Archive for October 2013
In a meeting that felt rather reminiscent of pro I-502 events during the 2012 campaign, American’s for Safe Access held a meeting for patients to get together and discuss the recent recommendations from the Liquor Control Board for changes in the Medical Cannabis laws.
Different sections of it were read out loud and people could then make comments. Steph Sherer from the National organization was the main facilitator.
Their conclusion: The Federal Government is going to raid us if we don’t change the medical laws so we need to be proactive.
The last time ASA came to our state, they were teaching a “raid preparedness” workshop. In a sad ironic twist, it turns out the Feds took the opportunity to raid the dispensaries while their people were attending the meeting.
While nobody has been raided this time around, the event was not without some controversy.
People were asked to join, submit video testimonials, etc.
I asked what they would be used for specifically. Steph Sherer admitted she did not know yet.
About 2/3rds into the meeting, a woman who had raised her hand spoke up and very uneasily explained that she was LCB Board member Ruthann Kurose.
Kurose felt that it the need to identify herself to the audience because of feeling unsure if she was supposed to be there. She saw that it was open to the public, but was uneasy as it felt like she was intruding on a private group meeting.
After a brief moment of shock, some members in the audience stated clapping for her. It was all a bit surreal to see people clapping for a person from the agency that is trying to stomp them out.
After the meeting, I asked one of the lead coordinators about this. I said while it was good that she spoke up, it would have been nice to know right from the beginning of the meeting.
I was then told that ASA actually invited her. Others state she asked ahead of time and was told it was ok to come.
And the ASA staff didn’t think that was worth mentioning to the crowd as the meeting was starting?
In this instance, it was the LCB who, while a bit late to do anything about it, felt it her ethical responsibility to inform the audience of her presence.
WHY DIDN’T ASA GIVE US THAT SAME COURTESY when the meeting started?
Aside from that big blunder, Sherer did a good job of making sure everyone was allowed to speak. All points of views were allowed and opposite views were handled without bursts of anger.
The meeting was an attempt to galvanize support for new legislation from well known activist, Kari Boiter.
Kari has been a hard working advocate on the national scene. Her efforts have been appreciated by many in the community.
However, she has now taken the lead in putting together a new bill that would alter many sections of the medical cannabis act. She and others state that if we do not come up with our own legislation for this next session, then they will end medical cannabis as we know it.
While this may be true, it is too early in the political game to be introducing any legislation.
Right now, patients in Washington State have greater protections than just about any other place on the planet. We have the right to grow 15 plants, have 24 ounces each. Patients can also be a designated provider or participate in Collective Gardens.
Most importantly, we now have FULL protection from state arrest, prosecution and property seizures when we stay within those guidelines as backed up by a recent State Supreme Court ruling on September 19th. This also means in theory that police in this state cannot serve you with a search warrant based on cannabis use alone, THEY MUST HAVE PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF THE STATE LAW!
Not only that, but patients in this state now have a CONSTITUTIONAL COMMON LAW MEDICAL NECESSITY DEFENSE thanks to the same ruling. That’s huge for patients who can’t afford to pay for doctors or who require more than the laws allow.
At no time in our state’s history have protections for medical cannabis patients been this strong.
There is no more “GREY AREA” in our state law. WE ARE 100% LEGAL!
420leaks was promised an early draft version days before the meeting. It finally came by email the morning of the event as I was on my way out the door to a meeting in Seattle for the Cannabis Action Coalition. So I had no time to read it before attending the evening meeting with ASA.
It was then released to the group at the end of the meeting. It is basically the work of many people and activist groups, including Boiter, Sensible Washington, Cannabis Action Coalition and others from past efforts. It also has language from previous bills, like parts of the sections that were vetoed by Governor Gregiore in 2011.
El Centro de la Raza
The meeting took place at the cultural center in Seattle called El Centro de la Raza. It is a wonderful asset to the community and provides needed services and is an excellent central meeting place.
A little background research reveals El Centro De La Raza as one of the support groups taken in like the rest of the state by the I-502 campaign. Our guess is this kind if support would not have been there from community groups had they any idea it would lead to the end of the Medical Cannabis Act in our state.
In an interview with former lobbyist and legislator Jim Boldt of the Washington Cannabis Wire, open government and constitutional activist Arthur West from the Cannabis Action Coalition and the Union of Concerned Cannabis Patients, talks about earmarks in I-502 directly benefits special interests.
“And the fact that it offers distributions of tax proceeds to interest groups with no rational relationship to marijuana clearly violates the single-subject rule, he says. Payments for migrant health care clinics and programs for at-risk youth, for instance, were clearly inserted in order to win the support of such groups as El Centro de la Raza and the Children’s Alliance. The suit calls the earmarks, “in essence, a hodgepodge of diverse politically motivated incentives and financial payoffs whose only motivating factor is that they were designed to garner support for I-502.”
In 1998, voters in this state said NO to federal laws because of the humanitarian compassion reasons. We overwhelmingly passed the Medical Cannabis Act.
