Campaign to Legalize Marijuana Relights at Both Ends

Today, Sensible Washington traveled to Olympia to try, try again, and file an initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use in Washington state. “Please be mainstream in your dress and appearance,” their blog urges supporters. Last year, I-1068 came in about 50,000 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot. The group was also criticized for “leaving out” regulatory concerns.

This time,” reports AP, “the initiative would direct the state Legislature to develop such regulations, including possibly taxing marijuana sales.”

That may not be too difficult, if Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles succeeds with her legislation to regulate medical marijuana: “Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100 would establish a regulatory system for the sale and purchase of medical marijuana for qualifying patients.” If adopted, that framework could be adapted to account for non-medical sales.

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson

But–trifecta!–Ballard’s Kohl-Welles has been one-upped in marijuana friendliness by Ballard’s Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, who is introducing a bill to outright legalize it. Dickerson gave this a shot last year, but the bill failed to make it out of committee. But, try, try again, she’s back and so is the state’s deficit, so her argument that taxing marijuana could bring in $400 million per biennium may make a few legislators pause and reflect. Dickerson’s HB 1550 would place marijuana under the Liquor Control Board, who have experience with controlled substances. 

Early reactions to Dickerson’s bill have been muted in part by its length: 120 pages. Sensible Washington spokesman Philip Dawdy said that while he had not yet read the bill, the group was enthusiastic about seeing so much energy devoted to marijuana legalization and regulation. 

15 thoughts on “Campaign to Legalize Marijuana Relights at Both Ends

  1. SO it is my understanding the there exist a cannabis association in Washington state that has been collecting money from members and trying to influence SB 5073. This is great! Except. It has come to my attention that the folks behind the WCA (below is info I found about the group)

    “News flash from CDC about the list…oh my word.

    Who comprises the Washington Cannabis Association has been very unclear. The WCA was created by activist attorney and Sensible Washington founder Douglas Hiatt in October. The group hired the volunteer Sensible Washington director Ezra Eickmeyer for $5000 per month starting in October, and hired the volunteer Sensible Washington media director Phillip Dawdy in November. Dawdy announced the group to the Seattle Weekly, claiming it was comprised of “two to three dozen business.” Weeks later, Dawdy scaled that number back, telling the Associated Press it consisted of “about two dozen” businesses. According to the public records WCA is required to file, both of these number are inflated, and the WCA was actually comprised of ten members who could afford the $5000 entry fee. See:


    are Douglas Hiatt, Phillip Dawdy, and Ezra Eickmeyer.

    I do not know these gentlemen but I am greatly concerned that they would be trying to speak for and have an input on medical marijuana legislation WHILE at the same time sponsoring an initiative that would do away with everything SB 5073 creates and frankly the entire medical marijuana industry/community in Washington state.

    Should this group be allowed to affect a state law they are actively trying to make null and void? Seems like a huge conflict of interest?

    As a patient this greatly concerns me……

    I worry about medical marijuana patients being taking advantage of to further the agenda of a legalization organization.

    Check the WCA’s website.


    “We are a new organization and our initial focus is to help pass a bill in the Legislature that will clarify Washington State laws on medical marijuana, change the term to cannabis in state law, and officially legitimize a well regulated dispensary system. “

    They admit their goal is to pass SB 5073….but if Sensible Washington’s initiative passes all the work they did regarding SB 5073 will not matter. Being that a new regulatory body and rules would need to be created in the event the initiative passes. The say their “initial” focus is to pass the bill. Well what would be their future focus? Is it to become large stake holders in the marijuana community in Washington state so that when they legalize marijuana they will have an established presence and dominate lobbying and the market? If so that would be taking advantage of medical marijuana patients so they can create a better position for themselves.

    If the WCA is concerned with medical marijuana they should not have people involved that are actively trying to legalize marijuana. The two are separate issues. Medical marijuana patients are not here to be used as examples to why we can legalize marijuana.

    My concerns are that medical marijuana advocates are always fighting opponents who accuse us of trying to create a back door legalization movement. Having the people behind Sensible Washington, and thus the legalization of marijuana, also being the same people behind the WCA, which is suppose to represent MEDICAL MARIJUANA interest, is an obvious conflict of interest and does nothing but provide ammo to opponents of medical marijuana.

