MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Chronicle Tracks Clubs’ Saga
The "network of marijuana clubs, co-ops and dispensaries that arose" when Proposition 215 legalized the medicinal use of marijuana "is collapsing," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Of the 18 marijuana clubs established to "deliver pot to patients" seven months ago, only seven are still open and not facing any legal trouble. Six of the 18 clubs are out of business and five have criminal or civil lawsuits pending against them, the Chronicle reports. Even the clubs that remain open and free from legal hassles worry constantly "that the next knock on the door could be federal drug agents," the Chronicle reports.
"In general, things statewide are a mess. We're the only club still standing here in Southern California," said Scott Imler, director of the Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers' Club. In Southern California there has been legal and political opposition to "organized efforts" to distribute medical pot -- clubs in Santa Ana, San Diego and Thousand Oaks have been shut down and their organizers face criminal charges. In Northern California, the federal government has filed a civil lawsuit against six clubs, and clubs in San Jose and Monterey County are charged with criminal activity by local authorities, the Chronicle reports. And even in San Francisco -- where medical marijuana enjoys widespread political support -- a highly publicized case could "force the whole movement back underground."
At The Source
Many of the medical pot organizers "believe the backlash against medical marijuana has been encouraged by state Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren." But law enforcement officials say "the crackdown is the result of a poorly drafted law and of pot sellers who don't understand what the law allows." The Chronicle notes that federal officials also contend that "marijuana use for any purpose is a violation of federal law."
But, the Chronicle reports, "the blame for the chaos" could lie with California lawmakers who have refused to "straighten out an incomplete and contradictory ... law." Those who drafted Prop. 215 foresaw some of the law's inconsistencies and added a clause "encouraging" the Legislature to implement a system for distributing the drug to patients. But only one lawmaker, state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Francisco), has tried to make the law workable, and his efforts have been largely unsuccessful. "It's true, the Legislature hasn't done anything, and as far as I can detect there is not interest other than on the part of me and a couple of others," said Vasconcellos. "It's disgraceful," he added. But the Chronicle also notes that the pot clubs do not have any organized lobbying efforts. "They were very easy to pick off because all of them are basically breaking the law," said Vasconcellos' chief of staff Rand Martin (Gaura, 4/23).