California, Santa Barbara

Medical marijuana by city.

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California, Santa Barbara

Postby budman » Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:30 pm

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:MEDICAL MARIJUANA SHOP ROBBED:

By Indy Staff, August 10, 2006
The Santa Barbara Independent

The first reported armed robbery of a medical marijuana distribution center took place at Santa Barbara Hydroponics, 3128 State Street. Owner Jack Poet said he has been robbed three times before but never reported the earlier robberies because “medical marijuana is such a controversial issue.” Poet said the robber — in his thirties, 160 pounds, with red hair and a goatee — walked away with $30 cash and 15 small display baggies of marijuana.

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Joint Considerations

Postby budman » Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:53 pm

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Joint Considerations

By Indy Staff, October 4, 2006
The Santa Barbara Independent

<span class=postbold><big>Should Santa Barbara De-prioritize Marijuana Enforcement?</big></span>


by Lara Cassell, Yes on P campaign coordinator (sensiblesantabarbara.org).

I spent the better part of spring this year discussing Bush’s failed War on Drugs with the people of Santa Barbara. Along with scores of volunteers, I strolled the Farmers Market, knocked on hundreds of doors, and became a daily fixture in front of the grocery store, all in an effort to talk to my fellow Santa Barbarans about Measure P. If you spent spring 2006 in our lovely city, chances are you encountered us at least once, with our petitions in hand  —  and you likely signed one in support. Time and time again, passersby smiled in agreement, and emphatically inquired, “Where can I sign?” In the end, we collected 11,556 signatures from registered voters  —  a virtual mandate from Santa Barbarans  —  and qualified Measure P for the November ballot.

Measure P makes personal, adult marijuana offenses the Santa Barbara Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priority, allowing police to focus their resources  —  and our tax dollars  —  on serious and violent crime. To the citizens of Santa Barbara, this initiative makes a whole lot of sense. As the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association has stated, serious and violent crimes in our city are skyrocketing. In the past four years, Santa Barbara has seen a 57 percent increase in reported child abuse, 66 percent increase in attempted rape, and an astounding 109 percent increase in home burglaries. Meanwhile, the California Department of Justice reports that hundreds of adults are arrested every year in our city for nonviolent marijuana offenses, wasting tax dollars and police resources which would be better spent investigating and preventing dangerous crimes that fundamentally threaten the quality of life in Santa Barbara.

Nationally, the Bush administration has made marijuana  —  medical or otherwise  —  its number-one priority in the failed War on Drugs. More than 700,000 citizens, including medical marijuana patients, are arrested each year in the U.S. for marijuana-related offenses. In California, our overcrowded prisons are at nearly twice capacity and taxpayers are now being asked for billions more to build new ones. From a financial viewpoint, it is not in our best interest to support the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of nonviolent, tax-paying, and otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Initiatives like Measure P have proven successful elsewhere. In 2003, Seattle passed a similar measure and reduced marijuana arrests by 75 percent, saving millions of dollars for more significant priorities. Seattle’s former police chief has called it effective and successful. It can work here, too.

Marijuana is illegal under state and federal law, and this initiative does not change that. Furthermore, marijuana-related law enforcement priorities would continue to apply to public use, offenses involving minors, and driving under the influence. What Measure P will do is allow Santa Barbarans to implement a local policy that is consistent with our community’s values and priorities. It will also provide another layer of protection for medical marijuana patients. That is why it is backed by such a broad coalition of supporters, including the California Nurses Association, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Fund for Santa Barbara, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Das Williams, Dr. Stephen W. Hosea of Cottage Hospital, Dr. David Bearman, and many more.

If my experience in our city this spring taught me anything, it is that Santa Barbarans believe in common sense politics and want to see their tax dollars used effectively. That is why I believe Measure P will pass overwhelmingly on November 7.

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by Cam Sanchez, Santa Barbara Police Department chief.

If passed, the proposed ordinance would mandate the Santa Barbara Police Department give the lowest possible priority to cases of adult marijuana use or possession. Since there are always other things for police officers to do, the ordinance effectively decriminalizes marijuana use and possession. Even if we did find it necessary to take enforcement action, the ordinance requires a several-stage-long follow-up to justify the action. This ordinance will negatively impact our community.

A common misconception about marijuana enforcement is the penalty for possessing marijuana. As of today, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana results in a citation, just like a traffic ticket: no arrest, no handcuffs, no photographs, no criminal history, and no fingerprints. The fine is $175, about the same as a moving violation.

Another misconception is that the ordinance is needed to allow people access to medicinal marijuana. This is simply not the case. When encountering people with marijuana, our officers always investigate whether they have a doctor’s recommendation for medicinal marijuana. If so, we treat the situation just like someone possessing prescribed pain medication. As with any prescribed medication, there are people who abuse the medicinal marijuana privilege. These exceptions should be investigated.