    Just this morning I was confronted by a colleague of mine about this. He told me “see told you it [medical marijuana] was all about REALLY getting marijuana to be legal”. How can I respond to that when he has a point? Why can’t there be a trade association the ONLY deals with medical marijuana?

    I have not problems with Sensible Washington. In fact I support their efforts. But as a medical marijuana patient I am not interest in a group giving us patients a bad name because they have a very obvious and easily exploitable conflict on interest.

  2. @mrbombit: I checked with Sensible Washington on this, and they dispute accuracy of the information you have, particularly as regards the CDC. As to whether it’s a conflict of interest, I hardly think your opinion that working toward legalization gives medical marijuana “a bad name” qualifies.

  3. You can’t be very smart, mrbombit, since there’s no way the legalization initiative would apply to patients covered under rcw 69.51a. Recreational and medical marijuana are separate subjects. Two, the ill-founded assertions made by the CDC about the WCA were wrong and the group retracted them two weeks ago. Hiatt didn’t start the WCA and doesn’t run it or control it in any way. Its members control it. There are now 30-plus members of the WCA.

  4. @ In the know:

    Sorry to have offended you. But I dont see how RCW 69.51a would be needed if marijuana would be decriminalized? If marijuana were legal, there would be no need for a “medical” marijuana bill.

    And I appreciate the CDC clearing up any confusion over Mr. Hiatt’s involvement with the WCA. But it is my understanding that Ezra Eickmeyer and Phillip Dawdy are both heavily involved with Sensible Washington and the WCA? Just today Mr. Dawdy was on King 5 representing the WCA and last week he was on KOMO delivering Sensible Washington’s initiative to the secretary of state.

    Is the WCA for the legalization of marijuana? If so do all the members that pay dues officially support legalization? If so why not have the connection between the WCA and Sensible Washington more clear.

    It is also my understanding that it has not been cleared up whether Sensible Washington’s initiative would void any of the regulatory mechanisms that SB 5073 will create.

    Sorry again if I made you upset(i say this because you jumped pretty quickly to insulting me). I am a concerned mmj patient and I have the right to know who is trying to represent me in the state legislator. You and the 30 members of your association need to realize the mmj law is for patients to get meds. It is not for a trade association to create regulations that favor their businesses so they can make money off my and others illnesses.

  5. @ Michael van Baker

    What specifically did they dispute?

    The conflict of interest is more than public perception. If the WCA is taking money from medial marijuana patients and co-ops to lobbying for the passage of SB 5073. And Sensible Washington is lobby/placing an initiative to legalize marijuana on the ballot next year, which might void the regulations SB 5073 creates, and since Phillip Dawdy represents both groups (check the variety of news programs he has done recently) wouldn’t it seem their is a conflict?

    Last I checked medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana were two different issues.

    And nice jab saying “I hardly think your opinion that working toward legalization gives medical marijuana “a bad name” qualifies. ” Nice stab. You almost dismissed me….almost.

  6. It is the opinion of the United State’s Department of Justice. Here is a quote from a JULY 2010 report. And yes….this is after president obama’s memo.

