Compiled by David Burton and Jasen T. Davis
L.A. seeks to close dispensary loophole
Responding to an exponential rise in the number of cannabis dispensaries in the city, the Los Angeles City Council is considering closing a loophole in its 2007 moratorium on the shops. Dispensary operators currently can apply for an economic-hardship exemption to the ban. More than 500 dispensaries have availed themselves of the loophole, raising the number of cannabis shops in the city from a handful at the time of the ban to nearly 600.
Nor Cal grower gets 10-year prison term
Marijuana guru Charles “Eddy” Lepp was sentenced in a Northern California federal court to 10 years in prison for operating an enormous pot farm near Ukiah. Lepp, who was indicted in 2004, received the lengthy sentence under federal mandatory-minimum guidelines. Northern District of California Judge Marilyn Hall Patel prevented Lepp from mounting a defense on religious grounds.
Beaumont passes emergency anti-co-op ban
On the heels of a ban on cannabis dispensaries three weeks earlier, the Beaumont City Council on May 19h passed a 45-day emergency moratorium on medical-marijuana cooperatives. Beaumont spokeswoman Darci Carranza told reporters the move was not related to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent refusal to hear a challenge to the state’s medical-marijuana laws by San Diego and San Bernardino counties.
Vacaville bans cannabis dispensaries
Vacaville passed an emergency ordinance May 26 banning medical-marijuana dispensaries in the city for at least 45 days. Saying it was awaiting the outcome of an appellate court challenge to a similar ban in Anaheim, the Vacaville City Council voted 4-0 for the emergency measure. The Qualified Patients Assn., a medical cannabis advocacy group, has appealed a state court’s dismissal of its lawsuit against Anaheim’s ban.
Washington grower robbed, then raided
A man who ran a medical marijuana growing operation out of his home near Seattle was raided by police hours after reporting he had been robbed by thieves dressed as FBI agents. Mark Spohn of Wallingford called police to report that four men in dark suits had burst into his home and robbed him. Responding officers from the Seattle Police Department said they found pot plants in the home greatly exceeding the 15 allowed under the state’s medical marijuana law. Authorities confiscated all but 15 plants.
Arizona group aims for medical-medical marijuana initiative
An Arizona group has launched an initiative drive to put a medical marijuana measure on the state’s November 2010 ballot. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project filed its intent with the Secretary of State’s office May 14 to place the issue before the voters. If passed, the initiative would make legal a small amount of cannabis to certain seriously ill patients with a doctor’s prescription.
Illinois Senate passes pot bill for seriously ill
The Illinois Senate approved legislation May 27 that would legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. The 30-28 vote means the measure now goes to the House for consideration. If passed, it would not require criminal background checks for people who handle marijuana or grow it under the license issued by the state Department of Public Health.
Pennsylvania considers legalizing medicinal cannabis
Pennsylvania would join California and 13 other states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana under a bill that would set up a system of ID cards, doctor’s referrals and “compassion centers.” Introduced in April by Pennsylvania Rep. Mark B. Cohen, HB 139 would allow physicians to legally prescribe cannabis to patients, who could then purchase the medicine at state-authorized centers.
Minnesota governor vetoes pot for terminal patients
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill May 22 that would have legalized marijuana for terminally ill patients. Pawlenty, a Republican, said that while he sympathized “with those dealing with end-of-life illnesses and accompanying pain,” he sided with law enforcement in opposing the legislation. Proponents of the bill say they plan to introduce a constitutional amendment to bypass the governor’s action.
Sign of the Times: Cannabis goes Wall Street
Responding to recent political chatter over legalizing marijuana in the U.S., Gulf Onshore Inc.—a pharmaceutical marijuana development company—has changed its name to Cannabis Science Inc. and set up procedures to sell shares on the stock market. The Texas-based company seeks to produce cannabis-based blood pressure and cancer medications. Steven W. Kubby, Cannabis Science’s president and CEO, is also a cancer patient.