March 26, 2011 |Los Angeles city officials have widened their campaign against illegal medical marijuana dispensaries, warning an additional 60 stores that they must shut down immediately.
The new letters went out earlier this week about two weeks after the city attorney's office notified the operators and landlords of another 141 pot shops that they must close. The letters warn that the city could sue violators, seek financial penalties and “padlock the property.”
SEARCH: Complete list of dispensaries in lottery or ordered to shut down
Asha Greenberg, the assistant city attorney who oversees the enforcement efforts, said that city employees checked every one of the newly notified locations to be certain the businesses were open.
“These were locations that we were unclear about,” she said. She added, however, that the office has not determined whether all those stores are selling marijuana.
The city’s letter asks for a response. So far, Greenberg said, the city attorney’s office has received information on two dozen locations. At 11, the dispensaries are closed. At six, owners said they were acting to close them. At another six, the dispensaries are still open. And at one site, the business has denied that it is a medical marijuana dispensary.
If the notified dispensaries do not close, the city attorney’s office will work with the police department to gather evidence that can be used in court proceedings to shut them down. Greenberg said she could not estimate how long that process would take.
The city has taken aim at any dispensary that did not register to participate in a lottery to choose 100 dispensaries that will be allowed to operate. The city clerk received 228 applications. The office is reviewing them to make sure they meet the qualifications for the drawing, which include having been in business since Sept. 14, 2007, and having at least one of the same operators.
Greenberg said it was not possible to know whether the city has now identified most of the illegal stores in Los Angeles. “I hear all the time that there are new ones opening and old ones reopening,” she said. “It will always be a moving a target.”
Ann Arbor’s medical marijuana regulations headed to council for final approval just in time for 4/20
Ann Arbor's medical marijuana regulations would limit the number of dispensaries inside the city limits to no more than 20, at least for the first year.
Ryan J. Stanton
After more than three months of deliberations, the Ann Arbor City Council voted for the first time Monday night to move a proposed medical marijuana licensing ordinance past first reading.
The vote came unanimously after some final tweaking of the ordinance, which regulates dispensaries and cultivation facilities within the city limits.
The ordinance now moves on for final approval on April 19, which is a Tuesday — a deviation from the council's normal Monday meeting night. A proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance also is expected to come back for final approval the same night.
It wasn't planned, but the expected final approval comes just in time for 4/20, a sort of countercultural cannabis holiday when marijuana advocates throughout the country light up in celebration and, in some places, participate in events advocating for decriminalization of pot.
The City Council took action Monday night to extend the city's moratorium on medical marijuana businesses through June 30, giving the council some leeway on making a final decision if it should need it. The moratorium has been in place since last August.
City officials estimate there are about 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor. They think there could be a few that won't be allowed at their current locations under the zoning ordinance.
The licensing ordinance would have the city doling out a limited number of dispensary and cultivation facility licenses once the moratorium is lifted.
Operations that were up and running prior to the moratorium last August would have up to 60 days after the ordinance takes effect to submit an application for an annual license. No other applications would be accepted until 75 days after the ordinance takes effect.
The first year’s licenses would be capped at a number 10 percent higher than the licenses applied for in the first 60 days, but not more than 20 dispensaries and 10 cultivation facility licenses. So, if there really are 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor, and all of them seek licenses, no more than two additional licenses would be available to new dispensaries.
Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, led the way Monday night as the council worked through a number of amendments to the licensing ordinance. Briere dropped her request for the city to adopt a non-disclosure policy on patient and caregiver information, noting that the reworked licensing ordinance doesn't involve the city collecting any personal information.
After some tweaking, the ordinance now states that a cultivation facility or dispensary must keep records of the caregivers from whom they receive marijuana in any form and must make the records available to the city upon request to promote health, safety or welfare or to otherwise verify compliance with the licensing ordinance.
Required labeling information, including coded patient and caregiver information, also must be kept and made available for inspection. Marijuana package labels must include the following:
- A unique alphanumeric identifier for the person to whom it is being delivered.
- A unique alphanumeric identifier for the cultivation source of the marijuana.
- Notice that the package contains marijuana.
- The date of delivery, weight, type of marijuana and dollar amount or other consideration being exchanged in the transaction.
- A certification that all marijuana in any form contained in the package was cultivated, manufactured and packaged in the state of Michigan.
- The name, address, email address and phone number of an authorized representative of the dispensary whom a patient can contact with any questions.
- The name, address, email address and phone number of at least one governmental or nonprofit organization that may be contacted by a patient who has concerns about substance abuse of drugs, including marijuana.
- A warning stating that the product is manufactured without any regulatory oversight for health or safety, and that there may be health risks associated with its use.
