Thursday, April 30, 2015

Vallejo City Leaders Defy Constituents on Medical Cannabis Taxes

by David Downs
Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 10:18 AM

The Vallejo City Council formally rejected its own voter-approved medical cannabis taxes this week, in what has to be one of the most bizarre stories of California city-level pot regulation, or the lack thereof.

In a 5-1 vote Tuesday night, the council enacted Mayor Osby Davis’ resolution to reject taxes collected under Measure C. Measure C passed in 2011 in Vallejo with 76 percent of the vote, and has poured millions of dollars into the formerly bankrupt and still very troubled town.

Experts say Mayor Davis is on a 1930s-style moral crusade against pot. Davis has stated that Vallejo should become a “city of God” and equated the sin of marijuana use to murder and homosexuality. Davis moved to ban all medical cannabis dispensaries from Vallejo this year, then when the ban failed, he pushed to refuse their tax revenues and tried to shut down all of them pending city regulations.

The Vallejo City Council. - CITY OF VALLEJO
  • City of Vallejo
  • The Vallejo City Council.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rob Bonta’s Medi-Pot Rules Get Hearing Today

by David Downs
Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) presented a bill to regulate medical cannabis to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee today.

Oakland Rep. Rob Bonta, co-author of AB 34. - CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY
  • California State Assembly
  • Oakland Rep. Rob Bonta, co-author of AB 34.
The authors state “AB 34 would fulfill the promise made to the people of California back in 1996 by creating the structure in which patients can safely exercise their right to medical cannabis. AB 34 approaches regulation of medical cannabis with one core method—apply existing regulatory frameworks to this new industry while adapting for the unique and historical circumstances surrounding medical cannabis.”

“The California cannabis industry is in the billions of dollars, and there are a reported 1.5 million medical cannabis patients,” states a Committee analysis published online Monday.

The committee analysis also finds that AB 34 would license and regulate commercial medical cannabis through a new “Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement” inside the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Meanwhile a new “Division of Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing” would operate within the State Department of Public Health (CDPH), and a new Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation would regulate from within the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Policing For Profit Rampant in California, Study Finds

by David Downs
Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 10:06 AM

A scathing new study from the Drug Policy Alliance finds that many California police departments are violating federal and state guidelines to essentially police for profit. Police departments are routinely balancing their budgets on the backs of their most vulnerable citizens — using federal asset forfeiture laws to take cash and cars without convicting citizens of a crime.

In “Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture in California” (.pdf), researchers found a broad misuse of forfeiture. While forfeiture was designed to punish drug kingpins by seizing their cash, cars and property, the average value of a state seizure was $5,145 and cops have been focusing on seizing loose cash.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fourth Marijuana-Related Initiative Filed for California 2016 Election

by David Downs
Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 1:43 PM

A fourth marijuana-related ballot initiative has been filed with the Secretary of State today.

A previously unknown team of citizens, Chad Hanes and Marinda Hanes, submitted The Responsible Use Act of 2016 for a title and summary today, the state reports.

After a short review of the 41-page Act, it seems like a pretty pro-consumer proposal. It allows for up to 24 ounces for personal possession, as well as 12 mature plants.

GrowUp California's logo
  • GrowUp California's logo

The initiative filers have a web page, “a grassroots effort to effectively reform California's marijuana laws by promoting a level playing field for consumers and small businesses, while also emphasizing the importance of public safety within our communities.”

According to GrowUp, the initiative:

— Legalizes the possession, cultivation and consumption of small amounts of marijuana for adult use statewide (more info here)
— Establishes a self-funding comprehensive regulatory scheme for the commercial sales of marijuana, and allowing municipalities to reasonably regulate such licensed establishments to ensure product safety.

— Effectively integrates the medical marijuana community into the new licensing scheme, while exempting seriously ill patients from paying taxes on their medicine.

— Establishes an "initial sale" tax of $5.60/oz ($0.20/gram) on recreational marijuana which entirely funds the regulatory program, with revenues going toward multi benefit water quality, water supply, and watershed protection and restoration projects for the watersheds of the state.

GrowUP CA offers a comprehensive set of regulations for the commercial cultivation, wholesale distribution, and retail sales with rules issued by the diverse seven-member Cannabis License Control Board, under the Department of Consumer Affairs. In order to safeguard our natural resources, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Board will issue various cultivation and environmental regulations and others as necessary. Licensed commercial production and sales operations will be exclusively administered by the Cannabis License Control Board, which will be required to issue licenses statewide on January 1st, 2018 (subject to “reasonable regulation” by local governments). Only one license will be required per business, as described more extensively in our FAQ section.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Third Marijuana-Related Legalization Initiative Filed on 4/20

by David Downs
Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 10:17 AM

On Monday April 20, the California Secretary of State reported that a third marijuana-related initiative, The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2016 had been filed by a group of seventeen people including a banned San Jose dispensary operator and a Northern California medical cannabis defense attorney.