    The proposition that smoked marijuana is ―medicine‖ is, in sum, false–trickery used by those promoting wholesale legalization. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) provides funding and assistance to states and localities to promote ―marijuana as medicine‖ initiatives and legislation. Yet their vision statement clearly indicates that they have a much broader goal of decriminalizing marijuana. At the same time the marijuana legalization proponents are soliciting support for laws allowing marijuana to be used as medicine, they are working to modify policies to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol.23 Ed Rosenthal, senior editor of High Times, a pro-drug magazine, once revealed the legalization strategy behind the ―medical‖ marijuana movement. While addressing an effort to seek public sympathy for glaucoma patients, he said, ―I have to tell you that I also use marijuana medically. I have a latent glaucoma which has never been diagnosed. The reason why it‘s never been diagnosed is because I‘ve been treating it.‖ He continued, ―I have to be honest, there is another reason why I do use marijuana . . . and that is because I like to get high. Marijuana is fun.‖24
    A few billionaires—not broad grassroots support—started and sustain the ―medical‖ marijuana and drug legalization movements in the United States. Without their money and influence, the drug legalization movement would shrivel. According to National Families in Action, four individuals—George Soros, Peter Lewis, George Zimmer, and John Sperling—contributed $1,510,000 to the effort to pass a ―medical‖ marijuana law in California in 1996, a sum representing nearly 60 percent of the total contributions.25
    In 2000, The New York Times interviewed Ethan Nadelmann, Director of the Lindesmith Center. Responding to criticism that the medical marijuana issue is a stalking horse for drug legalization, Mr. Nadelmann stated: ―Will it help lead toward marijuana legalization? . . . I hope so.‖26
    When a statute dramatically reducing penalties for ―medical‖ marijuana took effect in Maryland in October 2003, a defense attorney noted that ―[t]here are a whole bunch of people who like marijuana who can now try to use this defense.‖ The attorney observed that lawyers
    July 2010 8
    would be ―neglecting their clients if they did not try to find out what ‗physical, emotional or psychological‘‖ condition could be enlisted to develop a defense to justify a defendant‘s using the drug. ―Sometimes people are self-medicating without even realizing it,‖ he said.27
    In 2004, Alaska voters faced a ballot initiative that would have made it legal for adults age 21 and older to possess, grow, buy, or give away marijuana. The measure also called for state regulation and taxation of the drug. The campaign was funded almost entirely by the Washington, D.C.-based MPP, which provided ―almost all‖ the $857,000 taken in by the pro-marijuana campaign. Fortunately, Alaskan voters rejected the initiative.28
    In October 2005, Denver voters passed Initiative 100 decriminalizing marijuana based on incomplete and misleading campaign advertisements put forth by the Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER). A Denver City Councilman complained that the group used the slogan ―Make Denver SAFER‖ on billboards and campaign signs to mislead the voters into thinking that the initiative supported increased police staffing. Indeed, the Denver voters were never informed of the initiative‘s true intent to decriminalize marijuana.29
    In 2006, the legalization movement funded three state marijuana-related initiatives, which were defeated in the November election. In Colorado, SAFER was behind Amendment 44, which allowed for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The amendment was defeated by 60 percent of the vote. In Nevada, Question 7, which was supported by the MPP, sought to permit the manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana to adults aged 21 or older. The measure was defeated by 56 percent of the vote. In South Dakota, South Dakotans for Medical Marijuana pushed Measure 4, allowing medical marijuana access. The measure was defeated by 52 percent of the vote.30
    The legalization movement was more successful at the local level in 2006. MPP-funded local groups were able to pass measures in three California cities: Santa Barbara (Sensible Santa Barbara), Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy), and Santa Monica (Santa Monicans for Sensible Marijuana Policy); and in Missoula, Montana (Citizens for Responsible Crime Policy). Residents voted to make marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority in their cities.31
    Three other legalization groups also won local initiatives: the NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) chapter at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville helped make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a misdemeanor in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Americans for Safe Access assisted Albany, CA with passing Measure D, allowing a medical marijuana dispensary in the City of Albany; and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts helped four districts pass non-binding policy statements from voters allowing for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana be a civil violation subject only to a $100 fine (2 districts) and allowing seriously ill patients to possess and grow marijuana with a doctor‘s recommendation.32
