Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2011
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Swift Communications
Author: Steve Kubby
Note: Steve Kubby is a South Lake Tahoe resident who helped write 
Proposition 215.


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - On Tuesday, the South Lake Tahoe City
Council rejected a proposed new medical marijuana cultivation
ordinance with reduced penalties and improved security for patients
from ripoffs and raids. Instead, the council demanded the fine for
noncompliance, which had been reduced by the city manager and attorney
to $100, be increased back to $1,000 per day. Even more disturbing,
the council opted to add a clause that would make public the names of
patient growers who are alleged to not be in compliance with the city
ordinance, a terrible policy that will be abused by burglars and rogue
federal drug agents to harm sick people.

The version of the ordinance that was sent to the council was a model
of tolerance and safety, thanks to efforts by local dispensary
operators Gino DiMatteo, Cody Bass and Matt Triglia, as well as the
extraordinary cooperation of the city manager and attorney. However,
the council chose to reject a marijuana cultivation ordinance that
could have set an example for cities and counties across the country.

City council members apparently refuse to recognize that many patients
who grow are struggling just to get through each day. Instead, the
council wants to force sick, disabled and dying patients to jump
through hoops that carry severe financial penalties for anyone who
messes up. It's a misguided and dangerous effort to micromanage sick
people who they suspect of breaking laws, when those who deliberately
or criminally abuse the law or trash homes can still be charged for
serious crimes, based upon illegal activities and/or property damage.

The council is trying to fix something that isn't broken, based upon
an obsolete legal view of cannabis. Considering that California
physicians have safely supervised hundreds of thousands of medical
marijuana patients, since the passage of Prop. 215 nearly 15 years
ago, it should be clear that marijuana no longer qualifies as an
illegal, schedule 1 substance and should be treated just like any
other medicinal herb.

Despite threats and fraudulent assertions by the DEA and US Attorney,
the courts have determined that "currently accepted medical use" does
not require FDA approval or more than one state to recognize the
medical use of cannabis. Once California passed Prop 215, cannabis
should have been immediately rescheduled. Instead, government at every
level perpetuated this fraud and continued to arrest, prosecute and
incarcerate citizens based upon a classification that was obsolete and
kept in place to target and punish a particular group within society.

The city council has refused to make a serious commitment to protect
the health and safety of our patients, opting to create a Big Brother
approach instead. That raises an even bigger question: Why does the
council seem overly preoccupied with smokescreen issues like pot,
instead of real issues like the explosion of pot holes in this town?

Frankly, these and other misdirected actions by the council looks
suspiciously like a hidden agenda to attack medical marijuana, TRPA,
League to Save Lake Tahoe, Gov. Brown and anything but the real
problems facing the city.

What are the priorities of the new council? Do council members believe
it is its job to micromanage everyone, but themselves? What good is a
city council that just adds another layer of bureaucracy and expensive
fines, instead of actually doing stuff to make our lives easier or

We haven't heard a word about "The Crater" (I refuse to call anything
that big a "Hole"), or how to deal with the $300 million repair bill
for our streets, or how to pay the $200 million redevelopment debt, or
how to overcome the structural deficit of $1 million per year in the

No, instead the council is busily adding a $1,000 a day fine to some
poor patient who is struggling to make it through each day. Instead of
inspecting pot holes and broken streets, the council is marshaling our
severely limited resources to inspect every cannabis garden in the

Getting tough with sick people who grow their own medicine may play
well with conservative constituents, but it is a cruel fraud and
shameful disservice to the people and businesses of South Lake Tahoe.
Do the math and you'll see that this city of 24,000 people cannot
possibly afford the debts already incurred by the city council, that
there is no credible plan to fix our streets or pay off the massive
redevelopment bonds.

At this point, the only credible path for the council is to suspend
any further discussion of pot, until something has been done about the
pot holes, the broken streets and the massive debt created by past
redevelopment schemes. It's time for the council to stop blowing smoke
and get to work on real issues.  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake