Dale Gieringer

California: Lawmakers Propose New Oral Swab Test To Catch High Drivers

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State officials in California Tuesday proposed a bill to allow law enforcement officers to use new technology to catch motorists driving while high.

An oral swab test would be used by law enforcement officers when probable cause is found that a driver is impaired and has failed sobriety field tests.

A hand-held electronic device would test for the presence of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines,and pain medications, including opiates, according to Republican Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas, author of the bill.

“Sadly, we’ve become a nation of self-medicating, careless people,” Huff said. “The public is naïve in understanding how dangerous our roads are made by people who are abusing opiates, meth and cannabis.”

The new proposal is “premature," said Dale Gieringer, director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Gieringer said the technology was not widely used by law enforcement.

“Oral swab testing is still an unproven technology,” Gieringer said. “Its accuracy has not been demonstrated in controlled, published scientific studies. There's no evidence that oral swab testing results have any correlation to impaired driving.”

California: San Diego Rushes To Write Medical Marijuana Cultivation Rules

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new California law is spurring San Diego, for the first time, to regulate and allow cultivation of medical marijuana within city limits.

A memo issued by Deputy City Attorney Shannon Thomas last week describes ways the city could regulate the growing of medicinal cannabis, including zoning regulations or simply allowing cultivation in all areas zoned for agriculture, reports David Garrick at the Los Angeles Times.

The city might impose a "temporary" moratorium on cultivation while exploring new regulations, according to the memo.

California's new Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act aims to "legitimize" the nearly 20-year-old industry; state voters first approved the use of medical marijuana back in 1996. The new law also gets regulations in place in anticipation of Californians approving recreational use of marijuana in November.

The law requires mandatory product testing and gives reluctant cities new reasons to allow dispensaries and cultivation by allowing them in on the money action, collecting fees and levying taxes.

The law also says cities with no regulations in place by March 1 will permanently cede authority of medical marijuana cultivation to the state -- but the author claims that deadline was erroneously included.

California: Native American Marijuana Farm Opens Next Month

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Northern California Native American tribe has announced it is building a $10 million indoor marijuana cultivation facility just north of Ukiah.

"The tribes are just getting out ahead of the game," said Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Hamburg, reports Glenda Anderson at The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa.

"Legalization is coming," said Dale Gieringer, California state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "It looks like it'll be the tribes."

The Pinoleville Pomo Nation has contracted with United Cannabis, based in Colorado, and FoxBarry Companies, based in Kansas, to grow thousands of marijuana plants in greenhouses on its 99-acre rancheria, The Press Democrat reports. FoxBarry -- which, interestingly enough, also invests in tribal casinos -- is bankrolling and managing the project.

This is believed to be the first California tribe to build a large cannabis-growing facility, but at least two more are already planned at other locations in the state -- by the same corporations behind the Ukiah operation. Those two locations are still undisclosed, other that they will be in Central and Southern California.

California: Accident Statistics Show No Evidence Of Marijuana DUI Crisis

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Drug DUI Bill Set for Hearings before Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday, April 29

The growing popularity of marijuana has raised public worries about the risk of an increase in driving accidents due to marijuana DUIs. Fortunately, the most recent federal highway safety statistics show no evidence of a MJ/drug driving epidemic.

According to data from NHTSA's Fatal Accident Recording System (FARS), the number of fatal highway accidents in California declined from 3,148 to 2,632 between 1999 and 2012; in the same period, the number of accident victims testing positive for marijuana increased from 105 to 402.

In short, highway safety actually improved while marijuana use increased in the past decade (this is true not only in California, but also nationwide). CA DUI arrests have likewise declined in the same period.

A closer examination of the data shows that marijuana use jumped suddenly around 2003-5, but has held steady ever since. Soon thereafter, accidents dropped substantially in 2006-2010 and are now 20 percent below their levels in the early 2000s.

Parallel trends have occurred nationwide. In the latest poll, a 54 percent-39 percent majority of Colorado voters say driving hasn't become more dangerous because of legal marijuana. "In short, there is no evidence of a pot DUI crisis - increased marijuana use is evidently compatible with improved driving safety," said Dale Gieringer, Ph.D., director of California NORML.

California: Marijuana First Banned In State 100 Years Ago

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 100 years since California became the first states in the U.S. to ban marijuana. Weed historian and cannabis legalization advocate Dale Gieringer says the key date is August 10, 1913, when the state Board of Pharmacy was authorized to add "loco-weed" to the state's Poison Act.

"They began launching raids," said Gieringer, state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Christina Villacorte at the Los Angeles Daily News. "Law enforcement would pose as addicts who needed a fix but didn't have a doctor's note, then arrest the druggist."

"The 1913 law received no public notice in the press, but was passed as an obscure technical amendment by the State Board of Pharmacy, which was then leading one of the nation's earliest and most aggressive anti-narcotics campaigns," Gieringer reports on CA NORML's website. "Inspired by anti-Chinese sentiment, California was a nationally recognized pioneer in the war on drugs."

The bill passed with no public debate, according to Gieringer. It was opposed by the state's druggists, but the Legislature passed it unanimously, and it went into effect on August 10, 1913.

California: Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Swarmed By Marijuana Protesters In Berkeley

(Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Attorney General Eric Holder encountered an unhappy crowd of dozens of pro-marijuana protesters at the University of California Berkeley's campus on Saturday when he visited to address the graduating law school class.

During Holder's visit to campus, an airplane circled above Berkeley's Greek Theater for more than two hours, pulling a banner reading "Holder: End Rx Cannabis War #Peace4Patients," reports Carly Schwartz at The Huffington Post. As the Attorney General's limo turned toward the graduation ceremony, demonstrators were waving signs reading "Fight Crime, Not Cannabis."

"There's no doubt we got the A.G.'s attention," said California NORML President Dale Gieringer. "He can't come to Berkeley and not be reminded of his department's bad faith with respect to marijuana."

Holder and the Obama Administration have been harshly criticized for the stepped-up federal crackdown on the medical marijuana industry in California and other states which allow the medicinal use of cannabis.

Though medical marijuana was legalized by California's voters through Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot initiative, cannabis remains illegal for any purpose under federal law.

California: Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties

(SACRAMENTO) - From California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on September 30, 2010.

There is a truth that must be heard! To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am signing Senate Bill 1449.

This bill changes the crime of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor punishable only by a $100 fine to an infraction punishable by a $100 fine. Under existing law, jail time cannot be imposed, probation cannot be ordered, nor can the base fine exceed $100 for someone convicted of this crime.

I am opposed to decriminalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana and oppose Proposition 19, which is on the November ballot.

Unfortunately, Proposition 19 is a deeply flawed measure that, if passed, will adversely impact California’s businesses without bringing in the tax revenues to the state promised by its proponents.

Notwithstanding my opposition to Proposition 19, however, I am signing this measure because possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction in everything but name. The only difference is that because it is a misdemeanor, a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial and a defense attorney.

In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket.

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