California, Susanville

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California, Susanville

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue May 23, 2006 11:04 am

The Lassen County Times wrote:City bans medical marijuana distributors

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 @ 12:57:37 GMT

<b><i>The city council unanimously approved a measure to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in Susanville at its meeting on Wednesday, July 20.</i></b>

By Kelly Reed
Staff Writer
The Lassen County Times

Multiple reasons were cited for the ban, which was introduced at the last meeting, including concerns about "the potential impacts to the public health, safety and welfare of our community."

Local attorney David Williams spoke out against the ordinance, citing the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which made it legal for Californians who qualify to use medical marijuana.

"The city would not, in my opinion, be allowed to refuse to issue a business license, which is mandated and allowed under California state law," he said.

He added the ban would force those with serious injuries or illness to travel great distances to obtain the drug.

Advocate Tim Ziegler also voiced his displeasure, saying he represented 42 medical marijuana users in the county ranging in age from 30 to 74 who were concerned the ban would make their activities illegal.

"We're sick people. I represent sick people, and we feel that we're being punished," he said. "These people are scared."

Mayor Pro Tem Rocky Joy said he had great compassion for those who had to use medical marijuana, but he also had great concern for the community, citing a list of problems caused by marijuana dispensaries provided by police chiefs in other cities.

City attorney Kathleen Lazard brought up the recent Supreme Court ruling, which gave the federal government the right to prosecute people who use homegrown marijuana, despite individual state laws.

The ordinance would not affect the Compassionate Use Act, she added, it would just prohibit dispensaries in the city limits.

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Ziegler and company create a medical marijuana cooperative

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:19 pm

The Lassen County Times wrote:Lassen County Times / STPNS
November 14, 2006

Ziegler and company create a medical marijuana cooperative in Susanville

By Lassen County Times staff

SUSANVILLE, California (STPNS) -- Once again, the medical marijuana war breaks into an open boil right here in Susanville. Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, was passed by the people of the state of California 10 years ago last week, but the controversial issue still remains unresolved.

To some seriously ill people in our community, the pungent herb is a God-given painkiller that works better than any man-made drug. But to some of our local city leaders and law enforcement officials, it’s just plain old dope.

While the battle rages all around him, local medical marijuana farmer Timothy Ziegler, 47, bristles at the suggestion he’s a drug dealer.

He always refers to his plants and the big, potent buds he grows in several different rooms of an old commercial building a stone’s throw off Main Street as medicine.

He said the drug dealers are out in the bars or in the park hawking their wares to customers who seek a quick buzz. He said that’s not him and that’s not his purpose.

He said it’s easy to see the difference between marijuana the drug and marijuana the medicine once one sees a patient curled up on a couch in a fetal position in excruciating pain take a dose or two of medicine and then be well enough to sit up and eat some food. Maybe even watch a little television.

“You’re going to watch this happen and then tell me somebody can’t do this?” an incredulous Ziegler asked.

He said most of the medical marijuana users he’s encountered use the drug because of chronic pain, but other users include cancer and AIDS patients. Some use the drug to ease their nausea. Others use the drug to help build their appetite and combat wasting.

Ziegler said three local doctors write recommendations for patients to use marijuana as an alternative to stronger, addictive, and to some, more dangerous and damaging pharmaceuticals.

“If I wanted to be a drug dealer, I’d be growing hundreds of plants on federal land,” Ziegler said. “I’d be a whole lot richer than I am now. Just look at this place. You can see there’s no money in this.”

Ziegler, a medical marijuana patient who started using the drug after he was crushed by a wall in a construction accident at a Lake Almanor building site three years ago, said marijuana allows him to have a life without the opiate painkillers he said were stealing his life and reducing him to little more than opiate eyes.

“I’ve been clean and sober for 22 years,” Ziegler said. “I quit doing everything. After 19 years of sobriety, I got crushed, breaking my back and three ribs in nine places, leaving me in constant pain. I have an addictive personality, and taking those pain medications was turning me into a junkie. It just wasn’t an option. That’s how I got into medical marijuana.”

Ziegler said he and 104 other medical marijuana patients have formed the CASA Collective Cooperative — Californians for Safe Access — here in Susanville.

“We’re a patient’s group,” Ziegler said. “We’re patients helping patients.”

According to Ziegler, the collective has 104 medical marijuana recommendations from Lassen County patients. The recommendations and photocopies of picture ID cards are all gathered in a file folder to show law enforcement officers should the cooperative be raided.

