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Dec-17-2012 14:23printcomments

California Moves Forward

Most can clearly see that the old guard of prohibition is losing and we are winning.

Cal marijuana bear
Courtesy: independentpoliticalreport.com

(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Since 1996 medical marijuana patients, otherwise known as Proposition 215 patients, have been fighting a battle for the rights to attain and procure their medicine. The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, is a California Proposition that was enacted by 55.6% of votes in favor of qualified patients having the right to use marijuana as medicine.

This statewide initiative was led by Dennis Peron, Anna Boyce, Valerie Corral, Dale Gieringer, Thomas Seiler, William Panzer, Scott Imler, and psychiatrist Tod H. Mikuriya. It happened after Dennis Peron saw first hand how successfuly his lover, Jonathan West, was able to treat his symptoms of AIDS.

A few years prior in 1991, Dennis had put together another piece of legislation called Proposition P. This was a San Francisco marijuana resolution, this portion of law was approved with 79% of the voters in San Francisco.

Citing that Federal law classified this drug as a schedule 1 narcotic with no medical value... this was the match which started the fire, and has consumed the entire state of California in a ferocious fight for liberty and rights.

The approval of this resolution was the very first and most important step in securing grounds for what later become Prop. 215.

Since those days the people of California have been in a state of turmoil and conflict between state and federal laws. The first week the new medical marijuana law was attached to the California Health and Safety Code 11362.5, an impetuous announcement was made by law enforcement unions in stating they would not enforce or uphold voter-approved Prop. 215.

Citing that Federal law classified this drug as a schedule 1 narcotic with no medical value... this was the match which started the fire, and has consumed the entire state of California in a ferocious fight for liberty and rights.

Soon the courthouses were full of cases of people being charged with criminal penalties for what was now a legal medicine. The law enforcement departments where true to their word and arrested without discretion.

Courtesy: http://abacamedical.com/

The district attorneys and judges were equally as strict, not understanding that the age old bias against the plant had come to pass by a vote of the people.

Considering Prop. 215 a "gray area", courts admonished the defendants with the same harsh criminal sanctions which was the norm previously.

These actions continued for some time until organizations like Ca NORML headed by Dale Gieringer, began to fight for ordinances and against complete bans in some counties and cities.

Soon others joined the fight with new alliances forming such as Americans for Safe Access or ASA which was spearheaded by Don Duncan, Steph Sherer, and legal counsel Joe Elford. This new breed of young educated professionals sought to bring science,education,activism and dialog to the forefront of the movement.

ASA called for safe access for medical marijuana patients and for their rights to be held within the law. The group didn't stop there. Soon their activism brought them into court battles to affirm the California State law and protect its people from the unjust criminal sanctions.

One situation took place in my hometown, in Butte County, California in the fall of 2005. ASA's legal counsel made arguments against the county after a sheriff deputy under threat of arrest, forced David Williams and elderly medical marijuana patients with a small collective to cut down the garden or be arrested.

After his compliance with the officer, a patient was issued a summons to appear on charges anyway, adding insult to injury as well as turmoil to the elderly patient's lives.

After lengthy court arguments in which the county stood by its decision that federal law prohibited the act of growing marijuana and its current schedule 1 status, the lower court ruled in favor of the county and sentencing was scheduled. Within weeks an appeal was filed with the Californian Supreme Courts and on September 6, 2007 the Superior Court ruled in ASA’s favor denying Butte County’s demurrer.

On July 1, 2009 the Third Appellate Court issued a published decision affirming the Superior Courts ruling. safeaccessnow.org/downloads/Butte_County_Ruling.pdf

This was crucial in a long line of wins by ASA and CaNORML, to secure solidity within the courts and let the law beware that the patients were not alone, or without a sword and shield.

Over the next years leading into today, the fight has changed and regulatory models are sought in the public arena of politics.

With small groups in individual communities joining forces and pushing for their rights; from northern Siskiyou County to San Diego in the far southern region of the state groups, coalitions, and associations have formed and stormed the county supervisors chambers and city halls to demand their rights.

Many times they are met with staunch criticism and opposition calling for a complete ban. These mindsets of prohibition led to more legal battles in the lower courts where the locality banning medical marijuana would secure a win for prohibition.

Image: inlandpolitics.com

Only later would the Supreme Court of California venture to overturn the unlawful stance of banning direct access to issues like dispensaries and cultivation, giving yet another foothold for patients to firmly stand upon and declare victory under the law.

Even with all these victories, still, daily law enforcement charges their citizens with criminal acts for possession, sale, transportation, etc.

Still sadly today, the public has fear of the law, and its power over their lives. Many live in the secluded outskirts of town to cultivate their medicine and live in peace, but slowly we are walking out of the shadows and the light ahead is very bright. We see now that other States like Colorado, and Washington have legalized recreational use, this is a massive implication to what we also can achieve here in California given the right initiative.

Most can clearly see that the old guard of prohibition is losing and we are winning.

The real question now is when will our opponent's corner see they have lost, and thrown in the towel?

Eric L. Salerno

safeaccessnow.org/

______________________________________________________

Eric Salerno is a Salem-News.com writer from Butte County, California. His background is with State and Federal Agencies assisting in recovery efforts in disaster stricken states.

In 2008 he began advocating for medical marijuana in his home state. This journey began after the supervisors in his district of Butte County enacted a moratorium on legal Prop. 215 patients rights to access and grow their own medicine. He was one of only 10 people to show up at the meeting and voice his concerns with their actions.

That year a coalition of mores than 300 residents was formed and a Vote NO on measure A campaign began. These residents of Butte County united to stop the interference of the county.

This campaign was successful with a large voter drive initiative and media campaign securing 55% of the voters saying NO on measure A.

Today Eric works endlessly from Southern California to Northern California advising and implementing political tactics, to ensure every Californian has the right to access legal safe medicine under the law.

You can write to Eric at this address: Ericsalerno@sbcglobal.net




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J. Craig Canada December 17, 2012 5:39 pm (Pacific time)

Wow. Here I thought it was ASA that was trying to get a son of Prop. 19 initiative on the ballot that would allow local jurisdictions (the city or county) to ban dispensaries, and then tried to get such a bill through the state legisature, sponsored by Tom Ammiano. It makes me very very sad to see this coming out of the Salem-News. http://palmspringsbum.org/blog/2012/06/letitia-pepper-sums-up-what-is-wrong-with-california-ab-2312/

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