Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vallejo City's Holy War against medicinal cannabis

Cannabis is a plant which, like apples & oranges, has been bred into a variety of types which produce different products. Most cannabis is used to make food, fiber, fuel, and more. And, then there's the wonder herb named "medicinal cannabis", with two strains, Sativa & Indica, from which researchers have discovered that it's medicinal componant, called Cannabinoids, are the cure for many types of cancer, and a remedy for menal impairment, pain, rehabilitation, meth addiction, etc., all without toxic side-effects.
In California, the People have the freedom to a better health alternative in medicine, which is inexpensive in comparison to non-insured pharmaceutical drug prices, and is completely safe for almost every person. By state law, medicinal cannabis is offered through non-profit cooperatives to anybody with a doctor's prescription, and this medicine is useful for nearly any ailment of the mind and body. 

However, terrorism is being executed against the perceived enemies of a political cult in Vallejo whose goal is to remake Vallejo into a "City of God" under control by a minority of churches and businessmen. [].
Their works include:
* Privatization of social services.
* Reliance on liquor stores for taxable revenue.
* Harassment and illegal street executions of lower-class folk by militarized Vallejo Police.
* Cashing in on "insider knowledge" exchanges with "Christian" and immoral real-estate holders.

* Destruction of medicinal cannabis as a choice for the People, their reason being that medicinal cannabis is somehow immoral, as opposed to alcohol use.

Here are some of the members and friends of the political cult:

(1) Vallejo Faith Organization "leader", whose love of wealth and property is shared by His Mayor and flock.
(2) Intintoli, a former Mayor of Vallejo and plutocrat who continues to bleed Vallejo of money for his family and associates.
(3) Dan Keen, Vallejo City Manager, whose corruption is a belief that the wealthy have greater needs than the regular people.
(4) Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis, the man who snickers at tales of abuse against the elderly (as seen 2012-06-26 Vallejo City Council meeting)

Photograph at the Annual Prayer Breakfast, 2012, showing Dominionist Vallejo City Council members Erin Hannigan, Hermie Sunga, and Osby Davis:

This dangerous political cult have taken control of Vallejo's police by successfully and illegally placing Osby Davis into the position of Mayor during 2007, despite the election irregularities and outright fraud over missing ballots that prevented his rival, Vallejo City Council member Cloutier (an open homosexual), from becoming Mayor [].
Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis is a recovering cocaine addict (and former cocaine
trafficking enabler, and lawyer with a specialty in anti-tenant legal arguments) whose policies as Mayor are benefiting the types of street-dealers he used to deal with before he became a "Christian". Most street dealers (and pimps) who sell cocaine get more profit from selling marijuana, an herb which was monopolized by them until the expansion of legal Medicinal Cannabis dispensaries. Many of the cocaine dealers whose livelihoods are at stake are receiving the benefit of having "one of their own" in office as Mayor of Vallejo, and will profit from the removal of legal medicinal cannabis from Vallejo! Osby Davis has gone "clean", but his works still primarily benefit the same kind of people he formerly conducted Cocaine business with.  
He has invited the renegade Federal DEA, and a California state tax agency to enforce illegal unilateral policies... and worse, Mayor Osby Davis has ordered the militarized Vallejo Police to  come forward as the executors of directives from a renegade bourgeoisie in downtown Vallejo and their church allies who want to "spruce up the downtown" and get rid of anything that contradicts their culture, to be prepared to actually kill anybody (including Christians like himself) who resists his agenda.  There are proper titles used by the Vallejo PD instead of "kill", but they are sanctioned nonetheless to use all force necessary against anybody suspected of anything found at the medicinal cannabis dispensaries.
Today's progressive government of Richmond (California), with their Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, have found that responsible regulation of medicinal cannabis dispensaries are an effective safety valve to be leveraged against the street gangs who deal in cocaine as well as unregulated marijuana (usually grown from Mexican Mafia connections). Certain networks of street-gangs have been gunning to takeover Vallejo's marijuana sales, and if the State regulated medicinal cannabis dispensaries are closed, then these gangs will have another monopoly over unregulated marijuana in yet another city of many in the San Pablo Bay.
Many churches and faith groups have come out in concern over the War on Drugs, an endless domestic war against mentally disabled addicts which criminalizes mental health issues, which has separated families over nothing more than a stray cannabis seed, which has taken money from education and places it into militarized police... Vallejo, under the control of the political cult represented in the policies of Mayor Osby Davis, is seeing the perpetuation of another kind of faithless culture, where all power goes to a renegade agency and not to the People of the State of California. In this reference, Jesus Christ had this to say about people such as Osby Davis and his political cult: "And then I will declare to them: I never knew you. DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS." (Matthew 7:23)
Mayor Osby Davis lies again and again. He values material gain over spiritual wealth...

2013-04-21 Morgan H. writes:
Almost a year ago, city council voted on a moratorium for medical cannabis collectives. The vote failed, however, the City has decided to present the issue to council again... and in the meantime has decided to illegally stop issuing permits and licenses to those who apply. It's a shame that in the process of applying I've been given the run around, treated rudely, and had my application and tax money refused by the project manager. My last inquiry to council will be to ask they investigate the obviously politically charged issue, and investigate the behavior of their project manager who has refused to return phone calls, and refused my application for a permit, based on the upcoming vote at council. I don't know why the City continues to take positions that open themselves up to huge lawsuits, and why they continue to employ such rude do-nothings...

Urgency Ordinance Imposing Temporary Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries -
Recommendation: By a four-fifths vote, adopt by motion the proposed urgency ordinance imposing a temporary moratorium on the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within any zoning district in the City of Vallejo
Contact: Dan Marks, Interim Economic Development Director, 648-4382
Andrea Ouse, Planning Manager, 648-4163

2013-03-15 "International monitors to U.S.: Crack down on marijuana"
by Michael Shields from "Reuters" newswire:
The United States must not turn a blind eye to the recreational use of cannabis in states that liberalize drug laws, an international monitoring group said, urging the country to live up to its treaty commitments.
Voters in the states of Colorado and Washington approved measures in November that allow personal possession of cannabis for people 21 and older, who will be able to buy the drug at special stores under rules to be finalized this year.
 No other states have legalized pot, the country's most widely used illicit drug, for recreational use. But proponents are pushing for ballots in states such as California and Oregon, which were among the first to allow cannabis for medical use.
Raymond Yans, president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said assurances from the U.S. government in December that growing, selling or possessing the drug remained illegal under federal law were "good, but insufficient".
Letting people smoke cannabis for recreational purposes violates the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, to which the United States is a party, he told the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs on Wednesday, according to a statement on Thursday.
The INCB monitors implementation of international drug control conventions, and Yans cited the United States' legal obligation to ensure the treaties were upheld across the country. The Commission is the central U.N. policymaking body for drug-related matters.
Supporters  of the U.S. legalization campaign have argued the "war on drugs" launched in 1971 has failed to stem cannabis use, and instead saddled otherwise law-abiding pot smokers with criminal records that could help keep them out of work.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in a television interview in December that it did not make sense for the federal government to "focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that's legal".

2012-08-10 "Vallejo police have just raided another dispensary" video-still from Matt Shotwell:

"Your City Council Report for 2012-06-26: VALLEJO CITY COUNCIL WEIGHS IN ON THE 2012-13 BUDGET, AMONG OTHER THINGS", by Hatfield McCoy published 2012-07-03 at []:
[begin excerpt]
During the public forum, Marietta Falk announced the upcoming ‘North American Conference on Transformation’ saying that “transformation is under way in Vallejo.” The conference would feature speakers such as Ed Silvoso and Michael Brown, she mentioned. Next up was Morgan Hannigan representing a Valleo marijuana facility which was recently busted (for a third time) by the VPD. “Many people are scared of your police department, and I too am afraid,” Hannigan said. “The police came in to our place of business, broke security systems, placed elderly patients on the ground, they typically conduct atrocities. They even ripped to shreds some filled out voter registrations forms. They were out of control. Because of this I am leaving Vallejo, I am afraid of the police,” he said.
[end excerpt]
Mayor Osby Davis was seen laughing (he had to cover his mouth at one point) as Morgan Hannigan described the elder abuse.

Vallejo Police vamp on the easy riders over at Better Health Group...
Protest Rally Set for July 16 at High NOON, in front of the Vallejo PD HQ on Amador St. 

Help end prohibition by following these simple instructions:
- go to []
- Scroll down halfway
- Look on the right hand column for "END THE MARIJUANA PROHIBITION"
- Enter zipcode and press enter
- Select your representatives and tell them that "AB2552 is bad science and bad law."
- Send your letter or email to help end prohibition
- Have your voice heard

More on the Better Health Group website: []


California Elections Code 18106: Every person is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail for not more than one year who, without the specific consent of the affiant, willfully and with the intent to affect the affiant's voting rights, causes, procures, or allows the completion, alteration, or defacement of the affiant's party affiliation declaration contained in an executed, or partially executed, affidavit of registration pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 2150 and Section 2151.

We are organizing a protest on July 16th. We'll meet in front of the Vallejo Police Department from 9AM to NOON and take turns requesting complaint forms from the administrative officer on duty. Around NOON we will get ready to march, leaving for City Hall on foot at 1PM and arriving at City Hall at 2PM to PROTEST until 8PM. We need your support as patients or citizens.

For info, advice & instructions regarding protests & event activism coordination contact:
To schedule interviews, appearances and media coverage, please contact:

Please write letters emails to, and call the Vallejo City Manager, City Council, State Representatives & State Senator. Be courteous and professional. Do not use vulgarity or threatening language as that presents our cause improperly and we cant condone that type of action.

 thank you in advance for your continued support


* Vallejo Independent Bulletin (recommended) [] (Article, Excellent Detailed Video Coverage, Comments & Related Issues)
* Vallejo Times Herald [] (Article & Comments)


Better Health Vallejo's YouTube Channel []
 Contains about 10 videos from the closed-circuit security DVR inside the collective at the time of the 1st raid on February 29th 2012.

For Patients & Citizens...
 Are you terrified to live in Vallejo due to the plague of endless police harassment and officer misconduct? Have police unlawfully detained you and searched your vehicle multiple times? Me too. Next time, be ready.
Write or type the following short paragraph on the back of a business card and keep it in your wallet.. Make a couple for your friends too.
"By handing you this card, I am invoking my 5th amendment right to remain silent, as well as my 6th amendment right to have an attorney present for any and all questioning. In addition, I do not wish to participate in any interview or questioning. If I am not under arrest, I wish to leave."
The next time you are pulled over or stopped on the street by an officer, keep your mouth closed and hand them this printed card (if you can get to it slowly, safely and without getting shot).    

2012-03-31 "Documents Show Better Health Group paid for Medical Cannabis Business License"
by Marc Garman []:
With a second raid by Vallejo Police on cannabis collective Better Health Group yesterday and the re-arrest of collective owner Jorge Espinoza it seems that the legal dispute over cannabis is being tried on the streets of Vallejo as well as in the courts. In a recent memorandum HERE [], City Manager Keen outlined the issues surrounding the conflict between local codes, Vallejo's Measure C, state law and conflicts with federal law surrounding cannabis. Keen indicated that the city would be putting a hold on plans to issue business licenses to dispensaries at least until decisions are reached on a number of court cases. But it would seem that payment for a business license by Better Health Group's Espinoza was received February 27 and a receipt given by The City of Vallejo. "Medical cannabis” is also clearly written on the application which was apparently approved the next day February 28 --On February 29, 2012 Vallejo Police raided Better Health Group arresting Espinoza.
Does the City have any legal culpability as a result of receiving payment for a (clearly identified) cannabis business license? And then immediately raiding a business that it just approved for operation? Or does federal law supersede any seemingly schizophrenic behavior (or culpability) by City officials? And then there is the issue of Espinoza being in operation prior to the February 28 approval of his business license and engaging in activities deemed illegal by the feds. and apparently without a proper business license to boot.
The search warrant itself was actually issued February 27 for the February 29 raid placing it's issuance on the same day as the City accepting payment from Espinoza.
At very least, the message sent by the City to collective operators has been a confusing one.
You can see a copy of Espinoza's business license application (SSN redacted) and receipts issued by the city for the license as well as fire inspection fees [].

A copy of the Search Warrant can be viewed HERE [].

2012-06-22 "Vallejo Police terrorize elders and disabled, tear up voter registration forms, physically assault political rivals of the Mayor"
Vallejo -
Vallejo Police began vigilante operations against Better Health Group, a cannabis dispensary whose volunteers and owners engaged in lobbying Vallejo City Council for recognition of California state law. During the Police operation, elderly patients were violently thrown to the floor, disabled patients assaulted, and, unlike their behavior during past vigilante operations against Better Health Group, willfully destroyed evidence such as video footage storage servers owned by the non-profit, and gaffoled away with people's medicine.
Here, at the scene of Better Health Group cannabis dispensary, we find a display of torn up voter registration forms, all of which were completed correctly.

This lesson in Freedom, provided by the Vallejo Police, was conducted in a no-holds-barred struggle against the political rivals of Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis and his Vallejo Faith Organization, a cult-like organization which owes total loyalty to a man called "the Apostle", dictating to the Mayor "God's Law" regarding cannabis, to which he has willing allies in the Vallejo land-baron union who altogether spy something odd about medicinal cannabis with which they cannot politically agree with.

The fascists of the Northbay don't want you to vote. They don't want your freedom, because you have none. They want you're hard-earned tax dollars to line their greedy pockets, and nothing will hold them back. Just like during the illegal election result of 2007 which put Mayor Osby in power, you, the Citizen, can kiss your voter registration good-bye!

2012-07-06 "Vallejo's wrong turn on medical marijuana" opinion piece by
John Dougherty of Vallejo, published by "Vallejo Times Herald"
I know the medical marijuana issue in Vallejo has been discussed to death. But, every time I think about what our police department did to the medical marijuana industry in this city I get so mad I could ... write a letter to the editor!
When Greenwell was raided, both state and federal officials were involved. Neither the state nor the feds filed any charges against Greenwell or its owner. The subsequent raids were done by Vallejo police exclusively. The police had search warrants issued by the county to search for marijuana. Nowhere in the search warrant was "medical" ever mentioned. That's important because "medical marijuana" is DECRIMINALIZED in the state of California. That fact alone should have been enough to stop any police raids.
The Solano County courts released their rulings with regards to the "Stan The Man" medical marijuana collective in February. Days later the Vallejo police started to raid and closed some dispensaries. They also confiscated all of the medication and records. State law and court rulings hold that medical marijuana patient records are private and can not be accessed by government officials. Law enforcement has no right to the information contained within the medical marijuana records of the patients treated at any of the dispensaries raided. Yet, all of the records were seized by law enforcement.
I'm sure that the raids were illegal on a number of fronts. Raiding and closing a legitimate business under the guise of "enforcing state attorney general guidelines" can not be upheld under judicial ruling. State attorney general guidelines are not law! There is no law that states that a medical marijuana dispensary can be raided and closed by law enforcement because there may be a question as to whether or not the dispensary is following AG guidelines.
But, the bigger question is why the raids took place in the first place and who authorized them. The police chief is an employee and answers directly to the city manager, also an employee. Measure C was approved by more than 75 percent of the voting public. The Vallejo City Council adopted an ordinance in support of the measure. Then the city's law enforcement agency began to raid and close the dispensaries. The police chief said that he was just acting on instructions from the city council. The council issued a memo in September of 2011 asking the police to aggressively pursue illegal activities associated with the dispensaries. No mention of raiding and closing.
Someone created a policy of "raid and close" with regards to the dispensaries. It wasn't the city council. The Vallejo City Charter directs a "council / city manager" form of government, where the city council dictates city policy and the city manager directs day to day management of the city. Who issued and authorized a policy to "raid and close" legitimate businesses in our city?
The actions, if conducted and authorized by the chief, would've had to be authorized by the city manager. And, of course, the city manager answers directly to the city council. We appear to have two city employees, the chief of police and the city manager, setting city policy -- a policy that is in direct opposition to the wishes of the people and the city council.
I would hope that no one would ever condone these types of police actions except under the most heinous and dangerous situations. To use such high cost city assets without authorization of the city council or city manager is reckless in the least and criminal at the worst.
It's pretty clear to this observer that both the Vallejo City Manager and Vallejo Chief of Police acted on their own personal agendas, with no oversight. Contrary to how the police chief or city manager feel about the citizens of Vallejo, I'm not stupid. When law enforcement raids a medical marijuana dispensary at 4:20 in the afternoon, it's not to serve a legal search warrant. It's to send a message. Follow that with a letter from the city manager to harass and intimidate the remaining medical marijuana dispensaries, and the picture becomes pretty clear about whose agenda is actually being followed. And it certainly doesn't represent the majority view of the city population, nor does it represent the policies and ordinances set by the city council.
No matter how you feel about marijuana or its use for medical purposes, the voters of California agree that the use of marijuana for medical purposes should be decriminalized. California courts have upheld the decriminalization of marijuana for medical use and have given patients' rights the highest priority. The city manager and police chief do not have the right to set their own policies and agendas. Nor can they ever use their power to enforce those personal agendas. Every citizen of Vallejo should be irate because of the actions of these two men. In what other city, town or community would these actions be tolerated or condoned?

