Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Could Get Ugly: Anti-Marijuana Machismo Is Latest California Cop Fad

We got their Zig Zags, too! (Photo: policeone.com)

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

Pot-phobic law enforcement officers in California are trying out an unsettling new tactic. It's the latest iteration of their continued hissy fit about what should have been a settled issue for 13 years now (since Californians voted for Proposition 215, legalizing medical use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation).

Many cops, still pissed off and in deep denial that medical pot is legal in the Golden State, are desperately clinging to the federal prohibition of marijuana for threadbare justification of their irrational hatred of pot and its users.

This particularly unattractive phenomenon of "let's ignore the voters" increasingly involves strutting, macho displays of contempt for the law -- incredibly enough, by the cops themselves.

​​Even as the Long Beach City Council tried to do something constructive by debating the regulation of businesses that provide medical marijuana to patients under the auspices of Prop 215 and SB 420 (the Medical Marijuana Program Act, passed by the Legislature six years ago to clarify and expand the intent of the law), City Prosecutor Tom Reeves wrote an op-ed piece "that essentially amounts to kicking in the door with the guns blazing," according to the Long Beach Post.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: This Could Get Ugly -- Anti-Marijuana Machismo Is Latest California Cop Fad | Digg story

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let Them Grow Pot! CA Supreme Court Lets Collective Marijuana Cultivation Continue

Leave that weed alone, officer! (Photo: dea.gov)

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

Rural sheriff's departments in California may have to find a new pastime to replace bullying medical marijuana growers. In a major victory for pot advocates, the California Supreme Court -- right around harvest time! -- has refused to review a landmark appellate court ruling protecting the right of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to collectively grow weed.

The 2-1 ruling by California's Third Appellate District Court also affirmed patients' ability to take civil action when their right to collectively cultivate marijuana is violated by law enforcement. The case, County of Butte v. Superior Court, involved a private seven-patient medical marijuana collective in Paradise, California (oh! the delicious irony -- props to God or whomever is responsible).

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy group, filed a May 2006 lawsuit on behalf David Williams, 56, and half a dozen other collective members after the Butte County Sheriff's Department conducted a warrantless search of Williams' home in 2005. The officers forced Williams to uproot more than two dozen plants, threatening him with arrest and prosecution if he didn't comply.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: Let Them Grow Pot -- California Supreme Court Lets Collective Marijuana Cultivation Continue | Digg story

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Darkness In San Diego: Attack On Medical Marijuana Moving Northward

San Diego medical marijuana patient Donna Lambert was arrested in Operation Green Rx as part of the "crackdown." (Photo courtesy of Donna Lambert)

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

First, we heard from ambitious, headline-seeking San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis that there are "no such things" as legal medical marijuana dispensaries, despite state law. Now, even as a brutal crackdown on providers and patients is underway in San Diego County, officials from Los Angeles and other counties are being influenced by San Diego's anti-weed brigade to implement their hardline policies further north.

At a Long Beach City Council meeting yesterday, City Prosecutor Tom Reeves was still flushed with anti-ganja fervor as he told the council of attending a summit last week held by L.A. County DA Steve Cooley, where the message was that all dispensaries are illegal and will be prosecuted. What this means, he told the council, is that Long Beach can't or shouldn't try to regulate dispensaries.

​"Over-the-counter sales are illegal," Reeves flatly stated. "So you're not helping us any," Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga repied. "I'm helping you a great deal," Reeves snapped. "I just told you that you can't regulate illegal businesses."

So even as city governments in places like Long Beach honestly try to grapple with the real issues surrounding regulation and recognition of medical marijuana dispensaries -- including possibilities like taxation, on-site inspections and regulations similar to liquor stores or adult businesses -- their "legal experts" and law enforcement officials are giving them monumentally bad advice which seems to be in conflict with state law.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: Darkness In San Diego -- Attack On Medical Marijuana Moves Northward | Digg story

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Results Are In: Medical Marijuana Works

You can't argue with results. image: julianayrs.com

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

​"There's no proof that medical marijuana works. It needs more study. There's only anecdotal evidence. It doesn't treat specific conditions. People just want to get high." Every cannabis advocate and medical marijuana patient has run into these arguments, threadbare as they may be in 2009. Even from professionals who should know better -- such as many medical doctors -- the same tired arguments come up again and again.

As baffling as it may be, just listening to the patients (what a concept!) isn't considered "proof" by the medical establishment, which considers such evidence interesting, but "merely" anecdotal.

But after a groundbreaking round-up of clinical evidence for the efficacy of medical pot, however, such misconceptions are going to be a lot easier to shoot down.

In the landmark article, published in the Journal of Opioid Management, University of Washington researcher Sunil Aggarwal and colleagues document no fewer than 33 controlled clinical trials -- published over a 38-year period from 1971 to 2009 -- confirming that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for specific medical conditions.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: The Results Are In -- Medical Marijuana Works | Digg story

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marijuana Arrests Drop For First Time Since 2002

Drug War protester at Huntington Beach, Calif.
Photo: The November Coalition

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

​Marijuana arrests in the United States declined in 2008 -- the first such drop since 2002 -- according to figures released by the FBI today.

