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Supervisors extend, amend pot moratoria

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From page A1 | December 23, 2011 | 36 Comments

El Dorado County Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to extend the county moratorium prohibiting new medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives and collectives. The extension runs from Dec. 20 until Nov. 15, 2012 — that is 10 months and 15 days, as provided under state law.

Supervisor John Knight opposed the action, which included a variation on the companion moratorium. His preference was to keep the ban on all outdoor growing of medical cannabis during the same time period.

As amended by a 3-2 vote the latter moratorium allows individual “qualified patients” to grow their medicine on a plot not to exceed 200 square feet, which must not be visible to the unaided eye of a neighbor or passerby. The garden must be enclosed by an opaque fence not less than 6 feet nor more than 8 feet in height.

An earlier compromise recommendation from a citizens advisory committee had suggested a limit of 100 square feet, however a number of cultivators in attendance told the board that the lower number would be unfeasible and far less productive.

Supervisors Ron Briggs, Norma Santiago, Jack Sweeney and Chairman Ray Nutting expressed concern that the 100 square feet proposal was probably not realistic and would also be difficult to monitor.

Much of the issue revolves around the difference between people cultivating medical cannabis in an urban setting versus growing in a rural area. Knight, representing the El Dorado Hills residential neighborhoods, has been most vocal about receiving complaints about neighbors growing pot in small yards, visible to other residents and giving off smells that may be offensive to others.

“I’ve received many calls and e-mails that say 100 square feet is too much,” Knight said.

At that point in the hearing, supervisors went into closed session with County Counsel Lou Green and deputy county counsel Paula Frantz to discuss certain legal issues associated with the moritoria.

“Please keep in mind that we’re peaceful people,” one audience member shouted as the supervisors and staff exited the board chambers.

After about 10 minutes the board returned to continue the meeting and offered language to clarify and amend the moritorium on outside cultivation that would become the final resolution.

Supervisor Ron Briggs had favored a graduated scale of something like 100 square feet for one person, 200 for two and 250 for three cultivators and eventually opposed the “200 feet” part of the amendment. After the meeting Briggs explained his vote on that section.

“It won’t work in El Dorado Hills. The final product of an ordinance will have to differentiate between an urban and rural grow,” he said. Briggs added that the final ordinance also would “put teeth” into the compliance code and help bring “order to neighborhoods.”

Earlier Briggs noted, “I do have a problem with 100 square feet. Ten by ten feet is ultra-restrictive, but in town people would say one-foot by one-foot is too much.”

While other counties, particularly Mendocino and Humboldt, have enacted medical cannabis cultivation ordinances, Frantz explained to the board early on that “medical marijuana is not considered a crop by agricultural standards and does not have the same protections as agricultural crops under state law.”

That was in response to audience suggestions that the issue should be considered under state laws concerning “the right to farm” on privately-owned land.

El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini testified that there have been few state guidelines for law enforcement regarding legal cultivation of medical marijuana.

“Typically, it’s been an issue for the district attorney. I don’t have a problem with 420 or 215.” (Proposition 215 is the Compassionate Use Act of 1996; Senate Bill 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act, took effect in January 2004 and further refines and clarifies the CUA.)

D’Agostini, however, added that “the problem has gotten out of hand.” The problem is not with those few residents growing for their own medical use but rather with criminal gangs or individuals growing for profit.

“We get many, many complaints, and we’re going to start to see huge grows and rip-offs and homicides. And that’s what we’re seeing. The spirit of Prop. 215 is to help those who are dying and allows collective, cooperative cultivation but not sale for profit.”

Several dozen local, medical marijuana users and their supporters and care providers attended the meeting. Many spoke about their personal experiences and medical need for cannabis. One  woman told the board that she had been dependent on Oxycontin for pain management for eight years at a cost of nearly $400 per month. She can grow a year’s supply of medical pot for basically nothing, and it works much better, she said.

Another said she can’t grow her own because she and her husband live in a trailer park. Her husband is dying of cancer and needs the palliative effects of medical cannabis, she said between sobs. She said she is asthmatic and pot has reduced her visits to the emergency room from about 12 a year to only two a year.

A man told the board he has ulcerative colitis that included bleeding from the rectum. Medical marijuana put a stop to those symptoms, but the “cure is total legalization,” he said speaking more universally.

In a more confrontational tone, Paul Zimmerman said marijuana hasn’t killed anyone lately, but alcohol has. “You should have a moratorium on alcohol. You bend over backwards for someone growing grapes, but you stop me from growing my medicine.”