People need to see the big picture. On average, our police dispatchers handle 1,100 phone calls each day. With this volume of activity, we constantly evaluate how to best deploy our resources.

As a community crime problem, marijuana use is a low  —  but certainly not nonexistent  —  priority. Most of our marijuana enforcement results from citizen complaints. By far, the area of Santa Barbara with the highest level of complaints and marijuana enforcement is the downtown areas, including De la Guerra Plaza and the city parking garages. We receive daily complaints of disturbances, aggressive panhandling, fights, public urination, public intoxication, and marijuana use.

The public expects the SBPD to keep our streets safe. They expect us to make the right decisions and give every complaint the right priority. This ordinance gives no thought to the priority currently given to marijuana enforcement, or to the fact that marijuana enforcement is a tool to help keep the peace. The ordinance will make it harder for us to do what the public expects.

We receive many complaints about neighborhood marijuana dealers. Surprisingly (or not), many people ambivalent about marijuana use suddenly become crusaders against marijuana when the problem moves in next door. Suddenly, the neighborhood feels unsafe. Problems of theft, vandalism, and intimidation are attributed to dealers and “unsavory” customers. A primary way to investigate marijuana dealers is to question “buyers” in possession of marijuana. The ordinance will hamstring our ability to investigate marijuana sales cases.

If passed, the ordinance creates problems of conflicting law: Will the ordinance affect the ban on smoking near preschools? What will police do if someone lights up a marijuana pipe in a bar, restaurant, or other public place? What about people who smoke marijuana while driving or operating heavy equipment? What about young adults smoking near our high schools and on the City College campus? What happens when someone calls to complain about secondhand marijuana smoke? According to the ordinance language, these incidents will become the rock bottom of police priorities. Barking dog complaints will take a higher priority.

As a police officer, I’m old enough to remember when public consumption of alcohol was legal in Santa Barbara. I also remember when lower State Street had a completely different flavor than the beautiful tourist attraction we enjoy today. Does anyone really believe that the ordinance will do anything except increase public use of marijuana? Will Santa Barbara attract a different breed of tourist? Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

The biggest misconception of all is that marijuana use will remain at about the same level today if the ordinance is passed. Think about it: If marijuana smoking and possession violations become unenforceable, people are bound to smoke marijuana in public places throughout Santa Barbara.

In the end, SBPD will enforce the law of the land and the will of the people. Just be forewarned: Be careful what you wish for!

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Cloudy Future

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:15 pm

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Cloudy Future
By Ethan Stewart, November 16, 2006

<span class=postbigbold>The Contentious Reality of Measure P</span>

The Santa Barbara Independent
November 16, 2006


Flying in the face of federal drug laws, nearly 17,000 Santa Barbara City residents hit the polls last week and voted to make marijuana-related offenses the “lowest priority” of the Santa Barbara Police Department. Thanks to this effort, the appropriately named Measure P passed with a resounding 66 percent of the popular vote. Strongly opposed by local law enforcement, however, the measure seems destined for at least one more showdown before it can become a reality, as the City Council has requested a closed-door meeting with City Attorney Steve Wiley to discuss the various legal implications of the pro-pot directive and the possibility of an appeal. When asked what a Measure P reality will mean for our local cops and residents who indulge in the occasional toke, Lt. Paul McCaffrey commented this week, “We don’t know how it’s going to affect us, and I’m not sure anyone in Santa Barbara knows either.”

But residents of other parts of the country know full well, as similar measures have been passed in such places as Seattle, Oakland, and Columbia, Missouri, since 2003. According to Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr — who is an outspoken critic of the initiative — the measure has made “very little difference” for city residents, as adult pot-related infractions were low both before and after Seattle’s Measure I-75 passed. However, the numbers indicate that pot arrests were reduced by two-thirds, going from 178 citations in the year before the measure passed to 59 the year after. Where Carr feels the measure has left its mark is in the “administrative headache” involved in monitoring the initiative.

McCaffrey predicts a similar fate for Santa Barbara cops should the measure stand as it is currently worded; it now requires officers who cite adult offenders to submit a memo justifying their actions to an oversight committee. But of even greater concern to Santa Barbara cops is the worry that the measure might hamstring their policing duties and prevent them from fulfilling their obligations to local residents. McCaffrey pointed to situations in which criminal activity is reported, but the only incriminating evidence on the scene is marijuana. McCaffrey has “concerns” about what officers will now be able to do to curb the reported illegal behavior in these situations, which frequently involve homeless people in public places. But San Francisco narcotics Captain Timothy Hettrich had a different view, testifying recently before his City Council — which is set to vote on a similar measure this week — “This [lowest-priority initiative] does not tie our hands at all” since it does not change any existing laws.