2012-06-13 "The Wild West Lives" by James D. Davis for "Vallejo Independent Bulletin"

(Jim Davis is a retired legal writer/appellate attorney living in Vallejo, California)

For proof that the wild west lives, one need only look at the disintegration of Vallejo, California (where I live), a small town across the Bay from San Francisco.  Over the past decade the city has descended into a crime-ridden, bankrupt community, now overrun by medical marijuana clinics (6 in 2007, 24 at the beginning of 2012).  And Vallejo is just one example of marijuana laws having gone awry; there are cities throughout the state struggling with marijuana clinics and their role in the state’s medical marijuana program.
The multiplication of clinics selling marijuana didn’t reach a crescendo in Vallejo until a few years ago, and the city wasn’t sure what to do about it.  All it takes to start a clinic is marijuana, patients, and an empty store (we have many).  There is no authorizing agency for clinics, no license to get, and no fee to pay—at least not in Vallejo.  (You can’t get a business license in Vallejo for a clinic, but somehow 24 clinics sprung up; the police have closed down four or five since the beginning of the year, so we may be down to 19).  The city thinks if it doesn’t list clinics as a type of authorized business, they can’t be legal, despite state law, and despite their reality.  The voters, however, being more pragmatic, recognized the reality of the clinics, and passed a law to tax them (3/4 of voters approved a 10% tax on clinics, which is substantial revenue for a city just emerging from bankruptcy).  A little over a year ago the city began working on an ordinance to regulate the quality and number of these clinics, but the city’s work was abruptly interrupted when a California court of appeal said cities cannot regulate medical marijuana clinics.  That decision and its efficacy are discussed below.
According to the city attorney, the city will not continue working on regulating our clinics, because of the appellate decision.  The Supreme Court of California is expected to rule by the end of the year on the right of a city to regulate its clinics (maybe after the November election).

Clinic Operators Are Turned Into Criminals. 
In the meantime, despite the hold on regulation, the chief of police is waging a war on clinics.  In January, squads of police began raiding clinics, one by one, charging the operators with crimes, notwithstanding the 1996 state-wide vote that approved clinics [whether the voters “approved” clinics or merely “decriminalized” them is a fine legal distinction, discussed below].  Using police officers to close down clinics has enabled the city, in effect, to save the money it would have spent administering clinics, and unfortunately to lose the revenue from the clinics, some of our most successful businesses.  The city has turned deficient clinic operators into criminals.  The city council and city manager have thrown up their hands in helpless surrender, turning the matter over to the chief of police, who is showing his crime-fighting creds in newspaper headlines: “EASY-ENDINGS CLINIC RAIDED FOR SECOND TIME.”  The wild west.  If I were counseling the city, I would caution that this kind of duplicitous, wishful thinking can result in a lawsuit against the city and its drug czar for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and civil rights violations (charging crimes without evidence of crimes).  Civil rights violations can result in verdicts consisting of actual damages, punitive damages, expenses of litigation, and attorney fees against the city.  Vallejo’s decision to arrest all these people, hire attorneys to prosecute them, pay litigation costs, bring justice to the scalawags, and clog up the courts with this nonsense is regrettable.  These kinds of crusades may be useful in a city with plenty of money and no real crime, but that is not Vallejo.  In view of Vallejo’s high number of murders, burglaries, robberies, rapes, assaults, car thefts, and shootings, one would be hard-pressed to explain why we use police resources for victimless crimes.  Except that Elliot Ness gets another headline.
Despite the high level of actual crime in Vallejo, it is no joke to say our police officers are dressing up like medical marijuana patients, trying to make undercover marijuana buys, surveilling marijuana clinics and their patients, identifying patients, checking their criminal records, and preparing to raid another clinic that uses poor business practices (converted into crimes by the police).
The types of deficiencies at the clinics that caused the chief to put the operators and employees in handcuffs; confiscate their marijuana, computers, phones, cash, guns, and plants; padlock the door; and put them in jail, were such as this:
* too much marijuana at the clinic;
* too much cash in the drawer;
* a gun (not many people would run a business in this crime-infested city without a gun);
* some other drugs;
* some patients served without a doctor’s recommendation;
* some employees selling marijuana out the back door;
* and poor record-keeping, etc.
This is a compilation of all the infractions found, not for each clinic, but a summary, and they are sloppy business practices indeed.  But these businesses are brand new; there are no models for operators to follow.  Indeed, our best-run clinic in Vallejo, Greenwell Cooperative, was the first to be raided (making an example of it), and a clinic in Oakland called Oaksterdam (the “Harvard of the medical marijuana program”) was raided by the feds.  It is the wild west, taking down the only clinics that could show the way to good business practices.  There are guidelines put out by the California Attorney General and the Solano County District Attorney, but they are just guidelines, not law.  If operators need instructions on how to operate, nudges to follow rules, inspections to ensure safety, accounting reviews to ensure proper reporting, and audits to verify the payment of fees and taxes, the city should ask for compliance, remind an operator if necessary, fine an operator if necessary, and close down the operation if necessary.  But to start off with jail is way out of line and may constitute the tort known as abuse of process.  Clinics are businesses, not criminal enterprises.  The city should respect these businesses and expect them to respect us, with clean, responsible business practices that contribute to the community and the treasury.  If they need help in running a responsible business, we can help them, not jail them (unless they refuse to pay attention, after repeated warnings).
Make no mistake, the flood of clinics in Vallejo, reports of people hanging around, and reports of people smoking marijuana in the streets describe anti-social actions.  I am not saying everything is all right.  It is not.  It is a mess, the wild west for clinics and for police.  But the people running these clinics are not criminals.  They are trying to earn a living, selling legally to patients who get relief from marijuana (and sometimes apparently selling illegally to non-patients, just as some clerks sell cigarettes and alcohol to minors).  It can’t be denied that some portion of patients are fake patients—people who get a physician’s recommendation without presenting a very convincing case for relief; some doctors are relaxed about the process.  But the usefulness of marijuana for some sick people cannot be denied; closing down a clinic takes away their only source, other than the black market.  I envisage for Vallejo, a town of 135,000, zoning laws that allow one clinic for every40,000 people, which would give us three, each superbly managed and monitored, in strict conformance with the law, providing a needed medicine, jobs for people, and badly needed revenue for the city.  Maybe a drive-through window.  It doesn’t have to be the wild west.  The city can step up and manage these businesses, telling Elliot to do more constructive things with his officers than arrest harmless people.
The city says, “You don’t understand, Jim; it’s very complicated.  We could be sued if we try to restrict or regulate clinics in any way.”  Their default position is raid-confiscate-arrest-and-prosecute.  I suppose the city attorney told them they are less likely to be sued for using the criminal process than the regulatory process.  (“So we’ll say that failure to follow the guidelines takes away the immunity and we’ll turn it into a criminal investigation.”  That doesn’t seem to be a rational or constructive approach—businesses closed down, lives destroyed, patients left to turn to the black market, criminal transfers of marijuana and money, along with the guns that go with the criminality.  Does this police chief really think he’s going to stop the widespread use of marijuana?  His own war on drugs?  He offers no option for the patients, who are legally entitled to buy marijuana in clinics.

Umbrella of Prop 215. 
California law says “patients and their primary caregivers” are not subject to criminal prosecution (doctors are also exempt).  Given the bare-bones statutory scheme of the medical marijuana program, the protective umbrella will probably be extended to other players.  For example, the umbrella has already been extended by statute to the “cultivation of medical marijuana.”  There have to be growers.  And courts have found an implied defense to the transportation of medical marijuana.  There has to be movement along the whole chain, from farm to seller.  Most clinic operators are probably marijuana patients themselves.  They may also qualify as “caregivers,” which would exempt them from the criminal law.  These legal conclusions can be argued, but the point is, they are arguable.  This is a new area of law and the rules have not been set, despite guidelines from the California Attorney General and the Solano County District Attorney.  Which is not to say any set of guidelines should be ignored by operators, but individual failings in some circumstances should be treated as administrative infractions, not crimes.
An attempt in the guidelines to limit the weight of marijuana that can be possessed or number of plants that can be grown, if one wants to stay under the protective umbrella, was declared unconstitutional by an appellate court, because it was an attempt to amend Proposition 215, which says nothing about limits other than the amount that is appropriate for the patient (see People v. Kelly (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 124).  Guidelines are akin to administrative rules implementing, not amending, a statute.  Violations of administrative rules rarely constitute a crime.  The California AG’s guidelines, after recognizing that storefront clinics may be lawful under California law, warn clinics that the protective umbrella may be lifted if the clinic does not “substantially comply” with the guidelines.  (It should be noted that despite the AG’s attempt to give an example of what she thinks should lift the umbrella—having new members sign a sheet that automatically makes the clinic the patient’s caregiver--the AG cannot say what lifts the umbrella of protection; “substantial compliance” is a legal determination to be made by judges and juries, if indeed that is the standard to be applied.)
One would expect that good faith attempts to operate a legitimate clinic would be persuasive on criminality.  Even all the infractions found by the Vallejo police were not clearly “substantial”noncompliance; the clinic operators and employees were really trying to run a business, albeit with short cuts and carelessness.  The infractions should be taken seriously and a warning given:
* Smoky Mountain Cooperative: On Thursday, our inspector observed $30,000 in cash (an excessive amount in view of your sales figures), 20 lbs of marijuana (a large supply for your volume of business), and a 9mm handgun.  These are infractions of the AG’s guidelines.  We expect them to be corrected.  Reply within 30 days to explain the corrective actions you have taken.  Delay will result in monetary fines and may result in closure.
* Stony Brook Collective: On Friday, our inspector observed inaccurate receipts for marijuana sold to patients (and sometimes the patient’s name missing), and the inspectorsaw an employee pass a quantity of marijuana to a person through a back door.  These are infractions of the AG’s guidelines.  We expect them to be corrected.  Reply within 30 days to explain the corrective actions you have taken.  Delay will result in monetary fines and may result in closure.
That’s how it’s done.  And it doesn’t cost anything, because the clinics pay for their own monitoring (under our soon-to-be written rules and reactivated tax ordinance), which promotes strong levels of compliance.  Indeed, recognizing these clinics for what they are, rather than treating them as criminal enterprises, may create a few jobs, not to mention a little money for streets and schools.
The city of Vallejo and the Solano County District Attorney have decided on their own to consider business deficiencies crimes.  That’s overreach.  These clinic operators and their employees, who did nothing more than try to start a business, have been turned into criminals.  They now have arrest records that will stick with them for a lifetime.  And maybe convictions and jail time.  All this for starting a business offering a medicinal aid to sick people whose doctors recommend marijuana under a state law approved by the voters.

Appellate Ruling on Regulation.
The decision that put regulation on hold in Vallejo—but not arrests and criminal prosecutions—is Pack v. Superior Court of Los Angeles; City of Long Beach (2nd  Dist.) (2011) 56 Cal.App.4th1532.  The court in Pack says first that our state marijuana laws--the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA)--are not preempted by federal law.  This is because all they do is “decriminalize” medical marijuana; they don’t “authorize” it.  On the other hand, the Long Beach ordinance under consideration, by issuing “permits” to approved clinics, “authorized” clinics.  Therefore, Long Beach couldn’t regulate its clinics—not even limit their number--because any regulatory activity “authorizing” clinics had been preempted by federal law.  Packis under review by the California Supreme Court, with a decision expected before the end of the year.
What the court does in Pack is recognize that California has set up a special group (patients, caregivers, recommending-physicians, growers, and transporters), with special rules, and decriminalized their behavior.  In the real world this would mean clinics are authorized under California law, but the court avoids this conclusion.  It seems to me that if you tell an operator she won’t be prosecuted if she starts a clinic, she will probably hear that as an authorization to start a clinic.  In America if you’re not restrained by a law, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want.
So California, despite having set up a scheme for distributing marijuana to medical patients, even going so far as to prescribe in guidelines the form of business to use (collective or cooperative), does not conflict with federal law; clinics are fine under state law, according to this court, in the sense that they’re not preempted by federal; they are certainly “legal” in the sense that conducting clinic business is not criminal activity under state law and is not preempted by federal law; but don’t let a city try to regulate them or limit their number.  Surely the court couldn’t have intended this result.  We are faced with blossoming clinics, which are obviously authorized by the state.  Even though the state avoided for the most part saying “authorize,” it did everything short of that; it actually uses the word “authorize” in one statute, but the court said the state couldn’t have meant it.  But when the Long Beach regulation “authorizes” clinics by issuing a limited number of “permits,” to preventhaving a clinic on every corner, it crosses the line into federal territory.  This is the court’s conclusion.  It is one of those cases that follows a judicial ideology over the cliff.  The court makes a brilliant argument that produces a noxious result: Now we have clinics we can’t regulate (or at least cities can’t regulate them). 

The wild west.
It should be noted that the court had a pragmatic reason for saying that the California medical marijuana program is not preempted by federal law; if it had found the California program preempted by federal law, the stage would have been set for a confrontation between the two biggest players—California and the federal government.  Can the federal government tell California how to treat marijuana?  The federal government says marijuana has “no medicinal properties.”  California respectfully disagrees, not in a court decision or an act of the legislature, but in a state-wide vote.  It will take a bold U.S. Supreme Court to tell California it is wrong (on decision day, the Court might think about alerting the National Guard).  The court in Pack conveniently focused on the city’s regulation, saying the city had no authority to regulate because regulation was a direct affront to the federal scheme.

U.S. Attorney General Attacks. 
For some reason, President Obama has instructed the Attorney General of the United States to intimidate, threaten, and actually close down some of our clinics.  Thanks to Mr. President, everyone is afraid to participate in the medical marijuana program.  California law be damned, says Mr. President.  U.S. attorneys are threatening patients, caregivers, doctors, growers, transporters, processors, clinics, and any city official who has the temerity to regulate the clinics.  Talk about a witch hunt.  U.S. attorneys, on the orders of the President, are surveying the state to ensnare anyone who participates in this program authorized by the voters.  Vallejo council members can be charged with a federal crime for regulating medical marijuana clinics, incur thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and face the possibility of a conviction and jail time.  The chief’s campaign to rid the city of clinics is joined by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of California, the State of California Board of Equalization, the State of California Franchise Tax Board, the Solano County District Attorney Office, and the Solano County Narcotic Enforcement Team.  All this so marijuana clinics can be closed down.  One would think the President has more important concerns.

California voters have approved a medical marijuana program and the government and courts are trying to work it out, aside from the collapse of governments like Vallejo, resulting in default to the police.  The Vallejo government thinks the issue is too complicated to deal with (“what if we’re sued?), so the city manager turns it over to the police chief, an enthusiastic enforcer of the law (as he understands it).  Relying on the criminal law to address a social problem is misguided for a lot of reasons.
Californians don’t need the Attorney General of the United States and his minions telling us we’re wrong and threatening us with prosecution; we are not criminals.  Doesn’t the Attorney General have some federal problems to work on?  What about Wall Street thieves, immigration, illegal drug trafficking (which does not include our program; he should go down to the Mexican border if he wants to conduct a war on drugs), and more.  The President insults the entire State of California by insisting on his war against medical marijuana.  We do not need Big Brother.
It should be said that California’s program was not worked out very carefully in advance.  For example, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing chemo and radiation, with the attendant nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, and loss of energy, shouldn’t have to buy a book (Marijuana-for-Dummies), buy plants, raise them, cut them at the right time, and process her marijuana into cigarettes or food-products.  She should be able to go to a doctor, discuss marijuana, and get the doctor’s “recommendation” for marijuana if the doctor thinks it will help.  Then she should be able to go to a clinic and purchase marijuana, as a rolled cigarette or as a food product containing marijuana.  That means clinics have to be part of the program.  There has to be a chain from planting, watering, harvesting, transporting, processing (into cigarettes or food products), and selling. That structure is not obvious from the law.  The law needs clarifying.  Arizona is currently implementing a regulatory scheme the state hopes will avoid the laxness of the California law, and may serve as an example for California to follow.
Until the law is clarified, the President should concentrate on national and international matters (maybe national security leaks in his administration, jobs for the millions of unemployed folks, Afghanistan, the China Sea, or Pakistan), not our medical marijuana program.  Californians are quite capable of taking care of themselves.  Didn’t the President ever hear of states’ rights?  Talk about a lack of leadership.

