California, Santa Cruz

Medical marijuana by city.

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California, Santa Cruz

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:18 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:February 28, 2005


ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project relocates to Santa Cruz

Community forum set for this week at Holy Cross Church includes attorneys, WAMM founders



By NANCY PASTERNACK
Sentinel staff writer
www.santacruzsentinel.com

SANTA CRUZ — A newly relocated branch of the American Civil Liberties Union will throw itself the equivalent of an activist housewarming party Thursday.

Now almost fully staffed with six attorneys and four other workers, the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project will host "American’s Failed Drug War — Santa Cruz & the National Debate," a community forum, at Parish Hall in Holy Cross Church.

The branch moved into offices on Pacific Avenue from its old home in New Haven, Conn., home of Yale University, last June.

Thursday’s forum, co-hosted by the ACLU’s Santa Cruz chapter, will feature a panel of the organization’s lawyers, as well as Michael and Valerie Corral of Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

"I hope we’ll have an open discussion and that I’ll get a more nuanced sense of where Santa Cruz stands (on drug law reform issues)," said Anjuli Verma, Drug Law Reform Project spokeswoman and a newcomer to the area. The Drug Law Reform Project was started in 1999 by Graham Boyd, who will moderate Thursday’s forum.

Verma said ACLU leaders were attracted to Santa Cruz largely because of its political climate. "There’s an element of New York-style activism, but it seems different here. There’s a bigger group of mobilized, activist young people," Verma said." There’s a really cool synergy with the professors at UC (Santa Cruz), and the general spirit of the community." One of the primary missions of the Drug Law Reform Project, Verma said, is to disband regional narcotics task forces. The organization currently has three active cases. In one such case, the group represents 10 African-American residents of Hearne, Texas, arrested in 2000 as part of a drug sweep. The arrests were made based on the testimony of a confidential informant, who later confessed to fabricating evidence.

The Drug Law Reform Project bases much of its case, Verma said, on a similar one pending in Tulia, Texas.

Randy Credico, a New York City activist who brought the events of Tulia to the attention of civil rights attorneys and the media, recently produced a short documentary film about the case.

Credico, who heads the William Kunstler Fund in New York City, said the ACLU’s decision to move its drug-law reform headquarters to Santa Cruz comes as a bit of a surprise.

"It’s a very liberal, very smart community and it makes some sense to go there," but given the nature of the issues Drug Law Reform Project champions, "I would have chosen Oakland," he said.

The significance of Santa Cruz in another key Drug Law Reform Project case, however, makes the town a natural fit, said Verma.

One of several high-profile Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical-marijuana cooperatives targeted WAMM in September 2002. The raid led to Santa Cruz v. Ashcroft, a case whose outcome is believed to be at the mercy of a similar case currently awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

"This is the place where it all began," Verma said. Tim Morgan, a Santa Cruz lawyer and conservative activist, said he takes a dim view of both the Drug Law Reform Project’s relocation and its upcoming forum.

The grassroots reputation the ACLU cultivates, he said, strikes a false note with the move from one high-rent region to another.

"It would be more impressive if they were setting up in a poor rural town," he said. "One might admire a little more their resolve." The format for Thursday’s forum, he said, is typical of the way the ACLU operates.

"That’s the best way to gain consensus — to have all your friends on the panel," he said.

Verma is hoping to show Credico’s documentary in Santa Cruz shortly before Drug Law Reform Project clients in Hearne, Texas, go to trial in May.

Both the Tulia and Hearne cases, she said, are significant because they demonstrate that "the drug war serves as the new form of Jim Crow.

"We like to think that era’s over," Verma said, "but it’s not."


Contact Nancy Pasternack at npasternack@santacruzsentinel.com.
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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:27 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:April 5, 2005

City shuts marijuana co-op

By SHANNA MCCORD
Sentinel staff writer
www.santacruzsentinel.com


<img src=bin/peter-koch.jpg align=right>SANTA CRUZ — A Pacific Avenue medical marijuana cooperative has been forced to close by the city Planning Department.

The Planning Department demanded the immediate shutdown of Pacific Coast Cooperative on Friday after learning it allowed medical marijuana patients to sell and trade the drug with each other — a violation of the city’s zoning laws.

"They claimed to be a professional consulting business, so we just signed off on it," said Alex Khoury, a principal planner with the Planning Department. "The zoning code clearly distinguishes that that use is not permitted in the downtown commercial district."

Medical marijuana became legal in 1996 when state voters passed Proposition 215. Related businesses are permitted in the city’s community commercial district or the industrial district, streets such as Ocean, Mission, River and Soquel Avenue, Khoury said.

Harvey West Business Park and the Westside’s industrial buildings are examples of where such medical marijuana businesses might locate, he said.

However, Khoury said, the business must be located a maximum distance from schools, parks and homes.

Pacific Coast Cooperative opened six weeks ago and served about 200 people, co-founder Peter Koch said.

The co-op, in a second-floor office facing Pacific Avenue above Internet provider Cruzio and the nightclub Blue Lagoon, is in an office building that also houses an architect, lawyer and unions. The bus station is across the street.

"We’re located across from the Metro for a reason," Koch said. "Half of our patients use the bus and many of our patients don’t drive."

Koch said he and co-founder Matt Hilliard wanted to use the downtown office as a way to fight the stigma often associated with people who smoke medicinal pot and prove its legitimacy.

He and Hilliard figured if they could run a clean and low-key medical marijuana service downtown without bothering other businesses or neighbors, others would become more accepting and understanding.

There are roughly 4,000 medical marijuana patients in Santa Cruz County.

"We did not intend to deceive the Planning Department," Koch said. "We did intend to put something in place that would show what a medical marijuana dispensary or co-op should be like."

Michael Moran, owner of Steamroller Systems Inc., a software development company in the same hall with the co-op, said he had no idea marijuana sales and trades were taking place.

"I have no complaints at all," Moran said. "I’m happy they’re here. They’re fine."


Compassion Flower Inn owner Andrea Tischler said a medical marijuana co-op is needed to help guarantee patients receive top-quality organic cannabis.

Plus, a well-run co-op would prevent medical marijuana patients from having to drive to San Francisco or Oakland to find such services, Tischler said.

"Medical marijuana patients need to have safe access," she said. "They’re not going to have that if they have to buy marijuana on the streets.

"Why not downtown?"

For now, Pacific Coast Cooperative has shut its doors while Hilliard and Koch attempt to work amicably with the city to stay downtown.

If they are unable, Koch said they will relocate.

"If it means they don’t want us here, and we have to move, fine, we’ll move," Koch said. "We’re not renegades. We’re just trying to serve the needs of patients in the community."


A common complaint by medical marijuana opponents is that the practice sends a bad message to youth.

Proposition 215 critics say it was a deceptive and poorly written initiative to exploit public compassion for the sick to legalize and legitimatize the widespread use of marijuana in California.


Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.
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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:41 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:June 7, 2005

Local medical pot users disheartened by decision

By BRIAN SEALS
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
www.santacruzsentinel.com


<img src=bin/corral-loses_appeal.jpg align=right>For a little more than a year, members of the Santa Cruz-based Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana have run what is, in effect, the only legal medical pot farm in the country.

The garden’s safe status is now in peril after Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted by the federal government.

The 6-3 decision reverses a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in 2003 that allowed for medical marijuana use so long as no money changed hands and the marijuana crossed no state lines. California and nine other states have versions of a law that allow people to grow, smoke or obtain marijuana for medical needs with a doctor’s recommendation.

Predictably, the mood at WAMM’s Westside office Monday ranged from sorrowful to angry.

"My feeling is rage," said Hal Margolin, 73, as he pounded an office desk with his fist. "This is my government, and my government is telling me that what I do to help myself is illegal."

A spokesman for the federal drug czar hailed the ruling, calling medical marijuana a "Trojan horse for drug legalization."

Area medical marijuana advocates had been anxiously awaiting the ruling, as it is closely linked with pending suits brought by WAMM against the federal government.

The group won an injunction in April 2004 that prohibited federal raids on its Davenport garden, as happened in September 2002, until the case that was decided Monday was finally adjudicated.

Nonetheless, members of the cooperative vowed to continue their work.

"We’ll just keep going," WAMM co-founder Valerie Corral said. "We’ll just be continuing the work we’ve been doing and hope the judiciary and Congress catches up with us."

Most medical marijuana patients, at least those who can grow their own, need not worry, said WAMM attorney Ben Rice, but clubs and cooperatives run the risk of being shut down. And that, he said, is harmful to those who are very sick.

"Nobody thinks individual patients are gong to be targeted," Rice said. "The crime here is that the most sick among us are going to be most affected because they can’t go out and get it or grow it themselves."

WAMM serves about 160 members whose ailments range from epilepsy to cancer to AIDS. They say marijuana — smoked or eaten — offers them relief in ways pharmaceuticals do not.

"I can’t replace it with pain medications because I am allergic to the pain medications," said Jeremy Griffey, who smokes and eats marijuana to cope with AIDS and arthritis.

Others have similar stories.

"I don’t have a choice to quit using marijuana," said member Suzanne Pfeil. "Now, we have to worry about being raided again. It’s an uncomfortable way to live."

The Supreme Court ruling will have an impact on WAMM’s lawsuit against the federal government in U.S. District Court in San Jose.

Part of the WAMM case — and part of the case decided Monday — centered around the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had ruled that when sick people share marijuana and money is not exchanged, there is no interstate commerce involved, therefore it cannot be regulated by Congress.

While the Supreme Court gutted that portion of the local cooperative’s argument, the legal fight is still on, Rice said.

Another portion of the WAMM’s legal contention is centered on due process provisions of the Constitution, Rice said. The group will argue, he said, that if a patient is following a doctor’s recommendation, abiding by state law and is using a substance to alleviate pain and suffering, then the patient has a right to the medicine.

"Our team has always felt that is our better argument," Rice said.

The Supreme Court decision becomes valid in 60 days. Rice said the U.S. Attorney’s Office would likely file to have the injunction protecting WAMM’s garden dissolved in light of Monday’s ruling.

Luke Macauley, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, said he couldn’t speculate on how the department will respond.

WAMM will continue on its own case in U.S. District Court in San Jose, and likely fight on to the U.S. Supreme Court, Rice said. The city and county of Santa Cruz signed on as plaintiffs in WAMM’s suit.

For Corral and husband Mike, also a co-founder, there is another concern. When federal agents raided WAMM’s Davenport garden in 2002, they uprooted 167 plants. The Corrals were taken to jail, but never charged. The statute of limitations for them to be charged doesn’t run out until 2007.

Critics of Monday’s ruling included U.S. Rep Sam Farr, D-Carmel, co-sponsor of legislation that would protect patients and doctors from federal prosecution so long as they were acting within their state’s law.

"Often people joke about medical marijuana, but due process and respecting state laws is a serious issue," Farr said in a written statement Monday. "Beyond that, I think it is high time the federal government recognized that one of the best ways to prevent recreational use of a drug is to let doctors prescribe it in closely regulated ways."

In writing the decision, Justice John Paul Stevens said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

Among those praising the ruling was Rafael Leamaitre of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, known as the Office of the Drug Czar. He scoffed at what he called the "caricature" of the federal government arresting sick people.

"We’re after major drug traffickers," he said.

While the Supreme Court decision allows for federal prosecution, medical marijuana advocates said that using marijuana medicinally remains legal under California law.

Santa Cruz County government abides by Proposition 215, the 1996 state ballot initiative voters approved that allows for medical marijuana use.

The county established a photo-identification card system in 2003. Last year, the Board of Supervisors set limits that allow patients who have a doctor’s recommendation to possess 3 pounds of pot and keep a garden with a 100-square- foot canopy.

An estimated 500-600 people have been issued county ID cards, said county health officer Poky Namkung.

Sgt. Fred Plageman of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said he didn’t expect department policies to change. When the matter comes up, deputies check to see if a person has a valid prescription, then the department acts accordingly, he said.

Attorneys with the state Department of Health Services said they were reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision to determine how it would affect the state’s medical identification card program, said department spokesman Robert Miller.

Andrea Tischler of the marijuana-friendly Compassion Flower Inn said the ruling sparked calls of support to her Santa Cruz bed and breakfast. The inn allows medical pot users to consume on the premises.

Though the ruling was "devastating," she said, it didn’t mean death to the movement.

"It is not the first time we have suffered setbacks" Tischler said. "I think the movement will continue. It’s not going to stop."



Contact Brian Seals at bseals@santacruzsentinel.com.


Rally today
The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana will hold a demonstration at 5 p.m. today at the Town Clock.
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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:01 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:July 27, 2005


Santa Cruz approves medical pot shop

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer
www.santacruzsentinel.com


SANTA CRUZ — Seriously ill patients who need marijuana to ease their pain should soon be able to buy the drug at a dispensary in the city.

Plans by Boulder Creek resident Lisa Molyneux to open a medical marijuana dispensary on DuBois Street in the Harvey West Business Park were unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

"There will always be something too complicated and too cumbersome to deal with," Councilwoman Emily Reilly said. "We should move forward, stay conscious and aware and responsive."

Police Chief Howard Skerry and Dannettee Shoemaker, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, expressed reservations about the pot shop’s proximity to Harvey West Park.

Both Skerry and Shoemaker recommended denial of Molyneux’s application.

The Harvey West Area Association also wrote a letter opposing the special-use permit for a medical marijuana dispensary in their neighborhood.

No one else from the public spoke against the dispensary.

Shoemaker pointed out several youth activities at the park — soccer, swim lessons, Little League and day camps — that could be impacted by the dispensary’s business.

Skerry said police departments in other cities have experienced problems with medical marijuana outlets located near parks.

Harvey West, he said, "continues to be the subject of numerous complaints regarding drug dealing, drinking, illegal camping and garbage complaints."

Still, council members strongly favor a medical marijuana shop and were criticized for not allowing such a business to open sooner.

Molyneux’s shop will be limited to buying and selling the drug. Patients will not be allowed to consume marijuana at the site, nor will plants be sold.

A security guard is required to be on site during business hours, which are limited between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Other activities, including massage, education, support groups and chiropractic care, would not be allowed until Molyneux proves she can operate the dispensary with few problems.

A review by city officials will be done six months after opening.

The council also listened to public comment about the draft environmental impact report for the city’s integrated water management plan, which includes a proposal for a seawater desalination plant during times of drought.

Few people spoke against the desal plant, though questions were raised about its high cost, energy use and waste water discharged into the ocean.

Officials with the city Water Department said no environmental issues are considered to be significant except for noise during the project’s construction.

Public comments on the draft environmental impact report are due to city officials by Friday.


Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:13 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:July 12, 2005


Cancer patient seeks to open S.C. pot shop

By SHANNA MCCORD
Sentinel staff writer
www.santacruzsentinel.com


SANTA CRUZ — Every time Lisa Molyneux makes the 150-mile round-trip to Oakland to buy medical marijuana, the Boulder Creek resident wonders why she can’t find a safe place to buy closer to home.

Molyneux, diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1997, has relied on marijuana to ease nausea caused by radiation treatment, and to stimulate a diminished appetite. Even now, with her cancer in remission, Molyneux, 45, said she smokes pot a few nights a week to help her sleep.

All the driving she has done during the past three years has pushed Molyneux to pursue her own medical marijuana dispensary, an alternative pharmacy of sorts, to help Santa Cruz County residents facing the same dilemma.

"The facility we want to open I hope would be an example for the state to use," she said. "It’ll be a place to come and get marijuana without meeting someone on a street corner."

People with a doctor’s prescription could buy marijuana as well as edibles that include the drug, such as lollipops, ice cream, brownies and peanut butter, Molyneux said.

Molyneux’s dispensary would be the first legal business of its kind in Santa Cruz, a city sympathetic to the cause.

Medical pot opponents say California’s legalization of the drug in 1996 for medical purposes was a deceptive initiative to exploit public compassion for the sick to legitimize its widespread use, and last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal drug laws supersede state medical marijuana laws.

A medical marijuana dispensary that opened in February on Pacific Avenue was quickly shut after city officials learned of its existence. Pacific Coast Cooperative was operating in a downtown location not zoned for that type of business. The owners have not pursued another site.

Molyneux, a broadcast engineer with Fox News Sports in Los Angeles, filed a formal application for a medical marijuana dispensary with the city Planning Department in November and has begun paying $5,000 monthly rent on a 4,000- square-foot building in the Harvey West industrial area.

She plans on using only half the space for the marijuana shop, but was forced to lease the entire area because another local medical marijuana organization had proposed taking it and she didn’t want to lose the opportunity, she said.

Ultimately, Molyneux’s plan needs City Council approval and hinges on a recommendation from the city Planning Commission because the building from which she plans to operate on DuBois Street is 40 feet too close to Harvey West Park — a violation of the city’s medical marijuana ordinance.

"We want to be a part of the community," she said. "We don’t want to be a burden."

Ideally, Molyneux said, she’d like to discount the marijuana products for people on disability and Social Security or provide them for free.

"I really am longing to see a viable business that offers safe and affordable access to medical marijuana," said Valerie Corral, founder of Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a cooperative of about 200 seriously ill patients started in Santa Cruz in 1993. "WAMM can’t produce the medicine to serve the whole community.

"She’s (Molyneux) doing the right thing and I’m glad she’s doing it."

WAMM will stage a march downtown at noon Saturday, which Molyneux plans to join, to protest the federal government’s opposition to allowing medical use of the drug.

Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice, a medical marijuana supporter, said he’s waiting to form an opinion on Molyneux’s business plan until he hears what the public thinks.

"I’m hoping there’s ways we can provide help for people who need this medicine," Fitzmaurice said Monday. "There is anxiety in the way these things are operated. I want to make sure the location and the way they do business is appropriate."


Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:19 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:September 16, 2005

Pot shop lights up the town: Medical users get Santa Cruz outlet

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer
www.santacruzsentinel.com


SANTA CRUZ — Beginning Wednesday, local medical marijuana patients should be able to legally buy pot at an office in the Harvey West industrial area.

Boulder Creek resident Lisa Molyneux secured the necessary permits from the city to open Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc. on DuBois Street, a plan that was unanimously approved by the City Council on July 26.

