On Wednesday, June, 3rd, California State University Fresno hosted Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and his Blue Ribbon Commission on marijuana policy. It was a big day for a lot of Central Valley cannabis activists and almost everyone seeking sensible regulation in regards to Cannabis Hemp. Quite a bit of the Central Valleys hardest pavement pounders for legalization where in Attendance. Diane Valdavinos, Jeffery Faure, Dawn Marie Jobe, Jeff Clark, Brenda Linder, and Derek Payton. At least we all thought it was going to be. We all had to endure quite a bit of Reefer Madness at the Blue Ribbon Commission On Marijuana Policy. It started with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom beautifully pandering to all the various different groups, organizations, and different Initiatives in the room. He really did a great job speaking to the crowd in attendance. Which is also why he has had such a successful political career.
After Gavin Newsom was done giving his introduction to the audience he then began to introduce the rest of the panelists. You can find the entire list of panelists below.
Speaker and Working Group Commissioner Bios
Gavin Newsom is the Chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy. He was elected as the 49th Lieutenant Governor of the State of California on November 2, 2010. His top priorities are economic development and job creation, improving access to higher education, and bolstering California’ environmental leadership. Newsom came from a successful background in both the private sector, starting 15 small businesses and creating more than 1,000 jobs, and local government, having served as a Supervisor, and later, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco.
Elizabeth Cox is a Research Specialist at UC San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, where her focus is on state and local tobacco control policymaking. Ms. Cox recently authored a comprehensive report on tobacco control efforts and tobacco industry tactics in California.
Rick Crane is a Strategic Programs Coordinator for UFCW 8-Golden State. Based in Bakersfield, he has been in the retail business for 46 years and a contract negotiator for UFCW for over 20 years. The UFCW represents 160,000 private sector workers in retail food, agriculture, retail drug, non-food retail, cannabis and healthcare industries in California.
Joe Garza is the Chief of Police for the City of Reedley. He has 25 years of experience as a law enforcement professional beginning his career as a patrol officer for the City of Reedley and rising to the position of Chief of Police in 2012. He serves as a board member of the California Police Chiefs Association and in a number of regional law enforcement and civic groups in the Central Valley.
Mihae Jung is Prevention Education Manager at KYCC, an organization that provides comprehensive community services in the Koreatown, Westlake and Pico-Union neighborhoods of Los Angeles. In addition to policy work on alcohol outlets, she has worked directly with youth through organizing, restorative justice, and treatment. She is part of the Los Angeles Rethinking Access to Marijuana collaborative.
David Lampach is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Steep Hill, a leading cannabis science and technology firm. He is a leader in the technological and business advancements of the cannabis analytics and testing market. He has also advised a number of jurisdictions on local and state regulation of marijuana, including in California, Washington and New Mexico.
Rob MacCoun is a Professor at Stanford Law School. He is a social psychologist and public policy analyst who has published numerous studies on illicit drug use and drug policy, including a major recent study for RAND Corporation. He is a preeminent scholar working at the border of law and psychology.
Pat Oglesby is a tax lawyer, and former Chief Tax Counsel, U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the former International Tax Counsel, Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation. He has also at the law and business schools at the University of University of North Carolina. Pat serves as the co-chair of the Regulatory and Tax Structure Working Group of the Blue Ribbon Commission.
Ben Rice is a criminal defense and medical cannabis attorney. He has represented cultivators, dispensaries and doctors involved in medical marijuana, as well as advised policymakers. Ben serves as a member of the Regulatory and Tax Structure Working Group of the Blue Ribbon Commission.
Abdi Soltani is a member of the Steering Committee of the Blue Ribbon Commission, with Lt. Governor Newsom and Stanford professor Keith Humphreys. He serves as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California. Abdi worked previously as a community organizer on issues of educational opportunity and civil rights.
