Pages tagged "dispensary"


Landmark Court Decision Affirms Legality of Storefront Dispensaries in California



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second District Court of Appeal rejects Attorney General’s argument that all collective members must participate in cultivation

The California Court of Appeal issued a landmark published decision last week affirming the legality of storefront dispensaries and rejecting the argument that every member of a collective or cooperative must participate in the cultivation. Didn’t hear about the ruling? Maybe because the decision came from the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles, the domain of District Attorney Steve Cooley and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, famously intolerant to medical marijuana dispensaries. It would be an understatement to say that the ruling jabs a large thorn into both of their sides. You’ll certainly see no publicity from their corner.

The case People v. Colvin involves William Frank Colvin, the operator of Hollywood Holistic Inc., who was arrested while lawfully transporting a pound of medical marijuana from one collective he operates to another. Even while acknowledging that Colvin was operating a legitimate dispensary, the trial court denied him a defense on the grounds that transportation of medical marijuana was illegal under state law. After being denied a defense, Colvin was convicted.

On appeal, California Attorney General Kamala Harris advanced the view that under state law all members of a collective must somehow participate in the cultivation process and “come together” in “some way” for this purpose. In characterizing Attorney General Harris’s argument, the Court said:
The Attorney General does not specify how many members must participate or in what way or ways they must do so, except to imply that Holistic, with its 5,000 members and 14 growers, is simply too big to allow any ‘meaningful’ participation in the cooperative process; hence, it cannot be a ‘cooperative’ or a ‘collective’ [in compliance with state law].

The Court then compared medical marijuana cooperatives with food cooperatives:
[The Attorney General’s interpretation of state law] would impose on medical marijuana cooperatives requirements not imposed on other cooperatives. A grocery cooperative, for example, may have members who grow and sell the food and run a store out of which the cooperative's products are sold. But not everyone who pays a fee to become a member participates in the cooperative other than to shop at it.

However, the Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the stringent requirement that an “unspecified number of members to engage in unspecified ‘united action or participation’ to qualify for the protection of [state law].” Perhaps most importantly, the Court said that the “logical conclusion” of such requirements would likely “limit drastically the size of medical marijuana establishments.” Furthermore, the Court said that:
[T]he Attorney General’s vague qualifier provides little direction or guidance to, among others, qualified patients, primary caregivers, law enforcement, and trial courts. Rather, imposing the Attorney General’s requirement would, it seems to us, contravene the intent of [state law] by limiting patients’ access to medical marijuana and leading to inconsistent applications of the law.

It should be no surprise why Cooley, Trutanich and the other opponents of medical marijuana would want to downplay such a landmark decision. However, at a time when trial courts are denying a defense to medical marijuana dispensary operators, the Court’s decision is a welcome one that is long overdue.

Washington Raids Indicate Need for State Wide Protection!

Drug Enforcement Agents executed warrants on fifteen medical cannabis access points across the state of Washington last week.  US Attorney Jenny Durkan alleges that the access points were using the state law to conceal criminal activity and money laundering; however, this is only true so long as medical cannabis is illegal on a federal level.  Because of this there will always be room to charge those participating in civil disobedience with illegal activity.  During an interview, Durkan joked, “There’s always more crime than time.”  This statement is indicative of the Department’s mis-prioritized agenda because they chose to pursue the easiest target: a legal state sanctioned medical cannabis dispensary operating above ground to provide for patients in need.



Earlier this year, Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed several provisions of a bill that would have legitimized these access points across the state, bowing to the threats of the Federal Government and US Attorneys.  Despite the fact that access continues to be compromised without the operating of legal distribution centers, the Governor and US Attorney claim that patients are being left alone in this battle: “We will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment”.  While the state of Washington is not blatantly arresting and prosecuting patients, it is pursuing them in a much more passive manner by cutting off the access these patients desperately need.  It is hypocritical to say that you support the right to access and use of cannabis by certain qualifying people, but then limit the means by which they acquire it.

Seattle recognized the necessity of cannabis distribution centers, and took the necessary steps to pass a local ordinance providing a regulatory scheme for dispensaries to exist in the locality.  If Washington is truly committed to ensuring that safe and legal access is available to all patients in need, the more localities must follow in Seattle’s footsteps.  Passing such ordinances is a necessary response to the most recent raids we have seen across the state.  Click here to view our Washington Raid Response page to find out how you can take action!  

MT Patient Advocates Put Repeal of Medical Marijuana Restrictions on Ballot for 2012



Patient advocates in Montana, including members of Americans for Safe Access, were successful this week in gathering enough signatures to overturn SB423, an extremely restrictive medical cannabis bill that took away many of the patients’ rights enshrined in Initiative 148, passed by 62 percent of voters in 2004. Since its passage last session, SB423 has threatened to reduce the number of patients who can qualify for protection under the state law by 90 percent. It also eliminated virtually all access to localized distribution, forcing thousands of patients into the illicit market.



Although a lawsuit was partially successful in rolling back some of the restrictions imposed by SB423, it was unable to nullify the entire bill. Not wanting to rely completely on the courts, patient advocates began a signature drive to put the legislation on the ballot.

It is now up to the voters to reject the onerous provisions of SB423 in its entirety in order to pave the way for more sensible regulation and reform.  Local activist and medical cannabis attorney, Chris Lindsey, commented on the progress made by the reformation committee stating that:
We had a voter-approved law that was repealed by our state's politicians. When they were unable to come up with a complete ban, they cooked up a law that punishes people who wanted to participate in the medical marijuana program. The current law does not protect patents and those who provide to them. What we need is smart regulation, not a punitive law that works against the rights of Montana citizens.

Lindsey speaks on behalf of thousands of patients whose access has been seriously compromised with the passage of SB423, and who agree that smart regulation is needed to resurrect safe and legal access to their medication.

Placing this issue on the ballot is a great step in the right direction, and will hopefully restore the rights of Montana patients established under Initiative 148.  However, the work is far from over.  Our opposition has made it clear that the scope of Initiative 148 is too broad, and now it is up to the patient community in Montana to educate the greater public on why SB423 is not the “regulatory” answer.