2012-06-07 "Medical marijuana: Study raises questions about clinics' link to crime; Medical marijuana dispensaries may not be linked to an increase in crime, according to a new study by UCLA researchers" by Karen Kaplan for the "Booster Shots" blog from "Los Angeles Times"
Medical marijuana dispensaries would seem to be natural targets for criminals. According to a leading theory of criminology, pot dispensaries have several key attributes that put them at risk:
-- They sell a product (marijuana) that is attractive to criminals.
-- They usually operate on a cash-only basis (a cash stash also tends to attract would-be thieves).
-- The clients of marijuana clinics carry cash (in order to purchase their medicine).
-- Many clients are frail due to their medical conditions and may not be able to fight off attackers.
In Europe, "hash clubs" and other drug dispensaries have developed a reputation as being "a breeding ground for criminal networks," according to a new study by two UCLA researchers. And some recent headlines indicate that U.S. pot dispensaries may be on track to follow suit. A 2009 white paper from the California Police Chiefs Assn. made a pretty good case that they would:
"Marijuana dispensaries are commonly large money-making enterprises that will sell marijuana to most anyone. ... While the dispensaries will claim to receive only donations, no marijuana will change hands without an exchange of money. These operations have been tied to organized criminal gangs, foster large grow operations, and are often multi-million-dollar profit centers. Because they are repositories of valuable marijuana crops and large amounts of cash, several operators of dispensaries have been attacked and murdered by armed robbers both at their storefronts and homes, and such places have been regularly burglarized.”
The pair of researchers from UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs decided to see whether clinics in California (one of 17 states that has legalized medical marijuana, along with the District of Columbia) fit the European profile.
Nancy Kepple and Bridget Freisthler focused on Sacramento, where dispensaries operated for six years before local regulatory policies were put in place in 2010. The researchers mapped all 40 clinics in the city, figuring out whether they were in neighborhoods with many single-parent households, families living in poverty, vacant housing units, a high proportion of young men, easy access to a freeway on-ramp and other characteristics associated with crime.
Then they plugged in crime data from 2009 to see if there were any relationships between robberies, thefts and other acts of vice and the presence of drug dispensaries.
The models the researchers came up with confirmed that factors such as unemployment, commercial zoning and a high proportion of young adults were indeed associated with higher crime rates. But the number of marijuana clinics in a neighborhood had nothing to do with any of it, they found.
Writing up their results in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs [], however, the researchers didn't seem to be persuaded by their own results. They noted that one possibility is that "the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with neighborhood-level crime rates," but they also theorized that the relationship "is likely more complex" than could be measured with the available data.
To make a convincing case that pot dispensaries really don’t contribute to crime, the outlets would need to be tracked in more cities for a longer period of time, they wrote.

The following are extracts of the downloadable study. All the pertinent info is presented here as follows:
"Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries" by Nancy J. Kepple and Bridget Freisthler
Nancy J. Kepple, M.S.W. and Bridget Freisthler, PH.D are both of the Department of Social Welfare, University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, California.
Bridget Freisthler , PH.D is also of the Lewis Center Faculty Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, California
ABSTRACT. Objective: Routine activities theory purports that crime occurs in places with a suitable target, motivated offender, and lack of guardianship. Medical marijuana dispensaries may be places that satisfy these conditions, but this has not yet been studied. The current study examined whether the density of medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with crime. Method: An ecological, cross-sectional design was used to explore the spatial relationship between density of medical marijuana dispensaries and two types of crime rates (violent crime and property crime) in 95 census tracts in Sacramento, CA, during 2009. Spatial error regression methods were used to determine associations between crime rates and density of medical marijuana dispensaries, controlling for neighborhood characteristics associated with routine activities. Results: Violent and property crime rates were positively associated with percentage of commercially zoned areas, percentage of one-person households, and unemployment rate. Higher violent crime rates were associated with concentrated disadvantage. Property crime rates were positively associated with the percentage of population 15–24 years of age. Density of medical marijuana dispensaries was not associated with violent or property crime rates. Conclusions: Consistent with previous work, variables measuring routine activities at the ecological level were related to crime. There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results suggest that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 73, 523–530, 2012)
Method Study design  -
This study used an ecological, cross-sectional design  to explore the spatial relationship between the density of  medical marijuana dispensaries and crime rates in the City of  Sacramento. California recognized distribution of marijuana  through collectives in 2004; however, Sacramento did not  implement local regulatory policies until 2010. Thus, data  are from 2009, a period that represents the longest time for  growth before regulations of medical marijuana dispensaries  in Sacramento. The sample for the study included all census  tracts with centroids within Sacramento City boundaries (N  = 95). All data were aggregated to 2000 U.S. Census tract  boundaries. Census tracts approximate neighborhood areas  with regard to size and composition: (a) average population  is 4,000 residents, (b) boundaries align with visible features  of the environment, and (c) homogeneous with respect to  population characteristics and/or living conditions (U.S.  Census Bureau, Geography Division, 2008).
Measures -
The dependent variables in the study were violent crime  and property crime as measured by police crime incident  data obtained from the Sacramento Police Department.  Crime incidents were available by crime code and location  of incident. Data were recoded into violent crime and property crime categories and geocoded to greater than 99%. Violent crimes were recoded based on the Uniform Crime  Reporting defi nitions, which included homicide, sexual assault,  robbery, and aggravated assault. Sexual assaults were  excluded from the analysis because address information is confidential to protect the victim; those crimes were not able  to be geocoded. Property crimes also were recoded based on  the Uniform Crime Reporting definitions, which included  burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. For each type of crime category, the number of crime incidents  in a census tract was divided by the total population of the  tract and multiplied by 1,000 to create the associated crime  rate variable. Table 1 provides descriptive statistics for crime  rates per census tract. Because of the right-skewed distributions  of the dependent variables, violent crime rate and  property crime rate were transformed by a natural log. Table 2 provides zero-order correlations between the natural log  of each type of crime rate and each continuous independent  variable.
The locations of medical marijuana dispensaries were  determined by comparing multiple sources:
(a) Sacramento  City’s listing associated with Ordinance No. 2009-033, An Ordinance Establishing a Moratorium;
(b) news publications; 
(c) discussion boards on the Internet;
(d) trade publications; 
and (e) survey of dispensary owners/managers. 
Locations were verifi ed by having at least three sources  document that a dispensary was operating on or by June 16, 2009, which provided a midpoint estimate for locations opened during the year. All outlets were geocoded based  on point location to 100%. A total of 40 medical marijuana  dispensaries were located within 28 of the 95 census tracts  (29.5%) in Sacramento. The density of medical marijuana  dispensaries was measured by the number of dispensaries  per roadway mile in a census tract; this measure was scaled  to density per 10 roadway miles. The aggregation to census  tracts provided the best variability of density for the smallest  areal unit that approximates a neighborhood area. The number of dispensaries ranged from 0 to 3 outlets per tract  with density per tract ranging from 0 to 4.95 dispensaries per 10 roadway miles.
Figure 1 shows the location of medical  marijuana dispensaries mapped onto an unweighted gradient  of violent crime rates and property crime rates per 1,000 population by census tract. Those areas with the highest rate  of violent or property crime are not necessarily the areas with the greatest population.
Results -
Table 3 shows the results of the spatial error regression models for violent and property crime rates with the associated condition index, pseudo-R2, and model-fit statistics. Model I for violent crime rates indicated that medical marijuana dispensaries per 10 roadway miles were not significantly related to violent crime rates. When routine activity theory control variables were added in Model II, the density of medical marijuana dispensaries remained not significantly related to violent crime rates. Model II showed that violent crime rates had a significant positive association with percentage of one-person households, unemployment rate, and percentage of commercial zoning when controlling for other variables. As expected, lower population density was associated with higher levels of violent crime. In addition, lower levels of index of concentration at the extremes (or higher levels of concentrated disadvantage) were significantly associated with higher violent crime rates. For property crime rates, Model I indicated that medical marijuana dispensaries per 10 roadway miles were not significantly related to property crime rates. In Model II,  the density of medical marijuana dispensaries remained not  statistically significant when routine activity control variables were added to the model. Model II showed a significant positive  association with percentage of population ages 15–24  years, percentage of one-person households, unemployment  rate, and percentage of commercial zoning when controlling  for other variables.

2012-05-16 "A Judge’s Plea for Pot" by Gustin L. Reichbach from "New York Times"

Gustin L. Reichbach is a justice of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

THREE and a half years ago, on my 62nd birthday, doctors discovered a mass on my pancreas. It turned out to be Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I was told I would be dead in four to six months. Today I am in that rare coterie of people who have survived this long with the disease. But I did not foresee that after having dedicated myself for 40 years to a life of the law, including more than two decades as a New York State judge, my quest for ameliorative and palliative care would lead me to marijuana.
 My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery. For about a year, my cancer disappeared, only to return. About a month ago, I started a new and even more debilitating course of treatment. Every other week, after receiving an IV booster of chemotherapy drugs that takes three hours, I wear a pump that slowly injects more of the drugs over the next 48 hours.
Nausea and pain are constant companions. One struggles to eat enough to stave off the dramatic weight loss that is part of this disease. Eating, one of the great pleasures of life, has now become a daily battle, with each forkful a small victory. Every drug prescribed to treat one problem leads to one or two more drugs to offset its side effects. Pain medication leads to loss of appetite and constipation. Anti-nausea medication raises glucose levels, a serious problem for me with my pancreas so compromised. Sleep, which might bring respite from the miseries of the day, becomes increasingly elusive.
 Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless. Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep.
 This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.
 Sixteen states already permit the legitimate clinical use of marijuana, including our neighbor New Jersey, and Connecticut is on the cusp of becoming No. 17. The New York State Legislature is now debating a bill to recognize marijuana as an effective and legitimate medicinal substance and establish a lawful framework for its use. The Assembly has passed such bills before, but they went nowhere in the State Senate. This year I hope that the outcome will be different. Cancer is a nonpartisan disease, so ubiquitous that it’s impossible to imagine that there are legislators whose families have not also been touched by this scourge. It is to help all who have been affected by cancer, and those who will come after, that I now speak.
 Given my position as a sitting judge still hearing cases, well-meaning friends question the wisdom of my coming out on this issue. But I recognize that fellow cancer sufferers may be unable, for a host of reasons, to give voice to our plight. It is another heartbreaking aporia in the world of cancer that the one drug that gives relief without deleterious side effects remains classified as a narcotic with no medicinal value.
 Because criminalizing an effective medical technique affects the fair administration of justice, I feel obliged to speak out as both a judge and a cancer patient suffering with a fatal disease. I implore the governor and the Legislature of New York, always considered a leader among states, to join the forward and humane thinking of 16 other states and pass the medical marijuana bill this year. Medical science has not yet found a cure, but it is barbaric to deny us access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering.

2012-05-09 "Medical marijuana regulation plans squashed by city of Vallejo" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Even the threat of potential federal criminal prosecution did not stop several Vallejo City Council members from advocating efforts to begin regulating the city's medical marijuana industry.
The council, however, in a discussion similar to several on the issue in recent months, stopped short Tuesday night of pushing for instituting regulatory laws immediately.
Deputy City Attorney Alan Cohen reviewed potential legal issues facing the city in pursing its paused two-year-old plan to regulate medical marijuana.
The item was informational only, as several medical marijuana regulation-related cases are pending before the state Supreme Court.
"The state of the law is just so unsure right now that there's almost nothing the city can do ... without significantly exposing itself to litigation ..." said Cohen. He added that he had discovered a "shocking" footnote that lawmakers setting medical marijuana regulations could open themselves to criminal prosecution.
Resident Morgan Hannigan said the City Attorney's report to the council was  "dealing with the same issues of cowardice" of previous reports and criticized the city for being "so litigation-averse."
Another dispensary operator estimated that there are only three or four dispensaries left operating in the city, following a series of recent police raids. Six raids have been held against five dispensaries since Feb. 21, the most recent last Friday.
Councilwoman Marti Brown said she shared the frustration of several pro-regulation supporters concerning lack of clarity on the issue and suggested they speak to state legislators. The council's "hands are clearly tied, " Brown said, adding that the city is short on both staffing and fiscal resources, in the wake of its recent emergence from bankruptcy court.
 When Councilmembers Erin Hannigan and Bob Sampayan asked if the city could impose minimal dispensary operation hours and locations in the city, they were warned against doing so. Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes suggested the city should begin investigating regulations while the court cases are pending, so they may be immediately rolled out if the green light is given.

2012-05-10 "Your City Council Report for May 8, 2012" by Marc Garman[]
Consent Calendar -
Item 7D, Participatory Budgeting pulled.
Gary Smith spoke about his misgivings with this process. “I have been opposing this Participatory Budgeting idea since the beginning,” he announced adding that the idea is from “socialist South America.”
Councilmember Sunga is also not a fan of Participatory Budgeting. He feels it is “something not intended in connection with measure B,” monies.
Consent Calendar approved with councilmembers Davis, Hannigan and Sunga voting NO. They don't like Participatory Budgeting.
9A Legal Update on regulation of Medical Marijuana Establishments -
Assistant City Attorney Alan M. Cohen provided legal insight and advice from the City's perspective on the issue of Medical Marijuana establishments in Vallejo, the ongoing raids and the, “confused and unusual state of the law,” on this issue.
In short, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the handling of Medical Marijuana Establishments in Vallejo and California. Questions surrounding the extent to which local authorities are compelled to act on Federal Law, how far they can or should go and whether things will change in the next few months due to several cases working their way towards the California Supreme Court...most notably Pack v. Superior Court. The Pack case, out of Long Beach considers the extent to which cities can regulate MMD's.
In light of Pack, most cities have put MMD regulation schemes on hold. The fear is that by engaging in regulation now, cities might overstep, understep or sidestep a pending decision and have to reverse themselves as well as open up the possibility of “exposure to litigation,” as Assistant City Attorney Cohen explained.
“We would expect the Supreme Court would issue a ruling within the next six to eight months,” said Cohen, adding “If Pack was upheld....the permit scheme would be in violation of federal law; however, everyone who has a permit could claim they would be deprived of a vested right.”
So, it seems that the City is in a damned if you do, damned if you don't predicament at this point. The only legal position that seems unclouded to them is to move forward with action against any establishments deemed not in compliance with the law as it now stands. Raids.
Cohen and Deputy City Attorney John Nagel have provided a letter on the topic which is available in the staff reports for this meeting HERE Scroll WAAAAY down. It's near the end and explains the position of the City and points of law in very clear terms.
Public Comment on 9A –
Point of order -
Upon the opening of public comment, Mayor Osby Davis stated, “We've heard from most of you before on this issue.” noting a number of familiar faces in the audience, the mayor proceeded to limit public comment to two minutes per person rather than the five normally allocated.
While the Mayor does have the latitude to limit the length of comment, and there were a number of familiar faces, one would hope that Osby did not base his move on his obvious personal dislike of marijuana, marijuana collectives and marijuana smokers. On other occasions...Osby has done to little to limit the length of comment even at extremely late, past midnight butt-numbing sessions (this wasn't one). As a lawyer, one would hope that Mayor Davis holds the importance of the even application of laws and even procedural rules without bias in high regard especially in context of the First Ammendment.
And, yes many of the commenters have spoken before:
MMD collective owner Mike Tomatta thanked the city for allowing him to pay the 10% sales tax on cannabis, adding that he has been in Vallejo over 30 years and is hopefully “not going anywhere.”
Pro-cannabis lobbyist Max Del Rio disagrees that the city's hands are tied on a number of issues regarding MMD's, and cautioned that the raids will drive the cannnabis business into the hands of the “black market and cartels.”
Disabled veteran Robert Lunch displayed all the prescription medications he now has to take to “get through his day” now that he no longer has access to medical cannabis.
Jorge Espinoza, whose collective Better Health Group has been raided twice brought up the loss of “50 direct jobs, and at least 100 indirect jobs,” due to the raids and closures of cannabis businesses in Vallejo. He also feels that the city is enforcing zoning laws with the police department, which does not make sense.
Morgan Hannigan cautioned that Vallejo will likely “have to pay for product,” either damaged or destroyed during raids, and accused the city of “cowardice” for being “so litigation averse.”
Collective owner Daniel H2C indicated that, “You no longer have a mass amount of clubs. Maybe 3,” remaining open in Vallejo.
Council Comment -
Vice Mayor Hannigan noted that we likely have more Cash 4 Gold establishments in Vallejo than MMD's in Vallejo if comments by H2C are accurate. She engaged in a back and forth with attorney Cohen who opined that the Pack case was not likely to stand and that the best course of action for the City still is to “wait and see.”
When someone in the audience yelled “We're running out of medication!” Mayor Davis demanded that they “Be quiet!” Not a happy camper.
In response to VM Hannigan's probing on the risks of exploring a ministerial framework for MMD regulation, attorney Nagel stated, “Every option we have in terms of regulation carries some risk.”
Councilmember McConnell asked staff to see if The California League of Cities is filing an Amicus Brief with the State Supreme Court, and concluded that the “only reasonably prudent course of action here is to wait, even if we don't like it,” and suggested that we could research the regulatory framework being used by other states, such as Connecticut, where MMD's are legal in the meantime.
Councilmember Brown asked attorney Cohen if the Compassionate Use Act could be overturned? Cohen responded that it would not happen in the Pack case at least, and acknowledged the “frustrating situation,” parties on all sides of this issue find themselves in.
Brown suggested that rather than letting the State Supreme Court act as de-facto legislators on this issue, cannabis activists should consider seeking legislative action by contacting their state senators and assembly people and pursuing change in that way.
Councilmember Gomes acknowledged the frustrating situation and reminded all that “Measure C was a mandate from voters to collect tax from MMD's. Not to regulate.” She added that the actions by the PD is, “not zoning. It's about illegal acts.”
Attorney Cohen agrees adding, “The tax has nothing to do with criminal enforcement, just evidence that you pay tax.” He continued to cite the federal machine gun tax as asimilar example. Apparently, you still have to pay tax for your illegal assault weapons. They may not get you for that UZI...but the tax evasion charges will sink you!
8A HOME Program Allocations and CDBG Funds -
Funds from CDBG Community Development Block Grants and HOME Grants, both federal grant programs from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) are being allocated for use in South Vallejo. These funds can be used to help people with lower incomes purchase homes (HOME) and for overall improvements to infrastructure etc. (CDBG).
Numerous speakers from South Vallejo thanked the City for allocating funds to their neighborhood. Alexis-Bush Harris thanked the City for helping to “change the stigma of South Vallejo,”
City Manager Dan Keen urged the public to participate in the new e-government program now offered on the City's website.
And that's about all folks.

