Thursday, December 13, 2012

Words Of Advice For Defendants by Steve Kubby

I receive requests several times a month from defendants who suddenly find
themselves forced to defend their lives, their right to use medical cannabis and
even the Bill of Rights. Like you, each defendant is suddenly forced to cope with a
predatory criminal justice system that judges them guilty, until proved innocent.
This advice is intended to help provide you with the necessary tactics to succeed
against the terrifying challenge you now face.

Here are the key concepts you must master to win:

1. NON-COOPERATION WITH TYRANNY IS A DUTY. America was founded on 
the premise that we have inalienable rights that cannot be separated from us by 
any law or government. The Drug War is unconstitutional, immoral, and no longer 
supported by voters or juries. Your non-cooperation with this corrupt war on American 
citizens is the surest way our Constitution and Bill of Rights can be restored.

2. NONVIOLENCE – We don’t want to kill our enemies, only expose their lies and their
greed for power over others. Any form of anger on your part must be left at the
door, or it will make you no better than your adversaries and bring failure to your
efforts. Only when others sense your commitment to the high road, will the justice
you seek become possible. Those who attended my trial saw that I always wore a suit
and showed respect. I even held doors open for my prosecutors, so they could push in
their huge cart filled with 4,000 pages of lies against me. My polite behavior only
made their accusations look more wild and ridiculous.

3. REFUSE TO WAIVE TIME – You have the Constitutional right to a speedy trial and
yet virtually every defendant is told by their attorneys to waive their right. What
attorneys never tell their clients is that if they refuse to waive time, they must
be tried within 60 days or the case must be dismissed. In the real world, few
prosecutors can prepare a case in 60 days and even fewer courts can organize a jury
trial in that time.

4. NEVER PLEA BARGAIN – This is a slippery slope. It might look like a great idea to
begin with, but in the end, you lose, everyday for the rest of your life. You won’t
get what you were promised and you’ll only endanger others by cooperating with
government terrorists.

5. GO ALL OUT ON THE PRELIMINARY HEARING – Winning your Preliminary 
Hearing means the judge will dismiss the case and your troubles are over. Most 
defense attorneys will advise you to do little in your Preliminary Hearing, so they 
can see what the prosecution’s case is about and then prepare a defense. That is 
definitely the wrong tactic in a bona fide medical marijuana case. You want an attorney 
who will fight with everything you have to win your case in the Prelim, regardless of the 
costs or time involved. Top medical marijuana attorney J. David Nick once took a Prelim 
on for 18 months, until the prosecutor gave up in desperation.

6. INSIST ON A JURY TRIAL – Less than 3% of defendants exercise their right to a
jury trial and yet the court system is in near gridlock. Refusing to cooperate and
demanding a trial places a significant load on the criminal justice system and is
the surest way to end this phony drug war. Many medical marijuana trials end in
acquittals or hung juries, so take your case directly to your fellow citizens and
trust them to see through the prosecutor’s lies.

7. USE THE MEDIA – Most courts will not allow you to tell your story and you must
depend upon the media to get the truth out. Focus on winning in the court of public
opinion and your victory with the jury will be assured.

8. TARGET POLICY MAKERS – ignore the police and prosecutors and target their
superiors. It is Sheriffs and D.A.s who are the generals in the Drug War and they
are the ones who are responsible for your current grief. Organize a recall election
against your D.A. Your recall will probably fail miserably, but your D.A. will back
off prosecuting other medical cannabis patients, once you put a little heat to their
feet.

9. SEEK CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES – Use the courts and your local grand jury to
obtain indictments and convictions against rogue officials, since this is the ONLY
thing sheriffs, police chiefs and district attorneys understand or respect. Never
forget what was done to you until EVERY rogue sheriff, district attorney, police
chief, and judge has been brought to justice. We owe it to all who have died and
suffered horribly in this war to dedicate the rest of our lives to bringing these
drug war criminals to justice.

10. REFUSE PROBATION – Probation is no different than plea bargaining, because you
are trading away your rights for a deal that will never work in your favor. You are
better off to take jail over probation, because probation nearly always leads to
further violations and trouble with the law.

11. DOCUMENT ABUSES – It’s your job to document and prove abuse. Sooner or later, a
reform-minded administration will be elected and they will want to investigate your
charges and seek justice.

You are now a professional defendant. Your life will be your trial. Do what you can
to survive and remain true to the belief that YOU ARE INNOCENT. The Compassionate
Use Act of 1996 gives you the RIGHT to use, grow and possess this medicine. Don’t be
afraid to stand up for what you believe.

Good luck and remember to focus on the positive.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Freedom Fighter Jaime Green – In The Hospital

                                                                 Jaime Green with the late Richard Kearns


James Green, known by his friends as Jaime, is a 78 year-old cancer survivor, Navy Veteran and outspoken medical cannabis patient advocate.  Recently, the cancer has returned - this time in his kidneys and bladder - and along with a mild stroke, Jaime is now staying at a convalescent and rehab hospital in Mid-town LA.  Many LA patient advocates who have testified at City Hall know Jaime and his wisdom, strength and finesse for words.