Police Chief Howard Skerry and Dannettee Shoemaker, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, recommended the council deny the project.

Skerry, refusing to comment Thursday, previously told the council that the proximity of Harvey West Park to the marijuana dispensary could exacerbate drug dealing, drinking and illegal camping in the area.

The Harvey West Area Association also wrote a letter opposing the special-use permit.

Despite the reservations, Molyneux’s final hurdle before opening Greenway is a walk-through inspection with city officials set for Monday to examine security measures and planned operations for the medical marijuana business.

If everything passes, she said, the shop will open 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"I’m ready. I want to get this thing open," Molyneux said. "Patients come by all the time when I’m there working on stuff. They’re all looking at me to open."

Molyneux’s dispensary will be the first legal business of its kind in Santa Cruz, a city sympathetic to the cause.

The dispensary could face an uncertain future as state and local laws allowing marijuana use for medicinal reasons defies a staunch federal law and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that declares the drug illegal.

City officials have made it clear that Molyneux would be responsible for whatever legal fights might be ahead.

The police and fire departments signed off on Molyneux’s building permit Wednesday, Mike Ferry of the city Planning Department said.

So far, Molyneux, who left her job as a broadcast engineer with Fox News Sports in Los Angeles after the council agreed to her plan, has spent $100,000 in getting the business ready to open.

Monthly rent on the 4,000-square-foot building is $5,000, she said. Molyneux will only use about 1,000 square feet initially.

Greenway will be limited to buying and selling the drug, and patients will not be allowed to consume marijuana at the site, nor will plants be sold.

Patients can purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana at a time, depending on the recommendation from their doctor, Molyneux said. Her prices will range from $25-$55 for an eighth of an ounce.

Once the business gets going, Molyneux hopes to drop the prices.

Pot will be provided by patients who grow the plant, she said.

"This is about patients taking care of patients," Molyneux said.

A security guard will be stationed in the lobby, and a receptionist will verify medical marijuana cards and physician licenses, Molyneux said.

The council denied Molyneux from offering massage, education and support groups until it’s proven she can run the dispensary with few problems.

A city review is planned six months after Greenway opens.

"I can’t do anything but dispense for six months," she said.

The council also required Molyneux to write an operations manual for Greenway, which the city attorney approved Sept. 9, Ferry said.

She plans to be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

Young patient wants to ease other patients concerns, fears

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer


UC Santa Cruz student Mike Clifford learned what it’s like to become a medical marijuana patient three years ago.

At age 19, Clifford found himself suffering a hernia and a stomach condition called gastritis, something that severely limited his ability to eat. He’d become full on only half a slice of pizza, he said.

A medical marijuana prescription saved his appetite, he said. But it was an internship with MediCann, an organization of alternative medicine clinics statewide dedicated to medical marijuana patients, that opened his eyes to the widespread problems related to patients and their access to the drug.

"It was like our hands were tied," said Clifford, a senior studying economic justice. "We have a prescription, but it’s illegal to buy and sell."

Clifford is now channeling his frustrations and expertise into a downtown information center that caters to the questions and anxieties of medical marijuana patients.

The Local Patients Advocacy Group opened at 903 Pacific Avenue recently.

The office, located across from the Metro bus station, is designed "to provide a comfortable environment for members to discuss issues, review educational material, access the Internet and, most importantly, become involved in an organization to call their own."

About 25 members signed up during the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana’s WAMMFest at San Lorenzo Park on Saturday, Clifford said.

The advocacy group will operate on membership dues and donations, he said.

Inside the office are folding tables, milk crates and computers, he said.

Clifford swapped two months of office rent — $1,200 — for helping the landlord with some construction projects.

He is seeking members, volunteers and supporters. Call 454-0215.


Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:27 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:October 8, 2005

Cops and Courts
Live Oak

Home is again the target of pot thieves
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Two 16-year-old boys were arrested near Chanticleer Avenue on Friday after stealing medical marijuana from a home that has been targeted three times recently, and one of the teens escaped later from Juvenile Hall, deputies said.

The teen was last seen running into the woods off Graham Hill Road about noon, shoeless and with one hand in a handcuff, Sgt. Jim Ross said.

Earlier, about 10 a.m., the teens ran from the residence, their arms full of marijuana, into the nearby home of one teen probationer, he said.

Deputies found a 19-year-old woman hiding with one of the boys in the attic, holding the stolen pot and two 6-foot tall potted marijuana plants, Ross said. The teens were arrested on suspicion of theft and the woman for possessing stolen property, he said.

On Thursday, a third man was arrested on suspicion of committing a Sept. 12 home-invasion robbery of the same home. Henry Angel Huante, 29, of Santa Cruz, was found in a mobile home off Soquel San Jose Road.

He and two others allegedly tied up the victim’s daughter and assaulted the father before the father chased the men off with a rifle, deputies said.

The three arrested all have felony criminal histories and have been charged with robbery, false imprisonment and making threats.

Arrested last month were Richard Coto, 33, of Santa Cruz and Timothy Pierre Riotutar, 44, of Capitola. They have pleaded innocent to the charges.

Huante and Riotutar were also charged with assault. Huante was due to be arraigned Friday, but information on that hearing was unavailable Friday afternoon.

The third theft at the home was Sept. 30. That time, the victim fired his gun, scaring off a Watsonville man, woman and teen boy. The trio were arrested a short while later.

Deputies say the victim is in compliance with county regulations for growing medical marijuana.

Santa Cruz

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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:29 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:October 25, 2005

Santa Cruz proposes medical marijuana department

By Shanna McCord
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
www.santacruzsentinel.com


SANTA CRUZ­ — Some city leaders want to sell medical marijuana to ill residents by creating a new department within the city: an Office of Compassionate Use, with a five-member advisory commission and the capacity to archive patient records.

The office would provide the drug to people suffering from serious illnesses who have a note from their doctor.

"I see it as a real opportunity to do something that can help people," Councilwoman Emily Reilly said Monday.

The city has long struggled with balancing strict federal marijuana laws with looser state and local laws.

"It's really a shame we should be in this position," Reilly said. "The people in this state made it clear medical marijuana is something we want."

Reilly and Mayor Mike Rotkin, sponsors of the proposed ordinance that would create the office, will seek approval for the new department from their colleagues on the City Council tonight, but say they will only establish the office after getting approval from the federal government — something that ensures a long legal fight.

Assistant City Manager Martin Bernal said no figures had yet been calculated on how much the department would cost to run, nor how many employees would be needed to operate it.

But Reilly and Rotkin say it could be financed with fees paid by participants of the program.

The city is struggling financially and recently cut $720,000 from its general fund.

Rotkin said the idea for an Office of Compassionate Use was broached by the American Civil Liberties Union and Wo/Men Alliance for Medical Marijuana — a local cooperative founded in 1993 with 200 members that was raided by federal agents in 2002. The two groups see the proposal as a way to legally test the state's autonomy over the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996 to allow marijuana consumption by seriously ill patients. However, the federal government is steadfast in viewing marijuana as a dangerous and illegal drug, and in some cases has challenged its use and distribution.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted by the federal government.

Allen Hopper, attorney for the ACLU's Santa Cruz-based Drug Law Reform Project, said the proposed ordinance is a way for the city to assert its 10th Amendment rights — that certain powers are reserved for state governments.

"We believe the city government, under the 10th Amendment, has the authority to opt out of the federal government's marijuana prohibition scheme," Hopper said. "WAMM figured this ordinance is a way to get medical marijuana to those who need it without the individuals being subject to federal prosecution."

Santa Cruz is the first city in California to introduce an ordinance for establishing an Office of Compassionate Use, Hopper said.

"The Santa Cruz city government has always been extremely supportive of medical marijuana," he said. "We hope others follow suit and use Santa Cruz as a model."

The city's first sanctioned medical marijuana dispensary, Greenway Compassion Relief Inc., opened in September in the Harvey West Business Park. The business is owned by Boulder Creek resident Lisa Molyneux, who says she provides marijuana for up to 100 patients a day.

Molyneux supports the city operating a similar business.

"I'm all for it," Molyneux said. "It's probably the best way to control what's going on out there with the feds."

Rotkin said he envisions the Office of Compassionate Use contracting with a pharmacy to provide the drug.

"I don't think anybody's upset with the idea that a pharmacy can sell codeine," he said. "Why wouldn't medical marijuana be distributed the same way?"

Police Chief Howard Skerry said his input was not sought when creating the city's proposed compassionate use ordinance, and it's too early to say how the Police Department would be impacted.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.


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Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:49 pm

The Santa Curz Sentinel wrote:September 11, 2005

Green is the scene: Serious and not-so-serious issues highlight local pot club’s festival

By NANCY PASTERNACK
Sentinel staff writer


SANTA CRUZ — He’s smoked pot since he was 14.

<img src=bin/wamm1.jpg align=right title="George Van Vlaenderen lights up with his homemade pipe in the smokers’ tent at WAMMFest on Saturday at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz. (Bill Lovejoy / Sentinel)">Eighty-four-year-old George Van Vlaenderen’s early experiences with marijuana were in the mid-1930s, before its use was prohibited by federal law.

Now, smoking the drug relieves eye pressure caused by his cataracts, the World War II veteran Navy pilot said.

He stood in the sunshine near a members-only smoking tent at the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana gathering Saturday and shared his thoughts.

Those who could legalize the drug, he said, have a vested interest in keeping marijuana illegal.

Allowing people to use products of the cannabis plant legally, he said, "would eliminate the need for a lot of prescription drugs."

"They’ll do everything in their power to make sure it’s not legal," Van Vlaenderen said, "because it would cost them millions of dollars ... they’re scared like hell."

In spite of his jaunty beret and ready smile, the WAMM member’s perspective represented more serious aspects of WAMMFest.

Beyond the cemetery of paper gravestones set up by the festival’s organizers to represent deceased members, less grave aspects of the festival were in evidence.

"Get laid by a WAMM member: only $5" read a sign advertising Hawaiian-style leis of strung plastic cannabis leaves.

And a dreadlocked Homer Simpson toking from a bong graced the front of a tie-dyed "original art" shirt hawked by Jerry Converse. "Ahh, bong hits," the shirt reads.

Another shirt features Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbs) smoking a large marijuana cigarette.

"But on the back," Converse said, picking up the garment and showing it off, "he turns into spaceman Spliff on a giant Rastafarian joint planet."

WAMM co-founder Valerie Corral dismisses purely recreational users who try to associate themselves with her group.

More pressing issues are at hand, she said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court did away with protections for marijuana cooperatives. Drug Enforcement Agency raids are a reality once again.

But eventually, she said, medical necessity will overcome politics.

"Everybody faces death — we’re all future skulls," she said. And keeping marijuana illegal "hasn’t saved or extended a single life."

WAMM member Diana Poppay, 48, emerges from the smoking tent. The mother of two said she has suffered with multiple sclerosis since 1975, and that medical marijuana’s effects have helped relieve pain, stop her muscle spasms and it allows her to eat and sleep in peace.

She said she’s thankful for the pure, organic drugs she gets through Corral’s cooperative. She doesn’t trust other sources of marijuana.

"On the street," she said, "you don’t know what they’re doing with that stuff."

Corral said she welcomes government scrutiny.

"If (government officials) watch us closely enough, they’ll fall in love with WAMM," she said. "We’re going to charm the DEA."


Contact Nancy Pasternack at npasternack@santacruzsentinel.com.


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Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:57 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:January 21, 2006


Medical pot users deal with legal setbacks
By Brian Seals
SEntinel staff writer

Everyday about 2 p.m. Hal Margolin puts a small amount of marijuana into a pipe, then takes a few puffs.

Slowly, the pain he feels no longer preoccupies his thoughts, he says, and he can get on with his life.

"It distracts me from obsessing," said Margolin, 73.

But while his body may be taking comfort, the same can't be said of his mind.

The medical marijuana movement in California has faced setbacks during the past year. Many users say they are leery of federal raids and other challenges to state medical pot policy.

Six months after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling essentially saying the federal government could enforce its drug regulations even in states that have medical marijuana laws, another challenge of California's law is brewing.

On Friday, San Diego County said it would file a federal suit challenging the validity of the state's medical marijuana law that was approved by voters in 1996 under Proposition 215.

Whatever the outcome of the San Diego case, concerns are heightened among an already distraught group who use medical pot.

Since June's Supreme Court ruling, Santa Cruz County medical marijuana users say they are conserving their medicine, not knowing what the future holds.

Valerie Corral, co-founder of the Santa Cruz-based Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said group members are using more pharmaceutical medications instead of marijuana, which is pinching them financially.

The group has also changed the way it operates, Corral says. It no longer has a collective garden, fearful of a federal raid like one that happened in September 2002, and now individual members grow for themselves and others.

"We're asking community members to be caregivers and grow for our patients," she said.

Margolin, for example, said he has cut back to about 5 grams per week compared with up to 8 grams per week before the ruling. That means living with the pain and nausea through the morning and waiting until the afternoon to smoke, he says.

"I worry about it almost every day," Margolin said. "I don't know what we are going to do once we run out of medicine."

In November, San Diego County said it would not abide by a state identification care program mandated by state law.

That has sparked yet another debate about the state's decade-old law.

"It's the will of the people," said Corral. "Really it's just short of fascism to go around the will of the people."

San Diego County officials say they are simply seeking an order freeing them from having to comply with state law requiring counties to issue medical marijuana identification cards.

"The Board of Supervisors here did not believe the state should be mandating them to issue these cards when federal law says marijuana is illegal," said John Sansone, San Diego County counsel.

The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 considers marijuana to be a drug with no medicinal value.

A ruling in favor of San Diego County could apply to other jurisdictions who didn't want to follow the state's medical pot laws, he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to intervene in the federal suit filed by San Diego County, said Anjuli Verma, spokeswoman with the group's Drug Law Reform Project in Santa Cruz.

"We think San Diego County is hiding behind this false fear about the identification cards because they politically disagree with medical marijuana," Verma said.

Whether it would overturn the state's law altogether — affecting places like Santa Cruz County where officials have readily accommodated patients who use pot — remains to be seen.

"It really depends on how the court is going to rule," Sansone said.

The San Diego suit names the state of California and state Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry.

The department had no comment on the suit, said spokeswoman Lea Brooks. The department has issued 779 medical marijuana identification cards in 15 counties, she said. That does not include Santa Cruz County, which has its own medical marijuana ID card program.

Contact Brian Seals at bseals@santacruzsentinel.com.


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Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:59 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:February 1, 2006


Groups restate case on medical pot

By Brian Seals
SEntinel staff writer

An area medical marijuana cooperative should be free from harassment by federal agents as should the city's recently enacted ordinance that would establish a compassionate use office for the drug, an amended federal court complaint filed this week contends.

Attorneys for the city and county of Santa Cruz and the Wo/men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana filed the amended complaint in U.S. District Court in San Jose.

It is basically an updated version of a lawsuit filed in 2003.

The suit contends that the state, county and city have the right to establish medical marijuana policies under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

"Essentially, we're arguing that the federal government is interfering with the city's and county's right to regulate the health and welfare of its own citizenry," said Gerald Uelmen, law professor at Santa Clara University and one of a string of attorney's working for the plaintiffs.

Uelmen is joined by Santa Cruz attorney Ben Rice as well as lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Drug Policy Alliance, the firm of Bingham McCutchen and Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone.

The suit also centers, in part, on the argument that a person has a right to manage her or his illness and death.

"We're dealing with how do you convince the federal government the harm they are creating is much worse than the harm they are trying to prevent," said Valerie Corral, co-founder of WAMM.

The issue not in the suit is that of interstate commerce, which was part of the original complaint. That concept led to an appeals court ruling that individuals in states with medical marijuana laws may supply for each other as long as money doesn't change hands and the pot doesn't cross state lines.

Though an appeals court went along with that argument, it was later rejected in June by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case known as Raich v. Gonzales.

WAMM was joined by the city and county in filing the suit back in 2003 and inlcuded that argument as part of the suit, months after federal agents raided the cooperative's Davenport garden and uprooted 167 plants. Corral and husband Mike, also a co-founder of the group, were briefly jailed but have not been charged.

The suit seeks an injunction against future raids, as well as a judicial declaration that medical marijuana use is necessary for the sick plaintiffs and their caregivers to manage their disease and that city or county employees are not subject to prosecution for helping to implement local medical marijuana policies.

A call to the National Office of Drug Control Policy, also known as the Drug Czar, in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned late Tuesday afternoon.

Contact Brian Seals at bseals@santacruzsentinel.com.


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Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:03 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:March 9, 2006


S.C. marijuana advocates push proposal to ease city drug law

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — Marijuana proponents are pushing for a new city law that would essentially make recreational pot use legal on private property.

A petition drive is under way by the advocacy group Santa Cruz Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy to get an initiative on the November ballot that would make marijuana offenses the lowest priority for police and cut off federal drug-enforcement resources to ensure this.

But the law enforcement community is questioning the legality of the initiative, as well as its common sense.

"By making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority on private property, essentially every house in Santa Cruz would be a safe house," City Attorney John Barisone said.

The city attorney and police chief note such an initiative defies state law because marijuana is an illegal substance, and would pit authorities between conflicting directives — except in the case of medical use.

"I think it creates a lot of problems, and it's got some real legal problems," Barisone added.

Supporters of the initiative, though, insist it's a "sensible policy" that would end wasting taxpayer money on policing to "criminalize cannabis consumers."

"If police work is about making the public safer," said initiative author Theodora Kerry, "we really feel whether or not adults are using marijuana privately in their homes does not affect public safety."

The proposed policy would also create a community oversight committee, which would include Santa Cruz residents and representatives from the Police Department and the county District Attorney's Office, to track marijuana arrests. The proposed ordinance also would not allow the city to accept federal funds for fighting marijuana use.

A telephone poll conducted in October that questioned 400 registered voters in Santa Cruz showed 82 percent "agreed or somewhat agreed" that adults using marijuana should not be criminalized, said Andrea Tischler, owner of the Compassion Flower Inn, a bed and breakfast in Santa Cruz that allows medical marijuana use on site.