Steve Worthley is the Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, and represents the northern portion of the county. He is active on the California State Association of Counties and the Rural County Representatives of California. In his private practice as an attorney, he previously represented the forest products industry, including in relation to public lands.
Here You can view the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy at California State University Fresno in its entirety.
Well if you went to this panel and discussion expecting to hear sensible regulations and cannabis policy reform you were probably sadly disappointed. The very first guest speaker on the panel Mihae Jung started out the conversation with dropping the “Oh the Children” fear tactic without referring to any specific data or polls supporting her claims. Her argument pretty much boiled down to we have to over tax, and over regulate in order to keep prices high to protect the children, because low costs equal greater access for children. She worries that all collectives, clubs and dispensaries will end up in the migrant and low-income areas and the dispensary owners will offer up 3x to 4x the going rate and will make it very attractive to low-income property owners to permit the dispensaries in these low-income communities.
She claims it will put a huge strain on the local police, Schools and families in those areas and already has in some areas. In which all cases mentioned it has not and will not. It actually lowers crime in the surrounding areas due to increased security and video surveillance. I also hate to break it to you but most collective owners move into the lower-income parts of the cities or counties because they know the city most likely doesn’t care and won’t come into that area if hardy ever. They also find tenant hungry property owners looking for anyone to fill their vacant properties in these lower-income areas. They do stimulate and boost local economies in those impoverished areas. They also employ people.
Not to mention most local governments view them as a nuisances and only permit them in those specific areas. If they permit them at all. You know? The forgotten parts of town that the city has long forgotten. Nor do they even pretend to care about the people who inhabit those areas. That speaks to the fact that most cities and counties can care less about safe access for qualified and valid medicinal cannabis patients any more than they do about the homeless and impoverished, the hungry and struggling working class families. Especially the ones on a low or fixed income who need the most assistance in obtaining quality organic medicinal cannabis versus the alternative Over-prescribed toxic pharmaceutical industry that does kill our children every day.
They love to permit the Clubs and dispensaries in those forgotten and underfunded areas of the city or county. Why? Because where there is a higher concentrations of poverty, there is always higher amounts of criminal activity. If the only place you permit those establishments is in the areas with the most criminal activity. You can then always turn around and say they attract a lot criminal activity just by simply having a presence in that specific pocket of the community. Even if the establishment was never vandalized, robbed or broken into. Even if the establishment has an impeccable record and is in good standing with the surrounding businesses. Even if it was actually shown to decrease crime in the immediate surrounding area. They would never talk about that nor research into it. They will only cite the high amounts of criminal activity in the only area they permitted them to be in. Which also just so happens to be the epicenter for criminal activity in their town or county.
That was just the first panelist. Im afraid it only got much more disappointing as the panel continued. The second Panelist to totally blow everyone’s minds in regards to over taxation was Rob MacCoun a Professor at Stanford Law School who’s fantasy would be to see a scheme where Californian cannabis consumers are taxed specifically to the THC to CBD ratios in the cannabis they purchase. He also suggested a higher tax on more potent strains of cannabis. Why? To prevent people from breeding and consuming more potent strains of cannabis? Yes! He thinks it is a very serious public safety issue and he doesn’t believe people have any will power. Nor will they be able control their own limitations of consumption. Which will in turn equate to an epidemic of cannabis pandemonium and everyone’s tiny infants and sweet children will actually be exposed to ample amounts of highly potent killer cannabis that will apparently be the first cannabis in recorded history to ever kill someone.
Or maybe we will see the first strain of cannabis to actually impair people to the point of not being able to operate a motor vehicle and millions of high drivers will hit the road and kill millions. Oh the Horror! Anyone that is to high to drive, doesn’t. That is the difference between alcohol and cannabis. I have never came across a cannabis consumer who just got so stoned he could barely move off the couch tell me, ” I’m so high right now, I think ill drive home.” It is always, “I am to high to drive right now. I need to chill for a bit.” Not to mention they are never impaired to the point of intoxication. Mainly because there is no toxic substances in the natural non toxic cannabis plant. Everyone likes to say, ” You just never know. The science and studies are still out on the subject.” Well, I’m pretty sure we know! We have a pretty long track record of coexisting and evolving with the cannabis plant. To the extent the Human Species has developed an intricate Endocannabinoid System to process, distribute, and utilize the many compounds that come from only one place in nature, the cannabis plant.
