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Pat Robertson: supporter of legalized pot?

January 11, 2011
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By Melissa Bell

The By Melissa Bell  December 23, 2010; 9:56 AM ET 

The 700 Club, a Christian talk show program hosted by staunch conservative Pat Robertson, is not the place you’d expect to find sympathy for the marijuana-legalization movement. But that’s exactly what happened this week when Robertson started talking about the need for more faith-based prison rehabilitation.

“I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people,” Robertson said. “Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.”

Robertson’s position is not as unusual as you might think. Support for legalizing marijuana has been growing amongst conservatives, who cite legalization as an answer to the “narcoterroism” in Mexico and the overburdened jail system. In October, Newsweek looked at the GOP’s relationship to marijuana, saying that although only 25 percent of Republicans favor legalizing marijuana (as compared to 55 percent of Democrats), the number has jumped seven points since 2005. The article credits the influence of the anti-government-intervention Tea Party:

It’s becoming increasingly hard for conservative candidates and lawmakers to square libertarian Tea Party catchphrases like “fiscal responsibility” and “limited government” with the government’s war on drugs, especially when their constituents might prefer to see a war on joblessness.

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Marijuana Legalization: The NORML Perspective

January 11, 2011
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–>The Spectrum Staff Writers

Published: Friday, January 7, 2011

Updated: Friday, January 7, 2011 17:01

Last year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 16.7 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. Despite the frequent use of the drug, it remains a Schedule I illegal drug in America.

 The UB chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) works to dispel the propaganda and misinformation regarding marijuana and hemp. In addition, UB NORML also takes a stance on the legalization of the drug.

 “[Legalization] could be very different depending on what your definition of legalization is,” said Matthew Kopalek, a senior in the school of management and president of the UB chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “It could entail very strict regulation… most people [think legalization of marijuana] means no rules or structure.”

 However, legalization has numerous benefits and drawbacks, many of which center around financial issues. According to statistics, more than 870,000 U.S. citizens were arrested in 2007 on cannabis-related charges, amounting to more than $17 billion tax dollars per year toward the persecution of mostly non-violent marijuana users.

 The most common cited drawback is the public image of our country having legalized marijuana, according to Kopalek.

 “The benefits, though, are proper education of our youth on the dangers of marijuana, the societal impact, not arresting the non-violent users of the drug,” Kopalek said. “Those are the people who choose a safer alternative to alcohol.”

 Marijuana has proven to be less toxic and addictive than alcohol, as long-term marijuana use is far less damaging and lethal than long-term alcohol consumption. The consumption of alcohol leads to aggressive behavior and violence, whereas marijuana reduces the likelihood of both.

 Due to the designation of marijuana as illegal, the growing and selling of the plant is largely unregulated. This leads to the “lacing” of marijuana with other substances, which could include other drugs, toxins, or impurities. However, if marijuana were legalized, the federal government could potentially have more influence over the purity of the substance and thus, fully investigate its potential medicinal uses.

 “There’s so much good that could come out of the very simple act of legalizing. You get medical cases, you get studies [showing] it can help people who are going through chemotherapy who want to eat and survive,” said Elyse Brown, a senior history major and UB NORML member. “It’s a shame that we don’t allow it to be used for the good it can be used for.”

 However, influential pharmaceutical corporations may also oppose the legalization of marijuana. There are issues patenting a plant, as it isn’t a substance manufactured by the company. If the company were to attempt to create a marijuana substitute, the innumerable number of chemicals found in the plant lead to difficulties in creating a medicine that accurately replicates its effects.

 “Why would leading pharmaceutical companies want people to grow a plant in their backyard that could replace the drugs that they’re selling?” Kopalek asked.

 However, for many other club members, the issue is much larger than legislation or pharmaceutical patent issues. The problems stem from a widespread misunderstanding about marijuana and the media’s ploy to sway public opinion.

 “There is a major problem with the war on drugs and drugs in general,” said Colin Knoer, a sophomore political science major and UB NORML treasurer. “When the government talks about the war on drugs, many people don’t listen anymore because it’s just ‘Above the Influence’ commercials on TV telling you you’re going to smoke pot, sink into your couch and never talk to your [family or friends] ever again in your life.”

