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Debating San Diego’s ‘Hard Line’ On Medical Marijuana

Audio

Aired 9/17/09

Suspects arrested in last week's raid on medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego are expected to make their first court appearance today. San Diego has developed a reputation as a place that's not friendly to the legal sale of marijuana. The crackdown on 14 local dispensaries has been called yet another example of the county's hard-line approach. But was it?

— Suspects arrested in last week's raid on medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego are expected to make their first court appearance today. San Diego has developed a reputation as a place that's not friendly to the legal sale of marijuana. The crackdown on 14 local dispensaries has been called yet another example of the county's hard-line approach. But was it?

The 14 dispensaries were closed because they're accused of operating outside the law that allows the sale and use of medicinal marijuana. The district attorney said police raids turned up guns, $70,000 in cash and evidence that the shops were making a profit and selling to anyone off the street.

Attorney Patrick Dudley has represented people accused of illegal use of medical marijuana. He said the raid showed him evidence of a different kind.

"Most people would say that the last battleground for medical marijuana is San Diego," he said.

San Diego County supervisors have been stalwart opponents of the legal sale of marijuana. The county board sued to block the law's requirement that they issue ID cards to medical marijuana users, and they took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last May, the Supreme Court refused to hear their case. Dudley says San Diego law enforcement has shown no inclination to help dispensaries with code compliance. Their approach, he says, is to arrest first and ask questions later.

DA Bonnie Dumanis discusses search warrants served at more than a dozen medical marijuana storefronts in San Diego County.
Enlarge this image

Above: DA Bonnie Dumanis discusses search warrants served at more than a dozen medical marijuana storefronts in San Diego County.

The San Diego Police Department raided 14 distributors and six houses, seizing marijuana,
$70,000 in cash and six guns.

Above: The San Diego Police Department raided 14 distributors and six houses, seizing marijuana, $70,000 in cash and six guns.

"In San Francisco and Los Angeles, other jurisdictions, there have definitely been some guidelines and approaches as to what's going to be allowed and what's not allowed," said Dudley. "In San Diego, from the county government to the district attorney's office, there has definitely been a zero-tolerance approach."

District attorneys must determine whether the sale of marijuana follows the state attorney general's legal guidelines. Those guidelines require dispensaries to be run as collectives whose marijuana is grown by members of the collective and sold only to members.

Joseph Esposito manages drug cases for the district attorney of Los Angeles. He says he disagrees with those who say the San Diego DA has been overly-aggressive in going after marijuana dispensaries.

"We concur with San Diego's assessment that these storefronts that open up, that do nothing more than act as a 31 flavors of pot essentially. That's not what's authorized by the health and safety code of California," said Esposito.

He adds that local officials in Los Angeles have raided and closed dispensaries.

"There have been approximately 40 dispensaries that have been shut down. But you've got to keep in mind we have a lot of dispensaries here. I think San Diego has a total of about 60. And we have somewhere between 800 and 1,000," said Esposito.

Most people agree the laws governing medical marijuana are vague and confusing. What is a cooperative, and who qualifies as a member? San Diego attorney Robert Grimes is representing the manager of Total Herbal Care, a dispensary that was closed down in Pacific Beach. He says it's debatable whether the law forbids the making of any profit on medical marijuana. He says dispensary operators face great uncertainty in dealing with a an extremely complex set of laws.

"There's been no realistic practical way for medical marijuana users to have a reliable, non-controversial way of filling their doctor's recommendations," he said.

One San Diego marijuana dispensary manager, who didn't want to be identified, said he believes he understands the law. He just doesn't understand how District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis interprets it. When asked how patients should get their marijuana if so many dispensaries are illegal, Dumanis said legitimate patients do have another option.

"They can grow it," she said. "They can grow it in their backyard. You know, plants. That's what it calls for."

Attorney Patrick Dudley responds by saying an individual growing their own is also taking a chance with laws that leave a lot of discretion up to local law enforcement.

