Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ category

Pot Patient Wins Custody Case

December 12th, 2012

Defense Attorney Lauren K. Johnson won a major court victory for parents who legally use marijuana for medical purposes last week in Los Angeles.  In the case of Drake A. (case # B236769), Division Three of the Second Appellate District, California Court of Appeal ruled on December 5, 2012 that there was no evidence showing that the defendant, a father, is a substance ab­user for simply being a legal medical marijuana patient. The court confirmed that while parents who abuse drugs can lose custody of their children, a parent who uses marijuana for medical reasons, with a doctor’s approval, isn’t necessarily a drug abuser.

The father, “Paul M.” was placed under DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) supervision after he testified in an October 2011 hearing that he used medical marijuana about four times a week for knee pain.  During that same hearing, he also stated that he never medicates in front of his children, nor is he under the influence while they are in his care.  DCFS supervision requires drug counseling, parenting classes and random drug testing.  During subsequent drug screenings the father tested positive for marijuana, and negative for all other drugs.  As a result, the Superior Court of Los Angeles ruled that the child was to become a “dependent of the court based on the trial court’s finding that [the] father’s usage of medical marijuana placed the child at substantial risk of serious physical harm or illness…”.

“Paul M.” appealed the former court’s ruling, which was challenged in the Second Appellate District of California.  The Appellate court subsequently ruled in favor of reversing the Superior court’s judgment.  The official ruling stated “[that the] DCFS failed to show that [the] father was unable to provide regular care for Drake [the minor child at issue] due to father’s substance abuse.  Both DCFS and the trial court apparently confused the meanings of the terms ‘substance use’ and ‘substance abuse’.”

Johnson issued a press release noting that this is the first case to distinguish between marijuana use and abuse with regards to child protection laws. “In overturning a Los Angeles Superior Court ruling against the plaintiff, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the Appellate Court said the ‘mere usage of drugs,’ including marijuana, is not the same as substance abuse that can affect child custody, as alleged in this case by the lower court.”  She went on to say, “The ruling illustrates a growing recognition of the legitimate use of medical marijuana in this state and other states. We want kids to be safe, but we also want parents to be able to use legally prescribed medications when children appear not to be at demonstrated risk of harm.”

This has been a pervasive issue in California, as well as other medical marijuana states. Legal patients have lost custody of their children and been forced to turn their children over to a juvenile protection agency.  The NORML Women’s Alliance has been working hard to bring this issue to the forefront.  NORML Women’s Alliance Director Sabrina Fendrick issued the following statement; “This ruling is a small victory in our fight for legal marijuana patients’ parental rights.  We hope that future judicial hearings, as well as child protection agencies will utilize this judgment and adopt new policies that reflect the Appellate court’s ruling.”

Los Angeles City Council Overturns Their Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban

October 2nd, 2012

In a 11-2 vote, the Los Angeles City Council voted to overturn their ban on medical cannabis dispensaries. The council had previously voted 14-0 in favor of banning all dispensaries in the city.

Advocates vowed to overturn the ban and collected the more than 27,425 signatures required to force the council to either repeal the ban on their own or put the issue before voters early next year.

This is an evolving situation and NORML will keep you updated as it develops.

Last Chance To Register For NORML’s 41st Annual National Conference

September 27th, 2012

These are the last days to register online to attend NORML’s 2012 national conference, ‘The Final Days of Prohibition,’ taking place Thursday, October 4th through Saturday, October 6th at The Omni Los Angeles Hotel.

Former CA Assemblyman and peace activist Tom Hayden will speak on Thursday morning. Best-selling travel author and TV host Rick Steves and NORML Founder Keith Stroup will address attendees at Friday’s Keynote luncheon, "Observations on the Final Days of Prohibition".

Round-table sessions and plenary speeches at NORML’s 41st annual conference include:

  • Pot-n-Politics 2012: A Review of Statewide Reform Initiatives Impacting Cannabis Consumers
  • Cannabis and the ‘Demo’ Gap: Who Does Not Support Cannabis Legalization and What Can We Do About It
  • Cannabis Legalization and Taxation: What Might It Look Like?
  • Broken Promises: Obama Administration and Federal Blowback Against Medical Cannabis Industry
  • The Changing Face of the Medical Cannabis Community
  • Seventy-Five Years of Cannabis Prohibition in America: A Review of the Cannabis Prohibition Epoch in America
  • Past is Prologue – Women’s Role in Ending American Prohibition[s]

States NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre: “2012 marks the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition. A majority of Americans for the first time now acknowledge wanting to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization and regulation, and this November, voters in a handful of states are poised to embrace this common sense policy. The 2012 national NORML Conference reflects upon the decades of failure imposed by prohibition, celebrates our recent progress at amending this policy, and looks forward to the very near future when cannabis prohibition is abolished once and for all.”

Social events include a Wednesday night welcoming reception, a Thursday night Activist Awards Ceremony, a joint High Times/NORML party and ‘Not-So-Silent’ Auction, a NORML Women’s Alliance Luncheon, and a Saturday night fundraiser at ‘The Hemp Museum’ in downtown Los Angeles.

NORML invites the public to join hundreds of like-minded marijuana law reformers at the nation’s only annual conference dedicated to ending cannabis prohibition.

Online registration and day passes, as well as details regarding conference speakers, agenda, and social events, is available at here.

