Sunday, January 31, 2010
Joyce Beers Community Center
3900 Vermont Street San Diego, CA 92103
On Tuesday February 2, 2010 the Uptown Community Planning Committee (CPC) will discuss the request by the city council of the planning group to review and comment on the medical marijuana task force recommendations. The Uptown CPC will vote on recommending that the City Council adopt an ordinance which will allow medical marijuana collectives to apply through a process 3 Conditional Use Permit. Please come out and support the Uptown CPC as they will discuss regulating safe access to medical marijuana in San Diego.
Uptown CPC Medical Marijuana Agenda Item:
MEDICAL MARIJUANA TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS – Request by the City Council of the City of San Diego for its Community Planning Groups to make review and comment on the issue: Motion by Wilson; second by Lamb:
1. To implement the intent of the voters in enacting Proposition 215, the City of San Diego should establish a conditional use permit (CUP), process by which medical marijuana dispensaries may operate. Applications for such a CUP will be reviewed under a Process Three procedure – the initial decision would be make by a hearing officer; whose decision is appealable to the Planning Commission;
2. In drafting the enabling ordinance for the CUP process, it is recommended the City of San Diego review and consider incorporating applicable provisions from the draft ordinance prepared by Jeffrey A. Lake, Esq., and put forward by Southern California NORML: subject to revision to incorporate the City Council’s Medical Marijuana Task Force recommendations;
3. The CUP permitting process should require all medical marijuana dispensary applications to contain the governing document for each collaborative or cooperative; which should:
(1.) Identify the individual organizers and principal operators of the collaborative or cooperative;
(2.) Specifically identify how the collaborative or cooperative will be governed and operated, and what will be its administrative structure;
4. The CUP permitting process should also require a verifiable accounting and bookkeeping procedure be instituted at each medical marijuana dispensary, in accordance with standard accounting procedures. All dispensaries should be subject to annual audit; obtain business licenses; and pay taxes and all applicable fees.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By: Terrie Best
Further to San Diego Americans for Safe Access (SDASA) ongoing efforts to reach out to County Alcohol and Drug Services in its oversight of HARM, the County contracted organization that year after year lobbies against safe access in San Diego, members of SDASA attended the Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board (ADAB) meeting to speak during public comment.
ADAB was formed to “insure citizen professional involvement in all stages of the planning process leading to the formulation and adoption of the State-mandated County Alcohol and Drugs Services Plan.” How this works is ADAB advises the county on community needs so the county can formulate its prevention plan; the country creates the plan as well as proposals and guidelines to carry it out, then organizations such as HARM bid on those proposals.
ADAB’s members are appointed by the County Board of Supervisors and made up of fifteen (15) voting members, five ex officio members with each Supervisor nominating three members.
SDASA knows that ADAB is the place to start when attempting to affect change to San Diego’s seriously outdated Alcohol and Drug Prevention Plan.
Months ago, SDASA endeavored to address why medical marijuana collectives are being targeted by HARM under their county contract. So, in this effort, we felt, as a part of the communities ADAB represents, we should have a voice in advising the county how they formulate their plan as it pertains to medical marijuana, legal since 1996.
SDASA and Medical Marijuana Task Force (MMTF) member Larry Sweet agreed to speak to ADAB to that end. Larry is a retired therapist and social worker, who cares a great deal about the future of compassionate use. He took SDASA’s first step in reaching out to these board members by voicing with eloquence and heart his position on safe access, safe neighborhoods and the necessity of regulations to achieve both. Larry began his five minutes of comment by telling of his history as a county servant in the Child Protection Office, his years as a Licensed Social Worker working with children and his own personal experience with the benefits of medical cannabis to replace the dangerous and addictive drugs he had been using to treat his medical conditions. The ADAB group was gracious enough to let Larry speak beyond the five minutes and as Larry wound down, he offered to come back and show his PowerPoint presentation on medical marijuana.
After Larry spoke, Richard McGaffigan, the Chair of the Board and one of District Five’s appointees commented that ADAB did not have much authority on this issue. While SDASA knows the board can not single-handedly change the tide of opposition, Larry explained we were there to open a dialogue for discouraging ADAB from giving the county a green light to fund lobbying efforts for a ban on collectives.
ADAB member Jenifer Mendel, an appointee of District 2, argued that currently the collectives serve children and are supplied by the cartels. While, SDASA knows this is misguided, Larry was able to answer this concern by the stating that MMTF regulations would put an end to any of these practices. Since we were there to find common ground, I did not admonish Ms. Mendel that Mexican cartel marijuana is not medicinal quality marijuana and would likely never be found in any collective. I did, however address the issue of sales to children by affirming that not one collective member has ever been prosecuted for selling to children.
Susan Bower, the County’s Alcohol and Drug Program’s Deputy Director, spoke out that the county does not fund HARM in their eradication endeavors She asserted that the county funds HARM receives are to be used to “reduce the glamorization and normalization of marijuana to children.”
However, I have been watching the county’s BUYNET system, which is the Online site where the county posts their requests for proposal’s (RFP’s). Recently they posted their newest RFP under the Prevention Plan and that RFP clearly states that HARM contractors are to: “utilize appropriate evidence-based strategies to address marijuana outlet density and the proximity of such establishments to areas frequented by youth.”
SDASA has three issues with this RFP. First, the county should not be offering proposals specific to medical marijuana collectives. Second, this scope is well beyond what HARM has endeavored in San Diego in the past. And, third, we have seen no evidence based strategies utilized in any of the presentations HARM sets forth.
SDASA continually monitors HARM’s efforts and we have seen only their anecdotal testimony of how medical marijuana collectives operate. Further, since the collective density issue will be handled by the regulations the Medical Marijuana Task Force hands down, it has been counterproductive to HARM’s proposal guidelines to undermine the work of the task force, something they have done in the past at MMTF meetings and City Council meetings.
Additionally, minutes from previous ADAB meetings as well as HARMs reports to another group, the County Alcohol and Drug Providers clearly show HARM’s activities involve supporting an outright ban on collectives, and minimizing safe access in San Diego. While it remains to be seen how much of these efforts are carried out with county money, the question I have repeatedly asked Ms. Bower is how will the county ensure that HARM does not use county funds if they choose to overstep these guidelines in the future.
Susan Bower is responsible for all of the action county contractors take to carry out the county’s Prevention Plan using county money and at the ADAB meeting she agreed that strong oversight is needed to ensure HARM does not co-mingle county funds with any outside funds they receive to carry out their efforts to ban safe access.
Since SDASA began this campaign requesting oversight, HARM members have been decidedly absent from all of the latest City Council and Medical Marijuana Task Force meetings which they normally attend to speak in favor of the ban. We are cautiously optimistic Ms. Bower has made it clear to HARM that County Alcohol and Drug Prevention funds are not to be used to attempt to circumvent state law. We appreciate Ms. Bower’s time and attention to this.
