Many medical marijuana dispensaries have been making huge sums of money even as they claim to be nonprofit, according to court and law enforcement records, industry insiders, police and federal agents. The Los Angeles Times found a cash-infused retail world unlike the one pitched to voters who passed the Compassionate Use Act for "seriously ill Californians" in 1996.
A new marijuana legalization ballot measure was cleared Monday to start seeking petition signatures. But its proponents aren't affiliated with the Oakland-based backers of last year's Proposition 19, who intend to mount a 2012 initiative of their own. The state attorney general's official summary says the measure, named by its proponents as "The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012," would decriminalize marijuana sales, distribution, possession, use, cultivation, processing and transportation by people at least 21 years old.
The authorities are pressuring landlords to shut down the shops or face possible loss of the real estate through the unconventional and low-key use of a civil statute designed primarily to seize the assets of drug-trafficking organizations. While some states have legalized medical marijuana businesses, the federal government does not recognize their authority to do so and has targeted the shops for violations of the 40-year-old Controlled Substances Act. The goal of the Justice Department's effort is to fight the medical marijuana industry, estimated at $1.7 billion annually, without confronting it head-on with costly and potentially embarrassing criminal prosecutions.
A federal magistrate judge ruled that a medical-marijuana dispensary that bills itself as the world's largest can continue to operate, at least for now, in Oakland and San Jose despite a bid by federal prosecutors to shut it down. The ruling marks the latest move in a tug-of-war between local and federal authorities over medical marijuana dispensaries. The judge ruled that the government, not the landlords, must move to evict Harborside for its alleged violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. (See als: Landlord can’t shut down nation’s largest pot shop, judge says)
By legalizing marijuana through direct democracy, Colorado and Washington have fundamentally changed the national conversation about cannabis. As many as 58 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal. The political establishment is catching on. Former president Jimmy Carter endorsed taxed-and-regulated weed. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy suggested "to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law."
At least two of three marijuana legalization measures vying for the November, 2014 ballot would be good for California, according to the state Attorney General's office.The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act would decrease drug enforcement costs and increase tax revenue, Attorney General Kamala Harris said this week. However, that initiative recently ran into a speed bump and might be cutting it close to a Feb. 28 deadline to file enough signatures to quality for the ballot.
"The war on drugs has failed," said a recent report compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which comprised a former UN secretary-general, former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, a former US Secretary of State and a host of public intellectuals, human rights activists and politicians.