedom of information is. Complete access to all that the internet has to offer--the good and the bad--is our right. Don’t restrict internet access to those who can’t afford their own computers. That sort of classism doesn’t belong in a queer community center in San Francisco.

The center needs to remove the filter.

(Make your opinions known by going to the center’s website, www.sfcenter.org, and click on “cyber center.” You can also attend a special meeting at the center, 1800 Market St./Octavia, Monday, Nov. 6th, 6:30-7:30pm.)

<i>Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a radical southern Italian working-class queer performer, activist and writer.</i>

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Medical pot advocates celebrate Prop. 215

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:08 pm

The Bay Area Reporter wrote:Medical pot advocates celebrate Prop. 215

<table class=posttable align=right width=255><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/peron_dennis.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Dennis Peron, shown being greeted by David Nash at his birthday party in April 2000, will be on hand at this weekend's 10-year anniversary of the passage of Proposition 215.</td></tr></table>Published 11/02/2006
by Heather Cassell
The Bay Area Reporter

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Care Act, which received 56 percent of California voters' support in 1996. Since that time, 10 other states have passed similar laws, and support for medical cannabis is growing, according to a report by the Marijuana Policy Project.

The report, "Proposition 215: Ten Years Later," finds that legalization of medical marijuana is overwhelmingly supported by the public, but continues to face significant opposition from the federal government, despite the fact that 11 states, including California, passed medical marijuana legislation during the last decade. South Dakota has an initiative on the November ballot and if passed will make it the 12th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

"It's a kind of bittersweet anniversary," said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who is working on legislation that will be presented to the board's city operations committee on November 6 to make possession of medical marijuana a low priority for arrests in San Francisco. "We still encounter 10 years later the same blind prejudice."

"There's been a lack of leadership from our California elected officials on this," said Bruce Mirken, director of communications of the Marijuana Policy Project. "[Senator Dianne] Feinstein was actively opposed and sort of has moved to neutral over the years. [Senator Barbara] Boxer, despite pleas from patients, has been continually missing in action, not overtly working against it, but not being helpful with our ongoing problems with the feds."

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is the only elected official in Congress who consistently supports marijuana laws for medical use and the protection of patients. She has defended Proposition 215 and other legislation supporting medical marijuana as well as patient rights to safely acquire and possess marijuana on the House floor on four separate occasions.

Dennis Peron, who wrote Proposition 215 as a eulogy for his deceased partner, Jonathan, and for patients suffering from life-threatening diseases who use marijuana for medical purposes, said that after 10 years, "A lot of people are getting medical marijuana and are not going to jail. I wrote it so sick people wouldn't have to be hassled, go to jail and have to hire lawyers when they're ill."

"It's made it possible for sick people to obtain relief better than they used to. They haven't had to be paranoid about being arrested. They don't have to go to the park to buy marijuana any longer; they can go to a safe dispensary," stated Terence Hallinan, former district attorney.

Despite the legal status of Proposition 215 in California, using marijuana for medical purposes remains in a complex paradigm between federal, state, and local laws depending mostly on law enforcement attitudes toward cannabis. Patients are often caught in the middle.

In an attempt to assist law enforcement with identifying valid patients of medical marijuana, California developed the Medical Marijuana Program to issue identification cards to patients who have proper prescriptions for medical cannabis. In January, San Francisco implemented the state program through the Department of Public Health at San Francisco General Hospital. Since January, 2,500 cards have been issued. Prior to that, the city had its own medical marijuana ID card, which has now been incorporated into the state program.

According to Dr. Joshua Bamberger, medical director of the health department's Housing and Urban Health program and adviser to the state, "The main objective of the card program is to identify medical marijuana users to peace officers, police departments, sheriffs, and so forth so if someone is carrying marijuana for medical purposes the police might be less likely to arrest them for possession," he said.

He added that law enforcement officials, however, may make their own determination whether to arrest someone. Right now, he added, he believes the program is working well in San Francisco.

While some activists are surprised that 10 years later with increased public support and scientific knowledge about the benefits of medical marijuana more progress hasn't been made, Peron isn't. "I'm not surprised that it has taken this long, but I'm also optimistic that it will happen and I know it will happen in my lifetime."

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Proposition 215, a party is being held on Saturday, November 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street in San Francisco. For more information contact Wayne Justmann at (415) 441-3859

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S.F. law will neutralize pot prosecutions

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:24 pm

The San Francisco Examiner wrote:S.F. law will neutralize pot prosecutions

Adam Martin, The Examiner
Nov 6, 2006 2:00 AM (3 days ago)


SAN FRANCISCO - An ordinance to put marijuana infractions somewhere below spitting on the sidewalk on San Francisco’s law enforcement priority list is slated for a vote after its language was changed to give police discretion to investigate marijuana offenses that may pose a risk to public safety.

But a neighborhood group that cried foul over the proposed ordinance’s first inception has not dropped their opposition.

The ordinance, introduced by Supervisor Tom Ammiano on Aug. 15, would officially make marijuana possession, sales and cultivation San Francisco’s lowest law-enforcement priority, with exceptions for driving while impaired, selling marijuana to children and endangering public safety. It would also create a seven-member advisory community oversight committee to monitor implementation.

But a small group of neighbors calling themselves the Fair Oaks Community Coalition is making a big noise over the legislation, which Ammiano’s office characterized as little more than a policy statement.

“It’s essentially a drug dealer protection act. It revokes the MCD (medical cannabis dispensary) legislation and sidesteps zoning restrictions that are in place,” coalition member Veronica Gaynor said.

The Fair Oaks group contends that the legislation, which does not impose a limit on the number of plants residents can grow, flies in the face of zoning laws put in place this year that limit the number of plants grown at medical cannabis dispensaries. They also claim it will give organized drug cartels a safe place to grow and sell the drugs that fund their violent operations.

But Ammiano’s office contends that the ordinance would not pre-empt the planning code. Any zoning ordinances already on the books concerning marijuana cultivation would continue to be enforced, according to the supervisor. The law would also allow police to investigate potentially violent or unsafe sales and growing operations.

Ammiano said he asked a police captain to help craft language in the draft ordinance that would allow police “to effectively investigate grow operations and to combat criminal activities associated with the sale and distribution of marijuana.”

The legislation specifically prohibits selling, growing or consuming marijuana on public property or in public view, but San Francisco Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes said increased demand because of the legislation would nevertheless increase street drug sales because the prices are higher in marijuana clubs. The legislation would also compel San Francisco to refuse federal funding for marijuana enforcement, which Delagnes said would be a mistake.

San Francisco passed legislation in 1978 ending marijuana arrests and prosecutions. Since then, a number of pro-marijuana policy statements have passed the Board of Supervisors, but none have been legally binding. Ammiano’s office claims the proposed legislation would simply eliminate the gray area between what is a crime and what isn’t.

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S.F. supervisors to vote on softening pot enforcement

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:14 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:S.F. supervisors to vote on softening pot enforcement

- Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, November 13, 2006
The San Francisco Chronicle


(11-13) 15:23 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on legislation that would set nearly all crimes involving marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority for city police.

The legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, was approved today by a board committee with the blessing of police officials and over the complaints of some residents.

"This measure, which would legalize the unlimited growth and sales (of marijuana) on private property, will make public spitting and (leaving chewing) gum ... on the sidewalk higher priorities," said Kim Stryker, voicing opposition before the supervisors' City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee.

Ammiano introduced the legislation in August at the behest of groups pushing for the national decriminalization of marijuana. He defended the policy move, saying it is consistent with Proposition W, a measure passed in 1976 by city voters calling for an end to marijuana arrests and prosecutions, and state Proposition 215, which provides for medical use of cannabis.

"There are many better ways that we can be using our tax dollars and empowering our law enforcement than wasting money and police resources on marijuana offenses," Ammiano said. "This ordinance would allow San Francisco to join other forward-thinking cities. It will not result in San Francisco becoming Amsterdam West."

Under the proposed legislation, city police would be directed to essentially ignore most marijuana crimes unless they involve minors or acts of violence, driving under the influence or the sale or distribution of pot on public property or within view from public property.

San Francisco Police Capt. Tim Hedrick, head of the department's narcotics squad, said Ammiano's legislation is consistent with police policy on marijuana crimes. "It does not tie our hands enforcing the law," he told the committee.

But a number of residents protested the legislation, saying it will encourage crime and the use of harder drugs such as cocaine or heroin.

"It will undermine the efforts of people who live in marginal neighborhoods to make their neighborhoods safe, clean and peaceful," said Arthur Evans, a Haight-Ashbury resident. "This measure is an attack on the well-being of our neighborhoods. You should not throw obstacles in our way. You should help us to make San Francisco more safe and livable."

Supervisor Fiona Ma, a member of the committee hearing Ammiano's legislation, also spoke out against it, saying she believed it "establishes a new policy that has not been presented to the voters." Ma broke with Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, the committee's chairman, and Ammiano in voting against the legislation today.

Although the city doesn't track marijuana arrests and prosecutions, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has said more than 1,000 people were arrested in cases involving the drug in 2004.

Dale Gieringer of the California chapter of NORML said cities that have adopted a lax policy toward marijuana have not seen it contribute to crime -- which is an argument activists make for legalization of marijuana under federal law.

"We have to start somewhere and we have to act locally," he added.

E-mail Charlie Goodyear at cgoodyear@sfchronicle.com.

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S.F. Passes Marijuana Tolerance Law

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:39 pm

KGO TV ABC 7 wrote:S.F. Passes Marijuana Tolerance Law

By Carolyn Tyler

<img src=/bin/icon_video.gif> video


Nov. 14 - KGO - San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a law that essentially says when it comes to marijuana, the city doesn't much care.

The proposal passed overwhelmingly today and it gets a second reading same time next week, but that's mostly a formality. So for all intesive purposes the city has a new pot policy. Veronica Gaynor, Fair Oaks Community Coalition: "The police will have to arrest for barking dogs or spitting on the sidewalk before they get to this marijuana."

Members of a mission neighborhood group oppose the new measure which makes marijuana violations by adults on private property the lowest priority for San Francisco police.

The mayor says it simply formalizes what is already city policy.


Gavin Newsom, San Francisco: "I don't see it changing anything what so ever - frankly I think it's just symbolic."

The measure provides some exceptions: allowing crackdowns on those caught driving under the influence, selling pot on public property, if it poses a threat to public safety, and the use and sale involving minors.

Most other marijuana offenses will be a low priority but Police Chief Heather Fong says that doesn't mean her officers will turn a blind eye.

Chief Heather Fong, SFPD: "When there are legitimate criminal behaviors, criminal acts that occur, officers are permitted to enforce the law as they have been."

A public hearing was held yesterday. Some critics believe the measure will undermine San Francisco's medical marijuana clubs.

Kim Stryker, Fair Oaks Community Coalition: "There's no reason to get a permit for a medical facility, there's no reason to get a medical card - you just go to your neighbor and buy what you want in unlimited amounts according to this legislation."

Supervisor Tom Ammiano calls that an over-reaction. He is the sponsor of the legislation.

Tom Ammiano: "I don't know why the neighbors, because they aren't my neighbors, keep saying that after we point out that it's not true. Whatever the police are doing now they will continue to do, it's up to them."

Copyright 2006, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT
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Supervisors ban plastic to-go boxes, ease pot enforcement

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Nov 15, 2006 11:55 am

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:SAN FRANCISCO

Supervisors ban plastic to-go boxes, ease pot enforcement

Both ordinances need a second vote to become official

- Robert Selna, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The San Francisco Chronicle

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to outlaw the use of plastic foam to-go containers by city restaurants and to effectively decriminalize the use, sale and cultivation of marijuana by adults.

The food-container ordinance, introduced by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, would apply to about 3,400 restaurants in San Francisco as well city facility food-service providers and vendors contracting with the city.

If it receives likely approval on a second vote, the law would take effect June 1, 2007.

"This is a long time coming," Peskin said. "It moves San Francisco toward environmental sustainability and helps to clean up our streets."

The use of Styrofoam and similar products made with polystyrene is a major contributor to landfills. The containers are blamed for harming wildlife when they break apart into small nonbiodegradable pieces and are ingested by birds and other animals.

In passing the ordinance, San Francisco joins many cities around the country, including Oakland, Portland, Ore., and Berkeley, which banned polystyrene containers nearly 20 years ago.

The city's restaurant industry generally supports the legislation, with most restaurant owners now using alternative food-service products. The ordinance directs food vendors to use biodegradable, compostable or recyclable food containers.

First time rule-breakers could receive a $100 fine. Second-time offenders in the same year could be fined up to $200, and $250 for each subsequent violation.

In 1988, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance that banned the use of food service ware made with chlorofluorocarbons, which were linked to the deterioration of the earth's ozone layer. At the time, Styrofoam was made using chlorofluorocarbons. Now most Styrofoam is produced using nitrogen, which does not harm the ozone, but the end product is still non-biodegradable.

The marijuana legislation was approved 8-3 on the first of two votes needed to become law.

It would set nearly all crimes involving marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority for city police. And, it would direct police to essentially ignore most marijuana offenses unless they involve minors, acts of violence, driving under the influence or the sale or distribution of pot on public property or within view of public property.

In a related move, the board voted to create an 11-member committee to monitor enforcement of marijuana crimes.

Both marijuana measures were approved with the blessing of police officials.

Some residents objected to the law enforcement measure, saying the marijuana trade occurs along with other criminal activity that undermines the quality of life in their neighborhoods. The legislation was sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, whose term will end in 2008, and is rumored to be interested in running for the state assembly seat that will be vacated by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno. He introduced the legislation in August at the behest of groups pushing for the national decriminalization of marijuana.

Oakland, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, and Seattle have passed similar legislation.

In 1978, city voters passed Proposition W, which called for an end to marijuana arrests and prosecutions, Ammiano noted.

The city also voted strongly in favor of state Prop. 215 in 1996. It provides for medical use of cannabis.



<hr class=postrule>
<span class=postbold>In other Board of Supervisors' action: </span>

Opening a massage parlor will require public hearings and a permit from the city's Planning Commission as the result of legislation the board passed in a 10-1 vote Tuesday. The law is intended to weed out spas that serve as fronts for brothels and to help curb the illegal sex trade in San Francisco, part of a burgeoning $8 billion international sex-trafficking industry.

The board authorized the San Francisco Department of Public Health to accept a $98,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation to help devise a Treasure Island transportation plan that encourages walking and biking and discourages single-occupant vehicle trips.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced legislation that would create a single sports commission to improve and attract recreational, amateur and professional sports in San Francisco. One department currently manages Monster Park and Kezar Stadium, while a different department oversees Moscone Center and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

E-mail Robert Selna at rselna@sfchronicle.com.

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Man calls police when DEA agents take his pot

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:24 pm

The Contra Costa Times wrote:Posted on Sat, Nov. 18, 2006

Man calls police when DEA agents take his pot

By Karl Fischer
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

Members of a federal marijuana enforcement team caught a whiff of something familiar Thursday as they walked to lunch in San Francisco -- then confiscated about 2 pounds of pot from a passer-by.

The Drug Enforcement Administration agents were near the Philip Burton Federal Building at 1:15 p.m. when a man passed them on the 400 block of Turk Street carrying a cardboard box. The box, emblazoned with the logo of a common brand of hydroponics equipment, reeked of marijuana.

