Police ‘White Paper’ Misinformation Used To Close Pot Shops


Graphic: NORML

​When supervisors in Placer County, California voted last week to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, they relied heavily on the information contained in a “White Paper on Marijuana Dispensaries” from the California Police Chiefs Association. Trouble is, the cop-sponsored “White Paper” is an inaccurate, nasty bit of propaganda which bears little resemblance to the truth, according to medical marijuana advocates.

The toxic little screed, published last year, argues that dispensaries are linked to “marijuana crimes” and violence, reports Peter Hecht at The Sacramento Bee.
As Hecht reports, here’s a sample of the kinds of, er, “information” contained in the cops’ ‘ “White Paper”:

Marijuana dispensaries are commonly large money-making enterprises that will sell marijuana to most anyone who produces a physician’s written recommendation for its medical use. These recommendations can be had by paying unscrupulous physicians a fee and claiming to have most any malady, even headaches. While the dispensaries will claim to receive only donations, no marijuana will change hands without an exchange of money. These operations have been tied to organized criminal gangs, foster large grow operations, and are often multi-million-dollar profit centers.

Because they are repositories of valuable marijuana crops and large amounts of cash, several operators of dispensaries have been attacked and murdered by armed robbers both at their storefronts and homes, and such places have been regularly burglarized. Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are also common ancillary byproducts of their operations.

Photo: ASA
Don Duncan, ASA: “Law enforcement has always been an opponent of medical cannabis”

​“What we’re seeing in that report is that police are putting out isolated instances of abuse or misconduct to paint the entire medical cannabis movement,” said Don Duncan, California director for medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

“The vast majority of our people [operating medical pot locations]are lawful, good neighbors,” Duncan said.l “When they [the police]say there are giant profit-making centers, there may be kernels of truth out there. But it is generally not true of the [dispensary]movement.”
“Law enforcement has always been an opponent of medical cannabis,” Duncan said. “What you see in the report is more akin to propaganda than public education.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first — and undoubtedly won’t be the last — time that a law enforcement organization has put out misinformation and outright lies regarding medical marijuana.
A recent court case in San Diego revealed some California police officers are basing their sworn court testimony in medical marijuana cases on badly outdated, legally inaccurate information.
The cops’ own “medical marijuana training materials” (PDF) tell them, contrary to the law, that there’s no such thing as medical marijuana, and that all marijuana is illegal!
An “educational pamphlet” put out by something called the “Narcotic Educational Foundation of America, Drug Abuse Education Provider of the California Narcotic Officers’ Association,” screams “MARIJUANA IS NOT A MEDICINE” at its gun-toting, badge-wearing readers.
More than a decade after California voters spoke loudly and clearly on the topic, these folks just aren’t giving up the pot culture wars. You’d think the “medical marijuana training” of law enforcement officers might include the rather pertinent fact of its legality — you know, seems like that would merit at least a mention.
To read the 2009 Police Chiefs Association report (have on your hip boots, because the bullshit’s deep), click here (PDF).