Entries in legal cannabis institute (12)
By Melissa Bobrow, Laws Offices of Melissa Bobrow
Are you distributing medical marijuana? Do you have a collective grow? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, then you absolutely MUST have some paperwork to prove your are in compliance with State law.
You probably have a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana; you may even have one that says you can have a certain amount of plants. However, if you are growing marijuana for more than yourself or a person for whom you are the designated caregiver, you need some paperwork and YES – you need it now!
For those of you that would rather risk it and not heed my advice, here are a few of the many reasons why that isn’t a good idea:
If you are distributing or collectively growing marijuana, you can be arrested. Nobody plans on being arrested – everyone thinks they aren’t big enough for the cops or DEA to care about them. Wrong. I have worked on cases that should never have been cases, and though I firmly stand by Proposition 215, Senate Bill 420 and their progeny, that doesn’t mean law enforcement won’t arrest you or the prosecutors won’t charge you – they will.
If you have evidence that shows you are within compliance, or at least trying to be within compliance of State law, you now have a valid affirmative defense, even Federal judges are taking notice of the defendant’s State compliance. Without the papers – you’re a drug dealer. A doctor’s note is not going to save the day. Consult with an attorney about what you are doing to avoid unnecessary legal action, and what you need in order to give yourself the best defense.
Most of the dispensaries and people that were raided by the DEA or otherwise shut down by the City of San Diego were not arrested. Almost all of the properly incorporated dispensaries, that paid all of their taxes, that did not have multiple store-fronts, have not faced any criminal action.
What about the ordinance? Great question - I don’t know the future nor does anyone else.
If City Council passes the current proposed ordinance, then there will be a certain amount of dispensaries allowed within the City of San Diego with a definite regulatory and taxation system in place; if City Council does not pass the proposed ordinance, then my prediction is that there will continue to be dispensaries, without any official zoning regulations and illegal in the eyes of the City Attorney, but let’s be honest – there will still be dispensaries.
If you are going to distribute medical marijuana, then it is always in your best interest to be in compliance with State law. If you are in any way sharing marijuana for medical purposes, there is no reason to avoid talking with someone that can help you. You are already taking a huge risk – the laws are confusing and looking them up will lead you in the wrong direction – trust me on this one. It gives you a defense in State Court and now even Federal court judges are taking your State compliance into consideration.
To learn more about current medical marijuana laws or how to properly incorporating yourself go to: www.lcitraining.com or contact Legal Cannabis Institute: (858) 864-8787.
“They are no different than a guy selling dimebags in the back of a van in Pacific Beach.”
Those are the words that the top commander of the San Diego DEA Acting Special Agent in charge, William Sherman, chose to describe the large number medical marijuana delivery services in an interview with NBC San Diego7 on Tuesday.
Since September of 2011, over 230 storefront medical marijuana dispensaries have been shut down across San Diego by federal and local law enforcement agencies. During the costly raids, tens of millions of dollars in inventory and money were seized by businesses that thought they were operating legally under California’s Prop215 and SB420.
But the crackdown on that booming business of medical marijuana dispensaries has caused an explosion of delivery services across San Diego. And now they find themselves in the DEA’s crosshairs.
In the same interview, Sherman refers to medical marijuana delivery services as drug dealers and cites claims that delivery drivers travel with armed guards and bring added violence to neighborhoods. A simple Google search will turn up far more headlines about robberies and violence during the delivery of pizzas than those regarding the delivery of marijuana.
Sherman and his office have thrown down the gauntlet, announcing that his goal is to have the current crop of medical cannabis delivery services shut down by the summer. Medical marijuana advocates, meanwhile, say police are cutting off what’s left of safe access for patients who can’t or don’t grow their own now that storefronts aren’t around.
Among those leading the charge is Eugene Davidovich and the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In a statement released on his Facebook page, dated February 27th, Davidovich addresses the DEA and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy directly, saying:
“If you think the community will sit by quietly while you attempt to shutter the last traces of access to medical cannabis that exist in San Diego, then you have another thing coming. We will not rest until you are held accountable for this attack and your previous attacks on patients. It is time for you to end this interference in state law and vindictive eradication effort. San Diego elected officials and community members deserve to regulate a medicine that has been legal in the State for 16 years without this federal interference.”
|San Diego mayor Bob Filner.|
Joining the growing resistance to this war on medical marijuana in San Diego (and lending the power of his pulpit to the debate) is newly-elected San Diego Mayor, Bob Filner.
Filner is an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana and its known benefits, and was swept into office last November on a wave of support from the cannabis community.
The edge Filner held in the late polls - and wound up winning by - was a near mirror image of the estimated number of marijuana users in San Diego. Hardly a coincidence and a fact that surely was not lost on Filner once he took office. Since a very public showdown with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith in January of this year, the Mayor’s office has been busily working with advocacy and patients’ rights groups to draft an ordinance that they feel will pass a razor thin 5-4 majority in the City Council.