 During this upcoming semester, UB NORML plans to bring in a lawyer who has been focusing on marijuana laws in New York State for over 30 years to discuss what a transition period into legalization would look like for the U.S. and New York. On April 20, the club also plans on holding a cannabis cultural celebration at Baird Point with live music, food, and education materials.

 For more information, attend a weekly club meeting, held every Friday at 6 p.m. in 250 Student Union.


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Edible Pot Hits the Spot For Some, Spurring an Industry

December 29, 2010
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By: Joseph Pisani
CNBC News Associate
Published: Tuesday, 7 Dec 2010

When people come for dinner at Sandy Moriarty’s house they know to bring sleeping bags.

That’s because Moriarty, a chef and author, cooks with medical marijuana, and her guests may be too high to go home.

She’s been known to add cannabis to just about any dish, from sweet lemon bars topped with powdered sugar to a stuffed turkey dinner she calls the Dizzy Bird.

“Its phenomenal,” she says about the turkey dish, which she coats and stuffs with cannabis-infused butter.

Moriarty has turned her skills into a small business, selling her lemon bars to a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco and teaching cooking classes at a marijuana trade school. Last month she published a cook book called “Aunt Sandy’s Medical Marijuana Cookbook.”

The legalization of medical marijuana in more than a dozen states has paved the way for a budding edible medical marijuana industry. Small businesses in Colorado and California are making treats, such as candy, ice cream and soda that are sold to dispensaries and then bought by patients. There’s even a medical marijuana takeout restaurant in Denver. (In Pictures: The Edible Marijuana Market.)

Schools have also popped up in medical marijuana states, teaching students how to grow the plant, use it in cooking and navigate the lawMed Grow Cannabis College in Southfield, Mich., Legal Cannabis Institute in San Diego and Oaksterdam University in San Francisco, where Moriarty teaches, all have cooking classes.

“There is definitely a niche in the industry for edibles,” says Nick Tennant, the founder of Med Grow Cannabis College in Michigan. “That niche market is developing. Patients like the candies, they like the brownies.”

Users prefer to eat marijuana rather than smoke it for a number of reasons.

“Some are sick people, who are in a hospice and they can’t smoke,” says Nicole Scott, the founder of the Legal Cannabis Institute in San Diego. Others might be lung cancer patients who can’t smoke or just don’t want to inhale all that smoke, adds Scott

“When somebody is going to a cocktail party or goes to a movie theatre, they can’t light up,” says Tripp Keber, who owns Colorado-based Dixie Elixirs & Medibles, which makes several types of medical marijuana edibles. “You can medicate discreetly.”

Keber’s company makes pot-infused treats such as chocolate truffles, pound cakes, taffy and lozenges that are sold to dispensaries in Colorado. His company also makes sodas that usually retail for about $10 a bottle. Half a bottle is enough to medicate most patients, Keber says.

Nancy B’s Edible Medicine, another company in Colorado, serves up medicated brownies, cookies, fudge and peanut butter cups in the state. Another Colorado company, Mile High Ice Cream makes marijuana ice cream and popcorn. (See more edible marijuana products in our slideshow.)

Gauging the size of the market for edible medical marijuana products is difficult, and estimates differ greatly.

Since pot is still illegal under federal law, medicated products can only be consumed in their state of origin, assuming  it is one of the 15 where medical marijuana has been legalized. (It’s also legal in Washington D.C.). What’s more, only patients who have been cleared by a doctor and possess a state-issued medical marijuana card can consume the pot—and only from a state sanctioned dispensary.

The main base ingredient in most recipes is cannabis butter, which is also known as cannabutter. (Cannabis is added to melted butter than hardened again.) The fat in the butter absorbs the chemicals found in cannabis that give patients the pain relief. The same can be done with cooking oils.

At Ganja Gourmet, a takeout restaurant and dispensary in Denver, cannabutter and cannabis-infused olive oil is used to create a menu that can satisfy any craving. Among the pot items available are pizza, lasagna (both meat and vegetarian) and a Greek spinach pie, five flavors of cheesecake (blueberry, cherry, chocolate, pineapple or strawberry), brownies, a chocolate mousse cake and even baklava.

