News Nuggets

THE STATE

Cooley attacks state cannabis ballot language

Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley opened another front in his long-running battle against cannabis by calling on state Attorney General Jerry Brown to reject the title and summary of a marijuana legalization initiative going before voters in November.

In a written statement, Cooley claimed Brown’s office erred in titling the initiative “The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010” because that language “impermissibly and unfairly misleads the public into believing that the Act accomplishes what its title denotes.” The D.A., who is seeking to replace Brown in the November election, said the initiative would not tax cannabis at the state level and would actually serve to deregulate the cannabis industry by legalizing cultivation on private and even public land.

Cooley further claimed the ballot’s summary, also written by Brown’s office, inaccurately states the initiative would save Californians “tens of millions of dollars” criminal-justice system costs. Cooley said that employers in the state would in fact risk losing billions in federal grants and contracts should they violate the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

21 collectives sue L.A. to prevent closures

A group of 21 Los Angeles cannabis clubs facing closure under the city’s new medical-marijuana ordinance observed 420 Day by suing to keep the law from being enforced.

An attorney for the group says he expects more collectives to join the lawsuit, which was filed April 20.

The group alleges that the ordinance is discriminatory because it effectively bans all cannabis clubs that registered with the city prior to a 2007 moratorium on dispensaries. The moratorium was subsequently declared invalid by a Superior Court judge, the suit points out. The group also claims the city violated dispensary operators’ property rights.

The lawsuit asks for a preliminary injunction against the ordinance taking effect in June as scheduled. If the law does take effect, hundreds of dispensaries in the city will be forced to shut down. Dozens more, including many of the “pre-moratorium” dispensaries, will be forced to relocate to comply with the law’s restrictions on operating near so-called “sensitive-use” facilities like schools and libraries.

Charges dismissed against jailed patient

A medical-cannabis patient who faced a possible life term for growing 12 marijuana plants was freed after prosecutors dismissed felony charges against him.

San Bernardino resident Don Kevin Lawrence had been in custody since October, when sheriff’s deputies arrested him and his two sons after reportedly finding the 12 plants in his home. After learning Lawrence had two prior felony convictions, in 1987 and 1994, prosecutors said they were pursuing the case under California’s “Three Strikes” law—exposing Lawrence to a possible 25-years-to-life sentence if convicted.

Lawrence, who suffers from nerve damage and nephrosis of the kidneys, was a patient at the THCF Medical Clinic in Riverside. His plight was taken up by the clinic’s medical director (and CULTURE columnist) Lanny Swerdlow, who brought the case to the attention of the news media. On April 2, the same day the San Bernardino Sun newspaper ran an in-depth feature on Lawrence, prosecutors announced the three felony charges against him were dismissed.

Lawrence was released from custody three days later.

4 accused of tunneling into dispensary

Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested four men they say tried to rob a Laguna Hills cannabis club by tunneling into it from an adjacent business.

Three of the men broke through a wall to enter the dispensary at about 1:30 a.m. on April 18. They were stacking cannabis plants near the back door when an alarm sounded and they fled, according to news reports. They were spotted nearby by a sheriff’s department helicopter and arrested. A fourth man, whom deputies say was the getaway driver, was also arrested.

A sheriff’s spokesman told reporters the dispensary on Peralta Drive had been burglarized just two weeks earlier.

THE NATION

D.C. Council picks 420 Day to approve medical marijuana

As cannabis fans across the world were lighting up on April 20, the legislative body of the District of Columbia unanimously approved a bill to allow chronically ill people to both receive doctor’s recommendations for marijuana and obtain the medicine at city-approved distribution centers.

The bill, which still requires a second vote this month, would allow physician-referred patients with HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cancer or other “chronic and lasting disease” to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis in any given month.

Patients could obtain their medicine from between five and eight privately run, licensed distribution centers, each of which will be allowed to grow up to 95 cannabis plants. The centers could be located no closer than 300 feet from a school or preschool.

The bill passed without debate.

Iowa Medical Society calls for marijuana reclassification

Further opening the door to a compassionate-use program in Iowa, the state’s largest physician organization has joined the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in calling for the reclassification of cannabis as a legitimate medicine.

Delegates of the Iowa Medical Society, which represents about 4,600 physicians, approved a resolution at the group’s annual meeting in April to ask the state legislature to reclassify marijuana “away from the category of narcotics and other illegal drugs so that more research could be done,” a chief delegate told reporters. Doctor William Langley said the resolution was a compromise of sorts—the original proposal would have voiced support for the legalization of medical cannabis in Iowa.

Legislative leaders in the state said they would set up a committee to study the issue.

THE WORLD

Polish hemp farms raking in the zlotys

Police in the central Polish province of Masovia have had their hands full of late, taking down what they describe as an outbreak of illegal Vietnamese hemp plantations.

Customs authorities arrested three Vietnamese nationals and confiscated 400 potted hemp plants on a plantation near a village in the province. The men had forged Bulgarian identity papers and were in Poland illegally, according to a news report. Authorities claimed the plants would have yield about 300,000 zlotys, or about $105,000 U.S. dollars, in product.

It was the second Vietnamese hemp plantation discovered in the region in the past month, the news report stated. About 400 hemp plants were discovered in early April in a village near Warsaw.

Polish law carries a penalty of 6 months to 8 years imprisonment for growing hemp.

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