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Chicago's first medical marijuana clinic, Good Intentions LLC, opened its doors to a string of new patients Wednesday in Wicker Park.

The clinic, strategically opened near the Kennedy Expressway and adjacent to two other medical facilities on Ashland Avenue, accepted its first patients at 10 a.m.; by mid-morning, DNAinfo Chicago reported more than 30 patients had already visited.

"We'll be informing people about the Illinois medical marijuana program," Good Intentions owner and registered nurse Tammy Jacobi told Fox Chicago. "We're going to be establishing relationships with our doctor. We're encouraging patients to contact primary doctors first but we want people to know that we're here, they can talk to us, find out if medical marijuana may be right for them."

Jacobi, who also ran a similar clinic in Michigan, said the list of illnesses that can be treated with medical marijuana is much shorter in Illinois. Such illnesses like cancer, lupus and HIV are eligible, as are conditions like glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and residual limb pain.

Under Illinois law, clinics like Good Intentions can't dispense marijuana or prescribe it, though patients can get a medical marijuana card from them. The card can be used at a registered medical marijuana dispensary if a doctor approves the patient for one of the 40-some conditions eligible under state law.

According to WGN, Good Intentions patients must have an existing relationship with the doctor who writes their prescription.

Last week Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana, though the law won't go into effect until January 2014.




 
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One of America's most prominent doctors says he has shifted his stance in support of medical marijuana.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent at CNN and a CBS News contributing medical correspondent, wrote a post today on CNN.com called, "Why I changed my mind on weed," in which he describes his change of heart that occurred while filming a documentary, aptly titled, "Weed."

"Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive," wrote Gupta. "Well, I am here to apologize."

Gupta says he was too dismissive of the "loud chorus" of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved with help from medical marijuana. He now says, "I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance [a category of dangerous drugs] because of sound scientific proof."

"They didn't have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true," wrote Gupta, citing patient cases including a 3-year-old whose seizures were dramatically reduced from 300 a week to three a month with medical marijuana's help.

He adds that marijuana does not have a high potential for addiction compared to cocaine, or even cigarettes.

Gupta is a faculty member in the department of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and in 2009, reports suggested he was offered the post of Surgeon General by President Barack Obama.

In the doctor's new post, he did reference concerns about the drug. As a father, he worried about marijuana's effects on the developing brain. Recent research suggests marijuana may affect a teen's IQ or raise risk for psychiatric disorderslike schizophrenia. He says he wouldn't permit his own kids to try it until they are adults.

Gupta also lamented on the challenges facing more research into medical marijuana for treating pain, including a stricter approval process that has to go through health agencies like the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

He pointed out tolerance is a real problem in existing medications: People are likely to overdose from a prescription drug every 19 minutes, but he couldn't come across one case of a marijuana overdose.

"We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that," said Gupta.

Medical marijuana is currently legalized in 20 states and the District of Columbia: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State.

Illinois became the most recent state to approve a law Aug. 1, according to theMarijuana Policy Project. Maryland also has a hospital-based medical marijuana program.

Quantity limits and approved conditions vary by state, but can include chronic pain, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and cancer.

A recent survey in the New England Journal of Medicine also indicated support for medical marijuana. When told about a hypothetical case of a 68-year-old woman with breast cancer that had spread to her lungs, chest and spine, 76 percent of doctors surveyed said they would favor the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.


But support is not universal.

The prestigious Mayo Clinic has come out and said it does not support the use of medical marijuana for young people with chronic pain, citing a link to psychological disease and that people under 25 are more prone to become addicted.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines in June when he calledmedical marijuana one of the "great hoaxes of all time."

Recreational marijuana use is currently legalized in Colorado and Washington State, following the November 2012 elections.


 
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NEW YORK (AP) — CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he spoke too soon in opposing the medical use of marijuana in the past and that he now believes the drug can have very real benefits for people with specific health problems.

Gupta, the network's chief medical correspondent and a brain surgeon, detailed his change of heart in an interview Friday and in an article for CNN's website titled, "Why I changed my mind on weed." He will narrate a documentary on the topic that will air on the network Sunday.

He wrote in Time magazine in 2009 about his opposition to laws that would make the drug available for medical purposes. "Smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good," he wrote then. But Gupta said Friday he too easily associated marijuana with "malingerers that just wanted to get high."

Now he wants to say he's sorry.

Gupta said he didn't look hard enough at research on the topic, and found some new research that had been done since then. He was encouraged to look into the issue further upon meeting a 5-year-old girl in Colorado for whom medical marijuana has sharply cut down on the amount of seizures she had been suffering.

Time spent with her and others made him realize that medical professionals should be responsible for providing the best care possible, and that could include marijuana.

"We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that," he wrote.

The preponderance of the research done in the United States about marijuana is about what harm it could do. He said he's found more research overseas that discusses the medical benefits.

While people die regularly from prescription drug overdoses, Gupta said he's been unable to find a documented case of death from a marijuana overdose.

Gupta said he doesn't want people to apply his change of heart to the issue of recreational marijuana use. As a father, he said he wouldn't allow his children to smoke marijuana until they are adults. If they want to, he'd urge them to wait until their mid-20s when their brains are fully developed, because of studies that show the drug can damage young people.

But he said a prevalent attitude that people who want to use the drug for medicinal purposes are really interested in getting high is one of the things that holds back the widespread use of it for health reasons.

