Regarding the Nov. 10 article, “County may target dispensaries,” Del Norte County counsel Gretchen Stuhr and certain officials from many of our communities are being completely disingenuous in their arguments against a well-regulated cannabis industry.
To declare that money can never change hands, that labor is not a business expense or that non-profit and not-for-profit organizations aren’t recognized whenever they’re comprised of qualified patients, are all theories that are demonstrably incorrect.
In the real world, community gardens, and cooperative or collective efforts all pool their resources, both physically and financially, to achieve their stated goals. In fact, our courts have already ruled (in County of Butte v. The Superior Court of Butte County) that associations of qualified individuals may contribute to and invest in cannabis associations however they are able to, with money or labor or in-kind contributions.
Patients most certainly do not have to physically participate in their cannabis gardens. Imagine the impacts of such a devious assumption ... that patients, including the elderly and handicapped individuals, would be forced into manual farm labor, in order to obtain their medicine.
No county in this state, including Del Norte, is authorized to make decisions about the non-profit or not-for-profit status of an organization. The state of California and our federal government are charged with making those determinations, and it is they who issue organizations their legal status in this regard. Whether or not county officials want to accept the legal business models of cannabis associations operating here is irrelevant. It’s simply not within their jurisdiction to determine whether an organization is operating “for profit” or not.
The reason certain bureaucrats “haven’t found a single (dispensary that is) within the state law,” is simply because they refuse to acknowledge them. Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act) was the simplest law that voters have enacted since the beginning of our state’s initiative process ... it was only one page long. Subsequently, our Legislature and governor enacted SB-420 (the Medical Marijuana Program Act), in order to further implement the CUA.
Yet for 15 years, the biggest opponents to a well-regulated cannabis industry have misused vast public resources in order to bring their beloved drug war into the homes of vulnerable patients. They have violated their oaths of office by seeking to undermine the electorate and the constitution of California, under color of law and using the privileges of their office. They are essentially using their offices to engage in political sabotage, in order to undo what they couldn’t achieve through our democratic process. They’re very sore losers.
The extent to which operating dispensaries is “illegal,” and the reason your “sheriff” (in actuality, your district attorney) may not prosecute such cases, is because violating a county ordinance is only punishable as an infraction, and because the proper operation of a “dispensary” can be completely legal under California laws.
The conflict between state laws and local guidelines is a manufactured crisis, is completely avoidable, and is a waste of public resources. It’s also a fight the state will ultimately win, as every city and county are merely agents of the state.
Regarding the number of dispensaries, and the farms that serve them, where have all your “free-market” advocates and Tea Party members gone into hiding on this issue? What happens to our sovereignty, when the shoe is on the other foot? Advocates of freedom need to understand what this word really means, if they want to be taken seriously. We should all be on the same side here, as we are all part of the 99 percent. Occupy America includes the cannabis industry. We’re the fastest-growing agriculturally based industry in California.
These officials do not respect the rights of patients, as they know very well that’s who will suffer the most, when all legal access to cannabis is dismantled by the county. The memberships of “dispensaries” are comprised (100 percent) of cannabis-using patients. While many on all sides of this issue agree that the cannabis industry needs greater regulation, the way forward is to embrace our best job creators and to increase the tax revenues generated by the largest cash crop in California.
It’s too late to turn the clock back. If anything, these rogue actions by city and county officials will backfire, and may encourage Californians to just legalize cannabis outright in 2012. They may also be held to account for their blatant violations of the public trust, as their actions seek to harm the very lives of some of their constituents.
Jason Browne works for Full Circle Consulting.