                                                            Jaime Green testifies at Long Beach City Hall


While miraculous things do happen, Jaime has decided to forgo chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.  His energy is good and his spirit is strong.  He has asked me to share his Holiday Wish List with you:

Visitors – Jaime would love company beyond all those doctors, nurses and rehab specialists.  He is at Sunray Healthcare Center, 3210 Pico Blvd.  Visiting hours are 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. 

Food – Jaime states he needs more than they are feeding him at the hospital.  His friends tell me he has always had a large appetite and would appreciate between meal snacks.  I confirmed with him that he has no food related allergies – he says he’ll ‘eat anything” – he’s ‘not picky’ – but he really likes tacos!

Edibles – Jaime cannot smoke but edibles help immensely with pain.  Edibles that do NOT require refrigeration preferred.

Please contact PAN if you have any questions or wish to donate to the Jaime Green Care Fund.  
                                                               Jaime Green holds a sign during a DEA raid

Please keep Jaime in your thoughts and prayers.

Truly,
Degé 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Prisoner Outreach Workshop Update – Fall 2012




Write A Letter To A Political Prisoner Of Conscience & Compassion

During this Holiday Season please take a moment to write to a Cannabis Political Prisoner.  This link provides great tips and ideas for what to send:  http://www.prisonerlife.com/tips.cfm.  Your cards and letters mean so much.  Remember those who have lost their freedom for doing what ALL of us in the Cannabis Community are doing – cultivating and dispensing cannabis.  
Below is a list of current prisoners and their addresses.  Three prisoners have been moved and two released since our last update; no one added, however, this list is not comprehensive – if we are missing someone, please let us know – patientadvocates@riseup.net
---
Recently, Political Prisoner Eddy Lepp pled to the community to have a visitor since his relocation to West Texas.  It is not uncommon for outspoken activists to serve their time far from family and friends.  http://green-aid.com/ helped raise the funds and here’s a public note from Eddy:
"Well another week!!  What a nice one it was last Sat.  I was visited by the lovely Angela Bacca she came to El Paso and spent several days one with me. It is so nice to be able to talk to someone that has nothing to do with this shithole. One forgets what it is like to be among people like you.
Got word from the R.D.A.P. Dir. that I'm on the list to be interviewed for R.D.A.P. which will take a year off my sentence. My 2255 is in front of the courts. We are all praying they will do the right thing and resentence me or even give me a new trial??  Time will tell.
Hoping you all stay HAPPY,HEALTHY and HIGH. May your week be full of sunshine, love, rainbows, and unicorns!!! LOVE and MISS you all. Eddy
P.S. Thanks to all who helped Angela to come visit me. Ed Rosenthal and Green Aid: The Med MJ Legal Defense and Education Fund deserve special thanks"  
 - Rev. Eddy Lepp  https://www.facebook.com/eddylepp

---

Political Prisoners Of Conscience & Compassion

Dustin “DC” Costa 62406-097   (9/18)
USP Florence Admax
U.S. Penitentiary
P.O. Box 8500
Florence, CO 81226
Jonathan M. Chapman 63546-097    (3/14)
FCI Lompoc
Federal Correctional Institution
3600 Guard Road
Lompoc, CA  93436
Roger Christie 99279-022     (unknown)
FDC Honolulu
Federal Detention Center
P.O. Box 30080
Honolulu, HI 96820
Tim Dellas 93161-011     (11/15)
Federal Prison Camp
P.O. Box 6000
Sheridan, OR 97378
Marc Scott Emery 40252-086      (7/14)
FCI Yazoo City Medium
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS 39194
Bryan James Epis 09636-097    (9/16)
FCI Terminal Island
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 3007
San Pedro, CA 90731

Scott Eric Feil 14313-111    (12/15)
CI Taft
Correctional Iinstitution
P.O. Box 7001
Taft, CA  93268


Marion P. Fry 15840-097       (9/15)
FCI Dublin
Federal Correctional Institution
5701 8th St. - Camp Parks
Dublin, CA 94568
Virgil Edward Grant 47375-112       (1/15)
FCI Terminal Island
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 3007
San Pedro, CA 90731
James Dale Holland 62466-097       (7/13)
FCI Herlong
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 800
Herlong, CA 96113
Charles Edward Lepp 90157-011      (1/18)
FCI La Tuna
Federal Correctional Institution
Federal Satellite Low
P.O. Box 6000
Anthony, TX  88021
Richard Ruiz Montes 63130-097       (9/25)
Federal Correctional Institution
3600 Guard Road
Lompoc, CA 93436
Van Phong Nguyen 13254-041      (5/23)
FCI Safford
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. BOX 9000
Safford, AZ 85548
Luke Scarmazzo 63131-097        (4/27)
USP Lompoc
U.S. Penitentiary
3901 Klein Blvd.
Lompoc, CA 93436
Dale C. Schafer 15839-097       (9/15)
CI Taft
Correctional Institution
P.O. Boc 7001
Taft, CA 93268
Find an inmate - http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp

*****

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Voice In Congress For Medical Cannabis Patients



From Our Sister PAC - Patients For Compassionate Use Policies

Greetings Friends and Colleagues -

We are just days away from the November Election and while neither of the
presidential candidates support medical cannabis, we should focus on
allies in Congress.

