9:30 AM Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Covers Updates on Marijuana, Syringes, and “Unreasonably Disturbing Noise” at City Council, Lapis Road Latest, A Taste of the Mime Troupe and More!–Tune in at 101.3 FM or freakradio.org

Today’s show includes Carol Denny on Pepperspray Politics in Berkeley, Tenant Activist Organizing in Santa Cruz, and Caustic Commentary by Bathrobespierre on Everything.

Contact 575-770-3377 to volunteer different kinds of support for the Survival Sleepers now dispersed to the Post Office and points along Pacific Avenue  and support Food Not Bombs locally and those whose only resting place is an illegal piece of sidewalk.

Leave your comments and questions at the same number.   Still a $500 reward for any info leading to Free Radio’s finding a 10′ X 10′  studio space for Free Radio Santa Cruz to rent in Santa Cruz.

Later in the day after the show has aired, the Sunday 9-17 show archives at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb170917.mp3.

Lowest Enforcement Priority for Marijuana in Santa Cruz? Don’t Rely on the Measure K Committee

Measure K Committee Craps Out Again–Another Free Ride for the SCPD
by Robert Norse
Monday Oct 6th, 2014 11:06 PM

The Measure K Committee, created by voter initiative in 2006 here in Santa Cruz, in Santa Monica, and in Santa Barbara was supposed to be the first step in holding the local PD and similar agencies accountable and moving to end Marijuana Prohibition. I detailed the agenda and some preliminary concerns about the Committee pro-police bias at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/05/18762458.php .   Marijuana enforcement was supposed to become the lowest enforcement priority for adults on private property–whether the marijuana was being used, bought, sold, transported, or simply possessed.  The Measure K Committee was supposed to ensure that police were laying off.  Instead it’s acting as a rubberstamp.

There was no public present for much of the meeting other than me; I was the only speaker. The chair was Deborah Ellston, an organizer in the Santa Cruz Neighbors, the right-wing NIMBY group which elected Lynn Robinson Mayor. There was also no armed officer present. Perhaps that was why my tiny tape recorder was for the first time in six months left unmolested as it sat recording the meeting. (See “Video of the False Arrest at Santa Cruz City Council ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/05/03/18755258.php )

TICKETS OUTNUMBER COMPLAINTS 8-1 BUT COMMITTEE NOT INTERESTED IN SEEING THE CITATIONS
None of the Committee was interested in actually looking at the statistic around marijuana arrests. Why were the police doing 8 times more ticketing/arresting for marijuana than there were calls for service around that issue? Member Coral Brune couldn’t get a second for her motion to ask to see the actual fifty marijuana citations and arrest reports. Before rubberstamping the summary and conclusions of Assistant to the Assistant City Manager Scott Collins that the SCPD were “in compliance”. In essence they took the SCPD’s word for it.
However, MC 9.84.060(1)(e) actually reads: “Responsibilities of the committee shall include: submitting written reports semi-annually to the Santa Cruz City Council on the implementation of this ordinance, … These reports shall include but not necessarily be limited to: the number of all arrests, citations, property seizures, and prosecutions for marijuana offenses in the city of Santa Cruz; the breakdown of all marijuana arrests and citations by race, age, specific charge, and classification as infraction, misdemeanor, or felony; the percentage of all arrests in the city of Santa Cruz that are for adult marijuana offenses.”
The only provision that was actually followed was the final section which requires the reports to include “any instances of law enforcement activity that the committee believes violated the lowest law enforcement priority policy”–where everyone took the SCPD’s word that that number was zero.
I couldn’t figure out whether most of the Committee members were being cagey, cowardly or just clueless in willfully ignoring the requirements of the law (passed by the voters after being rejected by City Council back in 2006).  I suspect that exaggerated respect for and/or apprehension of the police played its usual role.

