Posts Tagged “internet”

It’s about making money, say prosecutors

JOHN HOEFFEL
October 11, 2009

Dispensations … a man holds a placard at a clinic at Venice Beach, Los Angeles. Critics say some doctors will prescribe marijuana for people who are not ill. Photo: AFP/Mark Ralston

LOS ANGELES: Californian laws legalising medical marijuana and permitting collectives to cultivate the plant have had some unexpected consequences: one is the challenge local growers are posing to the profits of Mexican drug barons; another is an explosion in the number of marijuana stores, or dispensaries, in Southern California.

Law enforcement is arguing that most are for-profit enterprises that violate the 1996 Compassionate Use Act and the 2003 collective cultivation law.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley, has announced he will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales.

”The vast, vast, vast majority – about 100 per cent – of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally; they are dealing marijuana illegally,” he said. ”The time is right to deal with this problem.”

Mr Cooley recently concluded that state law bars sales of medical marijuana, an opinion that could spark a renewed effort by law enforcement across the state to rein in its use.

This comes as polls show a majority of state voters back legalisation of marijuana, and supporters are working to put the issue on the ballot next year.

The district attorney’s office is investigating a dozen dispensaries, following police raids.

”We have our strategy and we think we are on good legal ground,” Mr Cooley said.

Medical marijuana advocates say the prosecutors are misinterpreting the law.

”I’m confident that they are not right,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access. ”If they are right, it would mean that thousands of seriously ill Californians for whom the Compassionate Use Act was intended to help would not be able to get the medicine that they need.”

In the City of Los Angeles, some estimates put the number of dispensaries as high as 800.

In August, Mr Cooley and the Sheriff, Lee Baca, wrote to all mayors and police chiefs in the county, saying they believed over-the-counter sales were illegal and encouraging cities to adopt permanent bans on dispensaries.

Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, was not surprised by the move. ”I think it’s a natural response to the rather flagrant marketing practices of a bunch of the dispensaries. The medical veneer has been wearing thinner and thinner,” he said. ”I’ve always wondered why those things were legal when they didn’t look legal to me.”

Mr Cooley said he believed that under state law collectives must raise their own marijuana and can recoup only their costs. ”That’s absolutely legal.

”We’re going to respect that.” But he said none of them currently do that. Mr Cooley said he would also consider going after doctors who write medical marijuana recommendations for healthy people.

Critics of medical marijuana say some doctors freely prescribe the drug for people who are not ill.

Medical marijuana advocates celebrated a brief thaw in the enforcement climate after the Obama Administration signalled earlier this year that it would not prosecute dispensaries that followed state law. That spurred many entrepreneurs to open dispensaries in Los Angeles.

As stores popped up near schools and parks, neighbourhood activists reacted with outrage, and police took notice.

A Los Angeles City councillor, Dennis Zine, welcomed Mr Cooley’s decision to prosecute dispensaries.

”There are many that are operating illegally, and it’s not a secret,” he said, but added that he believes ”a few” collectives in the city are operating legally.

When Californians voted for Proposition 215 (also known as the Compassionate Use Act) in 1996, they made it legal for patients with a doctor’s recommendation and their caregivers to possess and raise pot for the patient’s medical use.

In 2003, the legislature allowed patients and caregivers ”collectively or co-operatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes,” but said they could not do it for profit.

Mr Cooley, after reviewing a state Supreme Court decision last year, concluded that the law protects collectives from prosecution only in the cultivation of marijuana, not sales or distribution.

Medical marijuana advocates note that the state requires dispensaries to collect sales taxes on marijuana, and that guidelines drawn up by the Attorney-General conclude that ”a properly organised and operated collective or co-operative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful”.

The guidelines, however, do not deal directly with over-the-counter sales.

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From Reuters
Tue Jun 9, 2009 2:19pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, June 9 /PRNewswire/ — Los Angeles County Sheriff Department
detectives from the Special Victims Unit have launched an Internet safety
program for children and parents, thanks to a partnership with Verizon.

Approximately 80 parents attended a ceremony on Saturday (June 6) at the
Sheriff’s Compton Youth Activity League to launch the program. At the event,
the Sheriff’s Department hosted the first Awareness is Power Internet Safety
course, and Verizon presented a check for $41,000 to support the program.

“It is an honor to partner with Verizon to establish this Internet safety
program,” Sheriff Lee Baca said. “This program will give children and their
parents the tools they need to have a safe and secure Internet experience
while exploring the limitless possibilities of the digital world.”

The Awareness is Power Internet Safety program will be available at the
Sheriff Department’s 14 Youth Activity League centers throughout the county
and will serve approximately 4,500 children and adults. Two courses, one
geared for children and the other for adults and parents, have been developed.
Curriculum topics will include social networking sites, chat rooms, parental
controls, e-mail, text messaging, legal downloading and financial Internet
safety.

In addition, to help manage their children’s Internet experiences, Verizon is
making it easier for parents to find and access the online parental controls
and resources for customers of the company’s online, FiOS TV and wireless
services. The enhanced Web site, www.verizon.net/parentalcontrol, gives
parents using Verizon Wireless, Verizon FiOS TV and any of Verizon’s
high-speed Internet services the ability to make decisions about their
families’ wireless, TV and online use.

John Johnson, vice president for Verizon Wireless, said: “Advanced broadband
technology powers today’s online world for business and family entertainment.
The challenge for parents is managing that experience for their children so
it’s a positive one. Our online tools, tips and software help make this
happen. Verizon’s grant is another step in the right direction as we partner
with the Sheriff’s Department to educate parents and children alike.”

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications,
supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free
educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of
domestic violence. In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68
million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. It also
matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting
in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits. Through
Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs,
Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of
community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit
www.verizonfoundation.org.

About the Sheriff Youth Foundation
The Sheriff’s Youth Foundation was created in 1985, based upon the belief that
crime prevention programs focused on youth are the key to developing safer
communities. The Foundation’s objective is to increase community safety by
fostering self-esteem and a sense of purpose, assisting youth to find value in
themselves, to feel a sense of direction, and define who they are. The
foundation supports two countywide programs; Success Through Awareness &
Resistance (STAR) Program and the Youth Activity Leagues (Y.A.L.).

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global
leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications
services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.
Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, serving
more than 86 million customers nationwide. Verizon’s Wireline operations
provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over
the nation’s most advanced fiber-optic network. Wireline also includes
Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to
customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse
workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating
revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit
www.verizon.com.

VERIZON’S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and
biographies, media contacts, high-quality video and images, and other
information are available at Verizon’s News Center on the World Wide Web at
www.verizon.com/news. To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News
Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news
releases.

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