"These agents were hungry, just on their way out to grab a sandwich, when this guy walks past them," DEA Special Agent Casey McEnry said. "They couldn't believe it."

The narcotics agents stopped the man and asked what was in the box. He showed them about 1.5 pounds of marijuana, 12 ounces of hashish and an electronic scale.

Then, in a move that apparently stunned the 20-year-old Eureka resident, the agents took his pot away. While his crime was too minor to prosecute under federal law, the federal government does consider marijuana to be contraband, McEnry said.

"He tried to follow them through the employee entrance when they went back to the federal building. One of the agents looked back at him and said, 'Hey, where do you think you're going? You need to go through the metal detector,'" McEnry said.

Realizing the DEA did not intend to return his stash, the man then called 911 on his cell phone to report the incident to San Francisco police.

"It sounded like he was questioning their authority," McEnry said. "They had shown him their identification, but he kept saying, 'They said they were DEA agents, and they took my marijuana.'"

No officers came to retrieve the marijuana, McEnry confirmed.

In 1996, California voters approved marijuana as a legal treatment for some medical ailments. State and local government have begun to regulate use of the drug, and privately run dispensaries sell the drug to those with medical prescriptions in cities around the state.

But the federal government considers pot an illegal drug, a position upheld in a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The man had a medical marijuana card and said he planned to sell the drugs to the Divinity Tree, a marijuana dispensary, for $4,000 per pound, agents said. McEnry said the man planned to use the proceeds to finance a weekend snowboarding trip to Lake Tahoe.

Reach Karl Fischer at 510-262-2728 or kfischer@cctimes.com.

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Supervisors pass marijuana ordinance

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:49 pm

The Bay Area Reporter wrote:Supervisors pass marijuana ordinance

Published 11/23/2006
by Heather Cassell
h.cassell@ebar.com
Bay Area Reporter


<table class=posttable align=right width=255><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/ammiano_tom.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap align=center>Supervisor Tom Ammiano</td></tr></table>The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week voted 8-3 to make marijuana offenses a low priority for city police. The legislation sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano is up for its final vote by the board on Tuesday, November 21 and then will be sent to Mayor Gavin Newsom for his review to either be signed into law or vetoed within 10 days.

"The forecast looks good. The mayor just said that he does not want [to] veto it," Ammiano said Monday.

"What makes this ordinance significant is that it essentially is excluding all marijuana-related offenses with the exception of the special circumstances that are set forth in the ordinance, " said Public Defender Jeff Adachi. "It's certainly a broader than medical marijuana use and provides greater protection for those who choose to use marijuana."

According to Adachi, between 5 percent and 10 percent of the 20,000 clients that the public defender's office represents every year involve marijuana-related offenses. The most common are violations of state health and safety code section 11360, which is for sales and possession for sale, which are between 15 percent and 16 percent of the cases handled by the office. Adachi said that they have seen a decrease over the last five years of arrests relating to possession for medical marijuana with a valid California medical marijuana identification card.

"We've seen fewer cases involving medical marijuana users in the system, but they still pop up from time to time," said Adachi. "That's a smaller percentage, but there are some cases we have seen where individuals are arrested and later it is determined that they have a medical marijuana card. Under the law, those cases should not be prosecuted at all, but those are more the exception to the rule."

Adachi added that it's important to have an actual law on the books, "What this does is it contains a clear permanent policy as to where marijuana cases fall within the hierarchy of crimes to be prosecuted."

The police department's narcotics unit has remained neutral on its position regarding the ordinance.

Bilen Mesfin, deputy public information officer for District Attorney Kamala Harris, issued this statement, "The district attorney's top priority is prosecuting serious and violent crime. Simple possession of marijuana cases involving adults are already a low priority. Marijuana cases make up less than 10 percent of the 4,500 to 5,000 narcotics cases this office prosecutes each year, and those cases primarily involve sales to police officers. In terms of medical marijuana, the district attorney's position remains consistent: The office will not prosecute people who use or provide marijuana solely for medicinal purposes."

Proponents of the legislation were optimistic that Newsom would sign it.

"We've certainly haven't heard anything negative. I don't think that we've had a definite statement that he's going to sign it, but I think that all of the vibes have been positive," said Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We've heard informally that he's supportive."

"I'm not sure if we are going to get a signature, but we do have eight votes on it, so it kind of looks like that it will carry through," said Greg Shaw, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. "It certainly would be in tune with what the majority of San Franciscans keep voting on over and over again and say they want."

"I think he will sign it," said Dennis Peron, author of the Compassionate Care Act of 1996, better known as Proposition 215. "If he doesn't it will be his undoing because the people of San Francisco have voted three times to legalize marijuana in some form or another – Proposition P, Proposition W, and Proposition 215. They don't want their money wasted on marijuana enforcement. If he doesn't sign it, 81 percent of the people will be very angry and he will have a hard time being re-elected."

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana has been a long journey. Peron worked with the late Harvey Milk during the late 1970s on Proposition W to stop the district attorney and the police department from arresting and prosecuting people involved in cultivation, transfer, or possession of marijuana. That passed in 1978 with 56.99 percent of the vote. Thirteen years later, San Franciscans voted in favor of Proposition P by 80 percent to restore marijuana as a medical substance and not penalize physicians from prescribing cannabis. Shortly after, in 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 by 56 percent, legalizing medical marijuana. Since then 10 states have medical marijuana use laws in place and other cities and counties such as Oakland, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, and Seattle have passed similar legislation to make marijuana arrests a low priority.

"Harvey Milk lives. That's all I can say," said Peron. "It was a part of his agenda [and] I think that Harvey Milk's dream is coming true."

In other marijuana-related news, Mirken also was pleased with California Superior Court Judge William Nevitt's tentative ruling last week rejecting the effort by San Diego County to thwart the state's medical marijuana law. San Diego County has refused to implement a state-mandated program to provide identification cards to qualified medical marijuana patients. San Diego was joined by Merced and San Bernardino counties in the action.

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Vendor's reefer sadness

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:19 pm

The L.A. Times wrote:
<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/reed_kevin.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Kevin Reed, right, leaves San Francisco City Hall after his application to open a medical marijuana dispensary near Fisherman’s Wharf was rejected. Cities and counties have been grappling with storefront sales since Proposition 215 was approved.
(Robert Durell / LAT)</td></tr></table>COLUMN ONE

Vendor's reefer sadness


By Eric Bailey
Times Staff Writer
The L.A. Times

December 27, 2006

San Francisco — Kevin Reed launched his medical marijuana business two years ago, armed with big dreams and an Excel spreadsheet.

Happy customers at his Green Cross cannabis club were greeted by "bud tenders" and glass jars brimming with high-quality weed at red-tag prices. They hailed the slender, gentle Southerner as a ganja good Samaritan. Though Reed set out to run it like a Walgreens, his tiny storefront shop ended up buzzing with jazzy joie de vivre. Turnover was Starbucks-style: On a good day, $30,000 in business would walk through the black, steel-gated front door.

Today, the 32-year-old cannabis capitalist is looking for a job, his business undone by its own success and unexpected opposition in one of America's most proudly tolerant places. Critics in nearby Victorian homes called Reed a neighborhood nuisance. Although four of five San Francisco voters support medical marijuana, the realities of dispensing the contentious medicine have proved far more controversial.

It has been 10 years since California approved Proposition 215 — the Compassionate Use Act — becoming the first state to define marijuana as a medicine. The 389-word act aimed to ensure seriously ill Californians the right to use marijuana. But it said nothing about how they might get the drug — and left ample regulatory ambiguity.

Today, about 200,000 Californians have a doctor's permission to use cannabis, which they can obtain through more than 250 dispensaries, delivery services and patient collectives — 120 of them in Los Angeles County alone. Medical marijuana, activists say, has become a $1-billion business.

There's been plenty of blowback. Local governments have been grappling with how to regulate storefront sales, still prohibited under federal law despite California's tolerance.

Though two dozen cities and seven counties — including Los Angeles, Riverside and Santa Barbara — have approved regulations allowing dispensaries, more than 90 others have passed moratoriums on new suppliers or banned them outright. Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge rejected a challenge to the medical marijuana law by Merced, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

FEW in the medical marijuana business have seen as steep a commercial rise and fall as Reed.

He got into the marijuana business by accident — literally.

Reared outside Mobile, Ala., he was a skinny country boy who never got past ninth grade, the gay kid in a family of rednecks. An auto wreck at 18 left him gimpy and in enough chronic pain, he says, to try cannabis for relief.

Reed eventually took to smoking a dozen joints most days. He moved to the Bay Area in the mid-1990s, along with the official arrival of medical marijuana.

Dennis Peron, the author of Proposition 215, ran a hip, high-profile cannabis buyers' club that was part speak-easy, part Haight-Ashbury hangover. Support for medical marijuana was de rigueur for politicians and residents.

Scraping by on an office manager job, Reed tried cultivating his own cannabis under grow lights in his cramped apartment. He never managed much of a crop, but he did attract attention — he thinks from the off-duty cops who frequented a restaurant nearby. Police busted his operation and tore out 33 plants. Only a friendly pro bono attorney kept Reed out of jail.

Reed says he launched Green Cross to make his medicine affordable. In the South, he had sold mobile homes and run an electric-appliance repair business and a truck stop cafe. Marketing medical marijuana, he figured, wouldn't be much different.

Flanked by a hairstylist and an Irish bar, the 300-square-foot club opened in July 2004 in a neighborhood called Fair Oaks. Located between the Mission District and Noe Valley, it is a place where blue-collar families mix with urban professionals pushing strollers. The main street closes to traffic on Halloween for trick-or-treaters.

Reed thought Green Cross would fit in because it would be easygoing, natty, safety-conscious and hip, just like him.

The outside was marked by a neon-green cross. At the door, security checked each patient for medicinal bona fides: a doctor's written permission or the city's formal medical cannabis ID card. The blush-red interior rocked with music videos on a plasma TV. Reed's prices — $40 for one-eighth of an ounce — were two-thirds what other clubs charged.

He offered 55 varieties of raw weed, purchased on consignment from patients who grew more than they needed. Shark Shock, Ogre, Queen Kong, Hindu Kush — an information sheet listed taste, ailments assuaged, type of high (including "muscle relaxer," "great mind drift" and "couch lock"). A pastry chef concocted marijuana-laced peanut brittle, cannabis cookies with Ghirardelli chocolate chips, pot peanut butter.

Reed dutifully kept his records on QuickBooks, paid employee health insurance and nearly $200,000 a year in taxes. He lived in an apartment and drove an aging Miata.

He wasn't getting rich, Reed insists — just medicated.

"I would rather just go buy it at a regular drugstore," he says. But for now, "places like mine have to exist, or you're literally forcing people to go to crack dealers on the street."

Reed developed a devoted following, including AIDS patients and folks with chronic aches.

Robert Mars, balding and middle-aged, made the drive from Foster City to buy cannabis for his persistent back spasms. He liked the knowledgeable staff, but more than anything felt "safe in going there," Mars said. "And I can't say that about every dispensary in the city."

FAIR Oaks locals, most of them believers in medical marijuana, at first were laid back about the little pot shop. But feelings hardened as customers flocked in.

Reed says his big mistake was revving up business with a newsweekly ad offering a half-off special. Pot patients arrived from across the Bay Area, many bereft after a dispensary crackdown in Oakland's downtown "Oaksterdam."

Residents compared the revolving door of 300 daily patrons to a beehive on a sunny afternoon. They grumbled about customers double-parking, blocking driveways, flipping off homeowners. Aromatic smoke wafted. When Green Cross hired security guards to referee parking conflicts, problems simply moved up the block.

Neighbors watched some youthful customers emerge and share their wares with friends, high-fiving all around. A few reportedly harassed some eighth-grade schoolgirls. One patient was robbed at gunpoint. Crime worries grew.

"I saw people coming up on bikes and skateboards, with backpacks, healthy-looking young men," said Dr. Charles Moser, a physician who, like many in Fair Oaks, voted for Proposition 215.

Neighborhood critics said they were all for cannabis compassion, but not this free-for-all. Proposition 215 encouraged government planning for safe and affordable distribution, but it didn't mention pot clubs.

"No reasonable person would have gathered that they were voting on setting up marijuana stores back in 1996," said Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA.

The courts and state lawmakers, however, have come to tacitly support the role of the dispensaries. A 2003 legislative measure added a bit of clarity to the Compassionate Use Act, underscoring that a patient's primary caregiver could be paid to supply pot. In 2005, a state appeals court decreed that a dispensary could use the expanded rules in a criminal defense.

Activists have interpreted the ruling to mean a dispensary can serve as a de facto primary caregiver. "You simply can't expect a patient who is undergoing chemotherapy to go find a seed and grow their own medicine," said Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access.

As for complaints about the robust appearance of some customers, activists say looks can be deceiving. Often, they say, healthy caregivers are picking up cannabis for the very sick. And even seriously ill people can appear outwardly healthy. Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project cited TV host Montel Williams, who uses cannabis to control his multiple sclerosis: "Turn on the TV. Does he look sick?"

Before Green Cross celebrated its first anniversary, the neighborhood hubbub began attracting attention at City Hall. San Francisco regulators suspended the dispensary's permit, ruling it a neighborhood nuisance, but let Green Cross remain open while Reed appealed.

The fight played out in September 2005 at a marathon evening hearing before the city's Board of Appeals.

A parade of moms, a nun and several schoolteachers voiced support for medical marijuana, but not a dispensary in their neighborhood. Residents griped about traffic, noise and crime. "It is an unfortunate fact," said a mother of three, "that a percentage of Green Cross patrons are criminals" intent on resales.

Green Cross activists packed the hearing too, offering testimonials about the dispensary's fair prices, professional staff, safe atmosphere and medicinal value. "It's not like we can go to Walgreens and say, 'Hey, we want generic,' " said Melody Gannon, a Montessori teacher and mom.

The board gave Green Cross six months to find a new home.

MEANWHILE, complaints piled up at City Hall about the ballooning number of clubs. An ex-con had opened one. Another sprouted in a welfare hotel full of recovering addicts.

Under growing pressure, supervisors approved new regulations. Operators would undergo background checks. Dispensaries would be prohibited within 1,000 feet of schools and parks. They drew up a map outlining a patchwork of "green zones" for dispensaries, with 90% of the city off limits. Reed's Green Cross — the first to run the gantlet of new rules — became "the acid test," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

The search for a new home proved daunting. A real estate agent produced no leads, so Reed hit the streets with 15 volunteers, looking block by block.

This past March, the hunt looked hopeless. Then, only a day before he was to shut down in Fair Oaks, Reed got a call from a patient about a willing landlord. The catch: The location was a couple of blocks from Fisherman's Wharf.

By summer he'd spruced up what had been an old cafe, installing neon-lighted display cases and high-tech security cameras.

Neighborhood opposition was swift and nearly unanimous.

At get-acquainted meetings, residents and business owners shared coffee with Reed but politely explained they couldn't support a marijuana shop. Newspapers and TV stations, meanwhile, played up the whimsy of pot being dished up alongside the sourdough and chowder of Fisherman's Wharf.