Comments

Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 9:35 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis's misinformation campaign regrettably has our highly revered and trusted, "Tom Fudge of KPBS", reporting exaggerated misinformation in order to confuse the legal system and the general public. Please be advised, the 6 weapons reportedly seized during the raids were ALL taken from third party, hired, armed security guards who were hired by the legally defined, California Mutual Benefit Non-Profit Corporations to provide the "appropriate security measures" outlined in the California Attorney Generals Guideline for the "SECURITY" and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use Section 4 (b) (8), released Aug 2008. (Source: http://www.ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n1601_medicalmarijuanaguidelines.pdf)

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 9:49 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

The San Diego County District Attorney statements when asked, "how patients should get their marijuana if so many dispensaries are illegal", were, "They can grow it" and "They can grow it in their backyard. You know, plants. That's what it calls for", however, what of the patients who do not have backyards, green thumbs or even limbs for that matter? A large number of the seriously ill and dying patients have absolutely no ability or knowledge of how to grow medical marijuana for themselves, therefore, they have been effectively "denied safe access" by the DA, Bonnie Dumanis, in direct violation of California Civil Code Title 52.3, as well as, HS 11362.78.

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 10:16 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Fudge, thank you for your attempt to shine a light on the "Hard Line" being experienced in San Diego County with regard to the medical cannabis efforts, laws and guidelines. I have drafted a (not yet filed) grand jury complaint specifically with regard to the 09/09/09 terror attacks on San Diego's sick and dying medical cannabis patients. If at all possible, would you look into and report some the grand jury complaint items listed here?

For reference, I am the individual who brought the "Medical Marijuana Collective/Cooperative Land Use" issue to the Imperial Beach City Council Agenda on 08/19/09 and I seem to have successfully caused the first and only city council in San Diego County instruct the city staff to immediately move forward with the creation of a land use ordinance. The council meeting has been posted on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/southbayorganiccoop

Citizen Complaint Form
Supplemental
(1 of 2)

#2 What: Subject of Complaint:

On 09/09/09 San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis orchestrated, what appears to be, a politically motivated S.W.A.T style assault on 14 medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives in San Diego County using misquoted law and personal opinions as a basis for denying the voters will regarding Prop 215, circumventing SB420 and misrepresenting the California Attorney General Guideline. Although some collectives/cooperatives directly targeted by the raids were issued a notice to discontinue operations, many others that were targeted were not issued a notice to discontinue operations, subsequently many locations simply reopened hours after being raided as these organizations are confident they are operating within the Description of Operations on each applicable business license application, Prop. 215, S.B. 420 and the California Attorney General Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Medical Marijuana Grown for Medical Use, released August 2008.
(Source: http://vote96.sos.ca.gov/BP/215.htm, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_420_bill_20031012_chaptered.html, http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n1601_medicalmarijuanaguidelines.pdf, Corp. code 12311(b))

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 10:16 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Many raided organizations are willing and able to prove, upon request, that they are legal and honest California Mutual Benefit Non-Profit Corporations. The District Attorney is directly violating California Civil Code Title 52.3, as these organizations are being denied the legal ability to provide “safe access” to member patients and they are under constant strong-arm, S.W.A.T. style threats of random raids and prosecutions at the opinionated whim of the most powerful legal position in the County of San Diego. These non-profit organizations were absolutely crystal clear with regard to their medical cannabis mutual benefit non-profit organizational intentions on their respective business license applications and all were issued San Diego or other county municipality business licenses, with similar land use descriptions, to conduct business as stated on the respective applications and in accordance with all state laws and guidelines regarding medical marijuana and the non-diversion of medical marijuana grown for medical use. However, none of the issuing municipality employees were arrested or detained for issuing the (Ex post facto) “illegal” business licenses as accessories to “drug dealers” as the non-profit organizations were referenced in the news conference by Ms. Dumanis in response to the raids. Additionally you should be aware that some of the raided Mutual Benefit Non-profit Corporations had been open for less than one month, however, Ms. Dumanis stated that they were operating illegally as a “for-profit” business, knowing there is not enough time to possibly substantiate or provide due diligence to make a claim of "for-profit”. (Source: http://bit.ly/H3NQv, San Diego Business License (included))

At the beginning of the above referenced news conference, Ms. Dumanis is shamefully quoted as willfully and purposefully misinforming the public by stating:
“Let me be clear from the start, this investigation has nothing to do with the medical marijuana patients or their caregivers, like most San Diegans I have always supported the legitimate and legal use of medical marijuana.”
However, several of those arrested during the raids were “member patient volunteers” and “member patient employees” who were targeted solely because they; 1) Verified the documents of an undercover law enforcement officer who was posing as a Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA) patient in order to obtain fraudulent medical marijuana documentation or 2) assisted an undercover officer in obtaining the legally grown, member transacted medical marijuana within the legally formed mutual benefit non-profit collective or cooperative.