According to the just-released Uniform Crime Reports, U.S. law enforcement made 847,863 arrests on marijuana charges, 89 percent of which were for simple possession, not sale or manufacture. More Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined. During 2008, one American was arrested for marijuana every 37 seconds.

Marijuana arrests reached an all-time high at more than 872,000 in 2007. More than 12 million American citizens have been arrested on marijuana charges since 1965.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: Marijuana Arrests Drop For First Time Since 2002 | Digg story

Sunday, September 13, 2009

'Emperor of Hemp' Jack Herer Fighting For His Life After Heart Attack At Hempstalk

Jack Herer Photo courtesy americancannabis.org

Noted activist and author Jack Herer, "The Emperor of Hemp," is fighting for his life after giving an impassioned speech at the Portland (OR) HempStalk festival Saturday, Sept 12. Herer left the stage and collapsed with an apparently serious heart attack, according to fellow activist Chris Conrad, who was on the scene.

"He was taken from the site by ambulance and hospitalized and was undergoing a procedure and his condition was most recently reported to be stable," Conrad said. "His wife, Jeannie, was not with him at the time and has been in touch with the hospital by telephone." According to Contrad, the rest of the Hempstalk festival continued as scheduled.

"Ironically, I was on stage talking about my work with Jack and his special affection for Oregon and its activists while, unbeknownst to me, medical personnel were working backstage to save his life," Conrad said.

Salem-News.com reports that Jack was in critical condition when he was admitted to the hospital with his son at his side. Soon after that, they were told that he was the victim of a heart attack, a result of arterial blockage.

In July 2000, Herer suffered a minor heart attack and a major stroke, resulting in difficulties speaking and moving the right side of his body. He mostly recovered, and said in May 2004 that treatment with the psychoactive mushroom amanita muscaria was the secret.

Jack Herer
Photo: forum.sensiseeds.com

When Herer's seminal work The Emperor Wears No Clothes (which Jack generously made available in its entirety online) was published in 1985, the book reframed the debate about cannabis/hemp in the U.S. and worldwide. (You can buy a paper copy here.)

A former Goldwater Republican, Herer became a pro-marijuana and hemp activist. In addition to the aforementioned The Emperor Wears No Clothes, he wrote another book (in a collaboration with Al Emmanuel), G.R.A.S.S.: Great Revolutionary American Standard System, which proposed a 1-10 rating system for pot potency and quality of high. I bought this one at a headshop in Florence, Ala., back when I was about 20 and had no idea who Jack Herer was... I was just intrigued by the concept. Of course, when Jack got famous a few years later with Emperor, I knew his name sounded familiar.

The Emperor of Hemp a documentary film about his life, was released in 1999.

Herer says that the hemp plant should be legalized because it has been shown to be a renewable source of fuel, food, and medicine, and can be grown in virtually any part of the world. He further avers that the U.S. government deliberately hides the proof of hemp's usefulness, in collusion with certain chemical and paper financial interests.

Jack Herer buds Photo: jazminmillion

In a fitting tribute to this great man of ganja, Herer has a potent strain of marijuana named after him. The Jack Herer strain is a cross between Skunk #1, Northern Lights #5 and Haze. It was named this way in honor of Jack Herer by Ben Dronkers, founder of the Sensi Seed Bank. It has sativa dominant characteristics, flowering time up to 75 days. It is a very popular strain, winning the High Times Cannabis Cup several years running.

JackHerer.com: Jack's Home On The Web

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taking The High Road: Attorneys Say DUI Laws Shouldn't Apply To Pot

Hey, watch where you're going!
(Image courtesy of Students for Sensible Drug Policy)

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

Remember the first few times you drove high? You knew you were stoned, you knew it might be dangerous to operate a motor vehicle, and you drove like a little old lady.

This tendency of stoners to overcompensate for their impairment is one reason that marijuana-related car crashes aren't in the headlines every day. With estimates of current marijuana users in the United States varying between 20 and 40 million, you can bet that if weed really caused wrecks, it'd be a national tragedy on the level of drunk driving.

But you don't see those headlines, and you probably don't have anecdotes about "that time I was so high I couldn't even remember how my car got in the ditch." Seems all those stories have alcohol as a component instead. (That certainly goes for me, with 32 years of accident-free driving on pot. And, yes: There were a few alcohol-related crashes in my teens.)

Now, I'm not recommending you take a few bong rips and then hit the freeway. In fact, it'd probably be best for everyone if you'd stay your stoned ass home on the couch. There's a reason God invented pizza delivery.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch": Chronic City: Taking The High Road -- Attorneys Say DUI Laws Shouldn't Apply To Pot | Digg story

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Expensive Farce Of Marijuana 'Eradication' In California

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

Every year since 1983, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) has engaged in a quixotic quest to "eradicate marijuana" in California. And every single year -- all 26 of them -- it has failed miserably as marijuana became more and more available.

