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Liaison to the Pot Partisans

Over the Transom #1 (a sampler)

Terence Hallinan's pro-marijuana perspective led some growers from outside the city to contact the DA's office seeking the green light for projects in San Francisco. Santa Rosa's premier pot lawyer, Chris Andrian, wrote Terence on behalf of Paul Klopper and Alan Silverman, who were growing the herb in Guerneville and running a dispensary called The Farmacy:

“My clients have asked me to send this letter of introduction and proposal which we believe answers the question, 'How can the City and County of San Francisco provide medical marijuana to a bona-fide patient and still remain within the scope of Proposition 215?'... We believe the answer to the City's dilemma is in the establishment of a 'patient-controlled cultivation facility' where the patient maintains control and possession of the marijuana being cultivated. Here, the patient enters into a lease/rental and power-of-attorney agreement with a private not-for-profit agency, such as the Farmacy, wherein the agency provides the cultivation space, the use of its horticultural lights and growing supplies, and manages the daily caretaking functions for the patients' plant(s). Upon maturity, the patient takes physical possession of the harvest and dried cannabis plant, roots and all.”

Kayo gave the go-ahead and Klopper leased a building on Mission Street in the Excelsior District. Part of my job was to drop by the dispensaries unannounced and make sure no pesticides were in evidence. At Klopper's site tables had been built out and lights installed by a skilled young man named Erich Pearson, who would go on to found Sparc, one of San Francisco's most successful dispensaries. His relationship with Paul Klopper ended in a bitter falling out, as so many relationships would as the outlaw movement turned into the legal Industry. Money changes everything.

Another detailed cultivation proposal came from Ed Rosenthal, the famous “guru of ganja,” who owned a warehouse in Oakland where his employees were growing a large number of clones unbeknownst to the authorities. Having to conceal his operation after the passage of Prop 215 was an affront to Ed, who had devoted 30 years to the cannabis cause and wanted to reap the colas of victory.

“I propose to set up a large farm to produce standard grades of medicine under sanitary conditions,” he wrote. “It would be in a greenhouse or an enclosed building in San Francisco and it would produce a sizable portion of the medical marijuana used in San Francisco and Oakland. As an approved business, it would be subject to inspection and regulation... Existing clubs in the city have expressed support for a stockholder, for-profit economic model, and are willing to invest significantly in this venture... By creating a legitimate, sizable farm for production of medical marijuana, standard varieties could be grown consistently to produce the same percentage of medicine... A standardized and legitimized farm has great potential as an important research facility...”

Kayo invited Ed to the office for a meeting, after which I gave him a drive-by tour of the four extant- but-dilapidated glasshouses I had located by driving compulsively around the southwest quadrant of the city. If Ed contacted the owners (I had given him info from the Assessor), nothing came of it, and he wound up investing in a dispensary on Sixth Street, the Harm Reduction Center, that had room for a large grow under lights in the basement. That venture ended with a raid by DEA agents on February 12, 2001, the day that DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson was in San Francisco to address the Commonwealth Club.

Early that evening, as people were arriving at the classy Commonwealth Club's Market Street entrance to hear the DEA chief, many stopped to listen to District Attorney Hallinan on the sidewalk with a bullhorn, denouncing the raid to a crowd of pot partisans and defending the proprietors of the nearby Harm Reduction Center. “This is a decision to be made by the voters of California and the people of San Francisco,” Terence declared.

Upstairs Asa Hutchinson said the arrests on Sixth Street (which the DEA conducted without notifying the San Francisco Police Department) were part of the Bush Adminstration's “War on Terror.” The President was pushing a new line: casual drug use by Americans funds terrorists! Hutchinson was cut off by cries of “Liar!” after claiming, “Science has told us so far there is no medical benefit from smoking marijuana.”

Over the Transom (a sampler) #2

• Jeff Jones of the Patients Information Center called to share his suspicions about a company called Swipe USA that leases ATMs to small businesses, including his. The aptly named company added a “phone charge” that Jeff questioned, and as soon as he did, they reassured them that “the problem” would be straightened out and that he would be reimbursed. Jeff says if we're not investigating them, maybe we should be.

