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medical marijuanaThe City of Anaheim, which operates its own public utility, is cutting off power and water to pot stores operating illegally in Anaheim.

From the Orange County Register:

ANAHEIM – The city is turning the lights off at medical-marijuana dispensaries that illegally opened across the city in a move to get them to leave.

The strategy has worked.

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I had heard about this case before, but wasn’t aware of any of the details until reading this story in the OC Register.

Tony Jalali has never faced federal charges, yet the federal government wants to seize his office building because he rented space to a medical marijuana dispensary.

Even though medical marijuana shops are allowed in California, the businesses are outlawed by the federal government. As a result, federal prosecutors are using a law that allows them to confiscate property linked to criminal activity.

“The government’s role is to stop these types of stores from proliferating in cities that don’t want them” said Steve Welk, an assistant U.S. Attorney. “The government’s role is to stop these types of stores from proliferating in cities that don’t want them.”

Jalali had no connection to the dispensary, Releaf Health and Wellness, and evicted the tenants just days after the property forfeiture case was filed last year, said his attorney, Larry Salzman of the Institute for Justice. The defense team is asking a federal court to dismiss the case and allow Jalali to keep the building at 2601 W. Ball Road, valued at $1.5 million.

You can read the whole article here.

I fully support Anaheim’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries; a recent state Supreme Court ruling permits Anaheim and other local governments to enact such bans, and I think such actions fall squarely within the police powers of state and local governments.

But the fact remains the medical marijuana dispensary in question wasn’t Jalali’s, and it is unfair and unjust for the government to seize his property. i have no problem with asset forfeiture laws when they are applied to the property of drug dealers; but it is another thing altogether when the government abuses them to go after the property of individuals who are not involved in the criminal drug trade.

Whatever the City of Anaheim can do to prevail upon the feds to back-off Mr. Jalali, it ought to do.

On Tuesday, the Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to ban mobile medical marijuana dispensaries — what, in states without medical marijuana laws, would be known as a drug dealer selling weed from a car.

Medical reefer is shaping up to be an electoral fight on next year’s Anaheim municipal ballot. In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that municipalities have every right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. I agree with the court. Furthermore, the question of whether a city or county has the right to impose such a ban is totally separate from whether such bans are good public policy (which I think they are).

In any case, medical pot interests have formed a campaign committee called Anaheim Safe Access that presumably will seek to qualify a pro-medicinal reefer initiative on next year’s June or November ballot.

Since the state Supreme Court has given cities the green light, the Anaheim City Council simply acted on its long-standing position of banning medical marijuana dispensaries. Per the staff report from the item:

Not only do these mobile dispensaries pose the same problems and issues as storefront MMDs, but they have been associated with additional criminal activity targeting their unique method of operations. Delivery drivers, for example, are been reported in mainstream media as targets of armed robbers who seek cash and drugs. As a result, many of the drivers reportedly carry weapons or have armed guards as protection. There are numerous reported incidents of violent confrontations between delivery drivers and individuals targeting those drivers. Compared to “brick and mortar” MMDs which mainly operate in commercial areas and have known locations, there is thus the potential that violence related to these type of services may intrude (with little ability of law enforcement to monitor such activity) into residential neighborhoods where deliveries occur.

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Last Thursday, I posted about the recent opening of a new political committee, “Anaheim Safe Access”, the goal of which is  “to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of cannabis to all Anaheim patients in medical need.”

I e-mailed and left a voice message for Jason Ryan Thompson of Thompson Advocacy, who is spearheading this effort. Mr. Thompson e-mailed a reply to me on Friday night:

I would be happy to answer your questions at a later time.  Things are moving fast and the group is not prepared to make a statement just yet.  I will be happy to answer your questions sometime within the next two weeks, though.  

I shall keep our readers posted.

Medical marijuana advocate Jason Thompson

Medical marijuana advocate Jason Thompson

It looks like a medical marijuana initiative may be coming to Anaheim next year.

A new city political committee was filed with the Anaheim City Clerk on June 12 called “Anaheim Safe Access,” which describes its purpose as being “to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of cannabis to all Anaheim patients in medical need.”

The treasurer is Jason Ryan Thompson, a Riverside-based attorney and owner of Thompson Advocacy – which counts medical marijuana dispensaries among its clientele. The principal officer is a Richard Baker of Anaheim. I’ve e-mailed and left a voice-mail for Mr. Thompson for additional information on the committee’s plans, and I’ll report back on what he tells me.Medical marijuana advocate Jason Thompson

In May of this year this California Supreme Court ruled that municipalities had the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. As Councilwoman Kris Murray wrote in her May e-newsletter:

This ruling is a significant victory for Anaheim, as the City has been working for years to ban dispensaries from operating within our community.  

As background, in 2007, the City adopted Ordinance No. 6067, which banned the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Anaheim. Soon thereafter, the City was sued in an attempt to overturn the ordinance and that litigation continues. In 2011, the City Council approved a moratorium to prevent new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening while we continued to work through the courts on the existing litigation and that moratorium expired in January of this year. This moratorium was passed in the wake of numerous dispensaries opening within Anaheim neighborhoods.

The state Supreme Court clears the way for the City of Anaheim to move ahead with a permanent ban on pot dispensaries.

My guess is formation of this “Anaheim Safe Access” political committee is the first step in qualifying a ballot initiative allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Anaheim.

Dude!

Stay tuned.

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