Jan. 3, 2013 11:18

News Nuggets


Travel guru Arthur Frommer to Denver: expect “a torrent of new tourism”

Famed travel guru Arthur Frommer blogged about which places will be the “hot” destinations for 2013—among them, Denver, thanks to Amendment 64.

“Though local tourist officials are openly critical of the recent statewide votes in Washington and Colorado that legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana, I suggest they are actually overjoyed,” Frommer wrote about on “Arthur’s Blog” recently. “Already, hotels in Seattle and Denver are reporting numerous requests for reservations by pot supporters planning visits to Washington and Colorado . . . In any event, expect a torrent of new tourism to Seattle and Denver.”

Visit Denver’s response to A64: “In the short term, the important thing for visitors to know is that as of today, the sale or possession of marijuana is still illegal in the City & County of Denver and the State of Colorado and is also subject to enforcement under Federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Grower sues Larimer County Sheriff’s Office over destroyed plants

You can fight city hall . . . and you can sue your local police department, too. That’s the lesson from a 34-year-old state-compliant grower who sued the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office for destroying 42 of his plants after a September 2010 arrest, The Coloradoan reports. Kaleb Young was acquitted of multiple cannabis felonies; cultivation, possession with intent to manufacture or distribute less than five pounds and possession of more than 12 ounces.

“Throughout December 2011, Mr. Young repeatedly attempted to enforce, through counsel, the District Court order that required the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to return property previously seized from his residence, including 42 medical marijuana plants,” according to the lawsuit filed in 8th Judicial District Court.

Young’s attorney said he is asking for $210,000 ($5,000 per plant), plus attorney fees.

Dispensary ban in Weld County could face a repeal

A ban on dispensaries that was set to kick in Dec. 31 in the small Weld County town of Dacono is facing its own ban of sorts, according to Westword. Local voters could be asked to strike down the ban as early as February.

Last year, the Dacono City Council banned cannabis centers, grows and edible manufacturing facilities. The ban currently affects the three dispensaries currently located in the eight-square-mile town north of Denver.

We just want to provide safe access to our medicine,” Brad Henson, manager of Dacono Meds and part of the coalition working to repeal the ban, told Westword.


Changes—and more restrictions—coming to state’s med cannabis law

Michigan patients, the times they are a-changin‘—not necessarily for the better. Lawmakers last month approved changes and new restrictions to the state’s 2008 voter-approved medical cannabis act, a move that has some concerned about privacy and law enforcement issues, according to the Associated Press and other media outlets.

HB 4834 extends the expiration of state-issued patient ID cards from one year to two. The bill would also allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to verify the validity of registry cards to law enforcement. HB 4834 also requires a driver’s license or state ID card to obtain a registry card and, because of a backlog, proposes hiring a private company to process and issue patient ID cards.

HB 4851 also requires a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” between MMJ patients and the doctors they consult, and would prevent someone convicted of a felony (for drugs or assault) in the past 10 years from becoming a caregiver. Another bill would require patients to store their cannabis in the trunk of their car while driving, or another place inaccessible to the driver.

District Court judge says Michigan’s MMJ laws needs “clarification”

Michigan’s medical cannabis law “screams for legislative clarification in numerous areas,” according to a 19-page legal opinion by District Court Judge Hugh B. Clarke, Jr., who recently tossed out charges against employees of two Lansing medical cannabis facilities.

Four employees of HydroWorld stood accused of selling cannabis in 2011 to undercover police officers. The Attorney General’s office filed charges, saying officers were able to make purchases even though they did not have state-issued patient cards—though they did apply for and get a doctor’s approval. In this case, Clarke determined that the doctor’s approval was sufficient to allow a medical cannabis transaction.

Possession charges filed against Detroit Lion Nick Fairley dropped

Second-degree cannabis possession charges against Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley were thrown out last month in Mobile, Ala., the Detroit Free Press reports.

The athlete was pulled over last year after midnight in southwest Mobile where officers found marijuana cigarettes and an herbal grinder in his car. Prosecutors urged the court to drop the case after Fairley passed a drug test. The passenger who was riding with Fairley, a childhood friend, was also facing charges, but has worked out a probation-like sentence that will result in his charges being dropped.