"I do think it's good to separate the two of them," he said.



 
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SAN DIEGO – Mayor Bob Filner came to City Hall with an ambitious agenda as an advocate for the homeless, veterans, low-income citizens and medical marijuana users.  Now, with many of his allies calling for his resignation, the entire agenda is in question.

Filner’s chief of staff resigned last week and a most members of City Council have asked him to step down. As his support erodes, the big question is: “What can he get done?”

“It’s just a mess,” City Club of San Diego President George Mitrovich said.

Mitrovich said the mayor won’t be a lame duck if he stays in office, but he does have to win over his opponents on City Council, and that could be an uphill battle.

“The people of this city are a very forgiving people. Lots of things get forgiven and you can go on with your life by being apologetic,” Mitrovich said. “Telling them personally one on one ‘I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I’m sorry if I’ve ever treated you with less than respect and dignity, and I know I have.’”

Walden Keyes, like many San Diegans, has been watching closely. Not only is he a concerned citizen, he’s a concerned business owner.

Keyes invested more than $40,000 into the Mission Beach Collective to help people like his parents who rely on medical marijuana, and he’s hoping this controversy won’t get in the way.

Nearly 30 dispensaries have reopened in San Diego since Filner took office.  Keyes has been waiting for the mayor to hammer out a medical marijuana ordinance with City Council.

“What is going to happen next?” Keyes asked. “What’s happening next in the city?  What’s going to happen to the medical marijuana advocates? Where are we going with this now?”



Read more: http://fox5sandiego.com/2013/07/15/allegations-raise-questions-about-filners-agenda/#ixzz2bWpxXG3e

 
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The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which is designed to help ease pain for people across Illinois who suffer from debilitating medical conditions, has been signed into law.

Illinois became the 21st state to enact such legislation when the measured was signed Aug. 1 by Gov. Pat Quinn.


The legislation includes some of the nation’s strongest restrictions on the cultivation, dispensing and use of medical marijuana.

House Bill 1 legalizes, with the nation’s strongest restrictions, the use of medical marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions.

Scientific evidence has found that medical cannabis can provide relief from continual pain, nausea and discomfort more effectively than conventional medications for patients suffering from serious ailments, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and HIV.

The new law enacts strict restrictions on the cultivation centers to ensure professional licensing, 24-hour surveillance and inventory control.

There will be 22 cultivation centers, one for each Illinois State Police district. Each center must comply with local zoning laws, and be located at least 2,500 feet from day care centers and schools.

The dispensing of medical cannabis will also be tightly regulated.

Unlike some states, Illinois law will not permit patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis.

Eligible patients may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days. There will be no more than 60 licensed dispensaries, which must comply with strict rules established by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The law specifies 35 medical conditions for eligibility, such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.

The prescribing physician and patient must have an established relationship.

Minors and people with felony drug convictions or psychiatric conditions do not qualify.

Patients may not be police officers, firefighters, probation officers or school bus drivers.

Patients who drive while impaired by medical cannabis face the same penalties as those who drive while impaired by prescription drugs.

Medical cannabis may not be used on a school bus or school grounds, in a correctional facility, in a residence used to provide childcare or any public place.

Landlords may ban smoking of medical cannabis on leased property.

Under the law, employers will maintain the power to ensure a drug-free work place.

Medical cannabis will be taxed at the same rate, 1 percent, as pharmaceuticals.

A 7 percent “privilege tax” imposed on the cultivation centers and dispensaries will be deposited in the Compassionate Use and Medical Cannabis Fund for the costs of administering and enforcing the act.

State officials said that it is estimated that each of the 22 cultivation centers will hire five to 10 staff members, each of the 60 dispensaries will employ 10 to 20 staff and hundreds of new jobs in related industries will be created.

In addition, the new law also bans campaign contributions from operators of cultivation centers and dispensaries.

The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014, and is a four-year pilot program.

New law allows for medical use of cannabis in Illinois

 
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Diabetic and cancer sufferer’s journey from the Sydney waterfront to basketball greatness to the front lines in San Diego’s medical-marijuana warsBy David Rolland


If anyone embodies the cliché “larger than life,” it’s Ken Cole.
The 69-year-old stands out not only thanks to his 6-foot-4 frame, bald dome and dangling earrings, but also because of his elegant Australian accent. And it’s not just how he talks; it’s what he says.

During the past couple of years, Cole has emerged as a leader in San Diego’s medicinal-marijuana movement, a community that’s still struggling to be taken seriously by pockets of mainstream society. If Cole can’t command the attention of the remaining holdouts, maybe no one can.

On April 22, Cole appeared before the San Diego City Council to comment on Mayor Bob Filner’s proposal to legalize medicinal-marijuana dispensaries and spoke eloquently and passionately for nearly 10 minutes, without notes, about how he ran his Downtown nonprofit dispensary, about the problem of diabetes—from which he suffers— about the stranglehold pharmaceutical companies have on medical treatment and about how marijuana can help.

“I have an incurable form of bone cancer now, along with the diabetes,” he told council members. “So, four months to four-and-a-half years or so to live is what they say. I don’t believe that, but that’s the diagnosis that I’m trying to fight. I don’t want my wife to be sitting around looking at me lying around in a chair dosed up with morphine. Medical marijuana may not take away all of the pain that I get at the moment, but it wraps itself around it enough to let me sleep, so I can sleep through the night. I’m not supposed to be around a lot of people—the immune system’s badly damaged. But what do you do when you’re simply being inundated by people that are suffering such terrible, terrible problems? This is not a joke. This is not recreational.”