Despite the tempting fare, this stuff is not something one should binge on.

“Edibles can be very strong,” says Tennant.

Patients trying edibles or a new product for the first time should eat a small bite and wait anywhere from about 45 minutes for the marijuana to kick in, experts say. After that, patients can figure out how much of a product to eat in order to medicate themselves properly. Overindulgence could put a patient to sleep.

At Ganja Gourmet, the employees talk with patients about how much they should eat, says owner Steve Horowitz. Most patients are advised to eat half a slice of pizza, he says, but heavy, long-term marijuana users can handle the entire slice.

Since Ganja Gourmet is also a dispensary, it also sells marijuana buds to smoke. “Edible sales are growing,” says Horowitz, adding that the smokable pot sells better.

Moriarty—who continues to experiment with her recipes—already has ample business. 

She struggles to keep up with making enough of her Aunt Sandy lemon bars. She says she sells 500 a week to a dispensary, and they sell out right away. The 4-by-4-inch bars sell for about $10 each.

“The demand is definitely there,” says Moriarty. “With flying colors.”

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Ending the Drug War: 8 Top Stories of 2010

December 22, 2010
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It’s been a difficult year for progressives, and most other Americans as well. While I feel discouraged about many things happening in our country and around the world, and have lost lots of my “Yes We Can” glow from only two years ago, the issue that is closest to my heart — ending the war on people who use drugs — continues to bring me hope and cautious optimism.

The debate around failed marijuana prohibition and the larger drug war arrived in a big way in 2010. Below are some of the most significant stories from 2010 and the reasons why I’m encouraged that we can start finding an exit strategy from America’s longest running war.

1) California’s Vote on Legalizing Marijuana Inspires Worldwide Debate: Proposition 19, the initiative to control and tax marijuana in California, was arguably the highest profile voter initiative in the nation. It generated thousands of stories in the United States and around the world about the pros and cons of marijuana prohibition. Millions of people for the first time had serious conversations about whether we should continue to arrest and incarcerate people for marijuana or if we should take it out of the illicit market and regulate it. In the end, Prop. 19 received more than 46% of the vote, more votes that GOP Governor Candidate Meg Whitman. The take-away from California is not will marijuana ever be legal, but when.

2) President Obama Signed Historic Legislation Reducing Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity: In August, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reforming the draconian disparity between crack and powder cocaine prison sentences. Before the change, a person with just five grams of crack received a mandatory sentence of five years in prison. That same person would have to possess 500 grams of powder cocaine to earn the same punishment. This discrepancy, known as the 100-to-1 ratio, was enacted in the late 1980s and was based on myths about crack cocaine being more dangerous than powder cocaine. Unfortunately, the Democrats made serious comprises to get Republicans to support the Fair Sentencing Act. The original bill that would have completely eliminated the 100-to-1 disparity, but instead the compromise reduced the disparity to 18:1. Most troubling was that that the reform was not applied retroactively – which means that none of the tens of thousand of people unfairly languishing in cages will find any relief from the new law. That said, the reform of these laws is the first repeal of a mandatory minimum drug sentence since the 1970s.

3) Media Coverage is Fair, Balanced and Thoughtful: For the first time, the media consistently covered the marijuana debate seriously and without the jokes and giggle factor that accompanied stories in the past. For the first time they started including anti-prohibition voices that pointed out that much of the violence in the drug trade is due to prohibition and not the drug itself. There were cover stories in a range of outlets and magazines, including Time Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, and the Nation. The Associated Press deserves a Pulitzer Prize for its “Impact Series” on the Drug War. Back in May, AP dropped a bombshell on America’s longest war and the headline said it all: The US Drug War Has Met None of its Goals. The extensive piece reviewed the last 40 years, starting with President Nixon’s official launch of the War on Drugs all the way to President Obama’s annual strategy released this year. The piece packed a punch from the start: “After 40 years, the United States’ War on Drugs has cost $1 trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence more brutal and widespread.”