"We want the police to focus on violent acts," Tischler said. "Plus, it's far less harmful to use marijuana than alcohol, which is totally legal."

Police Chief Howard Skerry said the department receives complaints about drug use in the community, and "marijuana is certainly part of that."

As far as priority, Skerry said "in-progress calls" and "life safety" calls always take precedence.

The proposal still allows for cracking down on marijuana use by minors and on public property.

At least 10 percent of the city's 34,228 voters must sign the petition by April 20 to qualify the question for the November ballot. If 15 percent of registered voters sign it, the group could force the city to hold a special election, City Clerk Leslie Cook said.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.


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Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:09 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:March 14, 2006


Second Santa Cruz medical pot shop on tap

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — The city is likely to land a second medical pot shop soon, and medical marijuana supporters say the addition will benefit thousands of county users through greater access, better prices and higher quality.

K.E. Sampson, a Corralitos resident and medical marijuana patient of five years, has submitted an application to turn an empty two-story office building on Limekiln Street into The Santa Cruz Patient Collective in the city's Harvey West industrial area.

Sampson said he plans to run the collective like Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc., the city's first medical marijuana dispensary, which opened on DuBois Street in September.

"Healthy competition will ensure the best prices as well as the best quality," Sampson, 44, said. "My forte will be providing the highest quality of organic marijuana I can come across."

With an estimated 3,000 medical marijuana patients in Santa Cruz County and few outlets to access the drug legally, proponents say two dispensaries within blocks of each other will keep users from having to drive to San Francisco and Oakland to buy the drug.

The city, with a national reputation of looking kindly on marijuana use, has allowed medical marijuana dispensaries since 2001. However, strict rules surrounding location and unwilling landlords have kept such businesses from starting.

City rules for medical pot shops forbid use of the drug on the property, require a doctor's note or county-issued medical marijuana card to purchase the drug and mandate on-site security guards. No such business can be within 600 feet of a park or school.

Greenway owner Lisa Molyneux worked with the city for more than a year before obtaining the special-use permits necessary to open. Since opening, Greenway has drawn "not one complaint" from the public or police, city planner Mike Ferry said.

Molyneux said Greenway employs 12 people and has a database of about 2,500 medical marijuana patients. The dispensary, she said, continues to grow every day, including clients from outside the county.

"If the city approves Sampson's application," Molyneux said, "it'll be a benefit to the movement more than anything else."

Sampson, who previously owned a trucking company in Watsonville, said he suffered a head injury 12 years ago that left him in a coma for three months and led to his use of the drug. Sampson said he slipped while trying to avoid a deep mud puddle, fell back and struck his head on a step of the truck.

"They found me floating face up a couple hours later," he said.

It took years to regain his ability to walk and talk normally again, he said.

"Ironically, I didn't gain much of anything until I found medical marijuana," Sampson said. "It alleviated my migraines and allowed my body to start working again."

While state voters approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons by passing Proposition 215 in 1996, federal authorities have made it clear that U.S. drug laws prohibiting possession, distribution and use of marijuana will be enforced regardless of California law.

Marijuana critics say there is no medicinal benefits from the drug, and its harmful effects are often under-represented.

Ferry said he expects the city Planning Commission to hear Sampson's medical marijuana dispensary plans at its April 6 meeting. Planning staff, he said, will likely recommend approval.

No City Council approval is necessary, he said.

Contact Shanna McCordat smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.


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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:21 am

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: <a class=postlink href=http://nt2.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=563505&advquery=24.12.1300%20&infobase=procode-1&record={3099}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg target=_blank>Santa Cruz Municiple Code §24.12.1300</a> Special use permit requirement for medical marijuana provider association dispensaries.

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: <a class=postlink href=http://nt2.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=100267854&advquery=office%20of%20compassionate%20use&infobase=procode-1&record={5987}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42 target=_blank>Santa Cruz Municiple Code 6.92 - Office of Compassionate Use</a>

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: City Shuts Marijuana Co-op

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Santa Cruz approves medical pot shop


The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:April 22, 2006


Second S.C. pot shop wins approval

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

K.E. Sampson, a Corralitos resident and medical marijuana patient of five years, plans to have the city's second medical pot shop up and running by the end of May.

Sampson received unanimous support for his venture from the city Planning Commission on Thursday, allowing him to turn an empty two-story office building on Limekiln Street into The Santa Cruz Patient Collective.

"Do we need a second one of these shops?" Sampson asked. "Anytime you have one company as a monopoly, that company benefits more than the customer."

Sampson is finalizing security details and lining up marijuana vendors before opening for business.

With an estimated 3,000 medical marijuana patients in Santa Cruz County and few outlets to access the drug legally, proponents say two dispensaries within blocks of each other will keep users from having to drive to San Francisco or Oakland to buy the drug.

Sampson's office is located in the city's Harvey West industrial area.

Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc., the city's first medical marijuana dispensary, opened on DuBois Street in September, a few blocks from Sampson's office.

Greenway owner Lisa Molyneux has said she encourages other shops to open as a way to bring competition and community support to the medical marijuana issue.

While state voters approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons by passing Proposition 215 in 1996, federal authorities have made it clear that U.S. drug laws prohibiting possession, distribution and use of marijuana will be enforced regardless of California law.

Marijuana critics say there the drug has no medicinal benefits, and its harmful effects are often underrepresented.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

Last edited by palmspringsbum on Thu May 24, 2007 3:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:25 am

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:April 21, 2006


Initiative to relax pot rules headed to ballot in Santa Cruz

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel


SANTA CRUZ — Supporters of an initiative to reduce police enforcement of recreational pot use turned in more than the required number of signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.

"This measure offers a sensible alternative to the failed federal war on drugs," organizer Andrea Tischler wrote in a statement. "Santa Cruz citizens don't want our police to waste their time and our tax dollars arresting, jailing and prosecuting nonviolent marijuana users."

The group, known as Santa Cruz Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy, needs to collect signatures of 3,423 registered voters to bring the issue to a vote. They turned in more than 6,000.

The number of signatures required to force a vote was different for the marijuana initiative than the minimum wage initiative, whose supporters also filed Thursday, because the number of registered voters fluctuates.

The signatures need to be counted and verified by county elections officials within the next 30 days before the measure can officially qualify for the ballot.

Marijuana is an illegal substance under federal law, but allowed for medical use in California.

The group's initiative includes cutting off federal drug-enforcement resources to ensure the proposed city policy is followed.

Marijuana enforcement in Santa Cruz would still apply to driving under the influence, sales to minors and use or sale in public.

City Attorney John Barisone and local police officials have questioned the legality of the proposal.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Wed May 03, 2006 8:27 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:Medical pot shop fought

May 3, 2006
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

The medical marijuana dispensary unanimously approved by the Santa Cruz planning commission last week won’t be opening as soon as expected.

Two appeals of the Harvey West neighborhood shop will hold up the project until at least next month when a public hearing can be scheduled.
(See Shanna McCord's complete story in Thursday's Sentinel.)

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Postby palmspringsbum » Thu May 04, 2006 8:58 am

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:May 4, 2006


Second S.C. pot shop stalled by appeals

By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — Concerns about adequate parking, lighting and litter removal have brought a halt to the opening of the medical marijuana dispensary unanimously approved by the city Planning Commission last month.

Two appeals of the Harvey West neighborhood shop will hold up the project until at least June when a public hearing by the City Council can be scheduled.

The council will decide whether to allow K.E. Sampson, a Corralitos resident and medical marijuana patient, to go ahead with plans to turn an empty office building on Limekiln Street into The Santa Cruz Patient Collective.

"I don't see their arguments as sound," Sampson said Wednesday of the appeals. "but I still respect them and plan to work to settle this."

The Santa Cruz Patient Collective would be the city's second such medical marijuana shop. Greenway Compassion Inc. was started on Dubois Street, also in the Harvey West area, in September by Lisa Molyneux of Boulder Creek.

Molyneux faced almost no community opposition when planning her business.

But Nancy Anecito and Dr. Josee Belanger, both of Fern Street near Sampson's proposed dispensary, filed appeals Monday with the Planning Department that raise concerns about his proposed medical marijuana outlet.

Belanger cited parking and safety issues for the people who would be using the medical marijuana shop in her appeal letter.

"For such a facility, most of the parking offered must be adjacent to the building," wrote Belanger, who declined to be interviewed Wednesday. "It should hopefully offer more than one ADA adjacent parking spot for their patients."

Anecito's appeal letter faulted the Planning Commission for not taking "all circumstances into a broad enough consideration."

Anecito, who didn't return phone calls Wednesday, referenced the city municipal code that allows special-use permits for medical marijuana providers. In her letter, she said parking, adequate lighting, litter removal and the concentration of two medical marijuana outlets in one neighborhood are "items that have not satisfactorily been met."

City planner Mike Ferry said Sampson's proposed medical marijuana business includes 11 on-site parking spots, which is two more than the city requires.

The city permit also requires Sampson be responsible for picking up any litter and removing graffiti from the site, Ferry said.

The Santa Cruz Patient Collective would be subject to a six-month review by city officials to address any troubles or community concerns.

Greenway Compassion Inc. went through the review last month.

"They're doing fine," Ferry said. "There's no call to change their operations."

Sampson believes his business would improve the neighborhood, which is known for being a spot for homeless people to gather, in addition to helping the estimated 3,000 medical marijuana patients countywide access the drug.

"We're just an unknown," Sampson said. "I aim to be a great neighbor and I plan to make the area better. Not a little better, a lot better."

While state voters approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons by passing Proposition 215 in 1996, federal authorities have made it clear that U.S. drug laws prohibiting possession, distribution and use of marijuana will be enforced regardless of California law.

Marijuana critics say the drug has no medicinal benefits, and its harmful effects are often underrepresented.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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June 15, 2006

Postby Midnight toker » Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:50 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:June 15, 2006


Santa Cruz Sentinel
Pot shop gets green light

In a 6-1 vote Tuesday night, the Santa Cruz City Council denied two appeals aiming to halt opening the city's second medical marijuana dispensary.

The dispensary was unanimously approved by the city Planning Commission in April; that approval was challenged and the matter brought before the council. On Tuesday, several neighbors and business owners from the Harvey West neighborhood voiced concerns over parking, lighting and litter removal.

Most in the overflow crowd at the meeting, however, spoke in favor of the shop.

K.E. Sampson, a Corralitos resident and medical marijuana patient, plans to turn an empty office building on Limekiln Street into The Santa Cruz Patient Collective.

Sampson says his business will improve the neighborhood, where homeless people gather and live, and provide access to the drug for the estimated 3,000 medical pot patients in the county.

Councilman Mike Rotkin said the council could consider limiting the number of dispensaries.
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Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:12 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:June 24, 2006

Federal court could allow city to create medical marijuana shop
By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer
SANTA CRUZ — A federal judge will decide if medical marijuana patients and a proposed city-owned dispensary should be protected from federal prosecution.

American Civil Liberties Union attorneys and other lawyers presented arguments to a San Jose federal court Friday in a case aimed at forcing the U.S. government to recognize California's 10-year-old medical marijuana law and to allow Santa Cruz to establish an Office of Compassionate Use — the nation's first government-owned medical pot shop.

The lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Drug Enforcement Administration began after a federal raid of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in 2002. The case since has grown to include the city and county of Santa Cruz.

Justice Department attorney Mark Quinlevin asked the court to dismiss the case, which would leave the state's medical marijuana law intact but leave users and providers vulnerable to arrest by federal agents.

No decision was made Friday by federal Judge Jeremy Fogel. His verdict could come in several months to a year.

"The federal government seeks to limit access to medical marijuana," said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. "The government needs to accept that, at least for some people, this is the only medicine keeping them alive."

City leaders voted in October to create a new department to distribute marijuana to seriously ill patients, but only if the federal government guaranteed the operation would be allowed to run without federal interference.

The city's effort to form a compassionate-use office tests the state's right to enact the medical marijuana law that voters passed in 1996, Proposition 215, which allows some patients to use marijuana. Santa Cruz aims to provide the drug to qualified patients at a reasonable price, proponents say, in a safe environment.

"If it were legal we might contract with Longs pharmacy," Councilman Mike Rotkin said. "They provide morphine, why not marijuana? This is not a recreational issue, and we wish the government would see that."

Marijuana co-op founders Mike and Val Corral were taken to federal holding cells in San Jose after the raid in 2002 and released later that day.

They contend some patients, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or treatment for HIV and AIDS, should be able to use marijuana to ease pain, reduce nausea and stimulate appetite.

"If people are dying, they have enough to worry about," Mike Corral said. "This case is really important for America in general. It has far reaching and broad impacts for life in America."

The federal government has been steadfast in viewing marijuana as a dangerous and illegal drug, and has challenged its use and distribution, shutting down medical co-ops and confiscating marijuana.

In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted by the federal government.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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WAMM fundraiser - 22 Jul 06

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:47 am

IndyMedia wrote:FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Friday, July 07, 2006

New filings in Santa Cruz v. Gonzales case, filing motions against San Diego County for not acknowledging Proposition 215 (Compassionate Use Act), and WAMM garage sale!


CONTACT: Ritika Aggarwal,
(831)425-0580 (office), (831)425-0582 (fax), (831)423-5413 (voicemail)



Last Friday, June 30th, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) with the city and county of Santa Cruz presented oral arguments in a constitutional challenge to the federal government’s prohibition of medical marijuana. The case, County of Santa Cruz v. Gonzales, represents the first significant challenge to the federal government’s prohibition of medical marijuana since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Raich.

Attorneys Gerald Uelman, the San Francisco law firm of Bingham McCutchen, Drug Policy Alliance, Ben Rice, and the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the federal government has unconstitutionally attempted to sabotage California’s ability to chart its own legislative course by selectively utilizing arrests, prosecutions and other means to thwart the state’s medical marijuana laws.

In San Diego, the ACLU, American’s for Safe Access, and Drug Policy Alliance moved today to intervene in a lawsuit brought by several CA counties that seeks to overturn the state’s Compassionate Use Act, passed in 1996.

This lawsuit comes one day after a series of raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego, a county that has chosen to involve the DEA in their actions and disregard the legality of medical marijuana within CA.

Valerie Corral, co-founder and director of WAMM states that “significant harm is caused both to our legal system and to seriously ill people when a city arbitrarily chooses to defy the law.”

The lawsuit, initially brought by San Diego County and later joined by San Bernadino and Merced counties, challenges state laws that permit patients to use, and doctors to recommend medical marijuana under the explicit protection of state law. The lawsuit further challenges the state’s Medical Marijuana Program Act, which calls for the implementation of an identification card program that would allow police to identity legitimate medical marijuana patients in a database.

Although the California Attorney General’s plans to defend the state’s medical marijuana statutes from the counties’ challenge, several groups are intervening in an order to assure adequate representation of those most impacted by the counties’ legal challenge: medical marijuana patients, their caregivers, and doctors.

WAMM is represented by these groups as well, and is a medical marijuana collective in Santa Cruz, California, whose 200 members, a majority of whom are terminally ill, work together with their caregivers to provide free medicine for a variety of conditions to members in the collective. In addition to entering the case, the groups are seeking a court order that would compel the counties to abide by and implement California’s medical marijuana laws. The groups are also asking the court to affirm that the state’s medical marijuana laws are not preempted by contrary federal statutes.

Despite these challenges, WAMM will continue to operate, although desperately needing funding. On July 22, from 10-4pm, WAMM will be hosting a garage sale with BBQ and live music at 815 Almar Street to raise money for its members in need.

http://www.wamm.org

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Barisone Report Hostile to Marijuana Initiative

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:12 pm

IndyMedia wrote:Barisone Report Hostile to Marijuana Initiative

by S.C. City Attorney Barisone (poster: Norse)

Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 9:21 AM
<blockquote>
At the July 25 City Council meeting, John Barisone will be presenting the following hostile report on the "tax and regulate" local marijuana initiative.
</blockquote>
July 6, 2006

TO: Mayor Mathews; City Councilmembers
FROM: John G. Barisone, City Attorney

RE: <span class=postbold>Legality of Adult Marijuana Criminal Offenses – Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Policy Initiative</span>


BACKGROUND

On May 23, 2006, the County Elections Department certified the Adult Marijuana Criminal Offenses – Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative Petition as sufficient to qualify for the November 2006 ballot. At the June 13, 2006 City Council Meeting, the City Council, pursuant to Elections Code section 9212, referred the initiative to the City Attorney’s Office for a report on its legality.

To the extent the City Attorney’s Office determined any portions of the initiative were potentially invalid, the City Council directed staff to determine which provisions of the initiative may be retained as valid. The City Council also directed the City Attorney’s Office to present the Council with options for having a Court confirm the accuracy of the City Attorney’s opinion on these matters.

ANALYSIS

The initiative proposes an ordinance whereby the City declares that law enforcement activity relating to adult marijuana offenses in the City of Santa Cruz shall be the City’s lowest law enforcement priority, with the exception of: (a) distribution or sale of marijuana to minors; (b) distribution, sale, cultivation, or use of marijuana on public property; and (c) driving under the influence.

Apart from this provision of the initiative which specifies these crimes that are not within the ambit of "adult marijuana offenses," the term "adult marijuana offenses" is not otherwise defined, and therefore, presumably includes any other criminal activity related to the possession, use, cultivation, or transportation of marijuana for any purpose.

The initiative then directs all Santa Cruz law enforcement officers, including the City’s police officers, to give priority to all other law enforcement activity. Pursuant to Section 9.84.050 of the initiative, "law enforcement activities relating to adult marijuana offenses" includes, but is not limited to, "investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult marijuana offenses."

Assuming that law enforcement activity (this term is not defined in the initiative) includes crime prevention activity such as patrolling the City, the initiative would arguably preclude all covered marijuana law enforcement activity in the City of Santa Cruz when that activity is undertaken by adults (defined in the ordinance as persons age 18 or older). A police officer while on duty will always be able to engage in some type of law enforcement activity other than the enforcement of marijuana-related laws and, hence, any such criminal marijuana enforcement would in all likelihood constitute a violation of the ordinance.

