Thursday, August 16, 2007

NEW MEXICO: Health Dept. won't distribute medical pot

NEW MEXICO: Health Dept. won't distribute medical pot

Staff and wire reports
Article Launched: 08/16/2007 01:00:00 AM MDT

To view the full medical marijuana law, click here (PDF).

SANTA FE — State officials said Wednesday they will not comply with the portion of the new medical marijuana law that requires New Mexico to oversee production and distribution of the drug.

"The Department of Health will not subject its employees to potential federal prosecution, and therefore will not distribute or produce medical marijuana," said Dr. Alfredo Vigil, who heads the agency.

"I respect that decision coming from the state," said Lindsey Bilovesky, 23, of Las Cruces. "I think that's the state's prerogative. I'm a firm believer in state's rights and I think that each individual state should decide if they're going to administer that."

The department will continue to certify certain patients as eligible to possess marijuana without risking state prosecution, Vigil said.

New Mexico's requirement that the state license a production and distribution system is unique among the dozen states with medical marijuana laws.

Chris Minnick, spokesman for the state Department of Health in Las Cruces, said the department's philosophy is that if it's going to err, it will be on the side of caution.

"We asked for this ruling," Minnick said. "We can't put our employees at any kind of risk without representation. The determination was pretty clear that federal laws supersede state laws, and that could put state employees at risk for distribution and production. We'll continue with the first phase of the program, issuing identification cards to those patients who qualify for medical marijuana use. But we won't be involved in the distribution or production."

Attorney General Gary King cautioned last week that the agency and its employees could face federal prosecution for implementing the new law, and that the attorney general can't defend state workers in criminal cases.

"We take the attorney general's opinion very seriously," Minnick said.

The law took effect July 1, and as of last week the department had approved at least two dozen patients to possess a three-month supply of marijuana, including plants.

"What we're doing now is what every other state is doing that has a medical marijuana law," said department spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer. "Those states have set a precedent in being able to successfully do that."

Going beyond that by overseeing a production and distribution system would put state employees at greater risk of federal prosecution, she said.

Minnick said patients who are approved for medical marijuana use are allowed to have a three month supply which would consist of 3 ounces of marijuana, no more than four mature marijuana plants or three immature plants.

Medical marijuana

-According to the New Mexico Department of Health, 66 applications have been submitted throughout the state seeking use of medical marijuana.

24 applications have been approved, seven denied and decisions on all others are pending.

-Patients who are approved for medical marijuana use are allowed to have a three-month supply, which would consist of 3 ounces of marijuana, no more than four mature marijuana plants or three immature plants.

-An identification card is issued to all qualified patients, which gives them immunity from state prosecution.

-The identification card does not exempt them from federal prosecution.

L.A. moves to stop pot raids

L.A. moves to stop pot raids

City Council wants to end raids on voter-approved clinics in California.

By Rick Orlov, Staff writer
Article Launched: 08/15/2007 10:13:51 PM PDT

Wearing pink arm bands to show their support for the use of medical marijuana, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday asked for information on other cities' success in stopping clinic raids by federal agents.

Voicing frustration with city efforts to develop operating guidelines for the clinics and protect them from raids, the council also asked the Los Angeles Police Department to review its policy on cooperating with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

"We know we have no control over the federal government, but I don't think we should play a role in helping them raid clinics we have authorized," Councilwoman Janice Hahn said.

But Cmdr. David Doan said the LAPD is not prepared to make such a pledge, and that it would have to review any regulations developed by the city.

While police Chief William Bratton has said he agrees with allowing medical-marijuana clinics to operate, the LAPD also has a policy of cooperating with other law enforcement agencies.

He also has said the department might be asked to provide backup support for Drug Enforcement Administration operations.

The LAPD has 20 officers with dual local-federal authorization who work with the DEA, Doan said.

Only one, however, has been involved in raids at local marijuana clinics.

The City Council last week adopted a measure placing a moratorium on all new medical-marijuana clinics in the city until it can develop guidelines.

Hahn said she is prepared to call for the LAPD to stop participating in DEA raids or ask the DEA to impose a moratorium.

California cities and the federal government have been at odds ever since the passage of Proposition 215, allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical use. Police officials estimate there are some 200 medicinal-marijuana clinics in Los Angeles.

LA City Council Grills LAPD


> Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 19:54:31 -0700
> Subject: LA City Council Grills LAPD

> From: Don Duncan

> Los Angeles City Councilmember Janice Hahn and her colleagues posed pointed questions about the police department's involvement in last month's DEA raids at medical cannabis facilities to LAPD Commander Donne, who appeared in lieu of Chief Bratton at a City Council hearing today. Representatives from Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and other advocates have complained about the LAPD cooperation with the DEA, especially the appearance of LAPD Detective Dennis Packer in a DEA uniform during the raid at California Patients Group (CPG) in Hollywood. Packer, an asset forfeiture specialist on a LAPD/DEA task force, later signed warrants seizing bank accounts from CPG and affiliated collectives in West Hollywood and Berkeley.
> Commander Donne's assertion that only collectives that were problematic were targeted on July 25 drew an angry outburst from advocates in the audience. Donne's brief comments caused several verbal outbursts from a crowd of almost 100 advocates, some of who were members or operators of closed collectives. Donne told the City Council that the LAPD works closely with many other law enforcement agencies and has approximately 20 officers who are also deputized as DEA agents. He explained that Detective Packer, who has been present at a majority of DEA raids in the city, worked with the DEA "when asset forfeiture is appropriate." Donne repeated allegations from yesterday's Police Commission meeting, saying that targeted collectives were associated with organized crime, gang activity, and profiteering. Councilmember Hahn drew loud applause when she told Donne that it was not his job to decide how much money a collective should be making.
> Councilmember William Rosendahl complained that the LAPD report was incomplete and worried that collectives that comply with registration requirements in the city's newly adopted moratorium may also be targeted. The City Council approved a motion by Councilmember Dennis Zine calling on the LAPD and City Attorney to report back to the Public Safety Commission about the impact of policies refusing non-cooperation with DEA raids in other cities. ASA' LA County Field Coordinator Chris Fusco is working with City Council staff to develop a resolution of non-cooperation. If adopted, the resolution will set an important precedent for cities statewide and become an important component of ASA's work to get state officials to stand behind patients and providers in California.
> Today's meeting was a bitter-sweet victory for advocates, who are seeing the results of two years of effective advocacy while feeling the heat of the DEA latest crack down on medical cannabis. Advocates complain that some of the most compassionate and reputable collectives in the city have been closed already. They also mistrust Donne's claim that the LAPD would not target collectives that comply with the terms of the new moratorium or upcoming regulations. Advocates believe that the LAPD and DEA routinely cooperate and are determined to close all of LA's collectives.
> One silver lining of the DEA attacks in Los Angeles is that it has re-galvanized the community. Medical cannabis advocates with ASA and other groups are vowing to escalate their opposition to DEA tactics like targeting landlords, raiding collectives, and seizing assets. Five protesters were arrested blocking the DEA exit at CPG on July 25. Dozens of others engaged in a stand-off with LAPD officers who repeatedly try to push protester back from the scene - sometimes aggressively. This spirit of defiance was visible at today's City Council meeting when advocates spoke... and shouted. Afterwards, small groups convened impromptu meetings in the hallways to plan next steps. Two City Council Members even joined us to offer input. LA ASA members are organizing affinity groups for non-violent civil disobedience training right now. It is remarkable to see how active and motivated the community of advocates have become in LA. Two years ago, ASA started training spokespeople, educating the community, and lobbying elected officials. It is so great to see those efforts paying off.