Lastly, there are a number of open seats on the ADAB, and happily Larry Sweet has applied for a seat in his district. SDASA appreciates Larry’s on-going service to the safe access community and wishes him luck in his application.
Monday, January 25, 2010
By: Eugene Davidovich
January 26, 2010 - Department 12
San Diego Superior Court
220 W. Broadway San Diego, CA 92101
As part of the ongoing war against medical marijuana in San Diego waged by the District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Nathan Archer was arrested in 2006 and charged with cultivation of 98 plants and 1.7 pounds of dried cannabis.
Nathan who suffers from chronic pain as a result of a past injury, was cultivating the medicine for himself as well as four other patients.
In Nathan Archer’s case, Superior Court Judge Kerry Wells used SB420 numerical plant limits to instruct juries on both the cultivation charge, and possession. As a result Nathan Archer was convicted on all 4 counts.
In a later decision by the 4th Distirct Court of Appeal, a part of the ruling was reversed that had to do with the plant limits, as the court found that the limits were unconstitutional and that the state constitution does not allow the legislature to amend voter initiatives, unless the initiative itself expressly allows it.
Archer's cultivation conviction stands, and Mr. Archer is being forced to register as a Drug Offender. He has refused to register as such and as a result is threatened with having his bail revoked. On December 15th of 2009, Judge Szumovski allowed Nathan to hold off on registering as a drug offender while part of his case is on appeal, on January 26, Nathan goes back in front of Judge Szumowski.
He is ordered to appear in San Diego Superior Court on December 15th at 9am in Department 12 for a Bail Revocation Hearing.
Below is an article from the union tribune, detailing Mr. Archer’s case and historic 4th District Appellate Court Decision:
More from the medical marijuana front
By Greg Moran
Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 6:44 p.m.
In 2006, San Diego police found 98 marijuana plants and 1.7 pounds of dried herb in Nathaniel Archer's home. Archer was a medical marijuana patient (chronic pain from a construction accident)who said he was growing for himself as well as four others. Didn't go over with a jury, which convicted him of both counts. But on Tuesday the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego reversed part of that verdict in a ruling that Archer's lawyer said could have broad application for how medical marijuana cases in the future.
Some background, first. Voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing medical uses for pot. in 2003, the legislature passed something called the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA), which among other things set out numerical limits on how much pot one could legally possess, for medicinal purposes only, as they say. The limits were 12 immature plants, six mature plants, and eight ounces of gage. In Archer's trial Superior Court Judge Kerry Wells used those numerical limits to instruct juries on both the cultivation charge, and possession.
But in the decision penned by Justice Patricia Benke, that's a no-no. Why? Well, the state constitution does not allow the legislature to amend voter initiatives, unless the initiative itself expressly allows it. Prop 215 (not surprisingly) did not open that door for legislators. What's interesting is that the Attorney General, handling the appeal, conceded that the numerical limits of the MMPA are unconstitutional.
That might not be as big a thing as it sounds. The state Supreme Court has a case in front if it dealing with the same issue, and most expect the court to come to the same conclusion. So maybe the 4th is a bit ahead of the curve here.
But Russell Babcock, the attorney for Archer, said the decision also means that the determination of how much marijuana is enough (for medicinal purposes only) will now be largely left up to jurors. That's because Benke said with the numerical limits portion of the law inapplicable, the only guideline comes from another section which said the amount of marijuana that could be possessed was whatever was enough for the "personal medical use" of the patient. Courts have interpreted that to mean whatever is "reasonably related" to the patent's medical needs. Archer went through about a half-pound of marijuana per month (!!!!), according to testimony at the trial. But there was no evidence that he used that for anything other than his personal medical needs, and whether or not that amount is reasonable is a question of fact that juries should decide.
"This has real ramifications," Babcock said. "It becomes a case by case basis for juries of reasonableness."
Archer's cultivation conviction stands, because he failed to qualify as a caregiver under the new standards the state Supreme Court articulated in the Mentch case last year. (Two medical marijuana patients testified at trial that Archer was their caregiver, and he said he was growing for two others who he didn't identify). But the possession conviction is gone. And it also means that prosecutions based simply on the number of plants are probably a thing of the past, at least according to Babcock.
The prosecutor in my case is Ms. Theresa Pham, a local Deputy District Attorney that seems to be reporting to and getting her marching orders directly from Bonnie Dumanis in this case. In fact several other Deputy DA's are working for her on this case, including Romil Tohidi and a number graduate law clerks that have now been retained by th prosecution to help convict me.
A few weeks ago, at one of the many hearings I have been forced to attend in my case, a Judge determined that one of the four counts (transportation) against me was not valid as there wasn't enough evidence to charge me with it, and dismissed it. This left me with 3 felony charges for which I was to be tried starting on January 21, 2010.
The prosecution however, had something different in mind. The week before my trial, my attorney Michael McCabe and I were called in to court for a "People's Motion for Discovery". Pham was claiming that I was in violation of her request for discovery and needed to be ordered by a judge to produce more information. This was after both I and my attorney spent hours getting together and providing all information to Ms. Pham that she was entitled to.
The hearing took almost half the day and culminated in Pham’s embarrassment in front of the Superior Court Judge So, when he told her "You are asking for what is beyond the power of the court". Ms. Pham’s response to this was priceless. She said, “But, but, but your Honor”.
The judge ultimately refused to order me to provide ALL medical records related to my hospital / doctors visits from birth to the prosecution.
Talk about an attempt at invasion of privacy and patients rights; while Pham was making her arguments, it became very clear that the DA has now taken on the role of physician and is attempting to determine themselves if a patient is qualified to use cannabis.
To make things even worse, the day we walked in to court to defend against supposedly being in violation of Pham's request for discovery, Pham brought in a new 4th charge; possession of Concentrated Cannabis.
In February of 2009, when I was arrested, the NTF officer (Conrado Decastro) seized a number of items that belonged to me. The items related to medical cannabis included ~34g of cannabis and 14g of Concentrated Cannabis (Pressed Kief).
Originally I was only charged with possession with intent to distribute of the 34 grams of dried cannabis flowers. Now however, Pham has decided to add the 14g of pressed kief as a separate charge.
As a result of this new charge, my attorney and I were forced to leave the discovery hearing in front of Judge So, and go down to Department 11 where I was arraigned on the new charge. I entered a plea of NOT GUILTY, and we requested a 995 hearing for an opportunity to get this charge looked at by a judge, and possibly dismissed.
After entering a plea of Not Guilty, we went back to Department 55 to continue the People's Request for Discovery, where Judge So ended up refusing and denying all the requests from the prosecution with the exception of one, having to produce the entire un-redacted version of the member patients list form the collective.
On February 3rd, I am due back in front of Judge So, to see if we are going to be ordered by the court to produce the one entire un-redacted version of the collectives patient member list. The hearing is set for 2/3/2010 at 8:30 in Department 55.
Today (January 25, 2010) my attorney will file with the court a motion requesting the 995 hearing to have a Judge look at the new charge. The date for this hearing will be set for sometime in February.
