Pages tagged "ban"


How will you make safe and legal access to medical cannabis a reality in your community

California law now requires that applicants for a state medical cannabis license also obtain a license, permit, or authorization from the city or county in which they operate or propose to operate. While some cities and counties already allow for medical cannabis activity, most have no rules or prohibit medical cannabis businesses outright. Patients and industry players who want to bring safe and legal access to communities where it is not already allowed will need a campaign plan.

A campaign plan is simply a plan to achieve a desired goal, including the steps you need to take, timelines, strategies, resources needed, and other details. Before you can make your campaign plan, you will need to know some basic information and choose one of several pathways to adopting (or repealing) a local ordinance. ASA recommends you gather the information you need to make a decision about the best pathway, and then discuss it with other local stakeholders before settling on a plan. This is important because you want other stakeholders to have input and buy into the plan. It is always best if all the stakeholders in a community are cooperating to create safe and legal access.

You cam learn many of the skills you need to do strategic planning, build coalitions, and organize public meetings in ASA’s online Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center. This comprehensive resource for community organizers is free.

Follow the links below or to the right to explore preliminary questions, choosing a pathway, and writing a campaign plan.


CA cities and counties crack down on medical cannabis

Cannabis seedlingThe trend in cities and counties last week was to crack down on medical cannabis cultivation and distribution. San Joaquin County is moving to ban all cultivation, except by commercially licensed providers. That is bad news for patients who want or need to grow their own. Read ASA’s report on why patient cultivation is so important, and then share it with your local lawmakers to help stop this trend.

Meanwhile, Butte County is fining cultivators, and the City Council in Redding just voted to turn up the heat on growers there. The Mayor in San Jose is still pressuring dispensaries, and the police department in Pasadena just raided a reputable testing lab. The LA City Attorney says he has closed over 500 dispensaries there, but hundreds more not qualified under the city’s ordinance are still open.

Read all the news and find out about medical cannabis events, hearings, chapter meetings, and court support dates in ASA’s California Weekly Roundup for Monday, April 13, 0215. 

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CA cities: License, ban, or let voters decide?

Undecided California communities are still grappling with medical cannabis in the absence of a statewide licensing and regulation program. Dispensary applications in San Diego continue to move forward, clearing an important legal hurdle last week. Voters in Riverside and Yucca Valley will decide about medical cannabis rules this summer. Meanwhile Tehama County and the City of Clearlake have banned cultivation – a poorly conceived strategy that has still not seen its final day in court. Read more about the news, events, and court support in this week’s California Weekly Roundup.

Are you registered for the National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference and Citizen Lobby Day, March 27-31, in Washington, DC? Don’t miss the most important medical cannabis event of the year. There are only eighteen more days to get signed up and book your room at the Lowes Madison Hotel.

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Happy MLK Day, California!

Town Hall pictureHappy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, California! I hope you are all having a safe and healthy holiday. There is good news and bad news at the local level in this week’s California Weekly Roundup. The good news is that the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, a Native American tribe in Mendocino County, will soon start cultivating medical cannabis on tribal land. And I am also happy to see the City of San Diego continuing its march towards safe and legal access in Southern California.

Unfortunately, there is bad news for patients in other communities. The City of Vallejo just voted to close all of the patients’ collectives there, and Kern County is suing local providers. You will also see a short piece this week about plans to ban outdoor cultivation in Redding.

While the prospects for medical cannabis look good for the state on the long term, patients and providers are still stuck in crosscurrents at the city and county level. Local advocacy is still important, and I want to help you succeed in your hometown. You can use ASA’s free online Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center to learn advocacy skills, craft a strategy, and build a coalition. You can also use this weekly email blast to let others know about community meetings, city council meetings, and other important events. Just send an email to CARoundup@SafeAccessNow.org before 12:00 PM on Friday to be included in Monday's distribution.

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Local bans call for action. Are you ready?