The initiative would also:
∑ Require the City to apply this lowest law enforcement policy to the Police Department’s cooperation with state or federal agents relative to activity that may entail arrests, citations, investigations, prosecutions, or property seizures in connection with covered adult marijuana offenses.

∑ Prohibit Santa Cruz law enforcement officers and other City employees from accepting or renewing formal deputization or commissioning by a federal law enforcement agency if such deputization or commissioning will include investigating, citing, arresting, or seizing property from adults for covered marijuana offenses.

∑ Prohibit the City from accepting any federal funding that would be used to investigate, cite, arrest, prosecute, or seize property form adults for any marijuana offenses.

∑ Create a Community Oversight Committee to oversee the proposed ordinance’s implementation. The Committee would be comprised of City residents appointed by the City Council. In addition, the Santa Cruz Police Department and the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office would each be required to send a representative to the meetings as a non-voting liaison.

The Committee’s responsibilities would include timely implementation of the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Policy; designing a supplemental report form for Santa Cruz law enforcement officers for use in reporting all adult marijuana arrests, citations, and property seizures, and all instances of officers assisting in state or federal arrests, citations, and property seizures for any adult marijuana offenses in the City; and reporting semi-annually to the City Council on the implementation of the ordinance.

∑ Declare that it is the policy of the City to support policies to tax and regulate marijuana for adults.

∑ Require the City Clerk to submit letters on an annual basis to the City’s Congressional representative, California’s U.S. Senators, the City’s California Senators and Assembly Members, the California Governor, and the President of the United States stating, "The citizens of the city of Santa Cruz have passed an initiative to deprioritize marijuana offenses and request that the federal and California state governments take immediate steps to tax and regulate marijuana use, cultivation, and distribution and to authorize state and local communities to do the same."

The remedy for violation of the proposed ordinance would be a writ of mandate to compel compliance with its requirements. Under the initiative, such an action could be brought by any registered voter in the City.
Legality

First and foremost, it must be borne in mind that the people’s ability to adopt an ordinance by way of initiative is co-extensive with that of the City Council. In other words, the people, by way of initiative, have no greater authority to legislate than does the City Council and therefore they must do so within the same legal constraints under which the City Council itself legislates.

One of the legal constraints that must be observed by both the City Council and citizens who would enact ordinances by way of initiative is the prohibition against enacting ordinances which conflict with the City Charter or which are preempted by state and/or federal law. Here, the initiative provides mandatory direction to the City’s Police Department with regard to that Department’s daily administrative, and most common, functions i.e. the performance of law enforcement duties which are imposed by state law. Specifically Section 9.84.050 states:

"Santa Cruz law enforcement officers shall make law enforcement activity relating to adult marijuana offenses their lowest law enforcement priority. Law enforcement activities relating to adult marijuana offenses include, but are not limited to, investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult marijuana offenses."

The City Charter, at Section 809, specifies that:

"Except for the purpose of inquiry, the Council and its members shall deal with administrative services solely through the City Manager, and neither the Council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any City officer, either publicly or privately. Any Councilmember who violates this provision, or votes for a resolution or ordinance in violation hereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall cease to be a Councilmember."

Given the foregoing, the proposed ordinance (Section 9.84.050 in particular), if adopted, would most likely violate the City’s Charter.

In addition, several provisions of the ordinance, if adopted, would most likely be preempted by state law. The City, including the City’s electorate, cannot adopt or enforce ordinances that conflict with laws relating to matters of statewide concern. The California Uniform Controlled Substances Act (the "Act") prohibits non-medical use, possession, cultivation and distribution of cannabis.

This Act and the statutes of which it is comprised have statewide application. The ordinance, by requiring Santa Cruz Police Officers to give priority to all other law enforcement activities before enforcing marijuana-related laws [Section 9.84.050(1)], appears to conflict with the Act: it effectively purports to partially nullify the provisions of the Act pertaining to marijuana offenses.

Moreover, police officers, as guardians of the peace and security of the community, are obligated to enforce all laws until and unless the laws are declared unconstitutional. Accordingly, they are duty bound to prevent the commission of crime, assist in its detection, and disclose all information known to them which may lead to the apprehension and punishment of those who have transgressed the law, including the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

To enable police officers to fulfill their duties, the California Penal Code confers upon peace officers throughout the State of California, including Santa Cruz police officers, the discretion to enforce all criminal statutes enacted by the State legislature and does not purport to limit that discretion by dictating with what priority a police officer must conduct his or her law enforcement activity when presented with two or more enforcement options at or near the same point in time.

In contrast, for example, this ordinance, applied literally, would require a Santa Cruz police officer on Pacific Avenue foot patrol to confront someone littering, rather than an adult he or she sees at or about the same time offering packages of marijuana for sale to other adults on a nearby privately owned parking lot. If challenged, a judge would most likely conclude on the basis of examples such as this that the ordinance is preempted by state law and accordingly void.

In addition, preemption principles apply to federal statutes. Accordingly, to the extent that the initiative purports to authorize activity that is proscribed by the Federal Controlled Substances Act 21 U.S.C. §§801 et seq., it is similarly subject to a preemption challenge on this basis.

A review of the ordinance reveals some additional legal problems briefly summarized as follows:

∑ The ordinance prohibits police officers from cooperating with state or federal agents relative to the arrest, citation, investigation, prosecution, or enforcement of marijuana-related crimes if they can be devoting their time to other law enforcement activity. (See Initiative at Section 9.84.050(3)).

However, California Penal Code section 830.65 authorizes the California Attorney General to appoint regularly employed City police officers to assist with regional criminal marijuana-related investigations and tactical operations. A police officer would therefore violate the ordinance by complying with an Attorney General order for assistance or a similar order by any other state or federal official statutorily entitled to enlist the assistance of police officers for operations of this type.

Similarly, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office is authorized to utilize the subpoena process to compel witness (including Santa Cruz police officer) cooperation in criminal prosecutions, including adult marijuana offenses. A police officer would violate the ordinance by complying with a subpoena relating to adult marijuana-related crimes. (See Initiative at Sections 9.84.050(3), and 9.84.080). However, the officer, if subpoenaed to do so by the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, would violate state law if, in order to obey the ordinance, he or she disobeys the subpoena.

∑ Section 9.84.060(1) of the ordinance calls for the creation of a voluntary "Community Oversight Committee" to be comprised of Councilmember-appointed City residents and directs that "...the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s office shall ... send a representative as a non-voting liaison to the [Community Oversight Committee] meetings." The City has no authority to give direction to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney.

∑ Section 9.84.060(3) of the ordinance mandates that Santa Cruz law enforcement officers shall submit to the Community Oversight Committee "supplemental reports," on forms promulgated by the Committee, "...within seven calendar days after each adult marijuana arrest, citation, or property seizure, or instance of assisting in a state or federal arrest, citation, or property seizure for any adult marijuana offense in the City of Santa Cruz." Per Section 9.84.080 of the ordinance, "All sections of this Chapter are mandatory."

Therefore, a police officer’s failure to submit timely reports to the Community Oversight Committee as called for by the ordinance (a legally questionable mandate given the City Charter’s "no interference" clause discussed above) would subject the officer to civil liability pursuant to Section 9.84.080 of the proposed ordinance. In addition, under the same section, Santa Cruz police officers would be subject to citizen lawsuits should they exercise their authority granted by state law to enforce California statutes pertaining to the possession, use, cultivation or transportation of marijuana or should they assist other law enforcement agencies in connection with crimes in this category.



Valid Provisions and Suggestions

The ordinance contains a number of provisions which, if severed from the defective provisions discussed above, would result in an ordinance which would most likely pose no legal difficulties. For example, the City Council, and hence the people by way of initiative, could make the factual findings set forth in Section 9.84.030, which serve as the basis for the ordinance. These include such findings as "The federal government’s war on drugs has failed" and "Otherwise law-abiding adults are being arrested and imprisoned for non-violent marijuana offenses, which is clogging courts and jails in California."

Section 9.84.050, in part, provides that "The City of Santa Cruz shall not accept any federal funding that would be used to investigate, cite, arrest, prosecute, or seize property from adults for marijuana offenses." Similarly, Section 9.84.070 states that it shall be the policy of the City of Santa Cruz to support measures to tax and regulate marijuana for adults. Because it is within the province of the City Council to make fiscal policy decisions of this type, an initiative which legislates the same policy would be permissible.

Other jurisdictions have endeavored to address the substantive concerns relative to the expenditure of law enforcement resources on marijuana law enforcement that prompted this initiative. For example, the City of West Hollywood adopted a formal resolution, which reflects the law enforcement policies that prompted the initiative, but which did not legislate mandates that make the initiative legally suspect. The West Hollywood resolution (a) declares that the city does not target private adult marijuana offenses and (b) directs the Public Safety Commission to review narcotics-related law enforcement statistics annually to ascertain compliance with the city policy and to inform policy makers of enforcement efforts regarding enforcement of all narcotics offenses in order to assure that enforcement is consistent with the city’s policy goals in this area. A copy of the resolution adopted by the West Hollywood City Council is attached.



Verifying City Attorney’s Opinion

The City Council has the following options to confirm or refute the City Attorney’s opinion as to the legality of the initiative’s provisions:
<ol>
<li>If the initiative is believed to be unconstitutional, the City Attorney may refuse to prepare the ballot and summary and then seek a declaration as to the constitutionality of the proposed initiative. See Jahr v. Casebeer (1999) 70 Cal. App. 4th 1250. Inasmuch as our office has already prepared the Ballot Title and Summary for the initiative, this option is not available at this time. </li>

<li>The City Council may refuse to place the measure on the ballot. The initiative proponents may then file a mandamus action, and the City defends the action. The court may uphold the refusal, [see Citizens for Responsible Behavior v. Sup. Ct. (1991) 1 Cal. App. 4th 1013; City of Irvine v. Irvine Citizens Against Development (1994) 25 Cal. App. 4th 868], or order the measure placed on the ballot, subject to a later (separate) suit after the election if the measure is adopted. However, this method was repudiated in Save Stanislaus Area Farm Economy v. Board of Supervisors (1993) 13 Cal. App. 4th 141. </li>

<li>The City Council may place the measure on the ballot and direct the City Attorney to file an action to remove the measure from the ballot and seek a declaration as to the validity of the proposed initiative. See Save Stanislaus Area Farm Economy v. Board of Supervisors (1993) 13 Cal. App. 4th 141; City of Atascadero v. Daly (1982) 135 Cal. App. 3d 466; Yost v. Thomas (1984) 36 Cal. 3d 561. </li>

<li>The City may file a post-election action seeking a judicial determination of the validity of the measure. In City of Burbank v. Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority (2003) 113 Cal. App. 4th 465. "Court challenges both preelection and postadoption have been held to be appropriate." Id. at 482 (citing City of Irvine v. Irvine Citizens Against Overdevelopment (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 868, 874, 30 Cal.Rptr.2d 797). </li>

<li>The City Council may decide not to test the City Attorney’s opinion regarding the legality of the initiative. If the City Council does not direct the City Attorney to file a pre- or post-election action testing the legality of the initiative and the measure is adopted, the City (and the City Attorney) may be required to defend the validity of the measure (or retain counsel to do so). See Arnel Development Co. v. City of Costa Mesa (1980) 28 Cal. 3d 511, 514 n.3. Please note however, that the notion that the City has a duty to defend the validity of an initiative measure passed by its electorate has been questioned. See City of Burbank v. Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority (2003) 113 al. App. 4th 465. </li>

<li>We had initially speculated that a validation lawsuit might be appropriate to obtain a judicial determination as to the legality of the initiative; however, our research has now revealed that a validation action does not appear to be available in this context. A validation action is an action, brought by a public agency, to determine whether its financing commitments are valid, legal, and binding. Friedland v. City of Long Beach (1998) 62 Cal. App. 4th 835, 838. Since this initiative does not implicate City financial commitments, a validation lawsuit is not an option in this instance. </li>
</ul>
I trust the foregoing is responsive to the City Council’s June 13, 2006 request. If the Mayor or Councilmembers have questions, please call.

Sincerely,

John G. Barisone


City Attorney

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Santa Cruz marijuana measure could face legal challenge

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:22 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:July 20, 2006


Santa Cruz marijuana ballot measure could face legal challeneges

By Shanna McCord
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — A Santa Cruz police officer would be forced to crack down on littering before arresting someone for selling pot to an adult in a private parking lot if a ballot measure to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority for police becomes law.

The littering scenario was cited in a letter from City Attorney John Barisone to the City Council this month that warns of possible legal tangles the city could face if an ordinance is adopted that eases up on adult marijuana offenses.

Santa Cruz voters will vote on the marijuana ordinance Nov. 7, if the City Council decides Tuesday to put the measure on the ballot, which it is expected to do.

Proponents say the measure will give police more time and resources to fight serious crimes, like the recent surge in violence in the Beach Flats and on the Westside. The measure is not meant to allow "potheads to smoke on every corner," supporter Andrea Tischler said.

Barisone's letter points out that state law — in which marijuana is considered an illegal drug except in some medical cases — would override the proposed city ordinance, and police officers are sworn to enforce all state and federal laws.

Police officers could also run into problems with the proposed cannabis ordinance when subpoenaed by the county District Attorney's Office to testify in criminal prosecutions of adult marijuana offenses. According to Barisone, officers would be in violation of the ordinance if they testified in marijuana cases; however, disobeying a district attorney's subpoena would conflict with state law.

The ordinance also prohibits police officers from cooperating with state and federal agents investigating marijuana crimes. But Barisone said the state attorney general is authorized to appoint local officers to assist with regional criminal marijuana-related operations — a violation of the proposed city ordinance.

"This would put an undue burden on officers for simply doing what they're sworn to do," police spokesman Zach Friend said. "The usage of marijuana is prolific throughout the city, but someone taken to jail for having marijuana is rare."

Police records show 254 citations in 2005 for possession or use of marijuana in amounts less than an ounce, though Friend said "the vast majority" of those cases resulted in the person being released at the scene.

Not everyone agrees the proposed ordinance would be a problem.

Gerald Uelmen, a law professor at Santa Clara University, said the measure is legal.

"Every community can say where they want their police resources allocated," Uelmen said. "I don't read it as police should close their eyes to marijuana. All they're saying is they don't want their police department to allocate a lot of resources to it."

Exceptions in the proposed marijuana initiative include minors, sale or use on public property and driving under the influence.

Similar ballot measures are being considered in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara.

Barisone's letter is a "conservative interpretation" of the measure, said proponent Craig Reinarman, a sociology professor at UC Santa Cruz.

If the council chooses not to put the marijuana question on the ballot, proponents could sue the city.

"Marijuana is already the lowest priority in Santa Cruz," Councilman Mike Rotkin said. "We either have to adopt the measure or put it on the ballot, otherwise they could take us to court."

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Cleveland billionaire backs S.C. marijuana measure

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:18 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:August 4, 2006

Cleveland billionaire backs S.C. marijuana measure

By Shanna McCord
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
The Santa Cruz Sentinel
August 4, 2006

SANTA CRUZ — A pot-smoking billionaire in Cleveland has bankrolled nearly all the $32,000 raised for the ballot measure to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority for Santa Cruz police.

Mega-donor Peter Benjamin Lewis, 71, chairman of the Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance Corp., is known in political circles as a leftist who gives millions to liberal causes and anti-war movements — in the same league as his friend, financier George Soros. The two are the country's biggest contributors to liberal candidates and causes such as marijuana legalization, gay rights and the environment.

Highest on Lewis' list of political priorities is the effort to decriminalizing marijuana.

Disclosure forms filed this week by Santa Cruz Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy with the county Elections Department report Lewis contributing $32,000 to the Santa Cruz ballot measure.

Roughly $1,200 of the Santa Cruz marijuana campaign has come from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws of San Francisco.

None has come from local donors, according to the financial disclosure forms.

"Most of our money may come through another channel, but we are a grassroots organization," said proponent Andrea Tischler. "It costs a lot of money to run a campaign and we don't think that will matter to the voters if the money comes from someplace else."

The measure would force police officers to focus on crimes other than adult marijuana sales or use on private property, and would not allow officers to participate in regional marijuana busts.

Some, including City Attorney John Barisone, question the measure's legality.

Lewis strongly favors taxing and regulating the use and sale of the drug. He was a chief backer in California's 1996 passage of Proposition 215, the measure that made medical-marijuana use legal.

A bulk of the Ohio man's marijuana-related contributions — seven-figure yearly donations — goes to the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.

The nonprofit, established in 1995, doles out Lewis' money to "grassroots organizations" working around the country to pass local legislation to legalize marijuana, spokesman Bruce Mirken said.

Lewis' money went through the Policy Project before reaching Santa Cruz, where it paid for the $20,000 petition drive earlier this year that yielded almost twice the required 3,400 signatures of registered city voters to qualify the initiative for the Nov. 7 ballot.

"Peter Lewis is our largest individual donor," Mirken said Thursday. "He has been involved in supporting marijuana-law reform for a number of years. The grants program he funds has been in the neighborhood of $2 million."

Ranked as one of the world's richest people by Forbes magazine, Lewis was arrested for possession of marijuana in January 2000 while traveling in New Zealand.

He admitted to three charges of importing drugs and freely acknowledged to being a regular pot smoker, according to various media reports, including an article in the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.

Lewis has also been the biggest donor to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, giving $77 million to the arts institution since 1993.

The Princeton graduate gave a gift of $60 million to the Ivy League university for the construction of a library in his name, and has given more than $60 million to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

A spokeswoman for Progressive Insurance on Thursday said Lewis was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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How far is too far?

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:47 pm

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:Posted on Tue, Oct. 24, 2006


<span class=postbold>ELECTION 2006: CITY OF SANTA CRUZ</span>

How far is too far?

EVEN MANY LIBERALS NOT TOO HIGH ON PROGRESSIVE INITIATIVES

By Ken McLaughlin
Mercury News

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/tischler_damian.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Damian Tischler, seen here at the Compassion Flower Inn, which caters to people who use marijuana medicinally, is a volunteer on the Measure K campaign.</td></tr></table>Santa Cruz may be attached to the mainland. But in many ways it is an island.

