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Posted on May 16 at 11:40 p.m.
Now after the fear of federal prosecution settles in, Jeff will have no choice but to accept whatever deal the DA offers. To me that is analogous to blackmail and does not reflect the sort of ethical fortitude we expect from our law enforcement officials. And, to my knowledge this is not the first time the DA and the police have used federal prosecution as a threat, thereby, all but forcing defendants into accepting plea deals. None of the local dispensary cases have made it to trial probably for that very reason. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Mr. Restivo is a witness for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the city for damages resulting from the brutal beating of Tony Denuzio by an SBPD officer. I suppose this raid counts as one hell of a cross examination. But this must all just be coincidence. I am sorry this was so lengthy, but apparently no one has had the courage to do some real research and investigative journalism. All the public hears are the slanted versions the SBPD puts out in its press releases which are summarily published by the press without any sort of scrutiny. No one is presenting the other side of the coin and as we well know there are always two sides to a story.
On Dope Days Are Over?
Posted on May 16 at 11:39 p.m.
Now, to add insult to injury they have used our tax dollars in the costly effort to investigate, raid and prosecute those who were arrested. SBPD investigators are also so thorough that they raided the wrong person's house. Jeff Restivo was arrested over two years ago for possession with intent to sell (i.e. managing a dispensary). Subsequent to his arrest two years ago he relinquished his interest in the continuing operations of Pacific Coast Collective. Jeff has had nothing to do with PCC since his arrest and there is no evidence which suggest otherwise. However, officers noted that his name was still listed under the PCC legal entity on the Secretary of State's website, which was filed PREVIOUS to his arrest. Due to this fact, investigators felt there was sufficient evidence to utilize our tax dollars to raid Jeff's house 2 days before Jeff was scheduled to settle in court with the DA's office regarding his felony case. It should also be noted that they took nothing from his home or cars, because there was no evidence there to find; because he isn't/hasn't been involved with PCC. It was also a publicly known fact that Brian Cota, the prosecutor in the case, was quoted as having the intent to settle the case in an Independent article. Also, according to the search warrant Det. Shawn Hill (the anti dispensary hero) observed Jeff Restivo pull up to his residence in a car registered to Jeff. Apparently, driving home in your own car infers that that you must be selling marijuana and was, thus, justification for the raid of his residence and vehicles.
Posted on May 16 at 11:37 p.m.
Now back to our local officials. In his paternal moral stewardship of the community Cam Sanchez has taken it upon himself to nullify the voters of the City of Santa Barbara. When our community overwhelmingly voted Measure T down we sent a strong message to our officials. That message was that we believed that dispensaries should be allowed to exist and operate within the city. Most of us also agree with the use of marijuana for medical purposes and we agree that there needs to be easy, safe and reliable access to that marijuana. Unfortunately, our employees at the police department don't feel the need to honor our community mandates despite the fact that they are paid by us to do exactly just that. Instead they prefer to arrest and slander the good names of citizens by ridiculously overcharging and attaching $1million bail schedules. Is this just part of a politically motivated campaign intended to manipulate public perception? The rhetoric always seems to paint dispensary operators and employess as “bad” people who take advantage of “sick” people; for whom the police obviously have a new and keen interest to protect. So is implication that “sick” people need to be protected from dispensaries? You mean the only place they can obtain the medical marijuana they need? By closing down dispensaries police are protecting the “sick”? What sort of nonsensical logic is that?
Posted on May 16 at 11:36 p.m.
Now, one thing that is clear is that the laws surrounding medical marijuana in California are in fact not clear. It seems logical that where these vagaries exist there should be legislation enacted to provide clarity. And you would think that because the laws regarding medical marijuana are vague and not clear that police would have the ethical obligation to not throw individuals into the justice system based on flimsy legal arguments. But indeed police are fervently arresting individuals and throwing them into the abyss of the justice system in order to try and force their preferred version of legal precedence through the courts. The result of police actions is the of destruction of the lives of community members they are supposed to represent and protect. Again, one would think that law enforcement including District Attorneys would also be familiar with the void for vagueness legal concept. It is a legal concept in American constitutional law that states that a given statute is void and unenforceable if it is too vague for the average citizen to understand. There are several ways, senses or reasons a statute might be considered vague. In general, a statute might be called void for vagueness reasons when an average citizen cannot generally determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed (wikipedia). I would say this clearly applies to the vagueness of California Medical Marijuana laws.
The argument that sales in California are clearly illegal is so hollow that even a local judge publicly disagreed with that assertion during a recent dispensary case. To paraphrase, Judge Brian Hill stated that it is clear that transactions where marijuana is exchanged for money does not void the protections afforded by Prop 215 and SB420. There are also no solid published court cases at the supreme court level establishing precedence to the contrary. In addition, while Governor Brown was still the Attorney General of the great State of California he issued guidelines for compliance. Within those guidelines he stipulated that California dispensaries must obtain a sales tax account with the Board of Equalization. Having a sales tax account inherently implies that “SALES” occur and are taxable. In court, police and DA's often counter this argument by emphasizing that the guidelines are only the legal opinion of the Attorney General and not law. They are correct in this assertion. But despite the fact that the guidelines are not law, they are the opinion of the state's most prominent law enforcement official about what the law actually is. How are we, as normal citizens, expected to come to a more correct conclusion about the law and be held to account in cases when we supposedly don't comply? I am not a lawyer, thus, I do depend on and consider to be mostly truthful the official statements made by government and senior law enforcement officials. This includes statements issued by the federal government such as the Ogden memo.