    In 2007 in Hailey, Idaho, the ballot initiatives to legalize industrial hemp, legalize medical use of marijuana and to allow marijuana laws to receive the lowest enforcement priority passed, but have not been implemented. The initiative to regulate and tax marijuana sales and use
    July 2010 9
    failed. Mayor Rick Davis, City Councilman Don Keirn, and Chief of Police Jeff Gunter filed a Declaratory Judgment action alleging that the three initiatives were illegal. ―The lawsuit primarily alleges that the three initiatives are illegal because they are contrary to the general laws of the State of Idaho and the United States.‖33 Ryan Davidson, director of The Liberty Lobby of Idaho, put the initiatives back on the May ballot, and again they passed. ―Davidson‘s efforts in Hailey are part of a larger grassroots agenda to have marijuana laws reformed statewide and nationally.‖34 In March, 2009 Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert Elgee filed a decision to void the initiatives that would have legalized marijuana use in the city and would have made enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for Hailey police. The judge also voided language in the initiative that would have required individual city officials to advocate for marijuana reform.35
    In 2008, with support from the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, Michigan became the 13th state to approve marijuana for medicinal purposes.36
    Massachusetts, backed by the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, replaced criminal penalties for one ounce of marijuana with a civil fine in 2008.37
    Voters in four districts (15 towns) in Massachusetts, supported by local legalization groups, passed a ballot measure to instruct a representative from each district to vote in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill patients, with a doctor‘s written recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal medical use.38
    In the same year, voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, supported by Sensible Fayetteville, voted to make adult marijuana possession law the lowest priority for local law enforcement.39
    In California, Proposition 5, also known as the Non-Violent Offender Rehabilitation Act, and supported by the Drug Policy Alliance, called for more funding for addiction treatment and decriminalization of up to an ounce of marijuana. This initiative did not pass.40
    The legalizers were also less successful in New Hampshire, where although the state legislature approved a bill to legalize ―medical‖ marijuana, Governor John Lynch vetoed the bill in July 2009, citing concerns over cultivation, distribution and the potential for abuse.41
    Rhode Island became the 3rd state to allow the sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes. In June 2009, the Rhode Island legislature overrode Governor Circieri‘s veto of bills that allow for the establishment of three compassionate care centers regulated by the state department of health.42
    New Mexico opened its first ―medical‖ marijuana dispensary in June 2009, becoming the 4th state to allow ―medical‖ marijuana dispensaries.43
    In November 2009, Maine became the 5th state to allow dispensaries. The voters also approved the expansion of the ―medical‖ marijuana law, to include defining debilitating medical conditions and incorporating additional diseases that can be included under the law. This effort was funded by the Drug Policy Alliance.44
    July 2010 10
    On November 4, 2009, Breckenridge, Colorado citizens voted to decriminalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. The measure, however, is symbolic, because pot possession is still against state law. Sean McAllister, a Breckenridge lawyer who pushed for the decriminalization measure said that ―the vote shows people want to skip medical marijuana and legalize pot for everyone.‖45
    In January 2010, New Jersey became the 14th state to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. With the most restrictive law in the country, only residents with one of twelve chronic illnesses (not including chronic pain) will be able to get a prescription from their doctor to buy up to two ounces a month from one of six dispensaries.46 Implementation of the program, originally scheduled for October 1, 2010, has been extended by the state legislature until January 1, 2011, to give the Governor more time to determine who will grow and dispense marijuana.47
    On July 25, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated, by a vote of 165-262, an amendment (HR-3093) that would have prevented the DEA and the Department of Justice from arresting or prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in the 12 states where medical marijuana was then legal. 48
    Two Congressional initiatives on marijuana also failed in 2008. HR5842, Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act and HR5843, Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults, both died in committee.
    Three Congressional initiatives were introduced in Congress in 2009: HR2835 Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act; HR2943 Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009; and HR3939 Truth in Trials Act.
    The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 (HR 3288) became law in December 2009 without the ―Barr Amendment,‖ a provision that has been included in the Appropriations bill for the District of Columbia since 1999.49 The Barr Amendment had prohibited ―… any funds to be used to conduct a ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or reduce the penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act (or any tetrahydrocannabinois derivative.‖50