Baord members generally tried to reassure the audience that it was not their intent to deprive those in need of medical marijuana.

“This is a big issue in El Dorado County. Our sheriff needs clear tools for enforcing the laws,” Nutting said. “I don’t want to criminalize an option for people in their final days… And I hope everybody understands this is about the ordinance not the medical use.”

Twice during the meeting, Nutting referred to an elderly neighbor of his who used pot  toward the end of a terminal illness. He insisted he would not criminalize such use for those who need it.

Since the original moritoria were enacted last month, county staff and individuals representing both patients and medical providers have formed an advisory committee to help steer the issue into the future. Both Briggs and Knight are serving as board representatives on the committee.

The board directed its staff to continue to meet with the committee and to prepare strategies for dealing with cultivation and distribution issues including planning and zoning regulations and report back to the Planning Commission and the board.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 36 comments

  • Evelyn VeerkampDecember 22, 2011 - 11:37 am

    This BOS outcome on medical marijuana was predictable. Two days ago the NY Times Op-ed, "Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No", began: "IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer." The article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/opinion/jurors-can-say-no.html?_r=1 (Recommended reading)

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  • SMOKEYDecember 22, 2011 - 7:22 pm

    So don't Vote on the merits of a case Vote for Marijuana use at all costs, don't follow the law and at all costs Vote for the pot or dope, REALLY break the law so that the dopers have their pot. You are nuts, must have smoked too much pot yourself..No one will follow your recommendation and I'm sure that's how Medical Marijuana Recommendations get done as well just get one and you too can grow, give, sell and have your dope at all costs......

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  • Ken SteersDecember 22, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    Smokey are you yelling when you're typing? Because the answer is yes... You and I are in agreement, but dang it Sacramento passed the law. Votes count and the people spoke. Even the argument of 100 or 200 sq ft is silly because the system doesn't have the ability to regulate their own rules. Maybe having renters grow and sell it to pay rent is the way to go?

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  • ARNOLD LANGEDecember 22, 2011 - 8:38 pm

    the sq foot regulation is misguided. Plants can grow up to 12 feet tall. Make the space 2 X 2 and in the near future you will see plants 18 feet tall. Every time the government clamps down on Pot or Meth or cocaine, the boys with green thumbs breed for more potent strains and we get crystal meth and rock (freebase) cocaine from the boys in the lab. The original guidelines were much more realistic.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEDecember 22, 2011 - 8:26 pm

    In response to Evelyn: If selected to serve on a jury for anycrime in this country, we as citizens have a responsibility to base our verdict on the facts in the case, if unable to do so then you should tell them so you aren't selected. Mr Daly quoted the sherrif .."D’Agostini, however, added that “the problem has gotten out of hand. The problem is not with those few residents growing for their own medical use but rather with criminal gangs or individuals growing for profit." Eldorado county has from the start been more than fair in their stance on Medicinal Cannabis grown by individuals for their personal use. They had guidelines for the number of plants and amounts held for personal use. The real problem is as the sherrif stated, organized crime (gangs) and people that want to subvert Prop 215 for financial gain. I say that is where the focus should be. We didn't preserve our forest lands for criminals to destroy and I don't want to see sparks flying out of my neighbor's electrical panel. Whether or not you agree the issue of Medicinal cannabis is irrelevent. It is law. just like seat belts, drinking and driving (no more throwing bear cans out the window or smoking in bars). There are many LEGAL activities that I don't/can't relate to, but other people do and as long as they don't directly affect me I don't care.

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  • Evelyn VeerkampDecember 23, 2011 - 7:13 am

    Arnold: Did you read the linked article?

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  • ARNOLD LANGEDecember 23, 2011 - 10:25 am

