The Federal Crackdown on Oregon Dispensaries Claims a Victim
This past spring, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Dwight Holton followed the lead of several U.S. attorneys in other states and issued a strongly worded letter warning medical-marijuana dispensaries—and their landlords—that they were violating federal drug-trafficking laws.
Now, Holton's campaign—which he said led to a death threat against his staff—has claimed a victim in Portland.
The Foster Healing Center, a nonprofit dispensary in Southeast Portland that started up last November, closed its doors after Holton issued his letter in June. Foster Healing Director Steve Geiger says his landlord cited Holton's letter and forced him to close the dispensary and alternative-medical clinic.
"If it wasn't for our landlord, we were willing to stay right up until they raided us. We felt strongly what we were doing was right," Geiger says.
Geiger and the operators of other dispensary-style clubs and collectives maintain such setups are legal under Oregon law. But Washington County deputies raided a dispensary-style club in Aloha last month. And possessing or selling marijuana remains illegal under federal statutes.
"Was money exchanged and people walked out with cannabis? Yes. Was it done in a way we feel was in line with the law? Yes,” Geiger says.
Get dispensaries up and running in NJ
Gov. Chris Christie is relying on his instincts as an ex-prosecutor to end his technical wrangling that’s delayed implementation of the state’s medical marijuana law.
Christie asked the Obama administration in April to say it wouldn’t prosecute anyone, including state personnel and dispensary workers, for administering the compassionate-use law. It was a reasonable request, but a late one, since the law has been on the books since January 2010.
The feds refused any guarantee, since marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Christie nonetheless surmised Tuesday that federal agents wouldn’t enforce the federal statutes because their limited budgets would be better spent chasing bad guys than going after chronically ill people who need to relieve symptoms and side-effects of other medical treatments.
The U.S. Justice Department did issue a memo last month suggesting, but not specifically stating, that it would lay off unless a medical marijuana law — 16 states now have them — significantly raised the scope of commercial sales. With tight regulation on who can sign up to purchase marijuana legally, and only six initial sales venues, there’s no chance that will happen in New Jersey.
Sufferers can now look toward relief, even if it’s odd for Christie, a former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, to kind of root for federal agents to have insufficient funds to enforce a law.
Opening the dispensaries is long overdue, and all New Jerseyans should be glad the governor is finally on board. Once they get their grow lights going, dispensaries estimate their marijuana will be available by Thanksgiving.
Deputies Raid Medical Marijuana Shop Outside Stevensville
Stevensville, Mont. -- Ravalli County deputies raided a medical marijuana shop just off Highway 93 near Stevensville Wednesday evening.
Sheriff Chris Hoffman says Banana Belt Caregivers is suspected of housing an illegal grow operation.
The raid comes after a district judge ruled most medical marijuana practices could continue under state law.
It wasn't like the raids you see on TV shows. Ravalli County Deputies didn't bust down the door to Banana Belt Caregivers. They took their time.
Eyewitnesses say deputies stood outside the shop for almost five hours before bringing down a search warrant. One employee says he doesn't know what they did wrong.
"We felt we were going through every possible loophole we could to maintain and be within the legal limits of the law," says Edward Smartt.
Employees said they had fewer than 99 plants in-house and about 80 patients on the books.
Smartt says the shop has been in business for about a year and a half and has $20,000 worth of equipment in this shop. He says deputies showed up without warning.
"Right now they are seizing all of our plants. We'll have to close our shop, and we will be done from here on out," says Smartt.
Employees watched while deputies cut down plants.
We asked Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman if any other raids were going on in Ravalli County right now his response, but he had no comment.
Brea's tab in fight with pot shops: $325,000
BREA – The city's six-month legal battle against three medical-marijuana dispensaries has cost taxpayers just under $325,000 so far, according to a review of city expenditures by The Orange County Register.
From February until mid-July, the city cut checks totaling $324,968 to the law firm of Richards, Watson and Gershon, the same firm that employs City Attorney Jim Markman. That amount includes more than $68,000 paid out in the first half of this month alone.
Cynthia Maldonado and Stephanie Gebhard display an array of medical marijuana products at Physis in Brea. Included are teas, ice cream, honey, peanut butter, "Death Rockets," (potent joints) and cookies all made with cannabis.
The city has been trying to shut down the three clinics since January for violating a city law banning medical-marijuana dispensaries. In March, a judge issued injunctions ordering the clinics to be shut down pending a full trial but all three remained opened, sparking further legal action.
The city has so far successfully shuttered one clinic, Brea Medical Referral Network, for violating that court order, but the other two have remained open. One, Brea Alternative Medicine, had its injunction stayed by a higher court while the other, Physis Patients Association, dodged two attempts in court by the city to close it down and now faces a third hearing.