VICTIMS OF POLICE ABUSE CAN CONTACT THE COMMITTEE IN SIX MONTHS
One member afterwards–the only one who actually stopped to talk with me–actually told me that he didn’t want to examine police records unless he received credible reports of violations. When I told him that as a radio broadcaster I’d received such reports of homeless people being ticketed for marijuana on private property (though admittedly outdoors), he suggested they “come to the next meeting” That would be in six months, I told him. No, he insisted, we meet ever three months. I showed him the minutes of the last meeting–since the Committee meets twice yearly. On several occasions the members don’t bother to show up or City Council members left their seats vacant.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
To his credit, at Coral’s request Collins arranged to have a recording of the meeting–something David Terrazas–head of the Public Safety Committee twice refused to do. Terazzas’s committee excreted one anti-homeless law after another last year.
To his discredit, Collins suggested that getting the police to release the 50 marijuana citations from the last six months would be “burdensome” and “costly” and “time-consuming”. The Committee ignored my testimony that I regularly got such information from the police department–which didn’t seem to bankrupt them or prompt wails of dismay.

HOW MUCH MONEY IS THE SCPD USING FOR MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT? DON’T ASK!
Other motions presented by Brune were dismissed as “beyond the purview” of the Committee that “might require an opinion of the City Attorney.” These included  a request to find out what grants or funding sources the SCPD gets that are used for any kind of marijuana enforcement. This is actually explicitly authorized if not required by MC 9.84.050(2) (e) of Measure K which states: “Responsibilities of the committee shall include…the estimated time and money spent by the city on law enforcement and punishment for adult marijuana offenses.”
Another one turned down without a second or a vote was “how much is spent for marijuana arrest and citations?” Another action authorized by the law.

ARRESTING HOMELESS PEOPLE? NOT INTERESTED.
Brune also asked that Collins provide a breakdown of arrests that include marijuana as an additional offense and the number of citations given homeless people in their campers (private property which the SCPD is supposed to give lowest enforcement priority to.
Brune also called for researching the proportion of service calls (i.e. marijuana complaints) to marijuana citations. The latter outnumber the former by a factor of 8 to 1, indicating that the SCPD is doing such citing without a complaint in most of the cases. This was ignored.

A PRIVATE PERSON HAS TO DO WHAT A CITY-FUNDED COMMITTEE REFUSES TO DO
Brune noted she’d filed her own Public Records Act request to get the stats, which I’ll ask her to post publicly so the community can do the job that the Measure K Committee declines to do.
Collins and other Committee members hastily moved to distance themselves from her action–suggesting that any criticism of our armed Drug War Enforcers was just not cricket.

HASSLED IN CONNECTION WITH MARIJUANA ON PRIVATE PROPERTY IF YOU’RE OVER 21?
Please contact me with any instances of harassment for marijuana use, possession, transportation, sales, or purchase on private property. That means on any piece of private property whether open to the public or not, as far as I know. E-mail rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com or call me at 831-423-4833. I will pass on these concerns to the Committee (via Brune) as well as make them public on Free Radio Santa Cruz.
The “Semi-Annual” Report which the Committee approved can be found at http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2014/10/05/semiannualreport_draft_june14_for_october_meetring.pdf

To read further critical background on the Measure K Committee, follow the links at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/05/18762458.php

 

Continue reading

SoMa becoming free-trade zone for pot dispensaries

C.W. Nevius
SF Chronicle, Monday, July 2, 2012

Neighborhood groups have been complaining about the pot club boom South of Market for years. But now that recently approved marijuana dispensaries are starting to open, the critics can point to the map and make the case that there should be a law against “clustering.”

Across from The Chronicle at Fifth and Mission streets, workers are putting the finishing touches on a dispensary at 952 Mission, set to open in July. And in April, the City Planning Commission approved another club just around the corner at Sixth and Jessie, about half a block away.

The hearing prompted debate, but until the storefronts open, it is hard to visualize the problem.

“If there were a number of Starbucks opening on the same block, or banks, I would still be here” objecting, said Daniel Hurtado, executive director of the Central Market Community Benefit District. “There’s literally another one around the corner. What’s the need?”

Unfortunately, regulating pot clubs is not a popular position. Then-Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi pushed through regulations in 2005 that kept dispensaries from opening, unregulated, all over the city.

Unfortunately, what seemed like reasonable restrictions at the time have basically turned the South of Market district into a pot free-trade area. The idea was that a dispensary could not be placed within 1,000 feet of a school for students younger than 18 and that it had to be zoned for commercial use.