The council also tweaked the ordinance to state that license applicants must install signs in a visible location with the following statement in letters no less than an inch tall:
"The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act acknowledges that 'although federal law currently prohibits any use of marihuana except under very limited circumstances, states are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. The laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington do not penalize the medical use and cultivation of marihuana. Michigan joins in this effort for the health and wellness of its citizens.' See MCL 333.26422(c). If you have any questions or concerns please consult with your attorney."
The council voted in favor of an amendment proposed by Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, to state that caregivers growing marijuana inside their own homes do not need licenses but may voluntarily register with the city by providing their home address.
"I don't know if anybody will choose to volunteer that information," Smith said, though she noted it could help make sure legitimate caregivers' homes aren't raided. "To avoid that, you could register. The police would know this was a caregiver's house."
The council also clarified duties of the proposed medical marijuana licensing board, which would be created through the ordinance. The licensing board would consist of one council member, one physician and three other Ann Arbor residents — all of whom would be appointed by the mayor. The board would review annually and recommend the licensing criteria, number of licenses, license fee structure, and approval of license applications.
"The board that you've established may want to look at the records to identify where this product is coming from," City Attorney Stephen Postema told council members, adding that could be to confirm that the marijuana is from Michigan or to investigate health complaints.
House Bill 1250, sponsored by Republican Cindy Acree, was originally aimed at banning the sale and manufacture of "medical marijuana-infused consumable food and beverage product[s]."
Acree, however, backed away from her original proposal in the wake of vehement opposition from medical marijuana advocates who, in testimony earlier this month, called HB 1250 "ridiculous," and a "slippery slope."
Acree, who says her concern has always been the marketing of edible medical marijuana products to children, is is now expected to propose new labeling requirements and other packaging safeguards instead of an outright ban on the sale of the products.
Nonetheless, the Cannabis Therapy Institute, a medical marijuana advocacy organization, remains skeptical of Tuesday's vote. "Amendments have been proposed to lessen the impact of this bill, but nothing is set in stone," the organization says on its website. "All options remain on the table, and new, unseen amendments have been promised by the sponsors."
The Colorado Department of Revenue is also expected to complete work this spring on regulations on marketing and packaging of medical marijuana products.
The medicinal use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado since the passage of a voter initiative in 2000.
“We understand that the city is under a lot of economic stress,” said Don Duncan, the California Director at Americans for Safe Access, the country’s largest medical marijuana group, which is strongly opposing Measure M. “But, it doesn’t make sense to charge our most vulnerable people more money for their treatment,” continued Duncan. “Many patients have already been excluded due to the high price of medical marijuana, let’s not exclude even more.”
This is our last chance to spread the word to those in L.A.; vote no on Measure M. Patients in the city already pay nearly 10% in sales taxes and the city is busy closing down the majority of dispensaries and collectives. Why should they have to pay more because the city doesn’t know how to balance its budget?
If you know someone in L.A., send them this story – and if you live in L.A., share this with everyone you can.
- Joe Klare
Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 00:03
TRENTON — Patients, health care workers and advocates of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act confronted officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) yesterday at a public hearing that addressed the law's new regulations regarding the medical distribution of marijuana.
"These regulations are unconstitutional; they are arbitrary and capricious," said attorney Justin Escher Alpert, a patient from Livingston, N.J., who supports the legalization of medical marijuana. "They are against the spirit of the law."
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, passed in January 2010, has not been implemented yet, according to a press release from the governor's office.
Gov. Chris Christie and assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Princeton, who sponsored the bill, announced a compromise agreement in December that added more rules and restrictions to the measure.
The public hearing, held at the Trenton War Memorial, is part of a longer process of adoption required after changes to the original bill, signed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, became law.
The new rules put a limit on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical present in marijuana that gives it its hallucinogenic and therapeutic effects, at a maximum of 10 percent, according to the N.J. statute.
Unlike California, New Jersey's system does not allow patients to procure marijuana by growing it at home or buying it at a local dispensary, according to the governor's press release. Instead, there will be just six Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC) divided evenly throughout New Jersey where patients can pick up their medication.
Christie's compromise measure restricted access even more by denying ATC operators the ability to transport marijuana from the center to a patient's home, according to a press release from the governor's office.
"Many of the patients we're going to be working with are those in the home care setting who have already exhausted the need and utilization of acute care centers," said Nora Giurici of the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Giurici feels this unnecessarily restricts patients' access and can only burden the ATC.
"More than a year later, not a single patient has been able to legally access medical marijuana," said Roseanne Scotti, N.J. director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
A.J. Ballinger, an unemployed veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, expressed his disapproval of marijuana legalization.
"I am done," Ballinger said. "I cannot sit here and wait for you guys to figure out the most lucrative system to be put in place when you're talking about my mental health, my family name."
