Cannabis in California: A local and federal divide

1 12 2011

The recent history of cannabis in California  demonstrates a split between state and federal law that is rapidly widening. The first U.S. state to have, in 1913, prohibited the use of the devil’s herb imported by Mexican immigrants that was “marijuana”, California was also the first to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in 1996.

15 years of legal ambiguity on medicinal marijuana

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

2 weeks ago, medicinal marijuana users celebrated 15 years of Proposition 215, the law legalizing therapeutic use of cannabis in California. The law allows patients in possession of a prescription to grow their own medicine or designate a legal grower (also known as a caregiver) to grow it for them, according to California state law.

Federal law, meanwhile, still does not recognize the therapeutic applications of cannabis, and logically the state laws can not override national laws. Since 1996, however, thousands of clinics have opened across the Golden State.  This  was not accomplished without legal difficulties and not all the dispensaries have remained open, but despite the paradox in legislation, the state’s entrepreneurs still managed to establish an industry of cannabis in California that is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

Local economy at risk

Given the very special status of the plant at federal and international levels, the medical cannabis industry in California is exclusively local, from production to distribution. For years the federal government has been trying to destabilize this market by various means.

On October 7th 2011, four District Attorneys in the Golden State claimed in a press conference that their goal was to address the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis in California. Shortly after, they sent dispensary owners an injunction to close their shops within 45 days.

Since then, the IRS has decided to claim retroactive taxes from the dispensaries in addition to new taxes on the sales of something that is still an illegal substance at a national level. This use of the tax system to put an end to an industry that seems to bother Washington is eerily reminiscent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed cannabis suppliers all over America.

Even the banks are threatened with charges of money laundering if they agree to open accounts for business people  involved in the thriving Californian economy  of producing and distributing medical marijuana!

Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries targeted

The legal status of dispensaries is comparable to the Dutch coffeeshop system, with one major difference: dispensaries go against American national policy, whereas coffeeshops have been licensed by the Dutch government. Some Californian cannabis clinics have become essential businesses for their local economy thanks to local taxes, while the federal government prefers not to touch a dime of this revenue.

It is these medicinal cannabis dispensaries which are the target of the Obama administration.  A complaint has been  filed by a group of activists and lawyers to stop this crusade against the clinics, targeting the Attorney General of the United States, the director of the DEA Michelle Leonard and the four District Attorneys who acted without authorization from their supervisors.

A confrontation between Washington and L.A?

Cannabis in California

Cannabis in California

The current situation creates a schism between local power and federal power. California’s economy is the eighth largest in the world, and cannabis in California allows the Golden State to prosper at the expense of the federal government and its repressive policies.

Californians have recently re-elected their former Governor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has always supported medical marijuana, and has even introduced legislation to improve the legal status of patients with prescriptions for cannabis. He also proposed that the distribution should be taken care of by non-profit organizations.

The support from Governor Brown, the complaint filed against representatives of the federal government and the choice of the people at the polls are all clear indicators of opposition to the policies of the federal government.

All that remains to be seen is how much wider the divide between state and federal law will be allowed to grow before one of the two sides makes a decisive move on the future of cannabis in California.





Medicinal cannabis patients classed as ‘drug addicts’ by Oregon sheriffs

13 04 2011

Despite the amount of illegal firearms and genuinely harmful drugs that America seems to be knee-deep in, police in Oregon are concerned that card-holding medicinal marijuana users might be legally carrying guns.

Under the U. S. Gun Control Act of 1968, guns may not be sold to drug addicts. Most people would agree that this is a good idea, as the mental image of a ‘drug addict’ is almost always negative: shaking, dirty, paranoid, and incapable of rational thought. Nobody wants to arm that person.

An elderly medicinal marijuana user

An elderly medicinal marijuana user in Oregon (image courtesy of NORML)

Concealed Handgun Permits are refused

The sheriffs of Oregon, however, are classing medicinal cannabis users as drug addicts and refusing to issue concealed handgun permits to them. The sheriff’s office, by state law, should not refuse to grant such a license provided a list of conditions is met. These conditions usually  include U.S. citizenship, completing  a gun safety course, no criminal record, no mental illness or substance abuse problems. Again, these are all reasonable requirements, but the medicinal cannabis patients who fulfill them are still being refused the permit.

