Saturday, July 25, 2009

San Diego Medical Cannabis UPDATE - Operation Green RX In Full Force

Proposition 215 also known as the Compassionate Use Act passed over thirteen years ago by California voters, was followed by Senate Bill 420 passed in 2003. SB420 not only reaffirmed the defense in court allowed to patients under Prop 215, it also mandated that counties around the state implement a voluntary ID Card program designed to give patients additional protection from arrest and prosecution. Most counties and cities in the state have long since adopted the ID card program mandated by SB420.

In the case of the City of San Diego, additional protection to patients were established by passing local ordinances allowing higher limits both on plant numbers and the amount of dried cannabis a patient could possess, transport, etc. The laws continued to evolve, and now we hav e the City of Oakland where voters approved with 80 percent support the nations first tax on “cannabis businesses”. The additional tax would asses $18 for every $1,000 of gross receipts beginning January 1, 2010, and there are even discussions and debates on a national level about decriminalization and in California outright legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis which the Department of Equalization last week estimated could potentially bring in over 1.4 billion in additional annual revenue to the State's general fund.

The San Diego County Board however took a strong position against Prop 215. In 2006 the City of San Diego was preparing to issue its own ID Cards to provide as much protection to patients in the city as it possibly could from the clear bias and unwillingness of the county to comply with state law. The county wouldn't have it. They filed a lawsuit against “San Diego NORML”, and pursued it all the way to the US Supreme Court, resulting in a landmark decision in favor of medical cannabis patients and at the same time putting the City's ID Card program on hold.

Today as San Diego County finally began accepting applications for the long awaited ID Cards after being forced to do so by the US Supreme court, and as a few ID cards begin arriving in the mail, our elected officials both city and county are forced to acknowledge and deal with the collective cultivation efforts and dispensing collectives opening in San Diego.

Most cities within San Diego County have quickly adopted moratorium which prevent new collectives from opening. The San Diego county however, as the first order of business after implementing the most expensive ID Card program in the state, decided to draft an ordinance that would “prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in the Unincorporated Areas”. The County Bord's June 23 meeting agenda read “The sale and use of marijuana is illegal under Federal law for any purpose”. The item went on to discuss the negative impacts of “dispensaries” on communities and ended with “Chairwoman Jacob, Supervisor Horn, Sheriff Kolender, and District Attorney Dumanis, Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to work with County Counsel to draft an ordinance amendment to the County's Zoning Ordinance prohibiting illegal medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within the unincorporated area of the County.”

While the county is busy implementing yet another roadblock for patients, the San Diego City Council decided to take a different approach. On Wednesday July 8, 2009 at the San Diego City Public Safety and Health Committee meeting the issue of medical cannabis regulations was raised and debated. The establishment of a Medical Cannabis Task Force was discussed and planned. Testimony from law enforcement, health officials, and patients was heard and acknowledged by Chairwoman Marti Emerald and other members of the committee, council member Tony Young even extended an invitation to all those who came to speak from the public that day to his office for further discussions and dialog. The Committee will reconvene again to take action on these issues on the 29 of July.

The District Attorney's office decided to take a different approach altogether. Last year as Operation Green RX was in its early stages, the San Diego Police Department Narcotics Task Force sent detectives to local doctors to obtain valid recommendations for medical cannabis. The intent was to target and bring down all medical cannabis related activity in San Diego. With these valid recommendations in hand, detectives targeted all the collectives and cooperatives listed on the CA NORML website. The operation began with the detectives calling the collectives over the phone, providing all the pertinent information to prove their status as legitimate patients, and then requesting to join each individual collective.

The undercover officers proceeded to request deliveries of medication to a house set up in Pacific Beach for this operation to be used as their home, then three months later raided over fifteen houses, sticking true to their motto of “Let the courts sort it out”.

Several months later in February of this year, the district attorney's office held a press conference titled Operation Endless Summer, which can be seen here:

At the press conference there was no mention of medical cannabis, Operation Green RX, or the fact that half the people netted in the operation were medical patients that had no ties to the military or to the illegal drugs shown during the press conference. The news picked it up as a major victory in the illegal war on drugs by our District Attorney, when in fact it was a clear continued attempt to shut down collectives, and prevent any attempts made by patients to follow the law.

As court records have now revealed, this operation was in fact called Green RX and a number of detectives have already testified under oath that this operation was targeted at medical cannabis in San Diego and had nothing to do with targeting drug sales to the military or on navy bases/housing. At these same hearings, these same detectives boast about the medical cannabis training they received in Sacramento. When questioned further as to the type of training, the detectives state that the training is provided by the California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA) and a very informative handout that they received and base their expert opinion on.

Here is a brief sample from that handout: USE OF MARIJUANA AS “MEDICINE”
Quick Facts:Marijuana, a plant from the cannabis family, is illegal and highly psychoactive.
Marijuana and its associated compounds can seriously affect the human body.Marijuana is NOT medicine.

Handout can be downloaded here from the CNOA California Narcotic Officers Association:

There is no mention or detailed description of any of the medical cannabis laws or related legislation anywhere in that handout. In fact the document is a clear misrepresentation of medical facts, and is clearly bias. The most troubling of this situation is that when an expert witness who helped work with the legislators on drafting and formulating Prop 215 is brought in to examine the evidence, determines and testifies that the defendant was in fact in compliance, the judge dismisses the experts testimony and sides with the 'medically' trained detectives.

