The High Cost of Shutting Down One Medical Marijuana Operation
Category: News | Posted on Mon, January, 14th 2013 by THCFinder
A single prosecution can easily run more than $1 million -- all to send an empty message about federal drug laws and hand the market share over to a less savory purveyor.
When Matthew R. Davies was growing and selling medical marijuana in California, the 34-year-old father of two "hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits," the New York Times reports. Unfortunately for him, federal agents raided his business, and "the United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner, a 2009 Obama appointee, wants Mr. Davies to agree to a plea that includes a mandatory minimum of five years in prison."
Let's set the legal questions aside and think through the costs of this course:
The opportunity cost of focusing on other crimes
$235,000 in incarceration costs
Two young girls with an absent father
Substantial lost tax revenue from his operation
Other marijuana sellers going underground
Less savory drug dealers, including violent cartels, getting more business
More of a hassle for sick medical marijuana patients to get their prescription filled
Doesn't that seem awfully "expensive" when the only real benefit is sending the message that you can't get away with openly flouting federal drug laws? If that's the biggest benefit you can plausibly claim, isn't that a sign that the law should change? After all, it isn't as if anyone believes that sending Davies to jail is going to make victory in the drug war any more plausible. Or appreciably decrease the number of people smoking marijuana. Or even significantly diminish the supply, since there's always another person growing on the black market.
All casualties are purposeless when you're fighting an unwinnable war.
San Diego halts all actions against marijuana dispensaries
Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Mon, January, 14th 2013 by THCFinder
— At the order of newly elected Mayor Bob Filner, the city is dropping all legal efforts aimed at forcing marijuana dispensaries out of business.
In memos last week to the San Diego Police Department and code compliance officers, Filner ordered that "targeted code enforcement" against marijuana dispensaries end "immediately." Both departments report to the mayor.
Filner, a Democrat, also plans to revisit an issue the City Council has shown little eagerness to tackle: the creation of zoning rules to permit marijuana businesses.
Filner restated his support for making marijuana accessible to people "who legitimately need it for relief of pain." He said he will soon propose an ordinance allowing operation of dispensaries, although not near schools, playgrounds or anywhere that would harm neighborhoods.
"I believe that, in order to be a great city, we must also be a humane city and show compassion toward those who need help in dealing with chronic pain," he said.
Under current city zoning regulations, there are no legal areas for marijuana dispensaries. The City Council adopted a marijuana zoning ordinance but dropped it in July 2011 when marijuana activists complained that it was too restrictive.
As a result of Filner's action, the city will no longer pursue a dozen cases against dispensaries, said City Atty. Jan Goldsmith. More than 100 dispensaries have already been forced to close because of code-violation litigation by the city attorney.
Filner appeared Tuesday before a group favoring legalization of marijuana, and referred to Goldsmith's actions as "persecution." He suggested that the group may need to stage protests.
Goldsmith subsequently sent the mayor a letter saying he would halt the remaining cases, which had been filed at the request of the code compliance staff and Police Department.
"Rather than pursue the drama last night and call for a demonstration, you could have achieved your goal in less than 30 seconds" with a phone call, Goldsmith wrote.
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