Policing aside, to the folks at City Hall — including Mayor Marty Blum and City Attorney Wiley — the biggest potential problem with Measure P is one of “constitutionality,” as it directly conflicts with state and federal law. However, the 2003 initiatives of other cities have all survived, and on last week’s election night similar measures passed in Santa Cruz; Santa Monica; Missoula, Montana; and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. “The city has no obligation to enforce federal law at all. Besides, the measure doesn’t say you cannot enforce a specific law,” explained Bruce Mirken, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, an Oakland-based nonprofit that provided substantial funding for our local pro-Measure P movement. Mirken added that while the initiative does give adult pot smokers a small amount of protection, it “certainly doesn’t provide an absolute guarantee that you aren’t going to be arrested or cited.” After all, no matter what the fate of Measure P may be, smoking ganja is still against the law in Santa Barbara unless you have a medical prescription.

With city councilmembers and Wiley slated to have their private meeting in early December, both supporters and opponents of Measure P seemed resigned to a wait-and-see attitude. Lara Cassell, one of the chief organizers of the petition drive that got Measure P on the ballot, said her group has not met with the City Council since election night but added, “We think the voters of Santa Barbara sent a pretty clear message, and we look forward to working with the council [in the future].” For the SBPD’s part, McCaffrey said the issue ultimately is for “the city and their attorney to decide.” Despite the department’s concerns, McCaffrey vowed, “We are going to follow the laws and what we are told to do.”

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Leggies Support Measure P, Change Quorum

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:21 pm

The Daily Nexus wrote:
Leggies Support Measure P, Change Quorum

The Daily Nexus
by Mackenzie Weinger - Reporter
Thursday, November 30, 2006

At their final meeting of the quarter, the Associated Students Legislative Council maintained a busy schedule passing three bills and one resolution, and tabling another two bills.

Leggies passed a bill that would eliminate a few members from the Isla Vista Tenants Union, an organization that strives to educate I.V. residents about their rights and responsibilities. Council members also passed a bill to restructure the A.S. Office of the Student Advocate and a bill that calls for updates to the Education Opportunity Program financial guidelines. Meanwhile, they also tabled a bill that would amend A.S. Legislative Council Replacement Procedures and a bill that would create a KCSB liaison.

The council also passed a resolution supporting the de-prioritization of possessing marijuana as a crime.

Several members spoke in favor of the resolution, citing the recent passage of Measure P during the Nov. 7 election. Measure P was a ballot measure that made marijuana possession a low priority crime in the city of Santa Barbara.

Daniel Komins, representative for the UCSB chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws, said current research shows that marijuana has medical value and in fact, is "safer than potatoes."

"More people are abusing [marijuana] because it is illegal," Komins, who acted as a proxy at the meeting, said.

On-Campus Rep. Jaclyn Feldstein said making marijuana a low priority for law enforcement would turn the Isla Vista Foot Patrol's focus onto more serious issues.

"So many more important crimes are happening in I.V.," Feldstein said. "It's a good message to the I.V. Foot Patrol."

The resolution passed with 18 in favor and 4 abstaining.

Initially, a bill combining the Isla Vista Tenants Union was tabled, but later Off-Campus Rep. Deirdre Mathis motioned to reconsider the bill in order to pass it.

Mathis said there have not been enough members during the quarter to maintain quorum during the organization's meetings. She said the bill would help to establish quorum by removing a few of the organization's members.

The bill passed with consent.

In regards to the council's internal workings, the council tabled a bill that would amend the Legislative Council's procedures for replacing members in the event of a resignation or removal.

According to the bill, "the standing procedure for establishment lacks a comprehensive temporal organization," and there did "not exist a clearly outline[d] process for a timely and scheduled correspondence and eventual reception of runner-up Legislative Council candidates to assume the spoken vacated position."

"It's also to allow A.S. staff to make some of those calls and to de-politicize the entire situation," Internal Vice President Felix Hu said.

The bill was tabled until the first meeting of next year in order for members to review the bill's literature.

The council also underwent some internal personnel changes as Alex Van Wagner was sworn in as an Off-Campus Representative.

After the meeting, Hu said Van Wagner ran for the position during Spring Quarter 2006 and received enough votes to be considered as a runner-up if the position opened.

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Three arrested for attempted pot theft

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 16, 2007 6:41 pm

The Santa Maria Times wrote:<span class=postbold>County Lines for Jan. 4, 2007</span>

The Santa Maria Times

Santa Barbara

Three arrested for attempted pot theft

Three Santa Maria men were arrested early Tuesday morning after what police claim were failed attempts to steal marijuana from two medical marijuana dispensaries.

Tyler Brown, 21, was booked for attempted burglary, prowling and violation of probation. Derrick Treur, 19, was booked for attempted burglary and prowling. Jacob Ray, 19, was booked for attempted burglary, prowling and possession of burglary tools, according to Lt. Don McCaffrey of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

A neighbor reported three men, wearing dark clothing, prowling at the rear of the Acme marijuana dispensary at 1227 De La Vina St. in Santa Barbara at 2:30 a.m., police said.