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 10:16 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

In both situations, the targeted individuals were providing: “a means for facilitating or coordinating transactions between members” as legally outlined in the California Attorney General Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Medical Marijuana Grown for Medical Use. Which means the above statement by Ms. Dumanis offers to prove that Ms. Dumanis is waging a misleading and deceptive, politically targeted media campaign to the confuse the general public in order to support the effort by County of San Diego District Attorney to circumvent state law and constitution with regard to medical marijuana, to all intents and purposes, single handedly, creating a modern day medical marijuana prohibition in San Diego County. I challenge the Grand Jury to press Ms. Dumanis for answers to the method of safe access of medical marijuana and how the District Attorney believes the law should be accomplished for San Diego County legal medical marijuana patients who can not grow the plant for themselves. The California Constitution prohibits the District Attorney from declaring Proposition 215 unenforceable or refusing to enforce the statute.
(Source: http://bit.ly/H3NQv, http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n1601_medicalmarijuanaguidelines.pdf, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const)

Moreover, the San Diego City Council was not involved and did not vote for the new San Diego moratorium/ban, prior to 09/14/09, on the issuance and non-renewal of business licenses for medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives which apparently was ordered prior to 09/14/09, without public involvement (Brown Act Violation?), directly from the DA’s office, “ex post facto” and as it appears by the timing of the moratorium/ban to have been the precursor to the raids referenced above.
(Source: Corp. code 12311(b), Ex post facto, Brown Act http://www.ag.ca.gov/publications/2003_Intro_BrownAct.pdf)

(continued)

Citizen Complaint Form
Supplemental
(2 of 2)

Ms. Dumanis has and continues to misquote the Compassionate Use Act in news media interviews and on her Facebook webpage with respect to Primary Caregivers. What the Compassionate Use Act actually says is "health 'OR' safety", not the 'AND' safety misquote by Ms. Dumanis. Subsequently, Ms. Dumanis uses her position of immense legal power and the same misquoted law during news media campaigns as reasoning to intimidate and "indiscriminately" raid legally formed mutual benefit non-profit medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives using televised shock and awe enforcement tactics to effectively harass and terrorize the seriously ill and dying patients, their primary caregivers as well as their non-profit collective/cooperative employees and volunteers in violation of California Civil Code Title 52.3.
(Source: http://bit.ly/H3NQv, http://vote96.sos.ca.gov/BP/215.htm; Civil Code Title 52.3)

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 10:17 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Furthermore, Ms. Dumanis is "on the record" with her stated opinion that Federal Law supersedes California State Law, however, according to the California Constitution such statements and actions are clearly prohibited under Article 3, Section 3.5 (c).
“An administrative agency, including an administrative agency created by the Constitution or an initiative statute, has no power: “To declare a statute unenforceable, or to refuse to enforce a statute on the basis that federal law or federal regulations prohibit the enforcement of such statute” unless an appellate court has made a determination that the enforcement of such statute is prohibited by federal law or federal regulations.”
(Source: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_3)

California Constitution, Article 2, requires changes to a voter initiative to be submitted to the voters of the state and approved by them. Thus, no Board of Supervisors, nor Sheriff, nor District Attorney, nor San Diego County District Attorney, nor Legislature, nor Attorney General, nor Governor has the legal right to change the state’s medical marijuana law. Only the voters can change or modify this law.
(Source: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate)

Legal precedent has been set. The California Supreme Court was presented three opportunities to declare the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 unconstitutional yet they have not only refused to do so their legal decisions have clearly upheld that the People of California had every right to pass and enforce the CUA. Ms. Dumanis's actions are in direct violation of the multiple state laws as well as a blatant attempt to nullify the will of the People of California in direct conflict with our California Constitution, the highest law in our state.
(Source: www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/)...

Please be advised, members and employees of medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives arrested in San Diego County who are facing Section(s) 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366,11366.5, or 11570 charge(s) have been effectively "denied safe access" by the San Diego County medical cannabis raids that were officially ordered based on personal opinion, misrepresented information and misquoted law by Ms. Dumanis, with the assistance of several members of the San Diego Police and Sheriff Department's in direct violation of both HS 11362.78 and Ca. Civil Code Title 52.3 and is clearly a flagrant abuse of power and exaggerated use of force by the authorities involved in the raids.
(Source: Health and Safety Code § 11362,775 and Health and Safety Code section 11362.81(d), California Civil Code Title 52.3)

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 17, 2009 at 10:18 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

In your consideration, please apply the Checks & Balance form of governmental oversight the Grand Jury System is designed to provide. The lives and liberty of sick, disabled and dying patients as well as the good names of well intentioned, law abiding citizens are in your dedicated hands. (Source: http://www.abanet.org/media/faqjury.html)

In conclusion, please understand that compassion is not being requested in this complaint, as the California voters provided the required compassion in 1996 by a 56% margin. I am, however, humbly requesting an objective review, earnest consideration and just determination of my complaint.
(Source: http://vote96.sos.ca.gov/Vote96/html/vote/prop/prop-215.961218083528.html)

Thank you for your time and attention.