2012-05-08 "Former Vallejo would-be councilman directed to restart recall effort" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald"

Former Vallejo City Council hopeful Sam Kurshan has had a new setback in launching a recall effort against two sitting council women.
In a letter dated last week, City Clerk Dawn Abrahamson alerted Kurshan that he had not followed proper administrative procedures in either of his petitions, one each against Marti Brown and Stephanie Gomes.
Kurshan's published notices of his intention to seek Brown's and Gomes' recall apparently showed discrepancies with a similar notice filed with the Clerk's office, according to Abrahamson. Signers' addresses changed and at least one signature was missing, she said.
Abrahamson earlier rejected Kurshan's first notice of intention to launch a recall, because he obtained only half the initially needed 20 signatures.
This time, it is unclear if Kurshan, who has indicated he is part of a larger recall effort group, will make a third try. Abrahamson said Monday that she had not yet received new notice from Kurshan, a week after he was notified.
If Kurshan restarts and completes the pre-recall petition notification process, he would have 160 days to collect needed signatures.
If a recall election coincides with the November presidential election, the effort's cost to the city would cost Vallejo about $220,000, according to information from the Solano County Registrar of Voters. If a special election is held, costs would rise to about $824,000.
Kurshan declined to comment when contacted Monday.

Northbay Uprising note: Sam Kurshan is not only against Human Rights, he appears to be using the derogatory term "Shyster" normally used as an insult in relation to Jews. Strange, no? Makes you wonder about the company this mensch (man) seeks...

Sam Kurshan also has a hyper-violent tendency to "Freak out" when his mental disability asserts itself, usually when somebody is standing up to his bully-boy tactics:2012-05-12 "VIB Joins Councilmembers for Service"
Today Councilmembers Stephanie Gomes and Marti Brown served recall proponent Sam Kurshan with their reply to the letter of intent served by Kurshan. The reaction on the part of Kurshan that followed included squealing tires, running a stop sign, and nearly mowing down Councilmember Brown. Several other proponents were also served without pedestrian risk or hazard to small animals.
Pardon the shaky video. I had to step lively!
The following cartoon points out how Sam Kurshan is actually a "cat's paw" for certain land-barons in Vallejo (like Buck Kamphausen, perhaps shown here in the cowboy hat) who are using any bit of their political influence to make money while Vallejo is Burning:
2012-05-20 "The Sunday Funny: Sammy Gets Schooled Pulp Friction Style"

The Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Dr. Fiddlesticks or any editorial contributor are not necessarily those of The Vallejo Independent Bulletin, it's successors, assigns, associates, minions, fan club, purveyors or members of the VIB Ghost Army.

2012-05-07 "Vallejo Police: Hundreds of items, including 18 pounds of pot, seized in recent raid" from "Vallejo Times-Herald"

Vallejo police confiscated about 18 pounds of marijuana and hundreds of other marijuana items from Natures Love, a marijuana dispensary raided Friday, it was disclosed Monday.
The items taken were: 17.7 pounds of dried processed marijuana, 13 mature marijuana plants, 27 concentrated cannabis items, and 529 marijuana-laced food items.
Police raided Natures Love, located in the 300 block of Tennessee Street, Friday mid-afternoon, and arrested operator Marc Hewitt, 58, of Vallejo.
Hewitt was booked into Solano County jail on suspicion of selling marijuana, but has been bonded out as of Monday.
Before Friday's raid, there had been five others at four dispensaries around the city, starting Feb. 21. Better Health Group on Sonoma Boulevard was raided twice.
Jim Davis, graduate of Muskingum College (New Concord, Ohio) and Ohio State College of Law:
When someone is not running their business "legally," as Mr. Smalley says, they get notices asking for compliance, with fines for repeated noncompliance, all of which can ultimately lead to closure. We don't break into the business with cops and guns, put a padlock on its door, and arrest everyone inside. We don't even have regulations for these businesses; we pretend they are illegal. Why is it so hard for people to understand that this is NOT a crime; it is people trying to earn a living. And the People of California have said it's not a crime. Obama's opinion is of no moment. He won't be able to run his attack dogs (U.S. Attorneys) very long. The public has very little tolerance for using scarce resources for victimless crimes. We have enough real crimes. Love, Jim Davis

2012-05-06 "Raid on Nature's Love Marijuana Collective" video
5/6/12 -- Here is footage from Friday's raid of Nature's Love Marijuana Collective at 308 Tennessee St. Includes commentary from Matt Shotwell of Greenwell MMD. This is the fifth collective raided in Vallejo so far. Collective owner Marc Hewitt was arrested and a steady flow of clients drove by and kept going when they realized the raid was on. Took place at around 4:30 PM.

2012-05-06 "Vallejo Council urged to avoid setting pot dispensary regulations" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
The City Attorney's office, in a report to the Vallejo City Council released last week, delved into how the city could regulate its medical marijuana dispensaries -- and if it should.
The staff report, aimed at Tuesday night's council meeting, comes within days of a letter mailed to dispensary operators in an effort to clarify the city's stance on the controversial industry.
 City staff strongly recommends a status-quo approach -- doing nothing administratively, due to several medical marijuana cases pending before the state Supreme Court. Decisions in those cases are expected in six to eight months, the report said.
"The most defensible regulatory scheme would consist of 'ministerial' restrictions that limit how and where dispensaries can operate, but that do not affirmatively authorize the operation of a dispensary," the report states of potential regulations.
No formal vote or decision is expected of the council on the issue.
In its letter to city dispensaries, dated May 1, the city reminded operators that a voter-approved 10 percent tax on medical marijuana in no way protects or exempts the businesses from criminal prosecution. The letter also reminds dispensary operators that it most follow all state laws, and be operating their dispensaries as a collective or cooperative, or they "should expect to be the subject of further enforcement actions by law enforcement agencies." Five dispensaries -- one on two occasions -- have been raided by Vallejo police since Feb. 21, including one Friday afternoon.
In other meeting issues, the council also is set to consider approving the coming year's federal grant allocations. Cutbacks from the annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME funds will mean less money for city efforts like code enforcement in targeted neighborhoods, nonprofit grants and sidewalk curb ramp construction.
[ ... ]
John Dougherty from Vallejo, California
The raids started when Daniel Keen took over the city managers position. One of his first memos to the council was to tell them to set aside the will of the people with regards to Measure C and to continue the police raids on the dispensaries, which is exactly what has happened. Daniel Keen, an opponant to Medical Marijuana since before he was city manager of Concord is using his position in Vallejo to promote his personal political agenda ... and the weak city council members are letting him do it! The court case they keep refering to (Pack vs City of Long Beach) has been settled. Anyone thinking that the Supreme Court is going to over rule two appelate courts is smoking something stronger then cannabis.
Morgan Hannigan from Vallejo, California
The worst part is, it's going to cost the City, not the Chief. Council knows there isn't much risk of litigation, but there is precedent set that confiscated legal medicine is to be returned in comparable quality, or to be paid for. At the value the police issued for the pounds seized from LES ($9000/lb.), the City will stand to lose millions of dollars in returned product.

2012-04-27 "The real questions about medical marijuana in Vallejo" letter to the editor of the "Vallejo-Times Herald"
What was the point of the curious headline, "Vallejo marijuana tax brings in less than value of dispensary raid seizure"? Of course it does. When does a sales tax on a product ever generate greater revenue than the value of the product itself?
The more appropriate fiscal question the Times-Herald ought to be asking is: What is the cost to taxpayers of the VPD's recent dispensary raids? At a minimum, the forced closures alone have cost Vallejo tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue that would have otherwise been available to the city. In fact, if the merchandise seized by VPD in its most recent actions against the Life Enhancement Services facility had been brought to market, the sales of it alone would have produced an additional $13,500 for the city's coffers. That figure, of course, does not even take into account the tens of thousands of additional taxpayer dollars  VPD has spent in recent months investigating and executing these raids of taxpaying businesses.
Yet, despite the raids and voluntary closures of many of Vallejo's MMD's, the first month's implementation of the city's voter-approved sales tax generated some $44,000 in needed tax revenue. The real question is: Does that total even begin to offset the financial expenditures spent by VPD targeting many of these very same providers?
Paul Armentano

2012-03-12 "Cop Says Drug War Helps Gangs Thrive" uploded by "CopsSayLegalizeDrugs" to Youtube
David Bratzer, a police officer in British Columbia, Canada, says he has seen how marijuana prohibition and the failed "war on drugs" directly lead to the growth of organized crime and cause gruesome illegal market violence. David is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which anyone can join for free at []

Let us go over the following facts from the Greenwell raid:
* 2 Oakland DEA and 12 Vallejo Pigs. The DEA didn't ask for Vallejo PD Chief Nichelini's assistance. According to Nichelini, it was the other way around
* Vallejo PD tortured and abused an employee.
* Vallejo PD illegally robs a legitimate business.
* Already a street dealer was on the scene, and he said "This will make more people come to us!" More street dealers means more crime as they bring with them other vices, as opposed to Medicinal Cannabis dispensaries which provide only cannabis products which are taxed...
* Less downtown foot traffic of people who have the means to purchase medicine, usually people with a little extra money and time to frequent local restaurants...
* During 2011-04-20, three "under-cover" Vallejo officials went into Greenwell. They all had Medicinal Cannabis cards.

2012-03-23 "Vallejo's marijuana dispensaries: Let's move on to our bigger problems" editorial by an anonymous Law Enforcement man (ret.) published by "Vallejo Times-Herald"
 Emerging from Chapter 9 bankruptcy in an election year... Empty state coffers ... High foreclosure rates ... Unemployment stuck in double digits...
And in Vallejo, today's No. 1 issue ... Medical marijuana dispensaries.
More specifically, were owners of these questionably legal shops "set up" when police recently raided them? And, even more specifically, can the city legally collect a 10 percent tax on marijuana sales -- as voters say they should?
From bankruptcy to cannabis? Really?
Really. And, like many shoot-yourself-in-the-foot issues Vallejo often finds itself in, this one was avoidable.
The city needs money? Well, if we can't lick 'em, let's tax 'em. The two dozen or so are operating illegally anyway, and we don't have enough cops, so we might as well get something out of this.
Who knows, maybe the city someday will extend such logic to prostitution, car thefts, stores that sell liquor to minors, maybe even armed robbers.
It's a given that the lack of Vallejo police officers and lingering questions about the medical benefits of marijuana have provided political cover of sorts to Vallejo's dispensaries. Statewide, passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 gave even more.
Despite all that evolving public good will and realigned police priorities, dispensary owners have been far from being on safe legal ground. They should have recognized their precariousness, in much the same way drivers do when a CHP cruiser eases into the fast lane: Continue to speed because he can't catch everyone? Or slow down? You know the universal choice.
Like that CHP cruiser, Vallejo's dispensaries have gambled that there were too many for police to investigate them all, and that federal narcotics officers had bigger fish to fry. With such a divide-and-conquer strategy, it was no wonder that even more dispensaries opened with impunity.
Several dispensary owners sought to help legitimize themselves by backing Measure C, a self-taxing city law last November. But when voters approved Measure C, they apparently were not mindful of -- or chose to ignore -- several things:
* Current Vallejo zoning codes prohibit marijuana dispensaries.
* Federal law still trumps state law on sales of cannabis.
* And perhaps, most importantly, a state appellate court ruling four weeks before the election nullifying a Long Beach law that likely would resemble the types of dispensary regulations Vallejo officials want here.
The Long Beach case is on its way to the California Supreme Court. City Manager Dan Keen wisely cited that pending legal question as just one reason to suspend Vallejo's medical marijuana dispensary tax policies, or business tax measures.
Keen apparently saw the convoluted legal, law enforcement and -- yes, political -- train wreck the dispensary issue was heading for, and has counseled the council to apply the brakes. Although Keen doesn't suggest a specific course of action, there's little doubt from his 5-page memo that he feels the council should waste no more staff time or money until the state Supreme Court acts.
Keen also recognizes that short of a state Supreme Court ruling as well as a "more flexible approach" by the federal government toward enforcing medical marijuana sales, the issues surrounding dispensaries will likely remain an amorphous issue in Vallejo.
As for the three raided dispensaries -- based on Keen's report -- they allegedly were operating not only violating federal law, but also state and city ones as well. We'll not pass judgment here on their cases, but the three raids sent an unmistakable message to the remaining dispensaries that they could be next.
As far as the City Council members are concerned, Keen's not-so-subtle suggestion that they move on to problems over which they have control has a lot of merit. We suggest they listen.

2012-03-22 "What a Mess" by James D. Davis to the editor of "Vallejo Independent Bulletin" online journal
Dear Editor:
I have read the city manager’s update on marijuana clinics.  What a mess.
As the clinics proliferated, two tracks were taken: Civil and Criminal.  The civil track was expensive, as illustrated by closing down Stan the Man clinic, with an injunction (injunctions like this cost between $10,000 and $140,000, depending on how much opposition the city gets), and the council had not thought to provide for recovery of attorney fees in its civil ordinance, so there was no way to get the money back.  Closing down 15 clinics (now 24) with injunctions was going to be very expensive.
In the fall of last year, the council directed the city manager and staff to formulate an ordinance that controlled the clinics.  In November, the villagers overwhelmingly approved a measure calling for taxation of the clinics.  But while the staff was working on the ordinance to license and tax the clinics (and control their number), litigation in other parts of the state called into question the legitimacy of such a scheme.  The city manager, staff, and council decided to put the matter on hold until the California Supreme Court rules on several cases before it (maybe this year), involving how marijuana clinics are established, not whether they can be established.  The latter question would appear to be settled by the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (16 years ago).
The chief of police (Robert W. Nichelini) was not nearly as practical as the government.  He decided to continue closing down clinics with the full weight of his department’s law enforcement resources, notwithstanding the uncertainty of the law.  Oddly enough, the search warrants he obtained seem to be based on violations of California regulations, not violations of California law(Penal Code).  Violations of regulations do not typically end up in criminal court.  Some clinics had “excessive amounts” of marijuana, had large amounts of cash in the bank, sold some marijuana to non-members, as verified by “controlled purchases” (undercover police officers or their agents), and made some illegal building modifications.  For this, the clinic is closed down?  Businesses who violate regulations are typically told nicely to correct the violations; if they continue, the warnings get more severe.  Only after repeated refusal to follow regulations is the business closed down.
Despite the legal complexities involved in the operation and regulation of clinics, our police were directed by the chief to spread out all over the city, investigate the clinics, send in undercover officers posing as patients, maybe take videos of people going in and out, tap phones, check bank accounts, investigate internet use—the whole nine yards.  And they found violations (again, violations of regulations, not law),  Their comprehensive investigation turned up some business records showing retail sales (I suppose that’s different from retail sales to legitimate patients?), prohibited food products containing marijuana, cash concealed on the premises (don’t all businesses conceal their cash?), illegal growing activities, weapons stored on the premises (would you operate a business in Vallejo without a weapon?), and possession of other illegal drugs.  There is no discussion of how many clinics are violating the regulations; just that some are.  Does that justify an Elliott Ness war to close them all down?
The chief, who has a chum in the DEA, has also been working with not only the DEA, but with the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District, the Franchise Tax Board, the Solano County District Attorney, and the Solano County Narcotic Enforcement Team.  Imagine if the chief marshaled these magnificent resources to fight crime.
And while the city is concerned with the high cost of obtaining civil injunctions to close down clinics, there is no mention of the cost of police department investigations, surveillance, obtaining search warrants, making unannounced raids, arresting and prosecuting owners and patients, confiscating and auctioning off the owner’s property, taking possession of the buildings some luckless owners rented out to what they thought were legitimate businesses, etc.  If the chief closes them all down, we’ll have 24 new empty spaces.  Nice.  That should improve things.
The chief is running a rogue agency, backed up by the mayor and some council members.  No one is in control.  No one can tell the chief to stand down.  He continues with his Disneyland shtick, destroying lives and livelihoods, taking away sorely needed tax revenue, eliminating a source of relief for patients suffering pain, and getting his name in the paper.  Welcome to Vallejo.
It should be noted that the powerful police union (VPOA), the one that manhandles the council for more raises, has nothing to say about a nutty chief.  They just go along while the burglars, rapists, robbers, shooters, assaulters, murderers, and car thieves thrive.  Nice.

