Monday, October 31, 2011

The Roundup: White House Responds to 'We The People' Pot Proposal

by David Downs
Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Here's your headlines: 1) You didn't think legalizing weed was going to be that easy, did you?

2) Celebstoner has the rebuttal.

3) Coffeeshop Blue Sky moves three doors down after federal letter.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Medical Marijuana Protest Draws 200 to Obama Fundraiser

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 4:00 AM

President Obama did not see the 200 or so California medical cannabis protestors who came to greet him eye-to-eye during his short San Francisco fundraising stop Tuesday afternoon. His motorcade took Second Street, while the protestors were on Third Street, and by the time word got around, the President was already in the W Hotel, collecting about a million dollars in campaign donations.

Perhaps he looked down briefly from the 20th floor “Extreme Wow Suite” atop the W in SOMA, and with bionic eyes made out signs like “Save Our Jobs” (with the “O” being a big cannabis leaf), or “$100 million in taxes up in smoke”.

But even if he could, would those signs stand out amid the anti-oil pipeline protestors (Stop Keystone XL) who were intermingling with the Occupy Wall Streeters and pissed off landlords? It's hard to tell.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

RAND Corp Retracts Report on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Crime

by David Downs
Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 5:49 PM

The independent think tank RAND Corp. issued a rare public retraction Monday morning, pulling a controversial September study which found that closing L.A. dispensaries increased crime sometimes by as much as 62 percent.

The publication of “Regulating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: An Overview with Preliminary Evidence of Their Impact on Crime” drew the ire of law enforcement officials. RAND said a post-publication review found that the study did not include key crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Feds Try To Make Example of Prop 19 founder Rich Lee

by David Downs
Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 9:31 AM

According to the Bay Citizen Friday: "U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag sent a letter to the landlord of Lee’s medical marijuana dispensary, Coffeeshop Blue Sky, ordering its eviction, according to people familiar with the situation." Lee had no comment. Federal authorities have a long history of trying to scare landlords out of leasing space to cannabis enterprises.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Roundup: Federal Agent Smuggles Weed Through LAX

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Here's your headlines:

1) An American Airlines baggage handler with a nose for the sticky-icky broke up a federal agent's weed-smuggling route through LAX this week. According to the U.S. Attorney's release, 23 year-old Millage Peaks of Los Angeles paid 28 year-old TSA Agent Dianna Perez about $5,500 to move bricks of cannabis past baggage security on nine different occasions. But that all ended the morning of Sunday, October 16, when Peaks met Perez at the curbside check-in area outside Terminal 4 at LAX, and took Peaks' bags to a TSA screening room. The complaint alleges that Perez returned a few minutes later and waved at Peaks, indicating that “everything was good.” Later, the Los Angeles Airport Police responded to a report by a baggage handler with American Airlines "who smelled marijuana emanating from one of the bags checked in by Peaks. Peaks’ bags, which were destined for Boston’s Logan Airport, were then removed and searched by TSA personnel. Fourteen plastic bags, containing what LAXPD officers believed amounted to approximately ten to fifteen pounds of marijuana, were found concealed inside Peaks' bags. ... The complaint alleges that Peaks planned to travel to Boston to resell the marijuana which he obtained the previous day in San Francisco for $38,000. ..."

2) "The Drug War has corrupted private and public institutions wherever it has reached. Worst are bribes to police, border control officials, Drug Enforcement Agency agents, and even military personnel involved in interdiction efforts. The taint also reaches prosecutors, judges, and politicians,” notes Forbes, in an op-ed from the Cato Institute on ending the Drug War.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Record-High 50 Percent of Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana Use

by David Downs
Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 10:36 AM

According to a new poll from Gallup, "a record-high 50 percent of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46 percent last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal,". Gallup interviewed 1,005 adults via telephone between October 6 and 9 to get the results, which they say has a margin of error of plus/minus four percent.

The poll represents a historic tipping point in the war on drugs, activists say, especially coming after a four percent jump in approval for pot in a single year. Demographic and technological changes are driving the numbers. "Support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62 percent approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31 percent among those 65 and older," Gallup notes. Graph after the jump.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

California Medical Association Officially Supports Legalization

by David Downs
Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Amid a new round of federal saber-rattling and setbacks for leading California dispensaries, here's some good news: The 35,000 doctor-strong California Medical Association has joined the reality-based community in recommending the legalization and regulation of cannabis. The CMA is the largest physician group in California and the first statewide medical association to take the position. CMA's president-elect James T Hay says it will be the first of many.

"CMA may be the first organization of its kind to take this position, but we won’t be the last. This was a carefully considered, deliberative decision made exclusively on medical and scientific grounds,” said Hay in a Sunday release. “As physicians, we need to have a better understanding about the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis so that we can provide the best care possible to our patients.”

The federal government classifies pot among the most dangerous of all drugs, alongside heroin, when it is smoked in its plant form. However, pharmaceutical companies may sell the same active ingredients in pill form legally.

The CMA recommends regulating and taxing recreational cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco. In a related white paper (.pdf), the CMA also notes, the criminalization of cannabis has proven to be a failed public health policy for several reasons, including:

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Harborside's Death Tax

by John Geluardi
Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 9:31 AM

The federal government is attempting to tax Oakland’s Harborside Health Center — perhaps the country’s largest and most prominent medical marijuana dispensary — out of existence.

The Internal Revenue Service delivered a $2.5 million tax bill to Harborside this week, according executive director Steve DeAngelo. The staggering bill, DeAngelo said, is designed to close the dispensary, which serves 94,000 patients annually. “This is not an effort to tax us. We’re happy to pay our taxes,” DeAngelo told the Chron. “This is an effort to shut us down.”

Federal law still designates marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance, which puts it in the same category as heroin, methamphetamine and LSD, which are regarded to have no accepted medical uses. And section 280E of the federal tax code disallows any deductions — including standard business expenses like rent and payroll — related to trafficking of controlled substances. Under this law, the IRS began auditing several California dispensaries more than a year ago.

In addition to Harborside, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, in Fairfax, was also billed for millions, according to executive director Lynnette Shaw. The Alliance is an industry icon because it was among the first dispensaries to open after California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, which legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Alliance also became an early industry model because of its professional management and activist ethos.

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