Posted on May 16 at 11:35 p.m.
The fact that money is changing hands does not in it of itself establish that an organization is “profiting”. Otherwise, most American non-profits would be criminally liable for almost all participate in the exchange of currency. This leads us to the next point of contention. Our local police, being legal experts in California's medical marijuana legislation, have engaged in multiple swat style raids and arrests based on a very weak legal argument, which presumes that every single dispensary in the state of California is inherently illegal due to the fact that exchanges of money for medical marijuana occur within them (i.e. retail sales).
Posted on May 16 at 11:34 p.m.
What if I were to tell you that it is not “clearly” illegal? That what law enforcement calls “profit” is most likely just salary and pay compensation that employees receive for their work; you know, that stuff most of us get when we commit our resources to organizations in exchange for other resources? Apparently, the common and popular view among anti dispensary law enforcement community is that any compensation constitutes profit. This is an absurd declaration. Even people who work for organizations like Direct Relief and the Ocean Futures Society, which are registered non-profits, receive compensation and in some cases in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Employees which are paid salary know what to expect every month or so in compensation and that pay neither increases nor decreases based on the immediate performance of the organization. Profit, on the other hand, can be defined as a “financial benefit that is realized when the amount of revenue gained from a business activity exceeds the expenses, costs and taxes needed to sustain the activity. Any profit that is gained goes to the business's owners, who may or may not decide to spend it on the business.” It is not defined as salary and compensation which actually fall under operational costs on an Income statement. Thus, the accusation of profiteering needs to be grounded on fact of compensation resulting from the varying performance of the organization over time and represented through equity interest.
We all know that DEA has come into town on their federal high horses with the intent to close every dispensary and marijuana grow in the county. They have done so with Cam Sanchez's blessing and most likely at his specific request. Cam and the SBPD have recently determined through “thorough investigations” that every dispensary in the city is knowingly operating outside of the law because they are engaging in retail sales for a profit, which in their words is clearly illegal under state law. It is interesting that after almost ten years of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the open within the city of Santa Barbara that they have just now reached this all but obvious conclusion. It is also interesting that city police and city officials have often toured and vetted these facilities to the extent that they have even engaged in the process of permitting them. Where were the police during those city council hearings? Where was the DA? I don't seem to recall that Cam Sanchez ever came into one of those hearings to say to City Council, “hey, you are permitting organizations that are clearly breaking California law to operate with your blessing”. Would it not have been his obligation to do so?
Posted on May 16 at 11:33 p.m.
First, regarding the contention that dispensaries only provide marijuana to young healthy people and not the sick and dying, it is widely known that many doctors will indeed provide recommendations to young healthy people with scratched fingers resulting from yesterday's frisbee golf game. Doctors may do this for financial gain or for personal ideology. My intuition tells me it is probably both. However, the dispensaries cannot and should not be penalized for this. As long as doctors have the discretion, they are the only ones who can decide who can walk into a dispensary and obtain medical marijuana. Dispensaries are not qualified to make the medical determination of whether someone should use marijuana for medical purposes. It is absolutely unfair to punish the sick and dying because doctors engage in these practices. Despite the fact that young healthy people may frequent dispensaries it is true that very sick and often dying individuals also use and rely on the services provided to them by dispensaries. And when you shut down a dispensary it clearly limits access to the sick and dying whether intended to do so or not. It is to ridiculous suggest that people who are sick and dying should just then “collectively” participate in the harsh physical labor required to grow marijuana. It is a fact that it cost money to grow marijuana. It requires physically difficult work, expertise, capital and a willingness to risk being prosecuted by a legal system run by people who are willing to leverage the system against individuals even where the legalities are gray. I suppose law enforcement in many cases does this out of the convictions arising from their personal beliefs and morals. For whatever reason the result is many lives become ruined, whether by the prevention of access to medical marijuana, arrest, prosecution, job loss, financial strain, stress on relationships and family, loss of custody of children, character assassination, slander, humiliation etc.
Posted on May 16 at 11:32 p.m.
I don't intend to argue the ethical and moral issues surrounding marijuana and more specifically medical marijuana. Most of us have come to conclusions on whether marijuana use is unethical or immoral. We may also have differing opinions on whether using marijuana crosses those boundaries based on intended use, i.e. whether it is befor recreational or medical use. This is a long drawn out argument that has been played out thousands of times in countless forums. But what is currently a more import issue here is whether in California marijuana can be “sold” legally to medical marijuana patients with valid doctor provided recommendations and whether these transactions can be conducted within the confines of a dispensary. Another subject I do not want to address here is the federal vs state rights issue due to the much wider breadth of those arguments. I will leave that to the constitutional experts. But I will say that there are now 16 states which have legislation on the books regarding medical marijuana and who's populace or legislators have come to the conclusion that they can regulate these issues despite potential federal illegalities. I would say this fact presents some evidence that it is not such a cut and dry issue.