Anonymous observation: Can we see this letter? Also - where is the evidence of "sales to non-members?" According to previous Times Herald articles, the undercover officers sent into the dispensaries had recommendations from their doctors to consume cannabis legally, according to Prop 215 and SB 420.
2012-03-20 "Vallejo city manager acknowledges confusion over medical marijuana dispensary raids; Keen seeks City Council direction on collection of new tax" from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Ongoing confusion over their legality could put in limbo a new city tax on sales from more than 20 medical marijuana dispensaries, Vallejo's city manager said Tuesday.
Council members and the public last week publicly demanded an explanation for a recent Vallejo Police Department crackdown on purported illegal dispensary operations. Several raids occurred just before the city began collecting a 10 percent tax on marijuana sales this month.
Many dispensaries, estimated at 20 or more, have been operating in Vallejo for years. Three have been raided by police since Feb. 21, and their owners have been arrested.
In a five-page memo issued to the Vallejo City Council last Friday but not released publicly until Tuesday morning, City Manager Dan Keen acknowledged that the city may have sent mixed signals.
"Implementation of the tax ordinance at this point has the potential to exacerbate an already confusing situation..." Keen wrote, in part.
Keen added that the council may wish city staff members to reassess its options regarding the tax, which voters approved in November. Otherwise, the city would not be collecting tax on an unregulated activity that may face future police crackdown.
The memo also underlines the ongoing reference in past staff reports to city plans to accompany the dispensary tax with "vigorous prosecution of illegal medical marijuana operations."
In what they called a five- to six-month investigation, Vallejo police moved forward to arrest the owners of the three dispensaries for reasons including, according to the memo:
• Excessive amounts of marijuana at the dispensaries
• Large amounts of cash in bank accounts
• Sales to non-members
• City zoning and business regulation violations.

2012-03-11 "An Open Letter to Mayor Osby Davis" from "Keep Vallejo Green" Dear Honorable Mayor Davis,
 Why is it that something that was voted for, by the people, is being wrongfully subdued, and prosecuted, by you? Your board of Supervisors, all elected officials, proposed that they, the cannabis dispensaries, pay all the appropiate fees, registration, tax fees, and still they get hit with raids and closure. What gives? Did not the voters (citizens) approve this measure?
 What gives you the right to sick the chief of police on these clubs, when rampant crimes abound in Vallejo? Don't we have higher priorities in exsistence? It makes me sick to think that law abiding people, will be unable to get their appropiate medicines, and have to resort to illegal means, to do so.
 Another item I have a grievence about, is in which the way these raids are conducted. Automatic weapons drawn, balaclavaed agents, looking like terrorist, swooping into a peaceful establishment. Subjecting everyone there to "hit the floor", or
 "put your hands up". What if you were in your dentist office, having a proceedure done, and all of a sudden, police break in the door, demand you get on the floor, all because your dentist provides cocane, as a pain reliver, (all legally done through licensing, and permits), is that right?
 The facts are there, Mayor Davis, we cannot "win the war" on drugs, it was lost a long time ago. We have to look to the future, and what we can do to redirect this energy, and direction. Have not other countries solved alot of their problems by legalizing certain drug, and their use? We can learn from their mistakes, and make this situation better. I know that a society, strung out on drugs, is not where we want to be, but isn't there a better way we can accomplish this?
 I would hope that we here in Vallejo, could be a starting point in our state, in our nation, that we are here to progress, not digress. Let's set an example, and show that we can delegate a just solution to this problem, as proposed by the people!
 Lastly, Mayor Davis, I hope you will dedicate the rest of your term in office, to establish some new precidents, and lead Vallejo to a better place. I am already so saddned by the fact that we did not get the USS Iowa here. It would have been a great catalyst for tourism, and the turn-around for Mare Island. There are still ideas that could be instituted, ie; a flea marke that would rival any other in the bay area, a skating center that would provide recreation and a place for our youth to congregate. Plus I have ideas that would turn a small portion of Mare Island into the most dynamic homeless, rehabilitation center in the nation. Are you listening, Mayor Davis?

2012-03-11 "As crime explodes, Vallejo cops shut pot clubs" by Jesse Garnier
Vallejo police seem to have it out for their local medicinal marijuana dispensaries. This week, police raided their third club in three weeks, the latest assault in their private war on pot collectives in Vallejo.
Vallejo police said they are merely enforcing state laws that prohibit dispensaries from selling at a profit.
However, crime statistics suggest Vallejo police should concentrate on enforcing laws that prohibit murder and violent crime instead.
Preliminary crime data for the first half of 2011 shows violent crime in Vallejo shot up nearly 14 percent, with alarming jumps in murder and aggravated assault from the same period in 2010. 436 violent crimes and 2,495 property crimes were reported in the first six months 2011 in this city of 115,942.
Aggravated assault climbed a whopping 46 percent, with double-digit increases in rape, theft, vehicle theft and overall property crime.
Meanwhile, Red Dog Green Collective was the latest dispensary to be shuttered by police raids. On Friday, the club’s owners were arrested and about 20 pounds worth of pot were seized.
Red Dog had been closed for several days for a city inspection, but had promised via Twitter to be open this weekend. Seven customers were in the club at the time of the raid, Vallejo police told the Vallejo Times-Herald.
The club had first been closed in late February, and had changed ownership in an attempt to stay open, according to their Twitter feed. Friday’s raid appears to have occurred within hours of their re-opening.
Vallejo’s police force had been slashed in recent years along with other city services during its three-year bankruptcy. Even though the city emerged from bankruptcy in November, Vallejo’s police remain staffed at levels below that of similarly-sized cities.
All of the 20 or so storefront medicinal marijuana dispensaries remain under investigation by Vallejo police.
Vallejo’s rising crime rates
Population: 115,942
SOURCE: FBI Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January – June 2011 []
Crime / Jan-June 2010 / Jan-June 2011 / increase (decrease)
Violent crime / 383 / 436 / 14%
Murder 4 / 10 / 150%
Forcible rape 24 / 29 / 21%
Robbery 220 / 199 / (10%)
Agg Assault 135 / 198 / 46%
Prop Crime 2,249 / 2,495 / 11%
Burglary 1,068 / 1,163 / 9%
Larceny theft 737 / 829 / 13%
Motor vehicle theft 444 / 503 / 12%
Arson 22 / 18 / (18%)

2012-03-11 "Vallejo police raid pot club, arrest owners" by Lanz Christian BaƱes from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
 A third marijuana dispensary on Friday fell victim to the Vallejo Police Department's crackdown on the 20 or so storefront dispensaries in the city.
Vallejo police served a search warrant on the Red Dog Green Collective at 1952 Broadway at about 4:45 p.m. Friday, arresting owners Douglas Hernandez, 25, of Vallejo and David Garcia-Flores, 24, of Fairfield.
At the store, detectives found about 10 pounds of marijuana for sale, 10 pounds of pre-packaged marijuana cigarettes, an ounce of concentrated cannabis and about 260 pieces of pot-laced food, police said in a statement released Saturday.
Both Hernandez and Garcia-Flores were at the store with seven customers at the time of the operation, Vallejo Lt. Ken Weaver said.
Red Dog had apparently been closed for several days for a city inspection, promising its customers Thursday that "We will be open this weekend for our loyal patients," according to the dispensary's Twitter account.
This is the third Vallejo dispensary in as many weeks that has been raided by the Vallejo Police Department and other agencies.
The first raid was on Greenwell, owned by outspoken medical marijuana advocate Matt Shotwell. The Feb. 21 operation led to Shotwell's arrest and the closure of his club on Marin Street.
Shotwell pleaded not guilty to felony state drug charges. Last week, police seized hundreds of pot plants and marijuana-laced foods from the Better Health group and arrested owner Jorge Luis Espinoza, 24, of San Rafael. Espinoza also pleaded not guilty to felony state drug charges.
Police have said that all of Vallejo's storefront dispensaries are under investigation.
The crackdown comes at a time when Vallejo pot dispensaries are set to begin paying a voter-approved tax that includes a $500 base fee and 10 percent of their revenue.
City officials have denied that the crackdown displays an inconsistency in policy, since it is part of a three-pronged plan: Tax, regulate and enforce. No part of Vallejo is zoned to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to exist in the city, making all of them illegal.
The "regulation" part of the plan has been stalled.
For their part, Vallejo police said they are enforcing state laws prohibiting medical marijuana from being sold at a profit. Federal law bans the sale of marijuana, including medical marijuana, and California's legalization of medical marijuana in 1996 created several murky legal areas.

2012-03-10 "Vallejo police raid third marijuana dispensary in ongoing crackdown" from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
 A third Vallejo marijuana dispensary raid in recent weeks led to the arrest of two people and the seizure of various cannabis products, police said Saturday.
Lt. Ken Weaver said that the Red Dog Green Collective in the 1900 block of Broadway Street was searched Friday night and owners David Garcia-Flores, 24 of Fairfield and Douglas Hernandez, 25, of Vallejo were arrested. They were booked for possession for sale of marijuana, sales of marijuana and opening or maintaining of an unlawful place.
Seized in the raid were approximately 10 pounds of processed marijuana for sale, 10 pounds of pre-packaged marijuana cigarettes, 1 ounce of concentrated cannabis and approximately 260 marijuana laced edible products, Weaver said.
The raid was the third involving a Vallejo medical marijuana collective since Feb. 21 when the Greenwell Collective was shut down and its owner, Matt Shotwell, was arrested. That raid yielded a total of 800 marijuana plants at different locations.
Police say the crackdown is part of an ongoing move against local dispensaries. They come at a time when the city was about to begin collecting a 10 percent tax on dispensary sales that voters approved in November.
Police ask anyone with information on this case or other illegal store-front dispensaries operating in Vallejo to contact detectives of the Vallejo Police Departments Crime Suppression Unit at 1-800-488-9383.

2012-03-07 "Medical Marijuana Update" by Phillip Smith[]
[ ... ]
Also last Wednesday, Vallejo police arrested the operator of the Better Health Group in an ongoing crackdown on dispensaries []. Jorge Luis Espinoza, 24, of San Rafael, was arrested for possession for sales of marijuana, sales of marijuana and opening or maintaining an unlawful place. Vallejo police say there are 20 or more marijuana storefronts operating unlawfully in Vallejo. Late last month, Vallejo police and DEA served three search warrants on marijuana dispensaries in Vallejo and Benicia. Espinosa and another jailed dispensary operator, Matthew Shotwell, were released on bail two days later [].

2012-03-04 "Lack of Napa clinic ‘a major inconvenience’; Locals travel out of Napa County for medical marijuana" by Chantal Lovell
Filling a prescription for most Napans simply requires a trip to one of the city’s many drug- or grocery-store pharmacies.
But for one segment of Napa’s sick, getting needed medication requires a much greater effort.
Patients who use medical cannabis to treat their ailments say they have few local options when it comes to filling doctor-issued recommendations. Napa County has no authorized pot dispensaries.
Most said they drive an hour or more each or every other week to get their medication out of county. It’s a hassle they said they wouldn’t face if they chose traditional types of medication.
“Instead of it being convenient, we have to get in our cars and go all the way down to Vallejo — or farther,” said 59-year-old Bill Iverson, a Napa resident who has been in a wheelchair since he broke his neck in a car crash 12 years ago. He uses medical marijuana for pain management, he said.
“Some of the dispensaries are in bad parts of town and we’re disabled, we’re an easy mark for people. ... It’s not right that we have to go through all these hoops to get the medication,” Iverson said.
Iverson and other medical cannabis users have been trying to get city permission to open a marijuana dispensary in Napa. The City Council passed an ordinance in 2010 allowing at least one dispensary to open inside the city limits.
Over the following year, city staff sorted through dispensary applications, eventually choosing Harmony Patients’ Center of Napa, Inc. — Iverson’s group — as its tentative choice.
In the face of a court ruling that overturned another city’s marijuana ordinance that was similar to Napa’s law, the city put its pot plans on hold in October. In November, the council extended a moratorium on dispensaries to last through October 2012 to give staff time to sort through the legal questions surrounding the fact that California allows medicinal marijuana, while the federal government prohibits any use.
To date, none of the cities in Napa County allow dispensaries, so Napa patients who have permission to use the drug must travel elsewhere to buy it.
To avoid potentially dangerous situations, some Napa patients said they avoid Vallejo and acquire their marijuana even farther from the valley.
Tom Brown, a disabled veteran, started using medical cannabis five years ago, several years after he was honorably discharged from the Army after being injured when a 600-pound tent fell on him.
“My wife said maybe I should try this because nothing was working,” Brown said. “I went, ‘I don’t think so.’ I was still very much in the military mindset.”
Brown gave the idea a second thought and did some research before deciding to try marijuana. He has gone to several dispensaries in Vallejo and other nearby cities and settled on one in Sebastopol in Sonoma County.
“They’ve got a person on the outside who checks your I.D., a person on the inside who checks your I.D.,” he said. “The chairs are clean, the carpets are clean, people are dressed for business. ... It doesn’t smell like people are smoking marijuana in there because they’re not.”
The trip, which he makes about once a month, takes him about three hours round-trip, he said.
“The places in Vallejo are seedy; I don’t trust them,” he said, adding that he hasn’t visited all of the dispensaries in the city, but wasn’t impressed by the ones he has seen.
Steven Stratford, a veteran of the United States Air Force, said he uses marijuana to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder, something he also attends a support group for, while regularly seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist.
“I do take it for pain, it’s just emotional pain,” Stratford said.
Stratford, who lives in American Canyon, said he fills his prescription in Vallejo because it is close to his home. Stratford had to search for a legitimate dispensary that he is comfortable with and believes operates within California law.
“You have to go in and check it out,” he said. “If you walk in the door and the room is filled with marijuana smoke, it’s a fly-by- night kind of place.”
On Wednesday night, the Crime Suppression Unit of the Vallejo Police Department served a search warrant on a dispensary in that city, ultimately shutting it down and arresting the club’s operator, according to the Vallejo Times-Herald on Thursday.
“Some people use it properly, some people abuse it. You’re going to have that in everything,” Stratford said. “I’m glad they’re trying to do what they can to alleviate ones that are not legitimate.”
Tyler, a 21-year-old Napa resident who did not want to give his last name in fear he might lose his job, said he too searched for a quality dispensary. He goes to one in Santa Rosa about twice a month because the cannabis is tested and the dispensary seems to be operating above the fray, he said.
“It takes a good three or four hours out of my day, especially with traffic,” said Tyler, who explained he uses the medication for anxiety and insomnia.
Tyler, who lives with his parents, said he uses the drug for legitimate purposes and tries to be respectful in their home. Rather than smoking or eating the drug, Tyler said he usually takes it through a device called a vaporizer, which doesn’t let off smoke.
“(My parents) would rather me do this than take a bunch of prescriptions,” he said, referring to the cocktail of more-traditional prescription medications that gave him little relief.
“I was getting so loopy, I didn’t feel like myself,” Tyler said. “I was feeling like a zombie (on the traditional anxiety medications).”
None of the people who volunteered to be interviewed about their experiences with medical cannabis said they bought their supply on the street.
American Canyon resident Cheryl Batoon, 52, agreed that if traditional medications cause side effects, cannabis might be a reasonable alternative for some. She started taking the drug for the first time two years ago to alleviate severe, lifelong asthma.
“Cannabis is a miracle plant that I never really knew much about until I was 50 years old,” she said.
She tried the drug after she lost her job and health insurance and was no longer able to afford her asthma inhalers and medications, she said.
“To this day, I haven’t had an asthma attack and haven’t used any asthma inhalers or any medications,” she said.
She started smoking marijuana daily, but now needs it only every other day or a couple times a week, she said. She usually buys low-grade marijuana, setting her back about $40 a month, a bill that’s lower than the price of her former asthma medications.
Batoon said there can be a stigma that comes with marijuana use. “People seem to be fearful of the euphoric feeling you get with marijuana,” she said. But “you get that when you drink wine.”
Iverson said opinions of medical cannabis are changing, but he fears that some people will have to live through a horrible life experience before they approve of this approach.
He had a friend who was adamantly opposed to medical marijuana until his father fell ill with cancer. Then his friend was able to see its benefits, Iverson said.
Batoon said she’s not interested in getting high, only taking a minimal amount of the drug. Others joined her in trying to dispel the complaints of critics who see marijuana as a gateway drug or discount it as a legitimate medication.
“At one time, I was taking 11 different prescriptions. ... It’s hard on your liver and your body,” Iverson said. Now, while taking marijuana, Iverson takes only two or three traditional medications. “I constantly have pain,” he said. “(Marijuana) just makes it easier to live with. ... It made it easier for me to live in my own skin.”
FRIDAY MARCH 2, 2012 NAPA, CA - Mark Alley, a disabled veteran who uses medicinal cannabis for back pain, arthritis and to help sleep, holds up the normal dosage he smokes from a pipe. "The Federal government needs to change their outlook on marijuana," said Alley. "It helps people with a lot of different things." Jorgen Gulliksen/Register