Separated from the Bay Area by mountains and encircled by ocean and greenery, the city of 56,000 is known for its edgy politics, feisty independence and uncommon sense of place. But this fall residents are engaged in a fierce debate over two voter initiatives on the ballot -- one to all but legalize pot smoking, the other to create a local minimum-wage law. And both have some Santa Cruz progressives wondering if the city is carrying this ``island thing'' too far.

Even the avowed socialist on the city council worries about the city pretending that California's drug laws and the laws of economics don't apply to Santa Cruz.

``It's one thing to be unique and edgy, but I don't want the city to be seen as totally wacky,'' veteran Councilman Mike Rotkin said.

The marijuana initiative would require police to make pot arrests their lowest priority. If the proponents have their way, criminal arrests and citations for marijuana possession and even sales on private property would drop off the police radar.

Fear of pot measure

Ed Porter, one of the city council's most liberal members, has come out swinging against the proposal, also opposed by police and drug treatment agencies.

``Instead of Surf City, we'll become Marijuana City,'' said Porter, a teacher at Santa Cruz High. ``I just think it's a stupid idea to make it possible for everyone in town to become stoners.''

Peter Lewis, an Ohio billionaire who wants to see pot legalized, has bankrolled the measure, along with similar measures in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara.

Under the proposal, police could still give priority to crimes involving the sale and distribution to minors; the sale, cultivation or use of marijuana on public property; and driving under the influence of marijuana.

But critics say the proposed law doesn't define the ``acceptable'' amount of pot Santa Cruzans can sell out of their homes. ``Almost every back yard in the city could become a safe house for growing and selling marijuana,'' City Attorney John Barisone said.

``If a police officer was walking down Pacific Avenue and saw someone selling marijuana in a private parking lot while he could have been apprehending a jaywalker a half a block away, he'd technically be violating the ordinance if he went after the drug dealer,'' Barisone added.

Proponents say the lawyers and cops are overreacting and that they'd prefer to ``tax and regulate'' the sale of legal marijuana, but that state and federal laws prevent that from happening.

``We can't change the law, but we can make it so the police aren't coming into a private setting and arresting people,'' said Andrea Tischler, co-owner of the nation's first ``bed, bud and breakfast inn.'' Located in downtown Santa Cruz, the 6-year-old Compassion Flower Inn welcomes guests who smoke marijuana for medical purposes.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/horner_kate.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Damian Tischler, left, whose parents own Santa Cruz's Compassion Flower Inn, hangs out there with Kate Horner, leader of the Measure K campaign. The initiative would require officers to make pot busts their lowest priority.</td></tr></table>Kate Horner, a 24-year-old Santa Cruz resident who is running the Measure K campaign, said a similar law in Seattle has driven down marijuana arrests while not resulting in any measurable increase in pot smoking.

Santa Cruz police scoff at the notion that pot use can be accurately measured. And they're scratching their heads about why the measure is needed in the first place since under California law marijuana possession is dealt with as harshly as a traffic ticket. Police are also outraged by a provision that would make them document and defend the 200 or so marijuana citations they hand out each year before an ``oversight committee.''

``It's nothing more than a mechanism for harassment of police,'' Lt. Steve Clark said. ``It's aimed at stopping us from doing what we're sworn to do.''

Police also feel the law would prevent them from issuing marijuana citations as a tool to discourage loitering and other behavior that threatens public safety.

``Can't people see the incongruence of a city with such a large drug and alcohol problem making it easier for people to use drugs?'' Clark said. ``This would just send a message that it's OK for our kids to do drugs.''

Calls pot busts wasteful

But Horner argued that arresting and citing otherwise law-abiding citizens for smoking pot is a waste of police resources and clogs the criminal justice system.

Tischler urges the police to lighten up.

``This is Santa Cruz,'' she said with a laugh. ``We're not on this planet.''

Neal Coonerty, the Santa Cruz County supervisor-elect who a few years ago led the ``Keep Santa Cruz Weird'' bumper sticker campaign, agrees with that notion. And he backs the pot initiative.

But the owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz is among a group of left-leaning business leaders who dismiss the proposed minimum-wage law as ``Cruzenomics'' and a threat to Santa Cruz's small businesses.

Other progressives, however, argue that it's time for Santa Cruzans to stand up for higher wages.

``There's a million reasons people are making up not to pass our own minimum-wage law, but we should do it simply because it's the decent thing to do,'' said Nora Hochman, leader of the campaign to raise the minimum to $9.25 an hour beginning in January. That translates to $19,240 a year at 40 hours a week.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/geise_cindy.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Cindy Geise, co-owner of Ristorante Avanti, says Measure G, which would raise Santa Cruz's minimum wage to $9.25 an hour, is a recipe for business failure.
</td></tr></table>Poverty wages

For a family of four, Hochman said, that's still below the federal poverty line. Even for a single person, she said, getting by on that wage could be difficult since Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable places to live in the country.

If Measure G passes, Santa Cruz's minimum wage would be 23 percent higher than California's minimum, which rises to $7.50 in January. Santa Cruz workers would also get cost-of-living wage increases.

Most locally owned businesses have pummeled the proposal, saying it will make it harder for them to compete against chain stores such as Longs Drugs and Borders Books, which can spread out their increased costs over a region or a nation. Only a handful of Santa Cruz businesses -- including the Saturn Cafe, famous for its ``Impeach Bush Fries''-- have endorsed the plan.

Most Santa Cruz business people say they would support raising California's minimum wage to $9.25 an hour. But they say that creating an ``island economy'' would force marginal businesses to close and make others raise prices.

A handful of cities around the country -- mostly big cities such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C. -- have their own minimum-wage laws. ``But this is an instantaneous and very large increase in just one small city,'' said Cindy Geise of Ristorante Avanti. ``That's a really flawed concept.''

Restaurants, she said, stand to suffer more than other businesses. Geise said the new law ``would cost me about $35,000 in wages the first year and all of that would go to the servers that already make 25-plus an hour'' when tips are included.

But Arsineh Vartanian of Santa Cruz, a 26-year-old waitress who earns minimum wage plus tips, objects to the notion that servers are rolling in dough.

``Businesses are always threatened and always fearful that they're going to go under,'' said Vartanian, who preferred not to say where she waits tables. ``But somehow it never happens.''

<hr class=postrule>
Contact Ken McLaughlin at kmclaughlin@mercurynews.com or (831) 423-3115.


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As We See It: Pot measure a bad idea.

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:03 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:October 26, 2006

As We See It: Pot measure a bad idea.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel

Ballot measures often make for bad law, even when the intention is good.

Measure K on the Santa Cruz city ballot is bad law, and we're not convinced that the goal makes much sense.

Measure K would require the Santa Cruz Police Department to make marijuana laws the "lowest enforcement priority."

Let's say for the sake of argument that such a goal is what the community wants. Reading further, the measure is so loaded with impractical and expensive ideas that even a committed marijuana smoker might vote against it.

We should point out that we're not convinced that marijuana is as harmless as some people say. We agree that in some cases medical marijuana makes sense, even though we have differences with the way California law allows for the drug to be dispensed.

But we're willing to set aside that argument for another day. The issue at hand is Measure K itself, which would instill outside interference on a police department that functions better without such intrusion.

For example, the measure would involve a "community oversight committee" that would "oversee" cases in which a marijuana arrest is made.

What a horrible idea. There already are a number of controls on the department. And, more importantly, police officers are sworn to uphold the laws of the state of California. That pledge supersedes any local law.

Even if such a committee made sense, another aspect of the measure would only add to a police officer's duty: a "supplemental report form" that would be designed by the overseeing committee that would have to be submitted within seven days of an arrest, citation or property seizure.

This measure is impractical at best.

And, in all likelihood, aspects of it are probably illegal. In an impartial analysis on the ballot, the City Attorney's Office expresses doubt about the legality of several provisions. The most serious, in our mind, is that the measure would "subject the city and individual police officers to civil litigation for enforcing state marijuana laws."

This measure is a non-starter. We'll acknowledge an argument by its proponents: that the federal "war on drugs" is a failure.

But that doesn't mean that Santa Cruz should pass such an irresponsible measure. Also, it just looks bad that much of the funding for the bill comes from outside the area.

A wealthy Cleveland resident, Peter Lewis, has put forward more than $30,000 to help with the measure.

Measure K is not thought through. It's not a good idea for Santa Cruz to embrace. Even those who believe in the legalization of marijuana should realize that imposing unreasonable restrictions on the police would only hurt them as they go about the job.

Vote no on Measure K.

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Measure K another attempt at de facto legalization

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:20 am

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:October 29, 2006


Steve Smith: Measure K another attempt at de facto legalization

The Santa Cruz Sentinel

I have a challenge for the advocates of marijuana use in Santa Cruz. Try telling the truth for a change. Measure K isn't meant to reallocate Santa Cruz Police Department resources to give them "more resources to fight violent crime." Like the medical-marijuana initiative, it is just one more attempt at de facto legalization through misinformation and yes, lies. Ultimately, Measure K will decrease the ability of the police to justly apply their discretion and further remove the real issue of legalization from public discussion.

Marijuana contains a powerful drug and no responsible medical practitioner advocates the smoking of any substance as a medical cure. At best, the smoking of marijuana is a palliative measure for the terminally ill. It is right that those who suffer should be free from pain. Overall though, the smoking of anything, including marijuana and tobacco, is not healthy and probably leads to respiratory disease. At its worst, marijuana is a highly addictive substance with a host of negative side effects, including that most fatal of all diseases, cancer. Ironic, isn't it?

I don't believe that the use of marijuana leads to violent behavior or what is known as pharmaceutical violence. In fact, in terms of overall public safety, marijuana is less of an issue than alcohol use. But, I also believe that the illegal production of marijuana leads to a high level of systemic violence. Rival marijuana growers and traffickers are well known to use violence in order to eliminate competition and increase market share. They are committing crimes of violence and according to the Sentinel's own research, seriously damaging the environment in their outdoor "gardens." They leave behind plastics and other synthetic garbage, human waste, organic and inorganic fertilizers, and man traps to deter theft and injure law-enforcement officers. Prop. 215 has served to increase that violence and Measure K will do the same. Only outright legalization and commercial production will change this reality. The image of marijuana as a benign substance grown by ordinary people whose only interest is to share a God-given herb is a myth.

I am willing to debate its use as a recreational drug and don't believe it is any worse, in terms of public health, than tobacco or alcohol. But, let's stop these specious arguments that it is a medical panacea and is distracting law enforcement from the "real" problem of crime. The Santa Cruz Police Department knows what law enforcement all over Santa Cruz County knows. We have a violent crime problem. Many of those violent crimes are perpetrated by criminal syndicates and gangs who use the proceeds form the sales of illegal substances, including marijuana, to further their criminal activities.

Measure K supporter Andrea Tischler said that Measure K is not meant to allow "potheads on every corner." According to SCPD's own statistics, in 2005 only 254 citations were issued for 11357B HS possession of less than 28.5 g of marijuana. Those citations were not issued in people's homes. They were issued to potheads smoking on street corners or other public places. We regulate the public consumption of alcohol in public places. Should police officers be statutorily prevented from similarly enforcing marijuana use?

Ultimately, Measure K is a Trojan Horse and will create an enforcement vacuum in Santa Cruz that will be filled by state and federal agencies over whom local voters have little or no control. Violations of federal drug laws will result in prosecution in federal courts with jurors drawn from throughout the Northern District. Those jurors will not be allowed to know if the user was a "medical marijuana" patient because the prosecution will not allow it. And, those prosecutors are successful in winning convictions.

Marijuana should be debated, not law enforcement's obligation to enforce the law. Vote No on Measure K.

Steve Smith is a Scotts Valley resident, a former member of the Medical Board of California, a peace officer and is currently the head of the administration of justice program at Gavilan College.

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Skepticism surrounds Santa Cruz's new marijuana law

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Nov 10, 2006 4:42 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:<span class=postbold>TOP STORY: </span>

Skepticism surrounds Santa Cruz's new marijuana law

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/santa-cruz_measure-k.jpg></td></tr></table>By Shanna McCord
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel
November 10, 2006

SANTA CRUZ — Now that growing, selling and using marijuana on private property is essentially allowed in Santa Cruz after the overwhelming support for Measure K this week, police are worried about how to carry out their state-sworn duties and parents and teachers wonder how to explain this one to their children.

"I'm just really upset," said Mike Bethke, a downtown resident and father of two who opposed Measure K. "It sends the wrong message to our kids, and to the rest of the country that Santa Cruz is a haven for folks who smoke pot."

What do you think? Sentinel Managing Editor Don Miller wants to know. Jump into the debate now at his blog.

Measure K goes into effect by February. It forces the Police Department to make adult marijuana-related crimes on private property a low priority. It won easily Tuesday with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Proponents mounted their campaign after a petition drive earlier this year gathered more than the 3,400 signatures from registered city voters to qualify for the ballot.

Campaign cash for Measure K totaled nearly $70,000 and was funneled to Santa Cruz largely from an Ohio insurance tycoon, Peter B. Lewis, who believes in legalizing the drug.

Local opponents like Bethke, who were few in number and raised no money nor waged an organized campaign, were unable to sway voters to see the measure as something they say creates problems for police while feeding the city's marijuana-friendly reputation.

Marijuana is considered an illegal drug by federal authorities, but following the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, its use is allowed in California by those with a doctor's OK.

Supporters say the new ordinance is more symbolic than anything because marijuana use is already a small offense in most local cases. Rather, they say, Measure K was designed to focus police attention on serious and violent crimes.

"We're not changing the law here. We're just shifting the priorities for city police," said Andrea Tischler, a Measure K organizer who says she's a regular pot smoker. "This is a very reasonable ordinance. As adults, we should be able to have the freedom to do what we like in our own homes."

The measure, proponents said, is part of a nationwide effort to eventually legalize the drug and save taxpayer money on what they view as needless incarceration for minor drug offenses. Similar rules are in effect in Seattle and Oakland.

The new ordinance requires the City Council to name a seven-member community oversight committee to monitor police reports and evaluate all marijuana arrests.

Should the committee find police are failing to comply with the initiative, civil lawsuits may be pursued, according to the ordinance.

"This puts the police in a tough situation," City Attorney John Barisone said. "How do they obey the ordinance and do the job they've been sworn under oath to do under state law?

"At this point we're figuring out how officers will walk that line."

The Santa Cruz Police Department referred all questions about the measure to Barisone.

The new ordinance would bar a police officer from testifying in a marijuana-related case, which Barisone said is a violation of state law and creates potential conflict with the District Attorney's Office.

Still, many worry about how young people might receive the Measure K message.

Though the new ordinance does not protect marijuana use by people under 18, some fear the measure makes it harder to explain the dangers of the drug to teens.

"Some high school students will see this as the green light to go get stoned whenever they feel like it," said Councilman Ed Porter, a high school teacher who opposed Measure K. "That's too bad because it's hard to learn in that circumstance."

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

Details of the new ordinance that makes adult marijuana crimes lowest priority for police:<ul class=postlist><li> Cooperation with state and federal authorities is restricted in relation to marijuana investigations and arrests.</li>

<li> Prohibits city from accepting federal funds to investigate, seize or prosecute marijuana offenses.</li>

<li> Creates a community oversight committee to monitor police reports for marijuana arrests.</li>

<li> Declares that it is city policy to support policies for taxation and regulation of marijuana.</li>

<li> Requires city clerk to send annual letters to federal lawmakers in support of marijuana legalization.</li></ul>

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S.F. Pot Law Similar To Santa Cruz Measure

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:54 am

KGO TV ABC 7 wrote:S.F. Pot Law Similar To Santa Cruz Measure

By Carolyn Tyler

Nov. 14 - KGO - San Francisco's proposed legislation is similar to a measure passed by Santa Cruz voters this past Election Day. Measure K was approved by more than 60 percent of that city's voters.

It makes marijuana laws the lowest enforcement priority. The new policy pertains to infractions by adults on private property. If the city's police officers don't comply with the new rule, they could find themselves on the receiving end of civil lawsuits.

The Santa Cruz police department is also restricted from cooperating with state and federal authorities when it comes to marijuana investigations or arrests.

Measure K also calls for the creation of a community oversight committee to monitor implementation.

The Santa Cruz ordinance doesn't protect pot use by minors, which is also the case with San Francisco's proposal.

According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, newspaper, critics worry about a conflict between the state laws officers are sworn to uphold and obeying this ordinance.

California law allows marijuana use only for medical purposes.

Measure K is set to take effect in Santa Cruz by February.

Copyright 2006, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.

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Deputies say major marijuana dealer busted in Santa Cruz

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Dec 28, 2006 1:07 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:December 13, 2006

Deputies say major marijuana dealer busted in Santa Cruz

By Jennifer Squires
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — A Santa Cruz man has been arrested and charged in what sheriff's deputies say is one of the county's biggest drug busts this year.

But the man's attorney says his client sold only to a medical marijuana club and, in doing so, should not be punished.

A six-month probe by the sheriff's Marijuana Enforcement Team led investigators to the door of 47-year-old Edwin Hoey, where they reported finding nearly 100 pounds of marijuana packaged to sell and more than $35,000 cash in addition to nearly $500,000 stashed in a storage locker.

Sgt. Steve Carney said Hoey, whose address was not released, had been involved in marijuana trafficking and sales for more than a decade.

Hoey, who has lived in Santa Cruz for 27 years, was arrested at his home Friday and charged Tuesday with possession of marijuana for sale. Investigators said they are still pursuing a case that he sold marijuana commercially and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars generated by drug sales.

In court Tuesday, Hoey pleaded innocent.

Defense attorney Ben Rice said his client sold to a local medical marijuana club.

"What's silly here and really sad is the law is really gray," Rice said.

There is little precedent on the legality of marijuana sales to pot clubs under California's Proposition 215, which legalized medicinal marijuana use in 1996.

Prosecutor Pamela Kato said Hoey's actions were still illegal.

"He's clearly a man who made a million on quote-unquote medicinal marijuana," Kato said.