Many in San Diego were under the impression that Operation Green RX was a federal effort was executed by the DEA or in collaboration with other federal and local agencies. When the Obama administration decided not to pursue medical cannabis patients, and had the Attorney General's office issue statements of the like, many were convinced that the President's position on the issue combined with the US Supreme Court's decision not to hear San Diego County's law suit, would end Operation Green RX and would allow patients to finally see the long awaited clarification from our elected officials. We all were mistaken, Operation Green RX is in full force.

Less than two and a half weeks ago, on July 7th Detective Mike Mendez from the San Diego Police Department’s Narcotics Task Force went to a local doctor here in San Diego, lied about his identity, symptoms, condition, and obtained under the name of Pierre Tiberius Uggla a valid Physician’s Statement and Recommendation for the medical use of cannabis.

On Thursday July 9th Pierre (Detective Mike Medez) called a local dispensing collective, provided all the pertinent information over the phone to prove that he is a qualified patient, then after being verified by the collective with his physician, the Detective went to the collective, completed all the required paperwork, and joined. While completing the membership agreements and other documents, the detective displayed a blatant disregard for law enforcement protocols and revealed his real name Mike Mendez on the form.

Research of news articles from the past and public records have shown, Detective Mike Mendez (Pierre Uggla) has been with the San Diego Police Department for over 20 years, and currently is assigned to the San Diego Narcotics Task Force.

Detective Mendez was reported by the collective operator as saying “Whats the good kron here?” when entering the medicine room of the collective.

According to reports from several other collectives in San Diego over the last two weeks, Mike Mendez (Pierre Uggla) and a number of others with valid recommendations made multiple attempts in join collectives around the city and county. The security staff at one of the collective attacked by Detective Mendez reported that the detectives “came in to the front check-in area, began acting belligerent, started to harassing the members waiting to check in, and actually attempted to enter the secured medication room without approval”. When asked to leave by the armed security staff and escorted outside, the detectives were heard yelling at the security staff “Who’s side are you on?”.

Further research showed that this same detective was involved in both Operation Green RX this February in which all the collectives listed on the California NORML website were targeted, as well as in Operation Green RX '06 when other collectives and doctor were targeted and shut down around the city.

Tuesday of this week I went to the San Diego City Council again asking them to intervene in this illegal operation. The video of this request can be viewed here:

These same detectives sit on the stand in court under oath and say that they respect medical cannabis, when at the same hearing they also testify that their knowledge of medical cannabis is based on this handout from the CNOA, which instructs the detectives to believe that cannabis is NOT medicine, is illegal and highly addictive.

The doctors targeted by these investigations, the patients, and the citizens of San Diego are demanding answers. Who is funding these investigations? Who is behind them? Why is this senseless waste of taxpayer dollars allowed to continue while other legitimate members of the narcotics and other task forces around the county are being laid off as a result of the budget crisis and the economy?

This type of behavior, harassment, and continued prosecutions based on a complete misrepresentation and disregard for the laws already in place is both shocking, and additional proof that the San Diego Narcotics Task Force has made it's Top Priority to shut down all medical collective cultivation and distribution efforts in San Diego regardless of the attempts made by these patients to follow the law.

This combined with the county's continued efforts to put roadblocks in front of patients trying to follow the law only adds more confusion to already confusing and impossible to follow “serpentine roadmap” that makes up our cannabis laws as one of the Judges put it in a recent hearing of a Green RX defendant.

If the narcotics task force, the county, and the district attorney would invest even a third of the effort and funding into productive outreach to the collectives and began to actually work with patients instead of creating roadblocks and this continued harassment and bias driven prosecutions, then I am certain that all the public concerns would have already been addressed, legal zoning ordinances and permits for collectives would be an issue of the past as it is with many cities in California such as San Francisco, and patients would feel safe and have safe access.

It is crucial now more then ever for supporters, patients, doctors, law enforcement officials, and our health department to continue the dialog started by the City Council. It is also just as critical for the people of San Diego to see with transparency and demand accountability from the people behind these investigations. This continued waste and senseless harassment or in short, madness, needs to stop.

The solution is not bans, moratoriums, or prosecutions. Outright bans result in lawsuits, moratoriums in years of stalling and extensions of the moratoriums, and prosecutions result in patients and collectives having to operate so deeply underground that any potential benefit they could be bringing to the community is stifled by the environment of fear.

The solution will only be discovered through collaboration, outreach, understanding, and eduction of between all the parties involved. Until there is clarity patients will continue to suffer, our law enforcement will continue to operate under “vague laws”, and the lives of innocent law abiding citizens will continue to be destroyed by a select bias driven few.

Often I hear in our community many who want to do something to help make a difference. Here are three specific things you can do today to help stop Operation Green RX and prevent more arrests, harassment, and the bias driven prosecutions here in San Diego.

1. Write the GRAND JURY
2. Write City Council
3. Call and Write the San Diego District Attorney (Bonnie Dumanis)

Instructions and Contact Information:Writing to the Grand Jury: Follow the link below and submit a form to the grand jury asking them to investigate. Instruction on how to fill the form out, and the form can be downloaded here:

City Council: Please email the City Council and ask them to call for a Grand Jury investigation into Operation Green RX.;;;;;;;;

District Attorney (Bonnie Dumanis): Please call or write District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and ask her office to stop prosecuting medical cannabis patients and to launch an investigation into Operation Green RX.
District Attorney:
Bonnie Dumanis
T: 619-531-4040
330 W. Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

For more information about my case, Operation Green RX, and to see the undercover footage of the delivery of medication to the detective please visit: and

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