SoMa, with its condos, apartments and single men and women, fits the profile perfectly. A rectangle, from Fourth Street to 10th Street three blocks wide, is nearly all wide open. When the two new clubs open this summer, seven dispensaries will be between Fourth and 10th streets.

The irony, of course, is that everyone from Mayor Ed Lee to neighborhood activists has been trying to get new businesses to move into the area around troubled Sixth Street. But creating a San Francisco version of pot-friendly Amsterdam was not what they had in mind.

California State Senate Rejects Lower Penalty For Drug Possession

Associated Press

June 1, 2012

State senators have rejected a bid to make California the 14th state to end felony penalties for those convicted of possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use.

Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, proposed reducing drug possession to a misdemeanor.

Those convicted would have served up to a year in county jail instead of the three-year maximum sentence under current law.

Leno argued that SB1506 would save counties and the state millions of dollars annually and help reduce jail crowding.

Just 11 Democratic senators supported the bill Thursday. Twenty-four senators of both political parties were opposed, and several other Democrats did not cast votes.

Sen. Ted Gaines, a Republican from Roseville, noted that law enforcement groups are opposed. He calls drug possession a gateway to other crimes.

California voters not hot for legalizing pot

May 31, 2012

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES –  Legalizing marijuana is gaining traction in many places but apparently not in California, the state where the idea first took root.

Half of California voters surveyed say they oppose broad legalization, while 46 support it, according to a University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll (http://lat.ms/MZfhMp ) released Thursday. The survey found opinions have not measurably changed since 2010, when California voters defeated Proposition 19 that would have allowed recreational use of the drug.

A national Gallup poll recently showed support for legalizing pot had reached an all-time high of 50 percent. Behind such momentum, marijuana advocates have succeeded in getting initiatives qualified for the upcoming November ballot in Colorado and Washington.

The USC/LA Times poll found California voters overwhelmingly support doctor-recommended use of marijuana for the severely ill, with about 80 percent in favor of medical marijuana for the terminally ill and severely disabled.

The San Francisco Bay Area was the only region in the state where a majority — 55 percent — favors legalization. That compares with 41 percent in Southern California.

Those against marijuana use were more adamant in their position, with 42 percent feeling “strongly” about it compared with 33 percent for proponents.

Twenty-eight percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats polled liked the idea of marijuana legalization. Sixty-eight percent of Independents favor it.

Age also was a factor. Fifty-eight percent of those in their late teens and 20s support legal recreational use while just 28 percent of those older than 64 approve general use.

While California allows medical marijuana, it leaves the regulation of dispensaries where the drug is dispersed to local communities. In some places, the proliferation of dispensaries has angered citizens and prompted federal authorities to shut down some. The U.S. government does not allow legal use of medical marijuana.

The poll numbers suggest Californians are concerned about implementation of the Compassionate Use Act, the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996, according to Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

“They like the idea of providing marijuana for medical use, but they’re worried that the law is being abused,” he said.

Dale Gieringer, coordinator of the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said California needs to better regulate medical pot distribution before the public will embrace general use.

“Voters are hesitant to liberalize the marijuana laws any further until the chaos of the current system is worked out,” he said.

The statewide telephone poll of 1,002 registered voters was conducted May 17-21. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

Federal move to seize 2 Novato pot-club buildings

by Vivian Ho
SF Chronicle, April 26, 2012

Federal prosecutors are moving to seize two Novato buildings that house medical-marijuana dispensaries, following through on warnings they began issuing last fall when they announced a campaign against California’s pot clubs.

The U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco went to federal court Monday asking that the landlords of the Green Door Wellness Education Center and the neighboring Green Tiger dispensary forfeit their properties on Redwood Boulevard. By Wednesday, Green Tiger had already closed.

Federal prosecutors have sent letters to at least 300 dispensaries in California, threatening prosecution and asset forfeiture for allegedly violating federal law against marijuana distribution, said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group.

About 300 dispensaries have voluntarily shut down, including five in San Francisco, Hermes said. Some had been pressured by federal prosecutors, and others were scared off by the government’s campaign, he said.

