Pubdate: Mon, 17 Oct 2011
Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Marin Independent Journal
Author: Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The founder and director of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana
in Fairfax is joining a Libertarian Party-backed effort to place an
initiative on the November 2012 ballot that would require marijuana to
be regulated like wine.

"I am pleased and honored to be asked to join the campaign and be the
poster-child case for why we need to stop the legal attack," said
Lynnette Shaw, chief executive of the Marin Alliance.

Shaw was scheduled to participate in a press conference in Orange
County on Tuesday to publicize the campaign for the so-called Regulate
Marijuana Like Wine initiative. Backers of the ballot measure say they
are responding to the Obama administration's recent push to close many
of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries.

Key proponents of the ballot measure include retired Superior Court
judge Jim Gray, a former Republican who ran against Democratic Sen.
Barbara Boxer as a Libertarian Party candidate in 2004; Steve Kubby, a
Libertarian Party activist and cancer survivor who played a leading
role in passage of Proposition 215, which made medical marijuana legal
under California law in 1996; and Steve Collett, who is running as a
Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in California's 36th district
based in Los Angeles.

In a press release, Gray said the federal crackdown "is tantamount to
a government bailout for criminal gangs and violent drug cartels."

"For some reason, the federal government wants to force legal medical
marijuana patients toward a dangerous criminal market and away from an
above-ground industry that pays over $100 million per year in state
taxes and provides jobs for thousands of our citizens," Gray said.

U.S. attorneys recently began sending letters to dispensaries situated
near schools, parks, sports fields and other places frequented by
children. The letters warned the operators --- or in many cases their
landlords --- they had 45 days to cease operations or face criminal
prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets, including
the real property on which the dispensary was operating.

Farshid Ezazi, who owns the building at 6 School St. in Fairfax that
is home to the Marin Alliance, was among those who received a warning
letter. The Marin Alliance is also preparing to defend itself in court
next month against an Internal Revenue Service claim that it owes at
least $1 million in back taxes because it can't claim the same
deductions as other businesses.

"Lynnette worked with me on the Prop. 215 campaign," Kubby said. "I
have a lot of respect for her work and her courage. As a Libertarian,
she is certainly appreciated within our party."

In 2006, Shaw ran as the Libertarian Party's nominee for lieutenant
governor and garnered more than 143,000 votes. Shaw said she changed
her party affiliation in 2008 to vote for Barack Obama but now regrets
the decision.

The initiative would repeal the prohibition of marijuana for adults 21
years of age and older but it would impose a fine of up to $2,500 on
anyone selling or distributing marijuana to an individual under 21. It
would prevent California from supporting federal enforcements that
conflict with this law and require the state to petition the federal
government to remove marijuana from the "Schedule One" designation
that makes it illegal. The measure would permit the taxing of
marijuana sales in a fashion similar to grape farming and wine industries.

Kubby said backers of the initiative hope to begin gathering
signatures on Nov. 1, and would have 150 days from that date to raise
the necessary 505,000 signatures. Supporters of two other initiatives
- --- the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act and the Marijuana Penalties
Act --- that would liberalize California's marijuana laws are also
expected to begin gathering signatures soon.

In 2010, a wide-ranging ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate
marijuana in California garnered 46.5 percent of the vote.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.