"I voted for [Proposition] 215, like many people," said Christopher Martin, president of the Cannery Properties Inc. "But this has been forced into the community. We responded the same as we would have if it was a Jack in the Box."

Reed's final stand came in late October, before the same Board of Appeals he had addressed a year earlier.

In a suit and tie, he huddled at the edge of a packed audience as Green Cross attorney Joe Elford pleaded his case. Reed had slaved to meet all of the requirements, the attorney declared. The outcome for Green Cross, he said, would set the tone for the future of dispensaries in San Francisco.

Once again, residents and business people talked of trampled community character, threats to schoolkids and proximity to government housing. Many wore red tags that read "Families First."

After a break, the board expressed its condolences to Reed before burying his career as a dispensary entrepreneur.

Commissioner Michael Garcia concluded that if progressive San Francisco couldn't figure out a way to distribute medical marijuana without opposition, "this might not happen anywhere." Then he voted against Green Cross.

Outside the hearing room, cannabis partisans lamented.

"Well, disappointed yet again," Reed said. "This is going to cause havoc. There's no place for us to go."

But it seems City Hall can't keep a medical marijuana entrepreneur down. A few weeks ago, Reed wrote Mayor Gavin Newsom, asking for the return of $10,000 in permit fees paid during the course of his long fight.

It would, he said, be seed money for his next venture. This time, Reed is skipping the storefront. He wants to go whole hog into the medical marijuana delivery business.


<hr class=postrule>
eric.bailey@latimes.com


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Protest Stephanie Landa's Incarceration!

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:25 pm

While the article makes a good point about laws and ordinances with no teeth in them, that is not enough to get me to go out and protest for someone who has a previous heroin smuggling charge and borrowed $250,000 to come to San Francisco and rent a warehouse to grow 'medical' marijuana.

IndyBay wrote:Protest Stephanie Landa's Incarceration!
IndyBay
by Clark Sullivan

Sunday Dec 31st, 2006 2:56 PM


<span class=postbold>Medical cannabis patient and provider Stephanie Landa is scheduled to surrender herself over to federal authorities on Thursday, January 4th, 2007 at 1PM.

HempEvolution.org and Axis of Love will be holding a rally and protest at 12 Noon at 450 Golden Gate Ave before Ms. Landa turns herself in. We request that you bring flowers, cards, etc. to show your appreciation for Ms. Landa's bravery in the fight for safe access.

Below is part of an article written by Ann Harrison for the S.F. Bay Guardian entitled: "Waiting to Exhale" on June 8, 2006. </span>

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/landa_stephanie.jpg></td></tr></table>"The risks involved in a case-by-case approach are clear to Stephanie Landa, Kevin Gage, and Thomas Kikuchi. In February 2002, they say, they attended a Medical Marijuana Task Force meeting with Halloran and Capt. Kevin Cashman, then head of the SFPD narcotics unit.

According to Landa, Cashman said at the meeting that the Board of Supervisors had designated San Francisco as a medical marijuana sanctuary and police wouldn't cooperate with federal law enforcement.

Landa told us Cashman explained that as long as they used licensed electricians, kept their medical marijuana garden within city limits, and sold only to medical marijuana dispensaries, they would have no trouble. She said Cashman presented them with a handout noting that there was no medical marijuana plant limit in San Francisco and told them if they had any burglaries, they should call the police. Sullivan, who organized the meeting, supports Landa's account.

After more assurances from then-district attorney Terence Hallinan, Landa and her partners borrowed $250,000, moved from Los Angeles, secured a business license, and began creating a nonprofit medical cannabis collective. In April 2002 they rented a warehouse for an indoor garden at 560 Brannan St., less than three blocks from police headquarters, and began growing 40 strains of cannabis to treat different conditions.

"We wanted to be near them so they could protect us as promised," Landa told us.

Four months later a group of plainclothes San Francisco police officers burst into the warehouse, threw Landa and Gage to the ground, and pointed guns at their heads. Leading the raid was Halloran, whom Landa said denied ever having met her.

When Cashman arrived, Landa told us, he recognized her and ordered her handcuffs removed. They weren't arrested, but Cashman asked Landa and Gage to give statements and come back the next day. When they returned, Landa said, more than 1,000 small marijuana plants were gone, $2,000 in cash was missing, and the entire growing facility had been heavily vandalized.

Two weeks later Landa, Gage, and Kikuchi were indicted on federal charges for growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants with intent to distribute.

Landa charges that when they couldn't make a state case, police simply turned over the evidence to federal authorities who weren't present at the raid; police dispute that characterization.

"The federal authorities were on the scene that day, and they adopted the case," Halloran told us. He said a citizen complaint prompted him to investigate and secure a search warrant. Despite repeated requests, the SFPD wouldn't make Cashman available to set the record straight, and he has been transferred from his former post.

But Halloran told us Cashman never made the statements Landa claims he did. "At no time did we give assurances that someone who cultivated 1,500 plants two blocks from the Hall of Justice would not be prosecuted under state and federal law," said Halloran, who charges that the group didn't possess enough medical cannabis recommendations to prove they were growing for a large group of patients. "They can possess marijuana if they possess a recommendation, and if they possess a recommendation, we said at that meeting that we handle all cases on a case-by-case basis."

Landa said the paperwork was forthcoming and they hadn't yet sold any cannabis. Nevertheless, federal prosecutor George Bevan threatened to put Landa in prison for life because of a prior heroin-smuggling charge 35 years earlier and proposed 10-year sentences for Kikuchi and Gage.

In a plea agreement written by Bevan, Landa said she and her partners weren't allowed to mention the roles of Halloran and Cashman in the case and were forced to sign away their right to an appeal. Bevan didn't return calls seeking comment.

Landa says 10 San Francisco city supervisors wrote letters to the judge on their behalf. But they were sentenced last summer to 37 to 41 months in federal prison. Gage and Kikichi are now eight months into their terms at a federal prison camp in Sheridan, Ore. Landa, who was given a delayed sentence because she and Kikichi have a child, will begin serving her 41 months in a maximum-security prison in about two years.

"When government officials gave us permission to do this, this was not in the plan," said Landa, who sobbed as she recounted the ordeal. "I can't figure out why they would tell us something and then come in and destroy it. It doesn't make sense."

And it's particularly hard to understand in a city that has taken the lead in tolerance of medical marijuana, at least in the rhetoric of local politicians.

"The asylum resolution was a great piece of showmanship, but it didn't impose any penalty for it being violated by city officials," Landa's friend Michael Lee told us. He has also been arrested for growing medical cannabis.

Lee worries that future medical cannabis collectives encouraged by the city could be targeted by police. "If the Board of Supervisors doesn't have any teeth in the situation," Lee said, "they might be waving a flag and yet subjecting people to criminal violations."

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Pot-growing woman, 60, reports to prison

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:00 pm

Pot-growing woman, 60, reports to prison

Adam Martin, The Examiner
January 6, 2007


SAN FRANCISCO - Amid a shower of tossed daisies, a flurry of hugs and lots of tears, a 60-year-old woman who was investigated by San Francisco police for growing medical marijuana in 2002 turned herself in to federal marshals this week.

Stephanie Landa must begin serving her 41-month federal prison sentence while waiting for her latest appeal to make its way through the courts, a federal judge ruled in December. In 2002, Landa pleaded guilty to federal marijuana cultivation charges. Evidence, including the actual marijuana, collected during the San Francisco police investigation was used in her federal prosecution.

On July 18, 2002, police officers raided the warehouse space Landa and two co-defendants were renting at 560 Brannan St., just two blocks from police headquarters at the Hall of Justice. They placed Landa in handcuffs and read her Miranda rights, then let her go, but three weeks later, according to her attorney Allison Margolin, she was indicted on federal drug charges.

At the time of Landa’s arrest, San Francisco had recently declared itself a symbolic “sanctuary” for medical marijuana users, growers and distributers. Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996, permits the growing and using of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

Most recently, in November, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution making marijuana violations the lowest priority for law enforcement. But marijuana possession, cultivation and sales remain federal crimes.

Before Landa’s arrest, she said, she and other medical marijuana activists met with San Francisco police officers with the narcotics division, who advised them on the law, and suggested they set up shop near the Hall of Justice to lower the risk of burglaries.

“They said as long as you stay in The City, within the city limits, hire licensed electricians, you can grow medical marijuana,” Landa said Wednesday.

But Capt. Tim Hettrich, who heads the narcotics division, said Wednesday that the officers never gave specific advice to individuals and “definitely” didn’t instruct them on where to set up shop.

“We are not going to advise people to break the law,” Hettrich said. “At the time, Prop. 215 was in effect. [The officers] went out and spoke to many groups on the effect of the law on citizens for medicinal marijuana.”

On Thursday, as Landa hugged her 20-year-old son Max Landa before heading into the federal building, Police Commissioner David Campos called for a review of police resources spent on the enforcement of marijuana laws.

“It makes no sense to me that we would expend those resources enforcing marijuana laws,” he said. “The idea that a 60-year-old woman could spend 41 months in prison makes no sense to me.”

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who introduced the latest marijuana legislation, said, “I’m supportive of this woman. I think there’s a lot of arbitrary morality in this decision. If anybody’s a victim, I think she is.”

But Capt. Hettrich defended the department’s handling of the case. He said a citizen complaint instigated the surveillance and subsequent raid of the warehouse.

“We would be remiss in our duty if we did not investigate complaints,” he said.

amartin@examiner.com

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Robbers Pose As FBI Agents To Raid Pot Clubs

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:03 pm

nbc4.tv wrote:Robbers Pose As FBI Agents To Raid Pot Clubs

NBC4.TV
POSTED: 10:00 am PST January 15, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- San Francisco police are teaming up with the FBI to bust robbers who raid pot clubs while posing as federal agents, according to NBC San Francisco.

So far, the impostors have pulled off a fake drug raid and a fake terrorism sweep, officials said.

In one of their schemes, two men dressed up in FBI clothing and -- armed with fake paperwork and guns -- they hit a medical marijuana club in San Francisco.

They put workers in zip ties and robbed them according to NBC11.

Impersonating an FBI agent is a federal crime.

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Big fee hike soon for medical pot ID cards

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:01 pm

The Bay Area Reporter wrote:The Bay Area Reporter
January 25, 2007

Big fee hike soon for medical pot ID cards
by Jaime San Felippo

The state Department of Health Services has announced that effective March 1, participants in California's medical marijuana ID card program will see a roughly 1,000 percent fee hike for their ID cards. Patients' annual fees to the state for the cards will go from $13 to $142, in addition to the $33 paid to the city.

This is such a drastic increase in price that some are worried current and potential participants will be discouraged from taking part in the program.

According to Dale Gieringer of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the fee increase is due to lack of participants in the program, which was launched in 2005. The extra fees will cover the state's cost of the program.

"Cal NORML is concerned that the rate increase will strongly discourage new enrollment," according to Gieringer. "The prospective applicant pool will double shortly, when Los Angeles County comes online. We hope the fee increase can be delayed so as to encourage an influx of new applicants to pay for the program."

Currently only 24 of the state's 58 counties have implemented ID programs. San Francisco County holds the most cards issued at 3,241, followed by Marin County with 1,121, and Mendocino County with 742. In San Francisco, the ID cards are obtained at San Francisco General Hospital.

The Department of Health Services says there are presently only 8,703 patients registered statewide but estimates the actual patient population ranges from 150,000 to 350,000.

The fight to use marijuana for medicinal purposes has been a long and drawn out one.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act. Proposition 215 reads that its purpose is "to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the persons health would benefit from the use of marijuana."

It also aimes "to ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction."

But even with the law, the process was murky as to who could use the medical marijuana and how to get it. In an attempt to clarify the Compassionate Use Act, in 2003 the state legislature passed SB420, which established the state medical marijuana ID card program.

The federal government, however, does not recognize the laws of California and 10 other states, maintaining that marijuana has no legitimate medicinal value and that its use is illegal under all circumstances. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2005 that the federal Controlled Substances Act trumps state medical marijuana laws, but did not declare such laws invalid.

California has gone ahead with the ID card program.

San Francisco District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said the fee hike would have an adverse effect to the ID card program's original goal.

"This fee increase is completely defeating its purpose," said Mirkarimi, an advocate for medical marijuana. He said the city is looking into returning to the local, and less expensive, ID card system.

Kevin Reed, president and founder of the Green Cross, called the fee hike outrageous.

"This has gone far beyond preposterous," said Reed. "Where are the patients' rights? How can patients afford to keep fighting bad policy?"

The Green Cross is a unique online dispensary and delivery service. The decision to become an online delivery service came after the Green Cross outgrew its former location in the residential Fair Oaks neighborhood. Reed complied with the conditions imposed by the local Medical Cannabis Act and combed the city for a location within the narrow "green zones" – not within 1,000 feet of a school – but was unable to find a suitable site and moved his operation online.

Reed says the fee hike will be horrible for patients who are just getting by right now.

"Most patients just won't be able to afford it," Reed told the Bay Area Reporter.

There will be a patient protest regarding the fee increase on February 14 at noon at San Francisco General Hospital. The protest is being organized by Axis of Love San Francisco

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Pot Clubs in Peril

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:59 pm

Reason Magazine wrote:Pot Clubs in Peril

<span class=postbold>Are San Francisco zoning boards a bigger threat to medical marijuana than the DEA?</span>

Greg Beato | February 2007 Print Edition
Reason Magazine

On a sunny Saturday morning last summer, the air inside the Church Street Compassion Center was thick with the scent of sweet, skunky medicine. The place felt like a neighborhood rec center. A couple of regulars were sitting on the soft, worn couches in the corner, watching a World Cup soccer match on a big-screen TV while taking an occasional puff on a joint. A friendly dog named “Danger” roamed the premises. Hardwood floors and wainscoting gave the place a touch of shabby elegance; its high ceiling, painted a vivid shade of yellow, provided a blast of hippy-dippy optimism.

Every 10 minutes or so, a customer would enter and drift toward the glass display case where the center keeps its wares. Inside the case were a half-dozen apothecary jars filled with different strains of marijuana, along with some ganja-fortified baked goods. A whiteboard on the wall listed prices. As the customers made their purchases, they exchanged pleasantries with the volunteer cashier—small talk about the weather and their plans for the Fourth of July.

The Center is one of the approximately two dozen outlets in San Francisco that cater to medical marijuana patients. The building that houses it is on the corner of a busy street on the outskirts of the Castro District. For more than a decade—longer than medicinal cannabis has actually been legal—the location has been a home to one dispensary or another; longtime pot activist Dennis Peron set up the state’s first one here in 1993.

Ten years after California voters approved Proposition 215 by a 56 to 44 margin, it is almost as safe and easy to obtain an ounce of Purple Haze in the city as it is to fill a prescription for Lipitor. All you need is a doctor’s referral, a state ID card issued through the local health department, and $400. Patients are not required by law to obtain the ID cards, but the state issues them on a voluntary basis through county health departments. The system helps dispensaries and law enforcement officials identify registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers. Twenty-one out of the state’s 58 counties currently issue ID cards.

