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Graphic: Jim Wheeler
Safe access to marijuana remains a distant dream to many patients — even in states which have legalized medical use

​One by one, the lights are winking out. In city after city, town after town, in states where medical marijuana is now legal, patients who had dared hope they would at last have safe access to the medicine recommended by their doctors are having those hopes dashed.

The problem? Political cowardice and the panicked reaction of the status quo.

Every week brings more news of freaked out city councils and county boards of supervisors who desperately want to appear to be “doing something” — anything — about the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries.

This phenomenon is so far mostly confined to California and to a lesser extent Colorado, but it’s unfortunately also starting to happen in Michigan and Montana.
Rather than showing true leadership by showing genuine concern for patients and communities, too many local government officials are going for the easy, knee-jerk reaction. The level of disregard for the intentions of the voters — who clearly expressed their will by legalizing medical marijuana — is breathtaking.

Photo: Zack Clark
Honduran police face a tough fight with drug traffickers, despite plenty of Yankee dollars.

​The top anti-drug cop in Honduras was killed by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday, a national police spokesman told CNN, Mariano Castillo reports.

Gen. Julian Gonzalez, director of the Office for Combatting Drug Trafficking, was shot in his SUV by two people on a motorcycle, according to police spokesman Orlin Cerrato.
No arrests have been made, and the investigation remains active, Cerrato said.

Photo: Damon D’Amato, WAMC
Medical marijuana supporters march on L.A. City Hall in 2007

​Medical marijuana advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will hold a press conference in front of Los Angeles City Hall at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8, in advance of the expected vote on regulating dispensaries in L.A.

The City Council has indicated they might meet in closed session to make final deliberations on an ordinance that would regulate how and where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate in the city.
According to the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting, the possible closed session is due to “threats of litigation publicly made regarding the adoption of the proposed ordinance. Last month, ASA had threatened to sue the city if it banned the “sale” of medical marijuana.
Tuesday’s meeting will likely be the culmination of a two-year struggle between pro- and anti-medical marijuana forces for dominance in the City of Angels, where City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and like-minded Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley have grabbed headlines by making inflammatory statements like “approximately zero” of the dispensaries in the county are operating legally.

Photo: Andrew Bardwell
You do know the best way to pass the time on the inside, don’t you?

​Folks try to smuggle pot into jail all the time. Sometimes they make it (I’ve gotten high more than once in L.A. County Jail). But when they get caught, it’s usually girlfriends or best buddies, rarely lawyers muling dank into the joint.

The words “damn good lawyer” come to mind, but let’s not jump to conclusions. The Douglas County, Neb., Sheriff’s Office hasn’t arrested anyone yet, according to KPTM Omaha, but charges against the lawyer could be forthcoming.
“The jail staff were suspicious of this individual, they were watching for this person and when they arrived, they knew to be vigilant and they did examine this particular visitor’s packages,” said Chief Deputy Marty Bilek. “In this case, a file folder, and that’s how they found the narcotics.”
Corrections workers confiscated 43 grams of pot, according to Bilek. That’s just over an ounce and a half.
KPTM says the sheriff’s office is so far only calling the suspect a “frequent jail visitor,” but “other sources” confirm he is an Omaha attorney.

Photo: Chmee2, Wikimedia Commons

​According to an assistant prosecutor in Michigan, the new medical marijuana laws there, passed by voters last year, are starting to create some unforeseen problems.

I know what you’re thinking. “Just another cop speaking fluent whinese.” There’s undeniably a little of that going on, but the talk that the prosecutor gave before the Northwest Zero Tolerance Coalition (that’s a forbidding name for an anti-drug group, if there ever was one!) took an unexpected turn towards the end.
Assistant Prosecutor Bill Dailey, chief of Macomb County’s drug unit, said that the medical marijuana laws are causing a “strain on my personnel because they are out there now, they are recovering marijuana on their traffic stops … It is very, very difficult for them or for us to find out if these folks have a medical marijuana card.”

Photo: Pablo-flores, Wikimedia Commons
Washington judge gives the green light to medical pot patient

​An interesting thing is happening in states which have legalized medical marijuana. There’s an ongoing culture war between cops who hate all marijuana, period, and patients who take the law at its word when it says they can use pot legally. From time to time, the patients win big.

Such is the case in Kent, Washington, where King County Judge Mary Roberts ordered the police department to give 11 pounds of seized marijuana back to Matthew Zugsberger, who holds a valid California medical marijuana card.
After police (with the aid of a trusty drug dog) found the stash in the trunk of Zugsberger’s car last February in the parking lot of a pharmacy in Kent, they arrested the Californian and his girlfriend and seized the weed.
Zugsberger says the cops accused him of importing marijuana from Canada (which does happen a lot in this area, being not far from the B.C. border). “Why the hell would I buy pot from Canada if I have a field of it in my back yard?”, Zugsberger reasonably asked, according to the Seattle P.I.

The California man said he began using marijuana medicinally in 2007 to manage nausea caused by a severe injury sustained while working as a underwater welder in the Gulf of Mexico. After the accident, he was prescribed opiate painkillers; Zugsberger said the drugs gave him liver problems, and he was concerned about becoming addicted to them.

Zugsberger pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession and was sentenced to three months’ probation. But defense attorney Aaron Pelley wasn’t done with the case. Pelley, who is active with Seattle-based medical marijuana advocacy organization Cannabis Defense Coalition,  filed a petition in August seeking the return of the marijuana to his client, since Zugsberger is a legal medical pot patient.

Photo: Horsma / Hamppuforum, Wikimedia Commons
Sweet Tooth #3 cannabis bud, grown in Finland

​For all the progress toward a European Union, there is still no unified approach to medical marijuana in Europe, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Cannabis is legal for treating certain illnesses in the Netherlands, but Sweden, for example, doesn’t recognize any medical use for the herb at all.
Legal expert Catherine Sandvos of the Dutch Cannabis Bureau (a government agency providing high-quality medical marijuana) told the Journal that cannabis is just “too controversial and too political” to even be on the European agenda.
The Dutch have led the continent in legalizing medical marijuana, which is treated separately from the recreational cannabis available at Amsterdam’s coffee shops.

Photo: Laurie Avocado, Wikimedia Commons

​A San Diego task force has released its recommendations for the city council regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.

The task force said, among other things, that dispensaries should go through a permitting process, limit hours of operation, abide by zoning restrictions, and should be more than 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, or playgrounds. Dispensaries would also be restricted from bring less than 500 feet away from each other.
Some local marijuana supporters are on board with the proposed regulations. “I think it’s balanced and pretty fair,” Craig Beresh told the local NBC affiliate. “I think it’s going to work for both the medical marijuana community and the city of San Diego.”
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