Friday, January 22, 2010

LA City Council votes to close 800 pot shops

Story here. It's unfortunate that Huffpo is the vehicle, as they're notoriously left-wing and bad at reporting news accurately. The story says pot dispensaries were authorized by Prop 215 passed in California in 1996.
This is what I mean by bad reporting. Nothing in California law authorizes dispensaries. They're strictly an invention of pot ganjapreneurs as a delivery mechanism for pot. One of the reasons our voter initiatives are bad news: we said yes to medical marijuana, but no provision was provided in the voter initiative as to how people get it. Turns out they were supposed to either grow it themselves, or have their caregiver (someone consistently involved in safety, housing, or welfare of the patient) to grow it for them. Caregiver somehow got miraculously extended to include pot shop owner due to the cunning ingenuity of drug dealers, er medical marijuana providers. Thus, dispensaries proliferated.
This has not held up in court, by the way. Courts have consistently ruled that providing pot does not in any way equate to being a real caregiver, but that didn't stop dispensaries from opening and clustering in on city blocks, hawking their drugs, er 'medicine'.
Good for Los Angeles. It's about time.
Here in Santa Barbara, our city council takes up the matter on January 26. They will hopefully extend the moratorium currently in place to its full year length. That will stop new pot shops from opening, of which there is a queue of 8. But that leaves us with 3 licensed pot shops under the old ordinance, with lovely names like The Green Well, and The Green Light (gang parlance for issuing an execution). We also have 4 nonconforming dispensaries, though three of those have been issued 'cease and desist' orders by the City Attorney. We still have a plethora of illegal shops, and though we feel the police ought to be able to shut them down TODAY, these investigations and prosecutions take time and diligence.
California is fighting back. We got conned by the medical marijuana ruse. Other states, take note.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

California Supreme Court strikes down possession limits of medical marijuana

Why this is bad:
The Appeals court had already done this, some months ago, and it was taken by pro-medical marijuana forces as a huge victory.
Back in 2004, the California Senate passed SB420, which had provisions to regulate medical marijuana. It was a good attempt to try to work with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 that legalized medical marijuana in our state. Part of SB420 contained possession limits of 8 oz of dried marijuana and up to 6 mature plants, or 12 immature plants.
For those not familiar with pot and quantities therein, that's a lot of weed. To provide a contrast, in Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal to purchase, the quantity allowed is 5 grams, or 1/5th of an oz.
California, where only medical marijuana is legal, allows 40 times that amount for 'personal use'.
The ruling strikes down the possession amounts, now used widely by law enforcement to determine medical use versus recreational versus straight-out dealing and trafficking. So this puts law enforcement back in the dark as to how to determine who is a valid user and who isn't, unless the person can produce their id card showing themselves to be a legitimate patient, or their doctor's recommendation. This seems odd, no matter how you feel about the drug. Asking people to produce their doctor's recommendation for an illegal drug has a strange feeling to it, one that I doubt the pro-pot or ACLU types will leave alone for long.
What's interesting about the ruling is the notion that 8 oz and 6 plants might not be 'enough' for a patient, so their doctor could recommend more than this amount, and that would be legal.
How is this not a door-opener to legalizing heroin or meth? I mean, if you need pounds of pot to help your pain, shouldn't you be on something that will REALLY kill your pain? Why not get a doctor's recommendation for morphine, meth, or heroin, and really check out? Why not really float away in a haze if your pain is that bad? Why consume pounds of pot, which you inhale mostly, that contains carcinogens and gets you high? Does this sound like compassionate medicine? What doctor in their right mind would recommend this 'treatment'? And if you need pounds of pot to ease your suffering, surely one injection of heroin would do the job faster and be much quicker, with a tiny quantity needed in comparison.
The medical pot thing just doesn't add up, really. Legitimate doctors mostly agree with this notion. The whole thing is really a ruse to get pot fully legal.
In the meantime, these kinds of rulings leave cities and counties in the toilet, so to speak. They try to build regulations for land use based on the provisions in SB420, but at any moment, as just happened, those provisions might be struck down. Why does this happen? In California, voter initiatives, as was the Medical Marijuana Act, cannot be amended by the legislature in a way that limits the act. Expansions are ok, but limitations are not. Since the people who wrote the voter initiative did not put in a limit, then the Supreme Court rules that the legislature violates the constitution of California by limiting a voter initiative. The writers of SB420 were smart enough to put in a provision that says any portion of the act can be stricken, leaving the rest intact (until some court strikes it in a future ruling). The legislature is thus hogtied in its ability to provide us with tools that would help regulate this insane thing we have called medical marijuana.
Other states, take note. We in California do not have a solid history of getting what we think we voted for with these initiatives. Schools were supposed to get all kinds of infusions of cash from the lottery initiative. What happened was that we just gutted the school budget and used the lottery to patch the holes. Be wary of what you're voting for...
As much as we like to hate on our state legislators out here, we can't blame them for this one. The only way to amend a voter initiative and have it to pass another one. So we can't beg the legislature for help...we'll have to pass a voter initiative to regulate medical marijuana ourselves. That's the California Democracy model. Appealing, but with some serious side effects...

And if the marijuana proponents keep pushing this thing on us with the arrogance and righteousness they've so far shown, they can get ready for a blowback initiative because many cities and counties up and down the state have Had Enough.

Strap in and stay tuned...this ride's not over yet!

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