4) Portugal Shows Us Decriminalization of Drugs Works: A new study, published in November in the British Journal of Criminology, shows that Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs in 2001 has led to reductions in student drug use, prison overcrowding, drug related deaths and HIV/ AIDS. In July 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of up to ten days’ supply of all types of illicit drugs. Before the law went into effect the pro-drug war zealots predicted that the sky would fall and chaos would reign if drug were decriminilazed. Nine years later, the sky hasn’t fallen and having drug use addressed as a heath issue instead of a criminal issue has been proven to saves lives and money. Portugal shows us that drugs can be decriminalized in the real world, not only in theory.

5) Facebook Founders Fund Drug Policy Reform: While the Social Network movie about Facebook was the number one movie in the country, two former top Facebook executives featured in the film, Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker, both became major funders of drug policy reform by donating $50,000 and $100,000 to the California marijuana ballot iniative. The drug policy reform movement has greatly benefitted from the generous support of funders like George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling. Mr. Moskovitz and Mr. Parker can also play a crucial role in supporting the reform movement.

6) California Makes Possession of Under One Ounce of Marijuana an Infraction–Similar to a Speeding Ticket:
In addition to the debate, coalition building, and public education that Prop. 19 generated, it also led to concrete victories: Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that will reduce the penalty for marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to a non-arrestable infraction, like a traffic ticket. That’s no small matter in a state where arrests for marijuana possession totaled 61,000 last year — roughly triple the number in 1990. It’s widely assumed that the principal reason the governor signed the bill, which had been introduced by a liberal state senator, Mark Leno, was to undermine one of the key arguments in favor of Prop 19.

7) Leaders from Around the World Call for Legalization Debate: Although President Obama and his Drug Czar have repeated said that legalization is not in their vocabulary, the L-word is being talked about like never before among leaders around the world. This year Mexico President Calderon called for a debate on drug legalisation to help reduce the bloody war in Mexico. Former Mexico President Vicente Fox has since gone further and called for an end to prohibition. Just last week, United Kingdom’s Bob Ainsworth, the former drugs and defense minister, called for the legalisation and regulation of drugs. All of this follows a 2009 report by three former Latin American Presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, where they called the drug war a failure and emphasized the need to “break the taboo” on an open and honest discussion on international drug policy.

8) New and Powerful Voices Join Movement to End Failed Drug War: Prop. 19 inspired an unprecedented coalition in support of reforming our futile and wasteful marijuana laws. A diverse coalition from across the political spectrum came together to “Just Say No” to failed marijuana prohibition. Law enforcement, including the National Black Police Association and National Latino Officers Association, spoke out in support of Prop. 19. Moms spoke out powerfully for tax and regulate because if is safer for their children than prohibition. The California NAACP and the Latino Voters League endorsed Prop. 19, specifically citing the chilling racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana laws. Students for Sensible Drug Policy organized on campuses around the state. Finally, organized labor – from the Service Employees International Union to the longshoremen to food to communications workers — for the first time offered endorsements because controlling and regulating marijuana will mean jobs and revenue that the state currently cedes to criminal cartels and the black market.

There’s More Opportunities for Reform than Ever, But the War on Drugs Grinds On: For all the recent progress, drug policy reformers are under no illusion that the drug war will end any time soon. With the Democrats’ “shellacking” in November, it is even more unclear how much change will be coming out of Washington in 2011 and beyond. We know that drug prohibition and our harsh drug laws – fueled by a prison-industrial complex that locks up 500,000 of our fellow Americans on drug-related offenses – are poised to continue for some time, wasting tens of billions of dollars and leading to thousands of deaths each year. But we are clearly moving in the right direction, toward a more rational drug policy based on compassion, health, science and human rights. We need people to continue to join the movement to end this unwinnable war. If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

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Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (

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Police: Criminals targeting San Jose’s medicinal marijuana clubs

December 21, 2010
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By Sean Webby

Posted: 12/16/2010 05:43:34 PM PST

Updated: 12/16/2010 11:16:18 PM PST


San Jose’s medical marijuana clubs are deeply concerned about being raided by narcotics officers. But in recent days, a number of them have been raided by criminals.