2012-03-03 "In the courtroom; an update on Matt Shotwell and Greenwell Collective" by Hatfield McCoy
Just a quick review: On the morning of February 21, 2012 the Vallejo Police Department, in conjunction with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), Solano County Narcotics division and the California State Board of Equalization arrested the owner of the Greenwell Medical Marijuana Dispensary on Marin St. in downtown Vallejo. Up until that point Matt Shotwell had seemingly played by the rules. In fact, the Vallejo City Finance Director Deborah Lauchner admits that members of the Board of Equalization had visited the Vallejo Marijuana dispensaries as recently as last summer, and found nothing awry. And Shotwell was one of the first outspoken proponents of the tax measure recently voted in by Vallejo taxpayers to tax Marijuana dispensaries 10% on all sales. Nevertheless, Shotwell was arrested within a few short months of the Board of Equalization review of local facilities. Some suspect that this arrest is the result of behind the scenes influence by some city officials who, shall we say, have a personal family history with drugs. Nevertheless, Vallejo’s ‘finest’ proceeded to make a public example of Shotwell in a very graphic and forceful way.
After his initial arrest, Shotwell was told that his bail would be set at $65,000. Ten percent of that amount is required by law to be paid to the court in order to obtain tentative release “on your own recognizance”. Shotwell posted the necessary amount. He was then released and allowed to return to his Napa Street home in Vallejo. Three hours later, with a document described under the California Code section as 1275.1, the police once again showed up at Shotwell’s door only to arrest him a second time. Penal Code section 1275.1 states in part: “Deposit, pledge, or consideration (bail) shall not be accepted unless a judge finds that no portion of the pledge was feloniously obtained.” It further states: “Within 24 hours a prosecutor, peace officer or judge can file a declaration executed under penalty of perjury setting forth probable cause to believe that the source of consideration (bail) paid was feloniously obtained through an unlawful act.”
So here is the back story: Testimony during his bail hearing on March 2nd in the court room of the most affable of Solano county judges, Judge Allan P. Carter revealed some interesting facts. It seems that the police literally scrambled to the home of Judge Paul Beeman (a long-time Vallejo player) with the 1275.1 document. They asked him to sign it almost immediately after Shotwell was released. Paul Beeman signed sans hesitation. Not only did Judge Beeman sign it, but he increased Shotwell’s bail to $100,000 making it almost impossible for Shotwell to find the money for his release from the Solano County Jail yet a second time. And so, Matt Shotwell sat in a jail cell for the next ten days until his hearing last Friday morning, March 2nd.

2012-03-02 "In the courtroom"
Shotwell was brought into the courtroom in the typical horizontal stripe prison uniform; he was chained and tightly handcuffed. He appeared unkempt and stressed, making a few attempts to see who was in the court room in his support. Many of his supporters were in fact present. The female bailiff quickly cautioned him to keep his eyes forward at all times to which he dutifully complied. Shotwell has been assigned a public defender, an attorney named Sarah Johnson. Johnson argued that “Mr. Shotwell is not a flight risk, and that he would not attempt to flee the Vallejo community.” Johnson further stated that Matt Shotwell has been a contributing citizen and did not need further incarceration at this juncture. Interestingly enough, Judge Carter seemed visibly surprised that the police went to the trouble of going to Judge Beeman’s home for a signature, and he seemed even more surprised that Judge Beeman had raised Shotwell’s bail to $100,000. To further complicate matters, Ms. Johnson informed the judge that there was no arrest warrant given during the second arrest. She further stated that it was “clearly an improper bail increase.” Judge Carter then asked the Prosecutor what the maximum exposure would be for charges made against Shotwell. The answer was: Nine years. Shotwell is charged with drug possession, cultivation of drugs, sale of drugs and possession of a firearm. The judge then ordered that the 1275.l document be immediately released, and reduced Shotwell’s bail to $65.000.
Matthew Shotwell has many friends and supporters in the community. One of Shotwell’s friends, who prefers to remain unknown, is a tall, clean-cut and good looking athletic man who played rugby for four years with Shotwell at Vallejo’s Cal State Maritime Academy. He agreed to put $6500 on his personal credit card in order to bail Shotwell out of jail the second time. Further counted among Shotwell’s friends is his actress/model girlfriend. Shotwell and his lady met on a movie set in San Francisco in 2010. In addition to the raid on Greenwell Collective, the Vallejo police, along with some Benicia police raided his girlfriend’s home in Benicia. Although she prefers her name not be printed, she was willing to speak about the incident: “They took all of my computers, and personal information. I work as an actress and all of my contacts and information are in those computers. I pray I shall get them back. They basically took away my livelihood when they confiscated them. Matt has never lived with me, so I don’t know why they targeted me. But they entered my own private residence when I was not at home. My girlfriend was there to witness their behavior. They took many things which have absolutely nothing to do with Matt.” “All I know is that there were a lot of men and badges everywhere.”
Another one of Shotwell’s university friends gave his name freely. Ryan Finke had this to say: “ Matt is a really great guy, and is very generous. He is so kind and good to my mother. She suffers from a very rare disease called Erythromelalgia. Matt has a topical marijuana cream at his store which has been prescribed for my mother by her doctors. It has really helped her so much. Now that they have shut Greenwell down, it will be more difficult for her to obtain this cream. I think the bottom line is that Matt played by the rules, he followed local and state laws. He even gave a lot of money to various causes in this city (Vallejo). He encouraged the recent local tax against the Marijuana dispensaries. This grey area of the law has been ongoing for years, so why are they attacking him now, and why him first? He has helped so many people, it is truly unfortunate. I will do all that I can to help him.” Vallejo resident Rich Neville had this to say: “In reality the laws of Marijuana dispensaries are still unclear. There is so much grey area still. It seems to me that they should leave these dispensaries alone for now until the laws are sorted out. They are jumping the gun.”
Meanwhile, Judge Carter ordered that Matt Shotwell return to the Fairfield jail facility until such time that his friend could make bail. He then set the next hearing for April 19 at 10:00 in Department 12 of the Superior Court at the Vallejo courthouse on Tuolumne Street. “Hopefully you will be free in just a couple of hours,” Judge Carter said to Shotwell.

2012-03-03 "Judge OKs lower bail for owners of 2 Vallejo pot clinics" by Tony Burchyns from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
 Two Vallejo pot club operators accused of breaking state medical marijuana laws were allowed to post bail Friday.
Thirty-one-year-old Vallejo resident Matthew Shotwell, who operated Greenwell Cooperative on Marin Street, was expected to be released after a judge cut his bail from $100,000 to $65,000.
Despite Solano County Deputy District Attorney Courtney Anderson's objection, Superior Court Judge Alan Carter lowered bail to the minimum required by law after ruling that Shotwell was not a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Several of Shotwell's supporters stood and applauded as he was escorted from the Vallejo courtroom following the brief hearing Friday morning.
Hours later, Better Health Group operator Jorge Espinoza, 24, of San Rafael, pleaded not guilty in Superior Court Judge Alesia Jones' Fairfield courtroom to illegal state drug violations. Espinoza's bail was set at $35,000; he was expected to be released Friday evening pending resolution of a federal immigration hold.
Further information on Espinoza's immigration status was unavailable late Friday.
Both cases stem from an ongoing police investigation into the city's 20 or more unregulated storefront dispensaries. City officials have long said the businesses violate zoning laws and are a public nuisance.
Shotwell and Espinoza, however, have said their dispensaries were in compliance with state law. They've accused the city of using law enforcement to intimidate the businesses into leaving town.
Police officials, however, deny that charge. They say they are enforcing the law, which in their view prohibits any sale of marijuana, medical or otherwise. State law prohibits selling pot for profit, but how that ban applies to medical marijuana providers has been an unsettled legal question.
Shotwell was arrested Feb. 21 after a joint-agency raid on his two-year-old pot club. Federal drug enforcement and state tax agents participated in the operation.
Shotwell has been charged with multiple counts of marijuana possession, transportation and sale. Prosecutors also have filed a gun charge in connection with a licensed revolver found at the dispensary.
Espinoza was arrested Wednesday following a Vallejo police raid on his three-year-old medical marijuana collective.
Espinoza's defense attorney, Scot Candell of San Rafael, said he believes the raids are politically motivated by officials who want to "scare off" Vallejo's unregulated pot clubs.
Candell said he thinks the case against Espinoza will be dismissed because "no state laws were broken."
The district attorney's office has not elaborated on the cases. However, according to a police report provided by Candell, an undercover
Vallejo police officer became a member of Better Health Group after presenting a doctor's note for pot and valid ID. Candell said the club followed proper procedures in registering the officer, including double checking with the doctor's office to ensure the prescription was legitimate.
"The city tried suing one dispensary to get rid of them, but that was too expensive and took too much time," said Candell, alluding to a recently settled court battle that shut down the Stan the Man Collective. "They think going into a few of them with automatic weapons will scare the rest off."

2012-03-02 "Vallejo has second pot club shutdown" by Tony Burchyns from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
 A second Vallejo pot club has been shut down in what police now say is an ongoing crackdown on the city's 20 or more storefront dispensaries.
The Vallejo Police Department's Crime Suppression Unit served a search warrant Wednesday night at the Better Health Group on Sonoma Boulevard.
Detectives removed from the dispensary about 400 pot plants and 340 food products containing marijuana derivatives. Police also said they seized more than 30 pounds of "processed" marijuana and more than an ounce of hash.
Police also arrested one of the club's board members, 24-year-old Jorge Luis Espinoza, of San Rafael. He was booked on suspicion of possessing and selling pot and operating an unlawful place to sell marijuana, police said.
His attorney, Scot Candell of San Rafael, said Espinoza was scheduled to be arraigned today in Fairfield.
The police action followed last week's joint-agency raid on a prominent Marin Street dispensary. That club's operator was also arrested.
Both dispensaries were advocates of a voter-approved tax on cannabis clubs that goes into effect today. The tax measure was seen by many as a step toward legitimizing Vallejo's unregulated pot clubs.
City officials, meanwhile, have long said Vallejo's estimated two-dozen dispensaries, collectives and cooperatives violate zoning laws and create law enforcement headaches.
"We have 20-plus dispensaries in town," Vallejo police Lt. Ken Weaver said. "We're investigating all of them. It's in a random order."
Weaver said the five-month investigation stemmed from complaints from the community.
"We get complaints not just about these two dispensaries, but all of them," he said. "People are vocal. We listen to the community, we look into these calls."
Pot advocates, however, say the complaints are exaggerated and the raids are politically motivated.
"No one is going to be convicted ... because no state laws were broken," Candell said. "It's really political harassment. The city is misusing the police force to enforce a political preference."
City and police officials have denied that charge. Weaver said the police are not targeting vocal pot advocates, and that the state Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization are involved in all of the cases. The state agencies have not commented.
Federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana, but there are unresolved questions of state law in the areas of cultivation and distribution of doctor-recommended pot.
Distribution and sales for profit of marijuana -- medical or otherwise -- are criminal under state law, according to the attorney general's office. But there are significant unsettled legal questions about what it means for pot clubs to operate as non-profits.
The Solano County District Attorney's Office has not elaborated on the cases. However, Weaver said investigators focussed their attentions on marijuana "sales."
"From that standpoint, state law is clear," Weaver said. "You can't sell marijuana."
But others say the law's not cut and dry. Former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, the architect of the 2003 Medical Program Act that clarified the provisions of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, says lawmakers never intended to enact a prohibition on "making a profit" regarding cannabis distribution.
"It was certainly true that one side wanted to outlaw any profit-making, while the other side did not and would not," Vasconcellos said in a recent open letter about bringing more clarity to the law. "We catered to neither side on this issue."

2012-03-01 "Mixed views for Vallejo's marijuana tax" by Jessica A. York and Tony Burchyns from "Vallejo Times Herald"
 4/20. Mark it down.
This year the counterculture holiday is also Vallejo's deadline for cannabis-related businesses to start paying voter-approved local taxes.
Not that all medical marijuana gurus are feeling giddy. While some view the new 10 percent sales tax as a step toward legitimizing their currently unregulated enterprises, others view it as little more than a shakedown.
"If we're standing up for the city by paying the tax, the city needs to stand up for us," said one dispensary operator who asked to remain anonymous. "If we're operating completely within the state guidelines, than we should not be operating in fear of being shut down (for something foolish)."
The city already has gone through a civil court action to shut down one dispensary, and last week Vallejo police helped raid another and arrested its owner. On Wednesday, Vallejo police descended on a third dispensary on Sonoma Boulevard.
Details remain scarce, but police later confirmed that officers executed a search warrant at Better Health Group. Hundreds of pot plants and marijuana food products were seized. Police also arrested the club's 24-year-old owner, Jorge Espinoza, on suspicion of drug-related offenses.
As for the impending city tax, "It's a mixed bag," said San Rafael attorney Scot Candell, whose firm represents several medical marijuana businesses, including five in Vallejo. "On behalf of these collectives, it's a good thing to be able to contribute to the city where they live and do business. But the negative is that because it's a 10 percent tax (on top of the city's 8.3 percent sales tax) it's going to give the illegal marijuana provider a competitive advantage."
Daren MacGeorge, director of Green Ticket Bakery on Broadway, said he welcomes the tax.
"We're OK with it," said MacGeorge, who founded his baked goods collective less than a year ago after he started using edible physician-recommended marijuana products for leg injuries he said he suffered in a car accident.
"I think it will legitimize businesses that are playing by the rules," said MacGeorge. "I also hope (the revenue) benefits the city of Vallejo. The city needs it."
Just hours before law enforcement arrived Wednesday at his dispensary, Espinosa told the Times-Herald that the city was moving in the "right direction" by implementing the tax. Espinosa was a vocal Measure C supporter.
"I feel a little better now, to be honest with you, than any other time I have in the city," Espinosa said at the time of the pending tax launch.
Espinosa was not immediately available for further comment Wednesday night about the police action at his dispensary.
The measure passed with 76 percent voter approval in November. Openly backed by some dispensaries, it was advertised as a move toward limiting and regulating the city's roughly two-dozen medical marijuana dispensaries and/or collectives.
But that plan was put on hold in October -- after Measure C had been placed on the ballot -- when a state appeals court ruled such regulatory schemes are unlawful because cities may not authorize conduct that is illegal under federal law.
That appeals court decision, in a Long Beach dispensary case, has been stayed, however, pending a state Supreme Court review.
Meanwhile, the Vallejo City Council is moving forward today in implementing the tax at the highest possible rate OK'd by voters.
"It's far easier to reduce a tax (later) than to raise it," said Vallejo Councilman Robert McConnell during a recent council meeting.
Other council members say the city should use the tax money to sue problem dispensaries.
"It's clear we have a situation in this city that is out of control and we are trying to get a handle on it," Councilwoman Marti Brown, who supported Measure C, said at a recent meeting.
But some question the legality of taxing illegal businesses. The courts have struck down a number of state laws aimed at taxing illegal goods.
But city officials say those cases don't apply to Vallejo's tax.
"It's not an ideal situation," said Alan Cohen, a deputy Vallejo city attorney, adding that his resource-thin department has no immediate plans to sue any more dispensaries.
Making sure the illegal dispensaries pay will be the finance department's responsibility. Those not complying could face civil penalties and fines.
At the same time, marijuana businesses that do make their payments may be subject to unwelcome scrutiny, Vallejo Finance Director Deborah Lauchner said.
"We're not expecting that 25 (dispensaries) will remain once the tax starts," Lauchner said, citing the city's ability to audit the business' sales records and the cost of paying the tax. "I don't think it's going to be easy at all. It's not going to be routine for quite a while."
The tax at a glance:
* Starts today
* Applies to anyone "engaged in marijuana business"
* Does not legalize or permit marijuana businesses
* Revenues from planting, cultivating, harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, processing, preparing, storing, packaging and wholesale/retail sales
* Nonprofit organizations not exempted
* Charges 10 percent of gross receipts, with payments due monthly, 20 days after the end of each month (first bill due April 20)
* Additional annual $500 base tax (due twice in 2012 -- one payment for last year)
* Projected revenue: $360,000-$540,000 in 2012.