It seems that the District Attorney’s office has stepped up their efforts to invalidate Proposition 215, now their efforts include attempt to get away with illegal requests in front of Judges as well as the continued prosecution of legitimate patients.
Please come to court and see for yourself what the prosecution is doing to our community!
STOP OPERATION GREEN RX, RESPECT STATE LAW!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
By MMTF Member Larry Sweet
Chief Solis and Captain McDonald attended and were the sole action item for the MMTF today. While both insisted that they followed the AG Guidelines, their interpretations were rather rigid. They objected to:
1. Anyone with a recommendation can join a collective making MMJ too available to non MMJ interests
2. Not enough clear documentation proving non-profit. Not enough documentation.
They did say they would return a set of bullet points listing the things they would look for to establish that a coop is non-profit. In return they were offered a power point presentation regarding the issue of MMJ, presented by myself, to any SDPD group that would like to learn the perspective.
The police said that cooperatives were the only legal entity. I pointed out that 501c coops were federal and not appropriate and Mark Blumel pointed out that the State was no longer licensing coops which meant in their eyes, nothing was legal. We discussed the Floracare case decision which found Floracare to be a legal entity though they were not a coop, but they were a collective operating cooperatively. The police said that might be considered legal.
Various members of the task force reinforced the statements made in earlier meetings that more rigid regulation would invite cartel MJ, something that the MMJ community abhors. I made it clear, as well as others, that we wanted to work with SDPD to make MMJ safe for neighborhoods and protect our youth.
Overall the Chief and Captain agreed that once the City Council passed the ordinances that they would follow them to the letter, regardless of their position now.
Exemption from arrest and prosecution upheld for state-issued ID cardholders
San Francisco, CA -- The California Supreme Court issued a unanimous published decision today in People v. Kelly, striking down what it considered unconstitutional legislative limits on how much medical marijuana patients can possess and cultivate. Today's decision also affirms protection from arrest and prosecution for patients who both possess a state-issued identification card and comply with state or local personal use guidelines.
"The California Supreme Court did the right thing by abolishing limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "At the same time, the Court may have left too much discretion to law enforcement in deciding what are reasonable amounts of medicine for patients to possess and cultivate."
Although the court affirmed that qualified patients and their primary caregivers retain "all the rights afforded by the CUA [Compassionate Use Act of 1996]," law enforcement can still arrest and prosecute if probable cause exists. In keeping with the CUA, qualified patients and their primary caregivers will still have an affirmative defense in court. Advocates remain concerned that without guidance on personal use amounts, police may abuse their discretion to arrest patients who are in compliance with the law.
The defendant, Patrick Kelly, is a qualified medical marijuana patient treating a number of conditions, including hepatitis C, chronic back pain, and cirrhosis. Kelly was arrested in October of 2005 for possessing 12 ounces and cultivating 7 plants at his home in Lakewood, California. Kelly was convicted a year later by a jury, which concluded that he had exceeded the state-imposed "limits" of 8 ounces of dried medical marijuana and six mature plants. California's Second Appellate District Court overturned Kelly's conviction on the grounds that legislatively-imposed limits on possession and cultivation of medical marijuana are an unconstitutional restriction to a voter approved initiative (Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996).
Both parties in the case, Kelly and the State Attorney General, agreed that medical marijuana limits should be abolished as unconstitutional. Both parties also opposed the appellate court's invalidation of the entire statute, Health & Safety Code Section 11362.77, which protects ID cardholders from arrest and prosecution if they are in compliance with local or state guidelines.
California Supreme Court decision: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Kelly_Ruling.pdf
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tiffani Kjeldergaard a legitimate medical cannabis patient in January of 2009 was sentenced to probation on a non drug related offense. She continued to use her legal medication and tested positive for THC on drug tests conducted by the probation department until June of 2009, when the probation department decided to stop by her house for a safety check.
As with any medical cannabis patient, they found medical cannabis. Tiffani had some dried cannabis, 7 immature plants, several bongs, pipes, and medical cannabis magazines which the police totaled at $12,000, and at that time sent out a press release announcing a great bust.
The policed seized all the property and took Tiffani to jail on charges of violating her probation.
Although under pressure by the District Attorney and her Public Defender to agree to a plea deal where she would be sentenced to three years in jail, Tiffany did not waiver. She refused to bargain with the DA and fired her public defender that was encouraging her to stay in jail and take a deal.
She maintained to the prosecution and her public defender that it is in fact legal. She conducted her own research at the jail law library, hired a private attorney, presented to him the appropriate cases to cite, and after a court hearing where the evidence was presented, was released from jail. Not only did the judge release her from jail, but he also changed the terms of Tiffani’s probation to allow her to use medical cannabis and ordered her bongs, pipes and marijuana magazines to be returned.
Shortly after her release and change of probation conditions, Tiffani arrived to her probation officers office to present her doctor’s recommendation, only to learn that the probation department thought the recommendation was no good without a San Diego County Medical Marijuana Card to go along with it. She was told that everyone who is on probation and is a medical marijuana patient is now required to also obtain a county card.
Wanting to both be compliant with the system, and to continue to assert her rights as a patient, Tiffani got her county card, brought it back to her probation officer and received the green light to be able to medicate.
On January 19, 2010, Tiffani finally received her bongs, pipes, as well as some medical marijuana literature seized in the raid. After receiving her property back from her probation officer, Tiffany said “This is a huge win for us”.
Her public defender is currently filing a motion for the return of her medicine and plants.
Last month, San Diego Americans for Safe Access caught up with Tiffani to discuss the details of her situation, the interview with Tiffani can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHTFH7yFyDM
Pictures from January 19th, 2010 inside probation department of San Diego Superior Court (El Cajon)
as Tiffani gets some of her belongings back.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
September 9, 2009 - Operation Green Rx victim Sebastian Maselli receives order for Return of Property!
Sebastian Maselli was a founding member of Healing Dragon Collective which was raided on September 9, 2009 part of Bonnie Dumanis’ effort to eradicate safe access to medical marijuana in San Diego County. He was arrested, property seized, and life dismantled.
Four months after the raid, and with no charges filed against him, Sebastian decided to begin the fight to get his property back. Sebastian researched the ASA National website where he found a return of property motion, after a little encouragement and help from friends and family, Sebastian completed it and submitted it to the court.
San Diego ASA caught up with Sebastian to discuss what happened on 9/9/9 as well as other issues related to the raids in September.
Tonight Sebastian wrote San Diego ASA: “I am happy to report that my motion was granted by the judge! I have a piece of paper stating: "All property belonging to "defendant" to be returned by 02/08/10”
Friday, January 15, 2010
Join us for the San Diego North County Americans for Safe Access Meeting at Movement in Action in Vista at 7pm!!
1050 S. Santa Fe
Vista ca 92084
7-9pm tonight January 15, 2010
Because San Diego Medical Marijuana Community / Safe Access is under attack by the fierce fight of Bonnie Dumanis!