I am pleased to forward you below a statement from Congressional Candidate
David Hernandez who is running in the 29th California congressional
district - which covers areas in mid and north Valley.

I know David personally.  I'm honored to call him a friend and fellow
community activist.  David will always have his door open to us on this
issue and understands it on a local and federal level.

Make no mistake, David is an underdog in this race and needs your support.
 He is up against a machine candidate - LA City Councilmember Tony
Cardenas.  We need Tony to go home NOT to DC.

What you can do:

#1. Make sure you VOTE on November 6, 2012! And if you're in the 29th
congressional district please vote for David Hernandez.

#2. Please make a DONATION to David's campaign.  David is not seeking to
meet the 100's of thousands of $$ that Cardenas has raised.  David can get
his message out via mail, radio and tv with a few thousand dollars.  A
donation of a few dollars will go a long way.  So, please don't be shy to
donate whatever you can no matter how much or how little.

#3. Get involved with SOCIAL MEDIA.  Below is the link to David's campaign
and you can keep up with him and his events on facebook.  Please help
share David's message with others, especially those in the San Fernando
Valley.

#4.  VOLUNTEER.  I'll be at the campaign office helping David this
Saturday, October 20, 2012.  GET INVOLVED and hopefully, I'll see you
there!!

WHO makes it happen?  WE make it happen!

Sincerely,
Degé Coutee
Patients For Compassionate Use Policies #1332436

********

David Hernandez for Congress

Patient Based Medical Marijuana, Position Statement and Action Plan.

The duty of an individual who wishes to represent the residents of their
district is clear. This is especially true once the voters have expressed
their position on an issue via the ballot box.

The voters of California voted to approve the use of Medical Marijuana.
This is a clear and is undeniable. Its value to those suffering from
horrendous medical challenges is undisputable.

Moving forward we must begin with these two realities. The need exists and
the voters recognizing that need voted to make Medical Marijuana
available.

We will not and cannot dismiss the arguments presented by those in
opposition. While some are based in the sincere belief that this should
not be available under any circumstances, the majority of the opposition
is not.

For the majority, the opposition comes from the negative impact on the
quality of life in their communities and the abuses of the current system
now in place.

I will not enter into a debate over the abuses and will simply acknowledge
them and state they can and will be addressed via the proper methods of
regulation.

It is my objective to maintain a patient centered position. While many
point to the opportunity to generate tax revenue as an argument in favor
of the issue, I will remain focused on the patient.

While there are competent individuals drafting sound and effective local
guidelines and ordinances, my efforts, while supportive of Local
Regulations to establish a patient focused fair and competent access
policy, will be at the Federal Level.

At present, the Federal Policy of Classifying Marijuana as a Schedule 1
drug is unjust and must be resolved to reflect a sound and fact based view
of the substance.

As a congressman I will be spearheading the effort to bring about a sound
patient based approach in amending the current classification of the
medical marijuana. This will eliminate much of the ambiguities which
create such unfair challenges to local distribution and delivery.

It is my opinion and that of many others that Marijuana for Medical use
should be removed from the current drug schedule.  It should be placed in
a category of its own and be governed much the same way a Beer or Wine.

Having achieved this, we will have established a sound, safe Patient Based
approach to the Medical Marijuana issue.

David Hernandez
Candidate for Congress District 29
www.davidhernandezforcongress.com

********

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl Ends Ban On Medical Cannabis Collectives, Presented Awards By Patient Advocates



10/8/12 – LOS ANGELES -  It’s been a bittersweet week for the Los Angeles medical cannabis community.  On the heels of Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl getting the City Council to repeal its ban on medical cannabis collectives, Rosendahl announced he will not seek re-election to focus on his own battle with cancer. 

“As most of you have heard, a few months back I received the difficult news that I have cancer.  It was a shock but, like every challenge I have faced during my lifetime, I decided to meet it head on,” Rosendahl said in a recent written statement announcing his intentions. 

On July 24, 2012, the Los Angeles City Council voted to replace its existing medical marijuana ordinance with a ‘gentle ban’ on any association of 3 patients or more.  The LA City Council took this vote while Councilmember Rosendahl was out on medical leave for chemotherapy treatments.  

However, on October 2, 2012, Rosendahl implored his colleagues to repeal the dispensary ban.  "This word, 'gentle ban,' is a bad word. It's not gentle. It stops me from being able to get my medicinal use," Rosendahl told his colleagues.  A Vietnam Veteran and openly gay politician, Rosendahl was open about using medical cannabis for neuropathy and to cope with chemotherapy.  “If I can’t get marijuana, and this is medically prescribed, what do I do?  What do all the people who have health issues, who have been relying on this do?”