2012-03-01 "City May Not Impose Total Ban on Marijuana Dispensaries—C.A." by KENNETH OFGANG from "Metropolitan News Company"
A city may not impose a total ban on medical marijuana dispensaries that operate at cultivation sites, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.
“We conclude local governments may not prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries altogether, with the caveat that the Legislature authorized dispensaries only at sites where medical marijuana is ‘collectively or cooperatively . . . cultivate[d],’ “ Justice Richard Aranson wrote for Div. Three. “[Health and Safety Code] Section 11362.775 exempts qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers not only from criminal prosecution for authorized collective or cooperative activities, but also from nuisance abatement proceedings.”
Because the City of Lake Forest sought not merely to regulate, but to declare illegal, that which the Legislature says is permissible, the ban is preempted by state law, the justice said. And because Orange Superior Court Judge David Chaffee’s order shutting down the Evergreen Holistic Collective was based on the city’s preempted ordinance, reversal is required, Aronson explained.
In seeking to enjoin the collective, the city noted that it was located in the “commercial community district,” and that the Lake Forest Municipal Code specifies the activities that may take place there, which do not include medical marijuana distribution. The city also noted that outside that district, no commercial activities are allowed unless specifically approved by the city, and that medical marijuana distribution is not a permitted activity.
Since it is not permitted anywhere in the city, officials alleged in their complaint, it is a categorical public nuisance, even though a specific moratorium on dispensaries had expired. Chaffee agreed and issued the injunction.

Matter of Statewide Concern -
Aronson, however, writing for the Court of Appeal, said that by enacting the Medical Marijuana Program Act, of which Sec. 11362.775 is a part, the Legislature made medical marijuana distribution a matter of statewide concern, meaning that conflicting local ordinances are invalid. While a city may still use the nuisance abatement laws to prevent a dispensary from operating in an improper manner, the justice said, it may do not prevent it from operating at all.
“Instead, the City must show the dispensary did not grow its marijuana on-site or otherwise failed to comply with applicable state medical marijuana law or permissible local regulations,” the jurist wrote. “Put another way, the City’s purported per se nuisance bar against medical marijuana dispensaries directly contradicts the Legislature’s intent to shield collective or cooperative activity from nuisance abatement ‘solely on the basis’ that it involves distribution of medical marijuana authorized by section 11362.775, and because the Legislature has determined the issue is a matter of statewide concern, the City’s ban is preempted.”
The city’s argument that it was seeking to ban the dispensary not just because it existed, but because it was operating in violation of a per se zoning ban, was “specious,” the justice said. Nor can the city rely on its constitutional home rule powers, Aronson explained, because the Constitution bars cities from enacting laws that are “in conflict with general laws” of the state.

Last Year’s Amendment -
Nor, he went on to say, does last year’s MMPA amendment, allowing cities to “restrict the location and establishment of a….dispensary,” support the city’s position. The plain meaning of the word “restrict,” the justice said, shows that the Legislature did not intend to allow cities to “ban” or “prohibit” dispensaries within their borders, as long as the facilities are operated in the manner required by state law.
Aronson emphasized that the court was ruling only on Lake Forest’s complete ban, and was not considering whether the city could ban dispensaries from specified areas. And he noted that the Court of Appeal has upheld local measures requiring dispensaries to obtain business licenses, to follow local land use laws, and to pay local taxes, just like other businesses.
“We recognize our conclusions today may disappoint the parties in this case and the opposing sides in California’s ongoing debate concerning medical marijuana:  dispensaries because they may wish to operate independently of cultivation sites, and some cities and other local governments because they want to ban dispensaries altogether,” the justice wrote. “We emphasize that these are policy outcomes outside our power to reach or grant because we are constrained by the voters’ and the Legislature’s enactments. “
The case is City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective, G043909.

2012-03-01 "Cities Cannot Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in California; What the decisions in City of Lake Forrest v Evergreen Holistic Collective and The People v Colvin mean to the California Medical Marijuana Community" by Lisa Selan, Esq.
Within the past week two critically important medical marijuana cases were decided by two published Appellate District Courts in the State of California that will have an enormous impact on how cities regulate or refuse to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries within their municipalities.
The Lake Forrest case unequivocally decided that cities within the state of California cannot ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Lake Forrest has a de facto ban neither allowing nor prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries within its zoning provisions. The city declared that Evergreen Holistic Collective was a per se nuisance because medical marijuana dispensaries were not zoned within the cities borders. The trial court upheld the cities determination that operating a medical marijuana dispensary is a nuisance per se. The Appellate court reversed and remanded.
The Fourth Appellate District court determined the following:
1. California medical marijuana law is embodied in Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and SB420 (MMPA) which has been codified in the Health and Safety Code (11362 et. seq.) in 2003.
2. The CUA clearly encourages that the "federal and state governments implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana of marijuana" (italics added). The court interpreted "all patients in medical need" to mean that local ordinances cannot exclude their California patients from having access to medical marijuana within their all patients in medical need
3. The voter's intended to motivate state and federal governments to work together to provide medical marijuana accessibility, a policy concern much broader that local interests.
4. The Attorney General Guidelines anticipated that collective and cooperative distribution may include a storefront dispensary.
5. A person may participate in a lawful cooperative without any requirement that he or she personally must create the goods that stock the shelves of the cooperative. In other words a patient has no requirement to grow their own medicine.
6. The "home rule" doctrine does not allow a local ordinance to conflict with general state laws when the state law regulating the matter is of "statewide concern". The Appellate Court determined that California's medical marijuana law is of "statewide concern" and that local ordinances cannot ban collectives within their city.
7. The court acknowledges that cities can restrict the location and establishment of a medical marijuana cooperative, but it cannot outright ban them. But cities MUST consider the right of sick patients including those that cannot travel far having access to medical marijuana when they allow cooperative and collective projects in certain zones and not in others.
8. Finally, the Appellate Court decided (and I believe they were erroneous in this determination) that collective and cooperative cultivation meant "on-site" cultivation. (This was determined differently in the Colvin case which is discussed below).
In The People v William Frank Colvin, the Second Appellate District reversed the trial court's decision finding that Colvin who was transporting a pound of marijuana was not entitled to the defense of Health and Safety Code Section 11362.775 which allows the defense to specified classes of people, who " order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes." The court determined that transportation has nothing to do with the cultivation process, and the Appellate Court reversed.
The Second Appellate District court determined the following:
1. Colvin co-owns and operates two medical marijuana dispensaries (Hollywood Holistic 1 & 2) and to date has complied with all of the cities licensing requirements.
2. Holistic has 5,000 patients and has 14 members who grow both locally as well as in Humboldt. Holistic also has three on-site grow rooms. All marijuana that Holistic distributes is from its collective members/growers.
3. The intention of the CUA and MMPA is to "Enhance the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects." The Appellate Court determined that irrespective of the fact that some of the marijuana is grown off-site, since it is grown and distributed by a cooperative member and none of it is from an outside source, Colvin was entitled to immunity afforded by California law.
4. While the Attorney General tried to emphasize that the size of Colvin's collective looked like "a large-scale, wholesale-retail marijuana network" and that a collective "must entail some united action or participation of all those involved," the Appellate court said that NOTHING ON THE FACE OF THE STATUTE SUPPORTS THIS INTERPRETATION! (emphasis added)
5. The Second Appellate District court (similarly to the Fourth Appellate District court in Lake Forrest) discussed the interpretation of the what it means to "collectively or cooperative" cultivate medical marijuana. The court relied on the interpretation of other types of cooperatives such as consumer cooperatives and grocery cooperatives. It would be unfair to require members of a medical marijuana cooperative to participate in a different way than members of other cooperatives whose only participation might be to shop at the cooperative.
6. Pursuant to the Attorney General's Guidelines from 2008, "collectives and cooperatives may cultivate and transport marijuana in aggregate amounts tied to its membership numbers." And that nothing on the face of Health and Safety Code Section 11362.775 requires a specified number of members to be involved in the cultivation efforts.
7. Colvin clearly determined that "collective cultivation" does not imply "local" cultivation but only requires that all cultivation must be done by members of the collective or cooperative.
While clearly the Appellate courts in the Lake Forrest case and the Colvin case interpreted the terminology in SB 420 (MMPA) "collective cultivation projects" differently, the emphasis on "local" meaning "on-site" in Lake Forrest is a word interjected by the court that is not in the language of MMPA. In fact, the court in Colvin specifically acknowledges that the collective members grow on-site, in off-site grows as well as in Humboldt, yet that as long as all of the marijuana is obtained by members of the collective, the collective is meeting the "collective cultivation projects" definition.
So what does all of this mean? Cities CANNOT BAN! And irrespective of the different interpretations of what "collective cultivation projects" means, the court in Lake Forrest created an interpretation that is conflicted by the court in Colvin. By adding the word "local cultivation-sites" I do not believe that this is a correct interpretation of the MMPA. Imagine an agricultural cooperative that depends on its members (who grow on their own property) to now only be able to grow on one piece of land. This would require medical marijuana collectives or cooperatives to be treated differently that other cooperatives and collectives, something the court in Colvin said could not be done.

2012-02-26 "Bad move on marijuana clinic" letter by James D. Davis of Vallejo to the editor of the "Vallejo Times Herald"
 The raid on the Greenwell clinic downtown gives me deep feelings of disrespect for our police officers and Chief Nichelini. The news reports indicate it was him who called in the feds and the tax boys to join in his campaign to rid Vallejo of these insidious clinics (and to rid Vallejo of the tax dollars). These clowns can't even catch the store robbers, home burglars, shooters, rapists, and all the rest. But they busted a clinic.
Was it on TV? Did they use a battering ram, enter with automatic weapons drawn, bark orders, throw the patients and employees on the ground, handcuff them? Ah, the Vallejo police department -- top wages, top-notch performance. Like Hollywood -- a bunch of boys playing cops and robbers.
This was Vallejo's primo clinic, the best practices, no hangers-out on the sidewalk, no trash. Matt Shotwell, who operated the business, did it right. He invited me to tour the clinic a few years ago in preparation for a story I was writing. He was forthcoming about the business (prices, quantities, he even showed me the books), he showed me around the clinic explaining what they did, and showed me the procedures they had in place to make sure no kids got in and everyone had a medical marijuana card. All on the up and up.
And, very importantly, he told me he was trying to organize the clinics (at that time only 15, now 24), to encourage good business practices, and make the clinics contributing members of our town. So much for that.
Someone decided to close this shop down, put Matt in jail (and keep him there a few days until bail could be arranged), charge him with multiple crimes, assist the feds in taxing Matt and forfeiting all of his property -- house, cars, bank accounts, whatever, bringing forfeiture proceedings against the San Francisco owner of the building. Now the whole criminal process cranks up: Lawyers, judges, clerks, bailiffs, security guards, juries, appeals -- how much does this cost? What moron in our government decided to do this?
Matt said he was punked (he had worked with the police and supported the tax measure). We were all punked. The police have no idea what they have done to themselves.
They thought they were disrespected before? Good luck now.

2012-02-25 "Top city officials disagree over raid that shut down Vallejo pot dispensary" edited by Nathan Salant from "Solano County Buzz Examiner" using an article from Vallejo Times Herald"
Top city officials disagree over the propriety of this week's raid by federal, state and local authorities that shut down Vallejo's most prominent medical marijuana dispensary.
Mayor Osby Davis and City Councilwoman Erin Hannigan endorsed the raid, but Councilwoman Marti Brown said she was "annoyed" by the law enforcement tactic.
"The DEA and the state government should just stay out of things," Brown said, according to the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper.
At the time of the raid, the city was in the process of implementing a voter-approved tax on as many as 25 pot dispensaries believed to be operating in Vallejo.
The tax, which was scheduled to go into effect March 1, was expected to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for city programs.
Greenwell Cooperative operator Matt Shotwell was arrested in the raid and charged with drug trafficking and other felonies.
He pleaded innocent to all charges on Thursday, and is being held at Solano County Jail in Fairfield.
His two-year-old Greenwell dispensary had operated openly on Marin Street, a half-block off downtown's main street.
Davis said all marijuana dispensaries were operating illegally because city zoning laws did not allow such businesses.
"The council indicated a desire to deal with all of the illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in the city and every one of them is in fact illegal in light of the fact that there's no zoning that allows them in any part of the city," he told the newspaper.
Davis had opposed the dispensary tax measure that voters approved in November.
Hannigan told the newspaper that the raid was a warning to dispensaries that they were not above the law.
"I hope this is a message to MMDs (medical marijuana dispensaries) that you are not operating under the radar,"  she said.
"A hammer can come down on you at any time."
Medical marijuana cultivation and distribution was legalized under state law by voter approval of Proposition 215 in 1996, but federal law still prohibits even simple possession of the drug.

2012-02-25 "Mendocino Marijuana Truce Ended By Federal Warning"  by LISA LEFF from "Associated Press"
SAN FRANCISCO -- Residents of Mendocino County, the redwood and marijuana-rich territory in California's fabled Emerald Triangle, thought they had reached detente in the decades-old clash between pot growers and local law enforcement two years ago when the sheriff agreed to stop raiding medical cannabis producers who paid to have their crops inspected.
For a $1,500 fee and adherence to rules over water usage, odor control and distance from neighbors, marijuana farmers working for groups of patients could grow up to 99 plants on five acres of land. Numbered red zip ties had be affixed to each plant, confirming the county's seal of approval and giving a visiting deputy proof the pot was legally grown.
The one-of-a-kind program generated $663,230 for the sheriff's department – and prompted inquiries from other jurisdictions interested in creating their own.
But this month, the permitting system became the most striking casualty of the crackdown on medical marijuana cultivation and distribution by California's federal prosecutors. The board of supervisors ended the experiment after the U.S. attorney for Northern California threatened take the county to court for helping produce an illegal drug.
"We thought we had something that was working and was making our life easier so we could turn our attention to other pressing matters," Supervisor John McCowen said. "We were creating an above-ground regulatory framework that protected public safety and protected the environment. It was truly a landmark program."
After four-and-a-half months, the federal government's highly publicized offensive has reverberated unevenly throughout California. It has resulted in a near-total shutdown of storefront pot dispensaries in some cities that welcomed federal intervention. It has upset officials in pot-friendly places, who thought they had found the right formula for facilitating legal use. And it has created uncertainty in localities still struggling to curtail their pot outlets.
Medical pot is legal to varying degrees in 16 states and the District of Columbia. And officials in more than half of them have been told government workers implementing medical marijuana laws could face criminal charges.
But California, which in 1996 became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use, has come under special scrutiny. Its laws remain the nation's most liberal, allowing doctors to issue pot recommendations for almost any ailment and giving local authorities broad discretion, but little guidance, in how to implement them.
The state's laws stand in conflict with federal law, which holds marijuana is illegal substance with no recognized health benefits. And the current offensive is designed to make dispensaries and local government officials comply with it.
The primary tool the U.S. attorneys have used is threatening to seize the properties of landlords who knowingly leased farms or retail spaces to the commercial medical marijuana trade. But they also have filed criminal and civil charges against owners of nonprofit dispensaries they say were pocketing tons of money and furnishing pot to people who had no medical need for it. And in some cases, such as Mendocino's, they have warned government officials.
"These licensing schemes are inconsistent with federal law," Melinda Haag, Northern California's U.S. attorney, said in October. "We are simply reminding local officials the ordinances are illegal."
As part of the statewide crackdown, about 90 dispensaries in 19 Southern California cities were sent letters telling them to close or face possible criminal charges and fines. More than a dozen building owners where marijuana clinics were once located have been subjected to federal forfeiture lawsuits.
In Orange County, the city of Lake Forest had a dozen dispensaries operating a year ago. After officials sought help from federal prosecutors, only one pot shop remains.
In San Diego, the vast majority of the 180 or so pot shops whose landlords were sent warning letters have closed. And in unincorporated parts of Sacramento County, where the Board of Supervisors cited the federal crackdown when outlawing dispensaries, all 97 pot shops are gone.
"What the feds bring to the party is they can do things under their federal law that cities and counties and even the state of California cannot do," said Jeffrey Dunn, an attorney who has helped Lake Forest and other Southern California cities shutter dispensaries. "There are no disputes about medicinal use because it doesn't matter. If you are distributing marijuana, end of discussion."
Federal authorities have not yet weighed into Los Angeles, where city officials tried to limit the number of pot shops two years ago and are now considering a total ban.
City officials believe there still may be hundreds of shops doing business right now. "As of today, we don't know how many exist," said special assistant city attorney Jane Usher. "The last thing they are inclined to do is to tell us they are open."
Until Mendocino County officials bowed to pressure, the federal offensive was not very visible in pot-tolerant places either. In San Francisco, only five of the city's 26 dispensaries have closed, with federal prosecutors saying they were targeted because of their proximity to places such as schools and playgrounds. Only one of neighboring Marin County's six clinics closed, and Fairfax town officials appealed to keep it and its tax revenue.
Advocates and experts say Justice Department directives have sent mixed signals since the election of President Barack Obama _first saying that prosecutors would no longer pursue dispensaries following state law, then stating that cultivating, selling and distributing marijuana was still against the law.
The pressure by California's federal prosecutors came in response to the second directive and the unsuccessful efforts by local governments to keep dispensaries in check, said McGregor Scott, a former U.S. attorney in Sacramento.
"The perception by proponents of medical marijuana was that, if they... were complying with state law, the feds were going to leave them alone," Scott said. "I think what happened is, the administration realized they had made a mistake by taking the lid off."
Supporters of medical marijuana have questioned why the federal government is derailing attempts to create legal frameworks for getting pot to people authorized to use it.
"They claim they don't have any problem with individual medical marijuana patients accessing their medicine, but then go out of their way to prevent the creation of any kind of responsible system from being developed," said Stephen Gutwillig, the Drug Policy Alliance's director in California. "It's basically a form of sabre rattling."

