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Cannabis Contingent Castigates Council

More than 100 medical marijuana supporters jam Lake Forest City Hall to protest a crackdown on local pot shops.

For more than half an hour Tuesday evening, proponents of medical marijuana alternately berated, cajoled and pleaded with the Lake Forest City Council.

The speeches followed an hourlong protest in front of  that attracted a variety of news media to the usually quiet commercial complex at Commercentre Drive and Bake Parkway.

Supporters, many affiliated with Orange County NORML and OC Americans for Safe Access, held high signs at the entrance and conducted call-and-answer chants.

At the meeting, 12 people spoke in support of the city's embattled pot dispensaries.

Some were seasoned advocates; others, like Tony Tyron, said the city's marijuana crackdown is likely to bring other "average" locals out of the woodwork to protest.

So important is the issue to him that he spoke in public, although he admitted being “frankly terrified that my face is on camera right now.”

"Pot Not Prozac"

The protesters said shutting down Lake Forest dispensaries harms people who use the drug to relieve such ailments as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder. Some described personal battles with other prescription pain relievers before discovering marijuana as an alternative.

Among the protesters:

  • A retired Army veteran who said a risky surgery to remove tumor the "size of two fists" left him addicted to opiates and unable to work. When he began using marijuana, “the pain was reduced greatly and at times entirely.”
  • A 20-year-old student who lives in Lake Forest and said she uses marijuana for "extreme back pain." She said she can't afford to drive to another city or county to purchase medical marijuana.
  • A man born in Wales who said he was shot while fighting for the United States in Vietnam and has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. He wasn't planning to attend the meeting until he found out the dispensary where he buys marijuana has been shuttered.
  • A Lake Forest mother and resident of 15 years who said it should be her decision how to medicate her post-traumatic stress. "It is my choice to be healthy my way and I feel like you’re taking away that freedom," she said.

Laguna Niguel resident Gordon Wilson also attacked the city's recent partnership with the federal government to  as a limit on freedom.

“It really, really tears me apart” that resources are being spent on punishing marijuana users while "rapists and murderers run free," Wilson said.

"A Waste of Money"

Others, including Orange County NORML representative Elaine Washington, said the money spent by the city to sue local marijuana collectives—about $600,000 at last estimate—should have been used for other purposes.

After the meeting, city spokeswoman Debra Rose said the city plans to continue its lawsuits to close local dispensaries.

As of Tuesday afternoon, nine of the 12 marijuana shops in Lake Forest had shut their doors, including the eight in a Raymond Way building specifically targeted by federal complaints; another is expected to do so this week.