    The elimination of the Barr Amendment enabled the District of Columbia to implement Initiative 59, a ballot initiative that was approved in 1998 to allow for the use of marijuana for medical treatment. In May 2010, the District of Columbia City Council approved a bill that would allow chronically ill patients to receive a doctor‘s prescription to use marijuana and buy up to two ounces a month from a city-sanctioned distribution center. The bill was signed by the Mayor the same month and sent to Congress, which has 30 days to review it before it becomes a law. On June 23, 2010, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Jim Jordan introduced H.J. Res. 93, a resolution to disapprove the city law legalizing ―medical‖ marijuana.
    July 2010 11
    The argument that ―caregivers‖ who participate in legalized marijuana efforts are ―compassionate‖ is contradicted by revelations that all too often cannabis clubs are fronts for drug dealers, not health facilities. Even the author of Proposition 215 believes the program is ―a joke.”
    Reverend Scott T. Imler, co-author of Proposition 215, the 1996 ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in California, expressed his disappointment with the way the program has been implemented in a series of interviews in late 2006.
     ―We created Prop. 215 so patients would not have to deal with black market profiteers. But today it is all about the money. Most of the dispensaries operating in California are a little more than dope dealers with store fronts.‖51
     “When we wrote 215, we were selling it to the public as something for seriously ill people….It’s turned into a joke. I think a lot of people have medicalized their recreational use.”52
     “What we set out to do was put something in the statutes that said medicine was a defense in case they got arrested using marijuana for medical reasons,” Imler says. “What we got was a whole different thing, a big new industry.”53
    In an interview with National Public Radio in August 2009, Reverend Imler stated that he believes that the law has been subverted. ―What we have is de-facto legalization.‖ The article continues, ―He never envisioned that medicinal pot would turn into a business, open to virtually anyone.‖54
    In Oregon, where voters legalized “medical‖ marijuana for qualifying patients in November 1998, patients must grow their own marijuana or have a licensed grower provide it for them through an unpaid arrangement. While the initiative had good intentions, numerous problems exist.
    According to Lt. Michael Dingeman, Director of the Oregon State Police Drug Enforcement Section, many calls from cardholders are about never receiving the marijuana from their designated growers. The ―growers are simply using the cardholders for cover, and selling their crops on the black market. In fact, some county sheriffs estimate that as much as one half of the illegal street marijuana they‘re seeing is being grown under the protection of the state‘s medical marijuana program.‖55
    Deputy Chief Tim George of the Medford Police Department says that the region is ―swimming in weed,‖ and the problem keeps getting worse. ―People are traveling with large sums of money to buy marijuana. Weed is being shipped out of Oregon at record levels. Medical Marijuana has made it easier for criminals to grow it.‖56
    Sergeant Erik Fisher of the Drug Enforcement Section of the Oregon State Police says that the perception of the marijuana drug trade is mellower than other drug operations is wrong.‖ He notes that almost all the distributors and growers carry firearms. ―The other striking trend has
    July 2010 12
    been the increase in home invasion robberies of medical marijuana folks, and how absolutely violent they can be. We have more home invasions going on with medical marijuana people than any other drug dealer I can think of.‖57
    Neighborhood residents, doctors and other professionals associated with marijuana dispensaries admit there have been problems.
    In a letter to the Editor of the Denver Post, Dr. Christian Thurstone, Medical Director of an Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Program in Denver, has seen what impact Colorado‘s policies regarding ―medical‖ marijuana has had on young adults.
     ―About 95 percent of the hundreds of young people referred to my clinic each year have problems with marijuana. I see teenagers who choose pot over family, school, friends and health every day. When they‘re high, these young people make poor choices that lead to unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, school dropouts and car accidents that harm people. When teenagers are withdrawing from marijuana, they can be aggressive and get into fights or instigate conflicts that lead to more trouble.‖
     Dr. Thurstone talks about a 19-year-old who he was treating for severe addiction for several months. ―He recently showed up at my clinic with a medical marijuana license. How did he get it? He paid $300 for a brief visit with another doctor to discuss his ―depression.‖ The doctor took a cursory medical history that certainly didn‘t involve contacting me. The teenager walked out with the paperwork needed not only for a license to smoke it, but also for a license permitting a ―caregiver‖ to grow up to six marijuana plants for him. My patient, who had quit using addictive substances after a near-death experience, is back to smoking marijuana daily, along with his caregiver.‖
     In a three month period, Dr. Thurstone saw over a dozen patients between 18 and 25 with histories of substance abuse who had received a recommendation from other doctors to smoke marijuana.
