Greggory Moore's reply to City Prosecutor Tom Reeves's op-ed in

Greggory Moore’s reply to City Prosecutor Tom Reeves’s op-ed; published on 9/29/09

Greggory Moore is a freelance journalist based in Southern California

LONG BEACH, CA – Early in his op-ed Mr. Reeves flatly states that “[i]t is still a felony to grow [marijuana].” However, the Compassionate Use Act, voted into law by us Californian’s in 1996, emended Section 11362.5 of California’s Health & Safety Code, “ensur[ing] that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician.” (Needless to say, a doctor-qualified patient cannot use the marijuana she has a legally-established, explicit right to use unless someone grows it.)

Moreover, Senate Bill 420, which became law in 2003 in an effort to clarify and expand upon the CUA, explains that

[t]he [CUA] prohibits the provisions of law making unlawful the possession or cultivation of marijuana from applying to a patient, or to a patient’s primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician. (Introduction)

We have to wonder, then, why a city prosecutor would have an interest in publicly claiming that all growing of marijuana is still felonious in California, when clearly this is not the case. In the same sentence Reeves also claims that all sales are felonious, yet he himself refers to the provision of the Medical Marijuana Program Act (viz., SB 420) allowing caregivers to be compensated for expenses. That provision is amplified in two pertinent cases Mr. Reeves chose not to cite:

*From People v. Urziceanu (2005):

[The MMPA]’s specific itemization of the marijuana sales law indicates it contemplates the formation and operation of medicinal marijuana cooperatives that would receive reimbursement for marijuana and the services provided in conjunction with the provision of that marijuana. (p. 49)

*From Williams v. Butte County (2007):

[I]t appears that, contrary to the stated policy of [Butte] County, the legislature intended collective cultivation of medical marijuana would not require physical participation in the gardening process by all members of the collective, but rather would permit that some patients would be able to contribute financially [. . .] (pp. 5-6).

And ironically, Reeves contradicts his own assertion that it is illegal to sell marijuana medicinally in his summary of the one case he does cite: “After Mentch that dispensary operator will have to prove [. . . t]hat the caregiver relationship [. . .] existed before the sale of marijuana.” In other words, as long as the caregiver relationship exists, the sale is legal.

Do I have that right? Let’s check a bit of Reeves’s logic with a syllogism:

A) “It is still a felony to grow it or sell it.”

B) “After Mentch that dispensary operator will have to prove [. . . t]hat the caregiver relationship [. . .] existed before the sale of marijuana.”

Therefore, according to Reeves, if a dispensary operator can prove the existence of a caregiver relationship, she is free to commit a felony.

Why such convolution by Reeves? Perhaps because he is unwilling or unable to get beyond his own personal prejudice concerning marijuana. This seems obvious enough just from his labeling marijuana as “dope,” as if it’s not medicine (and isn’t that just what it is in the context of discussing medicinal marijuana?) but of a piece with meth, PCP, and heroin. That’s pretty far from a disinterested analysis of the facts concerning a substance that is pharmacologically in its own class. Clearly, Mr. Reeves has an ax to grind, and this op-ed seems to have a lot more to do with grinding that ax than with passing along information that is somehow going to benefit our community. As a private citizen Mr. Reeves is entitled to grind that ax how he will, and he needn’t justify to any of us why he’s interested in tilting at this windmill with it. But at the top of the op-ed he goes out of his way to identify himself as our city prosecutor (did he write this as part of his duties as city prosecutor—and so did our tax dollars, which pay his salary, go toward paying for this op-ed?), as if to remind us that he is a citizen who holds a job that does indeed concern us all. And we might not be missing the point to be concerned that, with all of the property crime and violent crime in the city, the person holding this office finds medpot so worthy of his time and attention that he feels impelled to write an op-ed about it.

One question that’s always worth asking: Cui bono? Who benefits? Clearly medpot is a hot-button issue right now. Might Mr. Reeves be interested in generating some heat (political or otherwise) for himself on the residue of “reefer madness”? Or could it be that he would like us to focus on these “dope dealing” dispensaries so that we take our eyes off truly serious city problems? I really don’t know.

But surely it is no coincidence that Mr. Reeves’s op-ed appears just as the City Council is constructing guidelines to regulate medpot dispensaries; rather, presumably his point is to do the utmost to shape our city as he sees fit. And in reading Mr. Reeves’s piece, it seems to me his vision does not accord with “the intent of the [California] Legislature [to] [e]nhance the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects” (SB 420, § 1, subd. (b)).

But don’t take my word for it. Show a seriously ill medpot patient Mr. Reeves’s op-ed and then ask her if she feels Reeves has any concern for her medicinal needs. Wanna guess what she’ll say?

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