Supervisor JeffriesContents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Local bans call for action. Are you ready?
  • State & Local News: National, state, and local news from communities all over California
  • Public Meetings & Events: Riverside, Ventura, Washington, DC, and online
  • Court Support: Redding and more
  • Take Action Now: Tell Riverside County Not to Ban Cultivation
  • ASA Website Spotlight: Advocacy
  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: None this week

Pictured: Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors delayed a vote on an ordinance banning medical cannabis cultivation in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County until November 25. That is good news for local advocates, who need more time to rally the base in opposition to the proposed ban. See the Take Action section of this message to find out what you can do to help right now.

The proposal by Supervisor Jefferies is the latest in a series of moves by local governments to roll back the right of legal patients and caregivers to cultivate medical cannabis. Lake County banned cultivation in June, and the ACLU is currently challenging a ban adopted by Fresno County in March. Other cities and counties may soon follow suit.

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Maral v. Live Oak – Local Politics Matter

A local ban on all medical cannabis cultivation stands after the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on Wednesday in Maral v. Live Oak, an appellate decision permitting cities and counties to prevent patients from growing their own medicine, despite the fact that it is allowed under state law. The decision means that a ban on all cultivation adopted by the City of Live Oak in 2011 will be precedent for other cities and counties to follow.

The Maral decision is a second blow to patients’ rights in California. Last year, the state supreme court held in Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center that local governments could ban distribution of legal medicine. Maral and Riverside are a one-two punch for California patients and providers. By allowing local governments to prevent any cultivation or distribution of medical cannabis, the courts are, in effect, authorizing jurisdictions to opt out of crucial parts of Proposition 215.

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California Supreme Court picks February 5th for oral arguments to decide whether municipalities can ban local distribution of medical marijuana

The California Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments this week in a case that has received widespread attention inside and outside of the medical marijuana community. The appellate court ruling in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center is being reviewed by the High Court in order to address the issue of whether municipalities can use zoning regulations to ban outright the local distribution of medical marijuana.

Oral arguments in the Riverside case will be held in a special session of the California Supreme Court on Tuesday, February 5th at 10:15am at the University of San Francisco (USF) School of Law.

In addition to the Riverside case, a number of other appellate court rulings from southern California focusing on the same issues were granted review by the Court, including County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective, 420 Caregivers v. City of Los Angeles, City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective, and People v. G3 Holistic.

Notably, two of these appellate rulings held that local officials may not ban distribution and must develop regulations instead. Specifically, the County of Los Angeles decision from July 2012 overturned a local ban on dispensaries, reversing the lower court’s preliminary injunction from the previous year. The appellate court in County of Los Angeles held that “medical marijuana collectives…are permitted by state law to perform a dispensary function,” and that “[Los Angeles] County’s total, per se nuisance ban against medical marijuana dispensaries directly contradicts the Legislature's intent.” The Court further concluded that, a “complete ban” on medical marijuana is “preempted” by state law and, therefore, void.

Yet, other appellate court decisions have sided with municipal governments in their cynical effort to push out any form of safe and legal access to medical marijuana.

Rest assured, however, that Americans for Safe Access will work with the lawyers in the Riverside case to obtain a ruling from the California Supreme Court favorable to patients across the state. Just as with its amicus ‘friend of the court’ brief filed last year in the Riverside case, ASA will continue to fight for safe access. “While municipalities may pass reasonable regulations over the location and operation of medical marijuana collectives, they cannot ban them absolutely,” read ASA’s amicus brief. “These bans thwart the Legislature’s stated objectives of ensuring access to marijuana for the seriously ill persons who need it in a uniform manner throughout the state.”

See you at USF next month!