    Evelyn ..yes I did. I am not in favor of activist jurors or activist judges. A much better tactic in my opinion, is to say no to plea bargaining (the tactic of the judicial system to expedite court cases) and demand a jury trial. We have a right to trial by jury. If every person arrested for Cannabis(or any other charge) kept their mouths shut before and after being arrested, refused bail, exercised their right to an attorney and their right ot a jury trial, the courts would grind to a halt. 50,000 Cannabis arrests in NY? How many were plea bargained? The tactics of the Freedom Riders of 1961 are worth looking at. If we, as potential jurors walk into the court room thinking we can subvert the law because (fill in the blank), then our system of justice beomes a farce. As the columnist indicated procecuters are pushing to eliminate jury trials for drug offenders, a negative consequence of activist jurors. Imagine if those 50,000 arrests in NY demanded jury trials. I have been called to jury duty here in Placerville twice. Each time it took 2 days to select a jury from the 50+ people called in. One was cannabis related. When I was questioned the first thing I said was that I think Cannabis should be legal in America and we should stop arresting consumers. ORDER IN THE COURT!! side note: While in the Marine Corp I was arrested and falsly accused of a crime. For 3 months prior to my Special Court Martial, I was being pushed by my "attorney" to plea bargain, even though I steadfastly maintained my innocence. As it turned out, they knew they had the wrong guy but were trying to save face. FIve minutes before my court martial all charges due to the fact they had no evidence and I had an alibi. All charges were dropped with apologies. If I had succumbed to the pressure to plea bargain, I would have spent 6 months in prison, a 6000 dollar fine and a bad conduct discharge. It would have destroyed my service record. As it was I lost my security clearance and I spent the rest of my enlistment doing menial work.

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  • James E.December 23, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Note to self: When next called for jury duty yell out in open court, I think pot should be legal in America and we should stop arresting consumers. Yell this out even if the case doesn't have anything to do with cannabis. Another good one is to suddenly stand up, point to the defendant, and yell he looks guilty as sin. Mr. Lange, you sly fox. As for your court-martial experience, I'm surprised you got any apologies. Military never wants to say they're sorry because to do so is admission of being wrong. Also, reason you didn't get your security clearance back is because no bureaucrat wants to risk their career by giving it back to you and then you robbing a 7-11. Once a clearance is lost almost impossible to get it back, unless the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence directs it and assumes personal responsibility for your future behavior. That's one in a million.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEDecember 23, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    Yelling out in court, not a good idea. I was responding to questions honestly. Concerning court-martial, They spent 3 months trying to railroad me into a guilty plea, it came out that they knew I was innocent and they knew it 2 weeks after my arrest. They were too busy covering their arse's and tumbling over their ego's and careers and willing to ruin my life in process.

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  • DeeDeeDecember 26, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    Pleading out is not a wise thing to do. It's very popular in this county. I have watched these attorneys badger people hard into pleading out. I know of one case the kid absolutely was not guilty and the district attorney knew it but let the "court appointed" attorney talk this misguided kid into pleading out through scare tactics that were unbelievable. Read "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham. True story about pleading out, scare tactics by law enforcement, district attorneys, prison system, snitches etc. Pretty scary stuff and it goes on all the time. Can't imagine being accused of a crime I didn't commit and have to go through this judicial system.

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  • SMOKEYDecember 23, 2011 - 8:30 am

    Arnold, couldn't have said it better, the real issue is those who give, sell for profit and subvert the meaning of 215..as we have seen the intent of 215 was not to give the dopers an out for growing MJ illegally but to help those who could benefit from MJ. If it is so great then dispense it legally from the local Pharmacy, no more illegals hiding behind 215 and crying aloud when they get caught violating the law. Do the math and you too will see just how many are caught with illegal "Recommendations" and who violate the already set guidelines set in El Dorado County, the Dope growers are not those who prop 215 was voted for and the store fronts are nothing more than "Head Shops of the 60's". Ken, you do see the whole picture as do many others who have commented who are not looking through rose colored glasses....

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  • ConcernedDecember 24, 2011 - 11:04 pm

    WOW!!!! The supervisors need to grow come gonads and I mean big ones. Prop. 215 is being manipulated by these people growing pot and selling it hiding behind the compassionate act. We certainly seem to have quite a large population in need of pot to get through the day for one reason or another. If it were not a money making operation, why would there be 3 pots shops in Cameron Park? I'm sick of it. We have a huge drug issue in this county, when is someone going to address it and put a stop to it? I say get the Feds here so they start cleaning house. The 60's are long over people, grow up.

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  • SMOKEYDecember 25, 2011 - 7:43 am

    Amen

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  • Ken SteersDecember 26, 2011 - 5:46 pm

    No, no, no, You can only obtain marijuana after obtaining a medical marijuana card. Then you become a patient of these sorely needed care givers. They should be applauded for supplying gods gift to cure cancer. In fact I say get rid of the charade of the "medicinal" label. Make sure that it is regulated by the same rules as alcohol and tobacco and tax the heck out of it. Use the tax dollars to fight lung cancer and incarcerate those who grow it illegally.

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  • tom gibneyDecember 26, 2011 - 7:09 pm

    Novel concept Ken...LOL Tax the heck out of it...Man, your cracking me up.. That could be worked into a Cheech and Chong bit..Yaaa. Man Thats real groovy LOL Dave...Dave's not here man...

