Las Vegas looking to allow dispensaries
LAS VEGAS -- For 10 years, medical marijuana has been available to patients in Nevada. But availability isn't so easy. Patients are stuck with few options -- go to the street or grow your own pot. There is no legal way to buy medicine that doctors support.
Now change is coming, and dispensaries could be right around the corner.
Rhonda Shade thinks there are problems right now in the program itself. Her old marijuana club, Medicated Janes, was part of the city-wide crackdown last year by the IRS, DEA and Las Vegas police. The confusing statutes, contradictory laws and fear of arrest led her to become a lobbyist. Her main target and ally is Democratic Assemblyman Paul Aizley.
"What she described was pretty silly with what's going on. You know, the stuff is legal but you can't buy it," he said.
A decade ago, voters approved use of medical marijuana if a doctor signs off on it. But there was no rule in place for how to actually get the pot into the hands of patients.
"You can't buy the seeds and you can't buy the plants. So if you have them, apparently you didn't get them legally," said Aizley.
So BDR 912 was written to give local cities and counties the option to craft rules for dispensaries, expanding existing law.
"It adds a section to provide collective and cooperative assistance between legal patients," said Shade.
Aizley and Shade are quick to add that the shops cannot be with 1,000 feet of a school, church or youth center. But they want it to be a monetary winner for the state and county.
"If we strike the 'for consideration' line, it would allow the exchange -- the monetary exchange or other exchange for medical marijuana," said Shade.
The bill makes the dispensaries non-profits. That is expected to at least undercut the illegal grow houses and perhaps lower the street price, making pot less profitable. Aizley says it's also a tax revenue. But for the former math professor, money helps, but it's access that matters.
"I'm just trying to help the people that want this. My thinking is that if enough states do it, the feds might come along and realize that it's a valid drug for certain problems," he said.
Take away the stigma, control it, tax it, and let the police focus on criminals. "Like any other prescription drug, you get a note from your doctor, you buy it, you use it," said Aizley.
"There's a lot of sick people. There's dying people. They're uncomfortable people. And why should they wait any longer for a constitutional right that's been there for 10 years?" said Shade.
With the session still ramping up, it is unclear when the bill will get a hearing. This is the first major reform for years and it's rare for politicians to be so up front about this. Aizley is part of the majority in the Assembly, so the bill does have some life. Until then, buying pot, even as a patient, is illegal in Nevada.
City bans medical marijuana dispensaries
La Cañada Flintridge City Council members voted unanimously Monday to declare medical marijuana dispensaries a public nuisance and permanently ban them from opening within city limits.
Though no one has ever filed for a permit to open a pot clinic in La Cañada, Community Development Director Robert Stanley described the move as a pre-emptive measure because an existing medical marijuana dispensary moratorium was set to expire in April.
Despite concerns over the often murky nature of state laws governing medical marijuana distribution and a plethora of past and pending legal action, council members said a ban was necessary to protect the safety and character of the city.
“I think this is a health and safety issue, particularly for our youth. If we made our decisions based on fear of litigation, we’d never make a decision,” said Councilman Greg Brown.
The ordinance declaring clinics a public nuisance reads that cities with pot clinics “have observed negative secondary effects to public health, safety and welfare, including increased crime such as burglaries, robberies, or sale of illegal drugs.”
Despite the ban on dispensaries, licensed hospices and health clinics will remain able to administer medical marijuana treatments to chronically ill patients in their care — exemptions Mayor Donald Voss said “get to the heart of why [permitted medical use] is state law in the first place.”
Marijuana dispensary now in Tacoma mall
Freighthouse Square, Tacoma’s eclectic, homespun shopping center in the heart of the Dome District, has suddenly become even more eclectic.
Now, along with the pita bread sandwiches, model trains and vintage clothing, there’s a shop where medical marijuana patients can pick up hashish-infused gumballs, buy pot cookies and choose from more than a dozen varieties of resiny marijuana buds.
A medical marijuana collective called Natures Resource Center opened downstairs in Freighthouse Square, offering an array of products for those who have obtained authorization under the state’s medical marijuana law.
Marijuana collectives are no longer particularly unusual in Tacoma.
In the past six months, at least a half dozen have opened in various parts of town, capitalizing on a gray area in the state law that, by some readings, allows such operations. Some offer home delivery.
What is unusual about Nature’s Resource is its location. Most of Tacoma collectives have set up shop on quiet streets or nondescript office parks.
Nature’s Resource is squarely in the middle of one of the city’s most popular family attractions and right next door to City Blocks, which makes specialty creations out of Legos and has a play area heavily used by children.
As a result, the new store has raised some sharp criticism.
Fines Instead Of Jail For Marijuana Dispensaries
Anyone trying to run a medical marijuana dispensary in Auburn could face fines instead of court in the near future. The Auburn Planning Commission voted Tuesday night to recommend the City Council amend the city’s municipal code to make penalties for running dispensaries in the city civil rather than criminal infractions. According to Will Wong, community development director for the city of Auburn, in 2004 the city adopted an ordinance putting regulations on the dispensaries, but in 2006 the city amended its code to prohibit the facilities altogether.
Wong said fines for operating a dispensary in Auburn would start at $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second and $500 for the third. Wong said if someone tried to run the illegal business without a license, they would also be fined for that. According to city documents, non-criminal penalties avoid conflict with the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program Act, which “decriminalizes possession and cultivation of marijuana for specified medical purposes.”
Wong said hydroponic shops are not considered the same as dispensaries, because they don’t sell marijuana. So, they are legal in the city. “Selling merchandise is not a problem,” Wong said. “We would have no grounds (for legal action). Someone could use it to grow tomatoes.” Wong said people interested in opening dispensaries have asked him about business licenses, and he has had to explain the city’s prohibition policy. Wong said if a time ever came where Auburn could no longer prohibit the facilities, the city would have to think about putting standards on them again. The City Council still needs to approve the municipal code language change before it would go into effect.
City of Oakland Warned By Feds About Marijuana Law
The U.S. attorney's office has warned Oakland officials that the city's marijuana farm ordinance breaks federal law and would put cannabis cultivators in criminal and civil jeopardy.
The ordinance was passed in July by the City Council but has since been put aside after local law enforcement leaders warned that it could result in criminal prosecution of city officials.
In a Feb. 1 letter to Oakland, Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, wrote: "Individuals who elect to operate 'industrial cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities' will be doing so in violation of federal law."
Haag's letter marks the first time federal authorities have sent a written warning on Oakland's ordinance and comes as the council is in the midst of considering a new proposal to license pot farms. Haag, however, did not weigh in on the latest proposal, and Department of Justice officials refused to comment on it.
Thus, some council members said they intend to continue moving forward with the plan by Councilwoman Desley Brooks that would license five new dispensaries, which would each have farms of up to 50,000 square feet.
Haag's letter calls marijuana a controlled substance and says that federal authorities do not pursue "seriously ill" people who use medicinal marijuana approved by state law. Landlords, property owners, financiers and others, however, could face prosecution and the loss of property for growing marijuana under Oakland's law, Haag wrote.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com
San Bernardino Moves Toward Shutting Out Marijuana Dispensaries Entirely
Looks like unincorporated L.A. County isn't the only place these days.
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