> We need the participation of every advocate to fight back in LA. The nest LA ASA meeting will be at 1:00 PM on Saturday, August 18, at the Patients ID Center located at 470 S. San Vicente Blvd., between Wilshire Blvd. and 3rd St. Visit
> __________________
> Don Duncan
> Southern California Coordinator
> Americans for Safe Access
> Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.
> Join us todayĆ
> Los Angeles Office
> 7211 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 800
> West Hollywood, CA 90046


California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -

Come to NORML's 36th Annual National Conference
October 12-13, 2007 - Los Angeles, CA
Act now for discount rooms and reduced registration costs...
Special 'Student' and 'Senior Citizen' discounts available / 888-67-NORML
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

HUNTINGTON BEACH: Commission tables ban on medical marijuana

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

HUNTINGTON BEACH: Commission tables ban on medical marijuana

Because state and federal law conflict, commissioners said they needed more time to study the issue.

The Orange County Register

HUNTINGTON BEACH The Planning Commission discussed medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday night and determined it needed more time and information before making a decision.

"In this whole debate, we have not gotten all the information we really need," said Commissioner Joe Shaw. "The Supreme Court decision was not nearly as clear cut as was put before us."

Deputy City Attorney, Leonie Mulvihill was not able to answer many of the commissioners' questions concerning the logistics of medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

"I think we can agree to disagree, I suppose," said Mulvihill about the conflict between state and federal law.

The commission voted unanimously to continue discussion on the issue to its Sept. 11 meeting. They also requested that city staff provide further information more than four federal and state court rulings on the issue.

"This is a mess," said Commissioner Devin Dwyer.

The city has no medical marijuana dispensaries. An application for one in 2005 never panned out.

Other cities considering the ban include Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress.

The Huntington City Council voted in 2005 to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in specified locations to comply with the state's Compassionate Use Act, which allowed people to use medical marijuana in California.

At the time, a U.S. Supreme Court decision was pending on the state act's relationship to the Federal Controlled Substances Act. In June of that year, the court upheld the federal act.

A month after that decision, Mayor Gil Coerper asked the council to reverse the city's law.

A representative from Compassionate Caregivers on Behalf of Medical Marijuana Patients has said the dispensaries could bring the city more than $100,000 a month in revenue.

"This is for the betterment of the community and access for legitimate patients," Rob Wayman said.

Contact the writer: or 714-445-6696

HUNTINGTON BEACH: Commission tables ban on medical marijuana

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

HUNTINGTON BEACH: Commission tables ban on medical marijuana

Because state and federal law conflict, commissioners said they needed more time to study the issue.

The Orange County Register

HUNTINGTON BEACH The Planning Commission discussed medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday night and determined it needed more time and information before making a decision.

"In this whole debate, we have not gotten all the information we really need," said Commissioner Joe Shaw. "The Supreme Court decision was not nearly as clear cut as was put before us."

Deputy City Attorney, Leonie Mulvihill was not able to answer many of the commissioners' questions concerning the logistics of medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

"I think we can agree to disagree, I suppose," said Mulvihill about the conflict between state and federal law.

The commission voted unanimously to continue discussion on the issue to its Sept. 11 meeting. They also requested that city staff provide further information more than four federal and state court rulings on the issue.

"This is a mess," said Commissioner Devin Dwyer.

The city has no medical marijuana dispensaries. An application for one in 2005 never panned out.

Other cities considering the ban include Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress.

The Huntington City Council voted in 2005 to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in specified locations to comply with the state's Compassionate Use Act, which allowed people to use medical marijuana in California.

At the time, a U.S. Supreme Court decision was pending on the state act's relationship to the Federal Controlled Substances Act. In June of that year, the court upheld the federal act.

A month after that decision, Mayor Gil Coerper asked the council to reverse the city's law.

A representative from Compassionate Caregivers on Behalf of Medical Marijuana Patients has said the dispensaries could bring the city more than $100,000 a month in revenue.

"This is for the betterment of the community and access for legitimate patients," Rob Wayman said.

Contact the writer: or 714-445-6696

MENDOCINO: 25 plants, 2 pounds stands

MENDOCINO: 25 plants, 2 pounds stands

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal
Article Last Updated: 08/15/2007 08:20:13 AM PDT

In a 3-2 vote, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted not to reconsider its Aug. 7 decision setting possession limits for medical marijuana at 25 plants and two processed pounds.

Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax and Chairwoman Kendall Smith voted to reconsider with 1st District Supervisor Michael Delbar, 2nd District Supervisor Jim Wattenburger and 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches opposed.

Colfax asked that the motion be reconsidered because he felt the board had not heard sufficient community input on the amount of processed marijuana a patient should be allowed to possess.

"We had virtually no discussion," Colfax said.

At its Aug. 7 meeting, the board limited discussion to the number of plants a patient should be allowed to possess in accordance with the motion set before the board by the Criminal Justice sub-committee.

Just before the motion went to a vote, the board included the two-pound limit after discussion with Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

Smith said it had not been her intention to rush the item without discussion.

"It's important that we have a solid process," she said.

"I don't want it to be said that we limited them," Smith said.

Colfax said he asked that the resolution be reconsidered because he realized that Measure G, on which he had based the resolution, did not provide clear guidance about the amount of processed marijuana a person should be allowed to possess. Measure G says a patient can possess an "appropriate amount" of processed marijuana.

"Two pounds is inconsistent, on average, with the amount produced by 25 plants," he said.

Arguing against reconsideration, Pinches said he thought the issue had been resolved on Aug. 7 and that the limits set then provided a solid working base for county law enforcement.

"We owe it to this citizenry to have something definite," Pinches said.

"We in law enforcement now have a clear directive on where the Board of Supervisors wants to go," said Dan Edwards, president of the Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff's Association.

Although public comment was not as vociferous as at the previous meeting, several people appeared to speak.

County resident Marshall Sayegh said he felt the board had spent too much time and money on the issue of medical marijuana and should leave the rule as it stood to see how it worked out.

Pebbles Trippet, of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, said she hoped the board would reconsider the resolution because of the position it put growers in.

Trippet said the resolution would entrap medical marijuana growers because a person growing 25 plants would likely have far more than two pounds of marijuana.

"What you have created here is a monster," she said. "Two pounds is not the equivalent of 25 plants."

Trippet also criticized the board for passing a resolution on the amount of processed marijuana it was legal to possess without allowing discussion on it.

