Medical marijuana advocates claim legal victory

Medical marijuana advocates are trumpeting what they call a major legal victory providing some protection for dispensaries that provide the drug to patients.

The California Supreme Court has denied review of a February state Court of Appeal ruling from Los Angeles which had held that dispensaries need not have patients participating in their operation.

The appeals court in People v. Colvin had held that Attorney General Kamala Harris’ argument – that member-patients must engage in unspecified “united action or participation” to qualify for protection under the state’s medical marijuana law – would likely “limit drastically the size of medical marijuana establishments,” and provide “little direction or guidance to, among others, qualified patients, primary caregivers, law enforcement, and trial courts.” It would, in fact, “contravene the intent of [state law] by limiting patients’ access to medical marijuana,” the lower court had held.

The Court of Appeal also held that “collectives and cooperatives may cultivate and transport marijuana in aggregate amounts tied to its membership numbers,” and it affirmed that possession of extracted or concentrated forms of medical marijuana was legal under state law.

“This has not been a problem in the Bay Area, but now we’re sure it’s not going to be,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access. “The decision not to review People v. Colvin should now put to rest this unfounded notion that patients must ‘till the soil’ or somehow participate in the production of the medicine they purchase at a dispensary.”

Elford said the court letting Colvin stand means the state Justice Department might have to change its arguments in other, similar cases.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Dan Richeson

    The laws regarding cannabis were born on the wings of lies and pampered by propaganda such that now the tightly held belief systems are going to have to reckon with the desire of all humanity to live with dignity, free from the oppressive tyranny that ignorance and biggotry have spawned.


  • Elwood

    @ # 1

    Good God, what next?

    Just when I think I’ve read all the insanity on the internet!

  • JohnW

    State of Michigan has pending legislation that would mandate that, to write a medical weed prescription, a physician have a “bona fide physician patient relationship,” as defined in the legislation.

  • Elwood

    In the Trinity Journal published in Weverville, CA there are ads like: “Dr. Joe Smith will be in town next week to write prescriptions for medical marijuana.”

  • Elwood

    Weaverville, that is.

  • JohnW

    SF Weekly and Bay Guardian are loaded with ads like that. “Dispensaries” put up “the doctor is in” signs. Who knew there were so many people in dire need of medicinal weed?

  • Truthclubber

    @6 —

    Why put up with the mess —

    just go to the best!

    Better yet, let’s just decriminalize it and put the money flushed down the rat hole on arrests, etc., as well as the revenue gathered through taxation of it as a legally produced (albeit controlled) product (just like alcohol and tabacco) toward better things like K-12 education, etc.

    Let’s move forward, people…

  • Elwood

    @ # 6 John W.

    It’s a new age, John. Nobody smokes that **** to get high anymore. It’s all medicine now.

  • JohnW

    Legalization is tempting, especially in light of the Prohibition experience. I’m a toss-up vote on that. But I’m not sure it’s the same. You don’t have people taking over state parks to “grow” alcohol. You don’t have an entire county (Mendocino) where you can barely drive through it without getting high. There is such a thing as drinking in moderation just for the taste of it, but not to get stoned. I’m not convinced legalization gets rid of the organized crime element. Would love to see some people who know what they are talking about argue the pros and cons and discuss how the marijuana and alcohol prohibition situations are alike and different.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee, we don’t take our trips on LSD…Merle, we need you!

  • Truthclubber

    @9 —

    Really? Legalization won’t get rid of the organized crime element prevalent in today’s marijuana trade?

    1) I want what YOU’RE smokin’ — that $#!+ is GOOOOOOD!

    2) (Re)legalizing alcohol did away with scenes like this in major American cities, almost overnight.

    3) (Partially) legalizing marijuana in cities like Oakland and LA have reeked uncontrollable havoc in the urban areas, with massive riots, endless waves of mass murders…oh, wait, they haven’t — since people peacefully go into “pot doc shops” and get their herb, pay for it, and go home and smoke it.

    4) If you don’t like smokin’ weed — then don’t — same argument as there is about abortion (if you don’t like it, don’t have one — but don’t stop other people from exercising their rights over their own bodies in a free country; just add taxes if the end effect of select behavior will add a financial burden to the greater society)

    5) If you think there is NO violence occuring as a result of our inane national laws against herb, ask the poor folks down in Mexico how they feel about the Zetas and their rivals in the illegal cultivation industry chopping each other’s heads off over the stuff that gets exported up here…oh wait, that’s not happening in our bright and shiny “suburbia on the hill”, so we don’t HAVE to care, do we?

  • Truthclubber

    @9 —

    I left off one:

    6) I don’t HAVE to take over an entire state (or national) forest to “grow” my Beefeater’s gin — that’s what my local BevMo is for; I go in, pick up a bottle, pay for it, go home, and drink it with some tonic in the privacy of my own home, and I don’t try to stop you from drinking your rum and Coke in the privacy of your own home just because I don’t like rum…

  • Truthclubber

    @10 —

    Yeah, I know they don’t (do herb in Okieland) — and it shows!

    How enlightened and successful they have become as a result of their puritanism!

    If it weren’t for the oil beneath their feet, think where they would be now as an economic presence in the US!

  • JohnW

    When Prohibition was repealed, organized crime didn’t go away, but they did have to move on to other ways of making a buck. Pot is a bit different. There is a product substitution opportunity you didn’t have with booze. Legalize pot, and organized crime/cartels will not get out of the pot business. They will produce more potent and addictive forms of it and shift focus to producing and pushing other drugs. If we were to outright legalize pot, we have to find a way to do it that does not lead to mass commerce and demand-pushing in the stuff. Pot is not harmless for young people whose brains are still developing. Prohibition was about “puritanism.” The drug issue is more complicated.

  • Elwood

    @ # 14 John W.

    Would you please stop making sense?

    Irrational emotional rants are so much more fun to read.

  • Truthclubber

    @14 —

    As I said before, if you don’t like herb, or ganja, or Maryjane, or pot, then don’t buy it, smoke it, or bake it into your Christmas cookies (although Santa would like THAT, ho, ho, ho!).

    Likewise, if you don’t want your kids doing it, then don’t let them buy it (and good luck with that, just as good luck keeping them away from a 40 oz can of Mickey’s Malt Liquor or a pack of Camel Lights…)

    All of the rest of your argument is just more socio-mumbo-jumbo that Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley (just to name a few) rejected LONG ago, since they knew that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or nicotine (don’t even dare to have be recite the evidence on THAT!), and if caffeine were to be introduced today, it would probably be listed as a Schedule III drug, just like alcohol and nicotine would be, if they were introduced today…

    Oh, by the way, those three (booze, cigs, and java) are DRUGS, just like the satanical “marijuana”! Perhaps you forgot…

    You must have some kind of hate toward those of your college classmates who were lighting up when you weren’t…or maybe you ACTUALLY believed that everything depicted in “Reefer Madness” was true! Oh, the horror!