Patient advocates argued that there was nothing gentle about the City’s ban.  The City Council argued that the ‘City is being sued at every turn’ over the original set of rules it put in place in January 2010.  Several dozen patient collectives sued the City and won a temporary restraining order preventing the City from enforcing what were called ‘unconstitutional provisions.’  Rosendahl’s move forces LA’s legislature to return to the table and create a workable set of guidelines. 

Degé Coutee, president of Patient Advocacy Network, a charitable education and advocacy organization fighting for patients’ rights, and one the original members of the LA’s Medical Marijuana Working Group has been advocating for sensible dispensary regulations for Los Angeles for nearly 8 years.  This past weekend Coutee and her organization honored Councilmember Rosendahl with 2 awards during an all-day event, Kushday LA – Celebrating Cannabis With Music & Education, featuring numerous speakers and entertainers.

“If it were not for your heroic efforts, we would still have a dispensary ban in Los Angeles. On behalf of all patients, thank you,” Coutee said to Rosendahl in front the Kushday audience.  Presenting him with the organization’s Spirit & Compassion Award, Coutee read, “For your endless courage and strength, for your boundless compassion and care for others, for your dedication to public service, for breaking stigma and bravely speaking out on civil rights and social justice issues including medical cannabis legalization, we are honored to present you with this award.”

Patient Advocacy Network board member Shona Gochenaur, also the executive director of Axis of Love SF Community Center in San Fransisco, a social service center for low-income, disabled medical cannabis patients presented Rosendahl with a certificate from the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.  Gochenaur read, “We wanted to reach out to personally thank you for taking a stand and helping to promote safe access to patients. By using your voice and personal story you have helped to challenge unproductive bans... Thank you for leading with a true voice and a brave heart,” the certificate ends.

Rosendahl states he is ‘passing the baton’ and has encouraged his deputy chief of staff, Mike Bonin, to run in the City election in March 2013.  However, Rosendahl states he will not completely leave public service, “Please know that I don’t plan to fade away.  On the contrary, once I have beaten this cancer I plan to return to public affairs broadcasting on television or radio.  I want to create a space for honest and open dialogue on the important issues facing our city, our state, and our country; a space where people can finish their sentences, share their thoughts, and contribute in a positive way to the public discourse.”


Councilman Bill Rosendahl greatest LA City Council Speech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkGlsITL4ig&feature=youtu.be


Passing the Baton
http://billrosendahl.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/passing-the-baton/


Los Angeles City Council Repeals Its Ban On Medical Marijuana Shops
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is a current cancer patient, implored his colleagues to repeal the ban
http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/7793979-los-angeles-city-council-repeals-its-ban-on-medical-marijuana-shops/


LA repeals ban on storefront medical marijuana dispensaries
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=8832809


Patient Advocacy Network
http://www.cannabissaveslives.org/

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Kushday Cannabis Symposium



 
Kushday Cannabis Symposium

Sunday, October 7, 2012  -  12:00 – 4:20 p.m.
Free & open to the public, 18+

4315 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90029 – Ukranian Culture Center

Cannabis Symposium Schedule*                             * Subject to change

12 p.m. – Welcoming  & Introductions
Big Kush Jay – Klub Kush Media - http://www.klubkushmedia.com/
Degé Coutee – Patient Advocacy Network – http://www.cannabissaveslives.org/


12:05 – 12:50 - Brief Intro To Cannabis Botany & Chemistry & Cannabis Cultivation panel
Bret Bogue – ‘King of Kush” - http://bigbudsmag.com/grow/article/king-kush-marijuana-july-2011
Alec Dixon – SC Laboratories - http://www.sclabs.com/


12:50 – 1:20 p.m. – The Basics of Cannabis Cuisine & other fun stuff with Cheri Sicard – Author, Activist, Gourmet Cook  -
-->
http://www.cannabischeri.com/about-cheri-sicard/


1:20 – 2:05 p.m. – Canna-business Discussion panel
Robert F. Calkin – Author, Consultant - https://cannabiscareerinstitute.com/about-us/history/
Alexandra Sussin - Hemp Entrepreneur - www.hempcatlitter.com
Tiffany Wright – Member Services Director - www.pca-la.org


2:05 – 2:15 – Short Break


2:15 – 3:00 p.m. - Cannabis, Collectives & The Law  - Legal Panel Discussion & Q&A with Attorneys:
Graham Berry - http://xenutv.wordpress.com/support-for-graham-berry/
Bruce Margolin - http://www.1800420laws.com/
Stewart Richlin - http://420lawoffice.com/about/


3:00 – 4:20 p.m. – The War On Drugs Is A War On… - Social Justice Panel
Patrick Duff – Federal Defendant, Medical & Religious Use Advocate - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz8E0tsD4_A
Shona Gochenaur – Executive Director, Axis of Love SF - http://www.sfweekly.com/related/to/Shona+Gochenaur/
Diane Goldstein – Retired Police Officer, LEAP Representative - http://vimeo.com/23663865
‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross - www.americandrugwar.com/new/ross.htm, http://www.finalcall.com/features/cia-pawn.html

End Symposium - 4:20 Celebration

Vendor booths, refreshments all day

Post symposium event program

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.:  Spirit Award Presentation To LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl; Guest Speaker David Hernandez, Candidate for Congress; Stand-up Comedy with Jay London.