Four dispensaries and one marijuana grower were hit by vandals, burglars or armed robbers in the past week, one just hours after a City Council meeting in which the fate of the city’s cannabis clubs was debated. In the case Wednesday night, a dispensary owner was knocked out of his wheelchair by a masked intruder and robbed.

Police are investigating the possibility that some or all of the crimes were the work of the same gang or suspects.

Although medical marijuana is legal in California, an argument often used against the proliferation of cannabis clubs is that they are magnets for serious crime. There have been three previously reported takeover robberies of clubs this year. But most dispensaries say they have no such issues and that their businesses are no more or less susceptible to criminals than any other business with valuable commodities.

“Homes and residences are magnets for crime,” said Lauren Vasquez, a marijuana rights activist. “Maybe medical marijuana dispensaries have more of a risk, but that is not a reason to get rid of them. It’s just a reason to require security measures.”

After a year in which almost 100 marijuana dispensaries opened in the city, the council voted Monday to impose an additional tax on the businesses.

Just six hours later, about 11:30 p.m. Monday, vandals or thieves struck Elemental Wellness, a cannabis club on Charcot Avenue, which was closed at the time. Video evidence showed two men shattering the window and breaking in, according to police. It was unclear what they took, if anything.

Just after midnight, at Sensi Herbal Care, a club on Post Street, a passer-by reported to police that the front window to the closed business was smashed. It appeared nothing was taken, police said.

Less than 30 minutes later, police responded to an alarm at Holistic Pain Management Institute on South 10th Street, where they discovered a broken front door. Again, it was unclear to investigators what, if anything, may have been taken.

At 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, a home on East San Fernando Street was robbed by four suspects looking for marijuana, according to police. Throwing the 22-year-old victim to the floor and holding a piece of metal to his throat, the suspects asked: “Where is the bud and the money?”

They fled with some cash but no marijuana, police said. Responding officers found a pound of processed marijuana and some marijuana plants. The victim, who was unhurt, told police that he legitimately sold his cannabis to local medical marijuana clubs.

That same night, at 8:55 p.m., the owner of the San Jose Rehab Clinic, who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, was closing up shop when armed and masked robbers tipped him over and barged in.

The robbers bound him and took cash and marijuana before they fled the Saratoga Avenue club.

Anyone with information about the burglaries can contact police at 408-277-4166; information on the robberies can be called in to 408-277-4401.

Dispensary operator Kim Cue, whose club was robbed by armed men in September, said criminals targeted clubs where there were few regulations that require security measures and where police did not support the dispensaries.

She was referring to the raids of a local law enforcement task force against some clubs in recent weeks.

“So we are supposed to call the same police that are raiding us for help?” asked Cue. “The robbers know all this.”

Sgt. Ronnie Lopez, a department spokesman, disputed suggestions that police were not taking crime against the dispensaries seriously. “This department aggressively investigates crimes no matter who the victim is,” he said.

Contact Sean Webby at 408-920-5003.

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California Residents Looking for Medical Marijuana Evaluations

December 21, 2010

If you are a SoCal resident and you are looking for a medical marijuana evaluation feel free to give us a call. You can contact us at 866-420-7215 or visit our website at

We see patients in San Diego, Long Beach, Palm Springs and Temecula. Call for hours and locations.

State Denies Political Activist “Hemp” on License Plate

December 21, 2010
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December 21, 2010 06:00 AM EST

views: 317 | comments: 7

The State of Oklahoma told Walker that his personalized license plate which uses the word “hemp” which seems to refer to marijuana and therefore, “may be offensive to the general public.” Oklahoma is a very conservative state, and referring to marijuana in any form would probably draw major complaints from the public, but does that give the state the right to deny Walker his voice?

Walker claims that it is not used for marijuana, but for saving the environment. He is not a pothead, but wants it legalized for industrial use. What do you think? Is this the way industry goes about using material for industrial use, or is Walker walking a thin line here?

KFOR reports, ”Industrial hemp is used to make biodegradable items like diapers, paper, food and clothing; it can’t give you the high like marijuana can.” The argument is made that Walker’s civil liberties are being denied, and he will of course appeal the decision.