As Cole finished, his voice quivered just a bit. “Nothing’s achieved without passion,” he said. “If you really believe in something enough, and you want to make it happen, then you pour your soul into it and you give everything you can. You know? You don’t give very much when you give of your possessions; it’s when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

If he sounds like a motivational speaker, it’s because that’s what he is. He’s traveled around for decades talking to people about team-building and coping with diabetes, drawing from his success as an athlete, coach and marketing executive.

At about 10:30 a.m. the morning after Cole spoke to the City Council, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, supported by San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies, smashed through the glass door at 932 Sixth Ave. in the Gaslamp Quarter and raided Cole’s marijuana dispensary, One on One Patients Association, and took everything—all the marijuana on the premises, all the patients’ records and money.

Cole wasn’t at the store when it was raided. His lawyers say employees saw masked gunmen arrive, and once they realized they were federal agents, they invited them in, but the agents busted through the front glass door anyway.

Amy Roderick, spokesperson for the DEA, tells a different story:

“We walked up to the front,” she says. “They saw us coming. They locked the front door and ran into the secondary door. And we gave them a lot of time— more than we needed to—to have them come to the door and unlock it. And they did not. So then we had to make entry.”

Cole’s operation was one of the last of roughly 200 in San Diego to be raided since the local U.S. Attorney’s office launched a major crackdown in 2011. Neither Cole nor members of his staff were arrested. He doesn’t know what charges, if any, will come from it.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Roderick says, “so all I can tell you is that we did a warrant at his business, and we seized marijuana and client records, and it’s being submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s office for prosecution.”

***

Cole grew up in the 1940s and ’50s in a working-class family in Sydney, Australia. He says his dad, a union factory worker, was in his early 50s when he drank himself to death. Cole didn’t have much use for school. “I just decided at about 7 or 8 years of age, for some reason, to stop going to school and only went to school when they played sport,” he says. “So, I had close enough to no education at all.”



He had his own factory job by the time he was 14 and was driving a truck on the waterfront at 15. His first sport was tennis. “I got to hit against the Spanish Davis Cup team when I was 15, or whatever, and could play against [them],” he says, “and so tennis I was very good at. … I won a tournament that should have catapulted me forward in tennis, and it didn’t, and for some reason or another, I just decided: Ah, to hell with this, I’m not going to play any more tennis and I’ll concentrate on basketball.”

Smart move. By the time he was in his late teens, he was upwards of 6-foot-4, one of the big kids that the coaches coaxed to play alongside the more skilled players. Success came early. Playing power forward, he was on a state championship team in his first year and made the Australian national team within two years, traveling to the Philippines and across Southeast Asia: “It happened so fast.”

That’s when Cole began educating himself. “When I was on the road, I would read everything,” he says. “I started reading everything I could get my hands on.” When other players would hang around the hotel, he’d head down to a park and mix with the locals. “I started realizing there was a whole lot more to the world.”

He traveled internationally during the next few years, playing against college teams in the United States. In 1964, he made the Olympic team and played for Australia in Tokyo; he turned 21 during the games. Cole made the Olympic team again in 1968, but Australia failed to qualify for the games in Mexico City. Before the advent of Australia’s professional National Basketball League (NBL) in 1979, Cole played semiprofessionally in four states—New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia—from 1961 through 1972.

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Cole and his wife Pauline, to whom he’s been married since 1973, first moved to the U.S. in 1977, settling in Baton Rouge, La., to establish an outfit called International Basketball Corporation with Louisiana State University coach Dale Brown that operated basketball camps. He also took a six-month stab at coaching in Egypt, which he calls a “horror story.”

It was in the U.S. that he stumbled into business. A friend coaxed him into a company that provided low-skill oil-field workers, an experience that Cole spun off into his own company for five years, contracting with large oil companies in Louisiana and Texas.

He and Pauline returned to Austra lia in the early 1980s so that Cole could coach in the NBL. A nice byproduct of the move was that he could get much cheaper medical treatment in Australia for his diabetes, with which he’d been diagnosed while in the U.S. The disease caused “chaos” for him for seven or eight years, he says; its effect on his feet required the use of a cane or a wheelchair until he managed to get control of it.

Through it all, he coached the West Adelaide Bearcats in 1983 and ’84— reaching the finals in 1983—and the Adelaide 36ers in 1985 and ’86. His team reached the 1985 finals and lost, but it was the 1986 season that cemented Cole’s place in Australian hoops history and sealed his 2012 induction into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame— not to mention bringing Cole his first marijuana-related controversy.

That 1986 team went 24-2, a mark that hasn’t been equaled since, the two losses coming on last-second buzzer beaters. The team, dubbed “The Invincibles,” won the league championship, but not before Cole was suspended by the club near the end of the season for smoking a joint in a Brisbane hotel room.

Cole says he smoked marijuana to help him sleep. “That was when my health was really starting to struggle,” he says. He’d been at odds with management before the incident made frontpage news in Adelaide. Team owners wanted to fire him, but his players refused to play unless Cole was reinstated.