Kato also alleged Hoey's sales weren't restricted to medical marijuana clubs.

Hoey's arrest comes at the end of a record year for pot plant seizure, as deputies found more than 43,000 marijuana plants growing outdoors — most in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Investigators said they haven't determined if the marijuana Hoey is accused of selling came from local growers or elsewhere.

"He's got a good source somewhere," Carney said.

Carney said deputies also found drug tallies, a commercial money counter, scales, packaging material and other evidence of drug sales in his house, almost $490,000 cash socked away in a storage locker maintained by Hoey and about $317,000 in his bank accounts.

Information collected during the investigation of a suspected methamphetamine dealer tipped sheriff's investigators off to Hoey's alleged activity, Carney said. He would not elaborate on that connection.

"There's a lot of evidence to show he's been doing it a long time," Carney said.

The city's Measure K, which residents approved in November and makes most marijuana crimes the lowest priority for city police, does not apply to Hoey's case. Measure K doesn't go into effect until February and regulates only city police operations.

Hoey is being held in County Jail on $1 million bail. Rice will ask a judge Friday to reduce Hoey's bail or release him on his own recognizance.

Contact Jennifer Squires at jsquires@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Santa Cruz Man Facing Marijuana Distribution Charges

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Dec 28, 2006 1:17 pm

cbs5.com wrote:SANTA CRUZ MAN FACING MARIJUANA DISTRIBUTION CHARGES

12/13/06 4:40 PST
SANTA CRUZ (BCN)
cbs5.com

A Santa Cruz man is expected in court Friday to face charges connected with what the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office described as one of the biggest marijuana busts of the year, sheriff's Sgt. Steve Carney said today.

Last Friday, Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies seized 100 pounds of high-grade marijuana bud and $35,000 cash from the Santa Cruz home of 47-year-old Edwin Hoey after they served a search warrant, Carney said.

The arrest came after a six-month investigation of Hoey that led police to search a public storage building in Scotts Valley Thursday. That search resulted in the seizure of $489,225 in cash from a locker that belonged to Hoey, Carney said.

In addition to the cash at his residence and in the storage locker, police seized another $330,000 from his bank account and the Sheriff's Office expects to seize even more money from another account, Carney said.

The marijuana was packaged in different bags weighing different amounts suggesting the intent to distribute, Carney said. Deputies also confiscated a money counting machine, a scale and other items they believe are related to distribution of marijuana.

Hoey's defense attorney, Ben Rice, said today his client was distributing only to one of Santa Cruz's two medical marijuana dispensaries and only for medical marijuana patients.

"The only people he provided to were medical marijuana patients,'' Rice said.

"It's a gray area in our law,'' Rice said. "The problem with current laws in California is there are no guidelines regarding how people are to get their medicine.''

"My client is the person who provides one of these dispensaries with the bulk of their medicine,'' Rice said. "It sounds like a lot of marijuana but it's really just a month's supply.''

Hoey has one previous conviction for cultivation in 1988, eight years before the medical marijuana measure Proposition 215 passed in 1996, Rice said.

Hoey is being held in lieu of $1 million bail on one count of possession of marijuana, Rice said. He will appear in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on Friday to set a preliminary trial date and to try to get his bail reduced.

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Alleged pot dealer mailed marijuana to New England

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Dec 31, 2006 5:21 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:December 20, 2006


Alleged pot dealer mailed marijuana to New England

The Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Jennifer Squires

The Santa Cruz man accused of possessing nearly 100 pounds of pot and $1 million of ill-gotten assets now is suspected of selling marijuana in at least three other states, Sheriff's Office detectives said Tuesday.

Edwin Hoey's lawyer, however, continues to say his client provides marijuana for medicinal users.

Hoey, 47, was arrested Dec. 8 after a six-month drug probe and charged Tuesday with possession of marijuana for sale. Last week he pleaded innocent to one felony charge of selling marijuana. On Tuesday he pleaded innocent to two new counts of selling marijuana stemming from a trio of search warrants detectives served at the homes of Hoey's alleged clients in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire last week. He also posted the $500,000 bail needed to get out of County Jail.

Hoey's attorney claims the marijuana seized in Santa Cruz was for patients.

"The medicinal marijuana found in his home was all destined for a club in Santa Cruz," defense attorney Ben Rice said.

Prosecutor Pam Kato said Hoey sold to people in states where there are no medical marijuana laws and sheriff's detectives found evidence Hoey had mailed several pounds of marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service to three men in New England this year, Lt. Phil Wowak said.

Wowak said one of the marijuana-by-mail connections — between Hoey and a high school friend in New Haven, Conn. — had been active for almost 15 years and the friend had received a package of pot from Hoey on Dec. 9. The friend was arrested by authorities in New Haven, according to Wowak.

Two other New England men said they bought marijuana from Hoey for several years, detectives reported. One of those men didn't have any pot with him and was not charged; the other had a small amount of pot that was confiscated. He also faces no charges at this point, according to detectives.

Rice said Tuesday he knew little about the East Coast investigation.

"I don't know if those are medicinal users in that state or what," said Rice, who has disputed claims made by deputies and the District Attorney's Office that his client sold to anyone other than medical users.

Wowak said there's evidence Hoey had been selling marijuana prior to Proposition 215, the medicinal marijuana law approved by California voters in 1996.

"It was not medicinal. The guy is strictly in this for money," said Wowak, noting a 4,000-bottle wine collection and Oriental rugs valued at more than $100,000 were found in Hoey's house. "He's hiding behind medicinal marijuana."

Hoey now awaits a Jan. 15 preliminary hearing, at which time a judge will decide if the investigation by the sheriff's Marijuana Enforcement Team netted enough evidence to take the case to trial.

<small>Contact Jennifer Squires at jsquires@santacruzsentinel.com.</small>

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Santa Cruz's Compassion Flower Inn owners leave town

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Dec 31, 2006 5:25 pm

A bed & breakfast was too much work so you're going to open a convalescent home? Sorry, that doesn't scan. :???:

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:December 20, 2006

Santa Cruz's Compassion Flower Inn owners heading for another joint

By Shanna McCord
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz bed, "bud" and breakfast, the butt of many jokes and center of media attention worldwide, has closed its doors.

The owners of the Compassion Flower Inn on Laurel Street packed their bags and moved to Hawaii on Tuesday, leaving empty the inn established in 2000 primarily for medical marijuana users.

"It's been a fun ride," said Andrea Tischler, Compassion Flower Inn co-owner. "We are proud of our achievements in Santa Cruz and leave a considerable legacy behind."

Tischler and her longtime partner, Maria Mallek-Tischler, who have been leaders in local efforts to legalize marijuana, said their business was hampered by problems in the neighborhood. They plan to take their brand of medical marijuana business to Hawaii, where they want to open a care home for aging gays and lesbians.

The two restored the 140-year-old Victorian and converted it into a bed and breakfast that allowed guests to smoke joints with a doctor's permission.

The inn had five guest rooms that ran from $125-$175 a night. Decorating touches included tile mosaics on the tubs in the shape of a marijuana leaf, and a large marijuana leaf mosaic in the sidewalk leading to the front porch.

Hemp leaves are painted on the walls, and guests were given complimentary bars of soap made with hemp. The drapes, bed spreads and pillowcases are all made from hemp fibers.

The inn was known for its hemp seed pancakes, and late-night comedian Jay Leno joked during a monologue years ago that "Santa Cruz has a pot hotel, a place you can find doobies under the pillows."

Tischler said ongoing behavioral problems in the neighborhood contributed to its closure. She cited drug and alcohol use by people hanging around the inn as factors that made staying in business difficult.

"We'd be kept awake every night," Tischler said. "They would use our front yard and parking lot as a bathroom. They'd steal anything not fastened down."

Tischler, 63, also said the constant cleaning and cooking, and other upkeep required to stay in business, had become too much for her and Mallek-Tischler.

The inn is up for sale, otherwise Tischler hopes someone will lease the house and keep the inn going or turn the place into a yoga or massage retreat.

In Hawaii, the two plan to start a "gay, gray and gourmet" business — an assisted-care facility for seniors.

"As our population ages, I believe we will see the demand for more compassion 'kine bud' nursing homes in the states that have approved medical marijuana," she said. "If you have only months or a few years to live, why not reduce suffering and be happy?"

Tischler was a driving force behind the passage of Measure K in Santa Cruz. Measure K was a ballot initiative passed in November that makes adult use of marijuana the lowest priority for Santa Cruz police officers.

<small>Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.</small>

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2006 Newsmaker Andrea Tischler

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 02, 2007 10:45 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:December 29, 2006


2006 Newsmaker Andrea Tischler: Fighting to legalize marijuana

By Shanna McCord
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — When city voters passed Measure K in November, Santa Cruz went on the map as a national leader in the effort to legalize marijuana.

Measure K forces Santa Cruz police officers to make adult marijuana crimes their lowest priority. The measure, primarily organized by Andrea Tischler, won easily with more than 60 percent voter approval.

But Measure K is not just about Santa Cruz. Its design is part of a nationwide strategy to convince state and federal governments that marijuana should be a legal drug — taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

"This really is an interim measure on the way to full legalization of marijuana for personal use," said Tischler, a longtime leader in many local marijuana causes.

"It's happening city by city. We're moving in that direction of legalizing marijuana in the state," she said.

The federal government, however, has not wavered on its stance that marijuana is an illegal drug.

Since California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996 to allow sick people to use marijuana to ease pain and suffering, the medical marijuana cause has faced numerous lawsuits and investigations by federal authorities.

Measure K faces potential legal problems as police are sworn to uphold state laws, which say marijuana is an illegal drug when used recreationally. Any effort to legalize the drug is expected to be hard-fought in court.

Tischler, who recently closed the medical marijuana bed and breakfast she and her partner had run for six years on Laurel Street and moved to Hawaii, stumbled into the marijuana movement in the 1960s, a decade synonymous with liberal attitudes.

She was 22 and teaching social studies at a Chicago high school in 1965 when some colleagues offered Tischler her first joint.

"I said, 'Geez, this isn't bad.' I didn't have a hangover the next morning like I did with alcohol," she said.

From that first experience, Tischler has been fighting for the right to smoke pot legally.

"It's the same as someone coming home from work and having a couple of martinis," she said.

After stints in Guam and San Francisco, Tischler moved to Davenport in 1988 and quickly became involved in local marijuana issues.

In 1994, Tischler convinced administrators at Pacific Elementary School in Davenport, which her son attended, to drop the DARE program because she believed nurses should be teaching the effects of drugs, not police officers.

Marijuana issues are Tischler's cause celebre. She believes the drug is no worse for the human body than alcohol and tobacco.

"Marijuana makes people peaceful in their hearts and in their minds," she said.

Due to the work of Tischler and others who share her passion for pot, ordinances similar to Measure K have been passed in cities such as Oakland, Seattle, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. More are on the way, she said.

The ordinances to make marijuana crimes a low priority for police seem to be picking up momentum across the county.

Mike Corral, who founded the Wo/Men's Medical Marijuana co-op in 1993 with his wife, Valerie, believes legalized marijuana would allow police to focus on more serious crimes and generate more revenue for the government in the form of new taxes. Government regulation of pot also would produce a safer, higher quality product, Corral said.

"I see general legalization as a win-win situation all around," he said. "There is a bigger wave building in America around general legalization."

Local police have said Measure K could hinder law enforcement efforts because marijuana is involved in many crimes in Santa Cruz.

The marijuana measure was put on the Santa Cruz ballot after at least 3,400 registered city voters signed their name to a petition earlier this year in support of easing up on pot smokers.

The local measure was funded almost entirely by Peter B. Lewis, a billionaire insurance tycoon in Cleveland who has spent millions of dollars to support marijuana causes nationwide.

<center><small>Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.</small></center>

<span class=postbold>Inside Measure K</span>
<ul class=postlist>
<li> Adult marijuana crimes on private property are the lowest law enforcement priority.</li>

<li> Santa Cruz police are not allowed to participate in countywide marijuana busts.</li>

<li> Santa Cruz police are not allowed to testify in marijuana cases.</li>

<li> Citizens oversight committee, appointed by the City Council, will monitor police reports related to marijuana crimes.</li>

<li> Santa Cruz cannot accept federal funds designated for fighting marijuana crimes.</li>
</ul>
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Some Santa Cruz pot users, sellers find loopholes

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:21 pm

I had to take a break before I'd finished reading this one. Evidently the feds have a new strategy, to erode the demographic 'eligible' for medical marijuana, and Shanna McCord of the local newspaper is a shill for them.

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: U.S. seeks to tighten medical pot law - Hawaii, 27 Jan 07.

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Editorial: Narrow medical pot-user list - Tracy, California 25 Jan 07.

While restricting who may be eligible for medical marijuana to a short-list is nothing new, and in fact most states that have a law do this, this smells of federal intervention. I don't feel like arguing over this hunch, particularly. Let's just say it SMELLS.

Are there those in it for the money, and using medical patients to get rich? Yes. But it really isn't any of the government's business whether someone uses, or grows, or has marijuana medical or not. And the solution is not to take the decision away from the patient, and the physician of THEIR choice.

And, of course, the government, and Shanna McCord, and The Sentinel, and everyone else know that.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:January 28, 2007


Some Santa Cruz pot users, sellers find loopholes in state's medical marijuana laws

By Shanna McCord
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — Half the calls to criminal defense attorney Ben Rice are people busted for growing, selling or using marijuana.

Rice has developed a reputation for protecting the rights of those who buy and sell the drug under the 10-year-old state law that makes marijuana legal for sick people.

While most of those seeking Rice's services are legitimate medical marijuana patients or caregivers, he estimates 30 percent are not. These people aren't sick, he says, and are simply trying to hide behind the Compassionate Use Act for recreational or profit-making reasons.

"Absolutely, no question about it, some people do take advantage of the law," Rice said during an interview at his Soquel Avenue office. "There are some people who have no medical defense, and I tell them, 'No.' "

Authorities say they regularly see perfectly healthy people, some found with several pounds of marijuana, claim the drug is for a sick friend or relative.

The problem, authorities say, is proving otherwise.

<span class=postbigbold>Shades of gray</span>

Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996 and known as the Compassionate Use Act, set the stage for sick Californians to legally use marijuana.

Senate Bill 420 came along in 2003, attempting to set definitive rules and guidelines about who can sell the drug.

But the laws neither clarify who qualifies as a medical marijuana patient nor what exactly the terms are for selling the drug to patients — two gray areas that have opened the law to the most abuse, authorities say.

For example, one part of SB 420 says medical marijuana caregivers should be allowed "reasonable compensation," while another section says medical marijuana sales should be done as nonprofit.

Another example: The Senate bill created a voluntary identification card system that protects patients and caregivers from being harassed or arrested when they show the card to police. But the voluntary element allows many people to claim a medical alibi even when they don't have an identification card or doctor's recommendation. Attorneys like Rice say that's OK.

Ambiguities in the laws force police to let many people off scot-free because it's often difficult to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, said sheriff's Sgt. Steve Carney, the head of the county's Marijuana Enforcement Team.

Out of 10 people stopped on suspicion of marijuana crimes in the county, only two cases are sent to the District Attorney's Office on average, Carney said.

A lot of cases are dropped because the district attorney feels the case won't win in court, he said, especially in this area where many residents are sympathetic to the cause.

"The percentage we deal with that I believe are truly legitimate is 1 percent," Carney said.

In addition to the gray areas, there are parts of the law that can be confusing for law enforcement officers.

There are no state regulations for cultivation or distribution of medical marijuana, and California leaves guidelines up to local jurisdictions.

They can vary widely from county to county.

Under Santa Cruz County law, a patient or caregiver is allowed three pounds of the drug each year. Half a pound of pot equals roughly 300 joints, experts say.

<span class=postbigbold>In it for the money</span>

Prosecutors say cases like that of Edwin Hoey, which is now going through the local legal system, are an example of someone hiding behind the medical marijuana law for profit.

Hoey, a Santa Cruz man, was arrested in December when deputies found 100 pounds of marijuana at his residence during an investigation. His attorney, Rice, claimed Hoey was providing pot for local medical marijuana dispensaries.

However, more than $500,000 in cash and a French wine collection valued at $150,000 found in Hoey's possession lead prosecutors to believe he was selling marijuana to make a big profit. They say he sold pot to non-medicinal customers on the East Coast.

Hoey has been charged with three counts of selling marijuana.

"He was taking advantage of the medical marijuana law," prosecutor Pamela Kato said. "This really is a case of greed. It's a travesty of the law"

Rice denies Kato's assertion, saying "the vast majority" of Hoey's marijuana was intended for people with a medical need.

<span class=postbigbold>Legal limbo</span>

But using and selling marijuana, medical or not, is still a federal crime.

California's law flies in the face of federal law, which considers marijuana an illegal and dangerous drug.

Federal agents have refused to recognize California's medical marijuana law as legal. In some cases the feds have raided California pot gardens and dispensaries.

Earlier this month, federal agents raided nearly a dozen medical marijuana clinics in the Los Angeles area, seizing several thousand pounds of marijuana, weapons and cash.

Two medical marijuana stores exist in Santa Cruz, both located in the Harvey West business area, for patients to buy the drug.

Ken Sampson, owner of Santa Cruz Patients Collective on Limekiln Street, says he tries to prevent people from breaking the law.

Sampson said he's turned away dozens of people who didn't have a doctor's recommendation or proper documentation during the seven months his dispensary has been in business.

"I've kicked many people out," said Sampson, himself a medical marijuana patient. "It has to be a verified recommendation. We don't let them past the waiting room"

The state Attorney General's Office agrees abuse of the medical marijuana system is widespread because the unclear laws leave plenty of room for cheating.

"The medical marijuana law left a lot to be desired in terms of clarity," said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office. "There's more work to be done"

Many in the legal community hope the ambiguities of the law will be sorted out in the courts.

Several cases regarding medical marijuana are currently pending in the courts to help determine parameters for users and caregivers.

Kato, the county prosecutor, said clearer rules would make her job easier and put more people behind bars.