In the June 2005 decision Gonzales v. Raich, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states’ rights pose no obstacle to the federal government’s power to prosecute anyone who cultivates, distributes, or possesses marijuana, medical or otherwise. Patients and caregivers feared that the brief era of widespread, worry-free access to medical marijuana was about to end. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) kicked into higher gear, conducting more than three dozen raids in California over the next year. Its efforts, however, did little to slow the growth in new dispensaries. As recently as 2002, there were fewer than 20 such businesses in California, most of them concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area. By the summer of 2006, more than 200 of them were operating throughout the state.

Was the threat posed by Gonzales v. Raich less dire than originally imagined? Amidst the business-as-usual atmosphere at the Church Street Compassion Center, it was easy to answer “yes.” But as an old saying often misattributed to the noted hemp farmer Thomas Jefferson goes, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. And outside the comfortable oases of the state’s dispensaries, prohibitionists were going about business as usual too. Four hundred miles south of San Francisco, the city of El Monte had just extended its ban on such facilities for another year. Twenty other California cities enforce similar bans; approximately 50 others allow dispensaries but have stopped permitting new ones to open.

In San Diego, DEA agents were choreographing a raid of 13 dispensaries that would take place a few days later, producing closures, asset seizures, and 15 arrests. And even in San Francisco, merchants and residents in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood were honing the arguments they would use in their effort to block a dispensary from opening in their neighborhood.

Public opinion surveys, not to mention ballot box measures, show strong public support for medical marijuana in California and nationwide. Ten states have followed California’s lead during the last decade; it was not until 2006, when a South Dakota initiative to legalize medical marijuana lost by a 52 to 48 margin, that voters rejected medical marijuana in a statewide ballot.

But as vague voting-booth gestures of compassion have evolved into a real-world distribution system, complete with retail storefronts and an expanding client base, idealism often gives way to other forces. In San Francisco, things have gotten particularly surreal. In November 2006, the city’s Board of Supervisors voted to make crimes involving the private cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana amongst recreational adult users the “lowest law enforcement priority” for the city’s police department, thus formalizing a policy that has essentially been in effect for some time now. At the same time, it has passed laws that make it nearly impossible to open new medical marijuana dispensaries, and many of the ones that are currently operating may soon be regulated out of existence.

And if San Francisco can’t quite resolve itself to fully embrace medical marijuana, what chance is there that Fresno, California, will? Or Fort Collins, Colorado? Today, thanks to the dispensaries, medical marijuana is not only legal in California; for many patients, it’s genuinely accessible. Soon that may no longer be the case.

<span class=postbigbold>Invasion of the Pot People</span>

In general, the California public seems to favor an approach to medical marijuana that combines Communism with imminent death: If tiny groups of very ill patients are out there tilling the soil in cancer-stricken solidarity, then medical marijuana is acceptable. The dispensaries, alas, consumerize cannabis. They offer ease and reliability, and compassion isn’t always their only motivation. Some are set up as for-profit businesses and generate major revenues. The ones that adopt the tactics of, say, Wal-Mart or Pfizer—accepting credit card payments, running ads in newspapers, expanding their product ranges, and generally aiming to please their customers—are naturally the ones that attract the most suspicion.

Of all the links in the medical marijuana supply chain, the dispensaries offer law enforcement officials the most attractive target. Proposition 215 allowed doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients; it also gave patients and their caregivers the right to cultivate and possess it. But neither Proposition 215 nor a follow-up bill—SB 420, enacted in 2003—mentions dispensaries.

The latter does acknowledge that patients and primary caregivers can “collectively or cooperatively” cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. It also states that primary caregivers can receive “reasonable compensation” for “actual expenses” and “services provided.” While such language acknowledges a commercial component to the caregiver-patient relationship, neither Proposition 215 nor SB 420 suggest that a single person or entity might serve as the “primary caregiver” for hundreds or even thousands of patients, or that their relationship might consist solely of occasional, unscheduled cannabis purchases. Instead, Proposition 215 defines a primary caregiver as an “individual” who “consistently assume[s] responsibility for the housing, health, or safety” of another person.

To shore up their status as collectives or co-ops, some dispensaries require clients to pay annual membership fees. Others set themselves up as non-profit businesses. But providers that offer retail sales to members—as opposed to collectives where patients cultivate communal gardens—do not enjoy any protection under the primary caregiver provision. Instead, they operate at the whims and mercies of local law enforcement agencies and the DEA.

Dispensaries may not be explicitly mandated, but they are practical. Patients have the right to cultivate their own pot plants, but in a world where even making a salad from scratch has become a lost art, how many people are likely to choose that option? We don’t, after all, expect people to cultivate their own aspirin. Nor do we allow nature’s growing cycles to dictate patients’ treatment. “It takes three months to harvest marijuana,” says Steph Sherer, executive director of the medical cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. “Let’s say you’re diagnosed with cancer. Do we tell patients they need to wait three months before they start their chemotherapy treatments?”

Proposition 215 encouraged “the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all,” but no such plan has materialized. Instead, California has outsourced the risk of providing safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to the private sector.

Some of those private dispensers are making a lot of money, and that, in turn, raises suspicions. In 2005 the manager of New Remedies, a California-wide chain of dispensaries, told On the Record that his operation’s weekly payroll was $170,000, with after-tax profit margins hovering between 5 percent and 15 percent. A DEA investigation later showed the chain had made 60 cash deposits totaling approximately $2.3 million to a single bank during one eight-month period last year.

The suspicions about the retail nature of dispensaries are amplified by the debate over the proper scope of medical cannabis. “We have no problem whatsoever with people that need it for glaucoma, people that need it for AIDS, the ability to eat,” says Capt. Tim Hettrich, chief of San Francisco’s narcotics unit. “The problem is with the law. It’s too broad. I was talking with a woman one night, and she says, ‘I got medical marijuana for my menstrual cramps.’ A doctor prescribed that for her. So I said, ‘Well, what do you use it, three or four days a month?’ And she said, ‘Oh, no, I use it every day.’ That’s the problem.”

The language of Proposition 215 is indeed expansive. It states that medical marijuana is appropriate for “the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” County health departments keep no records on what reasons patients give for seeking medical marijuana ID cards, but in December 2005, the DEA confiscated patient records during a raid in San Diego. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the records showed that only “2 percent of patients reported having AIDS, glaucoma, or cancer.” The rest were seeking treatment for “muscle spasms, insomnia, back and neck pain, headaches and other less-serious ailments.”

Medi-Cann, a statewide network of nine medical clinics that offer evaluations for individuals hoping to obtain a doctor’s referral for medical marijuana, sees around 500 patients a week. “Overwhelmingly, they’re seeking relief from pain,” says Medi-Cann’s founder, Dr. Jean Talleyrand. “Pain for many different reasons. People who’ve had multiple fractures. People with arthritis.”

Dr. Talleyrand says his desire to practice medicine in a more holistic manner inspired him to create Medi-Cann. “I did my training in San Francisco, so I kind of have a little bit more progressive, alternative look at health,” he explains. “As I developed what I wanted to do, a lot of it was alternative healing—acupuncture, botanical medicine. Marijuana is botanical medicine, and when you start thinking of it that way, you redefine what it’s good for. A lot of plants and herbs are good for a lot of different things. And because they tend to be more benign than pharmaceuticals, they tend to have less side effects too.”

“I take medical marijuana for severe chronic pain from a neck injury,” says Sherer. Before founding Americans for Safe Access, the 30-year-old Sherer worked as an activist and organizer on campaigns involving globalization, social justice, and various other progressive causes. Then she suffered a neck injury that left her in chronic pain and her career path shifted. “About a year and a half into my injury, my kidneys started failing because of side effects from my pain medications and Ibuprofen. It’s not an uncommon thing—about 1 in 200 people’s kidneys shut down when they have to take 3200 milligrams of Ibuprofen a day. I was not a marijuana user—I thought that medical marijuana was for people who were dying. Luckily I lived in California and had a doctor who said that maybe I should try it.”

No doubt there are people who exploit Proposition 215’s expansive language, seeking out medical marijuana simply for relief from a boring job or a dull Saturday night. “So what?” says Wayne Justmann, a 61-year-old medical marijuana advocate who volunteers at the Church Street Compassion Center. Justmann has been HIV positive for 18 years and has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; he was the first person in San Francisco to obtain a medical marijuana ID card. In his case, he says, cannabis has proven more effective than drugs like Klonopin or Percocet, and he doesn’t believe other people’s behavior should inhibit his access to it. “People will abuse any type of system,” he says. “It’s human nature. Do we close down the Internet because some people abuse it?”

<span class=postbigbold>Dispensary Panic</span>

Maybe we would if the Web made it harder to find a parking space. In March 2005, thanks to a brief article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the rapid proliferation of dispensaries changed instantly from a barely noticed phenomenon to a citywide crisis. Until that point, the city had done nothing to regulate dispensaries. Many had opened without even bothering to apply for a standard business license.

Their impact was so glaring that city officials appeared to be blinded by them: They had no idea so many existed. The Chronicle broke the news that there were 37 of them. One was being run by an ex-con and former crack addict. Another attracted “a stream of young and streetwise-looking customers showing up to buy or sample the goods.” Follow-up articles included complaints about parking and traffic, excessive noise, patients who didn’t look visibly ill, and customers selling and sharing purchases outside the dispensaries.

A day after the first article appeared, Gavin Newsom, San Francisco’s 39-year-old Democratic mayor, called for a moratorium on new clubs and substantial regulation for the existing ones. “I believe in the core of my cores that medicinal marijuana is appropriate and right,” the moderate Democrat with strong ties to the local business community told the Chronicle, voicing a refrain that has played like a chorus during the last two years. “That being said, I also think there needs to be some common sense and grounding as it relates to the proliferation of these clubs in San Francisco.”

For more than a decade, the story of medical marijuana in San Francisco had been a positive one, a classic tale of only-in-San-Francisco rebellion, with empowered sick people taking on an indifferent, unenlightened federal government. But then the dispensaries became the public face of medical marijuana. And the dispensaries—an “underworld that sells pot with few rules,” according to one Chronicle editorial—were trouble. Very quickly, a litany of their sins became commonplace. They offered gang members an easy source of marijuana to resell on the streets. They made it harder for police to make ordinary pot-related arrests. They were irresistible targets for robbery because of all the cash they kept on hand. They were a gateway drug to loitering, double parking, and playing loud music. They smelled. And of course, they were “a real magnet to kids.”

What are some of the actual numbers behind such generalizations? According to the San Francisco Police Department, four dispensaries were robbed in 2005; during the first half of 2006, two such robberies were committed. The police department doesn’t release statistics about how many marijuana-related arrests it makes each year, so it’s impossible to determine how much impact ID cards have had on its ability to make such arrests. But in California as a whole, the number of state prison inmates serving time for marijuana-related charges rose 11 percent in 2005. The state’s annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting achieved record results in 2005: More than 1.1 million plants found in national forests, in parks, and on private land were confiscated and destroyed.

The 2003–2004 California Student Survey, a biennial “snapshot of students’ risky and health-related behaviors,” shows that among ninth-graders, marijuana use has dropped almost 50 percent since Proposition 215 was passed in 1996. Monitoring The Future, an annual survey funded by the federal government, asks eighth-graders, 10th-graders, and 12th-graders how available marijuana is. “They’ve been doing this survey since 1975,” says Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “When you ask high school seniors if marijuana is easy to get, about 85 percent say yes. And that number has not changed—it’s varied between 82.5 percent to 91 percent.” (The 91 percent mark was recorded in 1997. Ever since then, the number has been dropping.)

Crime rates have been dropping in San Francisco during the last 10 years, not rising. Street sales of marijuana have not moved to neighborhoods where they never existed before. The parking, traffic, and noise issues that have arisen at some dispensary locations are hardly unique to the distribution of medical marijuana.

Nonetheless, the DEA has capitalized on the new wariness that dispensaries provoke. In March 2006, more than 70 agents raided the facilities of an Oakland-based company called Beyond Bomb. Beyond Bomb was manufacturing marijuana candies, sodas, and baked goods with packaging that parodied that of popular snack food brands. Its product line included Pot-Tarts, Toka-Cola, and KeefKats; it distributed these and other treats to dispensaries throughout the state.

“Even though there may be claims that these weren’t meant for kids, the packaging may suggest otherwise,” DEA agent Casey McEnry told the San Francisco Chronicle. In fact, the packaging includes information about the THC content of each product. According to Steph Sherer, the DEA removed stickers that read “For Medical Use Only” from the products it seized before photographing them for publicity purposes. The DEA has not claimed these products were being sold anywhere except dispensaries that only qualified patients could enter. When I asked McEnry if there were any cases where a child did in fact mistake a Beyond Bomb knockoff for the genuine article, she replied, “The DEA doesn’t keep user statistics.”

Apparently, none of this mitigates what could happen some day, maybe, thanks to these infernal treats that sort of look like popular snack foods. “What so many people don’t realize,” DEA agent Javier Pena exclaimed in a press release issued after the raid, “is that innocent children may somehow get their hands on these products and think they are just normal candy or soft drinks—thus, making this action not only illegal, but potentially tragic.”

Kenneth Affolter, the leader of the Beyond Bomb operation, was indicted by a grand jury in March 2006 on manufacturing, distribution, and conspiracy charges. Facing a possible sentence of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine, Affolter eventually reached an agreement with prosecutors and pled guilty to a single count of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana. His sentence was five years in federal prison. He may be the only man in America serving time largely for making bad stoner puns.

<span class=postbigbold>Saving Joseph Conrad Square</span>

Nine months after the Chronicle’s initial report on the clubs prompted promises of regulation from Mayor Newsom, the city’s Board of Supervisors delivered. On December 30, 2005, San Francisco introduced the Medical Cannabis Act, an 84-page set of mandatory guidelines for medical cannabis dispensaries. Under the new rules, patients could buy no more than one ounce of marijuana per visit. (The old limit was eight ounces.) New dispensaries could not be located within 1,000 feet of any school or recreation center, nor could they set up shop in residential districts, industrial districts, or the city’s South of Market neighborhood. All dispensaries, new and old, would have to obtain a permit to operate, and the approval process would include a discretionary review open to the public.

In July 2006, Kevin Reed, who had previously operated a dispensary in the city’s Noe Valley neighborhood, became the first person to try to obtain a permit for a dispensary under the new rules. Reed’s dispensary, the Green Cross, had been shut down in June 2005 after city officials, at the behest of a group of well-connected area residents, suspended Reed’s change-of-use permit on the grounds that his establishment was “hazardous, noxious, or offensive.” (Ironically, Reed had been one of the few dispensary operators to seek out a general business permit before the city created its regulations for dispensary-specific permits.)

The 32-year-old Reed had once managed a Hollywood Video store; when he opened the Green Cross, he wanted to create a dispensary that was as stylish and customer-friendly as any retail environment. A neon green cross hung over the original location’s front door. The interior featured deep- red walls and plasma TV screens. Young, attractive women known as “budtenders” served the customers. Located next to an Irish pub, the venue opened without much notice in the fall of 2004. Eventually, its wide selection and competitive prices made it increasingly popular, and at its peak it was serving as many as 300 people a day.

