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Subverting Safe Access: While Los Angeles and Orange County Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Cooley Concedes CA Attorney General Race

Sam Sabzehzar 2010-11-24 0 comments

ASA Founder and Executive Director Steph Sherer with ASA Member and Volunteer Raudel Wilson

The medical marijuana community may have been divided on California’s Prop 19, but they were very much united in their efforts to defeat one of their most vocal opponents of medicinal marijuana, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley for California’s Attorney General race against Kamala Harris.

Steve Cooley had an all-out war on the patient’s as he subverted their right to have safe access by disrupting the flow of the medicine they need and criminalizing everyone, generalizing all patients and collectives as illegitimate in his district.

He also disrupted the potential flow of tax dollars from this Green New World of compassionate capitalism: new jobs that created business that employ people who pay income taxes were closed, and the people were jobless again, and tax dollars are paying for the imprisonment of some of those P.O.W.’s, abusing the power of his position as Los Angeles District Attorney, thinking of patients as ‘collateral damage’ in his War on Drugs.

I don’t believe the non-compassionate crowd should enter too many markets anyway, but certainly not one that relies on the Compassionate Use Act in order to exist. ¬†It’s time for sensible and legitimate medical marijuana policy.¬†¬†Legalization efforts have failed for now, but medical marijuana in California passed closer to twenty years ago than say, this past Nov. 2 like it did for Arizona.

Seriously. ¬†Probably the most controversial state in the country this year, Arizona told their migrant workers ‘thanks but no thanks’. ¬†Taking the proverbial bridge to nowhere led them to vote for a plant that has a somewhat racist history to the word, as it was used to criminalize the migrants from Mexico as well as African Americans at the earlier part of the last century.

And in California, a loud message was also sent: if the people in power aren’t listening to the will of the people the will of the people will change the people in power.

In a narrow back and forth that seemed to always signal a slight lead by Harris, Cooley finally conceded solidifying the united efforts of a medical marijuana community committed to the idea that a war on patients has become a war on politicians, and we will vote out non-compassionate candidates.

Meanwhile, while a final approval is still pending, Los Angeles and Orange County Supervisors moved one step closer to outright banning medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated territories of both counties, with only two dissenting votes, one from each county, voting to protect the rights of patients.

The bans, approved 4-1 in both counties, would mostly affect 1.5 million people in unincorporated cities within L.A. County and 120,000 in Orange County if it succeeds in a final approval vote.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. County’s author of their ban, claims the dispensing of medicinal marijuana “attracts crime and other nuisances,” while OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson voted against it because banning them would attract crime while exacerbating the black market. If there are communities that have problems with marijuana, a medical marijuana regulation would be the way to control the substance, not force it to exist only on the street market.

In Los Angeles County, Zev Yaroslavsky was the only dissenter, explaining to his colleagues how he has seen first hand accounts of friends who have had the quality of their lives improved through the use of medicinal marijuana, with serious tone, addressing all in attendance: “this is not some sort of joke… this is not some sort of scheme or scam.”

After much frustration, Yaroslavsky drafted a motion for the board to better use their time focusing on the dispensaries that operate beyond the integrity of Prop 215 and SB 420. ¬†The Attorney General Medical Marijuana Guidelines, which Cooley was likely to reverse the CA Department of Justice’s position on, clearly states how to operate legitimately and those that are not should face $1,000 per day penalty until they close, along with stepping up enforcement.

Supervisor¬†Gloria Molina speaking to the county staff voiced her opinion. “I’m going to say there’s two bad actors… the lousy marijuana suppliers who are illegally setting up and making all the medical marijuana look bad and ‚Ķ [there’s] you all. If you would enforce the rules, these folks wouldn’t be out there operating illegally,” said Molina.

According to County officials, a tally of illegal dispensaries is unavailable so even if they tried enforcing the rules so they wouldn’t know which dispensaries where illegal and which of them are not.

They way it looks today, the ban will be approved by the board, but on the flip-side, Kamala Harris is California’s new Attorney General. ¬†And If the cooling off of Cooley can be attributed to the Cooley’s Not Cool campaign, and a united medical marijuana community, than we know of at least two LA and OC Supervisors who’s seats are safe.