What happens if Tom Walker is denied his use of the word on his personalized plate? The state will stop all messages on personalized plates, and that will fix the problem. Who is Walker kidding? If he were driving a Lincoln or a Cadillac, one might believe him, but guess what car he drives? He drives a Volkswagen bus covered in peace signs and flowers. So do you believe the message is to legalize hemp for industrial reasons?


Tom Walker is one of those people who see a way to challenge the system, and if he can’t have it his way, he will throw a legal fit, and sue. That’s what America has become. Americans and Tom Walker will sue to get their way. If he wants hemp on his license plate, he should move to California, because he won’t be welcome in the State of Oklahoma if he continues with his hippie nonsense.

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Medicinal Marijuana on Trial

December 21, 2010
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There is a precedent setting case about medicinal marijuana and a state’s right to allow it now playing out in California with surprisingly little media attention….Here’s the scoop.

In November 2007 Steele Smith and his wife Theresa were arrested by federal DEA agents in Orange County, California for cultivating and selling marijuana. But the Smith’s aren’t your run of the mill drug dealers and the federal government has left them in legal limbo ever since.

The backstory: In the summer of 2001 Steele was a successful self-employed marketing man who was felled by a gut-wrenching mystery illness. He couldn’t eat and quickly dropped forty pounds from his already thin 6 foot 7 inch frame. His doctors were stymied about what caused the debilitating condition. After four excruciating months a rare-disease specialist diagnosed a condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome which pockmarks a victim’s upper gastrointestinal tract with multiple, painful ulcers. Morphine was prescribed for Steele’s constant pain and he lived in that legally induced drug dependent state for the next three years eventually becoming an opiate addict.

In the summer of 2004 his devoted wife guided him on a journey toward detox. “It was either going to kill him or me,” Theresa told me. “I was black and blue from his outbursts. He couldn’t help it, of course, but something had to be done!”

It was an agonizing time but Steele finally found the strength to wean off morphine. But Z-E is a lifelong affliction and he was still hobbled by the lack of nourishment and the incapacitating pain. The Smith’s desperate search for alternatives brought them to information about the benefits of medicinal marijuana, made legal in California in 1996. The Smith’s sought and got a medical “recommendation” for Steele to try marijuana. (Under federal law an actual prescription isn’t allowed for a so-called schedule 1 drug like heroin and, yes, marijuana.) They were directed to dispensaries in Los Angeles, an hour drive away. “All we found were drug dealer types. They were all long haired, tattooed … basically drug dealers who got a store front – intimidating, like your typical head-shop,” Theresa explained.

But miraculously the medicinal marijuana worked! For the first time in years Steele was able to eat and manage his pain. His marketing ideas flowed again and the couple decided to fill the void in Orange County and open their own medicinal marijuana dispensaries to bring relief to others. Their lawyer says they did everything right under California law.

“Mr. Smith set up a legitimate 501 non-profit corporation and he paid all applicable taxes,” a legal brief written by Smith’s attorney Eric Shevin asserts. “He issued patient ID cards, followed pharmacy labeling requirements. He even provided free medical equipment to his customers, like wheelchairs, walkers, porta-potties and wheelchair racks for cars. Mr. Smith allowed the Fullerton Police to document his grow operation thoroughly… and the lead officer even complimented him on the cleanliness and legitimacy of the operation.” By 2006 more than 1000 patients were registered in the Smith’s data base.

So why were the Smiths arrested and threatened with 10 years in prison? Because back then the U.S. Justice Department decided that the federal law against cultivating marijuana should trump the California law. The Smith’s were caught up in a classic battle of a state’s right to pass its own laws. Theresa spent 2 months behind bars. The ailing Steele was held in a maximum security jail for 10 months. Upon release he was 20 pounds lighter and again hooked on narcotics given to him for pain. The Smiths lost everything including their home, cars, their savings and they had to borrow money from Theresa’s widowed mother who died a short time later. They’ve lived under a terrible cloud of legal uncertainty for three years, all the while still grappling with Steele’s disease.

