And the beat goes on. From the West Coast to the East Coast and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, medical marijuana is on the agenda. Let's get to it:
Last Tuesday, Santa Cruz County supervisors approved an ordinance that allows new dispensaries to apply for permits starting in December. The 3-2 vote blocked an effort by Supervisor Zach Friend to impose new, heavy-handed cultivation rules and renew the county's dispensary moratorium. That was set to expire next week.
Last Wednesday, word came that a Browns Valley family is suing Yuba County over a raid in which their medical marijuana plants were seized and family members were jailed despite being registered patients. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop future "unlawful seizures" and "reasonable compensation" for the lost plants. In the August 2012 raid, deputies seized all but two plants from the three-generation, five-member family.
On Monday, San Francisco medical marijuana advocates and a dispensary applicant met with Board of Supervisors Chair David Chiu in a bid to head off a tougher approval process for dispensaries on Mission Street between Alemany Boulevard and the San Mateo County line. Supervisors were expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal from Supervisor John Avalos to tighten up on the corridor, but as of press time, there was no word the vote actually happened.
Also on Monday, San Diego dispensary operator Jovan Jackson was found guilty of marijuana trafficking charges in state court. This is the second time he was convicted in the case; an earlier conviction was thrown out after an appeals court ruled that dispensary operators have the right to a defense in state court. His case has become a cause célèbre in San Diego medical marijuana circles, where activists accuse DA Bonnie Dumanis of engaging in a crusade against medical marijuana.
On Tuesday, the Eureka city council voted to keep the city's medical marijuana ordinance and let the moratorium on dispensaries lapse. The council in the Humboldt County community split 3-2 on the vote, which regulates personal grows on a land-use basis and would allow two dispensaries in the town. An amendment to prohibit co-ops and collectives and mobile delivery services failed.
Also on Tuesday, Palm Springs voters approved a new dispensary tax. Measure B asked voters if they wanted to levy a tax of up to 15% of dispensary sales, with the city council setting the actual tax rate. The measure passed with two-thirds of the vote and is expected to raise up to $1 million a year for city coffers.
Last Thursday, state legislators urged the state Supreme Court to reject a pending medical marijuana initiative, joining Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi in opposing the measure. They claimed it would mislead voters and "open the door for anyone to smoke pot."
Last Friday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich said she supported the initiative. "I've seen the research, I've studied the issue, and I've met with patients who clearly benefit and desperately need medically prescribed cannabis," Rich said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a Miami Beach straw poll saw two-thirds approving medical marijuana. Medical marijuana got more votes than the leading mayoral candidate, although he had three other candidates to contend with.
Last week, Rep. Lou Lang introduced a bill to amend the state's new medical marijuana law. The bill, Senate Bill 1955, has good provisions adding protections for veterans and for patients who want to use edibles, but also contains provisions that would remove two qualifying conditions that opponents think might allow for abuse. The Marijuana Policy Project supports the bill because "we feel the bill would do more good than harm."
On Tuesday, the Milford planning board gave a favorable recommendation to a medical marijuana facility seeking to open there. Baystate Alternative Health Care needs a special permit for its dispensary and grow operations, and the request now moves to the Zoning Board of Appeals. One facility has already been licensed in town.
Last Saturday, patients and state Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) rallied at the state capitol to call for medical marijuana in the Sooner State. Johnson has been pushing medical marijuana bills in the legislature but getting nowhere, and the rally was designed to generate attention and support.
On Monday, the city of Newport learned it would have a dispensary as of March 1, when a state bill passed earlier this year to regulate dispensaries goes into effect. Some law enforcement officials have vowed to fend off dispensaries through local bans and ordinances, but Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda said, "We don't have a dog in this fight."
On Monday, a pending medical marijuana bill picked up its first Republican supporter. Rep. Jim Cox said he signed on as a cosponsor of House Bill 1181 after speaking with a woman whose daughter suffers from epilepsy. The bill was introduced in April, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
Last Thursday, the Department of Public Safety announced it had approved a dispensary in Brattleboro. Southern Vermont Wellness, Inc. will be the fourth and final dispensary allowed under the state's 2011 medical marijuana dispensary law.