Attorney Susan Jordan was also critical of the board's actions on Aug. 7.

"The best laws are made when the people are heard, and there was no public input on the pound limit," she said.

Before voting, Pinches said he felt the board should allow the resolution to stand for a year to see if it works.

"Everything this board does can be undone," he said.

Ben Brown can be reached at

Medical marijuana user wins case against city of Merced

Medical marijuana user wins case against city of Merced

Small claims judge orders city to pay man $1,700 for pain and suffering

Sam Matthews, a local medical marijuana patient, was awarded $1,700 by a judge in a small claims suit after police confiscated his marijuana in October of 2006.

Merced man wins lawsuit against city over medical marijuana

Last Updated: August 15, 2007, 02:40:14 AM PDT

Samuel Matthews got high Tuesday ? but it wasn't from marijuana.

Judge Armando Rodriguez awarded Matthews, a medical marijuana user, $1,700 for pain and suffering stemming from an October 2006 incident when he was cited by Merced police for possessing $300 in marijuana.

Although the 25-year-old Merced College student was originally seeking $7,500 in damages, he said the small claims court decision was not about the money. "It's about their illegal actions," Matthews said. "(The judge) showed that regardless of the federal standpoint on medical marijuana, the police are required to follow state law."

Local medical marijuana activists said Monday's decision marked a victory that will hopefully set a precedent for protecting their rights.

Medical marijuana user Grant Wilson said police will now hopefully "think twice" before citing anyone for using medical marijuana. "I'm happy for him," Wilson said. "I think he should have gotten the whole $7,500 just for the whole blatant disrespect of the law."

Merced Chief Deputy City Attorney Jeanne Schechter declined to comment on the court decision, saying her office needs to review the case before deciding on whether to appeal. "We need to evaluate whether we believe the decision is appropriate," she said.

Matthews was detained and cited by Merced police after he had been smoking marijuana inside the garage of his parents' Loughborough Drive home. He has used medical marijuana since 2001 to treat scoliosis in his back and pain from his right leg being about an inch-and-a-half longer than his left.

A bike patrol officer at the scene thought he smelled marijuana on Matthews, who admitted having the drug with him, as well as his Alameda County marijuana card. Matthews was then handcuffed, taken to the police department, interviewed and cited for possessing $300 in marijuana. Police also confiscated 26.5 grams of marijuana that belonged to him.

As a medical marijuana user, Matthews claimed his rights were denied under Proposition 215, a 1996 state voter-approved measure which made it legal for residents with a state identification card (which is administered by counties) to possess and cultivate medical marijuana within certain guidelines.

Under Proposition 215 there is no state regulation for the cultivation of medical marijuana; the number of plants a patient can own is left up to local jurisdictions. In Merced County, a patient with a medical marijuana card (which costs $225) is allowed to own six mature plants and 12 immature plants, in addition to a half-pound of finished product.

However, Proposition 215 still conflicts with federal law, which does not allow for the use of medical marijuana. Merced County initially challenged the law in court ? only to have its challenge rejected by a state judge in December.

Merced police Cmdr. Tom Martin said he disagrees with Matthews' contention that Merced police acted outside the boundaries of the law. "At the time this happened, there was not a countywide (marijuana) policy in place, but it was being researched," Martin said. "Not as a result of this, but as a result of our efforts in law enforcement, particularly our agency, to make sure that we are treating people fairly and complying with the law, because there is that significant conflict."

Martin also disputes Matthews' claim that Merced police unfairly target medical marijuana users. The county's recent policy changes have given law enforcement clearer guidelines that previously did not exist. "We were trying to enforce the law as it was written and we found that it was ineffective," he said. "We agreed changes needed to be made. As a result, that's where we are at today."

Despite the decision, Matthews still faces more days ahead in court. A judge is scheduled to decide this Friday about whether to return Matthews' confiscated marijuana. Schecther said his marijuana has not been destroyed.

Matthews said he will use the $1,700 from his judgment to help pay for his $25,000 civil lawsuit against the Merced Police Department for the October 2006 incident.

Even though Matthews said his seized marijuana has probably lost much of its potency during the past 10 months it's been stored in a police locker, he said it would be a "double whammy" if the court returned it to him.

And he definitely wants his pot back: "I'll probably use it to cook or make some brownies."

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at 209-385-2431 or

LAPD role in marijuana-clinic raids questioned

LAPD role in marijuana-clinic raids questioned

Article Last Updated: 08/14/2007 09:36:30 PM PDT

LAPD officers have participated in federal raids of California voter-backed medical-marijuana clinics, even though the department says it backs using marijuana for medical purposes.

Responding to Los Angeles City Council criticism that the LAPD was wasting resources aiding federal officials cracking down on dispensaries the city and state recognize as legal, Cmdr. David Doan told the Police Commission on Tuesday that officers served as security on search warrants but did not initiate investigations.

"The department is supportive of the use of marijuana for medical purposes," Doan said. "The department is supportive of the state law."

Doan said the department assigns one detective to a federal task force on asset forfeiture. The detective dedicates at least 20 percent of his time to investigations related to medical-marijuana clinics.

In 1996, California voters backed a proposition that allowed the use of medical marijuana and for nonprofit clinics to distribute the drug. But federal agents, who consider the cultivation of marijuana a crime, have been cracking down on the clinics.

Earlier this month, council members urged federal officials to stop the raids.

They also approved a moratorium on new dispensaries while they develop guidelines for the location of facilities and hours of operation.

Councilman Dennis Zine, who authored the bill, said the Los Angeles Police Department's participation "dilutes our relationship with legitimate medicinal facilities."

"We don't feel comfortable working with the (Drug Enforcement Administration) and raiding those places," he said.

Since 2005, more than 200 medical-marijuana clinics have popped up across the city.

The LAPD says some have created problems in neighborhoods, from loitering to theft to recruiting school-age children to use pot.

(818) 713-3741

Medical pot users say they felt safe at closed collective

Medical pot users say they felt safe at closed collective


last updated: August 15, 2007 04:18:23 AM

OAKDALE — A.J. Hajjar figures that if lawmakers and police could feel the pain of three herniated disks, other lower back problems and osteoarthritis, they'd leave places like Oakdale Natural Choice Collective alone.

"I felt very safe here," the 61-year-old Tracy man said while seated in the now-empty medical marijuana dispensary that the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency and Oakdale police shut down July 31. It had been open since May 7, owner Addison DeMoura said.

Hajjar, who also has diabetes and high blood pressure, said he didn't set out to add marijuana to his list of medications. A doctor suggested it.

"I was totally comfortable with it," said Hajjar, who said he has since decreased his dependence on pharmaceutical drugs.

He'd had medical approval to use marijuana for about three weeks before the only dispen-sary he knew of in the valley closed.

On July 31, law enforcement officers arrested DeMoura and others associated with the collective at 1275 East F St. Everyone arrested has since made bail, said Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman Royjindar Singh.