Unfortunately, Ziegler said he couldn’t grow enough medicine for so many patients and remain below the federal radar. Federal law does not recognize a medical marijuana defense, and a convicted grower with more than 99 plants faces a mandatory five-year prison sentence. For that reason, Ziegler said he never grows more than about 90 plants. Some counties in California will let a medical marijuana patient have as many as eight mature plants.

“One hundred plants,” Ziegler said, “that’s the magic number.”

Ziegler said he has to travel to the Bay Area to purchase medicine for himself and the other cooperative members. He said that’s more expensive for collective members.

“Bob Burns turned me over to the feds,” Ziegler said. “I’m prepared for them to come. What I’m doing is federally illegal. When they come, they take everything. It’s all gone. It’s all confiscated. But in the last five years no one with a legal medical marijuana claim has done more than the booking time in Northeastern California. Jail is an ever-looming threat for me and every patient in the collective. You listen to every sound. Every day you wonder, ‘Is today the day.’ There’s a lot of fear.”

Ziegler characterized the issue as a struggle with a group of city leaders who refuse to recognize and follow the laws of the state of California.

“They don’t want to acknowledge it,” Ziegler said of the medical marijuana law. “They don’t want to acknowledge they are subject to the laws and the Constitution of the state of California in this city.”

While a city ordinance makes it illegal to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Susanville, Ziegler said the cooperative gets around that restriction by operating a delivery service.

Ziegler said he’s very careful to make sure the medicine he grows remains medicine and doesn’t wind up as illegal drugs on the street.

“I’m guilty of doing what I despise — profiling,” Ziegler said. “We don’t want to be involved with anyone if we’re suspicious they’re distributing medicine to other people. All it would take is one incident, and they (the authorities) would have everything they needed.”

While there might be big money in drug dealing, Ziegler said growing medical marijuana is a not-for-profit venture.

When he can’t grow enough medical marijuana for the patients Ziegler makes a trip to another cooperative to purchase medicine.

Trips to the Bay Area to purchase medicine cost about $600 in gas, food and lodging. A pound of medical marijuana from another cooperative costs about $4,000. The patient pays about $250 per ounce.

“There’s just no profit in it,” Ziegler said. “It’s not there. Do the math.”

Ziegler said given the overhead and the high cost of electricity there’s not much profit in the plants he grows himself. He said each plant grown indoors yields about 2-1/2 ounces of medicine. Keeping under the federal sentencing limit of less than 100 plants limits how much medicine Ziegler can grow for the cooperative’s patients.

The cooperative has five employees and is open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Ziegler said the cooperative is a non-profit corporation that keeps regular business records, pays taxes and worker’s compensation just like any other business except Ziegler’s not entitled to sell, only seek reimbursement for time and materials.

Ziegler said he starts cloned plants hydroponically so they develop a strong root structure.

He said his plants are all grown organically without any pesticides or chemicals, which could be harmful to some patients. For example, mites, a typical pest for marijuana gardners, are controlled with ladybugs.

Once the small plants are strong, they’re moved to a second “veg room” where they sit under grow lights nearly 24-hours per day. The plants grow rapidly in this environment.

Finally the plants are moved to a “sleep room” where the number of hours of light per day is gradually diminished. Marijuana plants are light sensitive, so the buds form and grow larger as the number of hours of light the plants receive each day is reduced.

Finally, the buds are trimmed, cured and dried before they are bagged and used as medicine.

The entire process of the indoor grow reduces the plants’ life cycle from eight or 10 months to two or three months. A plant grown outside could yield as much as one pound of medicine.

Ziegler staunchly defends his right to do what he’s doing under California law.

“If I’m doing something wrong, how come I’m still here doing this two years later?” Ziegler asked.
By Sam Williams, News Editor, swilliams@lasse

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Medical marijuana battle rages in Susanville

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:34 pm

The Lassen County Times wrote:
Lassen County Times / STPNS
November 16, 2006

Medical marijuana battle rages in Susanville

By Lassen County Times staff

SUSANVILLE, California (STPNS) -- Local medical marijuana grower Timothy Ziegler, 47, insists he’s doing nothing wrong by asserting his right to grow and distribute medical marijuana — despite firm resistance from Lassen County’s law enforcement and government communities.

