Governors file petition with DEA asking to reclassify marijuana

December 3rd, 2011

Poll after poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans now see medical marijuana as legitimate, Governor Gregoire said.

"Poll after poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans now see medical marijuana as legitimate," Governor Gregoire said.

Providence, RI – Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire today announced that they have filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration asking the agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would allow its use for medical treatment if prescribed by a doctor.

The petition would require the Federal Drug Administration to conduct a new scientific review and analysis of recent advances in Cannabis research since the last time the FDA reviewed the matter in 2006.

For full press release: http://www.ri.gov/press/view/15325

One way to encourage legalization…

December 2nd, 2011

Weed Candy

Weed Candy

October 11, 2011 in the Healthy Living Section of the Orange County Register posted by Courtney Perkes

“California voters refused to legalize marijuana last year, but it’s perfectly legal to buy candy that looks like the cannabis leaf.”

Read the whole story here:
http://healthyliving.ocregister.com/2011/10/11/candy-you-cant-smoke/40193/

Two Things EVERY Collective Director Should Know!

January 3rd, 2011

Due to the nature of my occupation I have the fortunate experience of conversing with many individuals and groups that are involved to various degrees in the medical marijuana community. I regularly discuss the state of the law with activists, patients, concerned citizens, politicians, doctors, court experts, prosecutors, police officers, and of course collective directors. I have observed that most of these folks are quite up to date with the rapidly changing body of laws. However, there are two main areas that I can firmly attest are not catching on quite as well as others. It is mainly due to the vague and dynamic nature of the codified law and cases that interpret them. The two main areas are Quantity limits and Collective Cultivation.

Collectives are authorized under California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.775. The section reads as follows:

“Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with identification cards, who associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570.”

It is a popular misconception amongst many people in the MMJ community that collectives can just purchase or otherwise acquire medicine from outside “vendors”. This system does make pragmatic sense for groups that do not have the knowledge or space needed to cultivate their own medicine. Many collectives have limited resources to focus on a sophisticated grow-room. For any one who has ever set up a medical grow will attest that the cost of equipment alone can easily exceed $10,000. Without the proper equipment and space the medical grow will not produce the needed quantity or even approach a minimum quality standard. Unfortunately, the law has not yet worked out this deficiency. The current state of the law is clear in that collective/cooperative redistribution of medical marijuana does in fact require that the group cultivate their own medicine. Collective cultivation is the cornerstone of any collective defense in a criminal prosecution. In addition to many other factors, it is imperative that a collective director be willing and able to show and document the existence of a medical grow when faced with criminal prosecution. I suggest, however unpopular this idea may be, that every group engaging in collective activities maintain a transparent and fully accessible grow.

The second area is quantity limitations. I would have to say that most folks still spread as gospel the standards as codified in California Health and Safety code section 11362.77.

California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.77 provides the following language:

“(a) A qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature or twelve immature marijuana plants per qualified patient.”

I refer to this as the “6-8-12 gets you a Felony” standard. California Courts have reviewed, with considerable scrutiny, the Medical Marijuana Program, (MMP). Since its adoption in 2003 the MMP has been challenged in many ways but quit rigorously on this quantity limitation issue. I will not provide a full rendering of the history of this litigation as it would require an article of its own. The seminal case is People v. Kelly, 47 Cal.4th 1008. Many people are aware that the court determined that the quantity limitations in 11362.77 are not valid. Many in the MMJ community heralded this decision as a carte blanche to possess and cultivate quantities exceeding these limits. The problem is that the court did not validate unlimited quantities for qualified patients. In fact the Court set out no bright line rule for quantities. Therefore, it could be that a patient could exceed the limits of the medical marijuana laws with only 2 ounces or 3 mature plants. Of course it is also true that a patient may be in compliance with 10 ounces or 13 plants. The only thing we immediately knew for sure was that neither law enforcement, Judges or defense lawyers could use 11362.77 as a rule.

The current state of quantity limitations has been reduced to the highly speculative pre-MMP standard of “reasonableness“. It is unfortunately placed upon patients and collectives to justify the quantity of marijuana possessed or grown. With this in mind, I highly suggest that all patients and collectives document and constantly scrutinize the amounts they possess and cultivate. Based upon the capricious nature of juries, it is difficult to specify with any certainty what will be a reasonable quantity. That is why patients and collectives should have written records of how a particular patient ingests their medicine. It should be noted as to whether they smoke, use edibles, topical applications and what their regular usage amounts are. These records should also be reviewed by a medical marijuana expert to determine if the amounts are reasonable in their view. Finally, these records should be checked regularly to ensure that they are keep up to date.

All members of the medical marijuana community should take note of both these items and make the necessary changes to maintain compliance with State law. Happy New Year!