Police searched the collective and confiscated an undisclosed amount of marijuana, money, records and other items. DeMoura said they also took the hemp clothing, political books, lotions and soaps that he and volunteers sold at the nonprofit business.

Law enforcement officials will not provide specifics on the evidence they seized until the case is closed, said Modesto Police Department Lt. Mike Zahr, who is handling the case for the multiagency task force called Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency.

Investigators started looking into the case after complaints about a strong odor coming from the collective. There also were complaints regarding the clientele.

DeMoura opened the shop as a natural therapeutic products business, according to his business license, and said that is all the collective was. The license did not specifically state that the collective would sell marijuana.

"This dispensary was run so professionally. We made sure patients were comfortable. We gave out water. We had chairs for people who couldn't stand in line. I know what we were doing was the right thing," he said.

Since law enforcement shut the dispensary, Hajjar said he will have to go to Oakland to get marijuana if he wants to continue using it. He said he won't buy it on the street. Marijuana supplied at a collective is safer because those who use it also grow and provide it, DeMoura said.

State law allows approved medical marijuana users to have up to six mature or 12 immature plants. Pooling resources helps ensure everyone in a collective has enough.

It also allows patients to try different varieties. Just like patients sometimes need to have their pharmaceutical drugs adjusted, marijuana users need to adjust the strength of tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive substance in cannabis, DeMoura said.

"I can't drive to Oakland. It's too expensive and the long drive is painful," said Deborah Pottle, 53, of Oakdale, who has tried a gamut of pain medication since a back injury 13 years ago.

"I blew three disks and ruptured one," the former correctional officer said. "I'm limited strictly to this because I developed allergies to those drugs."

Pottle said her relationship with her daughters suffered when she began trying various painkillers.

"With medical marijuana, I function," she said. "Without it I have no quality of life."

Pottle said she smokes the drug and eats it in cereal-bar-looking "edibles."

"This is my survivor issue. I'm not a flake. I don't know what else to do," she said.

In 1996, California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, which allows possession of marijuana for medical use. Lawmakers later enacted another bill requiring counties to issue cards to medical marijuana users, entitling them to possess as much as eight ounces.

"Legalization takes the power away from the drug lords," DeMoura said.

State law doesn't make using the drug easy, even for people who have doctor recommendations. Marijuana is outlawed on the federal level but allowed for medical use in California — leaving cities and counties to draw the line that residents must walk.

Every city in Stanislaus County has enacted a permanent or temporary ban on dispensaries.

Assistant County Counsel John Doering has said the county's stand is that distributors are not allowed under federal law and are not described under the Compassionate Use Act.

Zahr said the law does not legalize marijuana. "It's a defense to prosecution," he said.

Bob Hussey, executive director of the California Narcotic Officers' Association, has called the safe access law "a mess for law enforcement."

Hussey said he figures that though there are people who sincerely have the sort of ailments that marijuana could alleviate, many use dispensaries as a guise to deal the drug.

"Most dispensaries are operating for profit; the law does not allow that," Zahr said. "They are nothing but a front for criminal drug trafficking."

DeMoura said he would be naive not to understand law enforcement's point of view. But he maintains there are legitimate dispensaries and ways to ensure the drug is sold only to patients with valid prescriptions.

At the collective, a guard stopped unfamiliar people at the door. Everyone had to show identification and a doctor's recommendation for marijuana. Volunteers would verify the recommendation's legitimacy with the doctor, and verify that those making patient recommendations really were doctors.

Professional atmosphere

DeMoura's wife, Jessica, said volunteers wore lab coats and scrubs to handle the marijuana.

"He even made someone cut their hair. He wanted it to be as clean-cut, legal and as professional as possible," she said.

DeMoura said the tinted windows kept cooling costs down and provided patients, dealing with a range of ailments from AIDS to pharmaceutical pain medication allergies, with a sense of privacy. Three guards were on hand at all times. People were not allowed to use the drug at the collective, DeMoura said.

Even with verification that they can use and grow the drug, patients often are paranoid that police will come knocking on their door or pull them over.

"They're right to be worried," said Modesto-based defense attorney Frank Carson, who has represented about 30 medical marijuana users throughout his 19-year career. "Cops just don't like it. But if people can find a doctor to write them a prescription, they can smoke dope now."

"I don't feel like I'm a criminal. But this is what I have to expect. I put myself on the line," DeMoura said. "I put myself between a state and federal conflict.

"Criminals would run. I'm standing right here."

Asked if he plans to reopen the collective or leave town, he wavered.

"We're going to clean the place up and turn it into an activist headquarters," he said.

Later, he reconsidered.

"I think Oakdale has shown they don't want a dispensary," he said.

The collective's landlord has since asked the collective to leave the building.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at or 578-2382.

SALINAS: Council snubs pot dispensaries

SALINAS: Council snubs pot dispensaries

The Salinas Californian

The Salinas City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The council temporarily banned the sites this spring.

While the proposed ordinance would ban dispensaries, the police department follows state law, which permits people with a doctor’s recommendation to keep certain amounts of pot.

The closest dispensary is in Santa Cruz.

COLORADO: Defense: Decision could boost medical pot case

COLORADO: Defense: Decision could boost medical pot case


Defense attorneys for a Loveland couple facing marijuana cultivation and possession charges said a recent Denver district court ruling could strengthen their case.

Chief Denver District Judge Larry Naves early last month suspended a rule that limits to five the number of medical marijuana patients for whom a caregiver can provide the drug. Naves said the rule was improperly written and jeopardized the lives of patients.

Chris Crumbliss, 31, and Tiffany Crumbliss, 36, were arrested May 31 after deputies found more than 200 live marijuana plants and 20 pounds of dried marijuana in a home they own at 3501 Raccoon Drive, west of Horsetooth Reservoir.

The couple was arrested at their home in the 4300 block of Shoreline Drive, where deputies also found 5 pounds of marijuana.

The couple, also medical marijuana patients, were acting as caregivers and providing medical marijuana to upward of 30 patients, said Sean T. McAllister, who is representing Chris Crumbliss.

"It'll make the Crumbliss' case much stronger," said Rob Corry, who is representing Tiffany Crumbliss. "We've always argued that the policy has no legal validity and now we know it has no legal validity."

Defense attorneys are calling the Crumbliss case a "test case" under the new policy.

"This case is about whether the medical marijuana law is really going to work or just be symbolic," McAllister said.

The limits may be gone but the question remains whether the couple were acting as caregivers under the law, said District Attorney Larry Abrahamson.

"What we'll look at is whether they were legitimate caregivers," he said. "How was it (the marijuana) being used and is that reasonable and legitimate."

According to the law, a caregiver is someone "who has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient," a benchmark met by growing medical marijuana, McAllister said.

"That, in and of itself, is having a significant responsibility for a patient's well-being," he said.

Colorado voters passed the medical marijuana amendment in 2000. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment administers the program and set the limit on caregivers.