Officers stopped the men, who were in a black Saturn sedan, before they drove away. The men told the police that they were tired and looking for a place to rest before driving home to Santa Maria, police said.

However, officers became more suspicious when latex gloves fell out of the suspects' pockets as they were looking for identification. Inside the vehicle, police found a heavy-duty set of bolt cutters, McCaffrey added.

Police had also responded to an alarm about 15 minutes earlier at Pacific Greens, another marijuana dispensary, at 816 N. Milpas St. Someone had used bolt cutters to cut the padlock off a storage shed at the rear of the business but apparently fled when the doors were opened and an alarm sounded, McCaffrey added.

The suspects were then arrested for the attempted break-in at Pacific Greens and prowling on the property that borders the Acme marijuana dispensary.

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Feds Target S.B. Medical Marijuana Shops

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:09 pm

Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Feds Target S.B. Medical Marijuana Shops

Santa Barbara Independent
September 28th, 2007


<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/acme_closed.jpg alt="image of ACME dispensary with a closed sign"></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>The sign in the window of the recently shut down Acme medical marijuana dispensary on West Victoria Street says it all — people are fearing the feds. While many dispensaries remain open, their future is uncertain in the face of possible eviction.</td></tr></table>After enjoying years of relatively hassle-free business, Santa Barbara’s medical marijuana scene is feeling the heat this week, with a distinctly ganja-scented cloud of uncertainty hanging over its future in the wake of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) letter-writing campaign.

In recent days, more than a dozen local property owners have received word from the DEA that they could face the potential seizure of their property and assets if they continue to rent space to cannabis companies — a threat that has dispensary operators and building owners alike waiting to exhale. Feeling the fallout from the letters, at least two of the City of Santa Barbara’s 10 dispensaries are facing eviction notices, while many others are working overtime with their landlords to prevent a similar fate from befalling their storefronts. “Make no mistake about it: The DEA has officially come to Santa Barbara,” said Jennifer Nelson, the head of Santa Barbara’s chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of medical marijuana patients.

Though no actual litigation has yet resulted, the DEA has in the past month sent out at least 150 similar letters to property owners throughout the state — the bulk of them to addresses in Southern California, said Kris Hermes, an ASA spokesperson. “Basically, for no more than the cost of postage, [the DEA] gets to shut down as many dispensaries as possible,” Hermes said. In his estimation, the letters are “no more than scare tactics,” given the fact that in the 11 years since Proposition 215 was implemented in California, the federal government has been successful only twice in seizing a building or house related to a medical marijuana dispensary raid. That being said, Hermes admits the letter campaign is a huge setback for dispensaries, as it works to scare away both current and potential landlords. “Without a doubt, this makes it more difficult to operate facilities in Santa Barbara and throughout California, for that matter.”

An informal survey of Santa Barbara’s 10 dispensaries on Tuesday morning showed business as usual for club owners and employees, though all universally expressed a certain degree of worry about eviction or — even worse — a federal raid. “If nothing else, this is a reality check for us,” said one of Santa Barbara’s longtime operators. “It is a reminder of the serious risks we and our landlords take … Let’s just hope it isn’t a sign of things to come.” Another club owner, who had already been told he was going to be evicted in coming weeks, commented, “As a businessman, I can’t say I blame them. Unfortunately, this makes it up to the landlords from now on and whether they personally want to take a stand or not.” (Both dispensary operators asked that their names not be used.)

Adding a serious wrinkle to the DEA development, the Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously this week to place a moratorium on medical cannabis clubs within city limits. Retroactive to August 14, the decision — which was supported by a coalition of club owners — was meant to stop the perceived proliferation of dispensaries pending the development of a set of universal rules and regulations governing everything from zoning to hours of operation for the clubs. While an unknown number of businesses are grandfathered in under this legislation and therefore exempt from the moratorium, it remains to be seen whether clubs evicted in the coming weeks will lose their grandfathered status, given that their current business licenses are based upon addresses that might become inaccurate if their businesses were to be evicted.
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Pot Dispensaries Face City Rules, Federal Crackdown

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:24 pm

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Pot Dispensaries Face City Rules, Federal Crackdown

by Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent
December 6th, 2007


As the operators of Santa Barbara’s remaining medical marijuana dispensaries braced themselves for possible federal raids, the ordinance committee of the Santa Barbara City Council met on Tuesday to grapple with how best to regulate the operation of such facilities — legal under state law but federally prohibited — throughout the city. Based on the remarks of the councilmembers involved, the regulatory approach will consist of a mix of the rules that currently guide the operation of pharmacies and adult bookstores. Borrowing from similar ordinances in about nine other California cities, city planners crafted a grab bag of proposed regulations that received mixed reviews from medical marijuana proponents and councilmembers alike.