Voter Referendum to Overturn LA Dispensary Ban Qualifies for Ballot

September 17th, 2012

Today, the LA City Clerk announced that a referendum to overturn the recent Los Angeles City Council medical marijuana dispensary ban has qualified for the ballot.

Organizers had previously submitted signatures to the city and were informed today that they surpassed the 27,425 valid signatures required to qualify. There are now three possible outcomes for this effort: the LA City Council could choose to overturn the dispensary ban on their own, call for a special election on the issue, or place the referendum on the ballot for the March mayoral election.

The enforcement of the ban on medical cannabis dispensaries will remain suspended until the referendum is resolved. NORML will keep you updated as the situation progresses.

Supporters Turn In 50,000 Signatures, LA Marijuana Dispensary Ban Suspended

August 30th, 2012

In July, members of the LA City Council approved a blanket ban on marijuana dispensaries in the city. This ban has now been suspended for the time being thanks to the efforts of medicinal cannabis supporters in the City of Angels.

Today, medical marijuana advocates turned in nearly double the 27,425 signatures required to force a voter referendum on the dispensary ban. The ban has been suspended temporarily to allow the city clerk 15 days to verify the signatures and see if the referendum officially qualifies. If it does, the council must either repeal the ban entirely or place the issue before voters in March 2013.

NORML will keep you posted as this situation evolves.

Los Angeles City Council sics feds on dispensaries

August 23rd, 2012

The Los Angeles City Council has lost it.

In a slap in the face to voters and patients, the City Council voted yesterday to direct the LAPD to coordinate with the DEA and the district attorney to enforce its recent ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, which is scheduled to go into effect on September 6.

The ban seems unlikely to stick: It is subject to both a legal challenge and a referendum petition. If advocates collect enough signatures, the odds strongly favor voters rejecting the ban. A 2009 MPP-commissioned poll found that 77% of L.A. County voters preferred regulation and licensing to a ban. Only 14% favored a complete ban on dispensaries. It is hard to overstate how out of touch this action is with voters. Los Angeles voters not only support medical marijuana; in 2010, 54% voted for Prop. 19, which would have allowed for marijuana to be sold for adults’ use. Meanwhile, some courts have found that cities canʼt ban dispensaries and that doing so is preempted by state law. The California Supreme Court is taking up the issue.

But even if the ban is overturned by voters or in court, the damage done by calling in the feds could be extreme and irreversible for some. Letters from federal prosecutors threatening property forfeiture have resulted in hundreds of dispensaries closing statewide. Under California law, the penalties for violating the ban (if it wasnʼt overturned in courts) would be civil fines or misdemeanors. But in federal court — where perfect compliance with state law is no defense — harsh felony penalties could be imposed.

How many patients will have to go to the streets and risk muggings and contaminated marijuana if the LAPD and feds shut down their access? How many properties will become vacant? How many compassionate retailers will lose their livelihood or perhaps even their freedom? City law required dispensaries to employ security guards. How many crimes will result from the security guards being gone, as well as from this large market moving underground and due to the diverted law enforcement time?

In March 2013, I expect that Los Angeles voters will repeal the ban. As they do so, theyʼll also have a chance to elect new council members for more than half of the seats. It’s about time politicians realize that if they wage a war on medical marijuana, their political futures may become collateral damage.

For more information on the outrageous ban, you can listen to an archive of MPP’s Sarah Lovering on KPFK. Sarah’s segment aired on Uprising! this morning, Thursday, August 23. It begins about 20 minutes in, or one-third of the way.

This Week in Weed and Video of RAND Congressional Briefing on Legalization

July 27th, 2012

This Week in Weed

Click here to subscribe to NORMLtv and receive alerts whenever new content is added.

The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

This week: Oregon will vote on legalization, a new study on cannabis use and MS, and the LA City Council moves to ban medical marijuana dispensaries citywide.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Also, check out RAND Corporations presentation entitled “Should Marijuana Be Legalized?” which was presented on Capitol Hill this month. While NORML disagrees on many of the points made, RAND’s views make for a very interesting discussion.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Continued in Part 2 and Part 3

Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv every week to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to be notified as soon as new content is added.

Study: Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime

June 7th, 2012

The establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries does not adversely impact local crime rates, according to a federally funded study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined whether the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with elevated crimes rates. Researchers assessed 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, California, during the year 2009.

Researchers reported: “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.”

Authors acknowledged that their findings “run contrary to public perceptions” and that they conflict with public statements made by the California Police Chief’s Association, which had previously claimed, “Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are … common ancillary by-products of (medicinal cannabis) operations.”

The UCLA is not the first study to dispute the allegation that brick-and-mortar dispensaries are adversely associated with crime. A 2011 study of crime rates in Los Angeles published by the RAND Corporation similarly concluded, “[W]e found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise.” However, shortly following its publication RAND removed the study from its website after their findings were publicly criticized by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

Other analyses of crime statistics in the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, and Colorado Springs have separately disputed the notion that the locations of dispensaries are associated with elevated incidences of criminal activity.

Full text of the study, “Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,” appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Marijuana Dispensary Ban Inches Closer In Los Angeles

May 30th, 2012
Dispensary ban author, L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar: "If you don't like the state law, let's change the state law"A Los Angeles City Council committee on Tuesday moved forward with a ban on medica

L.A. To Consider Complete Dispensary Ban At Tuesday Meeting

May 28th, 2012
Where's Weed?Here we go again. A marijuana dispensary ban will be considered at Los Angeles City Hall tomorrow, Tuesday, May 29. The L.A. City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committ