Northern California

Advocates to Sacramento: Ease up on dispensary ban

After being forced to close their doors by a countywide ordinance one year ago, a group of former cannabis dispensary operators and medical cannabis advocates lobbied the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors at its Dec. 11 meeting to ease the unilateral ban on all businesses that contradict federal law, The Sacramento Bee reports. The broadly-worded ordinance was passed last month amid a wave of federal crackdowns on California cannabis businesses, and effectively led to the closure of thousands of dispensaries across Sacramento County.

Over the summer, activists tried to initiate a ballot measure to eliminate the ban, but they fell short of the 42,231 signatures needed. At the board meeting, the campaigners presented more than 30,000 signatures they had collected as supporting evidence. Activists argued that county officials should allow at least 22 cannabis retail outlets—one for every 25,000 residents—to operate within county lines. The board says it was “not prepared to take those actions.”

Concord considers banning outdoor cannabis cultivation

The Concord City Council held a public forum last month to discuss a potential ban on growing cannabis outdoors, the Contra Costa Times reports. The issue was first brought to the city’s attention when a local resident complained that her neighbor, a patient, was growing cannabis outside and that the plant created an offensive odor that wafted onto her property. Police investigated and determined that the neighbor was growing cannabis within the confines of state law.

However, the city is considering banning outdoor cultivation because it “creates a risk to public safety, since [its] value and visibility encourage[s] trespass and theft, posing the risk of violence and injury.” No firm decision was made, but the city council did pass the issue along to the city attorney for review. The council also stated that it would review the cannabis ban in place at nearby Moraga, possibly using it as a model.

Public housing not necessarily patient-friendly

It seems even Bay Area residents aren’t safe from MMJ prejudice, despite what California law says. Public housing hasn't taken kindly to patients, with at least one company (contracted to manage units and tenants) issuing rules that strictly prohibit cannabis—even the medical kind, according to SF Weekly. The firm, The John Stewart Company, manages the Hunters View development in Hunters Point. Federal officials have previously said that public housing and landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers are not required to make “accommodations” for those who use cannabis.

Southern California

Court: MMJ patient has right to raise son without supervision

In a case that suggests MMJ patients have parental rights just like everybody else, an appeals court has ruled that a Southern California father (identified only as “Paul M.” in court documents) is to be released from mandated supervision that he was subjected to while his son was under his care. The court essentially said that the father’s use of medical cannabis—for knee pain and arthritis—did not constitute a danger to his toddler son, despite such concerns by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and a lower court.

The decision is a “victory for parents who use medical marijuana,” Lauren K. Johnson, “Paul M.’s” attorney, told The Huffington Post.
The mandated supervision involved drug counseling, parenting classes and random drug tests. An anonymous tip had initially prompted L.A. County DCFS officials to investigate the matter.

California State Supreme Court to tackle Temecula’s ban

The state Supreme Court may end up deciding the fate of a lawsuit challenging a dispensary ban in Temecula, according to the North County Times. Until the case is heard, Cooperative Patients’ Services—which challenged the ban—will not be allowed to operate in the city.

Both MMJ advocates and opponents have expressed hopes the California Supreme Court will clear up prior, contradictory rulings stemming from Los Angeles, Long Beach and Riverside cases. A Supreme Court ruling, for example, could clarify whether or not cities and other local jurisdictions can ban dispensaries, or merely impose zoning restrictions and other regulations.

A ruling in the Temecula case is not expected until December 2013, or possibly not until early 2014, City Attorney Peter Thorson told the Times.

Temecula passed its ban in 2006.

Riverside County cannabis group: End federal raids, Obama

A Riverside County MMJ group recently issued a resolution urging President Barack Obama to respect voters in Colorado and Washington, who approved measures last November that legalized the use and possession of cannabis for recreational use by adults 21 and older. The Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County also delivered a copy of the resolution to the Riverside offices of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Rancho Mirage).

And the club’s central committee demanded that President Obama “end the Department of Justice interference and raids by federal agencies in states with medical marijuana laws,” among other requests.

The group takes its name from Mary Jane Rathbun, or “Brownie Mary,” a San Francisco nurse and cannabis activist who was famous for dispensing brownies containing cannabis to seriously ill patients.


