Reaction to Repeal of Chico's Medical Marijuana Ordinance
Advocates are calling the repeal of Chico’s medical marijuana ordinance a "major setback," but city officials say it was necessary after local police refused to enforce it and federal prosecutors threatened to press charges.
After much discussion, the Chico City Council voted 4 to 3 to repeal the medical marijuana ordinance just weeks after the ordinance passed by the same margin. Vice Mayor Jim Walker, who changed his vote from last month, says he felt bullied by federal prosecutors.
"I knew going in that we would have to make changes, wasn't sure what those changes would be. I knew that we would we would have to make amendments somehow," Walker said.
Those changes came in the form of an outright repeal of the medical marijuana ordinance the Chico City Council had been fine tuning for nearly three years.
The move came less than a month the council approved the ordinance despite a letter from the U.S. Attorney who warned the ordinance violated federal law. Council members say after reading the letter and talking with the U.S. Attorney, they felt it was best to take a step back.
"It was very clearly said what you are doing is illegal and we will prosecute, and I think they are looking for a place to make a case,” Walker said.
Proponents of the ordinance say they are disappointed that the council let themselves be bullied by the federal government, but say they accept the decision.
"If they reiterate a threat, it's going to scare people. Obviously it scared our city and that's understandable. I'm scared of the federal government and the district attorney. They have power I don't," Dylan Tellesen of the Citizen Collective said.
Even though the ordinance was repealed, both sides say they will continue working toward a plan that can satisfy local, state and federal law enforcement.
"We just need to step back, reconsider it but I'd really like to move forward with the intent of Prop 215 in the future," Walker said.
"Every time a challenge comes up, it's an opportunity for more clarity. Time to come back and represent the facts, get everyone in a comfortable place," Tellesen said.
There is word that council members are discussing plans to tweak the ordinance.
The city attorney is also researching the law and will present her findings in six months.
Medical marijuana petitions rejected
Backers of a push to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio must head out and collect at least 1,000 more valid signatures after an initial batch of petitions didn't pass muster with the state, the Toledo Blade reports.
The Ohio Coalition for Medical Compassion submitted 2,143 signatures in order to get the language for the constitutional amendment before Attorney General Mike DeWine, but little more than 500 were valid. Should the group get 1,000 signatures, it must then have the petition language certified and then collect at least 385,245 more valid signatures to make the November 2012 ballot, the paper reported.
The so-called Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment would decriminalize marijuana possession, delivery and cultivation when used for medical reasons and set standards for patient possession.
10 Health benefits of Marijuana
Christie approves medical marijuana for New Jersey
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, August, 3rd 2011 by THCFinder
State law to move forward while feds said to have other priorities
The state will move forward on putting its 2010 medical marijuana law into action, despite apparent conflict with federal law the controlled dangerous substance, according to a statement from the governor.
“I have instructed the Commissioner of Health to move forward as expeditiously as possible to implement the medical marijuana program in New Jersey,” said Gov. Chris Christie on July 19.
According to Christie, the conflict with federal law does not leave medical marijuana suppliers and distributors at risk for prosecution under federal law. “…[I]n the end, I do feel uniquely situated compared to probably a number of my predecessors who are hanging on the walls in this room to make an evaluation of what federal law enforcement would and would not do in the context of all of the facts and circumstances that are here,” said Christie.
“It is clear that we have been careful with this legislation and its regulations,” said Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “This is the strictest law on medical marijuana in the country. It meets a need for critically ill people. And, the governor has been careful to protect New Jerseyans relying on this law.”
In March, Christie requested that the state's Attorney General write to the U.S. Attorney General to “…seek clarification for a state like ours that already had passed a medical marijuana law and had already promulgated regulations and awarded dispensaries to deal with the implementation of the program.”
Feds: Arizona's medical marijuana lawsuit has no merit
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, August, 2nd 2011 by THCFinder
Federal attorneys asked a judge on Monday to throw out a lawsuit filed by Gov. Jan Brewer seeking a ruling about the legality of the state’s medical marijuana law.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Scott Risner said there is no legal basis for the lawsuit. Risner told U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in legal papers filed in her court that, absent some actual threat of prosecution under federal drug laws by his office, the question is purely academic and therefore not a proper subject for litigation.
But state Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit in May on the governor’s behalf, said Risner is telling only part of the story.
The fight surrounds the decision by Arizona voters last year to set up a system allowing those with a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued ID card to purchase marijuana from state-regulated dispensaries.
Since that time, several federal prosecutors, including Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, warned that possession and sale of the drug remains illegal under federal law. Brewer then directed Horne to ask a federal court whether Arizona could implement its program anyway.
In the interim, the state health department, at Brewer’s direction, decided not to license any dispensaries, though they have continued to certify patients as medical marijuana users.
Risner said the problem with Horne’s lawsuit is that no state employee involved in issuing licenses — those that Brewer said she was most concerned about — is facing prosecution.
But Horne said that’s not exactly true.
He pointed out that federal prosecutors, in their letters to state officials in Arizona and elsewhere, essentially said that medical marijuana users have nothing to fear. It’s what those letters did not say, Horne said, which amounts to a threat.
“They gave no assurance to state employees, they gave no assurance to dispensaries,’’ he said.
“And they said they were going to vigorously prosecute anyone who is involved in the distribution of marijuana,’’ Horne continued, a category that could include state workers. “What unbelievable hypocrites!’’
Court upholds 10-year term in medical pot case
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, August, 1st 2011 by THCFinder
A federal appeals court upheld the conviction and 10-year sentence Wednesday of a medical marijuana advocate who grew 32,000 pot plants for patients and fellow Rastafarians on his land in Lake County.
The federal judge who sent Charles "Eddy" Lepp to prison in 2009 criticized the federal law that required a 10-year term for growing at least 1,000 marijuana plants. But U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of San Francisco said she was bound by the law, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.
"The statutory minimum sentence is not cruel and unusual punishment," the three-judge panel said.
Federal agents arrested Lepp in 2004 after finding the marijuana plants in gardens near his home in Upper Lake, most of them in view of Highway 20.
He said the plants were for patients who had a right to use marijuana with their doctors' approval under California law. Lepp also said that he was a Rastafarian minister, for whom marijuana is a sacrament, and that he was growing the plants for 2,500 members of his church who were sharecroppers.
Federal law strictly bans marijuana, however, even in states that allow its medical use. The appeals court upheld Patel's refusal to allow Lepp to invoke his religion as a defense to the charges, saying his prosecution served the government's "compelling interest in preventing diversion of sacramental marijuana to non-religious users."
Lepp's lawyer, Michael Hinckley, had argued that the 10-year sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crimes. Hinckley said that he was disappointed by Wednesday's ruling and that "the thought of him spending 10 years in prison, in circumstances like these, is tragic."
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