Let me start by saying that I have been to my fair Share of County, and City supervisor meetings. Even a few planning commission hearings as well here in Fresno. The most prominent notion in regards to Medicinal Cannabis that is thrown around is the notion that every single cultivator of Cannabis is a Criminal, or is somehow involved in Criminal activity associated with Cannabis. By either abusing the medicinal cannabis program set in place and not following the guidelines, which they do not seem to want to draft any sensible regulations on behalf of the patients. Nor do they seem to care, quite frankly. Then there is always Margret Mimms and our local supervisors favorite and most popular line of defense, Any and every single plant is illegal at the federal level, therefore we have a zero tolerance policy on the basis of all cannabis cultivation is a federal crime. If I had a $100 bucks every time I heard them say “it’s all illegal on the federal level”. I would be wealthy man.
Well in no way shape or form should Margret Mimms, or any other California law enforcement officer be enforcing or even suggesting Federal law within the state of California. Let alone a county supervisor. It is the duty of the Sheriff, as well as the district attorney to enforce state laws. The federal Government cannot compel state law enforcement. The Supreme Court has even stated that Congress cannot require state officers to enforce federal law. The court said that ” the constitution contemplates that a states government will represent and remain accountable to its own citizens.” So when are they going to be held accountable for suggesting we enforce federal law within our states borders, Over the laws passed by the citizens of California?
Well I hate to be the bearer of Bad news, (Not Really) But, These are exactly that, nonsensical notions with no factual statistics to support them. Do not get me wrong though, there are plenty of illegal grows on state and federal property that need eradicating and proper policing. There are also people within the system that do abuse it. You will find that in just about every system though. And yes those are criminals in which I believe deserve the full brunt of law enforcement. What I do not understand is why local law enforcement and county supervisors seem to conveniently confuse, or purposely bunch criminals and qualified patients together. Coincidence? Two birds, one stone. It’s pretty convenient on behalf of the supervisors. They just allow Law enforcement to do what they do best. Policing. And it allows our county and city supervisors to never have to tackle the tough job of working on sensible regulations that are desperately needed for the Fresno citizens that are LEGAL California Prop-215 and SB-420 medicinal marijuana patients. It’s a win, win, for everybody but the patients of course.
The worst part of it is. That the very criminals you are trying to prevent are the very same people set to make larger profits from the criminal black market, effectively increasing crime. Because you successfully eradicated the patient’s ability to either purchase from a licensed facility, known as a collective or a dispensary. And through this outdoor cultivation ban you are once again going to completely diminish the LEGAL California Prop-215 and SB-420 medicinal marijuana patients ability to produce quality outdoor medicine for themselves on their own property. Prop-215 Patients ability to cultivate their own plants outdoors is crucial to not only greater access, cheaper medicine, better quality, but increased safety as well.
Forcing patients to only cultivate indoors is far too expensive for the average patients who are usually on fixed incomes. Most are on disability and cannot cultivate for themselves. Hence the need for Collective grow sites that require larger numbers of plants for those who are disabled and cannot produce their own medicine by their own means or on their own property. We are not just talking about putting a few light bulbs above a few plants in the bath tub. To equal what can be produced outdoors, patients would have to spend upwards of 5000 to 10,000 dollars to produce a room that is up to code and efficient enough to produce what can easily be done by Mother Nature. Not to mention the high amounts of energy consumption that must also be paid annually for each harvest. Along with things like, soil, nutrients, pots, and so many other hidden costs that simply make it ineffective to ban outdoor cultivation. If we want to stay true to the requirements of the compassionate use act, Banning outdoor cultivation is not an effective method of creating greater access for qualified patients. However it is an effective method of avoiding the tough questions and hard work of coming up with sensible regulations for patients, and law enforcement to abide by. Thus making it easier to identify the criminals.
So what? We are all just simply criminals now, and should all be treated as such? That is not very compassionate. I think it is important to note the actual name of Prop-215, the Compassionate use act of 1996. That is why I am writing this today. That is why I am going to read this very post before the Fresno county board of supervisors today. Compassion! I do it for the patients who can’t raise their voices in opposition here today. I do it for the patients that I have personally witnessed amazing life altering changes thanks to cannabis. I am here because I take great pride and solace in seeing the Joy cannabis brings to those who are bright enough to look past the lies and see the truth for themselves. And that is what I ask all of you here today to please consider today, Have some compassion and some consideration for those that you are so blindly throwing out along with the bath water.