“It was an incredible period of time,” Cole says, “because my players were saying, ‘When they introduce us for this finals game, come out last.’ I used to just walk over and sit on the sideline and let the players get introduced, but they wanted me to come out this time, and I said, ‘You don’t know what sort of reaction we’re going to get—this is a conservative city.’ But I’d been straight up about everything anyhow, so I wasn’t hiding anything. So, when they introduced me and I came out, it was breathtaking. The place went berserk, and everybody started clapping, and then they started stamping their feet and banging on the back of the chairs, and they all stood up, and it went for four or five minutes, until I walked off the court. It was incredible.”

Cole was named coach of the year but was fired after the season. He went on to coach for two other teams, the Newcastle Falcons and Sydney Supersonics, before returning to Louisiana. Back in the U.S., he was approached by some people who had a business using multi-level marketing—also known as pyramid selling—to sell a fruit-and-vegetable supplement called Juice Plus. Cole said the product worked for him, and thought it might help other diabetics, though it was controversial amid reports that it didn’t offer the benefits the company was claiming. Cole opened the Australia market for the product before years later becoming disillusioned with the company.

***

Having traveled to San Diego on business—to investigate the potential for another health-related product—Cole decided to make a home here in 1998, settling in Coronado. He and Pauline lived in an apartment complex for the first eight years or so, until a home on the water became available for lease. It’s a beautiful one-story house with big windows that look out upon San Diego’s downtown skyline.

Cole says he’s always been good at making money. But “I’ve never been able to keep any—I spend it as fast as I’ve got it, all my life,” he says.

He says he couldn’t afford what the homeowner’s agent was asking, so he went straight to the owner and negotiated a lower rate by agreeing to a 10- year lease.

Cole says he “steered clear” of marijuana for a time after the incident in 1986, but once medicinal-marijuana dispensaries were sprouting all over San Diego, he was on the hunt for a place to get it. He was less than impressed by most of the businesses selling it, finding some of them kind of seedy and not terribly inviting. He said his children— he and Pauline have three—encouraged him to open his own marijuana business, pointing out that he knows its benefits as well as anyone.

He opened the nonprofit One on One Patients Association, in what had been the 932 Dive Bar, right around New Year’s Day in 2011. He named himself president, his son Stacy vice president. They renovated the place’s 1865-era bar, restored the original oak floor, laid carpeting in some areas, created a comfortable front reception room and an inviting back-lounge area where members could watch TV or linger over the menu of products. They bathed the club in soft, calming colors. They paid their employees $18 an hour or more, Cole says. (He himself made no pay at the start but eventually took a salary of roughly $1,000 per week.)

“We really didn’t know anything about the industry,” he recalls. “We knew nothing about where we get product or anything else. You know, it was real blind-leading-the-blind. So, we just tried to set it up on as much a regular-business basis as we could and get more and more and more knowledgeable about the product, and as we did, we began to refine things and just got bigger and bigger.”

At first, they got marijuana wherever they could, usually in relatively small amounts, sometimes originating from as far away as Humboldt County. They tried to grow it themselves but quickly ended that experiment. “Well, we were fantastic at that,” Cole says sarcastically. “We must have been one of the only people in history that managed to have, like, a 16-week grow and lose money. It cost us so much to do this, and the work was mind-boggling.” Eventually, a couple of members of the collective provided the lion’s share of the supply, and after the very beginning, it was all sourced locally.

Prior to opening, Cole says, he studied guidelines established in 2008 by Jerry Brown, then the state attorney general, and took note of the statements Barack Obama made about not spending federal resources on prosecuting people who are following state medicinal-marijuana law.

“After we did all of our due diligence, we thought, OK, we can do this. We can follow the law all the way through, and that’s what we did,” he says. “And, of course, about a year into it, they changed their mind, and from 220 places [in San Diego] it ended up virtually with only us.”

The federal crackdown was good for business—for a while. “The numbers just kept building, and, of course, as they closed other places down left, right and center, obviously we reaped the rewards of that because a lot of people in real need had nowhere else to go,” Cole says. One on One Patients Association had more than 13,000 members by the time of the DEA raid, he says.

Cole isn’t sure why his dispensary outlasted so many others, but until the raid, he thought it was because the feds deemed it an operation that was in compliance with state and local rules.

While his business was growing, his health was deteriorating. About two years ago, Cole was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that builds in the bone marrow. His oncologist said at the time that he could live as little as four months longer or as much as four-and-a-half years. Cole’s aiming for another 10.

Naturally, Cole got involved in the local movement advocating for regulations that would legalize the distribution of medicinal marijuana, and he didn’t like the leadership back in 2011 or its direction. The City Council that year passed an ordinance that would allow for dispensaries in far-flung industrial zones, and the marijuana advocates hated it. Led by adult-entertainment mogul Randy Welty, a coalition of dispensary operators called the Patient Care Association mounted a successful drive to repeal the ordinance at the ballot box. Cole didn’t like the ordinance, either, but he couldn’t stand Welty and disagreed with the referendum.

“To me, it’s one of these things [where] once you’re in, once you can get the foot in the door and you’re at the table now, you can find ways to start making adjustments that’ll ultimately be for the good of everybody,” he says. “Now, if you throw it out, all that you’re doing is you’re sticking your thumb in the eyes of people there that thought that they were doing the right thing and trying to get all of this done, and now they’re going to turn against you.”

