Medical Marijuana Patient Rights On The Line In California


Joe Grumbine
Joe Grumbine and The Human Solution supporter Daryl Hannah sport their green Solidarity Ribbons to represent medical marijuana patients

​The rights of medical marijuana patients and providers to have safe access to cannabis — approved by California voters 15 years ago, but still opposed by reactionary elements in law enforcement — are on the line in California in a closely watched court case in Long Beach Superior Court.

The People of the State of California vs Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine is the name of the case, and it pits the notoriously anti-marijuana Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve “Hot Dog” Cooley against Long Beach collective owner Joe Byron and collective operator and marijuana activist Joe Grumbine, both of whom refused to bow down to the same old, same old practice of repression and fear.

D.A. Cooley has repeatedly and publicly claimed that “all marijuana sales are illegal,” and his campaign of harassment and intimidation against medical marijuana patients and providers has already cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, along with costing law-abiding citizens their freedom and livelihoods.

Joe Grumbine
These are the real front lines in the War On Marijuana, which is really a war on patients and providers.

​The news from the case isn’t good this week, as Judge Charles Sheldon, a hard-liner who routinely sentences three-strikes cases to the harshest punishment, even when they’re nonviolent, granted a motion from prosecutors to suppress the medical defense of Byron and Grumbine, despite the fact that it was, in fact, medical marijuana involved.
“The law is clear, but Judge Sheldon, citing no reasons, is not allowing the defendants to exercise their rights to an Affirmative Defense, which the voters have clearly voted on,” said attorney Allison Margolin, one of the lawyers representing the defendants.
“This could be bad news for patients and dispensaries, providers and caregivers, and anyone who believe in the fundamental right to choose the form of medicine, natural or synthetic, a patient finds to be most effective,” writes Sam Sabzehzar of
But it seems this time there is significant opposition to the usual practice of steamrolling over patient and provider rights and violating the will of the people as expressed at the voting booth.

The Human Solution
Joe and Liz Grumbine

​Enter Joe Grumbine and his group The Human Solution. Members of The Human Solution, a nonprofit grassroots organization, attend hearings to give court support to patients and providers who have been charged with crimes for providing safe access to medical marijuana.
Members also speak publicly at city and town hall meetings, give classes to educate the public and remove the stigma of medical marijuana, and hold fundraising events to help with defendants’ legal expenses to assist patients in need. The group supports members in need with basic necessities like food, medicine, wheelchairs, transportation and whatever else is needed.
“While it may not look like we have much in common beyond the signature green ‘Solidarity Ribbons’ we wear, The Human Solution members all share one important common belief that spurs them to action: Nobody should EVER go to jail over a plant!” the group’s website tells us.
“The Human Solution came out of my realizing what a disaster our legal system is after being arrested in Riverside County for transporting medicine from my collective and being charged with felonies — and the the activist community was broken and not doing anything at a grassroots level,” Grumbine told Toke of the Town in an exclusive interview.
“I started speaking at group meetings and wherever anyone would listen,” Grumbine told us. “Then leaders began to gravitate. We began a letter-writing campaign and formed the ‘California Coalition’ with members of OC NORML, OC ASA, MAPP and others.
“Then I met Ronnie Naulls and we decided to hold the first ‘Freedom Fighters’ Fundraiser,’ ” Grumbine said. “The funds raised eventually paid for the corporate filing of The Human Solution.
The group shows support for patients by collectively wearing green ribbons into the courtroom, thus bearing silent witness in case injustice is performed.
“The ribbons have had an impact everywhere they have been worn,” Grumbine said. “They are noticed by bailiffs, judges, jurors, and especially prosecutors. Several times, DAs have requested them to be removed from the court.
“They always cause questions to be asked and I believe they have had an impact on the outcome, showing the supporters to be unified, and even if none of this happened, there is always a feeling of amazement and gratitude from the defendant,” Grumbine said.
Now the type of court support Grumbine has helped coalesce for so many other patients is coming home for his own court case, currently underway in Long Beach Superior Court. 
With the suppression of the medical marijuana defense, the case just got a lot tougher to win, but Grumbine and his supporters at The Human Solution aren’t throwing in the towel. If all else fails, one can hope that at least one of the jurors is familiar with the concept of jury nullification.
Hundreds of advocates and activists from throughout Southern California rallied outside the Long Beach Superior Courthouse on September 15 and again on September 22, protesting the city’s wasting millions of taxpayer dollars investigating, raiding, and prosecuting legal medical marijuana collectives, even while vital public services are being cut.
The city claims Grumbine and Byron’s collectives were “operating outside of the law,” but ironically a Riverside County judge found Grumbine in complete compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws just five weeks before the City of Long Beach sent 120 armed SWAT officers, drug dogs, and helicopters to raid 17 locations.
The December 2009 raids started Grumbine and Byron on a prosecution ordeal that’s now been dragging on for almost two years.
“People all over the state are fed up with law enforcement and our elected officials ignoring the medical marijuana laws meant to protect patients and wasting enormous tax dollars in the process,” Grumbine said.
If you’d like to make a statement by sending $4.20 to Grumbine’s defense fund, you can do so at You can also show your support by buying t-shirts, books, calendars, and green solidarity ribbons and stickers at the organization’s online gift shop. You can telephone (951) 436-6312 for more details.