Pubdate: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA) Copyright: 2011 Marin Independent Journal Contact: http://www.marinij.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/673 Author: Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?115 (Cannabis - California) Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal) FOUNDER OF FAIRFAX POT CLUB JOINS PUSH FOR STATE BALLOT INITIATIVE 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.