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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SF Weekly's Toke of the Town: Game Back On!

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Subject: SF Weekly's Toke of the Town: Game Back On!
Date: January 23, 2012 9:01:15 PM PST

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Toke of the Town
Calif. Supreme Court Hears Appeal; Dispensary Licensing Back On
Calif. Supreme Court Hears Appeal; Dispensary Licensing Back On

In 2011, the federal Department of Justice's crackdown on state-legal medical cannabis led five of San Francisco's 26 medical marijuana dispensaries to close. Then, a state appeals court's ruling on the case of Pack v. Long Beach -- in which a would-be dispensary operator questioned the city's lottery system for licensing dispensaries -- equated regulating medical marijuana with a violation of federal law, halting new dispensary applications. It also halted Mendocino County's licensing program, in which pot farmers paying for sheriff's inspections helped save cops' jobs.

But as of Wednesday, new blood can arrive on the dispensary scene once again, thanks to the California Supreme Court, which decided to hear an appeal on Pack. The state's highest court will take a year or more to issue a ruling, according to Americans for Safe Access attorney Joe Elford, and in the meantime the state appeals court's ruling is vacated. Meaning: null and void, and cities and counties can again regulate, license, and tax dispensaries.

This is fine news for the four dispensaries in San Francisco whose permit hearings at the Planning Department were placed on hold pending a resolution of Pack. They're back on the calendar for Feb. 16.

The S.F. City Attorney has yet to determine exactly how to advise city departments to proceed, according to a spokesman reached late Thursday, but it's at least possible that new dispensaries will be granted permits in S.F. while the Supreme Court mulls the permitting question.

Primary Decisions
Primary Decisions

What's a Medical Marijuana Voter To Do?

What does a medical marijuana advocate do when the issue is under attack? Stand up and fight back -- at the ballot box. But how -- and for whom?

Many a marijuana advocate feels betrayed by President Obama for his Justice Department's crackdown on state-legal cannabis. This is seen as a violation of numerous campaign promises made by the president, as well as a contradiction of statements made by Attorney General Eric Holder following Obama's inauguration. So if Obama now wants to shut down California's state-legal medical marijuana system and put its users behind bars, what alternatives are left?

Movement leaders like Stephen DeAngelo, CEO and founder of Oakland-based mega-dispensary Harborside Health Center, told the Huffington Post earlier this month that he is a "single-issue voter." DeAngelo voted for Obama in 2008 and says he wants to do so again, provided Obama comes to patients' defense. "I don't want to vote for someone who thinks I'm a criminal and should be in jail," he told SF Weekly -- and that could mean supporting a Republican in the California primary.

On the Republican party side, Mitt Romney has said he'll fight medical marijuana "tooth and nail." Newt Gingrich has talked about severe penalties for mere possession. Rick Santorum -- never mind.

That leaves Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Marijuana supporters love them some Paul, whose small-government perspective means leaving drug enforcement up to the states. Many Paul backers further interpret Paul's support for ending the drug war as a call for outright legalization, and believe a President Paul would undo 42 years of destructive prohibition -- much of which, including a repeal of the Controlled Substances Act and a rescheduling of pot under the DEA, is not under the president's purview.

So then -- who? Good question, one Toke of the Town is not equipped to answer.

Cannabis Calendar
Cannabis Calendar

Author of Marijuana: Gateway to Health Speaks

We wouldn't know the first thing about medical marijuana's worth to humanity without the experts. Did you know that "using marijuana can protect the brain by reducing inflammation and by stimulating the production of healthy new brain cells"? Scientific proof that medical cannabis protects against cancer and Alzheimer's disease is the focal point of Clint Werner's book Marijuana: Gateway to Health. Visit our friends at the San Francisco chapter of Americans for Safe Access at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 847 Howard (at Fourth St.) to hear to Werner discuss his work.

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