Spokane dispensary operator’s drug-trafficking conviction dropped

A drug-trafficking conviction against the man who operated Spokane’s first dispensary has been overturned, according to The Spokesman-Review. The attorney for Scott Q. Shupe (who formerly operated the Change dispensary on Northwest Boulevard) praised the decision, saying, “He was the first one to put his butt on the line and test it. My hope is that we can get to the point where this can help the patients that this law was designed for.”

In the state Appeals Court 2-1 decision, Judges Dennis Sweeney and Teresa Kulik ruled that Spokane County prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to justify the March 2011 conviction. The two judges also said that  “the language of the law should be interpreted to allow medical marijuana providers to sell marijuana to one customer at a time rather than the prosecution’s interpretation of providers selling it to only one person at all,” according to the newspaper.

With dropped conviction, police will be required to return more than $8,000 in cash and three cannabis-filled jars that were previously seized.

Law enforcement officials: Oregon and Idaho should be cautious dealing with legal Washington

Just because possession of cannabis is legal for adults from Washington who are 21 or older, doesn’t make it a free-for-all for the neighbors in Oregon and Idaho, authorities say.

As the Evergreen State continues to flesh out the provisions of Initiative 502, officials in Portland are warning residents that while you can go over to Washington to “smoke some weed,” you can’t legally drive under the influence and it will be a year before the selling or buying is legal, according to the Associated Press. Those driving under the influence of cannabis in Portland also face possible arrest. Patients from Oregon can still obtain their meds in Washington under the legal limit. Idaho has no MMJ laws so possession of less than three ounces can result in jail time and/or a $1,000 fine.

Justice Department: Keep cannabis away from federal land

The U.S. Department of Justice reminded Washington residents that cannabis remains illegal under federal law and warned against bringing it on to federal property—such as Mount Rainier National Park, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic. While I-502 allows possession of up to an ounce (and a limited amount of edibles) by adults 21 and over, local police say cannabis should only consumed in private residences. Qualified MMJ patients can continue to possess and grow cannabis as before.

The Nation

Senate to discuss state cannabis legalization

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) plans to hold a hearing this year to discuss federal policy in the light of Colorado and Washington’s cannabis legalization.

In a letter to Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, the senator asks for clarification on the issue stating, “How does the Office of National Drug Control Policy intend to prioritize Federal resources, and what recommendations are you making to the Department of Justice and other agencies in light of the choice by citizens of Colorado and Washington to legalize personal use of small amounts of marijuana?” He goes on to ask, “What assurance can and will the administration give to state officials involved in the licensing of marijuana retailers that they will not face Federal criminal penalties for carrying out duties assigned to them under state law?”

Leahy finishes his letter urging to “resolve the differences between federal and state law” and to “end the uncertainty.” He recommends the amendment of the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one once of cannabis where it is legal under state law.

Illinois representative pushes for MMJ legalization

In the wake of the November election, a member of the Illinois state House of Representatives is pushing a bill to legalize the cannabis for medicinal purposes. U.S. Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) has drafted similar legislation previously, but to no avail. He is confident, however, that he has now secured the votes to approve the legislation when it comes to a vote this month. “Nobody should fear the bill,” Lang told Patch. “This is about quality of life for people.” If passed, Bill 0030 would make Illinois the 19th state to legalize MMJ, including the most recent additions to that list: Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Arizona attorney ready to fight

Maricopa County Lawyer Bill Montgomery is planning to petition the state Court of Appeals, so that the state’s medicinal cannabis law will be rendered temporarily unconstitutional.

According to Arizona Central, his intentions became clear after a Superior Court judge denied Montgomery’s request to stay or suspend the ruling, allowing dispensaries to operate in the state so long as they provide zoning documentation.

Arizona has already opened two dispensaries in Sun City and Tucson, with a third licensed for Cochise.

The World

Britain’s Parliament calls for cannabis legalization

After a year-long study, the senior members of Parliament called for the legalization of cannabis. It also suggests looking at decriminalization of drugs such as heroin.

The ministers’ recommendation came in a report from Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee. According to the MPs, the UK’s current approach isn’t working. The committee suggests government fund detailed research efforts into “the overall costs and benefits of cannabis legalization,” according to The Sun. The committee also urges Prime Minister David Cameron to set a Royal Commission to review all options before the next election. The year-long study included witness accounts including comic and former heroin addict Russell Brand.


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