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Avatar for user 'INYOURDREAMS'

INYOURDREAMS | September 18, 2009 at 12:25 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Eugene Davidovich, get real. Your supporting persons involved in illegal drug trafficking.

Stop blaming other for yours and others inability to abide by and uphold State Law.
Because Collectives won't legally operate, doesn't give you an argument, that legal medical Marijuana patients are being deprived of their medicine!

It's true that not everyone has the ability to grow Marijuana, but buying Marijuana from illegal sources, should NOT be an option! When people grow and have no medical need (even if they have a valid recommendation), then sell that Marijuana to a Collective, then sell more of their Marijuana to another Collective, it's ILLEGAL and that is what is happening all over California!

When I hear that San Diego is forcing Collectives to operate illegally, it makes me cringe, that's simply not true, it's a "cop out" an excuse and a lame one at that. Each and every Collective has the responsibility to regulate themselves and to comply with State law when obtaining their Marijuana (Collectives are to only grow as members and only provide to their CLOSED Collective membership).

Those that say; "Medical Marijuana laws are too complex" are making an excuse and or trying to look for loopholes, for a defense, for breaking the law!

Instead of trying to fight the law, why don't you guys go rewrite, amend State law and submitt it to the United States Senate!

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Avatar for user 'Wendy Fry'

Wendy Fry | September 18, 2009 at 6:20 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Just a friendly reminder! KPBS values your comments and perspective, but our Terms of Service discourages users from overt political campaigning. http://www.kpbs.org/about/terms-service/#rules-of-use Several lengthy comments in a row could be considered stretching the boundaries of "discussion."

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 25, 2009 at 12:59 p.m. ― 5 years ago

INYOURDREAMS... When you stated... "Those that say; "Medical Marijuana laws are too complex" are making an excuse and or trying to look for loopholes, for a defense, for breaking the law!"

The same can be said for Ms. Dumanis for using an indiscriminate net in attempting to find anything to call a charge.

Where in the law does it state that a collective/cooperative member can not belong to another cooperative? WHERE? INYOURDREAMS, your statement is.... flawed, as were Ms. Dumanis's methods on the 09/09/09 terror attacks in San Diego!

So... In your dreams...

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 25, 2009 at 1:03 p.m. ― 5 years ago

O' ya... See you "in court" and not INYOURDREAMS. Can you say "CLASS ACTION" in your dreams?

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Avatar for user 'rasmarcus'

rasmarcus | September 25, 2009 at 1:27 p.m. ― 5 years ago


I guess the MMJ laws are too complex for you INYOURDREAMS...?

Instead of AGREEING with those trying to fight the law, why don't YOU go change the voter initiative that Ms. Dumanis has been uncompassionately (and illegilly) trying to defeat? Can you say "Denial of Safe Access" or is that to complex for you?

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 25, 2009 at 9:42 p.m. ― 5 years ago

I listened to most of this conversation and it was interesting, but like so many things about America today we just aren't acting in a logical and sensible matter on the issue. Marijuana is a plant. You can do a lot of things with that plant. You could make rope, clothing, probably a lot of useful things, and yes you can smoke it too. So what? It's a plant. For some people it relieves them of a great deal of discomfort from certain physical ailments or conditions, and therefore it is and should be considered a legitimate part of medical treatment. Some people also like to use it for purely recreational reasons. Again, so what? If you're 21 you can buy all kinds of alcohol, and if I remember correctly from my criminal studies minor that about 50% of heinous crimes in America involve the use of alcohol, and how many people are killed every year by drunk drivers? Yet alcohol is legal. I have never met a raging pot head. People who smoke pot are typically very mellow and really don't do much of anything, except maybe get the munchies. Getting the munchies is good for the economy folks. And when have you ever heard a conservative say that you shouldn't be able to make a profit off your labor and the product you offer? America is a funny place full of contradictions and outright insanity. We are too religious, too uptight, too angry, and really too paranoid, and can't seem to tell the difference between a real threat to our society and what is really just a waste of our time and energy. Please America, put down your guns and your Bibles and maybe pick up a bong once in a while. Relax, breathe.

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