Come out, Get Involved, Make a difference!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By: Rocky Neptun
A seemingly dysfunctional San Diego City Council voted 7 to 1 on January 5, to stall many more months deciding the mere basics of regulating medical marijuana dispensaries by rejecting the modest recommendations of its own task force.
The transparency of its motives in setting up the task force rather than having staff prepare ordinances, shows its smoke and mirrors approach to the issue - pretend to do something, while an organizing effort of the usual NIMBY suspects gets under way. Someone named Grandma posted a right-on explanation, “Fork tongued politicians,” she wrote, “I may be old but I know bait and switch.” While Fred Williams pointed out, “This is not leadership…its cowardice.”
With five of the councilpersons seeking re-election or election to another office and the two brain-dead tokens of identity politics blabbering along, (at least Councilman Carl DeMaio is honest in his usual right-wing, knee-jerk opposition) the Council showed that it seems too scared to help the many citizens who are in pain and need a safe, legal place to obtain medical marijuana which was approved by California voters through Proposition215.
The vote, which sent the plain and simple recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Task Force, to the Council's Land Use and Housing Committee, is a ploy to allow organized resistance to the use of medical marijuana to focus on preventing the logistics of providing it for those in need by using zoning ordinances and building codes as weapons, like those used against youth arcades and adult entertainment. Tellingly, included in that vote was a requirement that local Planning Groups weigh in on the discussion; which is kind of like asking the Catholic Diocese where the abortion clinics should be located and the details of the permit ok process. The city’s half-dozen planning groups, for the most part, are made up of property owners and businesspersons wedded to land values, NIMBY’s all. (The City Heights Area Planning Committee where I was elected in 2001 was run by real estate interests.)
Now, a deceitful City Council and its big lie about wanting to really develop a comprehensive policy on medical marijuana use could laughingly be passed on as politics as usual if it were not for the fact that many innocent San Diegans are being persecuted and prosecuted by an ambitious, despotic District Attorney.
Bonnie Dumanis; Republican Party ideologue, personal tyrant, part crook (see my book, San Diego: 1st City of Empire) has stepped in where a fearful City Council has failed to act and has been busting legal, legitimate users and dispensers of medical marijuana. Using her prosecutional power to implement public policy in an attempt to appear tough on crime, she steps over the ruined lives, broken families and lost jobs of ill people who tried to follow the law as best they know how. Like a local version of former despot J.Edgar Hoover, without the secret dress, Dumanis seems to bully the Council by creating an illusion of crime around medical marijuana by selective prosecution and outright lies about the defendants, thus creating a trap for any politician who supports upholding California law allowing personal medical use of cannabis.
Buried in January 5th’s cowardly Council action was a quiet removal of any language calling for an ordinance to be drafted regulating the dispensaries. The hard-working 11-member Task Force on Medical Marijuana, established by the Council in September, and co-chaired by my friend and former Council candidate Stephen Whitburn, labored to bring before the Council a set of common sense recommendations on basic regulations such as dispensaries had to be more than 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, libraries, areas where children frequent and barred from being within 500 feet of one another. Also, the storefronts would have had to hire security and obtain appropriate land-use permits as well as limit the hours they are open and operate as non-profits. These fairly small recommendations from the Task Force were a natural process of the thinking of its members, mostly business persons, clergy, former police officers and professionals, rather than actual providers or patients.
However, one member of the task force, Mark Robert Bluemel, a San Diego attorney saw the matter clearly. He said the District Attorney’s misinterpretation of state law “has cruelly criminalized innocent medical marijuana users who not only suffer maladies but now face arrest, detention and federal charges.”
In early summer, the San Diego Renters Union proposed to the City Council that it find some statesmanship on this issue by setting up a permanent San Diego Medical Marijuana Regulatory Board, which would oversee the operation of the dispensaries including the cost, quality, personnel and non-profitability of the coops and cooperatives. The Renters Union suggested that if the providing process was taken out of individual hands and become a volunteer effort on the part of the organized group of patients, overseen by the city, then the District Attorney could not attack them on an individual basis as she has in the past.
While Councilwoman Fry supports the use of marijuana for medical purposes, her timidity reflects an interest in running for the County Board of Supervisors. “The goal here is to put in some guidelines that actually make sense and people can understand what the rules are,” she said “the guidelines put forward by the state are not clear.” Yet, even she did not support the humble suggestions of the task force.
However, the average citizens in San Diego are beginning to have their say on the matter. In a clear rebuke to the D.A. a jury last week found Jovan Christian Jackson, 31, not guilty of five charges of possessing and selling marijuana illegally from a medical marijuana dispensary in Kearney Mesa called Answerdam Alternative Care.
Jackson’s attorney, Lance Rogers, successfully showed the jury that the collective operated legally and professionally. He said members of the collective were asked to show a valid doctor’s recommendation before obtaining any marijuana and sign an agreement that they abide by the collective’s rules.
A San Diego police detective testified that he lied to a doctor, used a false ID and fraudulently signed a contract/agreement with the collective to make two buys in June and July 2008. Now, trying to find out who set up this ridiculous entrapment has been difficult. Steve Walter, the assistant chief of the narcotics office in the D.A.’s office agreed to talk to me and then backed out (could it be because Bonnie Dumanis has appeared on my annual list of San Diego piss-ants 4 years in a row?). Captain Miguel Rosario of the SDPD’s vice squad originally agreed to an interview about the marijuana busts but when I e-mailed him a list of questions about the D.A.’s involvement, he quickly canceled.
Dumais and the San Diego Front of the Cultural War
San Diego’s District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis struts onto the stage, her swagger, her measured pace, her menacing stare in front of the cameras reminds me of the persona John Wayne created on his way to becoming an American icon. I once overheard him tell my aunt at breakfast that an acting advisor once told him that he had to forget his rather sissy name Marion and that he worked in an ice cream parlor and find an image which would represent the fading world of the “Old West.” Grinding away in B-movies, he successfully created a tough, super- masculine, militaristic image that went to the heart of what American Empire was all about; whether slaughtering Indians or carving up the ungrateful Vietnamese.
There is a popular video game circulating the Internet called “Heroes of Annihilated Empires” where mythical creatures live alongside humans in “lands which frontiers are impossible to be located on any world map presently” and whose actions “are able to change the world.” Like these “creatures,” John Wayne was never real – I saw it trapped in his eyes, a butchered Marion – he was a prisoner of his own sham; trapped in the image and the make-believe, and like that mechanical dummy of Abe Lincoln in Disneyland, wobbled through life owned by others and was what they needed him to be.
As I watch Dumanis swagger on to the platform, amid camera flashes and reporters’ shouts, my friend, who is Gay, whispers “Who does this tough broad think she is – Raymond Burr in high-heels?”
“No,” I answer, “I know many really tough gals who are Lesbians; cab drivers, construction workers, even a few rodeo gals, whose personalities are real, they are warm, caring persons.”