Both sides seemed to agree that most dispensaries are already abiding by the conditions of whatever ordinance City Hall will ultimately adopt. The problem, said Councilmember Iya Falcone, is the five percent of the population responsible for 95 percent of the problems. Or as Councilmember Brian Barnwell stressed, there’s strong support for medical marijuana dispensaries, but not “the drift into recreational drug consumption” that occurs at some of them.

To minimize that side effect, the ordinance’s first draft imposes a 500-foot distance between dispensaries and any city parks or schools to buffer school-age kids from exposure to these facilities. The dispensaries would not be allowed to open next to private homes, though it’s unclear what distance would be required. The first draft would not allow any pot dispensaries downtown on State Street or on the Mesa. And while the language would have allowed such operations in the industrial sections of town, Falcone and Barnwell strongly opposed this, verbally painting pictures that evoked the gritty “underworld” of Batman’s Gotham City. Dispensaries would be allowed downtown, however, and in some sections of outer State, and most likely on Milpas Street.

Jennifer Nelson of Americans for Safe Access, a trade group representing dispensary owners, chided city officials for ignoring her offer to help draft the ordinance. She criticized many of the specifics of the city’s proposal, saying the 1,000-square-foot maximum size was too small to accommodate customers who use wheelchairs. Likewise, she rejected as “ridiculous” the city’s proposed prohibition against anyone with a misdemeanor moral turpitude conviction working at dispensaries. Lyle Holmes, a medical marijuana consumer on a fixed income, said the proposal to limit customers to one visit a month would make it impossible for him to benefit from marijuana’s medicinal virtues, as he couldn’t afford to buy his monthly allotment in one lump sum. Attorney Albert Bifano complained that the requirement that clients’ medical records be made available to city officials upon demand was too invasive.

For the most part, members of the ordinance committee echoed these complaints. Why ban dispensaries from operating during federal holidays, they asked, or keeping their doors locked at all times? Councilmember Falcone suggested that such regulations would result in a new generation of speakeasies. Councilmember Grant House suggested the once-a-month rule would require customers to carry larger amounts of cash and larger quantities of pot, potentially attracting criminals looking to steal either. Speaking of some of these smaller operational restrictions, House compared the dispensaries to pharmacies, adding, “Our goal is to get to a no-big-deal situation, and I don’t see how this helps us get there.”

The draft ordinance did not state what would happen to the dispensaries currently in business and how long they would be allowed to remain in their present locations. An attorney representing a marijuana center estimated only six dispensaries were still operating; that’s down from the 13 that were open this summer, and from the 20 for which City Hall has business permit applications.

Three months ago, the federal government conducted a “mail raid” on medical marijuana dispensaries throughout Southern California, sending letters to the property owners who lease space to dispensaries that threatened to file criminal charges and seize their properties. These letters prompted many owners to evict their pot-distributing tenants. Additionally, dispensary operators find themselves flinching at rumors about on-site federal raids. And no matter what ordinance the City Council eventually adopts, it won’t be sufficient to shield local operators from the wrath of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
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Smoochin’ the Pooch

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:31 pm

My suggestion is City Hall fly in the face of the federal whirlwind by requiring the dispensaries to locate on city-owned properties. That way, they can exact an actual percentage of sales as part of the lease agreement, ensuring that the dispensaries are run in a clean and wholesome manner. During a recent conversation, Councilmember Das Williams rejected this proposal as “insane.” He then added, “But I mean that in the sweetest way possible.” While I appreciate the sweetness, I’d prefer a little daring.

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Smoochin’ the Pooch

The Santa Barbara Independent
By Nick Welsh

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A CONCEITED PROPOSAL: If audacious times call for audacious measures, then I’m sorry to report that no one in City Hall is willing to put their money where my mouth is. After watching the Santa Barbara City Council deliberate two weeks ago over a new ordinance to regulate the how, where, and when of medical marijuana dispensaries, I was struck more by what wasn’t said than by what was. It was a conspicuous case of the dog that didn’t bark, the other shoe that never dropped. No one ever discussed how City Hall could and should craft the ordinance to ensure that Santa Barbara gets a serious piece of the medical marijuana action. Sure, it’s nice to keep dispensaries away from schools, parks, hospitals, daycare centers, and flamenco dance studios, but can’t we expand the conversation in a remunerative fashion? To steal a line from Duke Ellington, it don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that ka-ching. I’m not being greedy here, folks. Just practical.