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  • DeeDeeDecember 26, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    Now your talking Ken. Hopefully, help balance our budget in this state also.

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  • Ken SteersDecember 26, 2011 - 7:12 pm

    Merry Christmas Tom! Dave's not here man! Watch their reaction when you take away the medical argument and leave them dealing with the same beaurocracy the rest of us have to suffer with.

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  • SMOKEYJanuary 02, 2012 - 9:06 pm

    Wow, all I can say is wow..The issue has gone huh...

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  • Not a dummyJanuary 09, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Exactly. If it is medicine, it should be sold as medicine by medical professionals and prescribed by actual doctors, not phonies and outcasts who charge you a fee and don't even examine you or your medical history/records. Why are primary care docs not handing out these 'recommendations' like candy like all the other quacks? Because they value the oath they took and only give meds to the truly Ill. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the pot heads (prior) that I know who have purchased the ability to smoke and grow pot. It is a joke and our sheriff, yes you Mr. D'Agostini, look like absolute fools. You have locally known drug addicts selling pot and breaking the law in this county and nothing is done. These 'dispensaries' are drug trafficking hubs and our county residents shouldn't have to watch them smoke pot in their pot shop parking lots then drive out onto the roads they share with me and my family.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 09, 2012 - 7:24 pm

    Just one point. The main reason primary physicians do not hand out recommendations for cannabis is that they have been warned they will lose their ability to write prescriptions for drugs.

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  • RebelJanuary 10, 2012 - 10:52 am

    Wonder Why ????

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  • Gary VandenbergheJanuary 18, 2012 - 1:59 pm

    All you ridiculous phonies squabbling on here are the problem, all the polls show that the majority of californians want cannabis to be legal in some form. You guys are the vocal minority that are trying to bully the silent minority who are trying to mind their own bussiness just like you should be. Marijuana is an herb, not a drug. God made the plant to use as medicine just like oregano, maitake, equisetum, and thousands of other herbs that have been used by animals as medicine on this planet for thousands of years. No person should have to pay, or be taxed for these God given gifts. Why should you or the government be able to tell anyone that they can or cant use herbs, or how they can use them? And why should a licensed physician be the one to prescribe it, human beings have been treating their own ailments with herbal medicine well before the beginning of recorded history. Cannabis is the oldest known form of medicine. A hundred years ago 90% of medicine was Cannabis based, and will be in the future as well. Synthetic forms of cannabinoids, like Mariniol, commonly have side affects, like nausea and vomiting. Man cant make a better medicine than God! Our own bodies make cannabinoids! News flash...... its not dangerous, Cannabis has harmed no one! Crunch the numbers with your pea size brains, 1.2 million people die a year in auto accidents, 100,000 die from prescription drugs taken as directed, 75,000 die in acohol related incidents, 44,000 die prematurely due to cigarette smoke, 350 drown in their bathtubs every year, 3 die from pit bull attacks, and how many die from cannabis?.........ready for this......wait for it........ZERO!!!!! thats right ZERO!!!! So what are you all squabbling about. If its because its a public nuisance then we would be squabbling about alcohol, theres way more crime associated with alcohol than cannabis, it kills more, and it destroys more lives. The most common drug addiction in America is Oxycontin, which is approved by the FDA, and is prescribed by doctors, just ask Rush. You people on here need to educate yourselves as to the most current research being done by doctors across the world and to the more than 3000 year old history of the cannabis plant and to the constitution of the United States of America. Read O'Shaughnessys Hemp news letter, or visit the website of the International Cannabinoid Research Society...... do anything but continue to squabble about a subject you know little about. We need to stop supporting the government nanny state, we need to take responsibility for our own lives and stop giving our natural rights away and stop letting the government micro manage our lives. Keep the government out of our diets and our medicine cabinets! And getting it on the ballot isnt the answer either, because then we are left with a sizable disgruntled minority. The answer is making mature compromises for all interest groups and hashing it out with meetings and discussions, coming up with a fair ordinance for all El Dorado counties citizens is. The old ordinance was way fairer, adding some zoning restrictions like Lake county has, would have worked better. There are plenty of laws already on the books to deal with the criminals that are trying to take advantage of our just laws. Now is not the time to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and the all I care about our my own interests attitude wont fix this either. Wake up people, and stop acting like children!