“This demeanor, this show, is not about Freudian over-compensation or being tough in a masculine world; it’s all about power and ambition,” I comment as she is book-ended on the stage by two modern “Dukes” of bluster and armed might, San Diego County Sheriff William B. Kolender, who allows his deputies to shoot down unarmed Latinos in the barrios and San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne who has protected murdering police officers, tries to encourage brutality against the homeless and uses his detectives to circumvent city ordinances.
John Wayne, even though he provided a cultural context, a mythical arrogance to the national character, which continues to drive American Empire, never, personally harmed anyone in his chimera; while Dumanis welds her power as District attorney to enrich herself and manipulate the legal system for personal ambition.
American Empire seems to be a double-edged sword. It is not just bombing distant cities to protect oil pipelines or corrupt world corporations. (Would Wayne’s modern movies show him gunning down Afghan poor in their own villages and homes?). Empire is also reflected in ideology and national assumptions. From the Romans to the British to modern Corporate-Owned Capitalism – an emerging state without defined borders and its own armed forces as the movie Avatar spectacularly highlights - the domination of others, the plunder of national resources, was always driven by a mind-set that depended on power and hierarchy.
Thus, the flip side of U.S. troops making the world safe for Wal-Mart and McDonalds is the other edge of the blade; narrowing the parameters of freedoms and liberties in our neighborhoods and in our everyday lives. Empire must own and control its base, provide wonderful motivations for conformity and terrible consequences for dissent and, most importantly, make alternatives not only impossible but unthinkable. Today, everywhere; human beings, either individually or in associations, such as governments, are increasingly incapable of calculating possibilities because the freedom to choose is an illusion. Like shoppers on an escalator or cattle prodded through chutes, there is no room to maneuver. Behavior is no longer innovative and spontaneous because consciousness itself [to stand apart, the ability to give things meaning] is hammered into a socially determined aspect of self. In a corporate-owned world, most of us are trapped by the lack of alternatives and increasingly, the ability to even imagine options.
Human praxis, the reflective process of thought and action, has become stunted; liberty an illusion, and the notion of individuality a cruel myth. C. Wright Mills' warnings, decades ago, about the continuing constraints on human freedom by those who have institutional and economic power has come to pass. Political and economic tyranny, even the manipulation of truth itself, has become commonplace, with little dissent. Thus, the San Diego District Attorney can go before the press and not only spoon feed local journalists a fraudulent legal basis for her harassment and downright lies about her victims’ personal affairs but is never challenged by the media – even when her statements are not what the official court documents say.
Dumanis, like any self-respecting addict, is hooked on the egotism of power and the selfishness of wealth, the rewards of Corporate-owned Capitalism, its high, its opiate, its material comforts, its insatiable requisite for supremacy’s self-definition and purpose.
Her place in the continuing cultural wars for economic purposes, where everything is made into a commodity and sold at a price, even the health of one’s one body and the alleviation of pain, is assured as she persecutes and prosecutes medical marijuana users in San Diego. Her place at the public trough, her personal wealth extracted from wealthy corporate donors, especially the medical industry, overshadows and is an affront to her membership in our Rainbow Coalition. The violence of stalking ill persons, particularly fellow LGBT members, for personal ambition makes her addiction to wealth and power even more sad and pitiful.
My mother advises me not to suggest a fierce District Attorney is vindictive, deceitful, power hungry and a crook. Of course, dear old mom lives in the far-off piney woods of the Ozark Mountains and worries about her only son; she doesn’t see the shattered lives and broken families that Dumanis has scattered around San Diego neighborhoods.
My mother suggests that most politicians are dishonest from the get-go and that the money District Attorney Dumanis receives from selling her prosecutorial powers to a rich Chula Vista landlord to punish a local city councilman for voting against one of his projects or to corporate lobbyists who reward her legal jihad against ill people who are attempting to secure safe, legal, effective use of cannabis for their pain - rather than expensive, dangerous, addictive pain-killers packaged by wealthy corporations - is the reward for being in office.
I assure my mother I have nothing personal against the DA. In almost 20 years in San Diego, I have never been arrested or even had to pay a traffic fine. I can pity Dumanis; her infirmity, her madness, the tyrannical, autocratic abuse of authority for personal gain, like Nixon or Abramoff, and still fight the system that allows one person to have so much power to destroy lives, circumvent state law and the will of California voters and great personal greed.
“The authoritarian ideology she represents, owned by corporate dollars and backed by the armed might of all our militarized forces is what I fight,” I tell my mother, “not this tragic, fleshy android, another piece of equipment in Empire’s mechanism.”
The Love and Death of a San Diego Hero
Dumanis is, indeed, just another delusional villain in a long list of San Diego prosecutors and legal violence which, under corporate-owned ideology and the police power of local authorities, has disrupted lives, harassed, entrapped and imprisoned many innocent people and led to the martyrdom of San Diego’s greatest hero – Steve McWilliams.
The only time I ever saw Steve McWilliams laugh was in early summer of 2005; little realizing that soon, like a Buddhist monk wrapped in flames, he would use his own life as a metaphor for justice and light in a society gone blind with fear and greed.
I stood there talking to him, as I often did when he walked his dogs along the sidewalk in Normal Heights, discussing the weather, the dogs or the large garden I tended. With great sadness, he looked beyond my eyes, over my left shoulder, watching the bulbous clouds as they slid through the blue-green brightness. As the gray shadows moved over the daisies and roses; he remarked how, as human beings, driven by either selfishness or compassion, we can make the world either ugly or beautiful.
On his walk back, the street ends at the edge of that great San Diego canyon, Mission Valley, he was on the opposite side and watched as I came out of the courtyard just as someone was pulling their dog off the grass, leaving a large pile of doggy doo. Now, I had a shovel in my hand, so I scooped it up on the shovel and walked behind, yelling “sir, you forgot something.” All the neighbors came out to witness his attempt to ignore the selfishness and contempt reflected in this act. Steve joined in that communal laugh.
It will take more than a shovel, even a skip-loader, to trail behind Judge Reuben Brooks or U.S. District Attorney Carol Lam and all the other government tyrants. Not even a freight hauler could carry the blood, anguish, wasted lives in prison, the pain and suffering they have created in their obscene efforts to control our lives.
McWilliams, nailed to a cross of pain for his efforts, fought the power of the state to regulate our personal freedoms and choices, not only for himself but every person in need of inexpensive medication without side effects. Yes, the truth shall set you free, and the government and media, both owned by powerful pharmaceutical companies, don’t want you to know that you can grow your own medicine in a coffee can, right there on the table in front of the window, alongside the geraniums and ferns.
If Steve, who suffered from severe neuropathic migraines caused by a traffic accident, had continued to quietly self-medicate with marijuana, after his arrival in San Diego in 1997, he would still be with us today. However, his integrity and compassion drove him to found, with his partner, Barbara MacKenzie, Shelter from the Storm, San Diego’s first Medical Cannabis Resource Information Center.