Neighbors in the affluent, largely residential neighborhood began complaining about parking problems and marijuana odors. When a rash of burglaries occurred during the spring of 2005, residents blamed them on the Green Cross’s clientele, many of whom were, in the words of one angry email sent to Reed, “male, under 30, non-white” and characterized by a “skater punk/home boy/gang-banger aesthetic.”

Police never actually tied the burglaries to the Green Cross, and at a community meeting in June 2005 the local police captain reported that crime rates in the neighborhood had actually declined since the enterprise opened. In addition, Reed had made repeated attempts to placate his critics. He banned smoking in the dispensary and invested $50,000 in a security camera system and other building upgrades. He hired security guards to make sure his customers weren’t double parking or loitering in the neighborhood.

Some neighborhood residents continued to press city officials to take action against his business, however, and in September 2005 the San Francisco Board of Appeals offered Reed a compromise of sorts. It wouldn’t revoke his permit, but he would have to find a new location for his dispensary within six months.

Unfortunately, the new restrictions imposed by San Francisco’s Medical Cannabis Act made that virtually impossible—there are so many new conditions regarding potential locations that the great majority of the city has become off-limits to dispensaries. And even in those rare areas where they are permitted, you still have to find a willing landlord. The six months Reed had to find a new location for his business came and went, and in March 2006, the Green Cross shut its doors. A few months later, however, a landlord with a family member who used medical marijuana contacted Reed and offered to rent him space in a building on the outskirts of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood.

Fisherman’s Wharf is the city’s major tourist area, home to cable cars, seafood restaurants, and gift shops. Much of the neighborhood is so schlocky that the addition of a Hooters was considered a classy upgrade. The landlord was offering Reed the ground-floor space in a three-story building that also housed a bed-and-breakfast inn. The street on which it is located is several blocks away from the heart of the wharf; it’s across the street from a Holiday Inn and a tiny triangular park known as Joseph Conrad Square. Reed wasn’t crazy about the location, but since he believed it met all the requirements of San Francisco’s new regulations regarding cannabis dispensaries, he signed a lease and began the process of obtaining a permit.

In May 2006, in an effort to introduce himself to the neighborhood, Reed put together a six-page pamphlet about his plans for the Green Cross and mailed it to local residents and merchants. Unfortunately, his talk of “zero-tolerance for illegal parking” and a “state-of-the-art security and surveillance system that includes more than a dozen infrared, high-definition cameras…that are recording activity around the dispensary 24 hours a day” only incited alarm.

As part of the permit process, a public hearing about the Green Cross was scheduled to take place in the Planning Commission’s chambers in July 2006. On the day of the hearing, dozens of neighborhood merchants and residents showed up at City Hall, all decorated with red stickers on their chests that featured slogans like “Character counts” and “Daddy, what’s that smell?”

Chris Martin is the unofficial leader of the opposition effort. Forty years ago, his father transformed a large brick building that had once housed the world’s largest fruit-canning factory into a complex of shops, restaurants, and office space known as the Cannery. Martin is now the Cannery’s managing partner, and the complex is on the side of Joseph Conrad Square opposite the Green Cross’s proposed location. When I asked him why the dispensary would not make a suitable neighbor, he replied, “It’s kind of a dysfunctional block already. The two cafés on it are having fistfights trying to take customers from each other.”

For the last two years, Martin has been trying to make the Cannery and its surrounding neighborhood more appealing to local residents rather than just tourists. “We’re trying to make Fisherman’s Wharf more authentic and reflective of its commercial fishing roots,” he said. “That block should be pedestrian-friendly and compatible with the residents of this community. It’s not a moral issue. It’s a land use issue.”

When the Planning Commission was finally ready to consider the matter, however, Aaron Starr, a caseworker for the city’s Planning Department, told the six commissioners that the proposed location met all planning code requirements and that the department believed it should receive a permit. Another Planning Department employee, Zoning Administrator Lawrence Badiner, assessed the general situation facing the city’s dispensaries. The majority of them had planning code violations of one sort or another, he explained, and by August 2007 all of them would either have to comply with city code or face closure. “They’re all going to have to go through review processes like this one, and they’re probably all going to be controversial,” he explained. “A good number of them may just close down.”

In other words, this wasn’t just a matter of one more dispensary opening in the city. It was a test case. Under the new rules of San Francisco’s Medical Cannabis Act, was it actually possible for new clubs to open? Were some, perhaps most, of the established clubs in danger of being shut down as well?

When those who opposed the dispensary got their chance to speak, they each used the two minutes they were allotted to describe how a pot club would destroy life in the neighborhood as they had known it for decades. Parking on that block was already a huge problem, they explained. How could children laugh and play in Joseph Conrad Square when people were purchasing marijuana behind closed doors a couple hundred feet away? Why would any community-friendly business require so many surveillance cameras and security measures? And what about the numerous institutions within 1,000 feet of the Green Cross’s proposed location that qualified as “recreation centers”? The well-being and safety of the patrons of the Crab Openers Association Hall and the Norwegian Seamen’s Church, among others, they insisted, would be jeopardized by the intermittent presence of sickly potheads.

And perhaps most important, what would the tourists think? A medical cannabis dispensary might fit into a city like, say, Omaha, with its long tradition of hippies, beatniks, and countercultural rebellion. But San Francisco? When tourists think of Baghdad by the Bay, they think of the things Fisherman’s Wharf embodies—tacky T-shirts, overpriced crab served in dingy outdoor restaurants—not marijuana.

Ultimately, the Planning Commission agreed, denying Reed’s bid for a permit by a 4-2 vote. The next morning, the block where he was hoping to set up shop was already looking better. Parking was plentiful around the neighborhood. In Joseph Conrad Square, things were so quiet and peaceful that four figures slept on the tiny park’s benches. They were either drug-free children or homeless men; it was hard to tell, because they were swaddled in grimy blankets. The tourists, meanwhile, had a chance to enjoy the authentic San Francisco character of a bar called the Dirty Martini without the distraction of a nondescript cannabis dispensary. The neighborhood’s Norwegian seamen felt a little bit safer.

Two and half months later, in September 2006, San Francisco’s Board of Appeals gave the Green Cross one more chance to make its case, but came to the same decision as the Planning Commission. A few days later, the DEA raided eight Bay Area sites associated with the New Remedies chain, arresting 15 people. There are approximately two dozen dispensaries operating in the city, down from an estimated high of 43 in April 2005. Of those currently in business, only one, HopeNet, has received a permit from the Planning Commission that will allow it to continue to operate beyond July 2007. The rest must obtain a permit by then or face closure.

<span class=postbigbold>The Real Threat</span>

During my visit to the Church Street Compassion Center, I spoke with Mykey Barbitta, a longtime volunteer there. Barbitta has blonde hair, colorfully tattooed forearms, and a wraith-like gauntness. He looks as if he’s witnessed more than a little pain and suffering over the years, but his demeanor is serene. A one-time bike messenger, he used to deliver cannabis to bed-ridden patients at an AIDS hospice. “They were dying,” he recalled. “They were so weak they couldn’t eat, couldn’t even sit up in bed. But they’d reach out and grab the pot. It was the only thing that kept them going.”

Barbitta also described the center’s status in the neighborhood. “We’ve been here forever,” he explained, “so our neighbors are used to us.” The center is part of a local merchants association. It runs ads in the neighborhood PennySaver. “The burrito place [next door], they love us,” Barbitta continued. “We send them a lot of business.”

Then he showed me a framed letter from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, her response to his invitation to visit the center. The visit never materialized—Pelosi wrote that her busy schedule would not permit it—but Barbitta is proud of the letter just the same. “Here’s the line that I really like,” he said, pointing to a sentence where Pelosi thanks him for the work he’s doing at the center. If the DEA ever raids the place, Barbitta joked, he’s got a letter from a member of Congress on his side. “If that’s not a defense in court, I don’t know what is.”

In the end, though, the feds might not be the real threat. Because of its long-standing place in the neighborhood, the Church Street Compassion Center stands a decent chance of making it through the Planning Commission review process. But for many if not most of the dispensaries, the local zoning board has become more dangerous than the DEA.

Greg Beato is a writer based in San Francisco.

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DPA Files Amicus Brief

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:21 pm

The Drug Policy Alliance wrote:
DPA Files Amicus Brief in Case Over Return of Stolen Medical Marijuana

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Drug Policy Alliance

On January 31, 2007, the Drug Policy Alliance filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief highlighting the scientific underpinnings for the medical use of marijuana to treat symptoms related to HIV/AIDS. The brief supports a motion for return of property in the case of Ben Goldstein, an AIDS patient in San Francisco who uses marijuana for medical purposes.

In December 2005, Mr. Goldstein was robbed in his home and his medical marijuana was stolen. The San Francisco Police Department apprehended the robber and recovered the stolen marijuana. However, despite the fact that Mr. Goldstein is a qualified medical marijuana patient, the police department refused to return his medicine to him. Mr. Goldstein, represented by Americans for Safe Access, filed a Motion for Return of Property.

Signatories to the brief consist of a powerful contingent of organizations advocating on behalf of all people living with HIV/AIDS, including the National Association of People with AIDS, San Francisco AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project and the Drug Policy Alliance.

Amici summarize for the court the conclusions reached by blue-ribbon government panels and federally-funded, peer-reviewed scientific studies: that marijuana has therapeutic properties not replicated by other currently available medications. Amici argue that in light of the strong evidence underpinning marijuana's medical efficacy, the court should order the return of Mr. Goldstein's marijuana in order to prevent the police (and other third parties) from unduly interfering with Mr. Goldstein's state-based right to follow the recommendation of his physician in pursuit of his wellness.

Just this week, a major new study released by the journal Neurology added to the growing body of research in support of the therapeutic value of medical marijuana to treat symptoms related to HIV/AIDS. The rigorous, double-blind controlled study funded by the State of California found that AIDS patients suffering from a painful nerve condition in their hands or feet received as much or more relief from medical marijuana as they would typically get from prescription drugs, though with fewer side effects. Amici plan to bring this latest study to the attention of the court in the Goldstein case, as its findings bear directly on Mr. Goldstein's medical predicament.

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Visiting with Stephanie Landa

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:13 pm

Americans For Safe Access wrote:Visiting with Stephanie Landa

November 29th, 2007
Posted by Guest
American For Safe Access


Jane is a medical marijuana activist and ASA volunteer in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Recently, I joined fellow activists Ana and Chris to make our bi-monthly trek up the 5 freeway for a visit with our friend Stephanie Landa. Stephanie, a 61 year old mother, is being held at the Dublin Federal Parks Camp, a decrepit women’s minimum security federal prison. The prison, a former World War II Japanese internment camp, sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling golden hills, between a military base and the cookie cutter condo development built to house the soldiers.

This prison, however, is not like what you’d imagine. There are no guard towers, sweeping spotlights, and high barbed wire fences surrounding this facility. In fact, there are no fences at all. A few inmates over the years have literally just walked away, but most don’t because they hope to reintegrate into society as soon as they are done clicking off days handed down by an arbitrary Sentencing Commission. Everyone knows that if they escape and get caught, the punishment is imprisonment just across the parking lot at the infamous maximum security Santa Rita County Jail, a facility that very much looks just as you’d imagine.

At the guard’s desk, we surrender our identification and empty our pockets. The guard gives us a once over, to make sure we are dressed properly (no torn jeans or open-toed shoes as we learned on a previous visit). We log our names as visitors (having already undergone Federal background checks for approval) for Stephanie Landa, Prisoner Number: 09247800, then wait patiently for her to be called. She enters the room from a separate entrance, wearing blue prisoner garb and always a smile, her right arm hangs limply at her side under the pain of her ailing shoulder. We usually sit in the outdoor visiting area and Stephanie fills us in on her life in prison.

In prison, there is no privacy. Most women are housed in dormitories in lots of 40. Throughout the night, every two to three hours, guards barge into the dorms for the nightly count, shining flashlights in the eyes of women attempting to sleep. Stephanie was recently upgraded to relatively lavish accommodations: a four bunk room, but she still hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since she arrived.

She has very little freedom and personal choices are usually limited to a cheese burrito or a pepperoni microwave pizza from the vending machines. All her mail is read and censored, all phone calls are listened in on, and she can trust no one because everyone is a possible snitch. The wardens pit the women against each other by rewarding any piece of incriminating information. All conversations are subject to eavesdropping; even our conversation in the outdoor visiting area is likely to be listened- in on. She is monitored like a child, having to report to certain places at certain times. She must always obey and behave according to the rules. If she rebels in any way, she will be punished. Of course, this doesn’t stop her. Even in jail, she continues to be an activist, for medical marijuana and for improved prison conditions.

Despite all this, Stephanie jokes that she thinks she might be becoming institutionalized. She doesn’t like it there, but she is getting used to it. Eventually, Stephanie will be back in Los Angeles , but for now, it is just a matter of waiting. Not surprisingly, Stephanie is making the best of her time and keeping busy. She is the head of the Dublin Federal Correctional Institute chapter of Toastmasters International (which has record attendance since her takeover), she makes cards to answer every letter she receives, and she has nurtured some amazing crocheting skills (I have a hat and bag to prove it!).

Usually, we are able to take pictures with Stephanie, but today, the “picture lady” is unavailable. The last time we took photos, four out of five photos were confiscated by the prison officials. We had posed in front of various signs in the visiting area (Keep of the Grass, the sign for the prison, No Smoking) and apparently someone didn’t like the rare moment of personal expression. In fact, now photos can only be taken in two designated areas. There was even now a backdrop set up. Tighter control is constantly being placed on the smallest of freedoms.

Visiting hours end at 2 PM. It’s always hard to say good bye. It’s hard to leave her behind. Sometimes Stephanie will smile and ask a guard if she can come home with us, and follow it up with an “OK, just checking.” While we leave to enjoy a nice lunch before heading home, Stephanie must go back into the dormitories, where her life is dictated. The injustice of her conviction is felt acutely. She is eleven months into the forty-month sentence doled out to her for growing medication (plants!) for sick and dying patients.

Stephanie has been incarcerated since voluntarily turning herself over to federal authorities on January 4th, 2007. In 2002, after receiving the full cooperation of the SF Board of Supervisors, the SF Medical Marijuana Task Force, and San Francisco District Attorney Terrence Hallinan, Stephanie, Tom Kikuchi and Kevin Gage were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency by a rogue narcotics detective in the San Francisco Police Department, an action that was in a violation of the city’s Medical Marijuana Sanctuary Resolution. Because they were not allowed to present a medical defense in federal court, all three accepted a plea bargain and plead guilty. Despite 8 SF Supervisors and DA Hallinan writing personal letters to Judge William Alsup asking for leniency in sentencing, she was still sentenced to 41 months, Alsup admitting the sentence was improper but claiming his hands were tied.

Stephanie is still a beacon of light and love, despite the circumstances. The one thing that has helped through all of this is the mail she receives. She says that she absolutely lives for mail call. Please, write to Stephanie!

FCI DUBLIN
SATELLITE CAMP
Prisoner Stephanie Landa
POW # 09247-800
5675 8TH ST
DUBLIN, CA 94568
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DEA moves to pull pot out from under San Francisco landlords

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:37 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:DEA moves to pull pot out from under San Francisco landlords

by Phillip Matier,Andrew Ross, Columnists, San Francisco Chronicle
December 5th, 2007


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is pushing to close San Francisco's cannabis clubs by turning its guns on their landlords - warning them that renting to pot dispensaries could cost them their buildings.