Let’s look at the facts. First, there’s the issue of need. If we don’t need the money today, we absolutely will tomorrow. That’s because the bean counters in Sacramento are now projecting a $14.5 billion budget shortfall for the state government. When they get through swinging their machetes in the State House, you can be sure Santa Barbara will have been hacked, gouged, mutilated, and spindled in the process. In addition, Measure D — which for nearly 20 years has provided beaucoup bucks for expensive road repairs and transportation improvements — expires in two years. Given that Measure D needs a two-thirds majority to be renewed, its continued existence should be regarded as very much a long shot. And if it fails at the ballot box next November, that’s a whole lot of dough Santa Barbara won’t be getting anymore. Likewise, legal challenges are looming that could put aspects of the city’s lucrative Utility Users Tax in peril. Should these challenges materialize — and local governments across the state are assuming that they will — City Hall could be out $4 million a year. Even by Santa Barbara standards, that ain’t chicken feed. The traditional way local governments increase revenues is to approve new car dealerships or the construction of new mega malls. But we’ve already done both.

Santa Barbara clearly needs new revenue streams, and medical marijuana dispensaries — for all their legally required nonprofit status — are streaming with revenues. According to an area pot doc I consulted with, there are roughly 3,000 patients who’ve been prescribed medical marijuana living in and around Santa Barbara. Pot sells at about $400 an ounce, so you can do the math. For those without a pocket calculator, NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) pointed out that the Compassion Center in Alameda County — recently shut down by the feds — generated $350,000 a year in sales taxes, and one in Bakersfield cranked out $427,000. NORML estimates California’s statewide pot crop — which includes both medical and recreational applications — could be worth as much as $2 billion a year. I’m guessing that number is conservative. Earlier this year, Sheriff’s deputies discovered no less than $500 million worth of plants on the property of my editor, Marianne Partridge, whose family owns a ranch outside Lompoc. In this case, guerilla growers associated with a Mexican drug cartel squatted on some of the exceptionally hard-to-reach portions of her property and created a massive pot plantation. Why should ganja gangsters make all the money?

Until this summer, Santa Barbara appeared to be one of the fastest growing medicinal marijuana markets in the state. In the past two years, we went from having two dispensaries to 13. And seven more were on the drawing board. And why not? Santa Barbara has long been home to the newly wed and the nearly dead, and those in the latter category have increasingly sought to create comfortable exit strategies by ingesting marijuana in one form or another.

There are some serious problems, however. Even though state voters resoundingly approved medical marijuana dispensaries 11 years ago, the federal government still maintains they’re against the law. Out of this disagreement, we have a cognitive dissonance that comes with considerable legal peril. The feds have shut down many operations throughout the state and put more than a few operators in the slammer. This past summer, the Drug Enforcement Administration sent out nasty letters to the landlords of Santa Barbara’s dispensaries threatening to seize their assets or put them in jail — or both — if they did not cease and desist immediately. The letters packed major pucker power, and at last count, only five dispensaries are left. My suggestion is City Hall fly in the face of the federal whirlwind by requiring the dispensaries to locate on city-owned properties. That way, they can exact an actual percentage of sales as part of the lease agreement, ensuring that the dispensaries are run in a clean and wholesome manner. During a recent conversation, Councilmember Das Williams rejected this proposal as “insane.” He then added, “But I mean that in the sweetest way possible.” While I appreciate the sweetness, I’d prefer a little daring.

This Tuesday, City Hall passed another anti-war resolution, calling on the United States to withdraw from Iraq during the next year. As much as I like the resolution, it was totally symbolic. Or as Councilmember Brian Barnwell described it, “a popcorn fart in a windstorm.” While we’re at it, why not take a more meaningful stand against the war on drugs, which costs the American public about $70 billion a year with nothing to show for it but about 1.5 million people behind bars. Of those, about half were popped for violating pot laws. If the Iraq War has cost the citizens of Santa Barbara $156 million, then the war on drugs has cost infinitely more. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the colossal waste of life and talent these laws have inflicted.

It’s easy for the council to be brave when making symbolic statements. But our bravery would count for more if our asses were on the line. Sure there are risks involved if City Hall rents space to dispensaries. But without risk, there is no payoff. And in this case, the payoffs could be huge. Think about it.
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Regulation, Not Repression

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:34 pm

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Regulation, Not Repression

The Santa Barbara Independent
Thursday, January 3, 2008

In response to "Smoochin’ the Pooch" [Angry Poodle Barbecue, Dec. 20]: Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in need, but adult recreational use should be regulated. Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug dealers don't ID for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences. So much for protecting the children.

Throwing more money at the problem is no solution. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a cost-effective alternative to a never-ending drug war. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like methamphetamine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than alcohol—the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death—it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and facilitate hard drug use. Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more important than the message. —Robert Sharpe.
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Smyser Makes It Official

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:37 am

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:Smyser Makes It Official

<span class=postbigbold>Former Solvang Mayor Is 3rd District Contender</span>
By Martha Sadler
The Santa Barbara Independent
Friday, January 11, 2008

Former Solvang Mayor Dave Smyser officially announced his candidacy for 3rd District Supervisor with press conferences in Solvang and at Girsch Park in Goleta, where he was introduced by current 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone, who decided not to run for a second term and hopes Smyser will take his vacated seat. An environmental, land-use, and business attorney with long experience in government, Smyser served as Firestone's chief of staff and then as his appointee to the Planning Commission. He has previously served on the boards of the county's Air Pollution Control District, the Local Agency Formation Commission, and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. Smyser has been endorsed by the two north county Supervisors, Joni Gray and Joe Centeno.

