Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Activist's Harsh Words For City Attorney Delivered Hours Before Pot Shop Was Raided

A Los Angeles police raid of a Venice medical marijuana dispensary last week, at a time when the city of L.A. has stated it will hold off on pot-shop enforcement, happened on a day when a City Hall activist happened to have been badmouthing the City Attorney on the issue via web radio.

Zuma Dogg played audio of his Thursday web-radio show for the Weekly. He said, in part, "I'd like to send this one out to Carmen Trutanich" while calling the City Attorney "incompetent" and a "moron" over his handling of enforcement of the city's medical marijuana ordinance. Zuma Dogg described his "broadcasting-live" location as as a Venice collective with "Green" in its title.

Thursday night (reportedly at about 7:45 p.m. -- an odd time for such action) the the Green Goddess Collective at 70 Windward Ave. was raided by police. A representative of the collective told Yo! Venice! that the shop was raided for allegedly failing to shut down under the new city law and for operating without proper permits.

The representative claims the dispensary was running legally the city "until further judicial notification," and that it will ask for a restraining order to prohibit further police action against it.

While police confirmed the raid to the Weekly, a City Attorney's spokesman said he did not know anything about the police action Thursday.

Zuma Dogg over the weekend tweeted, "Was it coincidence LAPD busted a collective SAME DAY ZD said he was broadcasting @ area collective?"

Zuma Dogg says he befriended people who worked at the dispensary he had mentioned, telling them he'd give it a plug on his web radio show after finding out they played it over the store's sound system.

On Thursday he let loose with his usual mix of dance music, but stated that he was broadcasting live from a "Green' collective in Venice.
At the same time, he called Trutanich several names.

The City Attorney has held a hard line against dispensaries and has been quick to move against out-of-compliance shops that are the source of complaints in L.A. neighborhoods.

However, last month the city backed down on enforcement against pot shops after it realized its ordinance, contrary to the desires of some of those City Council members who voted for it, would only allow about 40 of nearly 600 pot shops in the city survive.
The pause in enforcement would only last until court challenges to the law were worked out in court later this month.

On the timing of the raid last week, Zuma Dogg thinks it was supicious, but he adds, "Maybe it's a coincidence."


Issue licences for cannabis: UK expert

A licence to smoke cannabis legally has been proposed by one of Britain's leading experts on the drug.

Professor Roger Pertwee said making cannabis as available as alcohol would prevent drug-related crime, and reduce the chances of people being introduced to harder narcotics.

But he cautioned that it might be necessary to prevent vulnerable individuals obtaining the drug.

"You'd need to have a minimum age of 21, and I would suggest you might even have to have a licence," said Pertwee, from the University of Aberdeen, who pioneered early research on the effects of cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s.

"You have a car licence and a dog licence; why not a cannabis licence?"

The idea would mean only those not suffering from a serious mental illness or at risk of psychosis would be legally allowed to buy the drug.

Research has shown an association between smoking cannabis and a greater chance of some individuals developing schizophrenia.

Pertwee said cannabis appeared to increase the risk of psychosis in people already predisposed to the illness because of their genes or traumatic childhood.

He called for a greater debate on the recreational use of cannabis, and said in principle he was in favour of legalisation, if the right framework could be found.

"We need to explore all the various options," said Pertwee, who is speaking at the British Festival of Science at Aston University, Birmingham, this week.

"At the moment cannabis is in the hands of the criminals, and I think it's crazy.

"We're allowed to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. Cannabis, if it's handled properly, I think is no more dangerous than that."

He pointed out that currently anyone wanting to take cannabis was forced to grow it illegally or buy it from illegal dealers.

The drug was supplied with no indication of what it contained, or what might have been added to it. People also tended to smoke cannabis in groups, which increased the likelihood of psychological dependency.

Licensed suppliers of the drug would also be less likely to provide a "gateway" to harder, more dangerous drugs.

"I think this could be the way forward, but it might not work," said Pertwee. "It depends on a private company being willing to produce a branded product."

Pertwee also highlighted the danger posed by new cannabis-like drugs being manufactured in laboratories.

Some acted in a similar way to cannabis but were far more potent, while potentially having other as-yet unknown effects.

An example of one such drug was the painkiller JWH-081, which had been developed purely for research purposes. The drug acts on the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain which are sensitive to the active ingredients in cannabis.

Anyone could find the recipes for making these drugs in the scientific literature, said Pertwee.

"Any chemist could come along, read the paper, and make the compound," he added.

A loophole in the law opened the door to the drugs being used as "legal highs".

"It means you could buy these compounds and take them," said the professor. "I believe this is a major problem."

via PAA

Legalizing pot would free up police to fight violent crime, law enforcement group says [Updated]

Legalizing marijuana would put a big dent in drug cartels and free up police, prosecutors and judges to go after violent crimes, a law enforcement group said Monday in endorsing Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure.
Proposition 19’s passage in November would decriminalize an estimated 60,000 drug arrests made in California each year, said former Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray.
Beat police would have more time to go after burglars, robbers and those committing violent assaults, he said.
On-the-job experience demonstrated the futility of trying to enforce laws prohibiting the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis, Gray said at a news conference held by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a nonprofit organization supporting Proposition 19.
“I was a drug warrior until I saw what was happening in my own courtroom,’’ said Gray, a former federal prosecutor.
Current laws are making pot more readily accessible to youngsters than would be the case if it were regulated and taxed by the government, similar to tobacco and alcohol, Gray said.
Juvenile gangs use pot sales as a recruiting tool, he said. Gray was joined by former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara in arguing that much of the money flowing to violent drug cartels comes from the illegal sale of marijuana.
Citing White House statistics, McNamara said 60% of cartel money stems from marijuana. Those who argue that a black market would remain aren’t paying attention to history, McNamara said.
After the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, bootleggers disappeared, said McNamara, now a research fellow in drug policy at Stanford University. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, based in Massachusetts, was started in 2002 by five former police officers who viewed the war on drugs as a failure. Neill Franklin, a retired narcotics officer, recently took over as executive director.
[Corrected, 4:22 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Franklin formed the group.]
Proposition 19 would make it legal to grow, possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. It would also permit state and local governments to regulate and tax retail sales for adults 21 and older. State officials estimate passage could generate up to $1.4 billion in new tax revenue per year.
Active law enforcement groups, including the California Police Chiefs Assn., are opposed to the measure, saying it would increase usage and promote crime. Gray, the retired judge, said he believes that many in law enforcement support legalization but are afraid to say so because of political pressure on the job.
“They have a political job, so they can’t tell the truth," Gray said. “People are free to speak out honestly only after they are retired.”
-- Catherine Saillant