     ―Kids without licenses tell me about potent pot they buy from caregivers whose plants yield enough supply to support sales on the side.‖58
    In a professional pharmacology journal, a doctor of pharmacology wrote, ―The ethical quandary that I have as a pharmacist is allowing lay people to open dispensaries for profit and supply marijuana to people without any quality control over what‘s dispensed or accountability to those being dispensed this potent drug.‖59
    The owners of a Satellite Beach house in Brevard County, Florida were told the renters would take care of the lawn and clean the pool themselves. What they didn‘t know is that they would be using the water from the swimming pool as part of the irrigation system for a hydroponic indoor marijuana grow in three of the four bedrooms of their home. ―They even dug into the foundation of the house to put pipes and wires in,‖ according to Kathleen Burgess, one of the owners, who estimated the property damage at $60,000. The Brevard County Sheriff‘s Office found 24 marijuana plants inside with a possible yield of 200 pounds of cannabis.60
    July 2010 13
    According to a Los Angeles press report, homeowners in Fair Oaks, California called the local cannabis club a ―free for all.‖ Conflicts among customers, sometimes 300 per day, had to be resolved by security guards. It was apparent that not all of the customers were legitimate patients. Even Dr. Charles Moser, a local physician who voted for Prop 215, said that he ―… saw people coming up on bikes and skateboards, with backpacks, healthy-looking young men.61
    In addition to problems with the cannabis clubs themselves, California residents are also complaining about marijuana grows that supply the clubs. In Willits, California, residents and officials pointed out numerous problems, including the side-effects of resin from a cannabis growing operation that affected residents‘ health. Additionally, residents complained about the influx of homeless people looking for work at marijuana harvest time. ―Since this medical marijuana thing our town has gone to hell,‖ said Jolene Carrillo. ―Every year we have all these creepy people. They sleep behind the Safeway and Rays and go to the bathroom there. They go to Our Daily Bread and eat the food poor people need.‖62
    In the city of Arcata, California, LaVina Collenberg discovered that the nice young gentleman who rented her home on the outskirts of town was using it to grow marijuana after a neighbor called to tell her the house was on fire. In the charred remains she found grow lights, 3-foot-high marijuana plants, seeds germinating in the spa, air vents cut through the roof, and water from the growing operation soaking the carpeting and sub-flooring. Fire Protection District Chief John McFarland says ―that most local structural fires involve marijuana cultivation.‖ ―Law enforcement officials estimate that 1,000 of the 7,500 homes in this Humboldt County community are being used to cultivate marijuana, slashing into the housing stock, spreading building-safety problems and sowing neighborhood discord.‖63
    ―Arcata Mayor Mark Wheetley said that marijuana growing has become a quality-of-life issue in this town of 17,000. People from all camps say enough is enough. It is like this renegade Wild West mentality.‖ Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond is concerned that ―so many houses have been converted into pot farms that the availability of student rentals has been reduced and the community‘s aura of marijuana is turning off some prospective students. My own sense is that people are abusing Proposition 215 to allow them to use marijuana…as recreational drugs.‖64
    Many drug users are taking advantage of the guise of ―compassionate care‖ to obtain and sell marijuana for non-medical use.
    In Great Falls, Montana, school counselors are seeing an increase in the use of marijuana by students. According to Earlene Ostberg, a school Chemical Awareness/Responsive Education Counselor, most of the students that are failing are smoking pot. ―When I ask ‗why,‘ a lot of kids are real defensive. They say ―Mrs. Ostberg, it‘s medicinal. I could get a green (medical marijuana) card.‖65
    ―The owner of six Los Angeles-area medical marijuana dispensaries was arrested by federal agents … after an investigation sparked by a traffic accident in which a motorist high on one of the dispensaries‘ products plowed into a parked SUV, killing the driver and paralyzing a
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    California Highway Patrol Officer.‖ The driver had a large amount of marijuana and marijuana edibles in his pickup truck, purchased from the Holistic Caregivers facility in Compton. The owner, Virgil Grant, had an expired business license to operate an herbal retail store. In another of his dispensaries an employee was observed selling $5,700 worth of marijuana out the back door. Mr. Grant, who had previous convictions on drugs and weapons related-offenses, has been ―charged with drug conspiracy, money laundering, and operating a drug-involved premise within 1,000 feet of a school.‖66
    A Rolling Stone article describes the ―wink and nod‖ given to customers seeking marijuana for non-medical purposes by some dispensaries. ―At the counter, a guy in a USC shirt is talking to the goateed clerk (Daniel’s employees are paid approximately twenty dollars per hour, plus a free gram per day). With all the options, the customer — er, patient — doesn’t know what to buy.‖ ―The muffins look nice,‖ he says. ―They’re about a gram and a half of hash, which is pretty good,‖ says the clerk. Then he points to the goo — superpotent powdery hash mixed with honey. ―This is what you want,‖ he says. ―This will definitely get you medicated.‖67
