Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Zinke Stinks

Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 12:42 PM

Flaming hypocrisy is the order of the day - WIKIPEDIA
  • wikipedia
  • Flaming hypocrisy is the order of the day

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was one of numerous state and national Democrats to tee off on U.S Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke this morning for his decision to exempt offshore drilling in the vacation state of Florida—while failing to extend the same exemption to blue states with big tourist economies of their own.

Florida is led by a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who supported Donald Trump for president in 2016. The president spends significant time in the state, playing golf at Mar-al-Lago, a resort that boasts views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Zinke cited the impact on Florida's tourism industry as the signal driver behind his decision to keep the drilling rigs from view of beachgoers and vacationers. The secretary did not, however, extend the same courtesy to other states with a robust tourist economy—Oregon, New York, Virginia, and of course, California.

Early on Wednesday, Newsom punched out a couple of tweets directed at Zinke that appeared to highlight that the Interior Secretary is a flaming partisan hypocrite hell-bent on fulfilling the Trump mandate to punish blue states, regardless of the appearance of flaming partisan hypocrisy.

Florida, noted Newsom, had 113 million visitors in 2016, while California had 269 million statewide visitor trips. Tourists in Florida spent $109 billion; in California, they spent $126.3 billion.

“Using this logic,” tweeted Newsom, “CA’s coast should be declared free of offshore drilling as well. Or do blue states not get exemptions?”

The Trump Administration has also been busily undoing regulations enacted under President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the catastrophic BP Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana in 2010.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Stretch out as U.S Attorney in Northern District as Sessions Snuffs out Cole Memo

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 10:46 AM

Sessions says no as California flies high on legal weed - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INJUSTICE
  • U.S. Department of Injustice
  • Sessions says no as California flies high on legal weed

On Thursday, as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would rescind Obama-era guidance for federal prosecutors in pro-pot states (the so-called “Cole Memo”), the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Brian Stretch, announced he’d left his post for a private-sector job at the San Francisco law firm of Sidley Austin.

Stretch, a 2016 Obama appointee, abruptly left the DOJ’s North Bay office as Sessions stepped in days after California’s landmark Proposition 64 went into effect in 2018. Prop 64 legalized recreational use of the federally-banned flower in the nation’s most populous and diverse state.

Now it’s up to Sessions to appoint an interim district attorney. A permanent successor would be subject to senate approval.

Stretch, the departing U.S. Attorney, is a career prosecutor and a former assistant district attorney in Marin County, home of the pro-cannabis “4/20” movement, the Grateful Dead, and lots of pot smokers. He had earlier escaped a Trump-Sessions purge of dozens of U.S. attorneys undertaken when the administration first lurched into the White House.

Who will step into the breach in the Northern District? A Jan. 4 report on the Recorder, which first reported on Stretch’s curiously timed departure, said that “candidates in the mix to fill Stretch’s position include current Sidley Austin partner David Anderson, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, and former U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello—all veterans of the local prosecutor's office”

Sessions had not named an interim by Friday Jan. 5, and Stretch’s last day was reportedly to be on Saturday.

A report Thursday on the NBC television affiliate in San Diego reported that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Adam Braverman, had embraced the Sessions move. Braverman told the station that rescinding the Cole Memo had “return[ed] trust and local control to federal prosecutors,” when I comes to enforcing the federal Controlled Substance Act, which outlaws cannabis.

Braverman, who has prosecuted drug cartels, is a Trump appointee who was sworn into his post in November.

Stretch’s new private-sector role will in some way continue to be of a piece, if indirectly, with legal issues now swirling around the Trump White House: Stretch will focus on white-collar crime at Sidley Austin, with, as a press release from the firm notes, “a particular emphasis on corporate investigations, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and criminal defense matters.”

According to a profile of the storied law firm on Wikipedia, Sidney Austin is the sixth largest corporate law firm in the United States with 1,900 lawyers in its stable. It’s been around since 1866, reports Wikipedia and was founded in the aftermath of the Civil War, a time of great divisiveness in the land.