Cole recalls a meeting of advocates that occurred in the evening after the City Council avoided an election by repealing its own ordinance. It was a celebration. Cole says he spoke up and told the group that, without a set of local rules, he expected a swift crackdown: They’d all be closed within six months, he predicted. He says he looked at the situation like a coach: Who’s the coach of the other team, and what’s his style? How is he going to use his players? What’s the worst-case scenario? “So,” Cole says, “by the time I get to start a game, I always feel I’ve played that game two or three times—nothing’s going to catch me by surprise.”

After his prediction came true, a handful of advocates approached him and, through a series of meetings, asked him to lead a new group. “I said to them, ‘I’ll only do that if— I’ll listen to all argument, all discussion and everything else, but if you want me to run this, then I’ll make the final decision, no matter what. It won’t be subject to challenge after that.’ And they said OK.” Cole called it a “democratic dictatorship.”

Cole became president of United Patients Alliance (UPA) and, this year, worked with Mayor Filner on a new ordinance that would be less restrictive that the 2011 law. At that April 22 meeting where Cole spoke, the City Council, led by Councilmember Marti Emerald, essentially ignored Filner’s proposal and resurrected the 2011 ordinance, suggesting changes that would make it even more restrictive.

Under Cole’s leadership, the UPA’s lobbying the council to loosen the rules on where dispensaries can operate, but if they’re not successful, they won’t burn the whole thing down like the advocates did in 2011. In Cole’s view, something is better than nothing; it’s a foundation to build on.

Regardless of what the City Council does, there’s still the small matter of the federal government.

Eight days after Cole’s dispensary was raided, he and his three lawyers—John Murphy, Tony Curiale and Lance Rogers—held a news conference at One on One Patients Association. Murphy pointed out that Cole, a legitimate medicina-lmarijuana user himself, has done everything by the book: It’s a nonprofit collective, made up of qualified patients and primary caregivers. It’s registered with Secretary of State’s office and has a California seller’s permit and federal employer ID number. It doesn’t sell to minors, no consumption is allowed on the premises and it doesn’t make a profit.

“We are proud of the way we are run,” Murphy told reporters. “We have been in compliance with state law and the attorney general’s guidelines since inception here at this location.”

The lawyers condemned the DEA and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy for inconsistency between words and actions, saying that Duffy and other U.S. attorneys in California claimed they wouldn’t harass dispensaries that follow state rules.

“With regard to medical marijuana, the federal government is like a junkyard dog,” Curiale said. “It attacks everything it can, without thought, without reason and without remorse, and without consideration of the innocence or guilt of the person or people they’re attacking. Somebody needs to put a leash on this dog. Ken Cole is the poster child for legitimate medical-marijuana operation.”

Cole said at the news conference that he doesn’t think the timing of the raid—less than 24 hours after he spoke before the City Council—was coincidental. “I don’t believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden,” he said, “so I don’t necessarily believe in, ‘Oh, this is just a coincidence.’” 

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Countered Roderick, the DEA spokesperson: “We’re a federal agency; we follow the federal law. I can’t get in the weeds on the state law and whether he was in compliance with state law. I can tell you that all the dispensaries that we have hit are in violation of both federal and state law… the main point being the for-profit— the cooperatives are supposed to be operating nonprofit.”

Cole believes prosecutors will realize the only case they have is violation of federal marijuana law. “I’d be surprised if they weren’t surprised at what they were able to get here because of the way that we do things. We do operate in a very tight closed circle of members,” he said at the news conference.

“We thought we were in 100- percent compliance,” he said. “You close One on One, it’s a ban. It doesn’t matter how they cut it. The federal authorities can look me right in the eye and lie and state unequivocally that they will not close you down if you follow all of the laws of the state; they’re only after people that are out there that are drug dealers operating illegally. We’re the strangest group of drug dealers that God ever put on Earth, if that’s the case.

“I think this is it. I really do,” he added. “This is almost the last roll of the dice. How serious are we? If they close me, it’s a ban.”

In the weeks since the raid, Cole’s not been feeling well. He stopped smoking marijuana for a while to get a clear read on his pain. When CityBeat interviewed him at his Coronado home, he proudly showed off his basketball and Olympic memorabilia and then pulled up his shirt to reveal what looked like a painful case of shingles, a viral disease that causes a severe skin rash.

He excused himself to throw up once during a two-hour interview and again as we were leaving. Always polite, he later apologized for not saying a proper goodbye.

We asked him how much longer he thinks he’ll live.

“My goal is 10 years,” he says.

“The doctor said to me, ‘Oh, Ken.’ I said, ‘Well, you know, it hasn’t turned.’ I don’t believe it’s turned to full-blown multiple myeloma at the moment. It’s just sitting there smoldering; it’s just waiting for this final turn.”

Cole’s committed to coaching in the World Masters Games in Torino, Italy, in August, which he believes will be his final overseas trip, and he’s grappling with whether to reopen the marijuana dispensary amid the wreckage of the raid.

However, he says, “I don’t believe that I’m capable of fighting too much harder or longer as far as the medical-marijuana side of the business goes. I think I owe it to 13-plus-thousand patients to give it my best shot, to try and see if there’s any option for us to be legally open. But all of my instincts, and certainly my wife’s, are: You’ve got to stop fighting.”