The waste, arrogance and abuse associated with the program -- which has unfortunately become the largest law enforcement task force in the United States, with more than 100 agencies participating -- have become legendary. Ordinary families have been terrorized by paramilitary units, peaceful homeowners have been buzzed by low-flying helicopters, and community relations between citizens and law enforcement have suffered almost everywhere CAMP has laid its heavy hand.

Of course all this is done at taxpayer expense, to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars. Good thing the state treasury's in good shape, flush with all that extra cash. Oh, wait...

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch":
Chronic City: The Expensive Farce Of Marijuana 'Eradication' In California | Digg story

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here's Progress: S.F. Firefighters Rescue Marijuana Grow-Op

By Steve Elliott in Chronic City

​Sometimes the biggest signs of epochal change in society are those that are casually mentioned, five paragraphs down in a story. Such was the case with Sunday's four-alarm warehouse fire in Bayview, where fire crews remained yesterday monitoring for flare-ups.

"Marijuana was found growing in one of the buildings," CBS 5 reported, "but police Sergeant Wilfred Williams said this morning that the narcotics unit investigation found that the marijuana is being grown legally, 'for medicinal purposes'."

Now, of course, that's a completely normal sentiment to youthful San Franciscans. But for a child of the 1960s, it is nonetheless a big, happy deal. Youngsters, I lived in a time when such an incident could could not have ended happily for the growers, who would have likely faced prison terms.

Read the rest at Chronic City in the SF Weekly blog, "The Snitch":
Chronic City: Here's Progress -- S.F. Firefighters Rescue Marijuana Grow-Op | Digg story

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Medical Marijuana Activist Darren McCrea Fights The Power In Spokane

After a raid last year, (covered here on Reality Catcher), medical marijuana advocate/caregiver Darren McCrea's legal troubles continue in Spokane, where the local police clearly aren't cutting him any slack at all in a program of harassment that has lasted for years.

On Monday McCrea, 41, pleaded not guilty to seven marijuana-related felonies in Spokane Superior Court, according to KXLY.com. Police raided his home 14 months ago after months of investigation triggered, cops say, by a tip that McCrea was "selling to anyone with a medical permit," according to a probable cause affidavit, Spokesman.com reports.

With a doctor's medical marijuana recommendation, it's legal in the state of Washington to possess up to 24 ounces (1.5 pounds) of marijuana and up to 15 plants. The five people to whom McCrea is accused of selling all have Washington medical marijuana cards. At issue in the case is how the law defines caretakers permitted to provide medical marijuana to patients.

“It’s created a great deal of confusion and more questions than answers,” Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso told the newspaper. “Unfortunately, I think we’re going to have to sort through the confusion and questions with prosecution.” Hmm... sounds a lot like a "Bust 'em all and let God sort 'em out" approach. Way to reach out to the community, prosecutor!

Prosecutors maintain it's illegal to sell marijuana to multiple customers and that's why McCrea, a prominent and vocal medical marijuana advocate, could now face prison time. SpoCannabis is a non profit organization dedicated to helping medical marijuana patients safely obtain their medicine, according to McCrea.

In 1998 Washington passed a law allowing people with "terminal or debilitating illnesses" to possess and grow marijuana. Former logger Steven Delgado has battled three different types of cancers and legally uses marijuana to treat his nausea and increase his appetite.

"I'm a big guy, I need to keep the weight on and it's helped me significantly to do that one simple thing. I don't understand all the fuss, medicine is medicine," Delgado told KXLY.

If Delgado was too ill or otherwise unable to buy or grow his own marijuana state law also allows a caregiver, like Darren McCrea, to find it for him.

However when Spokane police started watching McCrea they say they saw him selling to multiple patients instead of just one.

"The way the statute was written is vague, it says that you can only supply to one person at a time but it doesn't define what that is," McCrea's attorney David Miller said.

Spokane police say McCrea was selling to so many medical marijuana patients that they found $32,000 in cash and five pounds of pot in his home. However McCrea supporters insists he's more interested in ending pain and suffering than turning a profit.

Friends and SpoCannabis volunteers attended McCrea’s arraignment Monday to show support for a man they described as a hero. “Darren provides support and education for people like me,” said cancer patient Delgado. “I almost feel like I’m on trial. It upsets me that Darren's in the situation that he's in when he just wants to help people and I believe in what Darren does," Delgado said.

Members of Spocannabis and other supporters of safe access for patients say without caregivers like McCrea seriously ill patients will have to buy their marijuana off the streets. "It will force medical marijuana patients to seek to get their medical marijuana from unscrupulous sources," attorney David Miller said. "Is that that going to benefit Spokane? Is that something we need to have happen?"