• Dr. Phil Grossi psychiatrist who appeared as expert witness for Vincent and Patrick Hallinan many years ago is now medical adviser to a small cannabis club. Wanted to know how much risk he's incurring. I told him that TTH and Lockyer honored Prop 215 but that the feds did not, and brought him up to speed about recent arrests.

• Dale Schafer called to say that his wife, Dr. Molly Fry, had just been handed an order by DEA agents seeking to revoke her federal license to prescribe drugs. She has 30 days to respond. “The good news is that they're not going after us criminally. We don't take insurance money and there's not much prescription-writing in her practice, so we can still technically keep our doors open. But people are scared to come in.”

• Mary Pat Jacobs  Whenever you want she'll fill you in on Sonoma plant limits.

• Rob Raich  Man named Brian Londine subpoenaed to appear before grand jury on 2/21. Listed on criminal complaint as someone whose car was seen outside Ed Rosenthal's shop.

• Mike Aldrich thinks CHAMP was being spied on earlier this week by operatives in a black pick-up truck. Didn't get the license number. 

• Paula Beale, who runs a small club in Oakland, reports an attempted set-up by four men who offered to front her 8 lbs of marijuana. She says one of the men claimed they were federal agents and that the cannabis dispensaries were all “going down” in the near future... Fear is running rampant in the MMJ community. 

• Mark Watts brother of Rick Watts trying to locate name of attorney representing Rick in San Mateo. (Alex Reisman)

• Melody Gannon --a real good woman-- needs a lawyer to help get her 21-month old kid back. 

• Cheryl for Kyle King, atty in Ashville, North Carolina.  Question about length of residency and legal age of emancipation in California. Asking on behalf of 17-year-old girl who used marijuana for migraines with her mon and dad's permission. North Carolina Dept of Social Services wants custody of girl. She has fled to Bay Area with parents' permission. Gave details to Walter Aldridge at Juvy.

• Yesterday afternoon there was a meeting called by Suzanne Ellis to weigh the impact of Father Nazarin's co-operation with the DEA. Mrs. Ellis had a copy of “Father's” latest letter to the DEA (written since the 2/12 arrests) in which he strongly denounces Rick Watts and Ed Rosenthal, emphasizes his own patriotism (says he served in both the Navy and the Marines); praises DA Hallinan for insisting that the medical mj dispensaries serve only bona fide patients; and asks permission for his church to sponsor a law-abiding dispensary.

• From Mike Aldrich. There is a citywide Task Force meeting with Leno, Herrera and others at City Hall, room 278, May 9 at 3 pm. We're invited. Mike: “I consider the closing of CHAMP to be part of a public health emergency for our patients and we need to brainstorm about further access to medicine and come up with some strategies.  Also, we'd like a private letter from you acknowledging that a grow site we still have in Oakland is strictly following Oakland guidelines. We are growing for a number of San Francisco patients. (CHAMP members).”

• Sgt/Inspector Martin Halloran, SFPD Narcotics, heads up on a case stemming from a fire at 22nd and Portrero. Defendants Robert Shuman and Christian Berera told Halloran that somebody named Rick was supposed to get paperwork from Terence Hallinan. Police discovered mj --4.5 lbs now that it's dried. Investigator says fire was mj-related. CHAMP and SF Patients Resource Center have never heard of Shuman/Berrera. Ray Fong has the case for SFDA.

• Steve Corchado called from LA. He helped organize last year's medical marijuana march in DC. He and Richard Eastman run a club out of his condo in Santa Monica. they were just about to move to a storefront when they were busted last week by Santa Monica PD, Sheriffs, and Steve's not sure who else. He had 26 indoor plants, all of which were confiscated, and some antique firearms in a locked safe. Bruce Margolin is representing him. Bruce said, “If we can get Terence Hallinan as a witness, this will never be tried.”  Corchado says “They came in in here with an attitude, talking hip-hop --'Yeah, it's all good...' This lady's going through my wallet and she says, 'You were in the service?' I said 'Yeah.' She says, 'What branch?' I said, 'I was a Marine.' She's real surprised: 'You were a Marine? Did you go to Vietnam?' 'Yeah.' So she says, 'Thank you.' I said 'Thank you? This is the way you thank me?'“  Steve has cancer and severe epilepsy, plus proven exposure to asbestos and agent orange. He's on 100 percent disability. 