 
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By KRISTEN WYATT
Associated PressDENVER (AP) - A set of laws to govern how recreational marijuana should be grown, sold and taxed was signed into law Tuesday in Colorado, where Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper called the measures the state's best attempt to navigate the uncharted territory of legalized recreational pot.

The laws cover how the drug should be raised and packaged, with purchasing limits for out-of-state visitors and a new marijuana driving limit as an analogy to blood alcohol levels. Hickenlooper didn't support marijuana legalization last year, but he praised the regulatory package as a good first crack at safely overseeing the drug.

"Recreational marijuana is really a completely new entity," Hickenlooper said, calling the pot rules "commonsense" oversight, such as required potency labeling and a requirement that marijuana is to be sold in child-proof opaque packing with labels clearly stating the drug may not be safe.

Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana as a constitutional amendment last year. The state allows adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of the drug. Adults can grow up to six plants, or buy pot in retail stores, which are slated to open in January.

The governor said Tuesday he believes the federal government will soon respond to the fact that Colorado and Washington state are in violation of federal drug law. But Hickenlooper didn't have a specific idea of when.

"We think that it will be relatively soon. We are optimistic that they are going to be a little more specific in their approach on this issue," Hickenlooper said. Pressed for details, the governor jokingly referred to unrelated scandals surrounding the U.S. Department of Justice.

"They've been kind of busy," Hickenlooper said.

Colorado's new marijuana laws include buying limits for out-of-state visitors. Visitors over 21 would be limited to one-fourth of an ounce in a single retail transaction, though they could legally possess the full ounce.

Colorado laws attempt to curb public use of marijuana by banning its sale in places that sell food and drink that aren't infused with the drug, an attempt to prevent Amsterdam-style pot cafes. Food laced with the drug also would have to be to-go orders.

Colorado's laws also include a first-in-the-nation requirement that marijuana magazines such as High Times be kept behind the counter in stores that allow people under 21. That provision has prompted promises by attorneys representing at least two publications to challenge the restriction, which would treat pot magazines similar to pornography.

Besides the magazine restriction, Colorado's laws differ in several more ways from proposed marijuana regulations pending in Washington state. Colorado makes no attempt to ban concentrated marijuana, or hashish, unlike Washington. Colorado also has different possession limits on edible marijuana. Colorado also is planning a brief grandfather period during which only current medical marijuana business owners could sell recreational pot.

Both states are poised to require all pot-related businesses to have security systems, 24-hour video surveillance and insurance. One of the Colorado laws signed Tuesday gives state pot businesses a chance to claim business deductions on their taxes, something currently prohibited because the industry is illegal under federal law.

Colorado's laws also propose a series of new taxes on the drug. If voters agree this fall, recreational pot would face a 15 percent excise tax, with the proceeds marked for school construction. There would also be a new recreational pot sales tax of 10 percent, in addition to regular statewide and local sales taxes. The special sales tax would be spent on marijuana regulation and new educational efforts to keep the drug away from children.

"Public safety and the safety of our children were at the forefront of our minds," said Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, the sponsor of some of the pot bills.

Lawmakers and a few dozen marijuana legalization activists on hand to see the pot bills signed into law agreed that marijuana laws will see many changes in coming years if the federal government doesn't intervene.

"We are going to be talking about marijuana in the state of Colorado for some time," predicted Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, a sponsor of the stoned-driving law.

Mason Tvert, spokesman for the national legalization advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project, predicted a lot of states will watch to see how recreational pot regulation works in Colorado and Washington.

"We can regulate the sale of alcohol in a responsible manner, and there's no reason we can't regulate the sale of something objectively less harmful - marijuana," Tvert said.

___


 
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By Terrie Best – San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator

San Diego, CA - Robert “O.J.” Hudson is a forty-something medical cannabis patient who suffers from a host of sleep disorders leaving him debilitated and looking for non-chemical answers to his conditions.   Mr. Hudson has found the limited side-effects of cannabis tolerable and the plant to be of great benefit in treating his sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia as well as several other medical conditions.  Mr. Hudson lives with two other medical marijuana patients.

On December 6, 2012, a SWAT- style raid was conducted on the Bay Park home where Mr. Hudson lives.  20 Narcotics Task Force agents infiltrated the residence, found  growing cannabis, confiscated the medicine and all three patients were subjected to DEA tactics of intimidation and arrested.  

It appears that a major factor in the government securing a search warrant was a DEA agent’s surveillance of a hydroponic store.

All three patients are out on bail and Monday, May 13, 2013, endured a preliminary examination of the evidence against them. Thankfully, the three victims of our federal government’s interference with state law and San Diego County District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis’s disregard of state law are represented by an excellent legal team.  Bahar Ansari is defending Mr. Hudson. Melissa Bobrow and Kimberly Simms represent the other two defendants.

The exam began at 10:00AM in Department 47 of the San Diego Superior Courthouse at 220 W. Broadway, before Judge Richard S. Whitney.

While the case will be tried in state court where defendants can avail themselves of California’s medical marijuana defense, the San Diego County Deputy District Attorney, Deborah LaTouche’s two witnesses were DEA agents attempting to testify using the federal contention that cannabis has no medicinal value.

LaTouche’s first witness, DEA Special Agent Terry Ann Discoll was sworn in and gave testimony to having a mere ten hours of marijuana training which she received during her initial DEA academy training. Of course none of this training was medical cannabis related.  Agent Driscoll did admit that participating in Group Three of the San Diego Field Division to eradicate cannabis had exposed her to more cannabis grow operation eradications than in her entire 20 years of law enforcement.  This testimony solidifies the belief that the federal government is dedicated to overturning the will of California’s people who voted in favor of medical cannabis use in 1996.

