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
The title of this post comes to me from the song – Want more – as made famous by Bob Marley. In light of the recent raid on Oaksterdam University on April 4th 2012 by the federal government, I felt that the words to this song never rang so true. Now you get what you want, do you want more ? So as a Medicinal Cannabis consumer I ask you, do you want more ? Because the last 16 years has been nothing but a struggle for the average medicinal cannabis consumer,provider, and grower to provide, or receive access to those very medicines. Could you imagine the feds raiding your house because of your choice of medicine ? Imagine if the feds kicked down the doors of all the pharmacies on every corner and you no longer had access to your life saving medications. That is exactly what is happening here in California as we speak. Regardless of what your personal bias or opinions of Cannabis ( Marijuana ) may be, The Law is still the Law.
–( Now you get what you want, do you want more ? )– -Chorus- by Bob Marley
( Compliments of Wikipedia ) –> Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, is a California law concerning the use of medical cannabis. It was enacted, on November 5, 1996, by means of the initiative process, and passed with 5,382,915 (55.6%) votes in favor and 4,301,960 (44.4%) against.The proposition was a state-wide voter initiative authored by Dennis Peron, Anna Boyce [RN], Valerie Corral, Dale Gieringer, Thomas Seiler, William Panzer, Scott Imler, and psychiatrist Tod H. Mikuriya, and approved by California voters. It allows patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation, and the patient’s designated Primary Caregivers, to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use, and has since been expanded to protect a growing system of collective and cooperative distribution. The Act added Section 11362.5 to the California Health and Safety Code.
–( You think it’s the end, But it’s just the beginning. )– -Line-1 -Verse-1- -Want more- by Bob Marley
16 years, you would think we would have it all figured out by now right ? Wrong ! California law enforcement has been having a hay day arresting any and all Cannabis consumers regardless of legality. Why you ask ? Because they can, 215 truly only gives you a legal defense within the state of California. So it all boils down to one simple tactic for Law enforcement, arrest them all and let the courts sort it out. Which in turn only further restricts access and further strengthens the black markets grasp over California’s #1 cash crop. Yes though it remains illegal for responsible adult consumption, Cannabis beats out Grapes for California’s #1 cash crop. Not a single dime of that money for Cannabis is taxed or regulated.
Now in some part’s of California you will find cities and counties that have adopted ordinances and regulations that call for certain taxes and revenues generated from Medicinal Cannabis Collectives, dispensaries, and store front operations to be paid to the city or county. Even more counties and cities here in California have outright banned Collectives and dispensaries. If you were to look at the above picture of the Prop 215 election turnout, almost everywhere seen in green has some form of regulation and tax revenue and allowance in place. Everything in red has nothing and many of these cities and counties have gone as far as to outright bans that are still being challenged in court. Here we have the most neediest of the Cannabis Community being the only one’s providing tax revenues, and in most cases showing up in drones at city and county board meetings begging for regulations. While at the same time they watch the laws intended to protect them get kicked around like a political football. Which in turn only leads to further confusion, and further restricts access to the those who truly need cannabis.
–( They stab you in the back And they claim that you’re not looking.)– -Line-1- -verse-2- -Want more- By-Bob Marley
In 2009 the Obama administration issued a statement suggesting to prosecutors not seek to the arrest of medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines, and it is 2012 and last I checked Obama is still president. Here are some of Obama’s quotes prior to his election.
– “I don’t think that should be a top priority of us, raiding people who are using … medical marijuana. With all the things we’ve got to worry about, and our Justice Department should be doing, that probably shouldn’t be a high priority.” (June 2, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire)
–”The Justice Department going after sick individuals using [marijuana] as a palliative instead of going after serious criminals makes no sense.” (July 21, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
– “You know, it’s really not a good use of Justice Department resources.” (responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire)
Then why is he doing exactly what he explained to the American public was a waste of D.O.J resources ? If he was a man who practiced what he preached, why then was Oaksterdam raided just a few days ago ? Why then have countless other collectives and medical marijuana patients who are compliant within there state still facing persecution or possible forfeiture of property and finances ? The entire cannabis community united behind president Barack Obama during the 2008 election cycle. It seemed as if we had a presidential nominee wo wasnt afraid of discussing the hypocrisy of our cannabis ( Marijuana ) laws. But here we are in April of 2012 and we witnessed one of the longest operating and industry forging leaders get reduced to rubble by the federal government, not to mention more D.O.J resources wasted.
In my personal opinion, HELL NO ! I believe we can do better. We must now unite under one common cause that helps the entire cannabis community as a whole. One of the biggest problems plaguing the cannabis community today is the separation of qualified patients and the recreational users . Though the majority of the medicinal community still smoke their cannabis as a regular form of medicating, to the average Joe, you look just like you’re getting stoned. Not to mention people associate smoking with leisure and relaxation, which is also something commonly associated with “stoners”. Until we have TRUE medical Cannabis that is controlled, studied and tested by scientists and doctors these stereotypes will continue to plague the Medicinal cannabis consumer. The medicinal consumer will always be lumped in with the stoner, so long as he looks and acts like one. you know the old saying, if it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck ! Even the Great Jack Herer originally opposed Prop 215 because it stopped at medical use only.
