By: Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Law Enforcement Against Prohibition firstname.lastname@example.org
MARIJUANA COMMUNITY MOBILIZES FOR MARCH 28TH VOTE BY SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL, AND MAJOR LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY POSSIBLE
Mobilization of the Southern California marijuana community is underway to oppose an unreasonable and arguably unconstitutional ordinance to be considered by the city council on March 28th.
Itâ€™s a de facto ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. Meanwhile, a major injunctive civil lawsuit is being considered, prohibiting the City of San Diego from adopting and/or enforcing that ordinance if it passes. L.E.A.P. is adding the prestige and influence of law enforcement to the growing grassroots â€œStop-the-Banâ€ Campaign spearheaded by Eugene Davidovich, the San Diego liaison for Americans for Safe Access (www.SafeAccessSD.org).
We in L.E.A.P. are current and former law enforcement officers who support medical marijuana as a way of helping patients and reducing crime. Weâ€™re headquartered in Massachusetts with media representation in Washington, D.C. Though some law enforcement officers oppose medical marijuana, we support it solidly! Iâ€™ve discovered that lots of people are actually reading these specially written articles in NUG and are adding their time to help in our cannabis community.
In the last issue, I mistakenly used my personal cell phone number for the number of the county office that processes the state issued (and preferred) medical marijuana cards. The correct number for making an appointment with the county office providing the MMJ cards is (619)692-5723.
Injunctive Lawsuit Considered
As a matter of constitutional law, a state legislature cannot pass laws that block or impede the enforcement of federal laws. Similarly, a city council lacks jurisdiction to pass local ordinances that block or impede state laws. Yet, some politically arrogant and factually ignorant members of the San Diego City Council are doing just that, proposing a municipal ordinance that puts a long list of unreasonable and arguably unconstitutional restrictions on the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The proposed ordinance is a de facto ban on dispensaries and could cause the closure of many of our existing facilities.
L.E.A.P. is offering to provide the Stop-the-Ban Campaign with the comprehensive legal research necessary to file a civil lawsuit, seeking injunctive relief from the courts to prevent the enforcement of that city ordinance if it passes. Injunctive court orders begin with filing a civil complaint that first seeks a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a judge, which is generally issued when the plaintiff can show that irreparable damage will result if the TRO isnâ€™t issued.
Next, the court sets a hearing when both the plaintiff and city attorneys argue the merits of the injunction. If it finds the cityâ€™s new medical marijuana ordinance to be unconstitutional, it could prohibit the city from enforcing it; however, injunctive lawsuits cost big money. Tax-paying citizens in San Diego are really angry that uptight, uninformed city council members are proposing a city ordinance that will be a de facto ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.
â€œI believe itâ€™s not a good idea simply because it (the new city ordinance) is going to create a lot of difficulties for patients who need to get their legal, marijuana medication,â€ explained Alan Cruz (21) of San Ysidro. â€œThey prohibited alcohol during prohibition and it didnâ€™t work. Now they want to prohibit medical marijuana in the city. It would be just as bad. It is the same thing as what they did with gay marriages,â€ Cruz added. â€œThey allowed us to get married and then took away that right. Now weâ€™re trying to get it back (in the federal, appellate court). Theyâ€™re just fighting back and forth (on both medical marijuana and gay marriages). This struggle (at city hall) is bringing more drama to the scene,â€ Cruz believes.
While L.E.A.P. will work behind-the-scenes on legal research to prepare a civil lawsuit against the City of San Diego, prohibiting the enforcement of any new ordinance that is a de facto ban on dispensaries, a strong grassroots campaign called Stop-the-Ban is rapidly growing in Southern California.
Leading the mobilization are many leaders in the Southern California cannabis community, including Canvass for a Cause and Eugene Davidovich, San Diego liaison for Americans for Safe Access. â€œLife will be much more challenging for medical cannabis patientsâ€ if this restrictive, unreasonable and unconstitutional ordinance is passed, wrote Davidovich in NUG Magazine.
Detailed, comprehensive recommendations by the cityâ€™s Medical Marijuana Task Force were ignored in the proposed ordinance. The cityâ€™s planning commission favored factually inaccurate opponents of dispensaries and ignored evidence that local crime is reduced in neighborhoods with dispensaries.
The city is ignoring overwhelming evidence that:
â€¢ Medical marijuana does not cause consumers to become violent, as does alcohol.
â€¢ Cannabis doesnâ€™t have long-term, toxic effects on the body, as do cigarettes.
â€¢ Unlike cigarettes or alcohol, cannabis is NOT physically addictive.
â€¢ Marijuana is NOT a â€œgateway drugâ€ that leads inevitably to hard drugs like heroin.
â€¢ According to police reports, neighborhood crime is actually reduced where dispensaries are located.
Mobilizing for March 28th
Over 20 local, state and national medical marijuana organizations (including L.E.A.P.) are mobilizing to oppose the highly restrictive ordinance being considered by the city council. It will be an unconstitutional de facto ban on legal dispensaries.
On March 25th, the campaign will hold a news conference and candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Garden at 2115 Park Blvd. near Balboa Park.
On March 28th, the Stop-the-Ban Campaign is organizing a rally at the Federal Courthouse at 940 Front St. at noon. At 1:30 p.m., those at the rally will march over to city hall for the city councilâ€™s meeting at 2 p.m.
Organizers are using the internet and social networks to mobilize the troops in the cannabis community, and itâ€™s working, especially among young people. Roughly 100 million Americans â€“ ordinary Americans â€“ or about one third of the population acknowledge that they have consumed marijuana in the past month.
Despite having some of the strictest laws against marijuana in the world, the U.S. has the largest number of marijuana users. Each year, about 750,000 Americans are arrested for simple possession of a small amount of marijuana. Many are in state prisons, including Donovan State Prison in San Diego County, for only one joint. The U.S. has about 5% of the worldâ€™s population, but 25% of its prisoners. Law enforcement officers currently arrest an American on marijuana-related charges every 38 seconds. California now spends more money on prisoners ($216,013) than it does on educating our kids ($7,905). Regulating, controlling and taxing marijuana nationally would save the government about $41.3 billion in law enforcement costs.