Last Friday, the state Liquor Control Board announced it would hold a November 13 hearing on controversial plans to integrate the state's medical marijuana program into its broader marijuana legalization scheme. Among other things, the board is calling for a end to patient grows and a reduction in the amount of marijuana they can possess.
[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]
Voters in Colorado and Michigan approve marijuana measures (and so do voters in Portland, Maine--see our news brief this issue), another New Mexico anal drug search victim emerges and the Mexican military moves into Lazaro Cardenas. Let's get to it:
Colorado Voters Approve Marijuana Taxes. Colorado voters approved a taxation scheme that will add 25% in wholesale and retail taxes to the price of legally sold marijuana in the state. Proposition AA was winning with 64% of the vote at last report.
Three Michigan Cities Approve Marijuana Measures. Voters in the Michigan cities of Lansing, Jackson, and Ferndale handily approved local measures to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and over. The measures passed with 69% of the vote in Ferndale, 63% in Lansing, and 61% in Jackson. The trio of towns now join other Michigan cities, including Grand Rapids and Detroit, that have municipally decriminalized pot possession.
Search and Seizure
Second New Mexico Anal Drug Search Victim Emerges. Yesterday, the Chronicle AM noted the case of Deming, New Mexico, resident David Eckert, who was subjected to anal probes, enemas, x-rays, and colonoscopies without his consent after being pulled over for running a stop sign. The cops suspected he had drugs. He didn't and is now suing the police, the county, and the medical personnel who participated. Now, a second victim has emerged. Timothy Young was stopped for failure to use a turn signal. As was the case with Eckert, a drug dog—Leo the K-9—alerted, but as was the case with Eckert, no drugs were found, despite the extensive invasive searches. Turns out the drug dog has not been certified for more than two years and has a history of false alerts, and the hospital where the searches were conducted was not within the jurisdiction of the search warrant. It looks like another New Mexico resident will get a big check at the taxpayers' expense one of these days.
Mexican Military Takes over Key Pacific Seaport in Bid to Fight Cartels. The Mexican military has moved into the major port of Lazaro Cardenas and the adjoining town of the same name in the violence-plagued state of Michoacan. Soldiers are now responsible for policing duties, and all 113 police officers in Lazaro Cardenas have been sidelined until they undergo drug testing and police training. The port of Lazaro Cardenas is the main entrepot for precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, which is produced in the state by the Knights Templar cartel. The Knights are also engaged in ongoing fighting with vigilante "self-defense" forces in the state.
Voters in Portland, Maine, have chosen overwhelmingly to approve a ballot measure that eliminates all legal penalties for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by people 21 and over. With 80% of the precincts reporting late Tuesday evening, the measure was passing with a hefty 70% of the vote.
[image:1 align:left]Portland is Maine's largest city. It now becomes the first city on the East Coast to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The victory in Portland will boost efforts to legalize marijuana statewide, either through the state legislature or via an initiative in 2016.
Portland voters approved Question 1, which, in addition to legalizing small amounts for adults, allows for legal use and for legal possession of pot paraphernalia. The measure bans use in public and allows landlords to bar indoor use by posting non-smoking signs on building entrances.
The measure also puts the city of Portland on record as "supporting taxation and regulation of marijuana by the state of Maine and the federal government."
Denver and Detroit, as well as other Michigan cities, have passed similar measures. Three more Michigan cities were also voting today on personal marijuana legalization measures.
An especially egregious drug war excess in New Mexico makes the news, the mayor of Toronto 'fesses up to smoking crack, Morocco gets ready to talk marijuana legalization, and more. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:left caption:true]Drug Testing
Drug Testing Provision Stripped from New Hampshire Hep C Bill. A bill written in the wake of an outbreak of Hep C infections linked to an Exeter Hospital employee will not include random drug testing for health care employees. The bill, House Bill 597, originally contained such language, but it was stripped out in the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee. Federal courts have held that drug tests constitute a search under the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and thus require probable cause, except in limited circumstances.