As a result of the injunction, there is no limit on how many medical marijuana patients one caregiver may provide for, said Mark Salley, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The health department has not yet decided whether it's going to take the issue to trial or go through a process to establish a new limit, Salley said.

$47 million in marijuana destroyed; 3 arrested

$47 million in marijuana destroyed; 3 arrested

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

By Special to The Madera Tribune

A tip to the county's narcotics hotline resulted in the uprooting of 15,899 marijuana plants, estimated to be worth $47 million, and the arrest of three people on felony drug charges, according to the Narcotic Enforcement Team.

On Sunday evening agents hit two alleged marijuana gardens at opposite ends of Eastern Madera County, one in North Fork, the other near Oakhurst.

Arrested were Peggy Bosse, 55, of North Fork, her daughter, 33-year-old Heather Medina of Lakewood, Colo. and 31-year-old Hector Hernandez of Coarsegold.

Agents were notified Sunday night about a large garden growing near Bosse's home on Arrowhead Trail in North Fork. Based on the information they received they believed the garden was ripe for harvest. Feeling if they didn't move quickly the plants would be gone by morning, they secured a warrant and served it Sunday.

Agents pulled out 9, 435 plants from the North Fork garden. Agents estimated the crop could have netted the growers more than $28 million.

Hernandez was taken into custody at Bosse's home. Bosse and Medina were taken into custody a short time later, after being pulled over by a sheriff's deputy, who reportedly found more than three pounds of processed marijuana in their car worth an estimated $9,000, along with some methamphetamine.

Shortly after the North Fork operation, agents moved on to Oakhurst where they found 6,464 plants growing near Madera's popular Miami Motorcycle Trails, off State Route 41 just above Oakhurst. The garden had reportedly been spotted during a routine marijuana investigation.

Miami Motorcycle Trails is a popular off highway vehicle recreational area in the Central Valley.

"This is one of the few places that caters to dirt bike enthusiasts, where riders of all ages come to enjoy more than 60 square miles of dirt bike trails," said Sheriff John Anderson.

"When you realize the proximity of this marijuana garden, just how close it was found growing near a popular family destination point, it is very disturbing," he said.

Had this cash crop made it to the streets agents said it could have yielded more than $19 million. No arrests were made in the second eradication.

As for the three arrests made in North Fork Peggy Bosse and Hector Hernandez, who also goes by the names Kokomys Hernandez and Nokomys Hernandez remain in jail with bail set at $500,000 each. Heather Medina, who also goes by the name Heather Bunnell, posted $50,000 early Monday morning. She is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 6.

YUBA COUNTY: No action on pot ID cards

YUBA COUNTY: No action on pot ID cards

By Andrea Koskey/Appeal-Democrat
August 15, 2007 - 12:07AM

Yuba County supervisors deferred discussion on medical marijuana ID cards Tuesday to give county lawyers more time to review state and federal laws.

“This is question for counsel right now,” said Supervisor Dan Logue. “There are a lot of federal and state issues here, and I want to hear our rights.”

Aaron Smith, state coordinator for Safe Access Now, a nonprofit organization promoting legal access to medical marijuana, asked for public hearings to be scheduled to coordinate a program with the state to issue ID cards for legitimate users of medical marijuana.

“The laws are not being applied uniformly,” Smith said. “This is a tool for bona fide patients to be verified, and it gives law enforcement added confidence that patients are who they say they are.”

The Compassionate Use Act was passed in 1996 allowing doctors to prescribe the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Then in 2003, SB 420 was approved by state legislators enabling the Department of Health Services to create an ID card program.

To date, 35 counties have implemented programs, including Butte, Plumas and Sierra counties.

San Diego County is involved in a lawsuit questioning the legality of the ID cards. The county lost in lower courts, but is appealing the decision.

Supervisors, however, said they were interested becoming familiar with the rights of the voter-approved law before making a decision.

“I’m comfortable waiting to see how the appeal goes,” Supervisor John Nicoletti said of the San Diego case. “I understand the issue, but there is an appeal in process I think we should wait to see the outcome.”

Appeal-Democrat reporter Andrea Koskey can be reached at 749-4709 or at

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

KANSAS: Former state A.G. to support medical use of marijuana

KANSAS: Former state A.G. to support medical use of marijuana

By Scott Rothschild

August 15, 2007

Topeka — Former Kansas Attorney General Bob Stephan plans to announce his support of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, the leader of an advocacy group said Tuesday.

“He is favorable to the issue,” said Laura Green, director of the Kansas Compassionate Care Coalition.

Stephan, a Republican who served as attorney general from 1979 to 1995, will hold a news conference on the matter Friday in the Capitol. He could not be reached for comment.

“The general is a highly respected statesman who continues to serve the public in many capacities. We look forward to hearing his thoughts on this issue,” said Green, who sent out a news release about the news conference. Green said she didn’t want to speak any further on behalf of Stephan.

The Compassionate Care Coalition advocates for legal protection of patients who use medical marijuana and physicians who recommend the drug for treatment of pain.

The coalition has 400 members in chapters in Lawrence and Wichita.

In Kansas, marijuana is illegal even for medical purposes for ill people.

Twelve states that make up 22 percent of the U.S. population have enacted laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the coalition said.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said she would probably support allowing medical marijuana.

“An important part of health care is managing pain. If, as the data says, this is a good way to manage pain, I don’t think we should outlaw that,” Francisco said.


OHIO: Burglar steals marijuana from drug agents

OHIO: Burglar steals marijuana from drug agents

Posted by Damian G. Guevara August 14, 2007 18:49PM

Chardon -- First the drug agents took the marijuana away from an illegal home-grow operation. Then a burglar took it away from the drug agents.

A secret stash of marijuana -- supposedly safeguarded by local drug agents in a van trailer -- is missing after a burglar picked his way into the storage unit, the Geauga County sheriff said.

The thief, or thieves, likely had no clue agents were using the storage for contraband, or that marijuana was inside, Sheriff Dan McClelland said.

McClelland said he was "not pleased" with the break-in. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

The stolen marijuana was the proceeds of a bust in June that Geauga authorities touted as the largest in the county's history. Drug agents found 580 marijuana plants valued at nearly $600,000 inside a Chardon home. A 27-year-old man was charged in that case.

Investigators sent the pot to a crime lab. When it came back, drug agents locked the dope in the trailer and temporarily parked the trailer on private property in a location McClelland would not reveal. The thief cut the lock on the trailer. Police discovered the break-in July 30.

The crook took half the bags inside the trailer: four bags of marijuana plants weighing a total of 15 pounds. The value of the plants has not been determined.

The marijuana was not cured for consumption and it's questionable whether anyone can sell it.

"Whether it's salvageable is undetermined," McClelland said.

The theft -- and whether drug agents followed policy -- is under investigation, McClelland said.

Investigators suspect the burglar is the same person who broke into several area businesses in recent weeks, McClelland said. The theft should not have an effect on the upcoming drug case, he said.


Medical Marijuana Outlawed in Los Angeles? City Ordinance To Block Dispenseries September 14

Medical Marijuana Outlawed in Los Angeles?

