ARMA Newsletter – December 22, 2014

ARMA wishes everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season!
Thank you so much for your support in 2014, and we look forward to continuing our work toward safe, responsible access
to medicinal cannabis in the coming year!

Regional Medical Cannabis News


A Green Alternative Requests Continuance 

The first medical marijuana consumer cooperative (MMCC) appeal to go before the City of San Diego Planning Commission will not be heard until late January of next year. A Green Alternative’s conditional use permit was originally granted by the Hearing Officer on October 15, but that decision was appealed by Barbara Gordon, a North County anti-drug activist. The Planning Commission was scheduled to hear the appeal on December 18, but after hearing several other items on the morning’s lengthy docket, three of the seven commissioners had other commitments and would not have been present to vote on the appeal. After confirming that no other applicant in District 8, where the cooperative will be located, could “get in line in front of this applicant,” the cooperative’s land-use consultant Vicki Estrada said that she would like all seven commissioners to hear the project and requested a continuance due to quorum issues. The commission voted unanimously to approve the continuance. At least one of the commissioners will be out of the country during the next two available Planning Commission meetings, so the new date certain for the item is January 29, 2015.



Hearing Officer Approves Another Cooperative Permit

One more MMCC applicant’s conditional use permit was approved by the city’s Hearing Officer on December 17. The project located at 658 E. San Ysidro in District 8 faced several community opponents during the meeting, but Hearing Officer Ken Teasley ultimately ruled that the project did meet all of the strict qualifying criteria of the ordinance and agreed with the staff recommendation to approve the permit. Any appeal to the Planning Commission, however, will not be docketed until February at the earliest, allowing time for the commission to first hear the appeal for A Green Alternative, another District 8 MMCC applicant.



Fierce Competition Results in Unusual Strategy in Race for CUPs

An unusual situation for land-use projects has arisen due to fierce competition for conditional use permits for medical marijuana cooperatives. Because the CUPs are limited to just four per district, and the current ordinance requires that all MMCCs must be at least 1000 feet away from each other, applicants have resorted to using whatever strategy they can think of to get ahead of their competition. One of these tactics has been to appeal projects’ California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) determinations, thereby delaying the projects’ ability to be docketed for Hearing Officer meetings. While every new land-use project in the city is allowed time to be appealed once it has been given its CEQA determination, only rarely is the determination actually appealed. However, several MMCCs’ CEQA rulings have been appealed and will be heard by the City Council in early 2015.

For more information, see:


California Legislative Update


California Medical Association Urges Clinics Not to Deny Organ Transplants to MMJ Patients
In a landmark vote in early December, the CMA decided unanimously to urge clinics not to deny organ transplants to recipients simply because they use medical marijuana. While this is just a recommendation, it underscores the efforts by Americans for Safe Access to pass legislation which reforms current state laws regarding organ transplant policies.
For more information, see:


California Court Rules Concentrates OK

A three-justice panel of a state appellate court ruled unanimously that concentrated cannabis does qualify as a form of medical marijuana and is therefore covered by the California Compassionate Use Act.

For more information, see:

National Legislative Update


Cromnibus Spending Bill Restricts Justice Department Use of Funds
A provision in the congressional spending bill that was approved recently by both the House and Senate, and signed by the President, proscribes the Department of Justice from using funds “to prevent such States [where medical marijuana is legal] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Contrary to popular opinion, this provision does not mean that medicinal cannabis is legal in the eyes of the federal court, even in states that have legalized medicinal use. Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, which to the federal government means it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” It also does not mean that the federal government is strictly prohibited from using funds to go after state-sanctioned mmj cooperatives and patients. Although the legislative intent is clear, the language of the amendment allows enough wiggle-room that it remains to be seen how the DOJ will interpret it.

What the provision does mean, and why the amendment is still historic and incredibly important, is that for the first time since marijuana became a Schedule I drug the federal government is finally officially acknowledging and allowing for states’ rights when it comes to medicinal cannabis. Unlike the Cole and Ogden memos, which only stipulated guidance for federal prosecutors, the cromnibus bill was signed into law by the President and should provide at least some protection and relief to patients and providers who are following state laws… that is, until the spending bill expires in September 2015. The work is not even close to finished, however, and the fight for comprehensive federal reform for medical cannabis continues. The so-called “war on drugs” is far from over, but we are slowly moving in the right direction.


DOJ Says Indian Tribes Can Grown and Sell

Earlier this month, the US Justice Department announced that Native American tribes may grow and sell cannabis on their lands, provided they adhere to the same strict conditions the federal government has put forth for states with laws that allow for medical marijuana. Only a small number of tribes have expressed interest so far.


1st Annual Responsible Access Awards Gala — THANK YOU!
A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to everyone who helped make our 1st Annual Responsible Access Awards Gala such a success! It was an incredibly memorable and successful evening on all levels, and we could not have done it without each one of you. We are already busy making plans for our next event so please be sure to watch this newsletter for more information and updates.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about becoming a trade association member or sponsor for future events, please contact our office at (619) 275-5124 or

Also, big thanks to Aaron Truax from atruax photography for his help documenting the event. Please visit our 1st Annual Responsible Access Awards Gala photo gallery on Facebook to browse Aaron’s wonderful photos from the gala.

In addition, thank you to Cathouse Thursday for keeping us musically entertained throughout the night.

And giant thank you again to our generous Awards Gala sponsors: General Hemp, Green Guard Security, San Diego Cellars, Law Office of Kimberly R. Simms, Law Offices of Melissa Bobrow, San Diego Health & Wellness, Laing Strategic Communications, RD Strategies, Atlantis Group, LLC, and Rath Miller. Special thanks also goes to Realm of Caring California for their incredible support and participation at the event.

** Congratulations to our Award Recipients **
Print Publication of the Year – San Diego CityBeat
City Staffer of the Year – Edith Gutierrez
Community Partner of the Year – Donna Frye
Philanthropist of the Year – Mike Llamas
Industry Impact Award – Beau Odom
Non-Profit of the Year – Realm of Caring California
Advocate of the Year – Vey Linville

Upcoming Events


Pediatric Cannabis Therapy Support Group
Using cannabis to help treat your child’s Cancer, Epilepsy, or other medical condition, or curious how to integrate mmj into treatment? Join other local moms the first Tuesday of each month at 8PM for a pediatric cannabis therapy support group. The location varies. Contact Allison Benavides, MSW, at for more information on how to get involved.

More MMJ News: Elsewhere Edition


Several Bay Area Medical Cannabis Products Flunk A Potency Test

New frontier: Colorado dedicates $8M for medical marijuana research to understand benefits

2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

Minnesota mother who used medical cannabis to treat her son maintains innocence

Study looks at marijuana’s impact on brain

Marijuana compound may slow, halt progression of Alzheimer’s

Carlsbad Company Offers Cannabis for Canines

KPIX News Special: California’s Green Rush, The Business Of Marijuana In The Golden State

Marijuana Legalization In Canada Could Be On Horizon As Attitudes Mellow