Laguna Beach Return of property

December 9th, 2009

Well we just got 10 ounces of medicine returned to a patient arrested in Laguna Beach. Interestingly – we had a court order signed for return of the property and the LBPD initially denied my client return of his medicine. Only after some discussion and talk about contempt did they agree to honor a valid court order for return of the medicine. Congratulations medical marijuana community- it is a rare day when Laguna Beach PD actually gives back medicine to a patient.

Common ground

November 7th, 2009

COMMON GROUND:

In recent months it has become quite evident to me that people opposing store front dispensaries/collectives and those in favor actually do have the same interests at heart. The common ground shared by both sides of this debate stems from a valid and righteous concern for the public safety and welfare. Advocates opposing collectives argue that they fear the potential of enhanced crime and want their children to be sheltered from marijuana transactions. Proponents, myself included, argue for safe affordable patient access to medicine. Proponents have the law of the Great State of California on their side. However, the law may not be enough when certain city leaders prefer lawsuits and bans to block access. The rhetoric used by both sides can be easily interpreted by the average listener as two distinct opposing sides to this debate when fundamentally there really is only common ground. In reality both sides see the issue of store front dispensaries the same way. However, due to the passion and zeal of the advocates on both sides it can still appear there is a separation of ideology and a divisive polarization.

Allow me to give you an example. Many moons ago when I completed in Jiu jitsu and grappling tournaments, I was coached by a Brazilian instructor. My instructor, while vastly knowledgeable, spoke mainly Portuguese. I vividly remember a three week period of time in which he tried to communicate to me, using a Portuguese expression, a technique he wanted me to employ. However, the language he used sounded like a English expression literally meaning the opposite of what he was asking me to do. You can imagine the frustration that ensued. There I was using all of my energy to employ the proper technique directly the opposite of what he was asking of me. You can imagine his frustration in seeing his student doing the exact opposite of what he asked me to do! I was working hard to execute this new strategy and here was my instructor enraged that I was defying his direction. The breaking point came when we were both at our wits end and fortunately another bilingual student explained the communication error to both of us. After much heated and frustrated discussion we both had a good laugh over the misunderstanding. The point is that we both shared a common ground in trying to improve my grappling abilities and success in competition.

Here, in our medical marijuana collective/storefront dispensary conversation both sides speak passionately about having medical access and about community safety. The truth is, just like with my instructor, there really is just a huge communication breakdown. Advocates attempting to keep collectives open speak of freedom and safe affordable access. Those opposed to collectives cite concerns for their children and crime prevention. Both sides speak loudly and with real concern for their cause. In reality the advocates on behalf of the collectives are asking for, or better stated begging for, regulation and taxation. The truth is that every set of proposed or adopted regulations I reviewed, Palm Springs, Laguna Beach, West Hollywood, Oakland, and many other advocacy based proposals all require security and extensive restrictions to ensure safety and access. Those regulations all required minimum distances from schools, parks, and playgrounds. They also require licensed security, cameras, recording of transactions and many other rules designed to make the community safe. Without these types of regulations you have an environment that is subject to the same dangers that accompany unlawful distribution of marijuana. I presume this is exactly what those opposed to collectives and storefront dispensaries are concerned about. It appears that all parties are truly asking for the same thing!! We all want patients to have access and we all want a safe environment to operate in. However, one side is speaking Portuguese and the other is just not understanding that language.

When will So Cal catch up??

August 12th, 2009

Southern California is suffering as bad as Northern California from the current budgetary crisis. However, Northern California has been more progressive in voting to add additional taxation on medicinal marijuana. The introduction of new revenue streams is critical before we have fired every teacher and public employee. So when will Southern California catch up??

Drug Defense Lawyer

July 6th, 2009

Welcome to drug defense lawyer blog! This forum will be used to discuss current issues related to citizens charged with narcotics related offenses. The primary focus of this blog will be to address citizens in the Great State of California. The primary purpose is to inform defendant’s, their families, medical marijuana collectives, medical marijuana patients and others with an interest in the current drug prosecution climate.

Taxing Medical Marijuana

June 23rd, 2009

Good day friends!

Well it seems more and more people are pushing for reform and legalization of marijuana in California. The current state of financial affairs has certainly precipitated this climate for change. However, it remains to be seen how the legislature will act in light of the July budgetary nightmare upcoming. It is a absolute fact that taxing medical marijuana would raise substantial revenue for the state.

Riverside

June 8th, 2009

Good day friends!

Well I am headed to Riverside court tomorrow to handle a collective case. The wonderful thing about Riverside is……….THE DA (Head DA) HAS DECIDED TO FIGHT ALL MEDICAL CASES!! I guess they prefer to send medical cases to trial. It does seem to be a complete waste of resources.

Marijuana Case

June 3rd, 2009

Good day friends!

Off to court today to make sense of a case where a 45 year old man is being charged with sales for having less than one ounce of marijuana on him. The District Attorney wants to incarcerate him for 6 months!!! 6 Months!!! Did I mention he has no previous record! This at a time when we have no money in our budget and teachers are being laid off all over the state. Is it a proper allocation of resources to lock up this nonviolent pot head??????