Use of prescribed marijuana should not limit a person’s rights

Retired school bus driver Cynthia Willis is one such patient, and along with three co-plaintiffs she is part of a potentially landmark case currently under consideration by the Oregon Supreme Court. Cynthia likes to carry a Walther P-22 automatic pistol, which she says she’s never had to draw, for self-defense. She also uses cannabis to control muscle spasms and pain from her arthritis, but says she never uses it when she plans to carry her gun (or drive). So far she’s won two court cases on the argument that prescribed drug use does not disqualify a person from holding a concealed gun permit, and medicinal cannabis is a prescribed drug like any other.

Outdoor medicinal marijuana

An outdoor medicinal marijuana crop in America

More at stake than the right to carry a concealed firearm

What is at stake here is not just the right of medicinal cannabis users to carry (concealed) firearms: by Oregon law, if someone doesn’t have a concealed gun permit but does have a gun license, they can simply carry the gun openly, as Cynthia plans to do if she loses her case. Given the tragic events in Alphen aan den Rijn on Saturday as the latest in a long line of horrific shootings by licensed gun owners throughout the world,  it can be argued that gun licenses should be revoked altogether.

How do you abuse your own medicinal cannabis crop?

The underlying issue of concern in Oregon is the classification of medical marijuana patients as ‘drug addicts’, with all the negative connotations of this epithet. Although cannabis seeds have never been illegal in Oregon, and it was the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of bud back in 1973, courts recently decided that employers had the right to fire medicinal cannabis users. The sheriffs of this county openly argue that the majority of medicinal card holders are abusing the right to use ganja as a medicine, despite the fact that buying, selling, and dispensaries are still prohibited so patients must grow their own (or have someone grow it for them without profit) in order to do so.

Flyer for the Oregon NORML Cannabis Cafe, with buds

NORML is active in Oregon, which was the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Defending the rights of medical marijuana users

Executive Director of NORML Allen St. Pierre is focused on defending the right of every medicinal marijuana card holder to be treated like any other citizen: “A person who uses medical cannabis should not have to give up their fundamental rights as enumerated by the Constitution,”‘ St. Pierre said.

Source material for this article here .





Oakland legalizes Marijuana Farms

26 07 2010

Will this be the future? A project made by Gropech

Oakland’s City Council late Tuesday adopted regulations permitting industrial-scale marijuana farms, a plan that some small farmers argued would squeeze them out of the industry they helped to build.

To address concerns from smaller farmers, the council pledged to create regulations on regulating small- and medium-size marijuana farms this year. Council members and proponents of marijuana cultivation regulation viewed the proposal as smart public policy: It would generate revenue, ensure that fire and building codes are enforced, keep neighborhoods safe from robberies, and further position Oakland as the center of the state’s cannabis economy.

“It’s really important for Oakland to be a vital part of that growth and development for licensed facilities,” said Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.

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Rick Simpson – Freedom Fighter of the Year 2009

4 12 2009

Rick Simpson cannabis oil medicinal marijuanaLast week during the High Times Cup 2009, Rick Simpson was awarded with the title Freedom Fighter Of The Year 2009. We feel that Rick Simpson is one of the people that truly deserves this title.

That is why we feel it is important to tell as many people as possible about this remarkable man and his fight for Medical Marijuana. Mr. Simpson claims that his pure cannabis oil can cure all kinds of diseases and even cancer. The Canadian government does not believe this and have tried to prosecute him as a drug dealer in the past even though his only crime is giving it away for free to terminally ill cancer patients. We don’t get this… Even if you do not believe him, what harm is there to have terminally ill cancer patient try this medicine?

Below you’ll find a short statement on recent events from Rick Simpsons website phoenixtears.ca

On November 25th, 2009, one day before I was crowned the Freedom Fighter of the Year 2009 at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, I received a word that I have been raided again by the RCMP. I contacted Tim Hunter at the Amherst attachment and asked I was being charged. Of course, he refused to give me straight answer. All he would say was that the RCMP wanted to talk to me.