Today’s Justice Department looks at the state’s rights issue differently and the Smith’s trial will surely be a landmark case closely watched by the 15 states that currently allow cultivation and sale of medicinal marijuana. It will be a milestone verdict because federal Judge Cormac J. Carney has made the unprecedented decision to allow a federal jury — for the first time ever – to hear affirmative testimony about California’s medicinal marijuana law. This won’t just be about someone having been caught growing pot. The Smiths will be allowed to give groundbreaking testimony about why their interpretation of the state’s law led them to believe they were acting legally.

In 2008 candidate Barack Obama told an interviewer, “I think the basic concept (of) using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs, prescribed by doctors (is) entirely appropriate.” Fourteen months ago President Obama’s Justice Department instructed all federal prosecutors not to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they followed state laws.

So, now, the feds are left squarely between a rock and a hard place with their three year old case against the Smiths.

Perhaps because Judge Carney has a track record of ruling against prosecutors who he sees as overstepping their authority the feds decided late last week to ask for yet another delay in the December 21st trial, postponing it until late March 2011.

“It’s the eleventh or twelfth delay,” Theresa Smith said in a weary voice. She sees the fight as a state’s rights issue but also, she says, “As a patient’s issue. If it was meth or heroin or some opiate I wouldn’t say that. But this is a plant that God put here for a reason. It helps people – so many people.”

Diane Dimond can be reached through her web site: Her latest book is “Cirque Du Salahi” available at


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Daily Roundup: Colorado’s KushCon 2010 Overshadowing California?

December 21, 2010
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Cannabis Culture 

David Downs —  Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 11:05 AM

1) The San Jose medical marijuana battleground gets another look from the AP. “The crackdown highlights a stubborn legal reality that persists despite a growing sense that storefront pot shops have become a permanent part of the California landscape: the law around medical marijuana is vague, and you can still get busted. ‘They’re trying to make money off it, and that’s ridiculous,’ Bob Cooke, the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agent overseeing the raids, said of the dispensary owners who have been targeted.” More headlines after the jump.

2) Conversely, KushCon convened tens of thousands in Denver over the weekend, the Denver Post reports. “While Colorado may not yet be the center of marijuana culture, it is the hub of marijuana business. KushCon organizers and exhibitors say Colorado’s for-profit model — legitimized by laws passed in the legislature and rules soon to be adopted by state agencies — is the envy of canna-business owners across the country. ‘Denver is the leader in the world,’ said Michael Lerner, a marijuana media mogul who is putting on the show. ‘Colorado is light-years ahead of the rest of the world in how it regulates and taxes cannabis.’ In happier news, the Raiders beat the Broncos, in what has to be the stoniest match-up in the NFL.

3) The Alameda County district attorney has a problem with Oakland’s licensed pot farms, saying they could be illegal under vague state guidelines that we wrote about in July. California Watch reports.
growing facilities are springing up in Eureka, following planned ones in Berkeley, Sebastopol, Humboldt, plus the entire states of Colorado and Arizona. The Times-Standard reports.

4) Conversely,

5) Meanwhile, cleaner, cheaper high-quality dispensaries are forcing one Marin county club to clean up or go out of business, the Marin Independent Journal reports.

6) And the Emerald Cup gets a post from Peter Hecht at the SacBee. For a closer look at last year, check Redheaded Blackbelt.

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Calif’s 3rd-largest city new medi-pot battleground

December 21, 2010
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The Associated Press
Saturday, December 18, 2010; 3:21 PM

SAN JOSE, Calif. — As marijuana goes mainstream in communities across California, the state’s third-largest city has become the next big battleground over the drug’s future.

Medical marijuana retailers this fall have faced raids and stings by narcotics agents who accuse them of old-fashioned drug trafficking, even as the San Jose City Council debated regulations for pot dispensaries and voters approved a cannabis tax to fill depleted city coffers.

The crackdown highlights a stubborn legal reality that persists despite a growing sense that storefront pot shops have become a permanent part of the California landscape: the law around medical marijuana is vague, and you can still get busted.

“They’re trying to make money off it, and that’s ridiculous,” Bob Cooke, the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agent overseeing the raids, said of the dispensary owners who have been targeted.

Medical marijuana advocates say the raids have undermined efforts by dispensaries to comply with the law and to act as good neighbors who have much to contribute to the city’s hard hit economy.