6:00 - 10:00 p.m. – Live music with Yukmouth and many others…
Brought to you by DJ Big Kush Jay & Klub Kush Media

There is free and open street-parking available and a free parking (on Sunday) in the LA City College garage on Heliotrope.

Kushday  - Celebrating Cannabis with Music & Education - is a benefit for Patient Advocacy Network.   

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Los Angeles - A Brief Medical Marijuana History (of Failure)





-->
The recent passage of the ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries by the Los Angeles City Council has left many puzzled given the Council’s history with this issue, the 762 current tax-paying collectives and recent court decisions stating collective bans are unlawful.  However, do not turn to logic or reason for your answer; you will drive yourself mad.  Instead, think politics.

In 2007, the LA City Council voted on what many refer to as the ‘illegal moratorium’ – illegal because the City Council failed to vote to extend this Interim Control Ordinance by day 45, the legal limit.  Instead the Council did not review this ordinance until 90 days after its passage, at which time the ICO had legally expired.  By State law LA’s moratorium was done before the ICO’s registration deadline. 

While at least 485 collectives were operating in the City on November 13, 2007, only 187 chose to register by the ICO deadline.  Many did not register as they were advised by their legal counsel not to because of the ‘illegal moratorium’ or advised to ‘not get on a list’ because a cross-deputized LAPD officer stated openly he would ‘bust everyone’s ass’ for admitting to running a collective or because of the DEA landlord threat letter.  Attorneys told their clients that if the City took any action against them, the collectives could sue. 

One-way in which collectives tried to remedy their situation was to file a Hardship Exemption.  Under any ICO there is a hardship clause.  This allows businesses that cannot comply with a moratorium to have a fair public hearing to consider the reason(s) for non-compliance.  While not official court hearings, Kangaroo Court does not begin to express how the hardship hearings were handled.  The City refused to hear that its moratorium was legally over.  The City refused to acknowledge that property owners in the City were under attack by the U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration.  The City would not hear that rogue LAPD officers threatened to target collectives that registered with the City.  It was at this point where any and all good faith attempts by collectives to be reasonable, dutiful players turned to hiring attorneys and preparing for the City to make its next move. 

During this time at least another 300 dispensaries opened their doors in LA.  Neighborhood groups and community leaders began to inquire with their council members as to why collectives continued to open despite the moratorium, why were so many collectives requesting a hardship and when will there is be a final regulatory ordinance?

Enter the LA City Attorney’s office.  In 2006, when Councilmember Dennis P. Zine first motioned for a moratorium, Patient Advocacy Network sat down with him to discuss the need to seat a working group to draft regulations expeditiously. He was reminded that the maximum time with extensions, 18 months and the 45 days, was all the time the City had by law to get an ordinance approved and on the books; failure to do so would create legal chaos.  The Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Working Group was seated and met several times during 2007, to draft a workable ordinance.  Much of the work was done before the moratorium took effect.  The Group’s final meeting was cancelled by notice from the City Attorney indicating that the Group’s input was no longer needed and the City Attorney would complete the City’s medical marijuana ordinance. 

Nearly a year passed and the City Attorney had still not presented a draft ordinance for Council’s approval despite numerous requests from the Council.  Councilmember Ed Reyes reconvened the Working Group very briefing and began drafting a new ordinance due to the lack of communication from the City Attorney.  Councilmember Zine had to actually get a motion passed to force the City Attorney’s office to present its draft ordinance.  What finally came to light was an unworkable, legally questionable ordinance unlike any set of regulations in California.  Sales were not allowed but sales tax had to be paid.  All patients had to participate in cultivation regardless of how ill, disabled or low-income they may be as the City Attorney believes cultivating is the only medical cannabis activity allowed by State law. 

Despite no legal evidence to support the City Attorney’s claims, the LA City Council, after adding further restrictions, approved what the media referred to as the ‘Worst Medical Marijuana Ordinance In The Country.”  Upon its passage in January 2010, the first lawsuits by patient collectives were filed against the City.  By December of 2010, the judge ruled that provisions of the City’s ordinance were unlawful and granted dozens of collectives a Temporary Restraining Order against the City of Los Angeles.  The City immediately made amendments to the ordinance to argue that the original ordinance was no longer in place but further lawsuits were filed and a few hundred more collectives opened their doors in Los Angeles. 

During these years patient advocates continued to offer solutions, present workable draft ordinances, facts, evidence and experts.  Patients and their advocates have attended countless hearings and meetings with the City on this issue.  Hundreds of patients have testified on public record what the City’s failed ordinances have done to their health and lives.