He sought to not only empower sick people in pain with information but to liberate them from the evilness of store bought chemicals. Manufactured dangerous pills; without long-term study, threatening side-effects, developed primarily to make others, CEO’s and wealthy investors, richer.
He understood that the power of the federal government has been bought; from the President, through Congress to the Supreme Court; ordered by their corporate masters to make the world safe for profit. This is what the War on Drugs is all about, why there are over 2 million young people, mostly of color, in our prisons and jails; more than the rest of the world combined.
Poor folks don’t have the resources for Valium or Prozac, so they have been criminalized, persecuted and stigmatized by the fear mongers as an excuse, the learning methodology, over the years, to build the links of the chain - a prison state, with the police and military in control, to protect the rich and to punish all who dissent.
When President George W. Bush was re-elected, a new phase in the clash of freedom over corporate tyranny, began. The federal police system, using its years of experience in the hoods and barrios, moved its battle lines into middle-class neighborhoods, to win the cultural war, once and for all; to mop up the last vestiges of hippie notions and free will. Using simple-minded, cruel Judges like Reuben Brooks, who McWilliams called “a wretched, evil little gnome” and ambitious, ruthless agents of fear, like agent Carol Lam, they sought total control of our private lives.
And while the Obama administration has sought to stand down a little on the federal offense against marijuana users; local right-wing elements and tyrannical ideologues, like San Diego Police Chief Lansdowne, using his badge and taxpayer money to fund his goon squads, have went after San Diego medical marijuana users, even though that use is protected under city ordinances (as well as state law).
Steve McWilliams called himself an “impeccable warrior” in his death letter. He was facing the usual fascist response to dissent – prison- and in increasing pain, under court order not to grow or use the natural herb of relief. Saying he refused “to allow the government to control my life,” his last words were that he had “given ever thing to the cause - all my possessions, my time and, now, my life.”
In an obituary posted on the IndyMedia Website in July, 2005 I wrote the following, “our greatest tribute to Steve, will be our own efforts toward overcoming hypocrisy and selfishness; to fight this increasingly cruel, authoritarian government on behalf of our children and neighbors. Steve, like all great and noble persons of history, hands back through space and time the courage to be free. His walk with love and death widens that path that we all must take; to make our lives meaningful, loving and liberating.”
One of Dumanis’ Victims
In his brief 28 years, Eugene Davidovich has followed all the rules, adhered to the law and lived an exemplary life. Yet, today, he stands broken, alone, homeless, persecuted and in daily pain. Clean-cut, honest spoken, go-getting; he was a child of the American dream, going from good son to impressive student to serving his country in the military. Afterward there came a fine loving marriage, a young son and a promising career in the computer programming field.
When the migraines came several years ago, he followed convention; visiting his doctor, prescription after prescription, with side-effects, until a friend turned him on to the benefits of medical cannabis.
Again, following all the rules; Davidovich joined a medical marijuana collective, got a doctor’s recommendation and a city issued patient card. Self-medicating, effectively and cheaply, he continued his family’s support, confident that he was a law-abiding citizen following the guidelines issued by the California Attorney General as outlined in Proposition 215 and adhering to the city codes and ordinances that legalized and regulated medical marijuana use.
Early this year, along with other legal patients of citywide medical collectives and cooperatives, he was swept up in what appears to be an illicit conspiracy by the Police Chief Lansdowne and the ambitious Dumanis, to use the power of the badge and the prosecutorial muscle of the D.A.’s office to overturn and nullify city ordinances adopted by our elected officials.
Representative democracy appears to be under attack in San Diego as the Police Department, under the apparent orders of the D.A., has broadened a legitimate campaign against drug use on military bases and our campuses called Operation Endless Summer into a witch hunt against medical marijuana users, particularly in our LGBT community.
Week after week, Davidovich and other legal cannabis users, trudge down to City Council meetings, hoping for fairness and justice, using the open forum period to plead their case. And week after week; eight sphinxes sit, roll their eyes, study reports and continue to ignore the persecution of San Diego citizens or the usurpation of the representative process in San Diego by dictatorial powers. Now, they have added insult to injury by withdrawing a mandate for city action on any kind of protection from the predatory D.A. and leaving the 30 or so dispensaries in legal limbo at risk of more attacks by Chief Lansdowne’s twisted priorities.
If the Police Chief can attack legal protected patients, as he is doing in Operation GreenRX; if the District Attorney‘s office can tell a judge that they have arbitrary and tyrannically decided that San Diego’s ordinances and laws are invalid [which they did at the preliminary trial of Donna Lambert] without ever informing the City Council or using the legal process to go to a Superior Court or Federal judge to get them overturned: then we have moved ever closer to an Orwellian state.
“I believe in our justice system, in the rule of law,” Davidovich told me over coffee when I interviewed him in late 2009, “If I had did anything wrong, if I had broke the law, then I would simply plead guilty, accept a plea bargain and end this nightmare.” His fight back, is, indeed, our struggle. If his rights, his legal protections are not valid and can be withdrawn on a prosecutor’s whim or ambition; then, are any of us safe?
Davidovich, who followed the rules, yet ended in this Kafka-like nightmare, and all the other ill San Diegans, who thought they were protected by law, only to be attacked and prosecuted by those very authoritarian forces that should be protecting their legal rights, need our help.
Eugene Davidovich’s Trial Starts January 21 in Department 11 in the San Diego Superior Court at 220 W Broadway San Diego CA 92101 www.eugenedavidovich.com
What we Can Do to Help Our Fellow San Diegans in Pain
1. Call, write or e-mail your Council person and demand that quite hiding from the issue and develop ordinances that protect the rights and access of legal users of medical marijuana.
2. Contact the District Attorney’s office and insist that this blatant political use of her office to persecute and prosecute legitimate medical marijuana users stop.
3. Contact San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne and suggest that department manpower spent lying to doctors, falsifying documents, and infiltrating professional co-ops and collectives should cease – scarce funds could better be used to fight real crime against persons and property.
(CNN) -- The New Jersey legislature voted Monday to make that state the 14th in the country to approve marijuana for medicinal use, pending the governor's signature.
Gov. Jon Corzine, who leaves office next week, has said he would sign the bill.
Two years after the bill was introduced to the legislature, the New Jersey Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act was passed by the state Assembly in a 48-14 vote. It received Senate approval just hours later in a 25-13 vote.
According to the news release from the state Senate, the bill would allow doctors to give to patients with state-issued identification cards prescriptions to buy marijuana legally from registered alternative treatment centers. The identification cards would be issued by the Department of Health and Senior Services
Only patients with proven "debilitating conditions" would qualify for ID card. Such conditions include "cancer, glaucoma, positive HIV/AIDS status or other chronic, debilitating diseases or medical conditions that produce, or the treatment of which produces, wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms," according to the Senate news release.
"Out of the 14 states that have similar bills, New Jersey's will be the strictest," Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, one of the bill's sponsors, told CNN. "I believe that this bill will be model legislation for states here on out that will look to (be) legalizing marijuana. We looked at the pitfalls of California and made a more restrictive bill."