City Council Repeals LA Ban, Now It’s Time to Regulate

The Los Angeles City Council voted to repeal an ordinance banning medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives yesterday, clearing the way for a new ordinance to regulate hundreds of facilities in the city. The City Council adopted the ban in July after negotiations to settle dozens of lawsuits resulting from the city’s 2010 regulatory ordinance failed to produce a settlement. The repeal is the latest development in a struggle to regulate medical cannabis that dates back to 2005, when Americans for Safe Access (ASA) first engaged city staff and Council Members asking for sensible regulations to protect patients’ access and the community.

In a separate motion authored by Council Members Herb Wesson and Jose Huizar, the City Council adopted a resolution asking the state legislature to “address inadequacies of state law” regarding medical cannabis. Some of the provision in the resolution call for the legislature to declare that financial transactions (sales) are not legal and that cooperatives and collectives must have local authorization to operate. Both of these were contentious issues in the long debate about regulations in the city, and both issues are currently before the California Supreme Court. The resolution also calls for enforcement against lenient medical cannabis doctors and a “finite list of conditions” for which cannabis can be used – a proposal that clearly violates the language of voter-approved Proposition 215. The resolution is not binding as law, and the state legislature is under no legal obligation to respond.

I want to say a special thank you to the ASA members and friends who helped gather more than 49,000 signatures to call a voter referendum on the ban, donated their time and money, and kept believing we could win. Thanks to grassroots persistence, we have another chance to secure the proven benefits of regulations for Angelenos. Special thanks is in order for our coalition partners – the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 (UFCW), which represents works at dozens of local facilities; and the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance (GLACA), the state’s oldest medical cannabis trade association. Both did a great job in gathering signatures, talking to City Council Members, and more.



Patients and advocates hope that the repeal will encourage City Council Members to adopt a new ordinance with which everyone can live. Otherwise, the city may have no tools to protect patients and neighborhoods from real and imagined harm. The City Council voted to create a new regulatory ordinance when they approved a motion by Council Member Paul Koretz on the same day that they voted for the ban. Now we need city staff to move quickly to finish the ordinance, get it to committees, and back to the City Council. There is no need for further delay. The voters of Los Angeles clearly want regulations, not a ban. The debate about this ordinance may be contentious, but it is past time to live up to years of promises to regulate medical cannabis in Los Angeles.

Enforcement actions against medical cannabis cooperatives and collectives in Los Angeles has already begun. There is no reason to believe that the ban’s repeal will stop the pressure. The Los Angeles City Attorney and District Attorney (DA) regard all of the city’s collectives and cooperatives as illegal, with or without a ban, and they are working to close them down. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) routinely raids facilities, and DA’s office has already prosecuted some operators. The City Council turned up the heat last month when they called in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to help out. LAPD and DEA agents raided three collectives, filed civil asset forfeiture cases against three property owners who rent to medical cannabis tenants, and sent nearly seventy letters threatening other property owners.

ASA urges cultivators, providers, staff, and patients to know your rights and be prepared to assert them in the event of a raid by the LAPD and DEA. We are going to see a lot more of that before the dust settles in Los Angeles. Patients and advocates will hold a lively and peaceful protest of the recent attacks in front of the federal building on Thursday. You can meet ASA , UFCW Local 770, and GLACA in front of the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles at 1:30 PM. The federal building is located at 255 East Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Thanks again for helping stop the ban. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and keep doing the kind of effective grassroots work that makes a difference. We will need you back on the phones, at City Hall, protesting on the streets… maybe even gathering signatures for a new voter initiative. Be sure to join ASA’s email list to stay up-to-date, and join us in person at the LA-ASA meeting on Saturday, October 20, in the Community Room (152) at the West Hollywood Gateway Mall located at 7100 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046.

ASA responds to LA City Attorney threats

The Los Angeles City attorney sent hundreds of letters last week threatening property owners who rent to medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives in the city. The letters tell property owners they may be subject to stiff penalties, including fines and jail time, because an ordinance passed by the City Council in July makes renting to a patients’ association a crime. Property owners are worried, and some are moving to force their tenants out. But Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Chief Council Joe Elford says the effort to intimidate property owners is premature and urges the City Attorney to wait.



