News Nuggets

THE STATE

LONG BEACH PASSES STRICT CANNABIS CLUB ORDINANCE

Following months of often heated debate, the Long Beach City Council approved a medical-marijuana ordinance that requires all cannabis provided by collectives to be grown within city limits and sets buffers of up to 1,500 feet around public schools.

Medical-cannabis activists immediately called the ordinance, which the council passed by a vote of 5-4 on March 16, as amounting to a de facto ban on marijuana in the city. 

The new law also prohibits patients from belonging to more than one dispensary, requires collectives to register with the city and provide the names and addresses of collective operators and mandates strict onsite security measures.  Collectives will not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of an elementary or middle school, or within 1,500 feet of a high school. 

The ordinance came a month after the council tentatively approved less restrictive medical-marijuana measures.  Council members scrapped those regulations after meeting with police and Los Angeles District Attorney’s office representatives, who insisted a more stringent law was required.

 

AMMIANO INTRODUCES PARAPHERNALIA LEGALIZATION BILL 

State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who last year introduced legislation to legalize and tax cannabis, has submitted a bill that would allow the sale and use of marijuana paraphernalia for medical purposes.

If passed, Assembly Bill 1811 would modify existing drug paraphernalia law to exempt water pipes, electric pipes, cultivation equipment and other items used by medical-cannabis patients and caregivers.  Patients would be protected from arrest for purchasing such items, as would vendors.  Vendors would also be allowed to instruct buyers of the items’ proper use and provide literature on medical cannabis. 

The bill was hailed by California NORML, which has long criticized federal and state anti-paraphernalia free as vague and selectively enforced. The move comes as several city and county law-enforcement agencies, most notably the San Diego District Attorney’s office, have stepped up enforcement of drug-paraphernalia statutes. 

 

CHEECH MARIN BEATS CNN ANCHOR IN JEOPARDY! QUARTERFINALS

Actor Cheech Marin, best known for his pot-smoking antics as part of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong, won $50,000 for the charity of his choice after winning a quarterfinals match in the Jeopardy! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament. 

Marin beat out CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper and comedienne Aisha Tyler  in the match, which will be broadcast in May. He selected the Hispanic Scholarship Fund as the recipient of his cash winnings. Cooper and Tyler each earned $25,000 on behalf of their charities.

Marin now advances to the trivia game show’s celebrity semifinals, with $1 million in the offing as the grand prize. “One million dollars would be whipped cream on top of whipped cream,” the actor stated in a press release. “That would be the greatest because [the Hispanic Scholarship Fund] could really use the money.”

 

MAN REPORTS ROBBERY, HAS POT CONFISCATED

An Orange County man described in press reports as a registered medical-cannabis patient saw his marijuana seized twice on the same day last month—first by robbers who assaulted him after breaking into his home, and then by narcotics officers after he reported the incident. 

The man, whom police say told them he grew cannabis for a collective he belonged to, reported that two men broke into his home in an unincorporated area of Santa Ana early March 8.  They struck him several times with an unknown object and demanded cash before grabbing several of his marijuana plants and some electronic equipment and fleeing. The man drove himself to a local hospital for treatment and then called police to report the incident. Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department drove out to the home, took the man’s report, and then confiscated his remaining pot plants.

Deputies say they are looking into the reported robbery and investigating whether the man was part of an illegal grow operation. 

 

THE NATION

EX-UTAH JAZZ CENTER ACCUSED OF STASHING POT IN REAR 

Police in Salt Lake County, Utah, say they knew something didn’t smell right when they encountered former Utah Jazz center Robert Whaley outside a crime-ridden apartment complex, and they soon got to the bottom of the matter.

Whaley, 27, had bags of cannabis stashed in his buttocks, authorities say.

A lieutenant with the Union Police Department near Salt Lake City told reporters that Whaley, who played 23 games for the Jazz, was spotted sitting in a car around 4 a.m. on March 8, in front of an apartment complex known for high crime activity. When approached by officers, Whaley allegedly gave them a false name, but they recognized him from his time with the Jazz team. He was arrested after officers learned he had an outstanding warrant for a probation violation.

According to an officer’s note on a jail document, “Robert was also found to be in possession of several baggies of marijuana that he was holding between his buttocks.” 

Whaley was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2006, and then cut from that team after one game. He has had numerous run-ins with the law, including a 2008 conviction for running a drug house, according to press reports. 

 

CANNABIS SCRIPS AREN’T JUST FOR DOCTORS ANYMORE 

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed a law allowing people other than doctors to authorize the medical use of cannabis by seriously ill patients.

The medicinal use of cannabis by patients with terminal or debilitating conditions has been legal in Washington since voters passed a compassionate-use initiative in 1998. But under that law, only doctors and osteopaths could prescribe cannabis use. 

The new law, sponsored by state Sen. Jeannie Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) and signed by Gregoire in March, extends the authorization ability to other health professionals already licensed to prescribe controlled substances. They include advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants and osteopathic physician assistants. 

 

MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT CALLS FOR WAL-MART BOYCOTT

The Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based cannabis advocacy group, has called for a nationwide boycott of Wal-Mart stores following the company’s firing of a medical-marijuana patient with an inoperable brain tumor. 

The patient, Joseph Casias, was fired in November from a Wal-Mart store in Battle Creek, Mich., after testing positive in a drug screening. Casias, 29, told reporters he takes cannabis on the recommendation of his doctor to combat the pain of the tumor and sinus cancer.  Wal-Mart officials say that while they are sympathetic to Casias’ condition, they will not rehire him.

That has incurred the wrath of both the MPP and the Americans for Civil Liberties Union’s Michigan branch, an attorney for which called the company’s actions “unlawful” and “shameful.” The MPP went further, posting on its webpage a call to boycott the Wal-Mart chain. 

The boycott action came after Casias received notification from Wal-Mart that it was challenging his claim to unemployment benefits. A Wal-Mart spokesman has since said the company would drop the challenge. 

 

THE WORLD

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL LIKE SKUNK

British authorities say they’ve broken up a highly organized criminal outfit that smuggled skunk cannabis into the country by hiding it in boxes of flowers from Holland.

Detectives with Scotland Yard’s Special Intelligence Section arrested Terrance Bowler and 11 other people on charges of drug importation, money laundering and other allegations following a 15-month investigation. Several of the suspects have already pleaded guilty in what SIS is calling “one of the largest skunk operations in British history.” 

Authorities say the band ran the enterprise like a business, maintaining a “board of directors” and keeping scrupulous records of transactions. They allegedly shipped skunk in boxes from the Flora Holland flower market near The Hague in Holland by ferry to the United Kingdom.  Scotland Yard believes the operation may have gone on undetected for years, netting an estimated 62 million pounds, or more than $93 million U.S.

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