The agency intends to send letters by week's end to 80 owners of buildings housing medical marijuana clubs, similar to notices it fired off recently to landlords in Los Angeles and Sacramento, according law enforcement sources.

"By this notice, you have been made aware of the purposes for which the property is being used," said a copy of the letter sent to Sacramento landlords, signed by the special agent in charge of the DEA's San Francisco office, Javier Pena.

"You are further advised that violations of federal laws relating to marijuana may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets."

In other words - your building.

The letters set no deadlines for owners to evict the clubs.

At one time there were more than 40 cannabis clubs in San Francisco, although only 28 have applied for licenses under a city permit process that took effect in July.

State law, of course, has no problem with cannabis clubs as long as they are genuinely dealing in medical marijuana, under the terms of the 1996 ballot measure Proposition 215. The feds, however, don't recognize medicinal uses for pot and have periodically raided clubs in San Francisco and elsewhere.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who helped write San Francisco's permit rules, said Tuesday he wouldn't be surprised if the DEA launches a new crackdown.

"The feds do as they please ... (and) they've done it before," he said. "I would only hope they would coordinate with local law enforcement and that they are aware of the new regulatory system we have in place, and are sensitive to it."

Pena would not comment, saying only that he would discuss the new strategy at a later date.

One recipient of the DEA's watch-out letter could be suspended Supervisor Ed Jew, who with family members owns a building on the 1500 block of Ocean Avenue that houses a pot club.

It turns out that Jew has other pot-related tenant issues as well. A house he co-owns on the 1100 block of Ocean Avenue was raided by police over the weekend after the person living there allegedly turned it into a flourishing pot farm.

Police confiscated more than 200 marijuana plants and scores of grow lights during the raid and took an unidentified man into custody.

Records on file at City Hall show that the two-story duplex was owned exclusively by Jew until October, when he sold a partial ownership to a relative for $155,500.

"Ed has got nothing to do with any of this," said lawyer Steve Gruel, who is defending Jew on federal bribery, extortion and mail fraud charges and is also trying to keep the Board of Supervisors from giving him the permanent heave-ho from his seat.

"The police have not even spoken to him," Gruel said.

The Ocean Avenue pot club housed in the building owned by the Jew family was raided by federal agents in June 2005, and for a time was shut down. It now has new owners and has reopened under the name Norcal Herbal Relief Center.

And from the sound of it, business is going strong. An employee told us Tuesday they are open seven days a week.
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DEA uses new tactic against pot clubs

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:21 pm

ABC 7 News wrote:
<img src=/bin/icon_video.gif> KGO News - Click for video

DEA uses new tactic against pot clubs


Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | 9:33 PM By Carolyn Tyler

SAN FRANCISCO -- California voters approved the use of medical marijuana 10 years ago, but it's still illegal under federal law.

And now, the Drug Enforcement Administration is starting a new crack-down to put pot clubs out of business.

In the past, the DEA relied on raids to shut down medical marijuana clubs. Now it's a letter writing campaign. First it was in Southern California including Los Angeles and San Diego. Now dispensaries in Northern California have been targeted.

Story continues belowAdvertisementCompassionate Care on Church Street was the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in the city years ago. Now it will be the first to close as a result of a new tactic by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"We've tried to make sure these facilities work for the neighborhoods and the patients and now the federal government says, no, no, no we're really going to step on you and hurt you," said Wayne Justmann from Compassionate Care.

The DEA sent a letter to his landlord and about 80 others in Northern California, notifying them the facilities violate federal law and threatening them with possible criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets -- including their property.

Patrick Goggin is a lawyer representing two medical cannabis clubs.

"They are scared. They are working to follow local and state laws and these Draconian measures are being taken, threatening harassing by the DEA," said attorney Patrick Goggin.

Compassionate Care closes its doors on Friday. This patient worries that's the tip of the iceberg. We're told other dispensaries are facing eviction proceedings following letters from the DEA.

"They are getting the landlords to do their dirty work for them. I'm not surprised, I would be ashamed if I were a DEA agent right now," said patient Alex Franco.

The head of the DEA's San Francisco Division says: "His agency sent letters to landlord's as a courtesy and that the DEA will continue to work to keep neighborhood communities safe from drugs and the negative ripple effects they cause."

Medical marijuana advocates are now hoping for a political solution from elected officials including San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom would not comment on the DEA's letter writing tactics.

"If you give me an opportunity to read them, I'll be happy to respond," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

ABC7's Carolyn Tyler: "I've got a letter right here with me."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: "I will take the time to read it at an appropriate place."

An official with the marijuana policy project, a national organization says so far the DEA's action appears to be more bluster than action. No one's property has been seized.

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Senior complex bans tobacco smoking

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:10 pm

The San Francisco Examiner wrote:Local
Senior complex bans tobacco smoking

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/citizens-housing-corporation.jpg alt="A senior housing complex in Haight-Ashbury is the first apartment building in San Francisco to ban smoking tobacco. (Cindy Chew/The Examiner)"></td></tr></table>
John Upton, The Examiner
2008-01-07 21:29:00.0
Current rank: # 23 of 7,845

SAN FRANCISCO - Seniors have finished moving into a converted church in Haight-Ashbury, believed to be The City’s first apartment building to open with a no-tobacco-smoking policy.

The 92-year-old former Christian Science church, across the street from Buena Vista Park, was converted over the past two years into 40 subsidized-rate studio and single-bedroom apartments for people older than 60 who earn less than $40,000 an year.

The nonprofit Citizens Housing Corporation opened the apartments with the help of $13 million of taxpayer money from state and city agencies, according to figures provided by director Liz Pocock.

“We’re simply asking people, ‘Please don’t smoke on our property,’” Pocock said. “We’re not asking people not to be smokers.”

Medical marijuana may be smoked in the building, according to Pocock, and tobacco is allowed to be chewed or sucked.

Pocock said the no-smoking policy may be extended to two apartment buildings the San Francisco-based group plans to open next year in The City.

The converted church is part of a “growing movement” among apartment owners and developers who forbid smoking in their units, according to American Lung Association Bay Area Policy Director Serena Chen.

Cities are also starting to regulate smoking in multiunit apartment buildings. Smoking was banned in multiunit apartment buildings in the city of Belmont, between San Mateo and San Carlos, following a 3-2 City Council vote in October.

Two Southern California cities require some no-smoking areas in apartment buildings, according to Chen.

But the idea is novel in San Francisco.

The City’s Tobacco Free Project Director Alyonik Hrushow was asked to help draft the no-smoking policy. “As far as I know,” she said, the Haight-Ashbury apartment building is The City’s first to open with a no-smoking policy. Tenants have introduced no-smoking policies to some apartment buildings after they opened, she said.

“I think it’s fantastic, especially when you have seniors who are so vulnerable to secondhand smoke,” Hrushow said. “Seniors will oftentimes have problems that can be exacerbated, like chronic pulmonary disease, or they might have heart problems that could be made worse by secondhand smoke.”

Secondhand smoke — a toxic air contaminant, according to the California Air Resources Board — can drift between apartments through gaps as tiny as electrical sockets, ceiling cracks and floorboards, Hrushow said.

“We get numerous complaints from people who live in multiunit dwellings,” Hrushow said. “People really are expecting to have clean air to breathe in their homes.”
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Pot club advocates assail silence on DEA tactics

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:26 pm

The Bay Area Reporter wrote:
Pot club advocates assail silence on DEA tactics

The Bay Area Reporter
by Matthew S. Bajko 1/31/2007
m.bajko@ebar.com


<table class=posttable align=right width=255><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/mirkarimi_ross.jpg title="Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi"></td></tr></table>Medical cannabis advocates are stepping up pressure on San Francisco officials to denounce the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's latest tactic of targeting landlords who rent to pot clubs in their long-running dispute with California over the use of marijuana to treat health ailments.

"We are calling for people to stand up for safe access," said Shona Gochenaur, executive director of the local patient advocacy group Axis of Love and chair of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club's Cannabis Caucus. "This is a safe access emergency."

Frustrated by the lack of response, medicinal marijuana supporters convinced local Democratic Party leaders to pass a resolution last week calling on Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors to speak out against the DEA's decision to threaten property owners with asset forfeiture and imprisonment for leasing space to medical cannabis dispensaries.

At its meeting Wednesday, January 23 the Democratic County Central Committee overwhelmingly adopted the resolution which called the DEA's tactics "aggressive, hard and unfair" and called on Congress to investigate the DEA's conduct. At its meeting the night before the Milk Club, which has 60 members who use medical marijuana, voted to endorse the resolution.

"I do not want to go out to 16th and Mission to get my medical marijuana. I urge you to do whatever you can to get the feds off our backs," said Karen Kircher, a Milk Club member and co-chair of the Women's Health Collective at Axis of Love.

DCCC member Holli Their, who added her name as a co-sponsor of the resolution, said "to have Bush and the DEA and the feds come in to San Francisco – we all know why they are doing it. They want to shut down the most progressive city in the nation and it is just disgusting."

The resolution singled out Newsom and the Board of Supervisors, in particular, in asking them to follow the lead of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who already has spoken out publicly against the DEA and its harassment of landlords. The resolution also requests that the city's state and federal representatives also take a public stance against the DEA. Activists held a rally at City Hall Tuesday urging the mayor and board members to take a stand against the DEA's "scare tactics."

State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) introduced a resolution in Sacramento January 10 that asks Congress to enact legislation requiring the DEA and other federal agencies to respect the compassionate use laws of California and 11 other states.

Medical cannabis activists argued last week that it is time for other San Francisco electeds to follow suit.

"We cannot make the DEA in San Francisco feel welcome and shut down our collectives. That is unacceptable," said Gochenaur. "We are going backwards in time by 30 years. And I don't want to go back 30 years."

A spokesman for Newsom did not respond to a request for comment this week.

Last December, Gochenaur said a group of 20 activists called on Newsom to recommit his support for San Francisco being a sanctuary city for medical cannabis and to include landlords under the sanctuary policy. Their pleas have gone unanswered, she said.

"He needs to protect the citizens of his city who have voted overwhelmingly over the last 30 years in support of medical cannabis. He needs to stand up for it just like he stood up for gay marriage and for illegal immigration," said Gochenaur. "My people are going to be pushed out onto the black market by their own government. That is unacceptable."

As for the supervisors, Gochenaur said activists have been waiting for Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to introduce a resolution similar to the one Migden put forth in the state Senate and the DCCC passed last week. She said it was unclear why the resolution had yet to be brought forward.

Mirkarimi told the Bay Area Reporter this week that while the DEA's targeting of landlords "is reprehensible," the DCCC's action was "a serious misfire," since the board's passing a resolution would have little impact on changing DEA policies.

"We pass resolutions by the boat load. It is not as effective to pass another meaningless law unless the mayor is brought into line to compel our federal reps to represent our interests," he said. "Otherwise, it is just another resolution that nobody will take seriously."

He suggested activists approach other supervisors and ask them to submit the resolution, which he said he would nonetheless support even though it would only be "symbolic."

"If it comes before the board I am sure it will pass," he said. "It is a bet I will make. But we are dealing with a lot of other issues, too."

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Medical marijuana in San Francisco may be going up in smoke.

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:08 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:The San Francisco Chronicle

Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Medical marijuana in San Francisco may be going up in smoke.

In late December, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sent letters to landlords of buildings that housed medical cannabis dispensaries in the city, telling them they face the loss of their property and possibly prison if the businesses stay open.

Now, less than two months later, seven of the city's 28 dispensaries have closed or are on the verge of closing, according to medical marijuana supporters and activists. They fear more will follow.

"It's like a dagger in the heart," said Wayne Justmann, a medical marijuana advocate. "We're barely holding on right now."

Dispensary owners are being guarded about the closures, as they are fearful that speaking publicly will draw attention to their individual businesses and put them at greater risk.

So far, the Mason Street Dispensary in the Tenderloin district has closed completely. One of the city's older dispensaries, 194 Church St. - which last year city supervisors tried to name as a historic site - no longer sells marijuana but is still open for people to use the space to get high.

One of the best known dispensaries, the San Francisco Patients' Cooperative on Divisadero Street, will shut its doors at the end of the month after nearly 20 years, according to the Rev. Randi Webster, one of the cooperative's founders.

The owner of the building was "severely frightened" by the DEA letter, and the cooperative founders and the landlord had agreed years ago to part ways in the event of a situation like this, Webster said.

Activists will not disclose the locations of other dispensaries that have or may soon shut their doors.

San Francisco is the birthplace of the medical marijuana movement. The first major club opened in the city in 1994 and the number peaked at 43 in 2005, just before the city passed first-of-their kind regulations for the dispensaries.

All are supposed to possess city permits by March 1, though so far only one - a delivery service - has complied, according to the city's Department of Public Health.

The DEA sent letters to about 50 landlords in 14 Northern California counties, said Casey McEnry, spokeswoman for the agency.

In the letter sent to San Francisco dispensaries, DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena wrote that the agency "has determined there is a marijuana dispensary operating on the property. This is a violation of federal law." Pena goes on to threaten landlords with the seizure of the property and other assets and up to 20 years in prison.

The notices are the first step in this new effort to shut down dispensaries, said McEnry, who described them as "courtesy letters" to landlords who might not know such a business exists on their property. Federal agents have for years been raiding dispensaries but had yet to go after landlords.

She said the agency has not determined its next step. "We're still evaluating the impact to see what kind of response we get," McEnry said.

The DEA sent similar letters to dispensaries in Southern California last summer and about 50 shut down, according to Kris Hermes, legal campaign director for Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland marijuana advocacy organization.

While that number is significant, Hermes said, "In no way is the DEA completely eliminating medical marijuana access in California."

Action by the DEA would be followed through in the courts by the U.S. attorney's office. In an interview with reporters last week, new U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said he thought most people who claimed to be patients did not need marijuana. But he also said a lifetime of trying to close dispensaries would "be terribly unproductive and probably not an efficient use of precious federal resources."

Still, activists are putting pressure on officials to take a strong stand. The San Francisco Democratic Party approved a motion last month condemning the letters and calling on local and federal leaders to denounce the action.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has been the target of some of that pressure. On Wednesday, his spokesman Nathan Ballard said, "The mayor is concerned that the DEA's actions will leave patients without their physician-recommended medical marijuana."

But Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who wrote the city regulations, said he has not seen enough leadership from the mayor to protect the dispensaries.

"It's an expensive proposition for medical cannabis dispensaries to pay for a permit then get shut down by the DEA," Mirkarimi said, adding later that he has heard "nothing from the mayor" on the topic.

He said the city may need to consider dispensing marijuana itself at public hospitals and medical clinics. On Tuesday, Supervisor Chris Daly introduced a resolution condemning the DEA letters.

Whatever happens, all eyes will be watching San Francisco for clues to the future of the movement.

"If it goes down in San Francisco," said Webster, the activist at the Divisadero dispensary, "there's no holding them back in the 11 other states with medical cannabis."