At the Goleta press conference, which was attended by a large entourage but very few members of the media, Smyser spoke primarily about his family: His wife is serving as interim Superintendent of Schools in Colorado. One of his sons graduated from UC Berkeley, worked with the Peace Corps combating AIDS in Africa, and is now pursuing a Masters in public health; his daughter graduated from Westpoint and is now a US Army Captain serving her second tour of duty in Iraq, as is her husband; another son is studying and "playing guitar" at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


Firestone said Smyser would focus on solving problems rather than on ideology. Smyser said that he enjoyed working out creative solutions to financial shortfalls, particularly private-public partnerships.

The stiffest competition Smyser is likely to face for the 3rd District seat is Doreen Farr, also of Solvang, but formerly a Goleta Valley resident. An environmental and neighborhood activist who served as former Second District Supervisor Susan Rose's appointee to the Planning Commission, Farr has garnered the endorsements of the two south county supervisors, Salud Carbajal and Janet Wolf, as well as that of Congresswoman Lois Capps. <span class=postbold>Also running for 3rd District Supervisor are</span> business owner Steve Pappas of Los Olivos, who owns an entertainment industry consulting business and a second business assisting employers with workmen's compensation issues, and <span class=postbold>David Bearman, a physician who advocates medicinal marijuana use, founded the Isla Vista Medical Clinic, sat on the Goleta Water District, and currently serves on the Goleta West Sanitary District Board.</span>

The 3rd District is the only district encompassing both north and south county, as it extends from the City of Goleta into the Santa Ynez Valley. Hot topics in the June 3 contest include preservation of the Gaviota open space and agricultural lands, development within the urban and suburban areas surrounding the Gaviota, and county budget problems.
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Santa Barbara Cannabis Clubs Get Official Ordinance

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:21 pm

The Santa Barbara Independent wrote:
Santa Barbara Cannabis Clubs Get Official Ordinance

<span class=postbigbold>Clearing the Smoke</span>

The Santa Barbara Independent
By Indy Staff
Thursday, March 20, 2008

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/santa-barbara_city-council.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell><span class=postbold>The legal landscape surrounding medical cannabis clubs in Santa Barbara got defined this week as the City Council approved an ordinance that, among many things, maps out where exactly dispensaries can be located.</span></td></tr></table>The legally murky haze of rules and regulations surrounding Santa Barbara’s seven documented medical marijuana dispensaries got a whole lot easier to see through this week, as the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved an ordinance aimed at clearing up issues ranging from permits and zoning to on-site consumption and universal performance standards. Even as federal drug agents working with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department raided a dispensary within city limits for the first time ever this past weekend, councilmembers voted in support of medicinal cannabis users. Moments before the motion passed with a 4-0 vote — Mayor Marty Blum and Councilmember Das Williams were absent — Councilmember Helene Schneider summed up the sprit of the day as “successfully finding the balance between providing legal access to necessary medicine for those who need it while also providing rules for being a good neighbor to those who dispense it.”

Spurred into action late last summer, when the number of dispensaries in town exceeded the number of Starbucks coffee shops, the City Council placed a six-month moratorium on new club applications at the request of several dispensary owners wishing to better define the legal landscape of their emerging industry. After all, at that time, one needed to do little more than apply for a business license in order to open up shop.

After brainstorming sessions at the staff level and in meetings of both the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Commission, an ordinance was proposed this week that, among other things, allows new clubs in commercially zoned areas on lower Milpas Street from Carpinteria Street to Canon Perdido, upper State Street from Calle Real to Calle Laureles, and on the Mesa within 1,000 feet of Meigs Road. Clubs are also prohibited from operating within 500 feet of any K-12 school, public park, or previously existing dispensary. Additionally, the ordinance outlaws on-site consumption of cannabis, save for THC-laced edibles eaten by employees; requires a background check on prospective business operators; mandates accurate and confidential patient records; and prevents the clubs from selling alcohol or marijuana paraphernalia. Also of note, the ordinance grants the power to approve business licenses to the city staff hearing officer and grants licenses indefinitely, as long as the location and ownership of the club remain the same.

According to city numbers, seven cannabis clubs are operating within city limits. (A recent Independent survey found 12, however.) When the bite of the new ordinance, specifically the zoning rules, is applied to them, only one, Hortipharm on upper State Street, will be in compliance, said project supervisor Danny Kato. Two others — Sacred Mountain on Parker Way and AMG on East Haley Street — are partially up to snuff. With all seven of these clubs essentially grandfathered in by the interim ordinance passed in the wake of the moratorium last fall, councilmembers placed an addendum on the new ordinance that gives existing clubs three years to resolve their non-conforming locations, so long as they follow all of the remaining new rules of engagement.

