Law Enforcement Against Prohibition 9

By: Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Law Enforcement Against Prohibition |

The Purple Heart medal is only awarded after a soldier is wounded by hostile action in actual combat. Ben Crandall (21) of Mission Beach holds two Purple Hearts and now desperately needs medical marijuana for his recovery from combat wounds. Disappointingly, the City of San Diego may close all dispensaries and cut off Crandall’s important supply. He went through bloody hell in combat and now the city may put him through hell again by cutting off his medications. From my law enforcement perspective, it seems so un-American. It’s like spitting on the American flag.

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The manager of The Holistic Café dispensary at 415 University Ave. under the famous Hillcrest sign, Ben Lujan, 27, inspects his product. Photo by Leo E. Laurence

After giving a short speech on law enforcement support for medical marijuana at the city hall rally on April 12th, Ben Lujan (27), the manager of The Holistic Café dispensary at 415 University in Hillcrest, arranged for an exclusive interview with Crandall and two other wounded ex-infantrymen.

“I was deployed (in Afghanistan) for a little over a year. I was in the 1-2-6 infantry. While I was over there, I got to meet two of the greatest guys ever, and they are now my roommates in Mission Beach,” reports Aaron Miller (22). “I met them over there and we haven’t separated since. We’re family now. We bonded, seen things and done things that nobody ever wants to do. Medical marijuana is really benefiting ex-soldiers suffering from shell shock, depression and PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder). I was suffering from severe depression. For a good while, I was on two different depression medications. I was also in deep pain for a very long time for my left shoulder. I contracted a general brain injury while I was over there. I had a couple of concussions that gave me severe headaches, which can lead to memory loss. It messes with everything.”

“Medical marijuana helps with no more headaches and no more severe anxiety. I can actually eat healthier now. It doesn’t give me the munchies. It calms me down. I haven’t been using (medical marijuana) for very long. Before I (recently) moved out here, I was on numerous meds and three different painkillers. I was on two meds for anxiety and two for depression. Now, with medical marijuana, I take zero meds. I’m off every single (psychiatric) medication and I’ve lost 40 pounds in two months,” Miller explained, who looks slender and muscled now. “I’m just a happier person now,” the young veteran continued. “Much of that success is due to the medical cannabis and the (community) family you run into at dispensaries.”

“Medical marijuana is about helping people who really need it. Combat vets in pain are fearful of taking in more pharmaceuticals, which hurt us (recovering vets) in more ways than they help,” Miller added. HIV patients often report that side effects from pharmaceuticals can be more painful than the symptoms they supposedly treat.

Two Purple Hearts
Miller lives in Mission Beach with two other ex-infantrymen he bonded with in combat: Ben Crandall (21) and Joshua John Orcutt (26). All three heavily depend on medical marijuana for their recoveries from combat wounds.

“I was in the Blue Saders of the Army’s First Infantry Division deployed in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. My first one (Purple Heart), I was driving a vehicle and we got ambushed. The Taliban hit us with an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). I got hit with shrapnel of metal and glass in my face. My second (Purple Heart) resulted while we were on patrol and talking with some of the leaders of a local village. Suddenly, somebody just shot from the nearby mountains and hit me,” Miller reported.

Third Hero
One of the ex-infantrymen is Joshua John Orcutt (26), who also served in the same unit in the Kunar Province. “After I got out, I was diagnosed with PTSD, extreme anxiety disorders and sleeping disorders. I started taking a regimen of Zantac and other anti-depression pills. But, it wasn’t enough. I began drinking heavily. It changed who I was and everything about me. It made me angrier and mean,” he continued. “When I got out of the Army, I tried some marijuana and I loved it. I don’t take any pills now. I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to. I’m a lot healthier. I’m running and very active.

“If the city closes the dispensaries, I will definitely have to go back on Zantac, but I don’t want to because it’s a horrible feeling,” the combat veteran explained.

Diverse Campaign Strategies
Local governments do not have the authority or jurisdiction to ban the implementation of a state law; yet, pending de facto bans are now widespread throughout Southern California from Imperial Beach to Oceanside and to cities in Imperial County.

At our press deadline, the mayor’s press secretary in San Diego, Kevin Klein, had not returned calls requesting the status of the city’s new ordinance, which are reportedly sitting on the mayor’s desk. It’s illegal for any city to block the state law authorizing medical marijuana. These city ordinances can be challenged in court where these de facto bans statewide can be declared unconstitutional.

Many of the provisions in these anti-marijuana city ordinances are also unconstitutionally vague. It’s difficult to understand what they mean, making them unlawful to enforce and allowing a judge to strike them. Widely diverse strategies are emerging within the medical marijuana community on how to proceed, as the proposed city ordinance, which creates a de facto ban on dispensaries, sits on the mayor’s desk.

Some believe that rallies, marches, speeches and letter writing campaigns help. They certainly stir up the troops. Other equally persuasive leaders believe it will be necessary to go into court to stop the city’s outrageously unreasonable ordinance, if it becomes law. But, simply choosing an attorney with experience at restraining orders seems to have become difficult for our community. Meanwhile, an ad hoc organization of several dispensary representatives is now being mobilized to put a referendum on a future ballot, which is a slow and very expensive process.

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Ben Crandall (left), Aaron Miller (center) and Joshua Orcutt (right), may lose their medications because of the city’s pending, de facto ban on medical-marijuana dispensaries. Photo by Leo E. Laurence

A parade of wildly mistaken, anti-marijuana people spoke to the San Diego City Council, describing dispensaries as evil places where nearly anyone can get marijuana, which they believe also increases neighborhood crime. Both are blatantly wrong. Law enforcement records reveal that neighborhood crime usually goes DOWN where a dispensary is located nearby and here’s why: operating behind securely locked doors and with uniformed – and sometimes armed – security guards always on duty, thieves stay away from the dispensaries and their neighborhoods. The risk of getting busted is too high. Some dispensaries, like the distinct San Diego Herbal Alternatives at 5830 Oberlin Drive in the Serra Mesa area, even have their front door locked, which is opened only by a buzzer.

My thanks to the readers who understand that while I bring a law enforcement perspective to the medical marijuana campaigns, my articles are not necessarily the official position of L.E.A.P. That’s partly because my international organization’s headquarters in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. actually have a more expansive policy of encouraging the legalization of all drugs, as Portugal has done and where the crime rate has gone down as a result.

Active duty and former law enforcement officers are asked to call (619)757-4909 or e-mail to confidentially get involved with these campaigns. If you’ve worn a badge, you know what it’s like.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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