Nobody has ever died from the consumption of Cannabis! Nobody! More potent strains, means less overall consumption, while receiving the same health benefits or effects. Every doctor or physician that recommends cannabis will tell you that, the more potent the concentrate the patient consumes means they will find faster relief and have to consume far less carcinogens than through the traditional ways of smoking the medicinal cannabis. Which perfectly ties us into another guest panelist who is actually from and apart of the cannabis industry, David Lampach of Steep Hill Labs. Who did not refrain from using scare tactics to insist that all cannabis should be properly tested. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the company he works for just so happens to be the largest private industry cannabis testing company in the United States and possibly the world? Maybe!
I mean this kind of harkens back to the previous point that, Nobody, I mean nobody has died from the consumption of cannabis. David Lampach tried to play a very a shady game of connect the dots. He cited a recent incident at the UC Davis school of Medicine where, ” Several Immune Compromised patients had died of fungal pneumonia after recently using medical cannabis.” He followed that up with, ” It was unknown if the medicinal cannabis use contributed to the cause of death, and due to current federal restrictions the doctor was unable to drill down further on the matter.” He then went on to push blame towards the dispensary and owners that ran the establishment from which they were purchasing their medicine.
Where he said, ” However one of the doctors was able to recall one of the locations of the dispensaries where the patients had been getting their medicinal cannabis, and as it turned out, sadly, they where not testing for mold.” So there you have it folks. First people to ever die from cannabis ever and its all that dispensary owners fault. Eureka says the owners and proprietors of Steep Hill Labs! So? Because these immune compromised patients, ( Already really sick people ) who decided to try a homeopathic natural alternative died of fungal pneumonia they are all dead from the moldy medicinal cannabis they bought from a dispensary that was not using Steep Hill labs to test their medicine? Wow! What a perfect storyline and product pitch for your company.
You could end up just like them if you don’t test everything. Dead! All because a Cannabis Testing Company and their rep found the perfect case scenario where, maybe, and we are talking about a really huge maybe, that some already very ill patients may have possibly died from using moldy medicinal cannabis. And don’t forget his statements earlier. ( ” due to current federal restrictions, (That is pretty Convenient for claims ) the doctor could not drill down further on the matter.” ) Are these the first recorded cases of deaths associated with cannabis in human history? I highly doubt that is the case. People have been consuming cannabis for thousands upon thousands of years and there is no recorded deaths associated with its consumption. That would even have to include the nastiest, pesticide, fungicide, herbicide laden cannabis that’s ever been sold on the legal and illegal markets.
Show me one single recorded, documented, and factual case of anyone even dying from just the poisoning of consuming badly grown, herbicide and pesticide laden cannabis. Please! I have looked and I can’t find one. I may be wrong. please prove me wrong. But, guess what? Even if you found one. I could just use the very same vague reply he uses to defend his argument. I can turn around and say, ” Well, sadly, federal restrictions deny factual testing and statistics on this subject matter, so,,,,, we will never truly know if the moldy cannabis did in fact kill those poor people.” Death and the fear of death equals sales, sales, sales! Even though there has never been a legitimate fear or reason to believe that any moldy cannabis has ever killed anyone ever. They make millions insuring that you believe it has, it can, and it will continue to kill people unless every single bud, and every single leaf of cannabis cultivated is tested for everything. Preferably done by them, at Steep Hill Labs of course.
