Friday, December 19, 2014

Why California Can’t Seem To Get Its Marijuana Act Together

California has long been known for its progressive attitude, free spirit and social experimentation.  It’s why it comes as much surprise to many that California has struggled to regulate medical marijuana and has failed so far at legalization.  As of the November 2014 Election 23 states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana in some form but California still fails to reach consensus on the issue.

The problem is exclusion.  The California State Legislature and well-funded, national policy organizations have shut out local grassroots advocates and authentic compassionate providers from the policy-drafting table for many years.  Ironically, these excluded voices are those of local advocates successful in getting marijuana regulations implemented in cities throughout California, and have significant experience in the cannabis industry, unlike most Sacramento politicians and DC policy org. directors. 

The result has been flawed bills and initiatives ultimately abandoned or unsupported by their own peers and constituents.  Examples of this include former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano withdrawing his bill AB 2312 and the defeat of the voter initiative Proposition 19.   As these experienced advocates toil for a seat at the table, national policy organizations use ‘unity’ as a shield for closed-door deals with legislators and funders to create severely restrictive and unaffordable policies that benefit only a few rich players and force out ‘mom and pop’ collectives and cultivators. 

This exclusion appears in the form of classism, sexism and racism in California’s elite marijuana policy movement.  Take a look at the speaker line-up of any marijuana related conference or panel in California.  You will see no people of color, very select women, and no one that represents low-income, disabled patients invited to speak despite their expertise.   You will find many middle-class, self-proclaimed experts with maybe moderate experience, taking credit for the years of hard work by tireless, grassroots advocates operating with little to no budget. 

Though, this is nothing new in our American society; those with more money and influence proclaim to be in-charge due to status and political relationships, excluding good players because they are lower-income, women or people of color.   However, while political bullying by the elite works most of the time, it has only stymied progress for cannabis legalization in California.  Maybe those controlling the purse strings for 2016 will choose to truly unite the community.  As long as the marijuana elite continues to disguise exclusivity as unity in California, they may continue to be defeated at the polls.  

by Degé Coutee – President, PAN


Related Articles

State Marijuana Laws Map

California bill to regulate medicinal marijuana put on hold

California bill regulating medical marijuana fails in Assembly

California’s Historic Medical Pot Bill Killed

California Medical Marijuana Bill Fails, Leaving Pot Industry Largely Unregulated

'Resounding' defeat for Proposition 19

Marijuana Legalization Efforts Fail in California, Thanks to Money and The Feds

Medical Marijuana Activists Occupy the Capitol

It's Time for Unity in the Marijuana Reform Movement

California NORML Backs CCPR Unity Initiative for Marijuana Legalization 2016

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Contact The California Legislature - Bills In Committee

California Bill Watch

Assembly Bill 1894 and Senate Bill 1262 will be heard in committee starting Monday next week.  Advocates that wish to raise concerns about these bills must do so by Friday afternoon for SB 1262 and Monday morning for AB 1894.

Legislative and committee offices have different rules regarding how they receive comment from the public.  In order to be heard on either of these bills you must:
1.)   FAX a SIGNED letter to the committee office or
2.)   Email a SIGNED letter as an attachment and
3.)   SUPPORT bill# or OPPOSE bill# (or SUPPORT bill# WITH AMENDMENTS) must be the topic of your letter and appear in the body of your letter. 
SB 1262 will be heard by the California State Senate Standing Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development at 1 p.m. on Monday, April 21, 2014.  Their fax number is (916) 266-9343 and email addresses to the committee chair, vice chair, staff and the consultants for the committee are:,,,,
SB 1262 greatly restricts doctors and will make it difficult to get a medical cannabis recommendation.  Read the bill here:

AB 1894 will be heard by the California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.  Their fax number is (916) 319-3745 and email addresses to the committee chair, vice chair, staff, and counsel for the committee are:,,,,,

AB 1894 treats medical cannabis collectives like bars and night clubs and puts enforcement under Alcohol Beverage Control; expensive fees, fines and taxes expected.  Read the bill here:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Patient Advocacy Network Joins Effort To Legalize Cannabis In California In 2014

MCLR Proponents are joined by Sac NORML at the California State House

In previous elections Patient Advocacy Network has refrained from involvement in past California statewide marijuana legalization efforts, mainly because those failed initiatives lacked protection for patients and clarity with respect to collective guidelines. 