But Hermes said he could “count on one hand” the number of asset forfeitures the federal government has pursued.

“It’s rare for them to act on their threats, period,” Hermes said. “I think they’re trying to make an example to the broader population.”

Sara Zalkin, an attorney who specializes in marijuana cases, said she knew of no previous instances in which federal prosecutors have gone to court to seize a dispensary landlord’s building.

“They sent letters threatening landlords, basically saying that they were putting them on notice because they believed there were controlled substances being stored or distributed on their properties,” Zalkin said. “But I have not personally experienced or heard of the feds actually moving toward forfeiture.”

Under state law, distribution of marijuana for medical use is legal, but it’s illegal under federal law. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco declined to comment on the Novato cases.

The complaints prosecutors filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco cite alleged violations of federal law and municipal zoning codes.

Lawrence Pebbles, director of the Green Door Wellness Education Center, said he plans to continue business as usual until a judge tells him otherwise. He’s had a tense relationship with his landlord, David Cesena, in the past – Cesena recently tried to evict him, but a Marin County Superior Court judge ruled against him.

Cesena could not be reached for comment Thursday. Neither could Green Tiger’s landlords, Kerry and Martin O’Brien.

Pebbles opened his dispensary in April 2010. He said his client list has grown to almost 1,800, with 20 to 30 regulars a day.

“Without a legitimate, safe access, patients will be forced to seek alternatives, which are less safe, less accessible,” Pebbles said. “There’s a higher level of vulnerability when you have to go to the black market.”

He added, “There are a lot of arguments in both directions, but all I know is that prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, and it doesn’t seem to be working for cannabis either.”

US Attorney Warns Calif. Farmers Against Pot Grows

Don Thompson

Associated Press, 2-29-2012

Sacramento, Calif. — The top federal prosecutor in the Central Valley said Tuesday that he plans a tour this week to tell agricultural landowners they could lose their property or be prosecuted if they permit large marijuana plantations on their land.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner will visit the Fresno County Farm Bureau on Thursday and the Kern County Sherriff’s Department on Friday to warn of the federal crackdown.

Investigators have found large marijuana fields primarily in the southern part of the valley, from Stanislaus County to Kern County, Wagner said in an address to the Sacramento Press Club. The crackdown targets landowners who allow their properties to be used for marijuana cultivation.

 

Wagner called the large-scale operations “a hazard to people in those farming communities.”

 

Ryan Jacobsen of the Fresno County Farm Bureau welcomed the news. He said residents are endangered by the marijuana grows, which often are operated by absentee landowners.

 

“It looks like it’s mostly outsiders. It’s not most of the mainstream farmers and ranchers who have been there for generations,” Jacobsen said. “A lot of this is not necessarily being grown for California medicinal marijuana use. A lot of it’s being exported to other states.”

 

He and Wagner said the marijuana plots are often on the scale of industrial farming.

 

“We’re not talking about backyard size. One bust was 55 acres. There’s many, many 20-acre parcels down here that are being fully grown with marijuana. It’s probably on a scale much, much larger than most people are familiar with,” Jacobsen said. “There’s guard towers that have gone up in the middle of ag lands to protect the grows.”

 

California narcotics officers said they found millions fewer pot plants on remote public lands last summer, largely because they believe growers have shifted to growing in plain sight with the hope that California’s medical marijuana law would make prosecution by state district attorneys more difficult.

 

Investigators said growers frequently lease the land, though some growers are small farmers supplementing their incomes. Other crops may be grown to hide the growing marijuana plants.

 

“Those farmers who plant large crops of marijuana or who lease their land to people who do are risking forfeiture of their lands or, in the egregious cases, criminal prosecution,” Wagner said.

 

He was met with criticism before and during his speech from those who said the federal government should not interfere, given California’s liberal medical marijuana law.

 

California law permits the drug to be cultivated and supplied to sick people on a nonprofit basis. Federal officials say many clinics profit under the pretense they are helping the sick.

 

Wagner said investigators have found that some medical marijuana dispensaries were generating $10,000 to $50,000 in profits each day, selling marijuana for twice what they paid for it.

 

“That’s not about sick people. That’s about money,” he said.