No other state medical marijuana-related bills are in the works at this time, however the deadline to propose legislation for this year is Feb. 23.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Desconstructing Shanna McCord

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:28 pm

Some Santa Cruz pot users, sellers find loopholes in state's medical marijuana laws

The title itself is a lie, setting the stage for everything else.

There are no loopholes. The law wasn't written to be exclusive. In fact, it was written to be as inclusive as possible. That's the whole point. That's why everyone voted for it.

To claim anything else is to betray both the spirit and the letter of the law, and to impugn those who voted for it and (the even larger, OVERWHELMING MAJORITY) who now support it. 80% in most places, by most polls.

SANTA CRUZ — Half the calls to criminal defense attorney Ben Rice are people busted for growing, selling or using marijuana.

You see, it's all in the slant. Now compare, "Even ten years after 215...." with the following:

Rice has developed a reputation for protecting the rights of those who buy and sell the drug under the 10-year-old state law that makes marijuana legal for sick people.

While most of those seeking Rice's services are legitimate medical marijuana patients or caregivers, he estimates 30 percent are not. These people aren't sick, he says, and are simply trying to hide behind the Compassionate Use Act for recreational or profit-making reasons.

"Absolutely, no question about it, some people do take advantage of the law," Rice said during an interview at his Soquel Avenue office. "There are some people who have no medical defense, and I tell them, 'No.' "


Now, as for as people just in it for the money, and the exploitation of patients - I complain about that all the time. And no attorney with enough grey cells to win a case would admit to taking cases he knew were fradulent.

And as for the 30%, I decided to take a look at his site, and he looks to me like one sharp lawyer.

2006

Voted best Santa Cruz lawyer in Metro newspaper reader's poll.

Client arrested with 3,000 + marijuana plants: illegal search motion granted, case dismissed.

Represented Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Founder: John Perry Barlow in a minor dustup.

Take a look at his website: http://benricelaw.com/whoisben.html

Yes, I'd say he's probably a damn good lawyer, and probably the first stop for every two-bit hustler that didn't do their legwork and got busted...

Authorities say they regularly see perfectly healthy people, some found with several pounds of marijuana, claim the drug is for a sick friend or relative.

Yes dear, a typical patient will require 4-6 pounds per year. You should know that, here at ground zero of medical marijuana. You are the in-the-know girl, aren't you?

But gee, you managed to get through the entire article without mentioning that. Oh well....

And as far as perfectly healthy. Image

I hesitate to mention that I probably look perfectly healthy, and I sure as Hell am not. But the fact is the reason desperately ill people risk and suffer so much to have and use it is because it makes them feel so much better that often they do look perfectly healthy.

I'm sorry I thought that was what medicine was supposed to do.

Am I to understand that people who use marijuana have to exhibit a certain degree of suffering to deserve it? Would you please define this?

And what reporter with a shred of self respect would let this go without asking WHAT authorities? This is getting pretty yellow.

The problem, authorities say, is proving otherwise.

Now it's downright cowardly. That's twice, and you call yourself a reporter?

Shades of gray

ROFL. No. Yellow. Yellow yellow yellow.

Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996 and known as the Compassionate Use Act, set the stage for sick Californians to legally use marijuana.

And your point is?

Senate Bill 420 came along in 2003, attempting to set definitive rules and guidelines about who can sell the drug.

The point dear...

But the laws neither clarify who qualifies as a medical marijuana patient nor what exactly the terms are for selling the drug to patients — two gray areas that have opened the law to the most abuse, authorities say.

God Lord! I thought that would take forever.

Excuse me but the law is VERY specific about who qualifies as a medical marijuana patient. This is what it says.

A) 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 person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.

(B) 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.

(C) To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.

http://www.palmspringsbum.com/legal/prop-215.html

Shannon, what part of -any- don't you understand?

Or is it 'written or oral' that you can't wrap your little grey cells around?

For example, one part of SB 420 says medical marijuana caregivers should be allowed "reasonable compensation," while another section says medical marijuana sales should be done as nonprofit.

Now, any intelligent reporter in a world I would want to live in would have rebutted some bozo that blathered nonsense like this with something like, "Uh, you mean you expect someone to risk being raided and drug through court and thrown in the slammer by the feds to do all that for free?"

Another example: The Senate bill created a voluntary identification card system that protects patients and caregivers from being harassed or arrested when they show the card to police. But the voluntary element allows many people to claim a medical alibi even when they don't have an identification card or doctor's recommendation. Attorneys like Rice say that's OK.

I really don't see what it has to do with anything.

They can claim all they want. It's easy enough to verify whether they have a recommendation or not. Call the damn doctor.

Why doesn't anyone ask them what's so hard about it?

Oh, I know, it's too urgent for that.

Now really, what is so urgent about abusing, jailing and robbing a pothead?

Ambiguities in the laws force police to let many people off scot-free because it's often difficult to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, said sheriff's Sgt. Steve Carney, the head of the county's Marijuana Enforcement Team.

And your point is?

Out of 10 people stopped on suspicion of marijuana crimes in the county, only two cases are sent to the District Attorney's Office on average, Carney said.

And your point is?

A lot of cases are dropped because the district attorney feels the case won't win in court, he said, especially in this area where many residents are sympathetic to the cause.

And your point is?

"The percentage we deal with that I believe are truly legitimate is 1 percent," Carney said.

So who gives at rat's *** what YOU believe. That WAS THE POINT OF 215.

If you can't obey the law, well that sounds like a personal problem to me and I really think you should do something about it. Like go into another line of work.

In addition to the gray areas, there are parts of the law that can be confusing for law enforcement officers.

Well duh. Maybe if you required a college degree for the job they wouldn't have this problem.

There are no state regulations for cultivation or distribution of medical marijuana, and California leaves guidelines up to local jurisdictions.

Yeah, the attorney general should have defended the patients years ago and told LEO to leave them alone, statewide. And as for that statement about "no state regulations for cultivation or distribution, that is a downright lie. Cultivation is limited to 6 mature and 12 immature plants per patient, and distribution is limited to 8 ounces, which is a damn sight less than a year's supply for most patients. Shanna, how did you get to be so ignortant about this, particularly after referencing SB 420?

Please see sections:

11362.77

11362.775

11362.79

In fact, maybe you should actually read the whole thing:

California Health & Safety Code
Section 11362.7-11362.83


They can vary widely from county to county.

Don't I know it. Look at San Bernardino. It even looks like Alabama, only fatter.

Under Santa Cruz County law, a patient or caregiver is allowed three pounds of the drug each year. Half a pound of pot equals roughly 300 joints, experts say.

You wouldn't be quoting experts like these law enforcement who can't figure out that we want them to deal with other things like rape, murder, theft, and so forth, could you?

In it for the money

Well, yeah, I complain about that too. But when we talk about who's in it for the money, why isn't Shanna bleating about asset forfeiture, and how much WAMM has spent on lawyers, and how much the recovery racquet rakes in, and how much the prison guard guild slips under the governor's door...

Prosecutors say cases like that of Edwin Hoey, which is now going through the local legal system, are an example of someone hiding behind the medical marijuana law for profit.

Well, anyone that couldn't see that Hoey was full of Hoey must be a reporter, or a LEO...

Hoey, a Santa Cruz man, was arrested in December when deputies found 100 pounds of marijuana at his residence during an investigation. His attorney, Rice, claimed Hoey was providing pot for local medical marijuana dispensaries.

This is the same Rice you were quoting earlier? Hhhmmm....

...but anyway, that is a lot. But what does this have to do with patients?

However, more than $500,000 in cash and a French wine collection valued at $150,000 found in Hoey's possession lead prosecutors to believe he was selling marijuana to make a big profit. They say he sold pot to non-medicinal customers on the East Coast.

Well, let's just string him up in the clock tower and eviscerate him...

"He was taking advantage of the medical marijuana law," prosecutor Pamela Kato said. "This really is a case of greed. It's a travesty of the law"

I'm sleeping on the sidewalk. That's a travesty of the law.

Rice denies Kato's assertion, saying "the vast majority" of Hoey's marijuana was intended for people with a medical need.

Well, if Hoey wasn't Hoey before, he is now. It's all or nothing in this game.

Ben doesn't look so sharp now.

Legal limbo

Ah yes, the limbo...that's where you bend over backwards until you fall on your back...

But using and selling marijuana, medical or not, is still a federal crime.

And your point is?

California's law flies in the face of federal law, which considers marijuana an illegal and dangerous drug.

Come on, spit it out. I know you can do it...

Federal agents have refused to recognize California's medical marijuana law as legal. In some cases the feds have raided California pot gardens and dispensaries.

Yes, but your point?

Earlier this month, federal agents raided nearly a dozen medical marijuana clinics in the Los Angeles area, seizing several thousand pounds of marijuana, weapons and cash.

And your point?

Two medical marijuana stores exist in Santa Cruz, both located in the Harvey West business area, for patients to buy the drug.

The point please?

Ken Sampson, owner of Santa Cruz Patients Collective on Limekiln Street, says he tries to prevent people from breaking the law.

OH MY GOD. There's trouble, in River City, and that starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for POT!!!! Image

Sampson said he's turned away dozens of people who didn't have a doctor's recommendation or proper documentation during the seven months his dispensary has been in business.

Oh for crying out loud, so what?

"I've kicked many people out," said Sampson, himself a medical marijuana patient. "It has to be a verified recommendation. We don't let them past the waiting room"

OK, why are you after him? Did he step on your dress?

The state Attorney General's Office agrees abuse of the medical marijuana system is widespread because the unclear laws leave plenty of room for cheating.

There is nothing unclear about the law. It is LEO and the Attorney General that are cheating. 215 was passed 10 years ago. Why doesn't government obey? Well, there's all that money they steal...just for starters.

"The medical marijuana law left a lot to be desired in terms of clarity," said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office. "There's more work to be done"

Well, yes it did. For instance, the San Bernardino sheriff, D.A., and courts have decided that that part about not suffering any criminal sanction means that they can do anything they want as long as you aren't convicted of any crime, because until you're convicted of a crime there is no -criminal- sanction.

They can raid you, bust up your place, shoot your dog, destroy your crop, toss you in jail, and steal damn near everything you have, and drag you through court...but that ISN"T CRIMINAL SANCTION.

Many in the legal community hope the ambiguities of the law will be sorted out in the courts.

Several cases regarding medical marijuana are currently pending in the courts to help determine parameters for users and caregivers.

Kato, the county prosecutor, said clearer rules would make her job easier and put more people behind bars.


Let me translate this, they're going to run every single marijuana patient in the state through the courts. Or at least die trying.

Can you say NOT CLEAR ON THE CONCEPT?

The point is to put less people behind bars. If you can't grok that why don't you go to Alabama or somewhere where you'll be happy?

No other state medical marijuana-related bills are in the works at this time, however the deadline to propose legislation for this year is Feb. 23.

Well, there you have it folks. 3 weeks and counting to take some poor patient's medicine away for Valentine's day.

Thank you Shanna. And happy Valentine's day to you, too.

I mean that, most sincerely.
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Business booms at Santa Cruz's pot shops

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:00 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:
<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/greenway.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Medical marijuana patients at Greenway Compassion Inc. select from several large displays that feature dozens of options, with such names as Northern Lights, Keller Bee, Purple Ape and Ion Worker. The bottom shelf is filled with baked goods.</td></tr></table>February 1, 2007


Business booms at Santa Cruz's pot shops

By Shanna McCord
Sentinel staff writer
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

Business is brisk at Greenway Compassion Inc. The pot shop has a steady stream of customers and few of the problems some neighbors anticipated before the store opened a year and a half ago.

The medical marijuana dispensary on Dubois Street in the Harvey West neighborhood sees an average of 100 patients and sells up to three pounds of pot each day, said Greenway's general manager, Laura Vanderlinde.

"The plant itself is a saint," said Vanderlinde, who had worked for network television stations in Los Angeles before moving to Santa Cruz for the job. "It has so many healing properties — oils, textiles, etc"

Greenway opened in September 2005 and is one of two medical marijuana shops in the county. The other, Santa Cruz Patients Collective, opened last year on Limekiln Street, a couple of blocks away in Harvey West. The two combined serve an estimated 3,000 medical marijuana patients in the county, as permitted by the voter-approved Compassionate Use Act.

Though some feared drug activity and crime would increase when the shops opened their doors, there have been few complaints from neighbors. Police say they've had little problems with either outlet.

"If I didn't know a medical marijuana shop was there, I wouldn't know there was anything different there," said Martha Macambridge of Complete Mailing Service, located near Greenway.

<span class=postbigbold>The shopping experience</span>

Shopping at a dispensary is a little like stopping by a bakery to pick out a muffin, but with a lot of security.

All patients are required to show a California ID card and doctor's recommendation to a security guard stationed in the lobby. Dispensary owners say state law prohibits them from asking patients about their medical conditions.

Patients must pass through a metal detector just inside the front door at Santa Cruz Patients Collective, and at Greenway, a security guard waves a metal detector wand over each patient before allowing them to enter.

Inside the "buying room," patients are bombarded with the pungent smell of marijuana and oodles of options.

"Security is key. We pay a lot of attention to the details," Vanderlinde said. "We want the patients to feel comfortable here"

Marijuana in all its various forms, strains and prices — from brownies, cookies and chocolate to joints and buds — are kept behind large glass cases.

At Santa Cruz Patients Collective, which opened in July, a marijuana menu is written on a colorful chalkboard and a sign hangs over the glass case that says "Don't panic, it's organic"

They offer varieties with such names as Cherry Bomb, Richie Rich, Sour Diesel and Plumeria. Prices range from $15 for a gram of the drug to $100 for 7 grams.

Sales are rung up on a computer, with a flat screen facing customers to show their bill. Sales tax is charged.

Neither dispensary would say how much money they make, and the city does not provide sales tax revenue for individual businesses.

The marijuana at Greenway — with such names as Mission Possible, Sensi, Panama Mango, Baby Ruth and NYC Diesel — is kept in small glass jars and stored in large glass cases. Individual joints are available at a price of two for $25.

Patients at Greenway are limited to one visit per day and allowed to buy 3 ounces at a time, owner Lisa Molyneux said.

Similar rules apply to Santa Cruz Patients Collective. Both say they have strict quality standards for the pot.

"We personally test everything that comes in before selling to patients," said Ken Sampson, owner of Santa Cruz Patients Collective and himself a medical marijuana patient. "Everything is grown locally"

A sign near the exit at Greenway reminds patients, "Do not resell your medicine"

<span class=postbigbold>Under the law</span>

The dispensaries operate in Santa Cruz under a city ordinance that permits such businesses in industrial areas.

The city Planning Department keeps tabs on the dispensaries and requires a review of the business six months after opening.

Sampson's Santa Cruz Patients Collective sailed through its review in January, and no one from the public spoke for or against it. Greenway passed its review with no major issues, city planning officials said.

Planner Mike Ferry says he's made unannounced visits to both dispensaries to make sure they're complying with conditions of their special-use permits, such as having a security guard on-site and operating within specified hours.

"Every time I've went out there, everything was squared away," Ferry said.

Though the shops are in accordance with local and state laws, they still violate federal law.

Marijuana use became legal for sick people in California in 1996 when voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

However, all marijuana use, growth and sales are illegal under federal law, and medical marijuana dispensaries are often the subject of investigations by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The amount of indoor marijuana seized in California by federal agents shot up 85 percent in 2006 from 2005, DEA special agent Cacy McEnry said.

The increase in busts, she said, is a sign of the federal government's seriousness in cracking down on marijuana use in California.

Federal agents say their investigations have revealed widespread abuse of medical marijuana for general use. The DEA did not have specific information about how many dispensaries it has shut down in California or how many it visits because the agency does not differentiate between medical marijuana and illicit pot dealers, McEnry said.

"Millions and millions of dollars are being made. We're finding large amounts of profit at the distribution centers," McEnry said. "For the most part, the people we see are able bodies and young adults, some even athletically fit, who just want to get high," she said.

<span class=postbigbold>Peace of mind</span>

Before opening in Santa Cruz, local medical marijuana patients say they had little choice but to drive to Hayward, Oakland and San Francisco to buy the drug at shops designated for such uses.

The two shops in Santa Cruz are among a growing industry statewide. California is home to at least 250 medical marijuana dispensaries — some estimate as many as 400 — serving a ballooning population of sick people who say they need the drug to ease pain, fall asleep and stimulate hunger. There are an estimated 150,000 medical marijuana patients across the state, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

"I, as a patient, had to take a whole day to drive to another city for safe access to medical marijuana," Molyneux said. "The key word is safe access. It's important for patients to have safe access and not have to go to the street"

Alexandra Lee of Santa Cruz, who suffers from a premature aging disease known as Ehlers-Danos syndrome, says she shops for pot at Greenway about once a week.

At 66, her body is more like that of a 96-year-old, Lee said. She's had seven face-lifts and suffered more falls and broken bones than is typical for someone her age.

Without marijuana, Lee says she'd be unable to eat enough food to keep her weight up and sleeping would be more difficult.

"You can actually feel the healing energy," Lee said. "Before this place opened Greenway, I was going all the way to Hayward"

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

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Suspected Santa Cruz pot dealer back in jail

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:10 pm

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:
Posted on Thu, Feb. 08, 2007

Suspected Santa Cruz pot dealer back in jail

By Jennifer Squires
The San Jose Mercury

The Santa Cruz man accused of selling large amounts of marijuana under the guise of helping medicinal users was arrested Thursday in Mendocino County on suspicion of possessing seven pounds of marijuana for sale.

Edwin Hoey, 47, allegedly had the pot and $600-$700 cash in his vehicle when a Mendocino County sheriff's deputy stopped him at 1 p.m. in Willits, authorities said. He also was booked on suspicion of transporting marijuana.

Hoey was out on bail after being arrested for marijuana crimes in Santa Cruz.

``He just can't stop,'' Santa Cruz County prosecutor Pamela Kato said.

Hoey was arrested in December when deputies found 100 pounds of marijuana and more than $500,000 cash in his possession during an investigation. Sheriff's investigators reported they also found evidence Hoey had mailed marijuana to at least one person on the East Coast.