Driscoll’s testimony called attention to the three small grow areas in the home, which she alleged contained 74 plants in various stages of development, several bags and some jars of dried cannabis.  However, in the cross examination by defense counsel, Driscoll was unable to differentiate between useable medical cannabis, clones and trim, saying “marijuana is marijuana and there is no such thing as medical marijuana.”  Much of her testimony on cross consisted of statements such as “I am not an expert” and “I have no experience in medical marijuana.” Driscoll was clearly rattled at questions about the three medical cannabis doctor recommendations found at the home.  She did not know whether the clones on the premises were checked for root systems to determine if they were actually viable plants or simply branches stuck in grow medium. Finally, Driscoll ended with the telling statement, “I don’t know, I only participated in the eradication.”

The three defendants are charged with cannabis cultivation and possession with intent to sell but the DDA LaTouche’s second witness, DEA Special Agent Justin Faw said nothing to prove indication of sales. Faw pointed out that a scale on the premises indicated sales and the quantity of cannabis did as well.  Even though Faw professed to training in medical cannabis via the California Narcotics Officers Association, his cross examination by Ms. Ansari revealed that he was ignorant of the fact that various strains help various conditions and of the common practice of weighing dosages (which would explain the scale).  Additionally, in a comical assertion Faw indentified a small grinder commonly used to cut up flowers for easier joint rolling and claimed it was used to make powdered cannabis; saying clearly that was indication the three defendants were selling cannabis.

The defense’s job was made much more difficult due to the fact the evidence was housed out-of -reach by any but two DEA approved forensic companies and could not be viewed by the defenses’ own expert witness, William Britt.  The defense was forced to use Utica Toxicology to evaluate the medical cannabis evidence last week.  Strangely the Utica representative did not have a scale sensitive enough to weigh anything less than a pound and there were serious questions about weight counts, how the plants and dried flowers were weighed and the accuracy of any of the plant material weight.

In the defense cross examination of Faw, the agent seemed desperate to evade questions posed to him by Bahar Ansari who did a fantastic job of pinning him down.  Ms. Ansari was successful in eliciting testimony that no indications of sales were shown during months of surveillance of the premises, no pay and owe sheets were found and no practical cannabis packaging was found beyond what currently held the patients’ personal cannabis.

Agent Faw’s testimony as regards medical cannabis was so flawed that defense attorney Melissa Bobrow moved to strike his entire testimony from the record based on People V Chakos which reversed a conviction, reading “Nowhere in this record do we find any substantial evidence that the arresting officer had any expertise in differentiating citizens who possess marijuana lawfully for their own consumption, as distinct from possessing unlawfully with intent to sell.” Although Judge Whitney denied the motion for this move to strike, from what he called a probable cause hearing, the judge indicated the motion might have merit at trial.

Late in the day, defense expert witness William Britt took the stand. Mr Britt, a childhood polio survivor and Founder of The Association of Patient Advocates is a medical cannabis patient himself. He spent 20 minutes explaining his qualifications as an expert witness to medical cannabis yields, dosages and cannabis grow operations.  Listing the multitude of seminars, trainings, courtroom testimony and evidence reviews totaling in the hundreds he was able to explain the indoor grow at the residence.  He led the court through the vegetative and flowering process, and explained the cloning process and nursery elements of a grow operation.

Mr. Britt had viewed pictures and a video of the evidence earlier that day.  Mr. Britt determined that of the 74 plants, only six were mature with buds.  Mr. Britt also explained why individual patient growers might grow different strains for different ailments explaining the need to package separately, a circumstance the prosecution obsessed over as indication of sales.

Mr. Britt’s testimony lasted the rest of the afternoon and the preliminary exam had to be continued into Tuesday, May 14.   Mr. Britt resumed his testimony, and was then cross examined by LaTouche.

Deborah LaTouche has a history of crushing losses in medical cannabis cases.  Last year she was reprimanded by Judge Laura Parsky for refusing to look at exculpatory evidence in the Dexter Padilla case.  The Padilla case resulted in a hung jury and when LaTouche expressed intent to re-file charges, Judge Parsky shot her down saying LaTouche bordered on ‘disingenuous’ in the way she presented her arguments in the case.  Judge Parsky then dismissed the Padilla case in the interest of justice - a rare move for a judge and a humiliating moment for LaTouche.

Unfortunately this defeat did little to reduce LaTouche’s rabid courtroom persona.  In her cross examination of Mr. Britt, she repeatedly badgered him about his qualifications and asked him if he had smoked cannabis before taking the stand.   LaTouche also demanded to see Mr. Britt’s notes he had taken with him to the witness stand.  In her closing argument, she repeatedly misstated the law under the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program Act. Mr. Hudson’s attorney, Ms. Ansari was quick to point out LaTouche’s erroneous statements to Judge Whitney.