However, there became a sense of urgency leading up to the Riverside Decision and it became clear that a statewide voter initiative was needed sooner than later to protect the spirit and intent of the Compassionate Use Act.   A strong contingency of cannabis advocates also wants legal hemp and adult recreational use. recognized that previous attempts to move cannabis legalization forward in California lacked transparency.  Despite multiple attempts, no California cannabis initiative has passed the voters since Prop. 215, in 1996.   Many of these initiatives were drafted behind closed doors without stakeholder input. did something different; they formed to start an open-source document for any member of the group to provide input on what California’s cannabis legalization initiative should look like; membership to the group is open.  What transpired was a document of agreed upon ideas by some 1,200 people with input from over 800 people including: patients, providers, cultivators, advocates, community leaders, concerned citizens, doctors and lawyers. 

PAN President Degé Coutee and co-founder Dave Hodges reached out to as many stakeholders as possible to provide input in time to file an initiative for the 2014 California General Election.  They worked together to edit provisions together to prepare the document for final legal review before submitting it to the Secretary of State. 

Coutee states, “These are the best cannabis guidelines for Californians: patients, consumers, cultivators, and concerned citizens.  We are pleased to be involved.”  Degé Coutee is one of four proponents of the of the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 along with John Lee, Bob Bowerman and Dave Hodges.  The full text of the initiative can be found at:

Proponents expect to get a title and summary from the CA Attorney General in a few days and can begin gathering signatures immediately.  Supporters need 504,760 valid signatures in 150 days in order to qualify for the November 2014 election ballot.  PAN is taking donations for the campaign through its 501h election.  All donations are anonymous and tax-deductible.  All contributions will be used to print petitions and pay for signature gathering efforts.  Contributions directly to the campaign can be made at: -- click the “Legalize Cannabis Campaign” donate button; mail a check to P.O. Box 93845, Los Angeles, CA, 90093 or call (323) 334-5282.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Help End Cannabis Prohibition Forever!!

Many thanks Hollywood Hemptress Tere Joyce for putting together this video of some of our activism.

Let's End Cannabis Prohibition in 2014!!  

You can watch previous shows at: 

or listen on iHeart Radio at: .

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2014 – The Year To Invest In Cannabis Activism

Reputable polls continue to show Americans support marijuana legalization more than ever.  Twenty-one states now recognize medical cannabis, and two states allow adult recreational use with 5 more states looking at complete legalization in 2014.

Despite the lingering federal threat the marijuana industry is growing faster than the laws can keep up, which still puts cannabis cultivators and distributors at risk of federal prosecution or imprisonment.

Every major industry in America has supporters and advocates diligently lobbying on Capitol Hill whether its tobacco, beef or cars.  Fortunately, all of those are still legal but cannabis remains locked up in the Controlled Substances Act and has fewer advocates in Washington than any other group.  No wonder it’s taking over 77 years.

Other than grow her, sell her and smoke her, Mary Jane asks what have you done FOR her lately.  An investment in good cannabis activism is an investment in the end of federal prohibition.  What canna-business operator doesn’t want that?! 

How much is legal marijuana worth to you?  An ill loved-one?  Someone in jail?  What are you willing to give this year to ensure the best activists in the movement have the tools to can get the job done?  Done! 

Marijuana cannot legalize itself.  Fund her liberators and together we will change the world. 


New CNN Poll Finds Americans' Support For Legal Weed Is Soaring

For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana

Marijuana Market Poised To Grow Faster Than Smartphones

U.S. Attorneys Say Marijuana Memo Won't Affect Their Anti-Pot Work

Patient Advocacy Network is a charitable organization.  Donations to PAN are tax-deductible and can be made at