The author of the 2013 Cole memo, James Cole, has since left the government and is now himself a partner at Sidley Austin, according to a Recorder piece that ran on Jan. 5. That same piece quoted California Attorney General Xavier Becerra pledging to fight for the new law and “to vigorously enforce our state’s laws and protect our state’s interests…. In California, we decided it was best to regulate, not criminalize, cannabis,”

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

U.S. Court of Appeals rejects Sonoma County appeal in Andy Lopez case

Posted By on Thu, Dec 28, 2017 at 12:57 PM

Appeals court rules: no en banc hearing in the Lopez case.
  • Appeals court rules: no en banc hearing in the Lopez case.

In the latest development in the Andy Lopez civil lawsuit, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected a petition from Sonoma County attorneys that would have put a recent 2-1 appeals court decision in favor of the Lopez family, to a so-called “en banc vote from an 11-judge appeals-court panel.

This setback for the county is a significant development in the ongoing lawsuit against Sonoma County and an officer with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
Lawyers for the family of Andy Lopez filed paperwork in federal court several weeks ago asking that the Court of Appeals reject the county’s petition for a so-called “en banc” ruling.

A three-judge panel had ruled in favor of the Lopez family late in the summer in a ruling which would have kicked the case back to U.S. District Court for a civil trial. The county appealed and asked for an en-banc hearing, and the court ruled las week that it would not rehear the case.

The federal civil trial would be held to determine whether Erick Gelhaus can be held liable in the death of Lopez, who was killed by the SCSO officer late in 2013 while carrying a replica toy rifle in the Roseland neighborhood. The youth was also carrying a replica handgun.

The appeals court ruled earlier this year, 2-1, that there were enough facts in dispute to warrant a review by a civilian jury at the U.S. District Court. The county in turn appealed that decision and asked for the en banc proceeding, now rejected, by the judges who first heard the appeal. Two judges were against it, and one was for it.

“The full court has been advised of the petition for rehearing en banc and no judge of the court has requested a vote on it,” reads the paragraph-long ruling issued on Dec. 22.

Sonoma County, which has spent upwards of $4 million in taxpayer money to defend the SCSO and Gelhaus, against the Lopez suit, now has to decide whether to settle the case with the Lopez family, take its chances before the civilian jury at the District Court in Oakland—or appeal again and try to find an audience before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The latter is an unlikely scenario given that the Supreme Court, according to the U.S. appeals court website, “typically will agree to hear a case only when it involves an unusually important legal principle, or when two or more federal appellate courts have interpreted a law differently.”

The basic factual issues that would be presented to a jury center on whether Lopez was pointing his replica weapon at Gelhaus at the time he was shot, and whether the child had time to comply with a police order that he drop the weapon.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Unpacking the so-called in the "So-Called Wine Country Fires"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 11:43 AM

A structure goes up amid the trees in eastern Santa Rosa,  Monday Oct. 9 2017 - TOM GOGOLA
  • Tom Gogola
  • A structure goes up amid the trees in eastern Santa Rosa, Monday Oct. 9 2017

“To name something is to own it,” is a statement typically flung around in semiotics dissertations and dopey Thomas Friedman editorials. But now the North Bay faces a sensitive and non-academic naming issue of its own. If to name it is to own it, who will own the fires?

So far it looks like “Wine Country Fires” is emerging as a potential consensus choice, but there’s a hedge for the moment in the media.

It’s too soon.

Numerous references to the “so-called” wine country fires” have appeared throughout the week in publications and online sites ranging from the local Press Democrat to the Mercury News to to the East Bay Times.

“The so-called wine country fires” has become something of a placeholder.

“So-called” by whom? I never called it that. Did you? Who is this patient-zero who first uttered the phrase “Wine Country Fires,” without the tactful restraint of a qualifying “so-called”?

An informal survey undertaken this week revealed scoffing, repulsion and shrugging fatalism in the face of “Wine Country Fires” as the culturally accepted catch-all for the series of fires that raged through the region the past couple of weeks.

People don’t seem to like “Wine Country Fires” much, and why is that?

In some measure, “so-called” is what you say when you don’t want to say the thing that “some people” are saying (or promoting)—but might, in the current scenario, be a little crass and awkward to freely unveil to a victimized and fire-stoked public.

Are they “so-called” for the time being because of generalized unease, or outrage, about how “Wine Country Fires” puts the wine industry first on the victim list in the rendering of the horrific events and their aftermath?