After both sides completed their closing arguments, Judge Whitney put off his decision until Wednesday, May 15 in order to review the evidence and read the case law the defense had presented.  On Wednesday, we were all hopeful that the ordeal of these lawful citizen patients would be over, but unfortunately Judge Whitney bound the three over for trial.  To his credit, his honor recognized this case as a close call and repeatedly insinuated that the prosecution would not have an easy time at trial.  He recognized what we all saw, that the counsel for the three patients conducted a stellar defense and LaTouche has her work cut out for her in presenting this case before a jury of twelve.  It is clear she does not have a case and Judge Whitney, though he found probable cause, did  not seem at all convinced the case would result in conviction.

This case illustrates San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ refusal to follow state law and her penchant for making the procedure the punishment as regards medical cannabis patients.

The trial is tentatively scheduled for August 29, 2013 and all are encouraged to stand with O.J. Hudson and his co-defendants as they fight for the rights of all medical cannabis patienst.  When asked how he felt, O.J. admitted it hurt to be persecuted for his choice of medicine, however he feels that seeing the case through is the right thing to do.





AT 5/16/2013 07:21:00 AM  

LABELS: BAHAR ANSARIBONNIE DUMANISDEBORAH LATOUCHEDEXTER PADILLAKIMBERLY SIMMSLAURA DUFFYMELISSA BOBROW,OJ HUDSONTERRIE BEST




2 COMMENTS:Anonymous said..."It appears that a major factor in the government securing a search warrant was a DEA agent’s surveillance of a hydroponic store."

This is an absolute joke, it doesn't seem like they will let up and will find anything that seems to assume incriminating behavior. True advocates and activists are in this until we see are goals achieved the responsible and proper way. We will continue to pursue and fight against unjust laws and we will be successful.


 
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We have more news this morning that FIJA’s educational outreach efforts are paying off through the hard work of activists nationwide, this time from San Diego, California:

Filner Urges ‘Jury Nullification’ In Medical Pot Dispensary Case

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has injected himself into a federal criminal case against the operator of a medical marijuana dispensary, intensifying his standoff with federal prosecutors on cannabis enforcement issues.

Filner’s urging jurors who’ll be chosen for the trial to reject federal law in favor of state statutes under a centuries-old legal concept known as “jury nullification”– whereby jurors can refuse to convict people under laws they believe should not be applied.

It’s a bold, brash move that’s potentially controversial and politically risky for a mayor.

But that’s not atypical of the former “Freedom Rider” who served two months of jail time in Mississippi during the early years of the Civil Rights Era.

“It’s time, like with Prohibition, to step back and say this was a stupid thing to do,” Filner said outside the courthouse. “Let’s step back, and juries ought to take the lead and say that to the federal government…and if the federal government isn’t listening to the mayor, maybe they’ll listen to the jury.”

Click through for the entire article.

Not only was Mayor Filner’s passionate advocacy of justice through fully informed juries covered by the local NBC affiliate, but this news was also carried by U-T San Diego:

Filner urges jurors to reject medpot case

In a statement released through Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, Filner endorsed a controversial legal concept called jury nullification.

This occurs when a jury acquits someone of the charges against them, even if they believe the person to be guilty, if they disagree with the law that the defendant is charged with. It allows individual jurors to follow their conscience, but critics say it violates the juror’s basic role — to determine the facts in a case and apply the law to reach a result.

In the statement, Filner said jury nullification allows the people’s “will to prevail.” He said that the concept “holds that jurors have a right and even a duty to vote their conscience if they feel the government is engaged in injustice.”

Filner reportedly had a conversation prior to the press conference with Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator, who points to FIJA’s website for information on jurors’ traditional, legal authority to nullify.
Mayor Filner to Speak at Press Conference Against Gag Order in Federal Medical Marijuana Case


 
Mark A.R. Kleiman is a professor of public policy at U.C.L.A. and a visiting fellow at the National Institute of Justice. He is advising Washington State on marijuana regulation.

MAY 22, 2013
There are four crucial steps for voters and lawmakers to take:

Require testing and labeling for chemical content. Telling consumers precisely what they’re taking will reduce some of the risks. THC is the substance that gives marijuana its intoxicating power, but other chemicals also matter. For instance, cannabidiol (CBD) can help to temper potency by protecting users from anxiety and panic attacks.

Require testing for microbes, pesticides and heavy metals. Legal marijuana could be made safer than the illegal product by keeping it free of contaminants.

Keep the price right. If the legal price is too high, the illegal market will remain. If the legal price is too low, there will be increased drug abuse and perhaps exports across state lines. Taxation needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Monitor, measure and modify. A regulated commercial market in marijuana is a new thing. There’s much to be learned. It’s vital to monitor the process, measure the results and modify the rules (including tax rates) as needed.

And there are three mistakes that officials should avoid:

Don’t allow marketing. The legal marijuana industry, like the alcohol, tobacco and gambling industries, will have a financial interest directly opposite to the public interest. Responsible use is the goal, but dependent use generates sales volume. A public monopoly would probably work best; short of that, tight limits on advertising (the Supreme Court permitting) and keeping the industry fragmented to minimize its lobbying power might limit some of the damage.

Don’t get greedy. Taxation should aim at raising prices to reduce heavy use. Resist the temptation to treat marijuana as just one more revenue source. Don’t let the states become financially dependent on consumers who are chemically dependent.

Don’t expect miracles. Prohibition didn’t abolish the drug problem. Neither will legalization. Be satisfied if criminal revenues go down a lot, fewer dealers wind up behind bars, and the numbers of dependent users and underage users don’t increase dramatically.

    GreenTomato Staff

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