    A Santa Cruz, California man, Edwin Hoey, was arrested in December, 2006. Deputies found 100 pounds of marijuana at his residence during an investigation. His attorney claimed that his client was providing pot for local medical marijuana dispensaries. However, law enforcement found among his possessions more than $500,000 in cash and a French wine collection valued at $150,000. Investigators found that Mr. Hoey was making a big profit from medical pot, some of which he sold to non-medicinal customers on the East Coast.68
    Two East County (California) teenagers were suspended for showing up at school high, with a medical marijuana card as their excuse.69
    A news article reports the ease with which patients are able to obtain medical marijuana. Primary caregivers are authorized by law to grow, transport and provide marijuana to patients. Caregivers do not need any background in health care to hold this status, and they are not required to register with the state. All it takes is an oral or written agreement between the caregiver and a patient designating you as their primary caregiver.70
    Rolling Stone magazine reported on abuses associated with Proposition 215. ―… business is good for …compassionate caregivers, freedom fighters, botanists in love with the art of growing, Long Beach homeys, Valley Boys, Oakland thugs, and even one savvy gal who wants her girlfriends to sell medical marijuana while wearing pasties. But as in any drug business, a criminal element persists—storage lockers of product, safes of cash, hustlers trying to rob those lockers and safes, guns to protect one from the hustlers, and the constant risk of arrest.‖71
    A news reporter for the Santa Cruz Sentinel interviewed a defense attorney who acknowledged that he turns away clients who admit they have taken advantage of the law to use marijuana for non-medical purposes. ―These people aren’t sick… and are simply trying to hide behind the Compassionate Use Act for recreational or profit-making reasons.” This lawyer estimates that up to 30 percent of those seeking his assistance are involved with marijuana for non-medical uses.72
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    Because of abuses associated with the cannabis clubs, law enforcement and localities have cracked down on these fronts for marijuana dealers.
    In Montana, where voters approved ―medical‖ marijuana in 2004, there has been a recent influx of registered ―medical‖ marijuana cardholders. As of June 2009 there were only 2,923 cardholders; now there are approximately 15,000 cardholders. As a result of this increase, there has been a proliferation of storefront dispensaries, with an increase from 919 to over 5,000. The existing law does not have the proper regulations to manage these businesses and ensure public safety.73
     In Billings, the City Council approved a six-month moratorium on new medical businesses in May 2010 after two evenings of violence against dispensaries. They also ordered the closure of 25 of the 81 dispensaries for not being properly registered with the state.74
     In Kalispell, they recently banned any new ―medical‖ marijuana stores in the city following the bludgeoning death of a patient that authorities believe was related to the theft of ―medical‖ marijuana plants.75
     In April 2010 the principal and counselors from Great Falls High School testified that teenagers are smoking more marijuana than ever before. Principal Dick Kloppel stated that ―I firmly believe it is directly attributable to the increased availability of the drug through caregivers and cardholders.‖76
     Mikie Messman, Chemical Awareness/Responsive Education Coordinator for the school district testified that the students told her that marijuana relieves their stress. Instead of learning how to cope with stress, they are covering it up. ―These kids are using it as medication so they don‘t have to deal with adolescence,‖ Messman said.77
     In response to the information provided by school personnel and others who testified, in June 2010 Great Falls city commissioners voted to ban medical marijuana businesses from the city.78
     A block from the state capitol in Helena, the Cannabis Caregivers Network, set up a cannabis caravan, a makeshift clinic, using a band of doctors and medical marijuana advocates roaming Montana to sign up thousands of patients to become ―medical‖ marijuana cardholders. For $150 patients see a doctor who provides a recommendation that they be allowed to buy and smoke ―medical‖ marijuana. The Montana Medical Board has been working to curtail the practice of such mass screenings. They recently fined a doctor who participated in a similar clinic for seeing 150 patients in 14 and 1/2 hours, or approximately a patient every six minutes. There was no way a thorough examination, a medical history, discussion of alternative treatments and oversight of the patients could have occurred.79
     One caravan recently ran a clinic in a hotel in Helena, where they processed between 200 and 300 people seeking a doctor‘s recommendation. The group then assisted the patient with sending the application and doctor‘s recommendation to the state health department. Afterwards patients were ushered into another room where half a dozen marijuana providers competed for their business.80
    July 2010 16