Then came the Battle of the Bans.  Angry, frustrated and concerned Angelenos still had the same set of questions they did in 2007:  Why do dispensaries continue to open; Why is there no workable set of guidelines for regulating them like in West Hollywood, Palm Springs, San Francisco;  Why can the City do nothing about shutting down bad players?  Instead of answering the questions they heard, the Council answered the questions they wanted to hear and ultimately blamed physicians, patients and State law for LA’s problems. 

LA Councilmembers José Huizar and Paul Koretz proposed banning dispensaries outright in two competing motions.  Huizar’s proposal is to ban all dispensaries but allow 3 or fewer patients to grow therapeutic grade cannabis together and to distribute the harvest among them – “The Gentle Ban” – gentle because sick and dying people get to become horticultural experts in their final days and weeks while they wait 4 - 6 months for a harvest.  Koretz’s motion is a ban on all dispensaries except 100 handpicked dispensaries that would remain operational – “The Limited Immunity Ban” – immunity limited to those who made contributions to Mr. Koretz’s election campaign.

The LA City Council does not like to appear in conflict publicly and on July 24, 2012, worked out a way in closed session to approve both bans.  The Gentle Ban was approved and adopted outright, signed by the Mayor and goes into effect September 6, 2012.  The Limited Immunity Ban was amended to include only the collectives that made it on the ICO list of 2007, and that proposal now heads back to commissions, committees and the Council for final approval. 

Now back to thinking politics.  When those concerned citizens ask their council members about the medical cannabis issue, the Council can say they voted on the ban, for them.  The City Attorney wrote The Gentle Ban and argued hard for it for many months as the “only way to the stop the lawsuits and close the dispensaries.”  Undermining our State’s medical marijuana laws and Councilmember Zine’s original motion to regulate storefront dispensaries has been the centerpiece of LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s term in office.  After recently losing his bid for LA County District Attorney most local political experts argue Trutanich will also lose his bid to get re-elected as LA’s City Attorney.  When the ban doesn’t work, is challenged in court, very few close and more collectives open, the Council can throw the ‘Nuch’ under the bus.  He wrote it, it was his idea and he said it would work. 

Due to the failed moratorium and recent court decisions favoring collectives, any move by the City or the voters to block LA’s collectives from having a fair public hearing for consideration of a medical marijuana permit will perpetuate lawsuits.  Once the moratorium expired with no workable ordinance in place, the City gave every collective in LA vested rights.  This is not the fault of physicians or patients or Proposition 215.  This is the failure of the Los Angeles City Council.  Failure to put fair, workable regulations in place for medical cannabis collectives and to allow a fair process will cost Los Angeles taxpayer another few million dollars and possibly a few more political careers. 

Posted by Degé Coutee

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Would You Show The Judge & Jury?




This is what every person closely involved with Medical Cannabis Collective activities should ask oneself because increasingly police will state during an encounter, “Show me what you’d show the judge.”   



While one should never say much during a law enforcement encounter, having proper documentation in a Compliance Binder on hand at the time of the encounter can do the talking for you.

PAN offers Medical Cannabis Compliance Seminars to help Collectives and all their operations stay safe.  Below are some things to consider when preparing documents for the Collective and off-site providers. 

Documents:
Articles of Incorporation, State Seller’s Permit, Business License(s), Other requisite permits, i.e., Tobacco Seller’s Permits – To avoid unnecessary scrutiny from local authorities,  Collectives* should  hold all necessary permits and licenses and pay all requisite taxes. 

Patient and Caregiver Collective Membership Applications/Registration/ Agreements – Any and all persons involved with the operations of a Collective including cultivation, processing, storage, testing, transport, dispensing, administration and management should be a legally qualified patient or caregiver** under State law and be a registered member of the Collective.  Collective Membership Agreements may also include the organization’s rules, policies, guidelines and reasons membership may be revoked to further demonstrate compliance with closed-loop membership and activities, and a non-diversion policy.

Collective Cultivation Agreements, Collective Transportation Agreements, Medical Cannabis Processing Agreements, Medical Cannabis Testing Agreements - Collective members that produce, process, store, test and transport medical cannabis on behalf of a Collective should be able to account for the amount of cannabis present by the number and need of the patients being served.  These providers should be able to demonstrate a direct relationship with their Collective(s)***/patients and all parties agree to abide by the law.  Agreements should be severed upon any reasonable suspicion that illegal activity is taking place by any party.  

Other Documentation – Depending upon the circumstances, one’s Compliance Binder may also include letters of reference and support, thank you letters, community memberships, awards and acknowledgements or other types of ‘character references.’

Multiple Copies – Be prepared to then make multiple copies of your binder to be kept in the right places and with the right people.

Recordkeeping – “Non-profit operations” are considered acceptable by California law enforcement.  Should this become an issue, expect to be audited.  Persons involved in the medical cannabis profession are expected to only make what is ‘reasonable’ for their time and expenses and to pay requisite taxes.  Consult a good accountant to establish clear recordkeeping and tax history and make sure to understand IRS code 280E. 

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Patients and caregivers involved in collective cultivation, processing, testing, transportation and dispensing run the risk of criminal prosecution, whether local or federal.  The general concern is quantity.  When providing goods and services for a collective, the quantity of cannabis on hand is generally greater than that for personal use putting these Collective members in the position of ‘proving’ that all cannabis is by and for legally qualified patients only. 