Search and Seizure
New Mexico Man Sues over Forced Anal Drug Search. A Deming, New Mexico, man detained for running a stop sign allegedly had his buttocks clenched when ordered out of his vehicle by police, leading them to suspect he had drugs secreted in his rectum. Police obtained a search warrant from a compliant judge, then had medical personnel forcibly subject the man to repeated anal probes, enemas, and a colonoscopy in a futile attempt to find any drugs. In addition to the unreasonableness of the invasive searches, they also took place outside of the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued and after the timeline specified in the warrant. The victim, David Eckert, ought to be picking up a nice check one of these years.
Toronto Mayor Admits He Smoked Crack, But Says He's Not an Addict. Months after rumors of a video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine emerged, but only days after Toronto police said they had a copy of that video, Ford told reporters Tuesday that he had indeed smoked crack, but that he did so "in a drunken stupor" and that he wasn't an addict. Time will tell if his political career survives the revelation.
Marijuana Legalization Debate Looms in Morocco. Moroccan activists and politicians are close to firming up a date later this month for the parliament to hear a seminar on the economic implications of legalization hosted by the powerful Party of Authenticity and Modernity. Morocco is one of the world's largest marijuana producers, with output estimated at 40,000 tons a year, most of which is transformed into hashish and destined for European markets.
Czech Police in Mass Raid on Grow Shops. Although the Czech Republic has a reputation as a pot-friendly destination, recreational marijuana use remains illegal. Czech police served up a reminder of that reality Tuesday, raiding dozens of stores that sell growers' supplies. Police seized fertilizer, grow lights, and marijuana growing guidebooks and said they suspected store owners of violating drug laws by providing people with all the equipment they needed to grow their own. There was no mention made of any arrests.
New Zealand Court Says Employer Can't Force Workers to Undergo Drug Tests. New Zealand's Employment Court has ruled that companies cannot impose random drug tests on workers, nor discipline them for refusing such a test. Mighty River Power Company had a collective bargaining agreement with workers, which allowed testing only under specified circumstances, but initiated random drug tests later. If the company wants random drug test, the court said, it would need to negotiate a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement.
[Ed: This piece was written before Election Day. See other articles this issue for the results.]
State and local elections Tuesday will see voters in Colorado, three Michigan cities, and Portland, Maine, deciding on marijuana policy reform questions. In Colorado, voters will decide whether to approve taxation of the legal marijuana industry, while in Michigan and Portland, voters will decide on decriminalization and legalization, respectively.
[image:1 align:left]In Colorado, Proposition AA would impose a 15% excise tax on wholesale recreational marijuana transactions, as well as an additional 10% sales tax at the retail level. The measure is expected to pass despite the opposition of some vocal segments of the state's marijuana community.
In Lansing, Jackson, and Ferndale, Michigan, voters will be asked to amend city charters to ensure "that nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession, and transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained 21 years," as the Lansing language puts it.
"It's important to send a message and to take a position as a capital city," said Jeffrey Hank, a Lansing attorney who has pushed to decriminalize marijuana in Lansing. "We're the last of the major Michigan cities to have (marijuana decriminalization) reform."
Decriminalization (or personal legalization) has already passed in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti.
In Portland, voters in Maine's largest city will decide whether to approve Question 1, which would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ½ ounces without penalty. The question also includes a resolution of support for taxing and regulating marijuana at the state and federal level.
While the Maine and Michigan local initiatives are likely to be ignored by state and local law enforcement, they will still have the symbolic value of putting voters on record as supporting marijuana law reform. If they pass, that is.