Ziegler claims he has the legal right to grow and distribute medical marijuana under California law, specifically, Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, passed by California voters in 1996 — regardless of what local leaders have to say about it.

That view, and the whole medical marijuana issue, has led him into conflict with the Lassen County Narcotics Task Force, the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office, the Susanville Police Department, the Susanville City Council, the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department and the Lassen County Board of Supervisors. And the battle continues today.

Even though the Compassionate Use Act provides that “patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction,” local officials say they have problems supporting a state law that violates federal statutes. Some also say they have moral concerns about the apparent sanctioning of any kind of drug use.

Ziegler’s troubles in Lassen County began when the task force arrested him in September 2004 for an outdoor grow of approximately 100 plants. Officers also seized several bins of processed marijuana. Ziegler claimed it was all medicine — medical marijuana. The task force and the district attorney disagreed, and Ziegler faced felony marijuana cultivation charges in Lassen Superior Court.

After two years of legal wrangling, on May 19, 2006, Lassen County Superior Court Judge Stephen Bradbury ruled Ziegler’s public defender had shown Ziegler qualified as a caregiver under the Compassionate Use Act, putting the prosecution’s case in jeopardy. Bradbury said the issue was one of law, not whether anyone agreed with patients growing and using marijuana.

After Bradbury’s ruling, Lassen County District Attorney Bob Burns referred the matter to federal authorities for possible prosecution. There is no medical marijuana defense under federal law, so Ziegler could face federal drug charges should the appropriate authorities decide to pursue the case against him.

The U.S. Supreme Court complicated the medical marijuana issue on June 6, 2005, when the court ruled the federal government could prosecute people who use their own homegrown medical marijuana — expanding a decision that distributors of medical marijuana could be tried in federal courts.

<span class=postbold>Dispensary</span>

While he was still battling the state marijuana cultivation charges, Ziegler sought to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a Main Street storefront in Susanville. The city’s response was swift and negative.

Based on a recommendation by former Police Chief Chris Gallagher, on July 20, 2005, the City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 05-0919 — banning marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.

The purpose and intent of the ordinance is to “promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the residents and businesses within the city.”

Gallagher told the council, at its July 6, 2005 meeting, “I am not trying to deter folks who can have marijuana for medicine, but I want to keep storefront facilities from the city that could attract a nuisance or criminal element.”

The former chief said his request stemmed from “some entrepreneurial types (who) have used the situation to spawn commercial endeavors to distribute marijuana to those who qualify under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.”

City Attorney Kathleen Lazard told the council in e-group communications with other city attorneys there has been a lot of discussion about the Supreme Court’s decision. She said the city issued a permit for a dispensary, it could be violating federal law.

On Tuesday, May 16, 2006, local residents Ziegler and Robin Rust and an advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, withdrew a lawsuit charging the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries illegally restricted the rights of patients and their doctors.

“The city will continue to enforce its ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries and maintain a safe community for our residents,” the city said in a press release after the dismissal.

In December 2005, the Lassen County Supervisors took a wait-and-see position when asked to approve the issuance of medical marijuana identification cards.

The medical marijuana identification card program is “nothing more than another scheme from the enemy within to destroy this society,” said Supervisor Bob Pyle. “I will not support something illegal under federal law,” adding he is against the whole program and won’t vote for it.

“I will not be supporting the use of marijuana,” Pyle said.

Pyle was perhaps the most straightforward, but every supervisor expressed doubts about the program. Taking no action, the supervisors agreed to wait and see how other counties handle the legal requirement that each county approve the program and set up an application process.

San Diego County — joined by plaintiffs, San Bernardino and Merced counties — has forced the issue into San Diego Superior Court. The case should be heard this month. The counties hope to overturn the state’s law rather than implement it.

Since California's Compassionate Use Act was passed in 1996, 10 other states — Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have passed laws protecting qualified patients from prosecution.

Last week, Nevada voters rejected a bill to permit the manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana to adults aged 21 and older. South Dakota voters rejected a medical marijuana bill and Colorado voters rejected a bill allowing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Last week California voters approved marijuana friendly bills in Albany, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica.

Across the country last week, voters approved marijuana friendly bills in Missoula County, Mont., Eureka Springs, Ark., and four representative districts in Massachusetts.

California's law allows people suffering from AIDS, cancer, anorexia, chronic pain, arthritis and migraine and "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief" to grow or possess small amounts of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
By Sam Williams, News Editor

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