That hearing was scheduled to take place on March 5th, but has already been postponed by at least a week or two, according to the Mayor’s office. In the meantime, statements like those being made in the media by the DEA, as well as city and state attorneys leave a lot of patients in limbo.
The pending ordinance hearing could either be a closing chapter in the story of the San Diego medical marijuana scene or - hopefully — a new beginning.
Beware the ides of March
Jack Daniel is a new freelance writer with Toke of the Town. He enjoys teaching the Macarena to zoo animals and loves long walks on the beach with a spliff in his hand. Look for more from Daniel in the coming weeks.
Written by Christopher Cadelago
SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego can refuse to issue a certain type of business license to medical marijuana distributors, a judge has ruled.
Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp ruled the city cannot be required to take actions that amount to an illegal act.
Wisdom Organics of Lemon Grove is allowed to deliver medical marijuana under state law, but use and distribution of the drug remains illegal under federal law, Trapp wrote in the ruling Feb. 3.
“Further, there is evidence presented that the U.S. Attorney is now putting marijuana dispensaries on notice that they are violating federal law and that federal law takes precedence over state law,” Trapp wrote. “Consequently, issuing a business tax certificate under these circumstances would tend to aid in an unlawful purpose.”
A lawyer for the nonprofit organization did not return a message left at his office. It’s unclear what affect the ruling will have on delivery services because unlike storefront dispensaries they operate largely under the radar of municipalities.
In April, Wisdom Organics sued the city after its treasurer refused to accept the nonprofit’s application for a business tax certificate. According to court records, the collective grows medical marijuana outside of San Diego and applied for the license to operate as a delivery service in the city.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has brought dozens of lawsuits against medical marijuana dispensaries over the last year, arguing that they violate local zoning laws because the storefront operators are not allowed to operate anywhere in the city. That coupled with federal action has prompted the closure of scores of dispensaries — including U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raids at dispensaries in Rolando, North Park, Pacific Beach, Kearny Mesa and elsewhere.
“Marijuana distribution is a crime under federal law,” Goldsmith said Tuesday. “The city of San Diego will not enable a federal crime. Those who want to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal purposes should speak with members of Congress about changing federal law but, in the meantime, they should obey the law.”
In San Diego, judges have ruled that building owners leasing to medical marijuana dispensaries can evict their tenants because collectives are illegal under the city’s zoning laws and that the city may restrict the location of medical marijuana dispensaries based on those laws.
Collectives have been in legal limbo since officials three years ago determined that they didn’t fit within any of the existing zones and therefore would not be issued a business license. The City Council approved an ordinance that outlined where dispensaries could operate, but that was repealed last summer after a successful referendum signature drive.
Last month, the state Supreme Court voted unanimously to review how cities and counties regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Specifically, the court agreed to address whether municipalities can ban collectives despite the 1996 passage of Proposition 215.
A Los Angeles-based appellate court last year struck down Long Beach’s attempt to license pot stores, ruling the local ordinance conflicted with federal law. Another appellate court upheld Riverside’s right to close and prohibit dispensaries despite Proposition 215.
Since then, several cities — including Long Beach — have shuttered clubs or banned them from their boundaries. Other cities, such as San Francisco, suspended issuing permits because of the rulings.
Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to review the case, those appellate rulings are no longer valid.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
When Robert Jones, 70, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, he found little relief for the pain that came with his intensive chemotherapy treatments. That is, until his doctor prescribed medical marijuana, which not only eased the pain, but also helped to improve his appetite and limit anxiety.
Today, though Jones’ cancer is in remission, he continues to use marijuana to stem the lingering effects of the illness. But he recently learned that the treatment could cost him his home.
In October, the Las Vegas, N.M., resident received a letter indicating that he would no longer be eligible for the federal housing voucher that helps cover his $400-a-month rent. The reason: Though Jones’ use of medical marijuana is permitted in New Mexico, the drug is not legal at the federal level, wrote Gilbert Almanza Jr., executive director of the San Miguel County Section 8 Housing Program.
Jones appealed the decision, saying he didn’t know what he would do without the voucher. He worried that he would be forced to live in a nursing facility.
And forgoing the marijuana was not an option. “This is a treatment recommended by my doctor, and it’s not completed yet,” Jones says.
But just six days before the termination was to take effect, Jones got a reprieve: The local county commission voted to rescind the notice and issue an apology.
Almanza and other county officials did not return calls requesting comment.
Michelle Diament is a frequent contributor to the AARP Bulletin.
See more amazing photos by Matt Slaby here: http://mattslaby.photoshelter.com/gallery/Archive-NM-Medical-Marijuana/G0000qH5IsmB92nE/