E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at wbuchanan@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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Pot clubs pressure Newsom

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:17 pm

The Bay Area Reporter wrote:
Pot clubs pressure Newsom


<table class=posttable width=255 align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/gochenaur_shona.jpg alt="Axis of Love's Shona Gochenaur, left, at Monday's rally."></td></tr></table>The Bay Area Reporter
February 7, 2008

by Matthew S. Bajko
m.bajko@ebar.com

Advocates of medical marijuana continue to press Mayor Gavin Newsom to denounce the latest tactic federal agents are wielding against the city's pot clubs.

At a news conference on the steps of City Hall Monday, February 4 a group of 30 medical marijuana patients, their supporters, and local politicians urged the mayor to speak out publicly against the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to target landlords who rent to cannabis dispensaries.

DEA agents have threatened to seize the property owners' buildings if they do not evict the pot clubs. The DEA's latest move has incensed local activists, who have urged Bay Area politicians to stand up against it.

"We call on Mayor Newsom to stand up with us. We will not retreat from what we know in our hearts is right," said Shona Gochenaur, executive director of the local patient advocacy group Axis of Love and chair of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club's Cannabis Caucus.

"We are tired of his silence. Please step up and do the right thing," urged Michael Goldstein, a past Milk Club president and vice chair of the city's lowest priority oversight committee, which ensures that the police department adheres to a city policy making marijuana crimes its lowest priority.

So far Newsom has remained silent on the latest salvo from federal authorities, who refuse to recognize cannabis as a legitimate drug. His spokesman, Nathan Ballard, did not respond to a request for comment by press time this week.

The mayor's inaction has dumbfounded activists considering he told reporters late last year that the nation's war on drugs was "an abject failure" and has been a vocal supporter of medical marijuana for years.

Other politicians are speaking up. Berkeley's City Council last week passed a resolution backed by its two openly gay members, Darryl Moore and Kriss Worthington, asking its police force and Alameda County officials not to cooperate with the DEA.

State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) introduced a similar resolution into the state Senate last month. Migden showed up at Monday's event, and while she did not mention Newsom, she did criticize President Bush and his administration for wasting resources on this latest campaign against pot clubs.

"We stand here fed up and we will not allow it," said Migden.

Last week San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly submitted a resolution to the Board of Supervisors that would include property owners under the city's sanctuary status for medical cannabis. The board's City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee will likely take up the resolution at its February 14 meeting.

"Hopefully, we will reconfirm our position as a sanctuary city," Daly said.


02/07/2008
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San Francisco Responds to Safe Access Crisis

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:31 pm

Beyond-Chron wrote:San Francisco Responds to Safe Access Crisis; Calls on Newsom to Lead the Way

Beyond-Chron
by Rev. Randi Webster, 2008-02-07

At a Press Conference held on San Francisco City Hall Steps at noon on Monday February 4th, members of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Community and supporters gathered in solidarity to call for Mayor Gavin Newsom to end his silence about recent D.E.A. scare tactics against medical cannabis facility landlords. These threats are in the form of letters threatening asset forfeiture and imprisonment if they continue to rent to Medical Cannabis dispensaries, even though they are doing so pursuant to City regulations. This tactic has already worked in Southern California.

Speakers including California State Senator Carole Migden, San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, two commissioners - Robert Haaland, Board of Appeals and David Campos, Police Commissioner, San Francisco Democratic Party Chairman Scott Wiener, Michael Goldstein and Mira Ingram of the San Francisco Marijuana Offenses Oversight Committee, Alex Franco of ASA SF, Shona Gochenaur of Axis of Love SF, Sunshine Task Force member Bruce Wolfe for SF Greens, Libertarian presidential candidate Steve Kubby, Medical Cannabis Patient Sonija Miles, and Rev. Randi Webster all challenged Newsom to join Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums in denouncing the federal government's treachery.

Rev. Webster operates the San Francisco Patients’ Co-op scheduled to close later this month after the landlord’s receipt of one of these letters. This is a great blow to the Medical Cannabis Community since this particular dispensary is extremely community oriented with many social programs throughout the day, every day. Many patients, some of whom live in federally funded housing where they are unable to medicate without fear of losing their homes, have nowhere else to go during the day and have been a part of this facility for years.

The SF Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear a resolution on February 12 at 2 PM at SF City Hall in their chambers on the second floor to ask their support for the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of Congress, John Conyers Jr., who called for hearings to investigate the DEA attempt to undermine California state laws. This resolution is similar to the one overwhelmingly passed by the Democratic County Central Committee on January 23. Hopefully this will pass on first reading. Please attend and give public comment in support of this resolution if you are able.

Stay tuned.
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San Francisco postpones resolution

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:31 pm

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:San Francisco postpones resolution supporting pot club landlords

Bay City News Service
Article Launched: 02/12/2008 07:55:15 PM PST


A San Francisco Board of Supervisors today postponed a resolution condemning federal authorities for sending pot club landlords letters threatening them with imprisonment and seizure of their property.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued the letters in December to about 50 landlords in Northern California, including San Francisco. The resolution calls the letters "misguided and sensationally threatening harassment."

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who represents neighborhoods in southwest San Francisco, said he wanted the opportunity to go on record against the resolution and asked that a vote on it be deferred. The resolution was part of a group of resolutions that would have passed or failed as a group by unanimous vote and without specific mention.

According to Elsbernd, a few medical marijuana clubs in his district, along Ocean Avenue, "have caused an inordinate amount of neighborhood concern and I don't want to be on record as supporting complete amnesty."

Supervisors will now vote on the resolution individually at their Feb. 26 meeting when Elsbernd will register his "no" vote. Elsbernd acknowledged the resolution would likely pass.

The resolution was authored by Supervisor Chris Daly and co-sponsored by supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Ross Mirkarimi.

According to DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry, "the letters were sent out basically as a courtesy." McEnry said the letters informed landlords that the cannabis clubs operating on their property, violated federal law. The penalty for such a violation is seizure of assets and up to 20 years in prison, she said.

In the past, said McEnry, the DEA would notify landlords after raids on marijuana dispensaries.

"This is a different approach," she said. "We're hoping that people comply with federal law," she added.

The resolution, which reaffirms San Francisco as "a sanctuary for medical cannabis," states that the DEA "has repeatedly subverted and undermined California's and many other states' laws governing medical cannabis."

It also accuses the DEA of "increasingly acting on its irrational policy and hysteria regarding medical cannabis specifically, and the so-called War on Drugs in general."

According to the resolution, medical marijuana dispensaries are a health and safety issue that should be governed by the state of California.

The resolution pledges to support "lawfully operating" cannabis dispensaries and property owners who lease to them. Those facing federal prosecution would receive the support of the city attorney, according to the resolution.

The resolution also calls on the U.S. Congress to investigate the DEA conduct and to revise federal law to authorize states to legalize medical marijuana.

<hr class=postrule><center><small>Copyright © 2008 by Bay City News, Inc. - republication, re-transmission or reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.</small></center>

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SF: RESOLUTION CONDEMNS DEA LETTERS TO LANDLORDS

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:39 am

Bay City Newswire wrote:Wed, 27 Feb 2008 02:50:01 GMTE

SF: RESOLUTION CONDEMNS DEA LETTERS TO MARIJUANA DISPENSARY LANDLORDS


SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today passed a resolution condemning federal authorities for sending letters to landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, notifying them of the possibility of imprisonment and seizure of their property.

The resolution was approved this afternoon by a 7 to 2 vote.

The resolution calls the letters - issued in December by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to about 50 Northern California landlords, some in San Francisco --"misguided and sensationally threatening harassment."

The resolution was authored by Supervisor Chris Daly and co-sponsored by supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Ross Mirkarimi.

According to the DEA, the letters were sent out "basically as a courtesy," informing landlords the cannabis clubs were operating on their property, constituting a violation of federal law, the penalty for which includes seizure of assets, including property, and up to 20 years in prison.

The resolution, which reaffirms San Francisco as "a sanctuary for medical cannabis," states that the DEA "has repeatedly subverted and undermined California's, and many other states', laws governing medical cannabis."

It also accuses the DEA of "increasingly acting on its irrational policy and hysteria regarding medical cannabis specifically, and the so-called War on Drugs in general."

According to the resolution, medical marijuana dispensaries are a health and safety issue that should be governed by the state of California.

The resolution pledges to support "lawfully operating" cannabis dispensaries and property owners who lease to them. Those facing federal prosecution would receive the support of the city attorney, according to the resolution.

The resolution also calls on the U.S. Congress to investigate the conduct of the DEA and to revise federal law to authorize states to legalize medical marijuana.


(© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. In the interest of timeliness, this story is fed directly from the Associated Press newswire and may contain occasional typographical errors. )
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Youth center to move in near pot club

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:51 pm

The San Francisco Examiner wrote:
Youth center to move in near pot club

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/grass_roots.jpg alt="Grass Roots dispensary in San Francisco"></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>(Cindy Chew/The Examiner)
<span class=postbold>A youth center is moving in across the street from the marijuana dispensary Grass Roots, which says that security is tight at their doors and customers need a certified doctor’s note to buy from them.</span></td></tr></table>Beth Winegarner,
The Examiner
2008-03-20 10:00:00.0

SAN FRANCISCO - A youth center founded to deter Chinatown kids from gang activity, offering everything from drug-abuse counseling to computer lessons, will soon begin moving into new Post Street digs across the street from a medical marijuana dispensary.

The nonprofit Community Youth Center, launched in 1971, recently won approval to renovate the building at 1042 Post St. it purchased for $4 million in December 2006, which would make room for youth programs from its scattered offices to move in, according to Cindy Tong, grants development manager.

However, it will also host youth counseling services — including for substance abuse — across the street from one of San Francisco’s well-established marijuana dispensaries, Grass Roots Clinic, at 1077 Post St.

“We’re aware it’s in our neighborhood,” said Sarah Wan, the center’s executive director. “When youths come to our site, we do an orientation so they will know what’s going on in the neighborhood in terms of homelessness, drugs and so on.”

CYC first opened in Chinatown during the peak of the gang years, and has since moved out across The City, now offering youth services on Van Ness Avenue near Sutter Street and an employment-counseling office in the Richmond district, at Clement Street and Sixth Avenue, Tong said. Now it sees roughly 3,000 kids each year.

Youths are already familiar with the neighborhood, but an adult will escort younger members from the Post Street center to nearby bus stops to keep them safe, Wan said.

Although the scent of marijuana wafts up Post Street from Grass Roots, the dispensary does not let anyone through its doors without a note from their doctor, verified by the city of San Francisco, according to manager Kevin Johnson.

Grass Roots, which just reached its third anniversary, serves a few hundred clients per month, Johnson said.

As soon as the Post Street offices are renovated — a process already under way — programs for middle-school students will be the first to move in, including a “Computer Clubhouse” lab, counseling offices, classrooms and conference rooms. When the Van Ness lease ends in two years, most of the youth services will be under one roof on Post Street, according to Tong.

Post Street renovation plans met with little concern from neighbors, according to a report from planner Aaron Hollister. A handful complained about drums in the building associated with Chinese New Year festivities and asked CYC to install sound-muffling materials to dampen noise.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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Gavin Newsom awaits his answer

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:50 pm

Planet Out wrote:
Gavin Newsom awaits his answer


Planet Out
Friday, March 21, 2008 / 06:03 PM

<span class=postbold>SUMMARY: Without the challenge he threw down, the California Supreme Court would almost certainly not be preparing its imminent decision on marriage equality.</span>

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom rushes into the room across from his office, apologizing for being late. He explains that he’d been walking down Market Street, talking to panhandlers about what it would take to get them off the streets.

Fiery idealism like that has come to define Gavin Newsom. Although he is a bona fide policy wonk, his political passion is what captured the attention of the nation four years ago, when -- less than a month into his first term -- Newsom decided to permit same-sex couples to marry in San Francisco. As we sit down, the political fallout from that decision continues.

Pundits are still arguing over whether San Francisco's gay marriages helped tilt the 2004 presidential race to George W. Bush. And Newsom certainly rankled Democratic elected officials by moving forward on an issue that most preferred to avoid.

But without the challenge Newsom threw down then, the California Supreme Court would almost certainly not be preparing a decision on marriage equality now. (The city of San Francisco remains one of the plaintiffs in the case.) Whatever happens, Newsom knows he has become a brand name.

"I'm the gay marriage mayor," he says. "I'm an icon of myself."

Gavin Newsom was a county supervisor when he decided in 2003 to run for mayor. He ended up in a tight runoff race against Green Party candidate and Board of Supervisors president Matt Gonzalez. (In February, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader tapped Gonzalez to be his running mate.) Newsom was widely perceived as the "establishment" candidate, backed by San Francisco old money, high society, and family friends like the uberwealthy Gordon Getty. Gonzalez was the "agent of change," the radical, union-endorsed hipster lawyer who still slept on a futon.

When Newsom won, many progressives considered it a sign that San Francisco had moved far from its radical past. Nobody would have predicted that, virtually overnight, the privileged boy wonder would throw both caution and his political career to the wind in order to take a stand for marriage equality.

Newsom's election had given him rising-star status in the Democratic Party. Rumors swirled that he was being groomed for higher office. As he was feted in Washington, D.C., he seemed poised to follow in the steps of the Kennedys he has long revered. All these aspirations fell by the wayside when the newly elected mayor attended President Bush's 2004 State of the Union address and heard Bush speak of the need to "defend the sanctity of marriage . . . as a union of a man and a woman" and to protect the country from "activist judges" intent on redefining this sacred institution.

Newsom returned to San Francisco with a directive for his staff: Start exploring what the city needed to do to let same-sex couples marry -- now.

Some detractors saw Newsom's decision to allow gay men and lesbians to marry as a political ploy, a calculated risk taken both to woo San Francisco leftists and to propel the mayor into the national spotlight. In eight years, the theory went, gay marriage would be established, and he'd be the hero who helped to pave the way. Newsom scoffs at this notion, pointing out that even his advisers were split on whether it was the right time to make such a move.

Joyce Newstat, a lesbian who served as Newsom's policy director at the time, recalls those conversations well. She says it's true that his staff didn't initially agree, but, she adds, "The debate we had was a healthy one. We knew that there were people in the gay community who didn't think it was the right time, while there were others who said we shouldn't do it because it might hurt John Kerry or the larger gay community, or have an impact on Massachusetts, where they had just begun addressing the issue."

Newsom's inner circle was also worried about how his actions would impact his career. "They told me, 'This is the end of your political life. This is crazy,'" he recalls. "Everyone was feeling good, a tough election was behind us, and now I was going to screw it up." Newsom admits that he worried. But, he says, "the ultimate assessment was: So what? We talk about principles. And if you can't stand for what you believe in, what's the point?"

The marriages began on the morning of February 12, 2004, with lesbian icons Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon taking their vows. Within hours the news had spread citywide: Get to City Hall. The media flocked. So did the couples.

In the rain, into the night, there they were: couples waiting in line for their turn to marry. The opposition filed lawsuits. In quick succession two superior court judges ruled that the marriages could continue. The couples kept coming. It went on for 29 days. Then at 2:33 p.m. on March 11 it all came to a crushing end when the California Supreme Court ordered the city to immediately stop marrying same-sex couples while it decided whether the city had the authority to disregard state marriage laws. Couples who had expected to leave City Hall happily married instead left in tears.

