California Weekly Round Up
February 01, 2008
Berkeley City Council Votes to Provide Sanctuary to Patients and Providers On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council voted to adopt a Sanctuary Resolution, which will provide protection for patients and providers in the event of a DEA raid. The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the Medical Cannabis Sanctuary Resolution co-sponsored by Councilmembers Moore and Worthington, thereby designating Berkeley a "sanctuary for medicinal cannabis patients, providers, and landlords." The resolution also called on the Governor to stand up against the DEA and call for an end to the interference in the implementation of state and local laws. This resolution came as a result of months of lobbing and outreach to the City Council by medical cannabis activists, patients, providers, and supporters. This is an important victory for patients, providers, and now third-party landlords in Berkeley and the East Bay. Congratulations to all of those who worked on this important resolution to ensure protection and safe access in the Bay Area. To learn more about the City Council's resolution read the San Jose Mercury and Berkeley Daily Planet articles. California Legislation to Help and Protect Patients As the anti-medical marijuana efforts escalate with the most recent examples being the surge of DEA raids and the California Supreme Court's decision to deny a patient's right to work, several California state representatives are stepping forward to protect patients and providers in California. The following is a brief legislative update on medical cannabis bills and a resolution that are being worked on in Sacramento currently. Last week, ASA reported that Assemblyman Mark Leno was introducing a bill that would protect a patient's right to work. This bill came on the heels of the California Supreme Court's ruling last week in the Ross vs. Raging Wire Communications case. California Assemblyman Mark Leno and ASA were waiting to respond in case of an adverse ruling like this. Assemblyman Leno announced only hours after the decision on Thursday that he will be introducing an ASA-sponsored piece of legislation that will amend California law to protect patients from this kind of discrimination. Senator Carol Migden has been a long time medical cannabis supporter. Last month, working with medical cannabis supporters, the senator introduced a California Senate Joint Resolution calling on Congress, the President, and federal law enforcement to stop raiding legal medical cannabis collectives and respect California’s law. Senator Migden’s resolution follows an unprecedented escalation in Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) attacks on medical cannabis providers and threats against property owners who rent to hundreds of collectives all over California. Senator Migden also recently introduced to the Senate floor a bill that will ensure back tax relief for medical cannabis dispensaries. The medical cannabis dispensaries would have back sales tax amnesty for all sales prior to October 1, 2005. Senator Migden's sales tax relief comes in response to the 2005 decision by the California Board of Equalization (BoE) to adopt a policy to collect sales tax from dispensaries and other medical marijuana providers. At the time, ASA testified at several public hearings, presenting a position paper against collection of sales tax, as it would invariably be a cost absorbed by the patients. To read about ASA's position on sales tax, click here. This bill is an important compromise for both dispensaries and the Board of Equalization, because it relieves the burden of paying large amounts of back taxes whilst encouraging compliance with and participation in the BoE's sales tax scheme. Read more about Senator Migden's tax relief bill in the Bay Area Reporter. ASA will keep you updated as news comes in on the status of these three important pieces of legislation. New Northern California U.S. Attorney Says Raids Should be a Low Priority This week, the San Francisco station KCBS released a story about the new U.S. Attorney for Northern California, Russoniello. The story highlighted a recent quote by Russoniello regarding DEA raids of state sanctioned and regulated medical cannabis dispensaries. The new U.S. Attorney said, "We could spend a lifetime closing dispensaries and doing other kinds of things and enforcement actions, bringing cases and prosecuting people, shoveling sand against the tide, it would be terribly unproductive and probably not an efficient use of precious federal resources." While the new U.S. Attorney's sentiments about funding raids are encouraging, the federal government and current Bush Administration has made it clear that they intend to shut out access for patients. To listen to the full story on KCBS and the new U.S. Attorney for Northern California's statements click here.