City Ordinance To Block Dispenseries September 14

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 14, 2007 (CNS) - Los Angeles police officers have been present for some U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana facilities, but only to help implement a search warrant or provide security, the Police Commission was told today.

Marijuana is considered an illegal substance by the federal government. However, state law allows medical cannabis to be used by patients with permission by their physicians.

Questions were raised last month after a video on the YouTube Web site appeared to show an LAPD detective, wearing DEA raid gear, participating in a bust in the Hollywood area. The department is investigating the matter.

At the same time, City Councilman Dennis Zine asked the DEA to stop its raids while the city attempts to regulate the facilities.

The LAPD is supportive of medicinal marijuana and does not participate in the federal agency's marijuana investigations, said LAPD Cmdr. David Doan.

"(DEA officials) do ask for assistance from other agencies in order to have enough manpower present to be able to safely execute those warrants," Doan said. "Certainly there have been uniform resources of the Los Angeles Police Department present to keep the peace at some of those locations."

"The raids that we have participated in with DEA all have been as a result of federally-issued or state-issued search warrants. We have not gone on any of those activities, that I'm aware of, that did not have a warrant previously signed by a magistrate, primarily at the federal level."

A city ordinance that temporarily prohibits new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in Los Angeles will go into effect on Sept. 14.

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to hear a similar report on medical marijuana dispensaries tomorrow.

Copyright © 2007 KABC-TV and City News Service (CNS). All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


California in hot spot with medical pot

California in hot spot with medical pot

By Corinne Heller

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - They advertise in newspapers and on the Internet, where they supply their telephone numbers and addresses and offer free samples to new customers.

Finding medical marijuana vendors in California is about as easy as locating a Starbucks coffee shop.

But fresh raids by the federal government threaten to push this industry into the shadows 10 years after California legalized possession of marijuana for medical use.

"There's no way to prepare," said Joby, manager at a Los Angeles dispensary who declined to give his last name for fear of being raided.

"We're doing everything as legally as we possibly can but ... they (the federal government) are still saying we give too much," he added.

He said he has hundreds of regular customers, including one who is 67 and has been HIV positive for 17 years. With a doctor's prescription, they can possess up to a cup of cannabis -- or more if needed -- to relieve pain, nausea and psychological disorders.

The federal government argues that the legal alternative, a pill called Marinol made by a unit of Belgium's Solvay, works just fine, but activists say some people get little relief from the pill.

The U.S. Justice Department says possessing the drug for any purpose is illegal despite a dozen U.S. states allowing it for medical use.

Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, raided 10 dispensaries in Los Angeles, arrested five people and confiscated more than 240 kilograms (430 pounds) of marijuana. A similar size raid took place in January.


"There are ongoing investigations," said Sarah Pullen, a DEA spokeswoman in Los Angeles. "Anyone in possession or distributing (marijuana) is violating federal law."

She said investigations also show criminal activity, such a robbery and dealing, often occurs near the dispensaries.

California was the first state to legalize possession of cannabis for health purposes in 1996 after voters approved the Compassionate Use Act.

About 200,000 residents are such users, said Chris Hermes, spokesman of Americans For Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana grassroots group. An estimated 300,000 exist in the nation.

Registration is voluntary and only some 15,000 people in California have done so, the state health department said.

Making matters even more complicated, the local government has joined the fray even though its legal authority on the matter is shaky.

In the weeks after the latest raids, the Los Angeles City Council voted 10-2 in favor of a one-year moratorium on new dispensaries in the city and regulation of existing ones. And it urged the DEA to stop its raids.

There are more than 400 clinics in Los Angeles and some council members expressed concerns that the industry is growing out of control.

But doctors and clinic owners stand by their screening and adherence to state law.

Los Angeles doctor Dean Weiss, who is licensed to prescribe marijuana, said his office screens potential patients.

"We turn away half the people over the phone," he said.


While many of the clinics are well-marked and advertised, scores operate out of private homes or offices with no commercial signs.

The dispensaries often contain iron doors, bars or sophisticated security systems. Giant signs explaining the marijuana law decorate the walls. One facility warns customers of being banned for a year if they break the law.

According to sign-in sheets, dozens of people frequent the facilities every day.

"Everything is moving kind of smoothly but it is a little stressful just to know (raids are) happening," said Joe, another Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary manager who declined to give his full name.

But Hermes, the activist, said the raids are a menace to people who rely on safe access to medical marijuana.

"The DEA is using its power and influence and resources in such a way as to intimidate a whole population of people," Hermes said.

Joby said customers call after raids to ask if his dispensary is open. He worries that if he is raided, he'll be forced to close shop and his patients will also go into the shadows.

"People would just have to go back to the street and buy it from gangstas," Joby said, using the street slang for criminals. "If they had to go about getting it themselves, who knows what would happen to them."


Rhea Deputies Arrest Man Living In The Woods With His Marijuana

Rhea Deputies Arrest Man Living In The Woods With His Marijuana

Play video

Rhea County sheriff's deputies arrest a man they say has been living in the woods for a year, in the middle of his pot patch.

Deputies arrested 53 year old Barry McDonald when they found his campsite about a mile into the woods in the north end of Rhea County.

Deputies say they found McDonald's camouflaged campsite nestled among 250 pot plants. They seized the marijuana and a sawed off shot gun they found in the two room tent.

McDonald turned out to be a fugitive from Ohio.

He's listed as a violent sex offender.

McDonald is now facing charges of manufacturing marijuana and weapons charges.


Yosemite Rangers Find $22M Marijuana Operation

Aug 14, 2007 4:18 pm US/Pacific

Yosemite Rangers Find $22M Marijuana Operation

(CBS13) A new plant has been popping up in Yosemite National Park that doesn't have the rangers too happy.

On Monday, park rangers in Yosemite found 7,428 marijuana plants from three gardens in the park that was part of a full-blown growing operation.

At a value of $22 million dollars, the owners of the farm are going to be the ones who are not going to be happy.

According to officials, these Yosemite cultivation sites look similar to a Mexican drug trafficking enterprise, which includes watering systems, use of fertilizers and other dangerous chemicals.

The rangers say California based crime families aren’t normally near the drug farms because they often use illiterate and financially desperate Mexican nationals to do the actual cultivation.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


LA Aug 15th Women's March for Medical Marijuana

LA Aug 15th Women's March for Medical Marijuana


Contact: Lisa Sawoya, Spokesperson

Company Name: Womens Advancing Medical Cannabis (WAMC)

Telephone Number: (310) 246-9345

Fax Number: (310) 246-9358

Email Address:

Web site address:

WHAT: Women's March to Promote Safe Access to Medical Marijuana for the Proposition 215 qualified patients of Los Angeles, sponsored by Women Advancing Medical Cannabis.

1,000+ women will gather, don pink arm bands and peacefully demonstrate to raise awareness about medical cannabis access in Los Angeles.