2012-02-23 "Vallejo police enlisted federal help to close pot dispensary" edited by Nathan Salant from "Solano County Buzz Examiner" using an article from Vallejo Times Herald
Vallejo police sought federal help last summer to shut down one or more of the estimated 25 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Solano County's largest city.
Police Chief Robert Nichelini approached the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for assistance in shutting down the city's burgeoning marijuana trade, the Vallejo Times-Herald reported Thursday.
The information came to light Wednesday, one day after federal, state and local authorities abruptly raided and closed the Greenwell Collective on Marin Street, a half-block off downtown Vallejo's main street.

Vallejo police Lt. Ken Weaver told the newspaper that his department provided information to DEA officials about "a couple of clubs" operating in the city, including the two-year old Greenwell storefront.
Greenwell operator Matt Shotwell of Vallejo was the only person arrested in the raids, which included Shotwell's residence and possibly a growing operation in Napa that also was shut down the same day.
Weaver also said DEA officials made the final decision to raid Greenwell.
Shotwell was booked into Solano County Jail in Fairfield on a variety of marijuana possession and sale charges on Tuesday, was released after posting $100,000 bail on Wednesday but was rearrested later that day, the newspaper said.
Shotwell told the newspaper that the city "sold me out," and said he was "heartbroken" about his arrest.
In November, Vallejo voters overwhelmingly approved taxing the city's pot dispensaries in an initiative backed by Shotwell, the newspaper said.
Shotwell's attorney, Natalia Thurston of San Francisco, called Tuesday's raid "an intimidation tactic" because clubs that cultivate and sell medical marijuana are allowed under Prop. 215, the ballot initiative approved by California voters in 1996. 

2012-02-23 "Pot dispensary raid raises questions about timing" by Tony Burchyns and Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times Herald"
Months before Vallejo voters overwhelmingly approved taxing pot dispensaries as a first step toward regulating them, the police department set a chain of events in motion that would lead to a raid Tuesday of one of the city's most prominent clubs.
Vallejo police Lt. Ken Weaver said Wednesday that Chief Robert Nichelini reached out to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration late last summer for help in going after a local dispensary. Nichelini had deferred all comment to Weaver, calling him the "point of contact" in the case.
Weaver said the department provided information to the DEA about police calls in connection with "a couple of clubs," including the 2-year-old Greenwell Cooperative at 616 Marin St.
Greenwell's operator, Matt Shotwell, 31, was the only person arrested in Tuesday's joint-agency raid. Weaver said the DEA made the final choice of which club to target.
Shotwell told the Times-Herald on Wednesday that he was "heartbroken" over his arrest, and charged that the city "had sold me out."
Weaver did not say if other raids are planned. He also would not say why the DEA chose Greenwell. He denied, however, any connection between the timing of Tuesday's raid and the city's impending implementation of a voter-approved tax on pot club sales to help fund city services. Shotwell backed the measure.
Voters overwhelmingly passed Measure C in November. It was promoted in a ballot argument as "the first necessary step in taxing and regulating these
businesses." The argument was signed by council women Marti Brown and Stephanie Gomes and former councilwoman Joanne Schivley.
As for the raid's timing, Weaver said, "The investigation came to a point where we needed to get search warrants to look for further evidence of cultivation or sales of marijuana. We served the warrant and we found the evidence we were looking for."
That evidence included more than 800 marijuana plants at the dispensary and at an associated Napa Street grow house tied to Shotwell.
Shotwell was arrested on suspicion of cultivating, selling, possessing and operation of a location that supplies marijuana, police said. He founded the 9,000-member collective in January 2010.
Shotwell posted $100,000 bond early Wednesday, but police rearrested him hours later and returned to Solano County Jail. Weaver said a law enforcement clerical error had led to Shotwell being released without a hearing to determine if his bail money was clean.
That hearing will be held today in Solano County Superior Court, Shotwell's attorney Natalia E. Thurston said.
Solano County Deputy District Attorney Courtney Anderson said she is reviewing the investigative reports before deciding which charges to bring.
Thurston, meanwhile, said she is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit against the raiding agencies.
"I don't know if the city is aware of this but under California state law if you illegally raid a legal operation and seize and destroy cannabis ... the state can then become liable for the value of the cannabis seized," Thurston said. "So they are going to get their own summons in the mail."
Thurston said her first priority is the pending criminal charges.
 "In my view it is just an intimidation tactic they are using," Thurston said. "What (cannabis clubs) are doing is legal under state law."
District Attorney Don du Bain, however, disagrees. Two other cases are pending in Solano County Superior Court involving dispensaries charged with state drug felonies.
"State law on possession, cultivation and transportation (of marijuana) provides only a limited defense for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers," du Bain told the Times-Herald. "Medical marijuana can only be grown for personal use by patients, based on our interpretation of the court cases."
Vallejo recently secured a settlement agreement to permanently close one other dispensary, Stan the Man Collective, after earlier winning a temporary injunction.
While the state's rules for medical marijuana are evolving through the courts, federal law still classifies the possession and sale of marijuana as a serious offense.
In a Times-Herald interview before his second arrest Wednesday, Shotwell criticized the city for seemingly sending mixed messages about medical marijuana. The council majority, and voters, seem to favor moving toward taxation and pot club regulation, but elected officials also have devoted city resources to cracking down on dispensaries, which the city and the courts say violate zoning laws, he said.
Shotwell, who donated his attorney's services to help the three council members craft the Measure C ballot argument, expressed concern that policy makers and city officials are not on the same page.
"I am disappointed and I am heartbroken," Shotwell said during the interview at his now-closed dispensary. "I feel like my city sold me out."
As for the voters who passed the measure, "They all got punked, too," Shotwell said.
"The city is going against what the people want," added Shotwell, who vowed to fight the pending charges. "And history has shown ... that is not a sustainable model for staying in office."
At least one council member, Brown, has criticized the move against Greenwell. "I'm annoyed," Brown said after the raid. "The DEA and the state government should just stay out of things."
California Board of Equalization agents also assisted in the raid, but would not comment.
City officials and other council members disagree, saying the raid is consistent with the city's approach to the dispensary issue.
"The council indicated a desire to deal with all of the illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in the city and every one of them is in fact illegal in light of the fact that there's no zoning that allows them in any part of the city," Mayor Osby Davis said Wednesday. Davis opposed Measure C.
Acting City Manager Craig Whittom agreed, saying the raid is "consistent with the city's general objective to pursue criminal activity and it is not inconsistent with the city's approach to medical marijuana."
Asked how Greenwell's and other dispensaries' potential closures could affect tax collection, Whittom conceded that fewer dispensaries will likely mean less tax revenue. However, Whittom said he did not believe the city's five-year budget plan included any speculative revenue from the tax.
The measure requires all medical marijuana businesses to pay a $500 business license tax plus a monthly tax of up to 10 percent of gross receipts. City officials expect it to generate between $360,000 and $540,000 this year for services such as public safety, libraries, senior and youth programs and improving streets.
"The initiative that was passed by the voters did not specifically legalize dispensaries," Whittom said. "It simply said that if activity was occurring in the community, they should be taxed."
Councilwoman Erin Hannigan said she does not believe the law enforcement action runs contrary to city plans to begin taxing sales of Vallejo dispensaries starting March 1, nor stall plans to regulate dispensary operations.
"I hope this is a message to MMDs (medical marijuana dispensaries) that you are not operating under the radar," Hannigan said. "A hammer can come down on you at any time."

2012-02-22 "Vallejo marijuana dispensary raided by feds, state and local officials" by Jessica A. York from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
The operator of one of Vallejo's more prominent medical marijuana dispensaries was arrested Tuesday, following a raid on his home, business and associated properties by federal, state and local law enforcement agents.
Matthew Shotwell, operator and founder of Greenwell Cooperative at 616 Marin St., was arrested during the joint operation, Vallejo Police Lt. Ken Weaver said.
Shotwell was arrested on one count each of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and of operating a location that supplies marijuana, as well as three counts of selling marijuana, Weaver said. He was booked into Solano County jail.
The U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of California is also investigating a potential civil action against the building's owner, Alan Wofsy, of San Francisco, Weaver said.
Officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the California State Board of Equalization, the state Franchise Tax Board, the Solano County narcotics task force and the Vallejo Police Department descended on Greenwell Cooperative after 9 a.m., temporarily detaining employees and clients alike.
The DEA was present to assist in executing the state search warrant, DEA spokeswoman Special Agent Casey Rettig said. The Board of Equalization, which administers the state's tax collections, declined to provide details on its involvement.
In late summer, Board of Equalization agents visited Vallejo businesses, including several medical marijuana dispensaries, to ensure they were properly following tax procedures, Vallejo Finance Director Deborah Lauchner said in a recent interview.
Weaver said that the activities Shotwell was targeted for were not unlike those at the estimated 24 other medical marijuana dispensaries in Vallejo.
Greenwell employees and clients released shortly after noon scattered quickly, but one employee said the DEA was delivering a warrant and that agents had stripped down all the dispensary's marijuana plants.
Vallejo Chief Building Official Gary West said he was called to the property to inspect it for construction work inside the Marin Street property and the 31-year-old Shotwell's Napa Street residence.
Both properties were "red tagged" for what West said appeared to be unpermitted additions on the house's interior, with the biggest problems being overloaded electrical circuits. West said both properties had space converted into "grow rooms" for marijuana plants.
Vallejo City Councilwoman Marti Brown, who has long pushed for the city to create medical marijuana dispensary regulations, was surprised by news of the raid. Brown said the federal government's crackdown in California seems to be random.
"I'm annoyed," Brown said. "The DEA and the state government should just stay out of things."
Vallejo recently instituted a 10 percent tax on medical marijuana sales, an initiative receiving a wide margin of voter approval in November. The city's plan to regulate and limit the number of dispensaries in town, estimated to be as many as 25 storefronts, however, were scrapped with the announcement of the federal crackdown and pending lawsuits elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Napa Special Investigations Bureau raided a winery/residential property on the 3500 block of Hagen Road Friday. Alex Sarocco, 31 and Naomi Clark, 29, both of San Francisco, were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation and marijuana possession of marijuana. Three different marijuana growing operations were allegedly uncovered, 172 plants seized and 52 pounds of processed marijuana.

2012-02-21 "Vallejo, CA Raids in progress NOW..." []:

2011-10: This was given to patients at various medicinal cannabis dispensaries:

2011-08-22 "Shotwell Urges Vallejo to Tax, Regulate Pot Dispensary: Video"

Matt Shotwell, founder of Greenwell Cooperative, a medical marijuana dispensary in Vallejo, California, talks with Bloomberg's Alison Vekshin about the rise in the number of dispensaries in the town and his desire for the city to tax and regulate his business. 
Vallejo, which doesn't have local laws controlling medical marijuana dispensaries, has seen an influx of about 20 such businesses, according to a city estimate.   

2011-08-22 "Prostitutes Flood Vallejo After Bankrupt City Slashes Police 33%"  []
Matt Shotwell, founder of Greenwell Cooperative, looks over marijuana plants growing at his dispensary in Vallejo, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Vallejo, located 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of San Francisco, emerged from bankruptcy on Aug. 5. The city's general-fund spending fell to $66.2 million this year from $87.1 million in fiscal 2008, when it sought court protection. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Matt Shotwell, founder of Greenwell Cooperative, smokes marijuana for medicinal purposes at his dispensary in Vallejo, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Vallejo, located 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of San Francisco, emerged from bankruptcy on Aug. 5. The city's general-fund spending fell to $66.2 million this year from $87.1 million in fiscal 2008, when it sought court protection. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

2011-02-10 "Vallejo marijuana dispensary wants to sell groceries" by Nathan Salant, Solano County Buzz Examiner
A Vallejo medical marijuana dispensary in the heart of the city's blighted downtown has an idea to better serve the neighborhood in addition to its clientele -- with healthy food products.
The Greenwell Collective proposes to begin selling groceries and coffee from its storefront at 616 Marin St., just a half-block off Georgia Street, downtown's main thoroughfare.
Dispensary owner Matt Shotwell told the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper that he plans to begin selling healthy food products sold at markets like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, which do not have stores anywhere in Vallejo -- much less downtown, which does not have any major grocery stores.
"I've talked with some of the firms that supply Trader Joe's and Whole Foods at the fancy food shows, and they'll send those same items to me," Shotwell told the newspaper. "For some, I'll use my own label, Greenwell Whole Foods, and the others will have the original label."
Shotwell says his storefront has plenty of space -- 3,800 square feet -- to accommodate a grocery section, which will offer nonperishable items such as snacks and drinks but no meat or produce, the newspaper said.
Selling groceries also will bring the dispensary in compliance with its original permit and could help soften some of the criticism against Vallejo's unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries, estimated to total 14.
The Greenwell Collective's operative permit has expired but the city has refused to renew it, the newspaper said.
Shotwell said the city also has refused to renew his business license.
Michelle Hightower of Vallejo's planning department said Shotwell's bulding is zoned for a grocery store but not for a marijuana dispensary.
The city is currently in court trying to close one of the dispensaries, the Stan the Man Collective at 1235 Warren Ave. in Glen Cove, but has not moved against any other facility, the newspaper said.
The Greenwell Collective at 616 Marin St. in downtown Vallejo.
Credits: Nathan Salant photo

2009-01-05 "Medical marijuana group sues Solano County"
by Josh Richman []:
Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for medical marijuana patients, today filed a lawsuit against Solano County for failing to implement the identification-card program required by a state law adopted in 2003. The card program is meant to help law enforcement discern legal marijuana use from illegal, providing more protection for patients and caregivers; despite this law and a July appeals court ruling affirming the mandate’s validity, several counties including Solano still haven’t complied.
“Solano County cannot simply flaunt its obligation under the law,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford said in a news release today. “This lawsuit is aimed at forcing counties like Solano to fully implement state law and to stop denying medical marijuana patients their legal rights and protections.”
Since 2003, 40 counties have implemented medical marijuana ID cards in compliance with the state law. ASA sent letters in August and again in October to the remaining counties warning of lawsuits unless they adopted card programs too, and the California Supreme Court in October refused to review a related San Diego case, making clear counties’ obligations under the law. ASA says its letters and the court’s ruling have moved 11 more counties to comply or pledge to do so soon, but Colusa, Madera, Mono, San Bernardino, San Diego, Solano and Sutter counties still haven’t taken action.
The Solano County Counsel’s office declined to comment today, saying it had not yet received and reviewed the lawsuit.


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