His attorney, Ben Rice, has claimed Hoey was providing pot for local medical marijuana dispensaries.

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OK For Pot In The Park Keeps Santa Cruz Weird

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:46 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:OK For Pot In The Park Keeps Santa Cruz Weird

The San Jose Mercury News
Thu, 20 Sep 2007
Jeff Thomas, Mercury News

<span class=postbigbold>Smoking Ban Lifted For One Day</span>

It's a story that virtually begs for the "only-in-Santa-Cruz" eye-roll treatment - another item in a wave of wackiness over the years that has painted the beach town, fairly or not, as nuttier than a bowl of granola.

Only this time, it might actually be true - the "only-in-Santa-Cruz" part, at least.

That's because two cherished progressive ideals - smoking bans and medicinal marijuana - have collided in a cloud of, well, smoke.

The city last year banned smoking in two city parks, citing the threat to public health. The city also is on record in support of the local group that distributes medicinal marijuana. That group's annual festival is coming up - noon to 5 p.m., Sept. 29 - and some of the members might need to "medicate" during the festivities.

The problem: The festival is in San Lorenzo Park, one of the parks with a no-smoking ban.

The solution? Rescind the law for a day. The city passed a unanimous resolution last week to do just that.

But wait, don't pack the bong in the backpack just yet.

"This is not Golden Gate Park, and it's not 1964," said Valerie Corral, co-founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana. "It's not going to be a big smoke-out."

Small Smoking Tent

She said the festival - meant to be a celebration of the support the group has received - will be a no-smoking event. A small tent will be set up for WAMM members to repair to if they need to partake. Others who light up - either tobacco or grass - will be asked to put it out.

"This event has very little to do with smoking and very much to do with thanking the community," Corral said. There will be food vendors and music, and admission is free.

Corral added, "We wanted to go through the system to get the approval to let our members medicate if they need to."

She acknowledged that those who don't know much about WAMM might think it's a scam to get around marijuana laws. But WAMM doesn't buy or sell marijuana; it grows and distributes it for free to its 250 members - 80 percent of whom, Corral said, are terminally ill.

Lenient Attitude

Santa Cruz police spokesman Zach Friend said there will be no special patrols for the festival. That's probably not surprising, given that city voters in 2006 directed the police to treat pot smoking as its lowest enforcement priority.

Which begs the question: If a pot smoker and a cigarette smoker were caught puffing in a park, who would be cited?

"Both," Friend said. "It's an ordinance against smoking, period."

As for the dangers of second-hand smoking to festival-goers, that's what the tent is for. It will be constructed so the smoke is ventilated up and away from the crowd - to the dismay of some, perhaps.
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Pot raid leads to arrests of five men in Santa Cruz County

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:02 pm

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:Pot raid leads to arrests of five men in Santa Cruz County

By Jennifer Squires - Sentinel staff writer
Article Launched: 09/18/2008 05:16:39 PM PDT

SANTA CRUZ - County and federal authorities raided a Pacific Avenue medicinal marijuana organization Thursday saying the group, purported as a counseling service, is nothing more than a coverup for an interstate marijuana cultivation and sales operation.

"They were actually selling marijuana out of there as a storefront," Sgt. Steve Carney of the Sheriff's Office said. "It's kind of like street-level dealing, but putting a nice, pretty picture on it."

Five men, including the founder of the Local Patients Advocacy Group of Santa Cruz, have been arrested and a sixth is wanted on a warrant for selling marijuana, Carney said.

All of the men arrested claimed to be medicinal users, growers or both, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"It's the continued abuse of the medical marijuana laws," Carney said.

The Local Patients Advocacy Group office, on the second story of 903 Pacific Ave., was one of three locations searched Thursday as sheriff's drug detectives, agents from the county Narcotics Enforcement Team and U.S. Postal Service inspectors from San Jose culminated a months-long investigation.

Authorities Thursday also raided a large commercial greenhouse in Pajaro and a home on Crystal Heights Drive in Soquel where the garage had been converted into a grow room, the Sheriff's Office reported.

The marijuana plants seized could have produced pot with a street value of $1 million, according to Carney.

The Postal Service inspectors
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were tipped off to the operation in 2007 because some of the marijuana was being mailed from Soquel to buyers in California, South Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia and Illinois.

From March to June, Postal Service inspectors reportedly seized 4.5 pounds of pot the men sent to buyers and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of payments sent back to the dealers, Carney said.

The men allegedly were selling pot from the Local Patients Advocacy Group office to people who had valid medicinal marijuana cards, according to Carney, whose team used a medicinal card to conduct undercover drug buys there.

"It was nothing more than 'What do you need? I can sell you ounces, grams, eighths, pounds, anything you need,'" Carney said. "It wasn't anything that came close to complying with the law other than 'I'm selling to you because you have a medical card.'"

Thursday, detectives found about 2 pounds of marijuana packaged to sell as well as hash and baked goods when they raided the office.

The site of the Local Patients Advocacy Group of Santa Cruz, a downtown Santa Cruz information center that opened in 2005 to cater to the questions and anxieties of medical marijuana patients, has a short but storied history.

The organization rose from the ashes of the Pacific Coast Cooperative, located in the same space - across from the Metro station - after the city Planning Department closed the co-op in March 2005. Just six weeks after it opened city officials learned it allowed medical marijuana patients to sell and trade the drug with each other, a violation of the city's zoning laws.

Later that year, Mike Clifford, then a UC Santa Cruz student, opened the advocacy center in the second-story office above Internet provider Cruzio and the Blue Lagoon nightclub.

Clifford told the Sentinel in September 2005 that the center was "to provide a comfortable environment for members to discuss issues, review educational material, access the Internet and, most importantly, become involved in an organization to call their own."

Sheriff's Lt. Phil Wowak described the advocacy group office as "a shop on the mall set up specifically for sales of marijuana," sometimes in large quantities. No one answered at the co-op Thursday evening.

Carney said the Pacific Coast Cooperative didn't disappear after the city shut it down and that the Pacific Avenue office actually housed three medicinal marijuana groups: the cooperative, the advocacy group and Aloha Cooperative.

"They're still up and running," Carney said. "They even had T-shirts with logos on them that said 'Pacific Coast Cooperative.'"

It was unclear Thursday evening what, if any, follow-up city officials did after the cooperative was shut down in 2005 or if the advocacy group's activity has been monitored for the past three years.

Clifford, the founder of the advocacy group, was among the five men arrested Thursday.

He was taken into custody at the greenhouse at 785 San Juan Road in Pajaro. The men rented the property from a trucking company, which Carney said was not involved in the drug operation.

In the greenhouse, authorities found 368 pot plants in a 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot area protected by a security system, trip alarms, video surveillance and a loaded shotgun, the Sheriff's Office reported.

"Literally, some of these plants were 10 to 12 feet tall," Carney said.

Brandon Michael Kahl, 25, of Santa Cruz and Chadd Edward Konig, 21, of Santa Barbara allegedly were working in the greenhouse when it was raided Thursday. They were both arrested on suspicion of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale.

At the Soquel home, deputies arrested resident Matthew Reis, 29, on suspicion of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale. Carney said Reis had created a dummy company - Santa Cruz Trading Co. - to try to cover up the drug sales operation.

The Soquel home had 104 plants growing in the garage but "it looked like a normal single-family residence from the front," Wowak said. They recovered about 2 pounds of pot packaged to sell.

Another man at the house, Joshua Assink, 26, of Santa Cruz allegedly was renting space to grow his medicinal marijuana, Carney said. He was arrested on suspicion of cultivating, furnishing and possessing marijuana for sale. Carney said it's suspected Assink was mailing the pot.

Late Thursday afternoon, detectives went to Assink's townhouse at 219 Chestnut St. in Santa Cruz with a fourth search warrant. They seized a shotgun, a handgun, scales, 2-3 ounces of hash, drug ledgers and $2,500 cash, Carney said.

Detectives said more searches and arrests are possible as they track the money generated from the drug sales. A warrant has been issued for Shawn Lewis, 30, of Aptos, wanted for suspicion of selling marijuana.

"Obviously there's a lot more going on with this circle of people," he said. "The more cases we do like this the more we realize California is kind of becoming a source state for marijuana."

Contact Jennifer Squires at 429-2449 or jsquires@santacruzsentinel.com.
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WAMM moves forward, cautiously

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:42 am

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:WAMM moves forward, cautiously

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
Posted: 03/27/2009 01:30:45 AM PDT
The Santa Cruz Sentinel


SANTA CRUZ -- After the Obama administration announced last week that it would only prosecute medical marijuana cases if they violate state and federal law, a Santa Cruz collective is still taking a wait-and-see approach to its own lawsuits and operations.

"We're not exactly sure what's going to happen with the feds," said Michael Corral, co-founder of Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz. However, "I feel in all likelihood we will be probably be left alone."

WAMM has been growing and providing medical marijuana to patients in need since the early 1990s. The nonprofit co-op was founded after Corral suffered epileptic seizures following a 1973 car accident, and found that marijuana could control them without other medication.

Last week's announcement was a stark turnaround from 2002, when the home Corral shared with wife and WAMM co-founder Valerie Corral near Davenport was raided by federal agents, who arrested them and plucked 167 marijuana plants from the ground. The two were released and never charged, and a federal judge last year issued an injunction against interfering with the Corrals' marijuana garden and nonprofit collective.

But they've been on the lookout ever since, reducing the size of their grow and the number of patients they supply, even though the center alliance they run is in compliance with state law.

The Obama administration last week announced that cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries would not be a priority if the groups complied with state laws. As a result, a lawsuit filed with Santa Cruz city and county over whether the federal government has the right to interfere with local municipalities is one of many now on hold, as law enforcement reviews the cases.

Corral said the announcement left the duo optimistic enough to expand their fields, and they are now accepting new members into the collaborative. But until they receive more details of what, exactly, President Barack Obama has in mind, they still operate under caution. What happened in 2002 could happen again, Corral said.

"We're not going to hold our breath or anything," Corral said, "But it's promising."

WAMM operates primarily on donations. Many of those are raised by the popular but controversial WAMMfest, an art and music festival held annually in San Lorenzo Park that also attracts marijuana smokers who are not lighting up for medicinal reasons.

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Santa Cruz medical pot outfit on the brink of survival

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:35 pm

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:Santa Cruz medical pot outfit on the brink of survival

By Howard Mintz
Mercury News | Posted: 03/30/2009 06:15:38 AM PDT


For at least the past six years, one of the fiercest struggles in the federal government's war with the states over medical marijuana has been waged from a nondescript Santa Cruz warehouse, tucked between an auto repair shop and an electrical contractor.

These days, there is unprecedented optimism inside that warehouse, where the feisty Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana appears to be on the brink of outlasting the feds and winning the most important legal fight still left in the courts over California's nearly 13-year-old voter approved medical pot law.

The Obama administration, through new Attorney General Eric Holder, has publicly indicated in recent weeks that it will not enforce federal drug laws against medical marijuana providers in states with medical pot laws, as long as those providers are obeying their state laws. For WAMM's leaders and patients, such a policy shift would not only end their 6-year-old lawsuit, but also an era of raids, uncertainty and near-extinction for an operation that tends to the sick and dying.

The Santa Cruz case also could be the first in the country that forces the new administration to lay out its exact policy on medical pot in writing.

On a recent morning inside WAMM, Valerie and Mike Corral, who cofounded the cooperative in the early 1990s, appeared visibly relieved as they discussed the prospects of the feds finally leaving them alone. As they spoke, the unmistakable, pungent smell of pot wafted through the corridor outside their cramped office.

"We've been barely scraping by," said Valerie Corral, a medical pot user since a 1973 car accident left her suffering from epileptic seizures.

For now, the Justice Department is mum on the WAMM lawsuit, which was backed by the city and county of Santa Cruz. The suit argued the federal government under the Bush administration had been enforcing drug laws selectively to interfere with California's medical marijuana provisions. San Jose U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel gave the lawsuit a boost last summer, allowing it to proceed on its central claims.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice found that federal drug laws trump state medical pot laws, but the Santa Cruz case raised a novel legal theory.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello, whose office directs federal law enforcement in Northern California, did not respond to a request for an interview. But during a hearing last week, Fogel said it appeared Holder's comments would apply to WAMM. And Justice Department attorney Mark Quinlivan told Fogel the administration is evaluating how the policy change will impact the WAMM case, and suggested "something in paper could be forthcoming."

In California, such a policy change would alter the landscape for medical pot providers, who've been raided dozens of times in recent years. Federal and state agents would still enforce drug laws against providers who hide behind medical pot laws to deal in black market sales of marijuana, but outfits that keep close tabs on patients and ensure they have valid prescriptions from doctors appear to be safe from raids.

Legal experts say the feds will stay out of the 13 states with medical marijuana laws as long as they regulate pot operations carefully. But medical pot providers will not be immune — federal drug agents raided a San Francisco cannabis club last week.

"It could be kind of a test," said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor and expert on the state versus federal conflict over medical pot. "The federal government is telling California that as long as you control these cooperatives, we're going to let it slide."

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Graham Boyd, who represents the Corrals, said resolving the case would send an important message.

"It's not just California," he said. "A number of people have been very careful to comply with state law, and yet live in constant fear of federal prosecution."

Valerie Corral chuckles at the notion that her operation is an easy way for people to get marijuana.

She serves about 150 patients suffering from serious ailments ranging from AIDS to cancer. In a room where patients light up, one wall is a reminder of the stakes — it is covered with pictures of WAMM patients who have died. Corral said she makes sure only proper candidates get pot through WAMM.

"I'm such a stickler," she says. "I'm brutal."

Sitting around a table on a recent Friday afternoon, a number of WAMM patients said they are relieved the threat of federal raids may waft away like so much pot smoke.

"I think it's about time," said Carol Meyer, who's suffering from cancer. "I think the federal government needs to back out of it. The people voted."

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While San Jose may welcome more medical pot clubs

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:33 pm

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:While San Jose may welcome more medical pot clubs, Santa Cruz drawing the line at 2

By John Woolfolk
The San Jose Mercury News | Updated: 11/04/2009 06:13:49 AM PST


A funny thing has happened since the Obama administration recently declared it would stop cracking down on medical marijuana in states that allow it, like California: While strait-laced, law-abiding San Jose is considering a pitch to attract more medical pot clubs, surf city Santa Cruz is signaling enough is enough.

That's a shift in attitudes for the Bay Area's biggest city and the college town over the hill. Suddenly, one San Jose leader sees a revenue opportunity while Santa Cruz sees too many uninvited guests.

San Jose, population 1 million, has only one medical marijuana dispensary, which opened just four months ago.

But San Jose City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio says it's time for his city to be more welcoming toward medical pot dispensaries, and he's proposed an ordinance based on those in other Bay Area cities to regulate and tax them. A committee led by Mayor Chuck Reed today will consider scheduling a City Council vote on the proposal.

"The use of cannabis for medical purposes has gained legitimacy in our culture," Oliverio said. He added that "allowing medical use of cannabis within city borders will bring additional revenue" to a city drowning in nine straight years of red ink.

Longtime medicinal marijuana activists like Kris Hermes of Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access called it a "welcome development.

"There's been a fairly high level of frustration among patients and advocates in Santa Clara County,"
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Hermes said, noting that many patients "are forced to drive to outlying areas to get their medical marijuana."

Like Santa Cruz. And that's a problem, say city officials there who will discuss limiting pot clubs to the two that already exist in this city of 59,000. Despite the feds' willingness to look the other way, the city has little interest in becoming a medical pot magnet. A city study showed that only one-quarter of customers shopping in the two dispensaries live within Santa Cruz city limits. About half live elsewhere in Santa Cruz County, and 25 percent travel from outside county lines.

"We're interested in the city of Santa Cruz and its citizens, certainly not outside of the county," said Mike Ferry, city planner.

Santa Cruz's City Council will explore new restrictions and has already enacted a moratorium on new clubs in response to a surge of interest from entrepreneurs hoping to open them after the Obama administration's announcement. Other cities have been busy too. Last month, Los Gatos passed an emergency ordinance to temporarily ban pot clubs, heading off a request to open one there.

Two dispensaries in Santa Clara are the only others known to be operating in Santa Clara County. There are several in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.

San Jose hasn't gone out of its way to prevent pot clubs in the past, and Oliverio isn't entertaining the idea of spreading them across the city now. He proposes restricting the cultivation and sale of medicinal marijuana to industrial areas; prohibiting on-site use; and limiting the number of dispensaries. He also calls for a $10,000 permit application fee and a 3 percent "cannabis business tax," as well as $1,000 fines for staff or patients who illegally use or sell marijuana for other than medicinal purposes.

Tax revenues would go to a special fund for police and road maintenance.

Hermes said there is "no good reason to prohibit on-site consumption" because patients benefit from interacting with each other. He also noted that the proposed tax is substantially higher than Oakland's 1.8 percent.

"In San Jose," Oliverio counters, "we care about where we put things."

Gus Donowho, manager of the San Jose Cannabis Buyers Collective that opened recently near the Valley Fair shopping mall, said the city's only current medicinal marijuana dispensary welcomes Oliverio's proposal even though it will add to its tax bill.

"What I see is legitimacy of our business," Donowho said. The collective already does not allow on-site use and has a strict, two-day verification procedure for patients, he said, and currently has 1,300 patients.

Despite voters' 1996 approval of Proposition 215 legalizing medicinal marijuana, providers have had a tough time avoiding legal troubles. Though 13 other states now have similar laws, the U.S. government has continued to treat marijuana as a narcotic, and federal drug raids have shut down many state-sanctioned dispensaries. That may change after the U.S. Attorney General's announcement last month to refocus federal agents' efforts on busting illegitimate pot clubs.

But operators have also been shut down for failure to comply with local regulations. In the late 1990s, the director of the former San Jose-based Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center, Peter Baez, was prosecuted after police alleged marijuana was sold to people without a doctor's recommendation.

Oliverio said that with the feds easing up and dispensaries opening nearby, San Jose needs to get in front of the issue before city officials "find ourselves behind the eight-ball."

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