Friday, March 4, 2016

Introducing the Tucson Weedly Cannabis Bowl

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 9:00 AM


Here at Tucson Weekly, we talk about weed news a lot (see here and here). Now, it's time for our MMJ-card-carrying readers to tell us—and the rest of the city—what they think about the local cannabis scene.

Editor Mari Herreras puts it like this:
Medical marijuana patients we talk to never hesitate to tell us about that special dispensary where they get the best deal or have the best edibles.

You love your pot providers and you love that certain strain that either takes care of the migraines or helps stimulate your appetite while battling a serious illness you refuse to get you down.

This is your chance to unite and tell fellow patients and other Tucsonans where the best MMJ products (and everything else weed related) are in the Old Pueblo.

Welcome to the Tucson Weedly Cannabis Bowl. You have until March 31. Results will be printed in our 2016 420 Cannabis issue on Thursday, April 14. Get smoke, er, cracking.
So, MMJ patients, go vote! You've got until the end of March. 

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

City Council Supports Making It Easier for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Expand

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 2:15 PM

  • Photospin
It's going to get a lot easier for medical marijuana dispensaries in Tucson to expand thanks to three zoning amendments the City Council passed Tuesday evening.

Here's the good news:

Outdoor cultivation of medical weed is now allowed in industrial zones in accordance with state law. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act says that outdoor growing is good to go only if the area is surrounded by 10-foot walls made of metal, concrete or stone that prevent outsiders from seeing the marijuana plants. 

Dispensary owners have said that adding more cultivation space helps keep up the demand of patients. Many in Tucson get marijuana shipped from Phoenix, because they run out of product quickly.

Off-site cultivation sites in commercial areas are now allowed to grow to up to 4,000-square feet, which is 1,000 more than the previous restriction. And, thirdly, existing dispensaries can expand within 500 feet from "sensitive areas," which include schools, parks and libraries. The old rule said dispensaries needed to stay back at least 1,000 feet, even if a school or another so-called sensitive place opened after the dispensary was established.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Facebook Deletes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Pages Claiming Site Doesn't Allow Material Condoning Drug Use

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 9:00 AM

  • Photospin

At least a handful of medical marijuana dispensaries in Tucson realized their Facebook pages had been deleted today by the social media site, according to the Daily Haze. Facebook claims they banned the pages because the company does not allow any material that "condones drug use."

The Haze spoke to Tucson's Earth's Healing's marketing director, Florence Hijazi:
Florence, from Earth’s Healing, said it damages the business, as their patients do check the centers Facebook page every day for different specials and other updates from the center. In response to being deleted by Facebook, Earth’s Healing plans to put more focus towards their Twitter account and their phone app.
The move isn't exclusive to Tucson—there were pages deleted around the country, and dispensary owners seemed to be getting the same justification from Facebook, the Haze says. 
“Your page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards.”

“The site does not allow ads that promote the sale or use of . . .illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”
The trend began back in 2014, when Instagram "heavily" deleted marijuana-themed accounts. 

The Haze says that in January 2014, Tim Rathschmidt, a spokesperson for Facebook, told the Huffington Post:
“The legality around the sale and use of marijuana greatly varies around the world, which is part of the reason why we strictly prohibit the promotion of the sale and use of the drug itself. The risk of attempting to allow ads promoting the drug in certain states or countries where it is legal is too high for us to consider at this time. However, we work pretty hard to differentiate ads promoting the sale or use of the drug versus ads promoting advocacy or the legalization of the drug. The latter is the type of content we do not want to censor through ads, and is widely considered different than something promoting the actual drug itself.”
And, last year the San Francisco Chronicle reported that medical marijuana businesses were banned from iTunes, Facebook, as well as Instagram.
The SF Chronicle received a statement from a spokesperson for Facebook and Instagram that read, “guidelines do not allow the promotion of the sale of illegal content. Once something is reported to us our teams review it, will remove it if it violations those policies, and in some cases we will disable the account.”
But, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, as well as D.C., so why is Facebook using that card to ban dispensaries that are obviously located in states where medicinal weed is allowed? In fact, Facebook's home state, California, could even legalize recreational marijuana this year.

We'll keep you updated as we hear more about the situation.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Legal Theft III: Civil Forfeiture Victim Loses Motion for Legal Complaint Against Tucson Police

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Ron Johnson, far right, smoking with friends and marijuana advocates, Robert Clark and Mark Brown, at the 420 Social Club on Fourth Ave. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Ron Johnson, far right, smoking with friends and marijuana advocates, Robert Clark and Mark Brown, at the 420 Social Club on Fourth Ave.

Ron Johnson, the founder of the 420 Social Club on Fourth Avenue, finally got his day in front of a judge this week to decide if a complaint he filed, bringing much-needed local attention to the controversial law enforcement practice of civil forfeiture, had legal standing.