But the very same thing can be said for the stoners. just as there must be a place for the qialified patient, there must also be a place for use by the responsible adult consumer. In my personal opinion legalizing and regulating for responsible adult consumption is more important due to the sheer numbers of recreational cannabis consumers. This meaning the average Joe is more likely to encounter and interact with a stoner then a qualified patient. On May 31st, 2011. California NORML estimates that there are now over 750,000 medical marijuana users in the state, or 2% of the population. According to U.S. SAMHSA data, the total number of users in the state, including non-medical ones, amounts to 6.7% of the population (2.5 million) within the past month, or 11.3% (4.1 million) within the past year. Now remember cannabis ( Marijuana ) is illegal, would you admit to a stranger that you use an illegal substance ? So these surveys are only estimates and according to these statistics, last year in 2011 there was 750,000 medical marijuana patients. In that same year there were 4.1 million people in TOTAL that admitted they consumed cannabis wether it be legal medical use or for recreational use. So that leaves us with a number of 3,350,000 recreational users to 750,000 qualified patients, so who do you think you are more likely to interact with ? So about 5.46% of all people included in this study are medical users. Based off of this study roughly 1 in 5 of all who consume cannabis ( Marijuana ) is medical.
This places California only slightly above the national average in marijuana use ( 6.0% monthly and 10.4% yearly). Use of marijuana by California school youth has declined since Prop. 215 passed, according to data from the Attorney General’s Survey of Student Drug Use in California. The increase in medical marijuana use therefore appears to reflect a tendency for existing users to “go medical,” rather than the enlistment of new users. So instead of reforming our cannabis laws, we force those 4 out 5 cannabis consumers to use only medical or take the risk of criminal prosecution. These laws are tailored to favor the minority and not the majority, and even the minority has faced nothing but 16 years of opposition from local, state, and federal governing bodies. Dont get me wrong I know the medicinal powers of the cannabis plant, but I personally have witnessed cannabis do amazing things for people. That is why I believe we need REAL medical cannabis that is controlled by Scientists and Doctors who are working with and studying the many amazing compounds that make up the cannabis plant for measureable medical applications. What we have now with prop 215 is a quasi legal system that barely works for the minority, and the only ones clambering that things are just fine, are the Doctors writing the recommendations, Collective and dispensary owners, and growers profiting from the very system in place.
In the last 16 years the Cannabis movement as a whole has been making huge strides in gaining acceptance among the American public. Richard Lee and his Oaksterdam college have played a huge roll in the efforts to educate and advocate for medical cannabis and the legalization of cannabis. Richard Lee is the only dispensary owner that has ever funded a campaign to put himself out of business with prop 19. and by doing so he educated the nation even further to the many benefits of the cannabis plant. In my personal opinion Richard Lee can take partial claim to the recent polls showing 50% approval of legalizing cannabis. Now that’s not to say that prop 215 and the author Denis Peron and the many others who co-authored it didn’t play just as a big a role, if not a bigger role in educating the public about cannabis. But one thing I have always admired about Richard Lee is that he does not fear change, he embraces it. He has forged new and greater standards within our community. While at the same time advocating for all cannabis consumers and producers.
For the first time in American history 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12% of Americans favored it, while 84% were opposed. Support remained in the mid 20′s in Gallup measures from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30% in 2000 and 40% in 2009 before reaching the 50% level in this year’s Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey. THE TIME IS NOW ! we must unite as cannabis consumers and reform our laws to protect the majority, and not force the majority to abuse the minorities legal system.
BY: Dustin F. Lowery
( Link to change.org, please sign the petition ) –>https://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-medical-marijuana-raids?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=own_wall
Letter from- Richard Lee
Why This Is Important
On Monday, April 2, my school — Oaksterdam University in Oakland — was raided by the DEA, IRS, and US Marshals. Oaksterdam provides training to the medical cannabis industry, and is fully compliant with state and local law.
President Obama promised at the beginning of his administration to respect state medical marijuana laws. He has broken this promise time and time again — and the consequences have been devastating.
This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I’ve been an activist far too long to become intimidated — and with the majority of Americans and common sense on our side, I know this is a fight we can win.
With our government trillions in debt, why is our government using taxpayer dollars to come after me, Oaksterdam, and the thousands of patients who need medical marijuana just to get through the day?
Tell President Obama and the DEA: Enough is enough. Keep your campaign promise, and stop the raids on the medical cannabis industry!
Thanks Richard Lee for all you have done for the cannabis community.
Time to make a phone call!
Tell GOV JERRY BROWN TO CALL OFF THE FEDS. OUR STATE, OUR RIGHTS
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Call Federal Prosecutor Melinda L. Haag, SF (415)436-7200 — (415)436-7234