Sen. Nicolas Scutari, the bill's Senate co-sponsor, also attributed the bill's success to its restrictive measures, saying, "We put a whole lot of safeguards to make sure that what had happened in other states with respect to abuses ... would not happen here, and I think everyone was satisfied as a result, so it passed pretty easily."
Gusciora pointed to the omission of stress and anxiety as one of the qualifying conditions for a prescription, to further emphasize the bills distinction from other states' bills, saying "I feel like every college student would qualify for stress and anxiety, and has qualified in California."
Marijuana use would be restricted to private property under the measure. Patients with legal prescriptions could still be arrested for using marijuana in public, and they could still face driving under the influence charges if they used marijuana and got behind the wheel, according to Gusciora.
The bill has been passed in time for Corzine to sign it before Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes over on January 19. According to Scutari, although Christie has shown a "willingness to sign" the bill, the timing of the bill's passage is ideal.
"I didn't want to start from scratch," says Scutari, "I've been working on this for five years, and we wanted to ensure while we had control of the bill that we could get it passed in a form that was acceptable to all sides.
According to Gusciora, the bill will still take six to nine months to take effect. Various safeguards such as Department of Health approval of dispensaries and tracking of patients by the Division of Consumer Affairs need to take place before doctors and patients can legally buy medical marijuana in New Jersey.
For most of the New Jersey state lawmakers, however, this is huge victory. "My mother has multiple sclerosis and I could tell you that anything that could alleviate her symptoms, I would certainly want to be able to offer," said Scutari.
Monday, January 11, 2010
By Don Duncan, Americans for Safe Access
The outcome of legal victories by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) could be seen again last week, when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William Sterling ruled that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) must return sixty pounds of medical cannabis confiscated during a traffic stop. ASA successfully sued the CHP to stop illegal confiscation of medical cannabis in 2005; and secured the right to return of property, regardless of federal law, when the US Supreme Court refused to overturn our victory Garden Grove v. Superior Court in 2008.
The defendant in this week’s case argued he was transporting the confiscated medicine for his collective in Venice. The judge disagreed with an expert witness from the CHP, who argued that only a Primary Caregiver can transport medicine under state law. The judge acknowledged that any member of a collective or cooperative could transport medicine on behalf of other members.
Cities and counties still working to develop and implement regulations for medical cannabis should take note of decisions like this, which acknowledge the broad immunities offered to collectives and cooperatives under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420). Patients involved in collective cultivation can maintain storefronts to provide medicine to members (and be reimbursed for doing so), grow medicine, possess enough for members, and transport it. Local regulations should respect these collective immunities – not try to roll them back with onerous restrictions.
Today Jovan Jackson went into court for the Preliminary hearing in the second trial against him where he is charged with the same exact felonies related to medical marijuana this time however from the 9/9/9 raids. Although I could not make the hearing, members of Americans for Safe Access including Marcus Boyd and James Stacy were there to support him. Chris Linbrergh the prosecutor, asked for a continuance this morning and Jovan agreed. The preliminary hearing is now set for February 8 at 8:30 in Department 11.
Mark your calendars, and come out to support Jovan on February 8, 8:30 am Dpt. 11 – 220 W. Broadway, San Diego CA, 92101
San Diego ASA
Friday, January 8, 2010
As part of San Diego American’s for Safe Access continuing efforts to Stop Operation Green Rx a SD ASA member today presented us with a document, which can be found on the city’s website here: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councildockets_attach/2007/October/10-30-2007%2520Item%2520S106.pdf
This document talks about a $342,590 grant that was used to pay for Operation Green Rx, which Bonnie Dumanis disguised as Operation Endless Summer and announced it was a drug sting to clean up military housing, when in fact the majority of that money was used to target and arrest medical marijuana patients.
The document on page 15 also talks about $8,000 being spent per month on “200 buys @ $40 each - $8,000 per month. This means that our local Narcotics Task Force has $8,000 per month to spend making contributions to our local collectives, while calling it “illegally buying drugs”. The document on the same page goes into detail to explain that $58,000 per year will be spent these buys. This is where Jamie Conlan (Detective Scott Henderson) obtained money from to contribute to my collective and others in November of 2008 in exchange for 7grams of medical cannabis as part of “Operation Green Rx / Endless Summer”
Please read the PDF as it has Enormous amounts of interesting information!
This documents was turned over to the media today in hopes of shedding light and attention on the egregious misappropriation of funds in San Diego as well as the cover up which we know now to be Operation Green Rx.
This afternoon in court my attorney and I had the opportunity to argue in front of the judge a request to open Detective Scott Henderson’s personnel file to see if there was anything relevant from his past that could be used in my case. After the judge approved the request, she went into her chambers and came back with “there is nothing relevant”.
The trial in my case is set for January 21 in Department 11 at 8:30 am. Help Stop Operation Green Rx and the continued harassment and arrest of patients in San Diego, come out to court, come out to the meetings, get involved and help stop this madness.
San Diego Americans for Safe Access
By: Eugene Davidovich, January 7, 2010
Tiffani Kjeldergaard a legitimate medical cannabis patient in January of 2009 was sentenced to probation on a non drug related offense. She continued to use her legal medication and tested positive for THC on drug tests conducted by the probation department until June of 2009 when the probation department decided to stop by her house for a safety check.
As with any medical cannabis patient, they found medical cannabis. Tiffani had some dried cannabis, 7 immature plants, and a few other related items, which the police totaled at $12,000 and at that time sent out a press release announcing a great bust. The policed seized all the property and took Tiffani to jail on charges of violating her probation.
Although under pressure by the District Attorney and her Public Defender to agree to a plea deal where she would be sentenced to three years in jail, Tiffany did not waiver. She refused to bargain with the DA and fired her public defender that was encouraging her to stay in jail and take a deal.
She maintained to the prosecution and her public defender that it is in fact legal. She conducted her own research at the jail law library, hired a private attorney, presented to him the appropriate cases to cite, and after a court hearing where the evidence was presented, was released from jail. Not only did the judge release her from jail, but he also changed the terms of Tiffani’s probation to allow her to use medical cannabis.
Shortly after her release and change of probation conditions, Tiffani arrived to her probation officers office to present her doctor’s recommendation, only to learn that the probation department thought the recommendation was no good without a San Diego County Medical Marijuana Card to go along with it. She was told that everyone who is on probation and is a medical marijuana patient, is now required to also obtain a county card.
San Diego Americans for Safe Access caught up with Tiffani a couple days ago to discuss the details of her situation:
FLYING PAINT RANCH
P.O Box 291
Potrero, Ca. 91963
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Mr. Jackson of Answerdam Collective is a legitimate medical cannabis patient and victim of two Operation Green Rx raids, part of Bonnie Dumanis’ effort to eradicate medical cannabis from San Diego. The first raid occurred in August of 2008, the second on September 9, 2009. Last month, Mr. Jackson was tried and vindicated of felony charges related to the first raid. Today Mr. Jackson was sentenced in State Court.