Remember Bernie Goetz? He made the news again over the weekend, and so did Florida's medical marijuana initiative. There's also drug policy news from around the world. Let's get to it
[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana
Let A Hundred Pot Shops Bloom…in Colorado. The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division reported late last week that it has received applications from 136 people seeking to open adult use marijuana retail stores. By law, only people currently operating medical marijuana businesses could apply. Those who applied by the end of October will have decisions on their applications before year's end, meaning they could open on January 1, the earliest date adult marijuana sales will be allowed in the state.
NYC Subway Vigilante Bernie Goetz Busted in Penny Ante Marijuana Sting. The New York City man who became a national figure after shooting four teens who asked him for money on the subway back in 1984 was arrested last Friday over a $30 marijuana sale. Bernie Goetz is accused of selling the miniscule amount of marijuana to an undercover officer.
Florida Lawmakers Oppose Medical Marijuana Initiative. Florida House and Senate leaders said late last week that they will join Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) in asking the state Supreme Court to block a medical marijuana initiative from going to the ballot. "We certainly don't want a situation like they've got in Colorado," explained state Rep. Doug Holder (R-Venice). Petitioners have gathered only about 200,000 of the more than 600,000 signatures they need to make the ballot. They have until February, unless the state Supreme Court puts the kibosh on the effort.
Florida Governor Candidate Supports Medical Marijuana Initiative. Candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination Nan Rich said last Friday she supports a proposed medical marijuana ballot initiative. "I’ve seen the research, I’ve studied the issue, and I’ve met with patients who clearly benefit and desperately need medically prescribed cannabis," Rich said in a statement. "That's why I’m signing the petition to get this important measure on the ballot in 2014 and I’m calling on all of my friends and supporters to do the same. There is simply no reason patients should suffer when an effective, safe, and organic remedy is readily available."
Washington State Regulators to Hold Hearing on Controversial Medical Marijuana Plans. The Washington state Liquor Control Board announced last Friday it will hold a hearing November 13 in Lacey to take public testimony on proposed changes to the state's medical marijuana system. Regulators have issued draft recommendations that would reduce the amount of medical marijuana patients could possess and end their ability to grow their own, among other things.
Canada SSDP to Hold National Conference in Vancouver. Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) will hold its sixth annual conference on November 22-24 in Vancouver, BC. Featured speakers will include Donald McPherson, head of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition; Dana Larsen, director of Sensible BC and the Vancouver Dispensary Society; and Missi Woolrdige, director of DanceSafe, among others.
Hong Kong Docs Criticize Government Drug Testing Plan. The Hong Kong Medical Association said Monday that a government plan to allow police to test anyone for drug use based on "reasonable suspicion" is flawed and violates basic human rights. The local government began a four-month consultation on the plan in September, and now the doctors have weighed in. The association said that drug testing was an unproven method of reducing drug use and resources should instead be devoted to prevention and education campaigns and cooperation with mainland police against drug trafficking.
India to Greatly Expand Opiate Maintenence Centers. Responding to an increase in the number of injection drug users, the Indian government is moving to expand the number of its Opiate Substitution Therapy (OST) centers six-fold, from a current 52 to 300 by the end of the year. Drug user groups, including the Indian Drug Users Forum, and harm reduction groups, such as Project Orchid have been involved in planning the expansion. It's not clear what drug the Indians are using in OST.
Ireland Parliament to Debate Marijuana Legalization This Week. A private motion by independent Dail, or Irish parliament, member Luke "Ming" Flanagan will be debated on Tuesday and Wednesday. Flanagan's bill would make it legal to possess, grow, and sell marijuana products.
Cartel Violence Flares in Mexican Border Town. Sunday shoot-outs between rival drug trafficking organizations and between traffickers and soldiers left at least 13 people dead in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, just across the Rio Grande River from Brownville, Texas. Four men and a woman were killed in clashes between rival gangs, and eight more died in fighting with Mexican Marines. Somewhere north of 75,000 people have been killed in violence since former President Felipe Calderon called out the armed forces to wage war on the cartels six and a half years ago. Meanwhile, the drugs continue to flow north and the guns and cash flow south.