Patrick Fourmy — owner and operator of one of the city’s longest running dispensaries, The Compassionate Center — applauded the council’s efforts and urged councilmembers to enforce a “higher level of transparency” on all existing and future clubs. Pointing to a similar ordinance in Oakland, Fourmy stressed the importance of completely open financial books and full disclosure of income and expenses as a means of both weeding out “unethical” proprietors and keeping federal agents at bay.

The ordinance returns as formality to the council next week for final approval. “I’m sure that we will be tuning this over time,” noted Councilmember Dale Francisco in apparent reference to the lack of means for tracking how much medical cannabis is being dispensed and also the raid on the Pacific Greens dispensary this weekend. As of press time, the Sheriff’s Department remained mum on the topic, other than acknowledging its involvement in the action.

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Planning Commission Revokes Permit for Dispensary

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:33 pm

NoozHawk wrote:Planning Commission Revokes Permit for Mission Street Pot Dispensary

NoozHawk | By Giana Magnoli | 5 Nov 09

<span class="postbigbold">The issue of its proximity to a nearby special-ed school surfaces a week after the permit is approved</span>


The Santa Barbara Planning Commission on Thursday revoked a medical-marijuana dispensary permit for 2 W. Mission St. after deciding that a nearby Santa Barbara County Education Office community-based program is considered a school under the ordinance definition.

The facility, referred to as Mission Community School by parents and county administrators who attended Thursday’s meeting, is located rather inconspicuously in an office building near the corner of Mission and State streets.

Hans Edwards, the applicant whose permit was approved Sept. 9 by the staff hearing officer, said he was never aware of the facility, despite neighborhood outreach.

City staff members responsible for the application process also were unaware of the facility until the education office came forward with the information a week after the permit was approved. Commissioners voted 3-2 on Thursday to consider the facility a school and, therefore, declare the permit approval invalid and revoke it.

The school caters to special-needs students transitioning to the community from K-12 education. Students are ages 16 to 22, and presentations showed fewer than 10 students a year since 2006. It’s not on the list of public schools on the county’s Web site.

Edwards’ counsel, Steven Amerikaner, said the applicant has made commitments for the dispensary and argued that the facility couldn’t be considered a “school.” Its mostly over-18 population, the lack of signage in the area and the absence of school crosswalks made it operate outside the ordinance definition, he said.

The nature of the population served — special-needs students — made it unlikely that they would travel to and from the facility unsupervised, so the 500-foot barrier required for K-12 schools isn’t applicable, he said.

Edwards brought up the neighborhood outreach and 800-signature-strong petition for his proposed dispensary and said there were no official appeals to the permit approval (which are different than this public hearing).

Education office administrators, parents and community members spoke against the permit, saying the facility’s students shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their disabilities. Their developmental age is younger than their chronological age, and deserve the same rights and protections as the K-12 schools, they said.

The program’s goal is independence, and most students end up walking around the area to public transportation hubs or restaurants, said Florene Bednersh, the county assistant superintendent for special education.

Those who supported the applicant stressed that the school was unknown, and that it would be unfair to punish Edwards for failures in communication.

“The medical marijuana dispensary will not negatively impact the young people there,” said Sue McKnight, a special-education teacher.

Commissioners expressed frustration that the application went so far without the issue of the school being raised, but agreed with staff that the permit was invalid.

“I am dismayed that the application got this far down the road and got ambushed at this point,” said Commissioner Bendy White, who was elected Tuesday to the Santa Barbara City Council.

Commissioners Bruce Bartlett and John Jostes voted against revoking the permit, saying it was unfair to Edwards and outside the ordinance’s definition of a school.

County administrators said they weren’t aware of the dispensary when confronted by chairman Addison Thompson, who asked why they didn’t come forward as the application went through the permit process.

“Any other stealth schools in the city we should know about?” he asked.

He also asked about the right to protection that parents said the students rightly deserved. “From what?” he asked.

One mother explained that her son could independently travel about town, including visiting nearby bookstores, saying hello to the liquor store manager and taking public transportation.

“Why doesn’t he need protection from a liquor store?” Thompson asked.

The decision can not be appealed, and most likely will end Edwards’ plan to have a dispensary in the city. The revised ordinance is on its way to the City Council and includes a cap of seven for the city.

Currently, there is one permitted, operating dispensary, in addition to three that are approved, seven pending, four nonconforming and several deemed illegal. With the pipeline of applications, all of which are site- and owner-specific, Amerikaner said there’s probably no way Edwards can apply again in Santa Barbara in the near future.

Assistant City Attorney Scott Vincent said there’s no evidence that the school is in any way illegal, or that city or school staff acted in bad faith or a negligent manner.

<small>— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.</small>

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