This past Wednesday, may 16 2012. The Fresno Planning Commission voted 4-2 on Wednesday to recommend passage of a permanent ban on growing medical marijuana outdoors anywhere in the city of Fresno. I was one of three people to speak against the proposed ban and some of the underlying legal issues. I myself did not submit anything in writing because I felt that speaking from my heart works best for me. I asked the planning commission to please consider who will be effected the most by the passing such a restrictive ordinance. What about the patients who are on disability ? What about the patients who can barely afford to grow a few plants under the sun each season? The patients on fixed incomes who are already having a hard time scraping by ? Such a restrictive ordinance affects the poorest and most neediest of the medicinal cannabis patients here in Fresno, Ca.
I then went on to say that I am not here to advocate for thousand plant grow sites in the city limits. I am here to stand up for the patients right to legally cultivate their own medicine, on their own property. I told them that I was all for sensible regulations on outdoor cultivation within the city limits. But what the city currently had drafted was way to restrictive and would only further restrict patients access to affordable quality medicinal cannabis. Transplanting even a small 2 or 4 plant garden from outdoors to indoors can be very costly. It’s not as simple as ripping the plants from the ground, Throwing them in the bath tub and hanging a light bulb above it. Which by the way where the actual words of a judge here in Fresno recently, and also prior statements of the Law enforcement official giving the presentation before the planning commission just minutes before.
Actually to Give Lt. David Newton of the FPD narcotics division credit, he actually said cheap Led lights, which some growers are switching to, but are rarely used due to little information about production and output. personally there isn’t enough proven evidence to switch anything just yet. I also stated to the planning commission board that I myself do not hate Law enforcement, nor do I blame them for the position they have been in put in. But I am here to advocate Law enforcement does serve and protect the legal medicinal cannabis community like everyone else. I went on to say how I did agree that we needed to work with law enforcement to reign in those who are abusing the medicinal cannabis industry. But we also should not throw away the baby with the bath water. Dont punish the patients for the actions of the criminals.
After Comments from the other 2 whole speakers in opposition Diane Valdovinos ( Local Advocate ) and Micheal Green of Cal pot news. The commission board commended us for our statements. They then proceeded to vote on the ordinance. Many of the members of the planning commission said they understood our concerns but that they didn’t feel it was as restrictive and voted in favor. But one planning commissioner statements specifically hit home for me and made me feel as if we did have a very small victory in the overall battle. Luisa Medina of the planning commission said she was going to vote in favor of the ordinance but after hearing the statements in opposition from the three of us she had changed her mind. I was overjoyed with pride when I heard her say that. The fact that the statements of mine and that of my friends made a difference that day. Though we lost the overall battle, but through education and compassion we changed the heart and mind of just one person who would have otherwise just gone along with protocol and passed the ordinance.
After the planning commission meeting was dismissed we retreated to the front of the city hall building to gather our thoughts. We where then greeted by Luisa medina and Andy Hansen-Smith of the planning commission. they had some great words of encouragement and thanked us for coming out voicing our concerns to the commission. But the real highlight of that evening for me personally was when Lt. David Newton of the FPD confronted me outside of city hall and thanked me for coming. He also told me that I was a very good representative the for medicinal cannabis community and that he actually voted for prop 215 back in 1996. Lt David Newton also said that he looked forward to seeing me again. I jokingly replied, well I hope its at the next city council meeting and not anywhere else. We both laughed, shook hands and parted ways. Now those are the kinds of encounters with law enforcement I would prefer happen.
But for those who believe the opponent has the upper hand and it’s just to large a hill to climb. Dont give Up ! Three dedicated cannabis activists didn’t win the overall battle this past Wednesday, but they are winning the hearts and minds through the power of compassion and education. The key to ending patient discrimination in local counties and city’s here in the central valley is through education and compassion. Through this blog and various other social media I will keep you posted on when the ordinance will be going before the Fresno City council.
By: Dustin F. Lowery