When N.J. resident Jack O'Brien was called to speak, he walked to the microphone and took off his shoes.
"Everybody's got 10 fingers and 10 toes, right? Not me. It's extremely painful," said O'Brien, who displayed his knotted hands and feet to the panel.
Jim Miller of Toms River, N.J., also came to testify on behalf of his late wife who died of multiple sclerosis and relied on marijuana for relief.
"There's a big difference between ensuring that only qualified patients have access and ensuring that qualified patients do have access," Miller said.
Contenders for ATC licenses were similarly nervous.
"You cannot go into business with this much uncertainty," said Flakewood Tucker, who applied for the credentials to operate an ATC.
Tucker said there is no way to ensure a company can give plants at a 10 percent THC level, causing any ATC to risk going out of business, unless they have deep pockets.
DHSS will announce the six winners of the ATC licenses on March 21st, said Donna Leusner, the DHSS Communications director.
So far, 80 physicians from 19 of the 21 counties in New Jersey have applied to gain the legal ability to prescribe marijuana to patients, Leusner said.
After the meeting, the public's testimony will be reviewed by the DHSS Medical Marijuana Program staff, she said. Final adoption of the regulations will be decided after Poonam Alaigh, DHSS commissioner, and her staff review the testimonies.
The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Pat Noonan of Ramsay fell on a 50-49 vote.
The bill called for a label to read, "Warning: In some instances, marijuana may trigger acute psychosis or symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses."
Noonan tells the Billings Gazette in a story published Friday that he was asked to introduce the bill by the Montana Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Republican Rep. David Howard of Park City opposed the bill, contending it legitimizes what he considers an illegal substance.
Montana voters approved medical marijuana in a 2004 initiative.
Information from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
Denver Post staff and wire reports
The Denver Post
Loveland City Attorney John Duval said he has not received notice of a hearing to consider the lawsuit's claim that the city's ban on dispensaries is unconstitutional.
Attorney Robert Corry Jr. filed a complaint in Larimer County District Court late Monday, seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow the dispensaries to remain open. Corry claimed the city's ban on dispensaries "is unconstitutional, because it unduly burdens patients and caregivers."
Meanwhile, Loveland police said all the dispensaries in the city were shuttered, which means the owners avoided jail time or heavy fines.
Voters in November passed a marijuana-dispensary ban by an overwhelming majority. The vote gave the dispensaries until Tuesday to close their doors.
Seattle's first cannabis farmers market attracts several hundred Sunday
Sunday was the first Cannabis Farmers Market in Seattle. An estimated 600 medical-marijuana patients strolled through the doors of the Little Red Studio in the South Lake Union neighborhood to partake.
Article and pictures from The Seattle Times
By Bob Young
Seattle Times staff reporter
As at most farmers markets, table after table came stocked with goodies, touted for their locally grown, healthy, organic qualities. Baby boomers in berets mingled with twenty-somethings in dreadlocks, eyeballing potted plants, pasta, pizza, cute little cupcakes and Mason jars full of green buds — lots of jars.
This was not your grandpa's market. It was the first Cannabis Farmers Market in Seattle. And an estimated 600 medical-marijuana patients strolled through the doors of the Little Red Studio in the South Lake Union neighborhood to partake, organizers said.
One patient from West Seattle said she never expected to see anything quite like it, especially at 11 a.m. on a Sunday.
"Not in my lifetime," said Nancy, 61, who didn't want to disclose her last name for privacy reasons. She uses cannabis to ease her chronic back pain and said it was nice to be able to talk to some of the two dozen pot providers on hand about the effects of various strains.
And what strains they were. The purple- and orange-tinged buds sported names such as Dark Vader, Kungfoo Goo, White Widow, Green Queen and God. And vendor names? Among them, the Herban Collective and Delectable Medibles.
Brochures described their qualities in terms that could have been cribbed from a sommelier. The Black Rhino sold at Ken's Medicine Bowl has a "subtle berry scent" and "full bodied fruity flavor." The White Knight features "complex fragrance" with "hints of citrus" flavor.
Proprietor Ken Bell, a patient himself, said he was looking forward to a day when marijuana was legal and he was taxed for selling it.
The idea for the farmers market — first held in Tacoma late last year — is primarily to help patients living in outlying areas connect with providers who tend to run their businesses in larger cities, said Philip Dawdy, a spokesman for the market. Participants were required to provide identification and a doctor's authorization to take marijuana. Because of the vagueness of current state law, and varying interpretations by law-enforcement agencies, Dawdy said, some patients don't have consistent and safe access to medical cannabis.
Market founder Jeremy Miller said he plans to bring the market to Seattle twice next month, while hitting Tacoma and Olympia on the remaining weekends.