After his one-hour testimony Monday afternoon, a Pima County Superior Court judge ultimately denied Johnson's motion, even though the judge recognized that he was a victim, and that the belongings Tucson Police Department agents confiscated from his home should be returned, Johnson says. Problem with that is, the jewelry and computer that were taken from him were destroyed, he says. And the thousands of dollars...well, by now, they have been absorbed into a law enforcement agency.

"These people agreed to return everything, and did not return a single thing," he says, referring to the situation he's been dealing with for the past three years as an episode of the Twilight Zone. 

I wrote about Johnson's case in April 2015 for the story Legal Theft Part I (and Part II):
On a May evening about two years ago, Ron Johnson claims he woke up to someone banging at his front door. He dragged himself out of bed and opened up. Before he could even ask what was going on, a Tucson Police officer handcuffed and shoved him in the back of a patrol car for the next six hours.

Two days prior, he had suffered a heart attack and was trying to recover at home. While in custody, he says he repeatedly told officers he did not feel good, but any request for medical attention was ignored.

Johnson's home on Fourth Avenue quickly flooded with other officers who, without a warrant, probable cause or Johnson's permission, drilled through his safe, took money, tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, his computer, all of his medical marijuana and the five plants he cultivated, as well as pot paraphernalia.

They also confiscated his heart and blood pressure prescription medication and, down the road, tried to seize his home.

The cops alleged he didn't have his medical marijuana card, making his plants an "illegal grow operation."

"What they are doing is robbing people and it is a problem nationwide," he says. Johnson is the founder of the 420 Social Club, a house where medical marijuana patients can go to hang out and medicate. (The house the city tried to take.) "They kept the money, the jewelry, and they told me I wasn't getting any of the paraphernalia back or the plants. They don't have to find you guilty of anything. They just come in and take your things. They were trying to say that this is a criminal house."

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Report Gives Arizona a Surprisingly High Score for Its Treatment of Medical Marijuana Patients, Access to Weed

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:48 PM

  • Shutterstock

A report that evaluates medical marijuana programs nationwide says Arizona is doing pretty well in protecting the rights of medicinal weed patients, as well as giving patients easy access to their medicine.

However, according to the patient-input-based analysis by the Washington-based nonprofit Americans for Safe Access, Arizona is in the dumps when it comes to product safety rules, meaning regulations, such as comprehensive marijuana testing protocols aren't yet in place.

The nonprofit surprisingly gave the state an overall grade of B-, largely because the report finds that Arizona protects its medical marijuana patients from issues like DUIs and other arrests. In terms of DUIs, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in November 2015 that medical marijuana patients suspected of driving under the influence must prove that the amount of active THC in their system is not enough to cause impairment—which critics say is quiet harsh.

The analysis also gives the state kudos for having a decent number of dispensaries in place (there are more than 80 throughout), allowing patients to grow their own weed (only people who live more than 25 miles away from a dispensaries have this right), and having reasonable guidelines for qualifying conditions—even though the Arizona Department of Health Services was pressured by a judge to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the Medical Marijuana Act two years ago, and refused to add eight new conditions, which included brain injury and diabetes, last year.

Read the whole report here.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

GOP Lawmakers Want to Amend Medical Marijuana Act, Make It Harder for Patients to Access Medication

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 8:47 AM

  • Photospin

Two proposals are being pushed by Republican state lawmakers that would make it harder for medical marijuana patients to access their medication.

Both want to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act to limit which types of doctors can issue referrals for medical weed, establish stricter restrictions on who can get those referrals, and require patients to get new referrals more often, according The Associated Press (the article was originally posted on KJZZ'.org).

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, introduced House Bill 2061, which would remove pregnant women from the list of patients who qualify for medical weed. But she'll most likely need three-fourths of votes in the state House and Senate to amend the law, because the Medical Marijuana Act is a voter-approved initiative, AP says.

The proposal by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, would remove physicians who practice alternative medicine like naturopathy and homeopathy from the list of doctors who can issue medical marijuana referrals, "leaving only doctors of medicine and osteopathy," AP says.
It also would set requirements that qualifying patients acquire a new referral every six months, instead of once a year like they do now.
Figures from July 2015 say that more than 87 percent of medical marijuana referrals come from naturopaths and homeopaths, according to a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Lawrence introduced his measure as a bill and as a House Concurrent Resolution, meaning it would only become law if enacted by the voters. That way, HCR 2019 can become law without needing three-fourths of the votes in both houses to pass in the Legislature.
J.P. Holyoak, president of the Arizona Dispensary Association told the AP that he questions the legality of the bills. Also, he says, the state's medical marijuana industry has proven to be successful, and new laws trying to cripple it are "unnecessary and counterproductive."

"It's disappointing to see some legislators are trying to roll back a voter-approved law that is helping tens of thousands of seriously ill Arizonans," Holyoak told the AP in an email. "Our state should focus on moving forward, not backward."