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  • Ken SteersJanuary 18, 2012 - 2:52 pm

    It's hard to not act like a child when Mr Vandersloot begins his rather long paragraph by calling people he doesn't know "ridiculous phonies". OUCH. Zero people died from cannabis? http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000145 This report says some 279 people died. Granted more people probably die from bee stings but the number is not zero. So am I to understand that the discussion isn't that marijuana use is legal and we should tolerate. But instead marijuana use is a god given right and should not be taxed or regulated. Is the cannabis industry for the elimination of the FDA? Should the medicinal marijuana cards be subscribed by an actual physician? Would dope smokers be against Phillip Morris or R.J. Reynolds producing and selling marijuana as their product?

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  • TontoFebruary 18, 2012 - 8:17 am

    Lots of questions Ken, but the fact is it is illegal and no amount of money spent will change that and it is a gateway drug and it has killed many and the big companies you speak of have been ready for years to produce and package it. But to tolerate or look the other way is not the answer nor to attempt legal status as history has shown us making alcohol legal did not stop drunk drivers or deaths as a result of it's abuse.

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  • TontoFebruary 17, 2012 - 6:43 am

    Really;"God made Marijuana" and "Little Green Apples", newsflash "It's a Weed and has no medical purpose or is FDA approved, so wake up Gary and let the smoke settle from the room don't let the "Hash" cloud your thinking either.

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 18, 2012 - 3:00 pm

    Mr Steers, your linked report does not support your claim. Maybe you should read the articles you link to before using them..

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  • Ken SteersJanuary 18, 2012 - 4:27 pm

    279 deaths contributed to marijuana? What did I miss...

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  • ARNOLD LANGEJanuary 18, 2012 - 5:13 pm

    Section IV, the table clearly states Zero cases listed under the column labeled "Primary Suspect of the Death". Compare that to anti--psychotics where you see 1593 deaths. Section II, B.To report: it is not necessary to be certain of a cause/effect relationship between the adverse event and the use of the medical product(s) in question. Suspicion of an association is sufficient reason to report. Submission of a report does not constitute an admission that medical personnel or the product caused or contributed to the event. Add the FDA disclaimer: "The information contained in the reports has not been scientifically or otherwise verified. For any given report there is no certainty that the suspected drug caused the reaction. This is because physicians are encouraged to report suspected reactions. The event may have been related to the underlying disease for which the drug was given to concurrent drugs being taken or may have occurred by chance at the same time the suspected drug was taken. Numbers from these data must be carefully interpreted as reported rates and not occurrence rates. True incidence rates cannot be determined from this database. Comparisons of drugs cannot be made from these data." -- July 18, 20/05 - FDA Office of Pharmacoepidemiology and Statistical Science, "Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) Brief Description with Caveats of System"

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  • HangtownFebruary 14, 2012 - 12:47 pm

    I agree with Gary. Some of you know absolutely nothing about cannabis, therefore you shouldn't even be able to chime in on the subject. Look at how many problems alcohol causes (criminally), People who use cannabis don't commit crimes while medicated.

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  • Kirk MacKenzieFebruary 14, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    "People who use cannabis don’t commit crimes while medicated."? That's just not true. I would go along with a statement like: people who are truly using cannabis as medication do not commit crimes at a higher rate than non-medicated people. However, those that are just high probably do commit more crimes. Granted, not like those high on alcohol and/or other drugs, but suggesting they are purity incarnate is wrong.

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  • DMartinFebruary 17, 2012 - 7:31 am

    Really, Hangtown? Any bets on whether these two "cannabis supporters" were high while committing this crime? Maybe they just REALLY like Twinkies? I suspect your conclusion is subject to a few easily identified exceptions . . . http://www.mtdemocrat.com/?p=146844 And following your own logic, since I doubt you're a police officer, criminal prosecutor or medical doctor, perhaps you shouldn't chime in on the criminal tendencies of pot heads?

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  • Melissa RenlerFebruary 18, 2012 - 9:02 am

    You are hilarious, DMartin. "Reefer Madness" indeed!

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  • Evelyn VeerkampFebruary 17, 2012 - 8:13 am

    Drug War Profiteers Offer To Buy ALL State Owned Prisons In 48 States http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_LlzgdD7E4g

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  • TontoFebruary 26, 2012 - 11:55 am

    What does this video have to do with the issues talked about here....

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  • Evelyn VeerkampApril 23, 2012 - 5:38 pm

    Tonto: Make an educated guess!!!

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  • Evelyn VeerkampApril 23, 2012 - 5:40 pm

    Marijuana prohibition benefits Big Pharma, prison system ********** http://www.naturalnews.com/035654_marijuana_decriminalization_economists.html

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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