• Mike Aldrich: second suspected surveillance vehicle outside CHAMP.

• Rob Raich has filed brief in 9th circuit on remand form US Supreme Court. Arguing only constitutional issues at this point. Will TTH and San Francisco join an amiculs brief with the city of Oakland?

• From Wayne Justmann, with attachments: “Here's another reason why we in San Francisco need to provide for our own cannabis. On May 1, 2000, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department searched the property of William Roberts in McKinleyville. (I have attached a copy of the search warrant).  Mr. Roberts is not only a patient who qualifies under Proposition 215 to posses and cultivate cannabis, but also a principal provider of cannabis to the San Francisco Patients Resource Center. Our providers need a certain level of protection and assistance. Thanks for your help.”

• From Pebbles Trippet and friends:  The Medical Marijuana Patients Union has initiated a program to obtain comprehensive data regarding the implementation of Proposition 215 thought the state. We believe this information is vital to California cannabis patient community and it should be important to the law enforcement community to know how well or ill the new law is faring. 

To our knowledge no one is keeping track of medical cannabis cases in all 58 counties in a coordinated way. We are prepared to do this on our own. But our chances of success would be significantly better if we were allowed to gather data under the auspices of your office. 

• Dennis Peron called on behalf of a young man named George Marshall who was picked up Wednesday on a probation violation. (Not reporting for an interview.) Marshall's original crime was selling $10 worth of marijuana on Haight St. He was offered and Dennis advised him to accept a diversion deal that included probation. Now Dennis blames himself for not taking into account how unlikely it was that young George could meet the terms of probation. Dennis thinks jail will be very hard on him and hopes there is a basis for getting him released ASAP. 

• Kathleen Lemons forwards this letter the Hemp Center received from the Board of Equalization re her 3d and 4th quarter tax returns for 1999. She had advised them that marijuana is medicine and therefore not a taxable item. They responded 4/14/01 that tax does not apply when medicines are "prescribed for the treatment of a human being by a person authorized to prescribe the medicines, and dispensed on prescriptions filled by a pharmacist in accordance with the law... Since the Hemp Center is not a pharmacy nor are you a registered pharmacist, tax would apply to the sale of medical cannabis. Therefore, a Notice of Determination for the disallowed deductions of $15,036 and $39,517 for the above periods will be processed."

• Kathleen Lemons of the Balboa Hemp Center thinks 18 years seems like excessive punishment for the mean who robbed her at gunpoint. Dwyer told me the robber, Pace, had two priors. I reminded Kathleen on 7/25/01 that it wouldn't be in her interest or her friends' interests if word got out on the street that you could expect leniency if you robbed a cannabis club... Just now I got a call from Michael Fox, the PD who represents Pace, asking if I thought he should seek a meeting with you. He's hoping for a 15-year offer. His client would plead to the robbery and two five-year priors. 

• From PK Price re The Hemp Store on Balboa Street 11/29/01: "I have been asked by several of my neighbors to contact the city over an issue that we feel is making our neighborhood unsafe. The Hemp Store located in the 2500 block of Balboa Street, between 26th and 27th avenues, has been robbed I believe four times in recent years. To our knowledge, no other business located within two blocks has been robbed. At least one of these was during the day and was an armed robbery. As our neighborhood has many children on the street during the day, this seems like particularly unsafe place for this store to be located. We in the immediate neighborhood would like to know if there is any action we could take to convince the owner of the building or the managers of this business to relocate.  Please advise if there is anything we can do here or if there is another city department that I should be discussing this issue with."

• Dennis Peron wants to know the status of the case against Aero Travis Coombes, arrested for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Golden Gate Park April 7. Coombes told the arresting officer that he has a letter from his doctor and the officer said "There is no such thing as medical marijuana." Coombes was ordered to attend a counseling program that would cost him $300, which he doesn't have.

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