Melora Kloeckner October 19, 2011 at 02:06 PM
I wish our city council would stop worrying about something that grows in the ground, stop advertising their religious beliefs on the wall in the council chambers and start spending our tax dollars more wisely. Seriously, they are a bunch of conservatives who are trying to regulate mother nature and push their own religious agenda. Is that LESS GOVERNMENT? If the $600,000 figure is correct, shame on them. We need more city services like a DOG PARK!!!!
Vincent Von Dudler October 19, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Upvote to Melora's comment. Government shouldn't be legislating morality and lifestyle. Last time I checked this country claimed to be free. And in a free society adults should be able to live their lives as they choose. It's not the government's place to be "protecting" adults from themselves. This two part plan is the only action the citizens of the US need to take to end federal marijuana prohibition 1) EVERYONE that sees these links sign up at both sites and weigh in on the debate - http://pvox.co/CdiFqY - http://wh.gov/gDQ 2) Propagate those two links and ensure that everyone that sees them go to both those sites.
Malcolm Kyle October 19, 2011 at 07:55 PM
The illegal drug trade is now estimated to be somewhere in the region of $400 billion a year ( equal to the defense budget ). This "former land of the free" arrests 1.5 million of it's citizens a year for drug law violations, half for marijuana alone, The majority of the 2.2 million inmates in the USA are incarcerated because of this insane drug war (Prohibition 2) at a staggering cost to all taxpayers and trauma to their families. Prisons have been filled to capacity. Violent criminals, murderers, rapists and child molesters are released early to create space for these so called drug offenders. Half of court trial time and also a huge chunk of police officers time is pointlessly wasted. Enormous untaxed profits from illegal drugs fund multi-national criminal empires which bribe law enforcement authorities and spread corruption faster than a raging bush fire. These laws take violent criminals and turn them into multi-billionaires whilst corrupting even entire countries such as Columbia, Panama, Mexico and Afghanistan. The extreme violence on and south of the border is drug gangs fighting for turf in this lucrative business. The drug laws are also funding the Taliban whose illegal opium profits allow it to buy weapons and pay it's fighters more than $300 a month, compared with the $14 paid to an Afghan policemen. Protect our Children; Legalize, Regulate & Tax!
Maria Moffa Levenson October 19, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Well, I now know that I'm not voting for ANY of the incumbents in the next election, until they prove to me that they can remove their collective heads from their collective backsides! Who are they to tell me how I should live my life? I take care of a 90 year old disabled father. Yes, I do have wonderful caregivers, but who has to plan all the schedules, cook all the meals, do all the shopping, take care of all the finances? ME! People who don't know don't understand why I haven't had a decent night's sleep in 6 years!!! I'm emotionally exhausted, and my doctor has recommended that I take him up on his referral to a doctor who works in Medical Marijuana. Thanks to you, my illustrious and "intelligent" city council members, I can look forward to more stress, many more nights of lost sleep, and all the other illnesses that will take hold of me because of your idiocy! You should be ashamed of yourselves!!!!!
Cynthia October 19, 2011 at 09:24 PM
The Federal Government has no business telling the states and local communities what to do. What a waste of time to crack down on marijuana stores when they should be going after heroin and cocaine which is very harmful and rampant in some bit cities. Marijuana has been used for thousands of years to help people in pain. Cancer patients can't handle the chemo without it. I wonder what Obama would do if Michelle got breast cancer and was throwing up all night or if he got it and was sick 24 hours a day. I'm sure he would change his mind and lay off the people who are trying to help people in pain.
Cheryl Fullerton October 19, 2011 at 09:31 PM
I was at the protest last night and apparently after we left, they decided they will follow through with the lawsuits shutting down our SAFE ACCESS to medication. I will make sure that none of these incumbents get reelected unless they come to realize that the citizens of Lake Forest are asking for a city without drug dealers on the streets (if they shut the dispensaries this is what will happen), our children will have more exposure to access (although teenagers nowadays are doing acid, Ecstasy and have a penchant for prescription meds, they don't really care about marijuana that much. A fifteen year old boy died this past January from an overdose of Xanax and Ativan, far more dangerous in leaps and bounds than marijuana could ever be), more citizens going to jail for non-violent offences... etc, etc. We NEED SAFE ACCESS in Lake Forest. We DEMAND SAFE ACCESS in Lake Forest. Californians passed proposition 215 by 56%. WE SPOKE. And our vote did not count, well, according to City Attorney Scott Smith, our Mayor and City Council that is. I'd never been to a City Council meeting, but after last night, I'm thinking of running...
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) October 20, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Hi all. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. I just wanted to clarify something with regards to the first part of Cheryl's comment. The city has never suggested that it would consider not following through with its lawsuits. For this story, I checked with the city's spokeswoman after the meeting to see if anything had changed; she confirmed that it hadn't. (It wasn't something that took place in public at the meeting after the protest ended.)
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention October 20, 2011 at 07:54 PM
I was at the City Council meeting and I listened to all of the speakers. While nothing that was stated surprised me, I was disappointed that it was the professional advocates that were the least respectful in their comments. Regardless of which side of this debate you fall on, it just makes good strategic sense to target those who are in a position to change things with your protests and vitriol. The Lake Forest City Council is not in such a position because of a small constitutional issue called the "supremacy clause." The supremacy clause is so named because it is the clause in the U.S. Constitution that states that the Constitution and federal laws are "the supreme law of the land" throughout the United States. The California medical marijuana law is, quite frankly, unconstitutional because it is in direct conflict with federal drug laws. Each one of our council members took an oath when they were sworn into their position to uphold the constitution. They really have little legal choice but to cooperate with the federal crackdown on the dispensaries. I believe the government should make marijuana legal, but it should only be sold in government run dispensaries in the same manner that many states only allow liquor to be sold in state run stores. They should also tax the hell out of it. For those of you who are understandably upset that your dispensary was closed, you would be better served to turn your angst on Congress instead of the City Council.

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