MCLR on steps of the State Capitol. - COURTESY OF MCLR
  • Courtesy of MCLR
  • MCLR on steps of the State Capitol.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First California Marijuana Legalization 2016 Initiative Filed

by David Downs
Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 3:20 PM

Two groups filed proposed ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis for adults, and protect the medical marijuana marketplace today.

The “California Craft Cannabis Initiative" was filed by proponents Heather Burke and Omar Figueroa.

The "Compassionate and Sensible Access Act" was filed by Craig Beresh; Jeffrey Byrne; Lanette Davies; Richard Fenton; Kandice Hawes; Donna Lambert; Ronald Mullins; Eric Salerno; Deborah Tharp; Kathie Thelen; and Randall Welty.
Northern California lawyer Omar Figueroa — a proponent of  the California Craft Cannabis Initiative. - OMAR FIGUEROA
  • Omar Figueroa
  • Northern California lawyer Omar Figueroa — a proponent of the California Craft Cannabis Initiative.

Proponents of the thirteen-page California Craft Cannabis Initiative call it an inclusive effort  designed to protect California’s rich heritage of artisan cannabis growers. The ballot language is the result of an open-source editing process, combined with legal advice by private and state attorneys, they say.

The Compassionate and Sensible Access Act is a very short, one-page initiative that protects a doctor’s right to recommend cannabis, as well as limits officials’ ability to regulate cultivation, transportation and distribution.

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As President, Governor Chris Christie Will Escalate War on Pot

by David Downs
Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 11:03 AM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie - STATE OF NEW JERSEY
  • State of New Jersey
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie might have just energized the youth and stoner vote in the 2016 Presidential election. On Tuesday, he told “The Hugh Hewitt Show” that he would “crack down and not permit” states to further legalize cannabis.

Christie said a very clear message needs to be sent "from the White House on down through federal law enforcement."

"States should not be permitted to sell it and profit" from legal cannabis.

"Marijuana is a a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country." 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pot Prohibition Hurts College Students More Than Helps, Study Indicates

by David Downs
Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 10:38 AM

A study of students in the Dutch city of Maastricht illustrates how pot prohibition’s cost can far outweigh any of its intended benefits.

Legal weed's availability had no effect on college dropout rates or the quality of teaching by instructors who might smoke off-hours, the study found.

And while restricting access to legal pot could slightly boost the grades of younger college students who are taking intense math classes, the positive effect of such a ban is on par with banning alcohol, having a higher-quality teacher, or a smarter roommate.

The data seems to indicate that America’s brutal, zero tolerance anti-marijuana policies that lock up kids, deny them financial aid, and throw them out of school for a joint are doing more harm than legal pot ever could.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Treatment Not Jail Slashes Recidivism by 58 Percent

by David Downs
Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 10:29 AM

Housing, healthcare, job training, addiction treatment, and mental health support slashes recidivism compared to sending people to jail, a pilot project in Seattle’s King County is reporting.

University of Washington researchers in the first part of a three-part evaluation report this week that King County's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program of treatment not jail leads to safer communities.

“LEAD has shown promise as an alternative to jail for low-level drug crimes," stated Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. "Bringing service providers, police, prosecutors and defenders to the table in a collaborative manner works. We are seeing results, and re-investing in the program will touch more of the people who need it most."

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Medical Marijuana Patients May Be Exempt from Proposed E-Cig Ban

by David Downs
Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 9:57 AM

A bill by state Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco that would ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is banned appears to include a carve-out for medical marijuana patients.

Leno’s SB 140 would slap down the growing industry for e-cigarettes, which are devices that use a battery and atomizer to create an inhaled mist from a liquid mix of propylene glycol, glycerine, flavoring, nicotine, or other substances.

The bill is designed to ban people from using e-cigarettes (often called ‘vaping’) in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited, like work and bars. “The rest of us should not be expected to breathe the fumes of other people’s addictive and toxic vice,” opines the Sacramento Bee, in support of the measure.

According to the state's analysis, SB 140 “recasts and broadens the definition of 'tobacco product' in current law to include electronic cigarettes [even when they do not contain nicotine]; extends current restrictions and prohibitions against the use of tobacco products to electronic cigarettes; and, extends current licensing requirements for manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers of tobacco products to electronic cigarettes.”

Medical cannabis vaporizer users (above) appear to be exempted from Sen. Mark Leno's harsh new anti-vaporizer measures. - DPA
  • DPA
  • Medical cannabis vaporizer users (above) appear to be exempted from Sen. Mark Leno's harsh new anti-vaporizer measures.

According to California records, SB 140 was amended last month to include the phrase “existing law prohibits the smoking of medical marijuana in any place where smoking is prohibited by law. This bill would declare that its provisions do not affect any law or regulation regarding medical marijuana.”

That amendment appears to exempt medical cannabis patients who vaporize cannabis or extracts from the electronic cigarettes from having to abide by the law, if it were to pass.

SB 140 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate’s Health committee today.

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