Posted by Rebecca Saltzman
ASA’s Bill to Protect Patients’ Employment Rights Passes Full Assembly
On Wednesday, the California Assembly voted to approve legislation sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) that will protect medical cannabis patients from discrimination in the workplace!
AB2279, introduced in February by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and co-authored by Assemblymembers Patty Berg (D-Eureka), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego), would reverse a January California Supreme Court decision in the case Ross v. RagingWire. Support for the bill has been widespread, coming from labor, business, and health groups at the local and national level.
Thanks to a groundswell of grassroots support from thousands of ASA members and allies, AB 2279 is now on its way to the California Senate and then to the Governor’s desk. This is a tremendous step forward in ASA’s continuing work to defend and expand the rights of medical cannabis patients in California.
Thank you to everyone who contacted their assembly members to urge them to vote to protect patients’ rights. We will need your support again in the coming weeks to succeed in the Senate and to secure the Governor’s signature. Check upcoming weekly alerts for opportunities to take action
For more information on AB 2279, please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/AB2279.
DEA Raids Dispensaries in Los Angeles, Bay Area & Northern California
Los Angeles Raids, Protests & Arrests, by Don Duncan, California Director
On Tuesday, the DEA raided six dispensaries in Los Angeles, while advocates were rallying at City Hall. More than thirty Angelinos gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday to deliver a petition with almost 600 signatures to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asking that he meet with representatives of the medical cannabis community to discuss his role in ending DEA interference and intimidation in the city. Los Angeles City Council Member Janice Hahn spoke to the advocates, saying she thought they were doing the right thing by focusing on the Mayor. She also said she did not want to see any more Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) resources wasted on federal medical cannabis raids.
A small contingent of advocates took the petition to the Mayor’s office and spoke briefly with his staff and Deputy Mayor Larry Frank, who assured them that the Mayor supported medical cannabis patients. While the advocates were visiting the Mayor’s office, they got word that the DEA was raiding the same six medical cannabis collectives they raided in March for a second time. This time, the DEA upped the ante by arresting the operator and his wife on a forty one-count indictment.
Advocates at City Hall quickly moved to closest target facility on 16th Street. They were joined there by reinforcements marshaled by the ASA emergency text alert system. Finding the DEA still inside, protesters organized an impromptu blockade to hold the agents inside until media could arrive to document the raid. The protest ended peacefully after the LAPD safe crackers removed the contents of the safe and the DEA made a hasty exit. Congratulations are in order for the handful of protesters who were willing and able to stay for the entire three-hour ordeal. Special thanks are also due to the volunteers who brought water, food, and baseball caps to the parched protesters.
The DEA spin machine has already started to make excuses for the raid, claiming that this collective supplied cannabis that was a factor in a traffic accident that claimed the life of a California Highway Patrol officer in December. This is a disgusting exploitation of a tragic event in defense of a failed federal policy. The fact that the DEA must grasp for straws like this indicates how unpopular these paramilitary style raids are.
You can read more about the Los Angeles raids in ASA’s discussion forums.
Bay Area & Northern California Raids
On Wednesday, the DEA shifted it’s attention to the northern half of the state, raiding three locations of Holistic Solutions in Clearlake, Richmond, and San Mateo. The DEA also raided the home of Ken Estes, the operator of the dispensaries, and several locations that grew medical cannabis for the dispensaries.
One of the sites raided was located in Oakland, and there, the DEA made the mistake of leaving bags of marijuana behind after the raid. On Wednesday evening, Oakland police officers were on the site, arresting two suspects for allegedly breaking into the building to steal the marijuana that the DEA had left.
Ken Estes told several media outlets after the raid that he plans to reopen. Speaking to KTVU, he said, “I’m going to challenge the federal government. Once against the federal government is wrong.”
You can read more about the raids in the San Francisco Examiner.
Appellate Court Holds SB 420 Limits Unconstitutional; State Intends to Appeal Decision
Last week, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District ruled that SB 420’s limit of the amount of marijuana a patient may possess constitutes an unconstitutional amendment of Proposition 215.
The case, People v. Kelly, involves a patient who had 12 ounces of marijuana and the prosecutor successfully argued to the jury that his possession of the marijuana was illegal because he had exceeded the “caps” of SB 420. The court overturned this conviction, on the grounds that the prosecutor had improperly argued that the defendant was guilty because he possessed more than the 8-ounce limit established in SB 420 and did not have a doctor’s recommendation authorizing more.
Joe Elford, ASA’s chief counsel, argues that while the SB 420 quantities would be an unconstitutional amendment of Proposition 215 if it limited the amount of marijuana a patient could possess, the SB 420 quantities are not “caps,” but are thresholds. “It might confuse things because [the appellate court says] those numbers are caps, and they are not,” said Elford. “But at the same time, to the extent they are telling law enforcement that they can’t use the … quantities as caps by which to harass or convict medical marijuana patients, it’s a good thing.”
The California Attorney General’s office announced earlier this week that it intends to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.
Bill to Prevent Law Enforcement from Assisting in DEA Raids Stalled in the Assembly
by Aaron Smith, Marijuana Policy Project California Organizer
California’s A.B. 2743, MPP-sponsored legislation that would direct state and local agencies not to assist in federal raids on state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers was made inactive yesterday. But the bill garnered excellent support, with at least 38 or 39 senators committed to support it and fewer than that opposed.
The bill’s author, Assembly Member Lori Saldaña, chose not to bring the bill to a vote because it wouldn’t have received the necessary support to pass. Due to lack of political courage, a couple of key Democrats would not commit to voting for the bill and decided they would abstain. Under California law, a bill must receive 41 of the 80 Assembly Members’ votes. So even though there were more “yes” votes than “no” votes committed to the bill, it would have fallen just short of passage.
Monied law enforcement unions spent a great deal of effort lobbying against this bill and, in classic fashion, grossly misrepresented the truth about the legislation. Considering the opposition we faced and that it’s a critical election year for many legislators, getting this bill out of two legislative committees and within one or two votes of passing out of the Assembly was still a success.
We are continuing to explore our options for enacting a policy that ensures California’s vital law enforcement resources are not used to undermine our own laws. If a suitable way to enact the policy cannot be found this year, the progress we made in just the first year of working on this landmark legislation will make passing a similar law easier next year.
For more information about AB 2743, please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/AB2743
Sonoma Forum Shines Light on Candidates’ Views on Medical Cannabis
Yesterday, on May 29th the Sonoma County Medical Cannabis Council hosted a meet and greet at the Sonoma County Public Library for candidates for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Eight of the fifteen candidates showed up, and twelve candidates responded to a questionnaire that was put out before hand. All of the candidates stated that they supported medical cannabis for patients in the county.