While State medical cannabis laws are not protection from Federal interference,  with preparation, patients, caregivers and their collectives can demonstrate that all cannabis related activities are conducted in the spirit of State law.

Having proper records and documentation at the time of arrest may assist the defendant in having a speedy trial, which has demonstrated to largely benefit defendants.  

While these precautions are not protection from Federal prosecution, proper documentation at the time of a DEA encounter may help determine if Federal authorities choose to file charges or not.  Smash and grab raids suck but they are better than Federal prosecution and prison.   

In California our voter-approved law is very murky and the GUIDELINES FOR THE SECURITY AND NON-DIVERSION OF MARIJUANA GROWN FOR MEDICAL USE August 2008, while not law, is regarded by law enforcement as the set of guidelines for determining legal medical marijuana from illicit drug activity.  For purposes of collectives the guidelines mainly focus on: closed-loop, patient-to-patient, collective member activities; State taxes and non-profit operations. 

Some things to know:

No amount of paperwork will prevent arrest.  If a cop chooses to arrest you, he will, no matter what.  However, arrest does not always mean prosecution.

There are no sure things, not even in court.  Even with the best defense, some judges are just impossible, making for lengthy court cases and appeals.

Make sure you know your rights during a law enforcement encounter.  96% of all criminal convictions come from what you say in the first 5 minutes of a law enforcement encounter.

You are only as safe as those around you.  If someone else along the chain is conducting illegal activity it may lead to investigations of other collective members/activities.  Know who you are working with.

PAN offers legal training for Collectives – Law Enforcement Encounter Training & Raid Preparedness Seminar.  “This is the most valuable training I’ve ever had!” – from dozens of participants

* All of the above also pertains to Medical Cannabis ‘Cooperatives.’
**  While legally a voluntary program, providers of goods and services to their Collectives are encouraged to get the California State Medical Marijuana ID Card. 
*** While not law, there is debate among law enforcement and law makers regarding ‘one patient, one collective,’ meaning a patient or a caregiver can only be a member of one collective at any one time and therefore only provide goods and services to one collective. Working with multiple Collectives requires good record keeping and careful attention to detail.
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Contact PAN to set up your seminar or training.
Be Safe!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Resolution By The People Of Los Angeles To Regulate Medical Cannabis




PAN has received numerous requests from our community to present Los Angeles City Council with a resolution to regulate medical cannabis collectives.  The following was submitted to the Council during their June 20, 2012 meeting.

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RESOLUTION


A Resolution before the City of Los Angeles by the People of Los Angeles in order to amend the Los Angeles Municipal Code to regulate medical cannabis business activities as to protect the rights of patients and the will of the voters.

WHEREAS, the voters of California approved Proposition 215, The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA) so that, with the recommendation of a physician, people with serious illnesses for which cannabis offers relief, can grow, obtain, transport and use cannabis without criminal jeopardy; and

WHEREAS, scientific medical research continues to demonstrate the therapeutic applications of cannabis for conditions such as Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Heart Disease and many other ailments; and

WHEREAS, cities such as West Hollywood, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and others have successfully implemented workable, enforceable local guidelines for medical cannabis collective businesses sometimes called “Dispensaries;” and

WHEREAS, the People of Los Angeles support safe, legal access to medical cannabis for the nearly 400,000 qualified patients in the Greater Los Angeles area that utilize the over 800 patient collectives in the City; and

WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles benefits from the local taxation it implemented on the Dispensaries yet has failed to create a workable, legal set of guidelines causing frustration among our law enforcement and our communities and prompting scores of lawsuits; and

WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles has passed numerous motions since 2005, approving the implementation a local regulatory system and seating a Medical Marijuana Working Group for the purpose of drafting such guidelines and the Council's intent subsequently thwarted by the Los Angeles City Attorney's office with possible violations of State law; and

WHEREAS, the majority of the Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles have self-regulated and been good neighbors by following The California State Attorney General Guidelines For The Security and Non-diversion of Marijuana Grown For Medical Use, August 2008, as well as creating jobs and revenue for Los Angeles and that many LA Dispensaries have grandfathering rights; and

WHEREAS, any ban on medical cannabis is a violation of the CUA, and the City of Los Angeles voted for a workable set of local medical cannabis guidelines and the People of Los Angeles support regulations that protect patients' rights, our communities and the will of the voters.

 
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NOW, THEREFORE, THE PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES DO RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

1.  The City of Los Angeles shall immediately:
            a.  Consult with outside counsel and any other related experts to draft a workable, enforceable set of local medical cannabis dispensary guidelines and look to other communities that have successfully implemented such for guidance;
            b.  Seat a citywide Medical Marijuana Taskforce made up of pertinent City staff and officials, medical cannabis patients and providers, and community and business leaders for the purpose of providing input on regulations and any future amendments, addressing concerns and creating any necessary subcommittees as needed;
            c.  Work with the California State Legislature and the U.S. Congress to realize a federal solution to the state-federal conflict regarding medical cannabis.

