Marijuana Update

Oregon Recriminalizes Marijuana

In mid-July, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, an allegedly liberal Democrat, signed House Bill 3643, which shifts possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a non-criminal violation to a class C misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail, a $1000 fine and loss of driving privileges for six months.

In 1974, Oregon was the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize marijuana by limiting punishment for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a small fine. Previously, simple marijuana possession had been a felony crime across the U.S. In Texas and Rhode Island, simple possession could be punished with a life sentence. In 1970, California arrested 220,000 people on felony drug charges, mandating years in prison, for simple marijuana possession. Even with the felony laws, marijuana use increased, leading state after state after Oregon to decriminalize simple possession.

Eventually, 9 states, including California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and Ohio, passed decriminalization laws and every state in the union decreased penalties for simple possession. In 1975, the California legislature made possession of less than an ounce of pot punishable by a maximum $100 fine, and prohibited cops from taking offenders to jail. (Offenders are given a citation like a traffic ticket.)

Drug law liberalization, which appeared to be moving toward legalization, lost steam in 1980 with the election of President Reagan. Now, in the wake of the passage of Prop 215 and Prop. 200 in California and Arizona, respectively, drug law reform is again on the agenda, and further liberalization or even legalization may be in the works. But Oregon is moving against the tide.

The Republican controlled legislature passed the recriminalization bill claiming that the decriminalization law was sending the wrong message to kids. So far, the recriminalization idea seems to be limited to Oregon.

DA Won’t Prosecute

On August 27, the Sacramento County District Attorney announced that it would not prosecute AIDS activist and patient Ryan Landers for smoking pot in public at a Sacramento Mall. Landers was cited by police on August 7 for lighting a joint while dining at an outdoor restaurant. He carried a letter from a doctor and a San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club ID. Patrick Marlette, an assistant DA, said the DA’s office concluded that Landers’ use of medical marijuana was not illegal under Prop 215. However, the city of Sacramento is considering a law that would prohibit pot smoking in public places. Landers, who says he needs to smoke marijuana several times per day, argues that prohibiting him from smoking in public would trap him in his house.

California Bill

SB 535, which would authorize $3 million for a three year UC study on the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana, is gaining speed in the California legislature. After the Senate passed the bill with broad, bipartisan support, Devil-child Dan Lungren announced his support for the study on August 27. The irony of the announcement is high since during the Prop. 215 campaign, Lungren wrote that there were more than 10,000 studies available documenting the harmful physical and psychological effects of smoking marijuana. I guess Lungren’s short term memory is going as he starts his run for governor . . . .

Tony Serra Goes Public

Tony Serra, renowned criminal defense attorney, issued a press release on August 4 urging other lawyers and professionals to seek prescriptions for medical marijuana to treat stress. Earlier in the summer, Serra met with his doctor for three hours going over the medical indications for a pot prescription. Serra says that he has smoked three joints per night for the last 30 years to treat himself for his high-stress lifestyle. The doctor concluded that Serra was in a high-stress category and issued the prescription. Serra is now a member of the SF Cannabis Cultivators Club.

Stockbrokers, bankers, real estate marketers, politicians, doctors and lawyers should all seek a doctor’s recommendation to avoid the psychological and physiological consequences of stress. It is time to come off the booze and get on the cannabis wrote Serra. Hey, how about mothers, truck drivers, and college students! Serra denied that his daily medicine impairs him as a trial lawyer: You can’t practice law stoned so I don’t smoke during the day. But I work 60-80 hours a week, I’m a workaholic, and pot has never affected my ability to concentrate. I want other people to know that.

Club Founder Running for Governor

Dennis Peron, founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club, which was raided by heavily armed state police last year, announced that he plans to run for Governor of California in the Republican primary against Dan Lungren. Lungren, California’s Attorney General, ordered the raid on the Club and is currently attempting to have Peron sent to prison on drug charges arising out of the raid. Peron has argued in Court that the police raid, which came only months before the election which passed Prop. 215, was a political stunt by Lungren aimed at defeating Prop. 215 and boosting Lungren’s own political power.

Proposition 215 got more votes than Lungren did in the last election according to John Entwistle, a Peron aid. Dennis is a business owner, and he has a natural Republican constituency out there — highly educated, upper income people who don’t appreciate unwarranted government intrusion.

Some Buyers Clubs

C.B.C.B.Berkeley (510)486-1025

Oakland CBC (510)832-5346

C.H.A.M.P.San Francisco (415)861-1040

Flower Therapy, SF (415)255-6305

S.F. Growers Co-Op, SF (415)621-3986

Sweetleaf Collective, SF (415)273-4663

San Jose CBC (408)847-7008

Bulldog, Sacramento (916)556-3722

Los Angeles CBC (213)874-0811

Orange County CBC (714)543-5123

San Luis Obispo (805)239-9200

Ukiah CBC (707)462-7913