In retrospect, says Newsom, "No one could have predicted how big it would become." It was never envisioned, he continues, "that we'd marry 4,000 couples. What we thought is that we'd marry Phyllis and Del and force people to deal with marriage equality in the face of their 50-year relationship. We wanted to stick it to them, so to speak, to force them to look these two human beings with an incredible history in the face and say, 'No, you're not good enough, you're not the same.' And then we kept going."

As the gay marriage bells rang in San Francisco, the right wing had a field day, and Newsom fell from rising star to political pariah. "It wasn't just the other side that reacted negatively," he says. "It was people who privately had no problem with it who were furious. . . . Some of the people I admire the most in this country just ran the other way and didn't want anything to do with me. I was toxic." Newsom is quick to add, "It was politics. That's all. I get it." But it's clear it stung then, and still does.

How could it not? When Bush won reelection in 2004, the pundits were quick to say that the marriage licenses issued to gay men and lesbians in San Francisco; Multnomah Country, Ore.; Massachusetts; and elsewhere had swayed the election. That turned out to be a myth, argues Evan Wolfson, founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry: "Research has shown that it actually didn't have an effect." But what it did stir up, he adds, was "a White House and a Republican Party mechanism with an anti-gay industry to consciously stoke this and to try to divide and polarize gay people and marriage."

In August 2004 the supreme court nullified the marriages, ruling that Newsom did not have the authority to defy state law. A case involving the constitutionality of the law then wove its way though the courts, resulting in the oral arguments heard in the Supreme Court March 4.

A couple of scenarios could result, legal experts say. The court could rule that the current law, which states that marriage can only be a union between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. If that happens, says Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the court could either declare that gays can now marry or tell the legislature to find a way to implement its ruling, as the Massachusetts supreme judicial court did in 2003. Alternatively, the court could tell the legislature that California's same-sex domestic partnerships must offer the exact same benefits as marriage, creating a scenario like the one that led the New Jersey legislature to pass its civil union law in 2006. Or, of course, the court could rule that the law is constitutional and that California will only allow marriages between a man and a woman.

As California's gay advocacy groups await the court ruling, right-wing groups are attempting to place an initiative on the November ballot asking voters to approve a state constitutional amendment prohibiting marriages between gay and lesbian couples. By their very nature, constitutional amendments trump a court ruling. So there could be quite a battle ahead if the initiative makes the ballot and the court rules that the current state law is unconstitutional.

How that might affect presidential election campaigns is unclear, explains Ellen Andersen, associate professor of political science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and author of Out of the Closets and Into the Courts. A California marriage battle could allow the presumptive Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, "who opposes a federal ban but is for [the Defense of Marriage Act], to burnish conservative cred and pick up the position on activist judges." It could also put Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton "in an interesting place" since "they've both said they're against [same-sex] marriage."

What is clear is that same-sex marriage ceremonies have moved the once-radical concept of civil unions into the mainstream. Both Clinton and Obama support civil unions, while John McCain has walked a fine line, not overtly stating his support of unions yet acknowledging he would not prevent states from allowing them. Although Newsom says he admires and respects both Clinton and Obama, he takes issue with their position that there is no difference between civil unions and marriage. To him, denying same-sex marriage is discrimination, period.

"There is nothing in the Constitution," he says, "that denies people the right to live out their lives, regardless of their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation."

Newsom seems genuinely surprised when asked whether he believes the California Supreme Court's ruling might affect the presidential race.

"I've been waiting for years for this case," he says, "but I didn't think of it in this context. Of course, the issue could come right back to the fore.' But, he says, that only serves to underscore the conundrum he mulled over four years ago: "When is the right time? There never is a right time. Mid-term congressional election? Not the right time -- we have a chance to take back the House. The next presidential election? Not the right time -- we have a chance to possibly win. It's never the right time. We need to get over these stale arguments. If you believe in something, do it. And do it with conviction. And if you screw up, learn from it, admit your mistakes and failures, and move forward in a more thoughtful way."

That last sentence hits close to home. In February 2007, Newsom's personal life collided head on with his political agenda. The public learned that his re-election campaign manager, Alex Tourk -- his former deputy chief of staff and the person largely responsible for the plaudits Newsom won for his immensely popular Project Homeless Connect -- resigned after learning that Newsom had had an affair with his wife a year and a half earlier.

Newsom quickly responded, offering a public confession and making all four points of the public-apology cross: I'm sorry, I admit what I did, I have a drinking problem and I'm going into rehab. But it left many wondering what his personal values really were.

Of course, Newsom has also done much that many constituents admire. At the moment, his approval rating is down to 67 percent, a 13-point drop from 2006, but still high for any elected official. In the presidential primary he endorsed Hillary Clinton, who won California but not San Francisco. And no one would ever say San Francisco politics is for the weak of heart. As is often noted, only in a city as left as San Francisco could a mayor who championed the rights of gays to marry and holds anti-death penalty, pro-sanctuary city, medical marijuana-supportive, and pro-universal health care positions continue to be viewed as conservative.

Among gay leaders, there appears to be a genuine consensus that the question of marriage equality would not be in the California courts right now, and that polling in the state would not show a dead heat between those for and against the rights of gays to marry, were it not for the political risks Newsom took, the public conversation that ensued, and the educational opportunities that unfolded. There are also few who doubt that gays will continue to hail Newsom as a hero; he has an indelible place in our history. And as someone who truly seems to believe that politicians are supposed to do what they believe in, not just what polls well, it's a position he's proud to hold.

The marriages, Newsom says, are "the most glorious reflection I have in my life, outside of personal experiences with family . . . it has given me courage for everything else that I've done, and a sense of purpose beyond the issue. I know what it is to be privileged to be in a position to do something, even if people don't like it." (Sue Rochman, The Advocate)

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Drug Agents Raid SF Medical Marijuana Clinic Reporting

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:34 pm

CBS TV 5 wrote:Mar 26, 2009 12:35 am US/Pacific

Drug Agents Raid SF Medical Marijuana Clinic

Joe Vazquez

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) ― One week after President Barack Obama's top law enforcement official seemed to indicate the feds would no longer raid pot clubs, DEA agents busted a medical marijuana facility in San Francisco Wednesday night.

As agents carried large plastic containers of marijuana plants out of Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic at 1597 Howard Street, a small crowd of protesters formed a gauntlet outside the door, booing the agents and chanting, "our medicine is marijuana … listen to Obama!"

DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry told CBS 5 the documents regarding the raid are sealed, so the DEA was not able to give any details.

"Based on our investigation we believe there are not only violations of federal law, but state law as well," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams in a written statement.

Emmalyn's has a provisional permit from the city, according to Eileen Shields, spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, which she said is an indication the club is in good standing with city laws.

Brendan Hallanin, the pot club's attorney, said Emmalyn's is in compliance with state and local laws.

"They are well-respected and have a good reputation in the medical marijuana community," said Hallanin, who added the business has never been raided in its five year existence.

Hallanin said the DEA would not tell him why the club was being busted.

"They're going to have a huge fight on their hands if they're arbitrarily busting clubs that are in compliance with state and local laws," said Hallanin.

Kris Hermes, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access, a national advocacy group for medical marijuana issues, wants the attorney general to explain the DEA's actions.

"We're shocked that after the Attorney General has made repeated statements that raids on California medical cannibis dispensaries would be suspended that we are seeing a continuation of that policy," said Hermes.

<small>(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)</small>
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Advocates charge SF pot raid defies Obama policy change

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 pm

The Bay Area Reporter wrote:Advocates charge SF pot raid defies Obama policy change

by Liz Highleyman | liz@black-rose.com
The Bay Area Reporter | April 2, 2009


Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided another local medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco last week, just days after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled that the Obama administration would not target patients and providers in the 13 states with medical marijuana laws.

"We have a national directive from President Obama that policy has changed," said Shona Gochenauer, executive director of the patient advocacy group Axis of Love and chairperson of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club's Cannabis Caucus. "The raid is a slap in the face to President Obama because they know he's a reformist who is going to take steps toward sensible drug policy."

During the late afternoon raid March 25, DEA agents entered Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic, located in the South of Market neighborhood at 1597 Howard Street, where they removed bins of marijuana plants, growing equipment, cash, and computers. The clinic was open for business at the time, and witnesses said some disabled patrons had to be helped to the floor.

The San Francisco Police Department and state law enforcement officials did not participate in the raid, and SFPD spokeswoman Sergeant Lyn Tomioka confirmed that local police were not notified in advance.

At the time of the raid, Emmalyn's was operating under a provisional permit while it took final steps to meet requirements for licensing by the San Francisco Department of Public Heath, as outlined in state law and city regulations.

No one was arrested during the action, and Emmalyn's has since reopened for business. The reason for the raid remains unclear, since no charges have been publicly issued and affidavits were still under court seal at press time.

"Based on our investigation, we believe there are not only violations of federal law, but of state law as well," DEA Special Agent Anthony Williams said in a prepared statement. "The investigation is currently ongoing."

Contrary to speculation suggesting state tax irregularities, Alan LoFaso, chief deputy to State Board of Equalization chairwoman Betty Yee, told advocates that the board has no outstanding tax complaints related to Emmalyn's and had "no involvement whatsoever" in the raid. Yee's office indicated that even if there were tax allegations, the BOE would not involve the DEA.

Added former San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, who is representing Emmalyn's, "There is no evidence that I'm aware of that my client is in violation of state or local law or is errant in paying sales tax to the state."

"Any violations of California's medical marijuana law should be the purview of local and state officials," said Kris Hermes with Americans for Safe Access. "Medical marijuana patients and providers deserve a chance to defend themselves under state and local law, which is not possible once the federal government gets involved."

<span class=postbold>Advocates spring into action</span>

Within minutes of last week's raid, word spread throughout the advocacy community via text messages and e-mail, and people soon began to gather outside the building. Activists organized a noon rally the following day at the San Francisco Federal Building, which ended with a march to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-San Francisco) office.

"We wanted to focus on getting in contact with our political allies as soon as possible rather than just standing outside with signs," Gochenauer told the Bay Area Reporter .

On Monday, Gochenauer, Emmalyn's proprietor John Baumgartner, and members of the Patient Advocacy Network met with Pelosi's deputy director, Melanie Nutter, to discuss the raid and present a list of demands, including a federal injunction against any further "investigations, raids, arrests, seizures, or prosecutions" until a new DEA administrator is in place and new policies are formalized.

Advocates also remain concerned about the fate of individuals currently facing federal charges for providing medical cannabis, and demanded that charges be dropped if defendants already convicted under federal law are found to be in compliance with state regulations.

Advocates are particularly incensed that DEA appears to be unaware of – or deliberately ignoring – Holder's recent statements signaling a departure from the policies of the Bush and Clinton eras.

At a February 25 news conference, the newly appointed attorney general confirmed Obama's campaign promise that he would not be "using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." On March 18, Holder went further, telling reporters that the new policy is "to go after those people who violate both federal and state law."

"Wednesday's DEA raid was a clear step backward," said state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who recently introduced a bill to legalize and tax marijuana. "With the increasing violence along the Mexican border, the DEA should be focusing their efforts on fighting these dangerous cartels rather than sick people seeking compassionate care."

Last week, Ammiano's bill was moved to a two-year calendar, however, meaning that hearings won't take place on his proposal this year.

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Feds to Continue Raids on Medical Pot in California

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:59 pm

Mission Local wrote:Feds to Continue Raids on Medical Pot in California

Mission Local
By: Bryan Gibel | November 3, 2009 – 12:51 am


The federal government will continue raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California despite guidelines issued by the Justice Department two weeks ago indicating prosecutors should yield to state laws.

“I think it’s unfortunate that people have for some reason picked up on this as a change in policy, because it’s really not a change at all,” said Joseph Russoniello, federal prosecutor for the northern district of California, who was appointed in 2007 by then-President George W. Bush.

Asked if federal officials will halt investigation and prosecution of medical marijuana operations in the state, Russoniello said simply, “The short answer is no.”

Medical marijuana was made legal in California when voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, which permits cannabis use with a valid doctor’s recommendation.

San Francisco has 23 dispensaries, four of which are in the Mission District, according to the Department of Public Health.

A memo sent Oct. 19 by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden to federal prosecutors in California and the other 13 states where medical cannabis is legal stated that law enforcement should focus on major drug trafficking networks, rather than entities “in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws.”

The memo clarified a policy announced by Attorney General Eric Holder in March: Federal officials should desist from raiding and prosecuting state-approved medical marijuana providers.

Less than a week after Holder’s announcement, more than a dozen Drug Enforcement Agency agents raided Emmalyn’s California Cannabis Clinic, a medical marijuana cooperative located near the intersection of 12th and Howard streets on the edge of the Mission District.

“They came in with their guns drawn and pointed them right in our faces like we are criminals,” said Rose, a quiet Filipino woman with rheumatoid arthritis who manages the spotless clinic. “They twisted one of our patient’s arms and put a gun to his head. He was crying. It was so scary.”

The agents confiscated plants and medical cannabis, which were never returned, Rose said. Nobody was arrested and no charges were ever filed.

The clinic, which has 4,500 registered patients, is a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary that is licensed by the city.

It only sells marijuana grown specifically for its patients, all of whom must have a medical marijuana card issued by the state of California and a valid state, Rose said.

Inside the doors of the clinic, meticulously guarded by a polite but stringent doorman, the clinic greets customers with Zen-like simplicity, meditative music and more than 20 strains of pot.

Prices range from $10 per gram for Space Queen to $20 for Super Grape and ChemDog.

Last year, State Attorney General Jerry Brown set guidelines mandating that city dispensaries are legally required to operate as not-for-profit collectives or cooperatives.

That means they can only obtain cannabis from growers that are members of their co-op or collective, and their customers have to be members too.

Russoniello said many dispensaries in San Francisco and around California aren’t really not-for-profit, and he will prosecute any distributor fraudulently operating as a commercial enterprise in violation of state laws.

“By that I mean people who are in it as if they were running a neighborhood candy store instead of running a commune, a collective or a group club that caters only to specific identified persons,” he said.

The DEA operation against Emmalyn’s in March was the only raid that has been conducted in San Francisco in 2009 to date, said DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry.

Asked if federal agents are currently preparing to raid dispensaries suspected of illegal activities, Russoniello declined to comment.

“I cannot affirm or deny the existence of ongoing criminal investigations,” he said.

The statements made by Northern California’s top prosecutor stand in stark contrast to the guarded optimism of many medical pot activists in the city in response to the Justice Department’s recent guidelines.

“You’re going to see a change,” said Mark, who helps run Medithrive, a dispensary on Mission Street that has been open for six weeks and has about 1,100 patients. “There is going to be a new demographic of patients that were worried about the federal aspect.”

That may be true, but Russoniello said it’s a mistake to think recent Justice Department guidelines will mean no more raids.

“Whether people understand that there is a very high risk of detection and prosecution if they are engaged in this business as a commercial enterprise, I don’t know,” he said.

Back at Emmalyn’s, Rose said she is diligently making sure the clinic complies with all state laws, but she’s still fearful federal agents could again show up at her door.

“We just provide medicine for our patients, and we try to be as compassionate as we can,” she said in a soft voice. “Last time was traumatizing. I don’t want to feel that again.”
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