In 2011, the legislators of this state passed new regulations for medical cannabis in defiance of Federal Laws on Cannabis. It was our Governor that falsely claimed that the threat from the feds was her reason to veto all the regulatory language after being told to veto it by the police lobbyists.
in 2012, I-502 was passed in DEFIANCE of Federal law.
Incredibly, at the Great Hempfest I-502 debate, Alison Holcomb and others within the cannabis community in favor of the initiative warned the crowd that if we did not vote for I-502, medical cannabis was doomed and we would all be raided by the Feds. Ironically, Boiter was debating for the “No on I-502” side.
For some reason, the Hempfest organizers did not allow the let the official spokesman for the official “No on 502” campaign, Steve Sarich on the stage, even though he was there early.
Suddenly now, cannabis patients are being told that in order to PREVENT the feds from coming after us, we must again and pass new laws that will potentially be removing rights in order to appease the Feds and allow the over-taxed and over regulated recreational model succeed.
Not that the bill itself is bad, but it has been admitted in private conversations that both sides are asking for the moon in order to get half. It’s a strategy where the patients, science and compassion takes a backseat to special interests and backdoor dealing.
Our suggestion on waiting was backed up by well known activist attorney Jeffery Steinborn. He stated that we should not be introducing new medical cannabis bills in the legislature, but starting a new initiative to allow home grows and fixing all the major problems that I-502 created!
DO NOT INTRODUCE NEW LEGISLATION. We agree that it is prudent to have it ready to go if legislation is introduced as a result of the LCB recommendations, but why should patients open the door to change by dropping a bill and starting the process?
It is MUCH easier to kill bad legislation before it becomes law than it is to pass good legislation.
Once you drop that bill in the laps of the Legislators, WE LOSE ALL CONTROL of the language and will have to fight like hell to get the mandatory changes.
It is playing with fire.
The 2014 session will be a shorter one than last year. The LCB recommendations are already extremely controversial to the community, and even the mainstream press will eventually have a hard time getting behind legislation that strips patients of their rights in order to favor recreational weed.
And using the federal government as the boogie man that is going to come in and arrest us all…
The only people that should be worried about that are the ones who are clearly going outside of what our state laws allow.
And that just might be the ones who have been the most vocal to the press and in open meetings with the LCB about the fact that they SELL MARIJUANA and are trying to become the brand names of the cannabis world.
This is all just starting to sound a little too familiar to this medical cannabis advocate.
Don’t get fooled again.
Know their game plan before you go to battle. We found it all through public records requests, in their own words, when they didn’t think anyone was listening.
Well, we are listening and are wide awake this time. And 420leaks will continue to expose it all.
If patients run to legislators with their pie in the sky bills because they fear the feds will raid if we don’t give up some rights, then all we will be doing is telling the Government that all they have to do is tell us we are all going to be raided unless we give up more. And we’ll lose more rights.
We tried this last session with the Patient Protection bill sponsored by Senator Kohl-Welles. Once it was dropped on the legislators, it came out completely different and we had to fight against our own bill to get the changes. Once we did, the bill passed unanimously through the Senate Health Committee where it was put up before a full Senate vote that for some reason, never happened. Then we found the budget amendment language, tried to fight it once in a public hearing. Then they closed down all public hearings from there.
Don’t give up rights that have been gained in order to obtain temporary safety.
This is not about hate or the politics of no. It is about preserving and expanding rights, exposing corruption and demanding open government and accountability.
This is the end of the Medical Cannabis Act in our state as we know it.
It is now up to the people to put the pressure on our legislators. You no longer have the luxury of letting other people take care of this issue.
Not a single person from the medical cannabis community was allowed to be part of this secretive group. That fact alone shows the complete lack of science, compassion and ethics around this wholesale destruction of our rights. 15 years of legal precedence paid for in blood and tears is about to be swept aside if these people get their way, all in the name of state tax revenue and obedience to a draconian federal policy on cannabis as medicine.
By John Novak
New documents are coming in fast and our researchers are trying to develop a timeline to present all the information. Here’s a rough start.
In an email from March 28th, 2013, Liquor Control Board member Chris Marr details plans with Director Rick Garza on how to take over or eliminate medical cannabis through subterfuge, even though they had no real authority under I-502 to do so. (See RCW 69.50.342(12) http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=69.50.342 )
The plan includes using Department of Health, Senator Ann Rivers, BOTEC and the Governor’s office to cover for their activities.
The same day the above email was sent by LCB Board member Chris Marr, Senator Ann Rivers introduces Ezra Eikemeyer’s bill, SB 5887 that would have given the Liquor Control Board authority over medical cannabis.
The bill gets a Public hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on Tuesday April 16th 2013, 8:00AM. It dies in Committee after the hearing, not even getting a vote as patients come out to speak against it.
Only a few days after introducing Senate Bill 5887, on April 4th, Senator Rivers introduces and gets Amendment 224 adopted into the Senate Budget Bill, SB 5034. This amendment does two things. It gives the Liquor Control Board more money and requires them to work with the Departments of Health and Revenue to come up with medical cannabis recommendations for a new bill by January 1st, 2014 for the legislators to vote on in the next legislative session.