Then like a breath of fresh air enters Ben Rice from Santa Cruz, Ca. Ben has been a Criminal defense lawyer for 30 years. He was one of the few sane voices on the panel that day. He pointed out the huge disparities between Fresno county and Santa Cruz in regards to cannabis regulations. When (WAMM) The Wo-Mans Alliance for Medical Marijuana was raided in 2002 the city and County of Santa Cruz actually came to the defense of the collective after being raided by the DEA. He represented the city and county of Santa Cruz along with the ACLU and some other fine lawyers in federal litigation concerning WAMM. The city and county both embraced and supported WAMM. I doubt we will see the fresno city or county board of supervisors educating themselves about Cannabis let alone supporting and embracing a collective here anytime soon.
He also spoke to the fact that California was actually the first state to prohibit cannabis. While later being the one of the first states to pioneer reforms in cannabis regulations and laws. But the absolute best moment was when Ben Rice kind of looks over at the Reedley Chief of police and pauses, ” Well, Santa Cruz being, well, Santa Cruz we had a Sheriff who had seen that our district attorneys office was not interested in losing in court anymore. And they stopped filing the cases or they were resolved for next to nothing.” Wait it gets even better. He then says ” Our Sheriff said, look my budget is limited.” pauses and looks directly into the face of the Chief of Police and says, ” and he decided to eliminate his marijuana eradication team and use those resources for more serious crimes in Santa Cruz.” Like a Boss!
The next panelist to hit the mic was Rick Crane. He is the Strategic Programs Coordinator for UFCW 8-Golden State. He discussed the importance of legitimizing cannabis workers. He also closed with saying, ” Proposition 215 is now settled law. If California moves forward with outright legislation next year, it will only underscore the urgency that we believe is needed to regulate an already big industry that could thus grow exponentially.” So let me decode that for you. He does not care about legalization one bit. Him and his handlers do not favor legalization. They want the unregulated medicinal cannabis industry fixed before addressing legalization. Sound familiar? Do you remember Americans For Safe Access claiming the same thing during the prop 19 campaign ? Well The UFCW 8- Golden state is (ASA) Americans for Safe Access. Same tent. They are only concerned about the collectives they own and operate and securing restrictive permitting that insures they maintain a healthy leg up on their competitors.
Hold on to your butts it only gets worse from here folks. The next Speaker on the Panel was Tulare county board of supervisor Steve Worthley who started out his reefer madness by stating, “In Tulare county we chronicled over 600 grow sites and contrary to many of the speakers I’ve heard this morning many of ours are really wrapped around organized crime.” Then he went on to say “With over 440,000 residents in Tulare county its safe to say the number one business is export and marijuana is no different.” He then insisted that, ” People are even growing in backyards.” Oh the horror! He then pulled the same card as the first speaker and claimed, ” People are offering poor families and migrant workers $5000 if they can grow on their property or backyards and they will receive another $5000 when they are done.” He pretty much bragged about how extreme Tulare county is in enforcing Tulare’s unconstitutional bans on valid, legal medical cannabis patients. So that just goes to show the two extremes. In Santa Cruz the entire county and city rise up in defense. In the Central valley the cities and counties invent new ways of scapegoating state law by using code enforcement.
Now the next speaker Joe Garza is the Chief of Police for the City of Reedley and he actually got booed and it was well deserved. If he is in fact a father of four children than he does a lot of lying to his children to defend his job, title and income. He started his uneducated and non factual rant with, ” Although this is a forum on taxation and regulation it needs to be known that, California Police Chiefs association DOES NOT support ANY legalization or decriminalization of MARIJUANA.” No kidding? Cant take away the California Police departments bread and butter. He has to know that even after the passing of prop-215 there are actually 14 times as many cannabis prisoners in California then in 1980. This does not include federal prisoners like Eddy Lepp, Dale Schafer and many more.