2.  Medical Cannabis Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles shall:
            a.  Be any group of legally qualified patients and caregivers as defined by California State law that associate as a business entity for the purpose of legally dispensing medical cannabis exclusively amongst its registered members;
            b.  Be solely comprised of a private membership of legally qualified patients and their caregivers and obtain all of its medical cannabis products exclusively from its registered members;
            c.  Be good neighbors and operate within The California State Attorney General Guidelines For The Security and Non-diversion of Marijuana Grown For Medical Use, August 2008;
            d.  Follow reasonable security protocols by maintaining good lighting, appropriate signage, security cameras, safes, security guards or any security features deemed appropriate;
            e.  Be allowed fair permit hearings in their communities and be allowed to operate in accordance with the character and fashion of their neighborhoods and business communities.

I hereby certify that this Resolution by the People of Los Angeles was presented to the Los Angeles City Council at the Council meeting held on June 20, 2012.

                                                           
                                                           
Degé Coutee, Resident of Los Angeles
Medical Cannabis Patient & Social Justice Advocate

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is It Too Late To Stop LA’s Ban?

City of Los Angeles Speaker Card


If medical cannabis patients and their advocates are waiting to speak-out against the citywide ban on collectives until the day the Los Angeles City Council takes its final vote , it will be too late.   LA City Council acknowledges that it only puts items on the agenda for a vote when the item has enough support to pass.  Similarly, since the ban has had two public hearings in committee already, the Council can choose to not take any public comment on the day of the vote, however, unlikely.  What is likely is that anyone who signs up to speak on the day of the final vote will get a minute or less to speak on a matter that has already decided. 

Patients who want to oppose the ban must do so NOW while council members are deliberating the issue behind closed doors.  Some of the LA City Council members are conflicted over the ban and appear to favor reasonable regulations instead of inevitable continued lawsuits.  Hearing from hundreds of concerned citizens helps sway votes by giving law makers the ‘political safe space’ to act by demonstrating that his/her constituents support a specific position. 


What Can Patients Do To Help Stop The Ban?

YOUR voice is YOUR vote.  Make phone calls, send emails or faxes to LA City Council.  Attend any LA City Council meeting before the final vote and speak during general public comment.  You can learn who your council representative is as well as the council representative of your favorite collective by visiting http://lacity.org/index.htm.

In the middle of the page is ‘Neighborhood Resources’ where you type in your street address/address of your collective to learn whom your council rep is.  You can get all of the necessary contact info from the council member’s web page. 

Form letters are NOT effective as a form letter is not YOUR voice.  It is the voice of a special interest getting you to support THEIR position.  Support your OWN position.   If form letters worked, then prohibition would have ended decades ago. 


What Should Patients Say, Write To The LA City Council?

If patients wish to speak during general public comment, see http://panorg.blogspot.com/2012/06/patients-want-to-stop-ban-on-las.html for detailed information about the Brown Act, filling out a speaker card and preparing a two-minute statement.  You do not have to speak for a full two minutes.  Statements can be brief and to the point.  Some like to educate the Council with facts as the Council is making up their own.

When writing to Council, think similarly.  You want to be courteous, concise and accurate.  You want to state your position in the first or second sentence or your message may get ‘lost.’ 

Make your statements true to you and your circumstances.  Here are a couple examples:

General Public Comment – “Good Morning Councilmembers.  My name is Patient Mary Jane and I live and vote in Silver Lake.  I oppose any ban on our City’s medical marijuana dispensaries.  I am very ill and cannot grow my own.  I do not want to be forced to the black market.  Please do not turn me into a criminal.  Please draft workable regulations like other cities such as West Hollywood, Palm Springs and San Francisco where collectives are NOT suing the city.  Please vote NO on banning collectives.   I thank you for your time and consideration. “

Written Comment – “Dear Councilmember…  I write to oppose any ban on our City’s medical marijuana dispensaries.  I am a long-time resident and voter in Silver Lake but I am too ill to grow my own medical-grade cannabis.  I have come to rely on ‘The Best Silver Lake Caregivers’ for my medical cannabis needs.  The patient consultants there have always taken good care of me and I always feel safe when I’m there.  Please do not push patients to the black market and turn us all into criminals.  Collectives like ‘The Best Silver Lake Caregivers’ deserve workable regulations and a fair hearing process for a City permit.  Cities such as West Hollywood, Palm Springs and San Francisco have workable regulations and are not burdened with scores of lawsuits.  Los Angeles should take note and learn from our sister cities.  I thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  As my Council Representative I kindly ask for the favor of your reply.  Sincerely, Patient Mary Jane  -  (310) 420-KIND mary@patientjane.com

If patients choose to write to Council, they should still make public comment during one of the upcoming Council meetings – even if it’s to read your letter (or a 2-minute portion of it).  Council does not always acknowledge correspondence and your voice-vote will not be counted unless a speaker card is submitted. 

Contact PAN if you have any questions or wish to host a patient empowerment event.