Then BOTEC’s Mark Kleiman goes into action with statements in an interview with Bob Young of the Seattle Times, published April 6, 2013. This is right on cue with the plan as laid out by Marr’s email back on March 28th in point #2.
The state’s pot consultant, Mark Kleiman, says competition from medical marijuana could easily undercut the recreational system the state is trying to create, siphoning away millions in potential taxes.
The going price for pot in the largely unregulated, untaxed medical system is about $10 per gram, said Kleiman, a UCLA drug-policy expert. For the state’s new highly taxed system, he said, that is a “very hard number to hit.”
Unlike the recreational system, the medical market also serves minors. And while the recreational system limits adults to possessing an ounce, the medical system allows patients to have a pound and a half of weed.
“I don’t think the legal market (state officials) are imagining will be able to compete with the medical market if it remains as wide open as it currently is,” Kleiman said.
Patients showed up in numbers at the public hearing for the Budget Bill 5034 when it was in the House Appropriations Committee on April 10th. However, that was the only time because rules were suspended from there and no more public hearings were held. Testimony from patients begins at around the 1:35:00 point…
Sunday, June 2, 2013, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles sends out an email to key Senators warning them about about this issue with the LCB.
It has also has resulted in a high level of concern on the part of many patient and other advocacy groups — including even outright opposition being expressed in rallies and demonstrations. I am concerned that we would be handing over too much of our responsibility to a regulatory agency. I also worry that too many conclusions would be drawn behind closed doors, and that the process for creating these rules would circumvent public input. In many ways, the LCB has a vested interest in diverting business from the medical collectives now operating and into the retail stores when they open early next year. It is easy to argue the LCB also has a vested interest in wanting to add to its regulatory scope, and bring the medical cannabis industry into its system.
On June 19th, many patients, activists and different groups sponsored an event in Olympia. It was a peaceful event where we were going to speak to the crowd for a few minutes, then break up into smaller groups to meet their legislators and set up meetings about this issue. Upon arrival, we learned the government called a recess for the day. So instead, we had patients speak for the all the press.
Story from Q13 Fox News
We finally get the names on the Secretive MMJ Work Group in a document from the Liquor Control Board on September 10th. Representative Christopher Hurst, mentioned in Marr’s March 28th email to Garza, holds a House Government Oversight and Accountability work session.
The addition of John Lane from the Governor’s office as a key element in Marr’s plan is now revealed in this slide from the hearing.
On October 2, Ben Livingston of the Stranger publishes this document from the Washington State Department of Health
Now today, October 16th, this two page document was revealed by a public records request from myself to the Department of Revenue. The fix is in! Profits over patients…
Lawsuits have been filed by Arthur West to make this group subject to the open Meetings Act and the Public Records Act. You can view some of these files in our MMJ Work Group collection of files at our 420leaks Scribd page. http://www.scribd.com/collections/4362334/Medical-Cannabis-Work-Group
A great expose on this can be found on the Washington Cannabis Wire blog post by former legislator and lobbyist, Jim Boldt, titled “Cannabis Creating A Secret Government-Now Three Agencies Close The Door” posted September 25th, 2013. (For some reason, they removed the article.)
As a result of these actions, a press release came out on September 30th from the three state agencies responsible for drafting recommendations & provisions to the Legislature on medical marijuana. published their timeline on October 8th, announced a process for the public to provide written comment. The public may provide written comment to this MMJ workgroup at firstname.lastname@example.org
View the timeline press release here
If you are a patient, provider, collective garden member, health care worker, the time is now to make your thoughts known.
Don’t stop at sending just one email. Send comments to your legislators and tell them about these documents.
You may send a brief message to your district legislators through the in-state toll-free Hotline number: 800.562.6000.
You may send an e-mail message to your legislator by using the legislator e-mail services at https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx.
The Hearing Impaired can send a brief message to their district legislators through the in-state toll-free TTY Hotline number: 800.635-9993.
Tell them the people voted for I-502, but they voted for I-692 under humanitarian concerns for the sick and disabled first. And that separation was clearly written into the language to prevent it. This is now under threat by government officials determined to reduce access to their medicine and the further reduce the few health care professionals willing to help them remain out of prison.
RCW 69.50.342(12) now states “ That nothing in chapter 3, Laws of 2013 shall be construed as authorizing the state liquor control board to seize, confiscate, destroy, or donate to law enforcement marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuana-infused products produced, processed, sold, offered for sale, or possessed in compliance with the Washington state medical use of cannabis act, chapter 69.51A RCW.”
In fact, the campaign was run on the promise that I-502 would not change the medical laws. Here’s the FAQ document from their website
Incredible email that shows a man in Eastern Washington was promised an I-502 license and given permission to start growing. Apparently, the local law enforcement raided him and he told them he had permission from the LCB. Not only that, but the LCB also bought this guy lunch! When questioned by superiors, the officer went silent.
The ethics of this incident shows that the entire process has become corrupt, as even the agent reporting the incident has a hard time understanding how this was able to happen.
Document obtained by John Worthington.