He goes on to say, ” Legalization of MARIJUANA is just bad public policy because the DRUG is addictive and significantly impairs bodily and mental functions.” Even though its cured cancer and he knows it’s never killed anyone. Cannabis is no more addictive than sugar or caffeine and it is a non toxic plant. If Cannabis impairment is such a serious issue? How come we are not seeing this epidemic of stoned drivers crashing and killing people on California highways and byways ? Mainly because Cannabis is a natural non toxic plant that does not intoxicate or impair motor skills. In fact for most people it increases motor skills, brain activity and even helps regenerate new brain cells.
Now prepare yourself for this one. It is a huge jumble of lies. ” Policies aimed at legalizing marijuana have resulted in unintended but predictable consequences. Including increased use amongst minors, additional drug trafficking by criminal syndicates, and an increase of crime.” Here is the stretchiest of stretches for you though. ” Despite claims to the contrary the social cost of legalizing marijuana will dwarf the meager taxes that it raises.” Seriously dude? He then added, ” Unfortunately at a certain point those high taxes will simply encourage an illicit market that can come in, under grow, and undercut the high-priced legalized market.” Your killing me smalls. Do you understand your job? At all?
Ok lets start with his absurd claim that increased usage amongst minors is an unintended consequence of legalization. WRONG! Lie #1. Teen alcohol and drug use — including marijuana use — was down across the board in 2014. Click here for the full story. Now to prove him wrong on his quack pot theory that despite contrary beliefs the social cost of legalizing Cannabis would cost more than it would actually generate nonsense. You have to really be living under a central valley rock to believe this. Colorado raked in 76 Million dollars in marijuana taxes and business fees last year alone last year. These allegations are largely based upon the premise that present taxes on alcohol and cigarettes fail to adequately pay for the social costs associated with these drugs’ use and abuse.
His premise is all but irrelevant to the cannabis legalization debate. Do you Know why? Cannabis is 1000 times safer than alcohol! According to US Centers for Disease Control, alcohol plays a role in about 41,000 fatal accidents a year and in the commission of about 1 million violent crimes annually. Worldwide, the statistics are even grimmer. Stated a February 2011 World Health Organization report, alcohol consumption causes a staggering 4 percent of all deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence. Cannabis deaths ? Not a single recorded or documented case of death from consumption of cannabis has ever been recorded or catalogued. Not to mention 94 percent of social costs for cannabis are linked to law enforcement.
He is not done dropping the Reefer Madness bomb on you. He then says, ” However before we can really speak about the legalization of marijuana we have to look at where will it be sold? Will our neighborhoods become red light districts like in Amsterdam? Accompanied by the same crimes and social disorder? ” Yes folks he really said this nonsense and yes last I checked this was the modern age of technology and the 21st century. Just to finish off all the crazy BULLSHIT this man spewed off that day. He then followed that up with, ” Lets not forget the nuisance caused by the powerful odor of mature marijuana plants.” I actually find the smell of his bullshit wafting from his mouth to be a bigger nuisance than the lovely perfumes of the cannabis plant. Now hear is the part where everyone in the room bursts into laughter or boo’s him. ” In my 26 years of being a police officer, I’ve known it to be a gateway drug, and it is a gateway drug.” The room erupts into giggles and laughter and the host has to ask the guests to refrain from doing that again. So he again states, ” Again as a police officer this is a well-known fact.” Room erupts into laughter once again.
All I can say at this point is please just watch the video and decide for yourself. This Panel and discussion took place on the 3rd of July and I just finished this article today. There was one more panelist. She talked about the similarities of the Tobacco Industry. Just like Before Cannabis is not Tobacco. All this Reefer Madness makes head want to explode. Look for a detailed article about the Central valley Reform meeting that took place in Goshen just an hour after this panel and discussion took place. Not in Visalia, or Fresno like some had advertised.
P.S —-> Please listen to the Comment and question sections in the video. Some serious and good questions were asked from dedicated activists from the central valley.
BY: Dustin Frazier Lowery