Miller said he felt welcome in Seattle, where voters approved Initiative 75 in 2003. The measure made arresting and jailing adults for possessing personal amounts of pot the Police Department's lowest law-enforcement priority.
There was no sign of police Sunday morning at the event. "It's not a big deal," police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said in an interview before the event. "Our priorities are a reflection of community priorities."
Meet the man who could finally see Rhode Island compassion centers into existence.
Dr. Michael Fine appointed interim head of R.I. Department of Health
25 February 2011
Providence Business News
PROVIDENCE – The director of Medical Services for the R.I. Department of Corrections will serve as the interim director of the R.I. Department of Health, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee’s office announced Thursday.
Dr. Michael Fine takes the place of Dr. David R. Gifford, whose resignation takes effect Friday. Fine will serve until a successor is named to permanently fill the position.
At the corrections department, Fine supervised about 100 employees that cared for 10,000 to 20,000 people annually and 3,700 people at any given time. He took the reins of the $23 million department last year.
At the Department of Health, Fine will oversee a roughly $115 million budget that comes largely from the federal government but faces reductions as the state struggles with a tight budget.
Fine, a former primary care physician, takes charge as the department prepares to decide whether to allow controversial allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open. He also arrives less than two weeks before Chafee is expected to unveil his first state budget.
Fine is a graduate of Haverford College and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He completed his residency with the Brown University Program in Family Medicine at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket.
Thought from the editor: Here is yet another example of a cancer inside of the Medical Cannabis program.......inconsiderate degenerates looking to make personal gain off of the sickness and vulnerability of others...As of today's posting, there is no one in Rhode Island licensed to grow Cannabis plants LEGALLY on a large scale level operation.....If you are going to disregard the Slater Act and grow more plants than your Medical Cannabis card allows, ESPECIALLY going over FEDERAL LIMITS, please do not be a coward and stand behind your 'card' or the 'cards' of your patients and bring the rest of the community into turmoil. People like this and the idiots that overgrow warehouses are the reason that house bill 7275 is being introduced. People like this are not pioneers, they will be the reason that your personal legal medical garden will soon be obsolete. They will be the reason that the state issues growing rights to compassion centers only.
Marijuana greenhouses uncovered in Lincoln, Providence
5:58 PM Tue, Feb 22, 2011
Amanda Milkovits PROJO
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Local authorities said they've seized about 250 marijuana plants from two growing operations inside houses in Providence and Lincoln.
Two men were arrested during the drug searches on Friday and Saturday, and Providence police say they are drafting an arrest warrant for a third man.
The two-month investigation by Providence detectives Sgt. Gregory Sion and Elizabeth Wajda started with a tip from East Providence police about a house in Federal Hill.
The house at 50 Knight St., in Providence, was a home in name only, says Providence police Lt. Michael Correia.
"There was no food, no beds, no furniture," he said on Tuesday. The entire second floor and basement were being used to grow marijuana, with lighting, a water filtration system, and other growing material, he said.
Franklyn Munoz, 43, who had keys to the house and was frequently there, was arrested during the raid Friday afternoon. He had further trouble, after police from Providence, Rehoboth, Swansea and the South Coast Anti-Crime task force searched his house at178 Summer St. in Rehoboth later Friday and seized a gun, three bullet-proof vests, and $8,100 cash, said Bernard F. Sullivan, spokesman for the Bristol County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation also led authorities to Lincoln on Saturday, where police said they found about 90 large marijuana plants growing inside a house at 7 Cliffside Drive.
When resident Todd Gagne, 45, opened the door to police, he explained that the strong odor of marijuana emanating from inside was for medical reasons, said Lincoln Police Capt. Raymond Bousquet. Gagne showed the detectives his medical marijuana card and the front bedroom where he was growing plants, Bousquet said.
Lincoln Sgt. Wayne Bouthillette and Officer Jason Bolduc took one look at the 40 to 50 plants in the room -- way over the state law allowance -- and got a search warrant, Bousquet said. Detectives found three large grow rooms with more plants in the basement, he said.
"It was a very sophisticated operation," Bousquet said, adding that it was the largest the Lincoln police had seen.
The indoor grow system speeds up the plants' life cycle for an early harvest, Correia said. One plant can generate anywhere from a half pound to a 1 ½ pound of marijuana, which can sell from $1,500 to $4,500 a pound, he said. The police are investigating where the marijuana was being distributed.
Munoz, who has addresses at Summer Street in Rehoboth and 43 Wesleyan Ave. in Providence, was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, manufacturing/cultivating marijuana, and conspiracy. Police also seized $2,289 cash from him.
Gagne was charged with manufacturing and delivery of marijuana, and distributing marijuana near a school.