Prop. 19: More Than a Nickel Bag of Opinions

Six leading OC medical-marijuana and pot-legalization advocates leave no turn unstoned in examining the ballot initiative

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Sean Breen,
Medical-Marijuana Doctor

Based in Irvine, Breen is a former Navy Corpsman who saw combat during the Iraq war. A New York native, he moved to California specifically to establish a practice specializing in writing recommendations for medical marijuana. When he was first contacted by the
Weekly to participate in this survey, he expressed strong opposition to Prop. 19.

Is it going to be the worst thing in the world if marijuana is legalized in California? No, but if Prop. 19 didn’t leave it up to the individual cities to decide whether to allow it, it would be much better. But from a pure medical-marijuana perspective, I think you will see a lot of dispensaries and doctors go away. About 65 percent of medical-marijuana users are really recreational users anyway. From a purely selfish standpoint, I’d want to keep it illegal to have people keep going to clinics, but that’s selfish.

I called the Yes on 19 campaign yesterday and asked, “If marijuana goes legal, will medical-marijuana collectives be able to sell to anyone, or will they still require people to have doctor’s recommendations?” They couldn’t answer the question because they said it will be up to the cities to decide what to do. Is Irvine going to allow this? I see this debate going on forever until they actually have concrete laws on this. If it’s legal to drive 55 mph in California, it’s legal in the whole state; you can’t have this be legal in Oakland and illegal in Irvine.

I’ll probably vote for it, even though up until now I’ve been against it, but only because it is kind of ridiculous that you can’t come home and take a couple of hits off a pipe and go to sleep legally. But that’ll probably do our clinics in. But here’s where I am right now: I don’t care either way. I don’t smoke pot, so it doesn’t affect me. If it goes legal and clinics can’t survive, I’ll do something else.

Everybody wants marijuana to be legalized. There are no people working in dispensaries who want people arrested, but they want to feed their kids; they have spent the past five years building a medical-marijuana clientele. That’s the only reason they want to keep it the way it is. Any other reason is just bullshit.

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Chris Glew,
Attorney

When he isn’t appearing in court on behalf of marijuana growers or smokers who’ve been arrested for possessing too much marijuana, Glew is usually there arguing on behalf of dispensary owners fighting lawsuits filed by cities seeking to ban their businesses. In his free time, he fields emergency phone calls from growers and dispensary owners being raided by police. Glew, who doesn’t smoke pot, works out of his law office in Santa Ana, Glew & Kim, and credits his busy schedule to the vagueness of current medical-marijuana laws, a problem he says may only be exacerbated by the passage of Prop. 19.

I think Prop. 19 represents an opportunity for people to express their feelings about marijuana being illegal, and it’s a good outlet for people to come out and say they are opposed to the prohibition on marijuana. I’m a tweener; I’m standing on the fence. Prop. 19 creates a lot of problems because it is another ambiguous law that will create a lot of legal controversy. The biggest issue I have is it is only legalizing possession of 1 ounce, which is now only a $100 fine, and that is a far cry from legalization. It’s a feeble attempt in the overall effort.

Right now, only medical-marijuana patients are allowed to possess a “reasonable” quantity of marijuana. Under the new law, there is a 1-ounce-possession limit that will be for recreational use only. But you often find when setting standards for amounts of marijuana possession that people will start to cite new standards, and now, conservative prosecutors and judges might start to reference 1 ounce as the limit for everyone. I’m not saying you should vote no just because it says 1 ounce, but I am leery about how it would affect medical-marijuana patients.

However, it’s hard to criticize any positive momentum, and one can only hope and pray that all legal issues from the passage or non-passage of 19 are determined in our favor. But I’m a pessimist because I’ve seen how the Compassionate Use Act has been conservatively construed in California by judges. I represent a broad spectrum of clients from collectives and growers to cancer patients and everyone in between. Ninety percent of people who ask me about the bill say it will legalize marijuana, and I say no, it will legalize just an ounce. The unfortunate consequence of that restriction is that a lot of people will find themselves out with a pound and will think they are complying with the law—to their own detriment.

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