Throughout, the city has been paying a team of lawyers to pursue the clinics.
Councilman Ron Garcia has been out of town and missed Tuesday's council meeting, but he said he knew bills for the city's legal actions reached $250,000 earlier this summer. He said he's spoken with constituents and interested parties on both sides of the dispensary issue.
"I've gotten phone calls and emails and most of the content has been in support of the city's efforts," Garcia said, efforts he would like to see continue until they're resolved in court.
Councilman Don Schweitzer said he wasn't aware of a specific amount that the city had spent on legal action.
Because the city's cases are "in a process right now," Schweitzer said he didn't want to comment about whether he would support changing the city's stance on the lawsuits.
"We've given the city attorney direction," Schweitzer said, "and he's followed that direction."
Gus Ziadeh, the store manger for Physis, said he understands the city's concerns over medical marijuana but considers the city's fight a futile one. The question of whether Brea's right to ban dispensaries outweighs state law allowing them to exist will likely be answered by separate, similar cases playing out in other California courts.
Until then, he said, the city shouldn't spend tax dollars fighting dispensaries but instead adopt a policy limiting and regulating them. Ziadeh noted that Garden Grove's City Council voted to end a ban on dispensaries Tuesday night and replaced it with a registration system.
Garden Grove's ban was adopted in 2008 but since then the operations have proliferated, because there has been no regulation or enforcement, officials said. Garden Grove City Manager Matthew Fertal said the only way to enforce the ban was in the courts and "we as a city did not want to face the expenses associated with litigation."
"It seems like (Brea officials) are on their high horse and they want to shut everyone down and you know, it doesn't work like that. You have to be able to compromise," Ziadeh said. "We were the first ones here, allow us and a couple of more and then close the circle."
Garden Grove drops pot dispensary ban, starts registration
Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Wed, July, 20th 2011 by THCFinder
GARDEN GROVE – Medical marijuana dispensaries must register with the city or they will not be able to operate, according to a new ordinance passed by council members Tuesday night.
The City Council voted 5-0 in favor of the ordinance, which city officials say will not only help regulate the number of pot dispensaries in the city but also ensure that they are located in commercial zones as opposed to residential or school zones.
Garden Grove city council members unanimously passed an ordinance, which will require all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city to be registered in order to operate. The city estimates that there are about 30 dispensaries currently operating in Garden Grove despite a ban that was passed in 2008.
Senior Planner Erin Webb said the ordinance will go into effect immediately and only those dispensaries that have registered with the city can be potentially eligible for a future permit. About 30 medical marijuana dispensaries are operating in Garden Grove, she said. The ordinance will also effectively deter illegal operations from sprouting in different parts of the city, she said.
Council members said they support the registration process.
"This is needed for our city to have some control over the facilities and to make sure our children and families are protected from illegal activities," said Councilwoman Dina Nguyen. "Unless we define what is legal or illegal, it will not be possible for police to enforce the law."
Longtime resident Verla Lambert asked the council how the city intends to enforce the ordinance.
"With more business licenses, the city will get more revenue," she said. "But you will also need to hire more people to enforce these codes. We've worked hard to keep this environment drug-free. If it has to be done, we better do it right."
Valley 'Dispensaries' growing in popularity
Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Tue, July, 19th 2011 by THCFinder
PHOENIX - A legal battle is brewing over so-called pot clubs that have popped up in the wake of Arizona's new medical marijuana law.
Both sides of the debate have asked for legal opinions on whether the clubs can and should be allowed to operate.
The 2811 Club located near 28th Avenue and Bell Road in Phoenix has already attracted 200 members.
Paul O'Connor joined the club because he says his chronic leg pain goes away after using medical marijuana.
"It took the pain completely from my legs," said O'Connor. "I'm having pain in my stomach, it took the pain from my stomach."
The 2811 Club is named after the Arizona state statute that allows card carrying patients to exchange medical marijuana amongst one another.
"Arizona revised statutes clearly says one patient can transfer marijuana to another so long as there's nothing exchanged of value," said The 2811 Club Manager Al Sobel.
People who have their card pay a one time $25 membership fee and a $75 admission charge to the club each visit.
In exchange, they receive a free sample of medical marijuana from people who've donated it, up to 2.5 ounces in weight
"(The donors) usually have a lot of excess marijuana so they bring it here and distribute it to any member who wants it," said Sobel.
Will Humble, Director of Arizona's Department of Health Services tells ABC15 the club looks suspicious.
Humble likens it to a shell game focused on skirting the true intention of the law.
"It doesn't look legal to me," said Humble.
The club's managers and members disagree.
O'Connor says it provides a valuable service to people like him who really need it.
"The government is looking at it and saying this is just way for potheads to get high," said O'Connor. "It's not."
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