WHERE: 255 E. Temple Street (Edward R. Roybal Federal Building) Downtown Los Angeles

WHEN: August 15th 2007 9am (sharp). March will begin at the federal building and will proceed to the City Hall lawn after the singing of the national anthem and speakers.

Order of Events

9:00 Gather at Federal Building

(1000+ women will don pink armbands and rally for safe access to medical cannabis in LA)

9:30 National Anthem

(sung by Raquel Roberts, renowned Broadway performer with roles in The Lion King and "Rent")


Featured speaker: Janice Hahn (District 15 Councilmember)

Other Speakers:

Jane from Americans for Safe Access

Dege from Patient Advocacy Network

10:00 March to City Hall Lawn

Once at City Hall lawn, 1000+ female patients and advocates will sign a large banner thanking the City Council for their support and steps made toward regulating medical cannabis access in LA.

Banner will be presented to the Council by representatives from WAMC during the meeting.

Police Chief William Bratton's office will be questioned by the Council regarding LAPD's role in the DEA raids on 10 reputable medical cannabis dispensaries on July 27th, 2007

WHO: Women Advancing Medical Cannabis is a dedicated group of concerned female patients who are dedicated to strengthening the medical cannabis patient community and survival of safe access for all patients.

We are your mothers, sisters, daughters and partners; we seek to redefine what "a medical cannabis patient" is while increasing local attention and awareness of the endangerment to safe access in light of the recent DEA raids on reputable Los Angeles dispensaries.

# # #

California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -

Come to NORML's 36th Annual National Conference
October 12-13, 2007 - Los Angeles, CA
Act now for discount rooms and reduced registration costs...
Special 'Student' and 'Senior Citizen' discounts available / 888-67-NORML
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws



State rejects Lassen's medical marijuana ID request

State rejects Lassen's medical marijuana ID request

Posted on Tuesday, August 14 @ 10:12:51 PDT

Lassen County News Headline Aug. 14, 2007 — Lassen County may not alter state medical marijuana ID cards with the stamp “not valid under federal law.”

Supervisor Jim Chapman insisted on stamping the statement on the cards in red ink when the board approve in June a resolution establishing the medical marijuana ID card program, established in 1996 by Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

Chapman made the motion on June 26 to approve the resolution only if it stated the board was resolved to add the “not valid under federal law” stamp to any cards issued for Lassen County. His motion passed unanimously.

However, District 4 Supervisor and Board Chairman Brian Dahle immediately added, “We’ll see that again in a couple of weeks.”

About a week later the county received “a verbal statement from the state saying that we could not alter the card,” Assistant County Administrative Officer Kevin Mannel said on Tuesday, Aug. 7. He asked county staff to verify the verbal statement.

“I asked staff to get that in writing,” Mannel said, “because if we need to go back to the supervisors, we need to verify the person making the statement from the Department of Health Services.”

The staff now has a copy of a written statement from the state. Mannel said he plans to take the letter back to the board and ask if its members plan to continue with the resolution requiring the stamp — to which “it appears we cannot comply,” he said — or if the board will agree to pass the original resolution, which complied with state law. Mannel said he expects to have the issue back on the board agenda by the second week of September.

The letter dated July 24 from Karen Parr, the chief of the medically indigent services section of the California Department of Public Health, states the cards, or MMICs, are produced through a contracted vendor “and the production price of the MMIC specified within the contract is based on the current design, therefore, it cannot be changed.”

It said any design changes would increase the card costs and any increase “must be passed on to the counties. Furthermore, in order to assist law enforcement in verifying valid medical marijuana patients or caregivers the information contained on the MMICs must be consistent statewide.”

The medical marijuana ID card application informs patients they are not protected from prosecution under federal law, Parr’s letter said, providing “sufficient notification to patients and primary caregivers of possible federal prosecution.”

Chapman said the board could reconsider the program if the state rejected the stamp.

There is no provision for individual counties alter the cards under the process established by Senate Bill 420, which implements Prop 215 and became law in January 2004. SB 420 specifies a patient, who has documentation from a physician verifying the client suffers from a serious medical condition and the use of medical marijuana is appropriate, must pay a fee. The board’s resolution set that fee at $150, or $117 for those served by MediCal.

The county must verify the address of the person applying for a card by checking proof of residency and a government-issued photo ID. The state issues the card after the county health department screens the application and reviews it for completeness. If anything is missing the state automatically denies the application.

Once the application is entered into a computer the state will issue a card within five days. The county will notify the user when the card is available for pickup.

Saying the state coerced the counties into approving the program, Chapman said it would be easy to go to the local office supply store and have a stamp made. He added SB 420 does not prohibit the stamp being added to the card.

“Let the state say, ‘No you can’t do that, and if that’s the case let them come up with a way to revise it,’” Chapman said in June.

At the June 25 meeting, Mannel agreed SB 420 conflicts with federal law. But he said more than half the state’s counties have already implemented the ID card program, including Shasta and Plumas counties. He said approval of the program does not take any authority away from the sheriff’s department to enforce DUI laws.

Sheriff Steve Warren said his deputies would continue to arrest anyone suspected of driving under the influence regardless of whether they carried a medical marijuana card.


Salinas City Council Considers Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Salinas City Council Considers Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Last Update: Aug 14, 2007 10:11 AM

Video Watch This Video

SALINAS, Calif. - Monday, the Salinas City Council will talk about a proposed ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

While most council members want to keep the pot clubs out of the city, one of them says that she believes in them.

Jyl Lutes says she lost her husband to bone cancer 23 years ago and she's seen first hand what wonders medicinal marijuana can do.

Council member Sergio Sanchez was also in favor of the dispensaries in the beginning, but now he says he supports a ban because Salinas isn't ready for a pot club.


Long arm of law may someday wear hemp

Long arm of law may someday wear hemp

Americana crop stages comeback in goods from T-shirts to butters

By Anne Marie DiStefano
Pamplin Media Group, Aug 14, 2007

The Master Peace on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard showcases products made from all kinds of sustainable materials, including hemp.

The hippie days live on in a handful of head shops on upper Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, so you might be surprised if you step into a store called the Master Peace (3623 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., 503-493-2366).

The shop specializes in, among other things, products made of hemp, and that may conjure images of billowing smoke and psychedelic colors. But there are no portraits of Bob Marley or the Grateful Dead here.

Ropy hemp sandals are piled in one corner, but the graphics on a line of T-shirts are hip and modern, with not a single spiky green pot leaf symbol in sight.

Hemp, soy, bamboo and organic cotton are the basis for the clothing here, which is carefully selected from a handful of fashion designers. Owners Melissa Giacobbe and Sierra Freeman have assembled an understated, casual collection that brings in all kinds of shoppers.

“It’s really amazing what a wide range of customers we get,” Freeman says.

According to Freeman, consumer interest in hemp products is on the rise. What’s available on the wholesale market is expanding, too. Hemp is hardier than cotton, Freeman explains, so it’s easier to grow without pesticides – and that appeals to ecoconscious shoppers.