Kelly Wheeler of the City News Service reported that “Before sentencing, Judge Cynthia Bashant reduced Jackson’s felony conviction for possession of ecstasy to a misdemeanor, saying it probably would have been charged as such if not for the underlying medical marijuana case.”
Mr. Kelly went on to report “The judge also cited Jackson’s lack of prior criminal record and said there was no evidence that the 31-year-old defendant had the pills so he could sell them to others. Prosecutor Chris Lindberg unsuccessfully argued that the defendant’s possession of ecstasy was not misdemeanor conduct.”
San Diego Americans for Safe Access caught up with Mr. Jackson today after his sentencing to discuss the details. Watch the in depth interview here:
The prosecution has not given up in its efforts. Mr. Jackson is still facing a second trial for the same charges he was vindicated of. The preliminary hearing for the second medical marijuana trial is set for January 11, 2010 @ 8:30 am in Department 11 of the San Diego Superior Court 220 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92111 on January 11, 2010. It is critical that concerned citizens, patients and anyone concerned about your tax dollars being spent on another wasteful trial.
Local Media Coverage of Mr. Jackson's Sentencing Hearing:
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Today the San Diego City Council voted to in favor of passing the recommendations of the San Diego Medical Marijuana Task force to the Land Use and Housing Committee for their input. The vote was 7-1 in favor of the issue.
At the start of today’s council session, representatives from Americans for Safe Access were at the city council meeting and spoke during public comment to encourage the task force to pass the regulations.
When the item was called in the afternoon, there were dozens of medical cannabis patients and concerned citizens from a variety of local organizations including NORML, the DPA and others in the council chambers to show their support for the recommendations and sensible regulations.
Unfortunately the community was not able to give the council any input on the issue since public comment on the item was already heard at the previous meeting. There were even people wearing “Target” stickers to symbolize that patients feel targeted without sensible regulations.
Some in the media quickly after the meeting have reported that the Task Force rejected the recommendations, this however is not entirely accurate. It is not uncommon that Zoning issues are referred to the Land Use and Housing Committee for input. By March the committee will provide feedback to the City Council on the proposed recommendations, and hopefully propose to amend the Zoning Code to allow for medical cannabis collectives.
A complete ordinance regulating medical marijuana collectives will more than likely go up for vote before the end of 2010. It is our hope and the hope of many in the community that this issue will not be stalled or placed on a back burner. Patients need clarity and Safe Access.
Write the city San Diego City council members and thank them for their hard work on the issue and urge them to quickly bring the issue out of the Land Use and Housing Committee and back to the council for vote.
San Diego Americans for Safe Access
Related Media Coverage:
Sunday, January 3, 2010
As a representative of SDASA, I became aware of Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana (HARM) (the group to which the heads of these organizations all belong) and as a volunteer in San Diego’s recovery community, I took offense to this waste of federal money - earmarked for drug prevention – used to circumvent state law and safe access for patients.
SDASA’s concerns and efforts culminated in a meeting with Dr. Jennifer Schaffer, Director of Behavioral Health Services; Susan Bower, Director of Alcohol and Drug Services and Linda Bridgeman-Smith, Prevention Services Manager. At the meeting a number of pointed questions were asked about the San Diego County’s process for deciding how prevention’s 20% slice of federal drug services money fits into the County’s overall addiction strategy.
While my concern with this issue was about the county contractors lobbying on the county’s dime to plea for a ban on cannabis collectives and regulations, the overall tone of the meeting was to discover how we might achieve a shift in San Diego County’s philosophy on drug prevention, making it less law enforcement driven - a model called “environmental prevention” - and more about an educational based effort.
The educational approach to prevention is an idea whose time has come, and San Diego County falls very short in using some of the evidenced-based and engaging strategies, that other more progressive counties are using their federal drug prevention funds for.
I first encountered HARM when it came to ASA’s attention that the group had invited a Fullerton attorney, Martin J Meyer www.jones-mayer.com, General Counsel to a number of law enforcement associations, to speak and empower city and county staffers to impose a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.
When we looked into who heads up this organization and found it to be county contractors, SDASA quickly called a protest and set forth an agenda to investigate and open a dialog to stop this practice. This agenda included providing documentation on HARM to the San Diego County Grand Jury as well as involving the County Board of Supervisors.
Ironically, HARM attended and opposed the Medical Marijuana Task Force which is a panel of people whom the San Diego City Council tasked with helping give San Diego clarity on the safe access issue. The concerns the group griped about would mostly resolve themselves should the task force be allowed to do the work the City Council requests. Yet HARM seems to have a knee jerk reaction at the very idea of marijuana as medicine and continually opposes any action to provide clarity to the Compassionate Use Act.
HARM’s logo and agenda are on the County’s Alcohol and Drug Services webpage as a county initiative and the initiative makes an appearance in the County’s Prevention Plan, which states HARM is tasked with addressing the availability of marijuana, paraphernalia, business practices, and media messaging that encourage, normalize or trivialize marijuana use. Since there is nothing said about medical marijuana in the Prevention Plan, from which this group gets its marching orders it is apparent that over the years HARM has stepped very far astray of the mission they are funded for.
The seminars, investigation of collectives, and passing out of propaganda stickers against safe access at county and city meetings are evidence of the over step.
When pressed for reasons why this is allowed to continue, the Health and Human Services representatives during our meeting, distanced themselves from HARM’s actions, assured us the county did *not* host the Martin Mayer seminar nor do they authorize HARM to use county funds in its medical marijuana eradication endeavors.
They maintain that the Mayer seminar was a project HARM funded not with county funds but some other private funds. Presumably HARM uses the county funds it receives for other services more in keeping with its actual agenda as laid out by the sanctioned Prevention Plan. But, we have yet to see evidence of that and the county representatives did not say what those efforts are.
This all raises the question, how does the county keep HARM accountable in its use of funds to be sure there’s no misuse or seepage into their rouge eradication agenda?
No explanation or processes were set forth by officials in the meeting and I question if they’ve even thought of it.
SDASA will continue to monitor this issue and call for accountability of HARM’s county money. In the meantime, drug policy activists, addiction specialists and recovery advocates will continue to work on a long term strategy for all San Diegans toward a more progressive prevention strategy, one that engages our youth to make good choices on their own, rather than engaging in campaigns to arrest and prosecute. This strategy should include at-risk kids in its mission and provide for a broader use of federal block grant money and should not include opposition to state law.
Let's hope that by the January 5th San Diego City Council Meeting where the Council intends to vote on medical marijuana recommendations provided to them by the Medical Marijuana Task Force, these groups will rethink their approach, and refocus on their original mission, rather than continue to subvert state law.
SDASA sincerely thanks and appreciates the dedication of Dr. Schaffer, Susan Bower and Linda Bridgeman Smith for their time and attention. We are certain they will work toward a prevention plan we can all stand by.