In a letter to Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Mr. Elford points out that the California Supreme Court will soon rule on several cases that could clarify how cities can regulate medical cannabis and if they can ban cooperatives and collectives. California’s Appellate Courts disagree on these topics, so moving forward without instructions from the Supreme Court could be risky:
"Proceeding with enforcement of the ordinance while these issues are pending is premature and may subject you to a legal response."

Mr. Elford also points out that a voter referendum sponsored by the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods, of which ASA is a part, may soon render the ordinance banning cooperatives and collectives and criminalizing property owners moot:
"… there is underway a voter referendum campaign to repeal Ordinance 182190, which is likely to have the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot in less than two weeks. Because Ordinance No. 182190 will become ineffective once the signatures have been certified by the City Clerk, it would be a waste of the City’s time and resources to implement the Ordinance."

Patients who operate medical cannabis cooperatives and collectives should share Mr. Elford’s letter with their property owners to let them know that the ordinance making them criminals is not here to stay. Patients and advocates are going to repeal the misguided ordinance and keep working to adopt sensible regulations.

LA patients move to stop the ban



The Los Angeles City Council voted to ban medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives on July 24. Now patients are taking the case for safe access to the streets with a voter referendum to repeal the ban. If we gather 27,485 signatures from registered voters in the next thirty days, the City Council will be forced to choose between repealing the ban themselves and calling a costly special election for voters to decide. Paid and volunteer signature gatherers will be on the streets this week. City Council Members will soon learn if there is enough grassroots support for safe access to force their hand. Patients and advocates are betting there is.



Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, helped organize the voter referendum and is committed to its success because the ban is bad for patients. The large majority of legal medical cannabis patients in Los Angeles rely on cooperatives and collectives for safe and reliable access to the doctor-recommended medicine they need to treat the symptoms of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain and other serious conditions. Closing the facilities means patients will do without their medicine or buy it from the dangerous and unregulated illicit market. That is not what voters intended when they approved Proposition 215 in 1996, and it is contrary to polling that shows that 77% of Californians still support regulation and control of medical cannabis.

City Council Members made a commitment to regulation in 2008, but controversy and political conflict stymied their efforts. Conflicting decisions for the California Appellate Courts have confused the issue, and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has consistently touted a ban only viable option. But City Council Members do have a choice. On the same day they approved the ban, the City Council also approved a motion by Council Members Paul Koretz and Dennis Zine asking the City Attorney to create a new ordinance tightly regulating a smaller number of facilities. The City Council would do well to expedite that effort instead of trying to enforce the ill-conceived ban.

It is not acceptable to close all of the patients’ associations in the city just because some are located or operated in a manner that is problematic. Instead, the City Council should work with stakeholders to develop workable regulations. Research shows that cooperatives and collectives do not cause crime. In fact, research conducted by ASA shows that sensible regulations actually reduce crime and complaints around access points. Los Angeles can join more than fifty other cities and counties in finding a way to protect patients’ access and neighborhoods – if they have the political will to do it. Let’s hope a successful referendum and vote to repeal the ban is just what they need to make it happen.

ASA is joined on the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods, the referendum’s campaign committee, by representatives from the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance (GLACA), which represents some of the city’s oldest and most reputable patients’ associations, and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, which represents workers in local cooperatives and collectives.

Please join me on a conference call to discuss the referendum campaign and how you can help on Monday, August 13, at 6:00 PM.  Call (832) 431-3335 and dial 1618568 to join the conversation.

Make plans to join the Los Angeles ASA chapter on Saturday, August 18, to get the latest updates on the referendum and the ongoing effort to adopt a good ordinance in Los Angeles. The LA-ASA meeting is between 1:00 and 3:00 PM in the Community Room (#152) at the West Hollywood Gateway Mall located at 7100 Santa Monica Blvd. (at La Brea Ave.) in West Hollywood, CA 90046.