Dispensaries shut down by law enforcement include members of the city’s Medical Cannabis Collectives Coalition, a group that lobbies the City Council on behalf of dispensaries, said MC3 spokesman Paul Stewart. Dispensary owners in the group were acting in good faith and feel tricked by the raids, he said.

“We’re stepping back saying, we’re the ones trying to work with you to come up with sensible regulations,” Stewart said. “Now you’re hitting the same collectives trying to help you and will ultimately generate revenue for you?”

Much of the confusion over the state law hinges on a provision that prohibits making a profit from medical marijuana. Dispensaries get around this by describing themselves as collectives or cooperatives and requiring patients to designate the dispensary a “primary caregiver.”

Under the state’s medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996, only a patient with a doctor’s recommendation or that patient’s primary caregiver can grow or obtain pot.

Law enforcement critics complain that dispensaries – some with tens of thousands of members – are no more primary caregivers to their customers than are liquor store owners.

Still, raids on dispensaries have become increasingly rare, especially in other Bay Area cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, which have passed ordinances regulating pot shops like other small businesses.

San Jose officials by contrast have had difficulty reaching agreement on how to regulate dispensaries. This city of 1 million has seen an explosion in the number of pot shops in the two years since the Obama Administration declared a hands-off approach in states where the drug is approved for medical use.
Santa Clara County prosecutor Frank Carrubba, who heads the narcotics enforcement division of the district attorney’s office, estimates that San Jose has nearly 90 medical marijuana dispensaries and the county more than 100 in all.

San Francisco, with a slightly smaller population, has around 30 dispensaries. Oakland, a city a little less than half the size of San Jose, has 4.

“We’re weeding out the people who are selling drugs. The ones who are providing medicine are allowed to exist,” Carrubba said.

How police and prosecutors decide who is a drug dealer and who is a caregiver has become the main point of contention between investigators and the dispensaries in the San Jose cases.

County investigators spelled out their standards in a search warrant affidavit for a recent raid on the Angel’s Care Collective in Santa Clara, a city of 100,000 neighboring San Jose.

District Attorney Investigator Dean Ackermann, an undercover officer, stated that he bought marijuana at Angel’s Care multiple times without ever receiving any kind of health care advice. The officer said he was charged $12 to $13 per gram of pot. He said that’s more than 10 times the cost of cultivating a gram of marijuana.

If the dispensary was truly a collective, the affidavit said the undercover officer was never told how to participate.

The officer’s “only involvement in the collective was to purchase marijuana at street level prices,” the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, Angel’s Care’s operators told investigators they do not run the dispensary as a business and that all the money goes to cover utilities, wages for 15 employees and “donations” to collective members who supply the dispensary with marijuana.

The operators also told investigators that patients are not purchasing marijuana from the dispensary but are making donations.

At no point in the affidavit is Angel’s Care accused of providing pot to anyone who does not have a physician’s recommendation.

San Jose attorney Jim Roberts, who represents Angel’s Care and two other raided dispensaries, said all were operating as nonprofits in full compliance with California law.

State law allows law enforcement agencies to take a cut of the assets seized in any bust involving illegal drugs.

Roberts is fighting the county’s effort to confiscate the cash agents found at the dispensaries and in dispensary bank accounts frozen following the raids. The cash and other assets sought by the county total more than $200,000, Roberts said.

“What they’re really after is money,” he said.

Carrubba, the deputy district attorney, said his office’s sole interest is prosecuting crimes.

Up to now, county prosecutors have charged 22 operators of medical marijuana delivery services busted in a Craigslist sting with illegally selling marijuana. The owners of just one of the four dispensaries raided have been formally charged so far. Carrubba says that’s because of the complexity of the financial records involved, but Roberts questions the strength of the cases against the dispensaries.

But some dispensary operators are not waiting to find out whether those charges will ever come down. At least one high-profile dispensary canceled the ribbon-cutting for its planned San Jose branch out of concern over more busts.

“The key to resolving this is having the district attorney’s office direct the special enforcement team to stand down,” Stewart said. Until then, he said, “we know the raids are going to continue.”

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