As of December, roughly 88,000 people in Arizona are registered medical marijuana patients, the AP says.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Let's All Not Be Surprised That Diane Douglas Opposes Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 4:55 PM

  • Photospin

In a few months, we will find out whether any of the initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana proposed by several different groups—including the Marijuana Policy Project and Arizonans for Mindful Regulation—will be up for vote this November. 

If  MPP's measure is the one to make it through, marijuana sales could raise at least $40 million in revenue annually to go toward funding education.

Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas completely opposes legalizing weed, and she doesn't give a shit about the possible economic benefits on both education and healthcare that would come from taxing marijuana sales at 15 percent (per MPP's initiative).

Douglas issued this statement:
By using drug money to educate our children, regardless of the drug we choose, we’re creating a world where we’re funding our schools by betting against the people graduating from them, and I cannot morally support that stance. How can we tell our kids, in one breath, not to do drugs, and in the next, tell them that drugs bought their health textbooks? How do we maintain the authority to tell them not to deal drugs when the state of Arizona is running a cartel?

There is also the potential for government abuse when we create a revenue incentive for the state to increase drug consumption in our communities. I agree with legislative leadership, including House Education Chairman Paul Boyer, that maintaining a drug-free school system is a cornerstone to creating a bright future for our students.

All Arizona children deserve a great education. I believe we need a system that is based on what is best for all of our children. When we look for ways to fund that system, we must not be tempted by potential profits from evil drugs like marijuana. We owe it to our children to find a more responsible way to ensure our schools have the resources they need to succeed.
Initiatives have until July 1 to gather more than 150,000 signatures to land on the ballot.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Defense of Marijuana: Brothers Face Felony Drug Charges Together in December Trial

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Photospin

Now that Kalvin Catlin's brother Kyle has been convicted on three felony drug charges, the 23-year-old doesn't have much hope about the outcome of the trial the two will tackle together in December. 

The husband and father of two—a daughter who will turn 3 years old in December, and a son who will be 1 next month—says he's been trying to hide from the legal hell. Now that his brother sits in jail while he awaits for sentencing, all of the feelings are reemerging. 

Kalvin and his baby son. - COURTESY OF KALVIN CATLIN
  • Courtesy of Kalvin Catlin
  • Kalvin and his baby son.
"It is devastating," he says, wiping the tears from his face with paint-stained, white T-shirt. "I just lost my brother. It is unspeakable. To know that one day my entire life is going to (change)...everything I have been working so hard for."

If it weren't for the upcoming trial, Kalvin would be well on his way to a very successful career racing cars. His hobby and family have kept him happily distracted. But in two months, he'll have to walk into Pima County Superior Court Judge Javier Chon-Lopez's courtroom and pray for the best.

Three years ago, the brothers—both of whom are medical marijuana cardholders—partnered up in a caregiver project called Arizona Medical Marijuana Caregivers. They were arrested in late 2012, a few months after Kyle was arrested on separate counts. The brothers' residence was searched, after investigators overseeing the case found recent information about the healing center online. That's how they justified another search warrant. (It was a site with tons of reviews about the weed Catlin sold and his services, as well as customer testimonials, Kyle told the Tucson Weekly in September.)

Some of the felonies the brothers face are: Illegally conducting an enterprise; conspiracy to commit sale of marijuana; conspiracy to commit possession of marijuana for sale; possession of marijuana for sale; possession of drug paraphernalia. 

The indictment refers to Kyle as the "Boss," who employed an "associate" to deliver marijuana, and "arranged appointments between the runner and customer for the purpose of selling marijuana." While Kalvin, "could facilitate and/or arrange appointments and meetings between the runners and the customers for the purpose of selling marijuana and/or cannabis."

"Kyle and/or Kalvin would maintain a secure residence(s) and/or phone lines to further the goals of the enterprise. Such residence(s) would be used as a base of operations to 1. Secure cash and/or proceeds of the enterprise; 2. Store marijuana and/or cannabis for purpose of sale; 3. Store and use equipment for the purpose of manufacturing cannabis; 4. Manufacturing cannabis; 5. Packaging and inventorying amounts of marijuana and or/cannabis that would be sold by the enterprise, and; 6. Provide a clandestine and secure location to conduct the affairs of the enterprise," the indictment says. 

Kyle and Kalvin's attorneys are going to work together to come up with a defense. Unfortunately, if Chon-Lopez heads the same route he did in Kyle's first trial, they probably won't be able to mention the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act as part of that defense. 

In Kyle's case, he's already been convicted on three felonies, which means that if he is convicted in trial 2, the sentence will only double. 

Medical marijuana laws aside, this is a time when President Obama, his administration and bipartisan members of Congress are asking for sentencing reform on nonviolent drug offenders. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice released 6,000 of them. 

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Where's Waldo Scavenger Hunt

Back in Tucson for the month of July. Those who spot Waldo (well, a 6" version of… More

@ Antigone Books July 19-31, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 411 N. Fourth Ave.

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