Hemp fabric provides natural UV protection, she adds, and it’s breathable and very durable. The downside is cost. “Because it can’t be grown in the United States, it’s very expensive,” she says.

Food, paper and clothing are just a few of the things that can be made from hemp.

In a whirlwind shopping spree of some of Portland’s more independently minded retailers, you can stock your pantry with hemp butter, your bathroom with hemp soap and hand cream, your closet with hemp shirts and your desk with hemp stationery.

You can even carry it all home in a hemp tote bag. Just don’t plant any hemp in your backyard – that would be a violation of federal drug law.

Casual speech distinguishes between hemp (grown for commercial purposes) and marijuana (grown as a drug), but taxonomically they are the same species, Cannabis sativa.

There is a movement to legalize the growing of hemp – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say two movements. Advocates for the legalization of marijuana inevitably bring hemp into their case, while advocates for the cultivation of industrial hemp often struggle to distance themselves from the drug association.

Andy Kerr is a longtime environmental activist from Ashland and a member of the North American Industrial Hemp Council. In recent testimony in the Oregon Senate, he used the term “hempsters” to define “people who believe that all things and all thoughts cannabis will solve all the world’s problems.”

Kerr’s goals are more modest. He believes that industrial hemp could have significant environmental and economic advantages for Oregon.

He testified on behalf of Senate Bill 348, which would have legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill was introduced in January by state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat representing parts of Lane and Douglas counties. It died in committee.

Kerr explains the difference between hemp and marijuana as being like the difference between a Saint Bernard and a Chihuahua. You can’t get high by smoking industrial hemp, he says, and you can’t get useful fibers from a plant bred for pot.

North Dakotans go for it

In recent years, other states have moved to legalize hemp farming, despite the federal prohibition against it. In North Dakota, two farmers who have state approval to grow hemp are suing the Drug Enforcement Administration.

For now, importing hemp from Canada is not very difficult.

So says John Bannerman, a Portland resident who is preparing a line of hemp butters under the name Wilderness Poets ( Hemp butter, made from ground hemp seeds, tastes similar to almond butter, he says, and is very nutritious.

Hemp seeds provide a complete protein source that is easier to digest than soy, and they contain a perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients.

“I’ve always been interested in sustainable agriculture,” says Bannerman, who is a former organic lime farmer as well as a former creative writing teacher. “I realized that food was as important a place to educate people as even being in the classroom.”

His food products are a tribute to philosophers and poets, and bear names such as Civil Disobedience Hemp Nut Butter and Moon Priestess Hemp Nut Chocolate Divinity.

The market for hemp products has been expanding rapidly since 2004, Bannerman says. That year, a federal court ruled that products made with hemp don’t fall under the ban against Cannabis sativa itself.

The legal climate now is friendly enough that more people are comfortable investing in hemp-related businesses.

Activist Kerr also has seen the expansion. “I think there’s a renaissance,” he says, citing hemp production in Europe and in Canada, which legalized industrial hemp in 1998.

If so, it is a rebirth rather than a birth – hemp once was a major agricultural crop in the United States, before the availability of cheaper synthetic fibers and tightening of drug laws wiped it out. The last commercial hemp crop in the United States was grown in Wisconsin in the 1950s.

DEA blames it on Congress

The DEA’s position on hemp is pretty clear: “The law is the law is the law,” says Garrison Courtney, who is the lead spokesman for the DEA’s public information office. “To get hemp, you have to grow marijuana.”

Don’t blame the DEA, he says, if the law seems contradictory: “That’s something that Congress put together, and really, the beef should be with them, not us.”

To Kerr, the issue is not so cut and dried, especially with rising concern about our dependence on oil.

Fiberglass and industrial oils, now made of petroleum, could be made with plant-based ingredients, Kerr claims. But for him, the biggest benefit of hemp cultivation would be the preservation of forestland for clean air, clean water and wildlife.

“We can’t afford to be cutting down our forest,” he says, “and we can move fiber production back to the farm. … The problem is that farmers in Oregon haven’t been demanding it.”

In the city, though, the demand is definitely growing. “As things are becoming more stylish and current,” the Master Peace’s Freeman says, “more people notice it. … It’s come a long ways.”


Monday, August 13, 2007

No charges filed against Novato man linked to pot farms

No charges filed against Novato man linked to pot farms

Gary Klien
Article Launched: 08/13/2007 07:17:06 PM PDT

Citing medical marijuana issues, the Marin County district's attorney office has declined to charge a Novato man arrested by drug investigators last month in connection with two indoor pot farms.

David Mauroni, 51, appeared in Marin Superior Court on Monday to face potential charges for growing marijuana at two Novato residences he leased, 1208 Chase St. and 682 Olive Ave. But an arraignment judge told Mauroni that no charges were filed and he was free to go.

Mauroni left the courtroom surrounded by a small and jubilant group of supporters. He declined to comment outside court.

District Attorney Ed Berberian said there was insufficient evidence to bring the case before a jury because Mauroni demonstrated he was growing the marijuana for medical users. Berberian declined to comment on how Mauroni supported his claim.

"We look at every case on an individual basis," he said. "We make a determination whether we can prove a case. You still have to make an evaluation of your likelihood of carrying your burden of proof before a Marin jury."

The decision comes as local and county investigators in Marin grapple with an influx of indoor marijuana farms, which allow growers to harvest stronger marijuana with greater frequency at lower risk of detection. Since June 20, police have shut down six indoor pot farms in Novato, San Rafael and Fairfax.

Investigators said the emergence of indoor operations in Marin follows a statewide trend throughout California, where organized residential pot operations have been discovered in the Sacramento area, the Central Valley and California. The number of indoor marijuana plants seized by police in California nearly doubled between 2005 and 2006, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mauroni became the focus of an investigation last month after the rental house at 1208 Chase St. was severely damaged in a fire linked to a bypassed Pacific Gas and Electric Co. meter. Police said they found 75 marijuana plants, cultivation equipment and 100 pounds of packaged marijuana in the home. But the packaged marijuana turned out to be stalks, leaves and other plant remnants, not the chemically potent buds, authorities said.

After learning that Mauroni was the renter at 1208 Chase St., they got a search warrant for 682 Olive Ave., a home Mauroni was leasing around the corner. Police found another 30 marijuana plants and more cultivation equipment inside.

California's medical marijuana law, the Compassionate Use Act, grants patients and caregivers some immunity to grow marijuana for medical use. Police in Marin enforce a limit of six mature plants or 12 immature plants per patient, but Berberian said the DA's office has no set limits on how much marijuana providers can grow.

"We do not have a policy," he said. "The reality of it is, you have to evaluate what you've got that a jury will look at and a jury find to be excessive, regardless of what the statue is. We have gone to trial with more than 100 plants, and juries have not convicted them in this county."

Berberian said that even though prosecutors have thus far declined to file charges, the case is still under investigation, including the issue of the bypassed PG&E meter.

Read more Novato stories at the IJ's Novato page.

Contact Gary Klien via email at


What is Paris Hilton smoking?