    According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, in 2007 there were 186 marijuana dispensaries registered with the city. Recognizing that hundreds of dispensaries were proliferating across the city, the City Council imposed a moratorium on new ones until regulations are put in place. However, operators were allowed to appeal for a hardship exemption. The City Council did not grant any exemptions, but dispensaries were allowed to open. The City Council has since eliminated the hardship exemption and is proposing an ordinance that would shut down dispensaries that opened during the moratorium.81 On September 10, 2009, 14 search warrants were served at 14 marijuana dispensaries and six associated residences in San Diego. According to San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis, ―these so-called ‗marijuana dispensaries‘ are nothing more than for-profit storefront drug dealing operations run by drug dealers hiding behind the state‘s medical marijuana law.‖ For profit marijuana dispensaries are not legal according to state law. ―We have not, and will not prosecute people who are legitimately and legally using medical marijuana.‖ Residents living near some of the storefronts complained to law enforcement and local government about the increase in crimes associated with the dispensaries and about their proximity to schools and areas frequented by children.82 On November 13, 2009 the Los Angeles City Attorney‘s Office submitted a new draft medical marijuana ordinance for council to review.83 On November 18, 2009, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley warned the Los Angeles City Council that he intends to prosecute dispensaries that sell drugs even if the city‘s leaders decide to allow those transactions. DA Cooley said that ―state laws do not allow medical marijuana to be sold.‖ Both Cooley and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich agree that recent court decisions clearly state that collectives cannot sell marijuana over the counter, but can be reimbursed for the cost of growing the marijuana.84 Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant agreed that state law does not allow medical marijuana to be sold. ―I don‘t believe that a storefront dispensary that sells marijuana is lawful.‖85 In February 2010, District Attorney Steve Cooley charged Jeff Joseph, operator of a Culver City dispensary with 24 felonies, including selling and transporting marijuana, and money laundering. In addition, the Los Angeles City Attorney‘s office has joined in a civil lawsuit against Joseph and two other dispensaries, charging that they are public nuisances and are operating illegally.86 In January 2010 the Los Angeles City Council adopted a comprehensive medical marijuana ordinance that enforces strict controls on dispensaries, forcing hundreds of shops to close. Although the ordinance sets the limit to 70, the number would be closer to 150 by allowing those registered with the city in 2007 to remain. New requirements include banning consumption at the dispensary and not locating within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, libraries and other dispensaries. 87 In May 2010 the Los Angeles city prosecutors began notifying 439 dispensaries that they had to shut down by June 7, 2010. Property owners and dispensary operators were sent letters informing them that violations could lead to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additional civil penalties could be added. 88 ―In Mendocino County, where plants grow more than 15 feet high, medical marijuana clubs adopt stretches of highway, and the sticky, sweet aroma of cannabis fills this city‘s streets during the autumn harvest,…residents are wondering if the state‘s embrace of marijuana for
    July 2010 17
    medicinal purpose has gone too far….Some residents and law enforcement officials say the California law has increasingly and unintentionally provided legal cover for large-scale marijuana growers – and the problems such big-money operations can attract.‖ On June 3, 2008, the County passed Measure B, which reduced the number of plants allowed to be grown. Numerous initiatives like these throughout the state demonstrate that residents want to see more, not less, regulation of the medical marijuana program.89 In March, 2006, DEA worked with state and local law enforcement to dismantle the largest marijuana-laced candy manufacturing organization in the western United States. The five-month investigation resulted in the arrest of the organization‘s leader and the seizure of more than 4,000 marijuana plants, $100,000 in U.S. currency, three firearms, and hundreds of marijuana-laced food products. The marijuana-laced products, packaged to mimic legitimate food products, included labels such as ―Buddafingers,‖ ―Munchy Way,‖ and ―Pot Tarts.‖ The items were packaged in large boxes for distribution to cannabis clubs throughout the West Coast and over the Internet. Many cities and counties in California have refused to allow cannabis clubs to operate, despite the passage of Proposition 215. One hundred and thirty-two cities and nine counties have banned cannabis clubs outright; 14 counties and 101 cities have moratoria against them; 36 cities and nine counties have ordinances regulating them.90 In San Francisco, things got so out of control that Mayor Gavin Newsom had to close many of the “clinics” because drug addicts were clustering around them, causing fear among city residents.91″

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  7. Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at Drop in and let me know what you think!

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