After openly growing hemp in my backyard this past summer and announcing this fact to the public on tom Young´s open line talk show in June, how could the RCMP not be aware of my activities? The truth is they knew exactly what I was doing. RCMP officers were even sending people that needed help to me. I can only surmise that the purpose of this raid was to keep me from returning to Canada.

If I return home, I will be arrested and put in jail without bail or medicine. I am not afraid of their jails but I cannot go without my medicine, the system has nothing that could help me with my conditions. So for me to return to Canada would be like committing suicide. I would be thrown in jail and denied my medicine and a short time later you would hear in the news that Rick Simpson died of natural causes. I cannot tell the people of Canada who are depending on my presence to help their medical conditions how sorry I am. But it was not me who caused this situation.

Cannabis oil a cure for Parkisons disease?





Houses made of hemp could help combat climate change!

27 10 2009

professor pete walker - university of bath

We have recently come across this very interesting press release from Professor Peter Walker at the University of Bath (U.K) who is leading the research into the use of hemp-lime in construction.  Buildings and other infrastructure currently accounts for almost 20% of the UK’s eco-footprint.  This is another example of how this wonderful plant can help save reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Recently we brought you the news that Hanes – one of the worlds biggest consumer brands – has been investing in a new hemp technology called Crailar which requires only a fraction of the water needed to make cotton; and we are very happy to announce that it is the subject of another of our articles, a Dutch company called Hempflax who has won the contract to supply the raw materials to Hanes – i.e. the HEMP!

Here’s the press release:

Houses made of hemp, timber or straw could help combat climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of building construction, according to researchers at the University of Bath.

Currently the construction industry is a major contributor of environmental pollutants, with buildings and other build infrastructure contributing to around 19% of the UK’s eco-footprint.  Researchers at the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials are researching low carbon alternatives to building materials currently used by the construction industry.  Although timber is used as a building material in many parts of the world, historically it is used less in the UK than in other countries. Researchers at the Centre are developing new ways of using timber and other crop-based materials such as hemp, natural fibre composites and straw bales. Their work using straw bales as a building material has already been featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs series.

Professor Peter Walker, Director of the Centre, is leading the research. He said: “The environmental impact of the construction industry is huge. For example, it is estimated that worldwide the manufacture of cement contributes up to ten per cent of all industrial carbon dioxide emissions.  “We are looking at a variety of low carbon building materials including crop-based materials, innovative uses of traditional materials and developing low carbon cements and concretes to reduce impact of new infrastructure. As well as reducing the environmental footprint, many low carbon building materials offer other benefits, including healthier living through higher levels of thermal insulation and regulation of humidity levels.”

Their research is being presented at the Sustainable Energy & the Environment showcase at the University of Bath.  The exhibition will be opened by David Willetts MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills, and will be attended by industrialists, research councils, local and national government representatives and other key stakeholders from across the South West.  The exhibition coincides with the launch of the Institute for Sustainable Energy & the Environment (I-SEE) at the University of Bath, which will bring together experts from diverse fields of science, engineering, social policy and economics to tackle the problems of climate change.

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Marc Emery – Prince of Pot

19 10 2009

Here’s a piece I found on Marc Emery on U.S TV – it includes an interview with his wife Jodie Emery and is well worth a watch!

Marc is one of the figureheads of the cannabis legalization movement and his treatment by U.S and Canandian prosecutors who circumvented normal procedure to extradite him from Canada is both contradictory and illegal in our eyes.  Further information can be found at drugwarrant.com

FREE MARC!





Cannabis to be legalized in Jamaica?

14 08 2009

Champs de Cannabis au Jamaïque

Exports of Jamaica’s primary agricultural products – sugar, bananas and bauxite – have slumped severely since the start of the global financial crisis. As this crisis deepens, many prominent Jamaicans are calling for the cultivation and exportation of marijuana to be legalized for medicinal purposes.

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