Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Source: Arcata Eye (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Arcata Eye
Author: Kevin L. Hoover, Eye Editor
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


ARCATA - With new local and state guidelines in the works and looming
over Arcata's out-of-control cannabis scene, the federal government is
here to help as well.

On Tuesday, July 15, Arcata hosted Scott Burns, deputy director of the
Office of National Drug Control Policy, who is the Bush
Administration's second-in-command for drug regulation. After
participating in marijuana raids in Eureka and points south and
meeting with county officials, Burns traveled to what has apparently
come to be known as America's grow house capitol, the City of Arcata.

Here, Burns met with City and Humboldt State University officials and
granted the Arcata Eye an interview before traveling to Sacramento to
meet with state officials. The view from the White House

In an interview (see pages A8-9) Burns shared the federal government's
views on medical cannabis, grow houses and possible enforcement action
by the authorities.

Burns later said his mission to Humboldt and Arcata was twofold: 1.
"Seeing firsthand what's going on with respect to indoor grows, which
is an exceptional problem," and 2. "To thank the hard-working men and
women doing this hard [enforcement] work on the front lines."

In the interview, Burns adamantly dismissed any notion of medical
usefulness of marijuana, saying that dosages are unregulated, smoking
is an irresponsible delivery system and that suitable substitutes for
medical cannabis exist in the form of FDA-approved medications.
Legalization, Burns said, would immediately lead to even more
widespread use. He said today's marijuana fundamentally alters human
brain structure and leads to addiction and ruined lives.

Burns said grow houses, including home gardens maintained by purported
Prop 215 patients, are used to supply dispensaries, which the federal
government views as criminal enterprises. In fact, two of the four
existing Arcata dispensaries have admitted buying from residential
Prop 215 grows.

He said owners of dispensaries risk "losing their property" via asset
forfeiture, which, he said, "I predict will happen soon."

Burns urged a re-thinking of the acceptance of marijuana in
contemporary culture, and even seemed to suggest that recreational use
could be legislated and enforced away.

But regarding enforcement, Burns seemed to offer a mixed message.
While unyielding in asserting that federal law holds marijuana illegal
under all circumstances and trumps all state and local medical
cannabis laws, Burns nonetheless advised Arcatans to "defer 100
percent good judgment of the people who have been elected and
appointed" while motioning to those present in the APD conference
room. But most of them are working on guidelines under which medical
marijuana may be safely cultivated and dispensed.

Following his Arcata visit, Burns journeyed to Sacramento for further
discussions. During a brief phone discussion Friday, he said he'd met
with the U.S. Attorney, officials with the Drug Enforcement
Administration and other drug enforcement personnel including the FBI,
county sheriffs and police chiefs.

The results of Burns' foray into cannabinized California will, he
said, soon be discussed in the halls of high-level government in
Washington, D.C. "I'll report back to Mr. Walters [John P. Walters,
ONDCP director] on what I saw and feedback I received," Burns said.

Arcata will be a hot topic. "My meeting in Arcata was pretty
eye-opening," Burns said.  "The mayor, councilmembers and HSU truly
want to partner and come up with a solution." He said the cannabis
industry in Arcata "has far outgrown the level of acceptability."
Arcata's message to Washington

City Manager Michael Hackett said that the City hadn't called the
meeting with Burns, but that City officials and others were happy to
share their views. "Everyone that spoke made the statement loud and
clear that this community supports compassionate use, but that in some
cases it has gotten out of hand," Hackett said. HSU's concerns, he
said, centered around displacement of housing by grow houses and the
effect that has on student welfare and admissions.

Meanwhile, new guidelines for distribution of medical marijuana
expected last week from the state Attorney General's Office were not
issued for reasons unknown.

The Burns interview airs on KHSU 90.5 FM this Friday afternoon at 1:30
p.m. after the Home Page, and will stream online at The
Tuesday bust

The Humboldt County Drug Task Force, assisted by HCSO, Bureau of
Narcotic Enforcement and the FBI, concluded a one-year investigation
into the alleged illegal cultivation and sales of marijuana by Ryan
Robletto and co-conspirators.  Agents served search warrants at 15
locations in Humboldt County and seized 3,026 marijuana plants,
approximately 10 pounds of processed marijuana, two ounces of heroin
and 22 firearms (including one assault rifle) were seized and 15
arrests were made at various locations.
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