Pubdate: Sat, 9 May 2009
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Knight Ridder
Author: Lori Consalvo, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - California)


POMONA - The signs spoke louder than the protesters.

"Give us back our meds."

"Stop arresting patients."

"Being sick is not a crime."

Thirty-five people - young and old, healthy and sick - took part in 
Friday's protest that stemmed from Pomona police shutting down a 
medical marijuana dispensary April 30, just seven days after it opened.

City officials said the dispensary did not have a business license.

The protest in front of the police station on Mission Boulevard was 
quiet and peaceful. Horns honking in approval were the only loud noises.

But the message was loud enough.

Protest organizer Kara Andresen-Hill said the facility was a 
collective and not a business.

"This is far beyond medical marijuana," Andresen-Hill said. "It is an 
exercise for the First Amendment right."

Andresen-Hill isn't alone in questioning the state's stance on the 
medical marijuana issue.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday said it is time for the state 
to debate proposals such as a bill introduced earlier this year in 
the Legislature that would treat marijuana like alcohol.

"It's time for debate. ... I'm always for an open debate on it," 
Schwarzenegger said during a news event in Davis.

San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said legalizing 
marijuana for adults over age 21 and taxing it at $50 an ounce would 
help the state address its budget deficits.

Ammiano cited a state Board of Equalization estimate that the tax 
could bring in $1.3 billion a year, depending on various assumptions.

Schwarzenegger said the state should study other nations' experiences 
in legalizing and taxing marijuana.

The governor's willingness to look at the issue would have found some 
fans at the Pomona protest.

Tim Dynice, 31, was arrested the night the facility was shut down.

"I was being peaceful ... then I was being cuffed in the back of a 
police car," Dynice said. "I was charged with possession, sales and 
furnishing (marijuana)."

Dynice, who uses medical marijuana to curb his ADHD, drives from Seal 
Beach to get the cannabis.

"People don't realize how much this stuff helps the sick and the 
dying," Dynice said.

But not everyone is on board.

"There's research. But it's crappy research," said Randall J. Bjork, 
a Colorado Springs neurologist. "It would be nice to see something 
definitive printed up in the New England Journal of Medicine or 
Annals of Neurology."

Bjork remains skeptical about the effectiveness of a drug that has 
yet to be tested in large-scale, well-organized studies. For now, he 
considers marijuana a low-tier treatment, and has never suggested 
marijuana to a patient who wasn't already inquiring about it.

Medical marijuana is legal in California, and Attorney General Eric 
Holder recently said federal agents will no longer be utilized to 
raid dispensaries unless they are violating both federal and state law.

Former President George Bush's administration targeted medical 
marijuana dispensaries in California even if they complied with that 
state's medical marijuana law.

Pomona police officers did not return calls for comment. 
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