So-called or not, it is hard to argue against the potential marketing and promotional benefits to the industry should “Wine Country Fires” emerge as the consensus choice.

Before the fires, wine country was already taking a beating from environmentalists and the neighbors insofar that questions about “peak wine” were on the civic agenda in the grape-crowded hills and dales of Napa and Sonoma counties.

The built-in emphasis that Wine Country Fires puts on the destruction that met wine country may serve to extinguish some of that debate, given the industry’s critical role in the regional economy, which ripples into every imaginable corner of civic life—hotels, gas stations, restaurants, retail, the media.

Many residents and workers here in some way or another rely on the wine-tourism economy, so an advocate for “Wine Country Fires” might say that it’s just an accurate reflection and extension of an already-established regional appellation. It doesn’t leave anyone out, since everyone relies on or interacts with the wine country in some way or another.

Another might argue, “Wine Country Fires” is a vulgar appropriation of disaster for the purposes of marketing and promotion.

It’s a touchy subject. It may even be a so-called moment of truth.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Breaking: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules against Sonoma County in Andy Lopez federal lawsuit

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 1:55 PM

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled today that the Oct. 22, 2013 shooting of Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office deputy may have been an unconstitutional abridgment of Lopez’ rights, as it ruled against an appeal filed by Sonoma County and lawyers for the officer.

In its ruling, the panel sent the case back to the lower U.S. District Court and called for a jury trial to determine whether officer Erick Gelhaus should be entitled to qualified immunity in the ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit that followed the shooting. Lopez was 13 at the time of his death. As the court reiterated in its summary of the facts, Lopez was shot and killed on Moorland Avenue in Santa Rosa while carrying a plastic replica of an AK-47 with its bright-orange tip removed. He was also carrying a replica handgun.

Gelhaus remains an officer with SCSO as the case moves to a next and uncertain phase. For now, the ruling represents a rebuke to the Sonoma County Counsel’s office (despite the fact that the court was not unanimous in its decision).

The Ninth Circuit court issued its opinion after defense lawyers appealed an earlier ruling in the Lopez family’s suit against Gelhaus and Sonoma County. In their appeal of the lower U.S. District Court’s ruling, the county argued that the shooting was justified—and that because it was justified, Gelhaus ought to be entitled to qualified immunity in the proceedings.

In January, District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton rejected a county request for a summary judgment to dismiss the federal suit. She said it was an open question whether the shooting was justified, as she ruled against the county, which prompted the appeal.

The three-judge Pasadena circuit court heard the case on May 10, and two of the three judges essentially made the same observation that Hamilton did: “Defendants have not established that Andy actually threatened the officers with the rifle that he was holding.”

And today the appeals court ruled 2-1 that a decision over qualified immunity should be made by a jury—given that there are facts about the incident that are in question and ought to be sorted out by a citizen panel.

Judge Clifford Wallace, an appointee of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, dissented from Richard Clifton and Milan Smith, both of whom were appointed by George W. Bush; Smith wrote the opinion. The 71-page ruling was issued this morning; what follows is a key summary paragraph that lays out the court’s majority view finding that a jury could rule that Lopez’ civil rights were violated in the shooting.

Emphasis added, since it’s critical to understand that the appeals court did not rule that Lopez’ civil rights were violated. As the judges noted during the hearing and in today’s opinion, the court’s role in this proceeding was to view the facts most favorable to the plaintiff (since Lopez was obviously not able to present those facts himself), and then make a determination whether there were outstanding questions that only a jury could resolve.

The opinion reads, in part, “Gelhaus deployed deadly force while Andy was standing on the sidewalk holding a gun that was pointed down at the ground. Gelhaus also shot Andy without having warned Andy that such force would be used, and without observing any aggressive behavior. Pursuant to Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), a reasonable jury could find that Gelhaus’s use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable.

“The panel further held that taking the facts as it was required to do on interlocutory appeal, Andy did not pose an immediate threat to law enforcement officials and therefore the law was clearly established at the time of the shooting that Gelhaus conduct was unconstitutional. The panel held that ultimately, Gelhaus entitlement to qualified immunity depended on disputed facts that needed to be resolved by a jury, and the panel therefore remanded the case for trial.”

Translated, the court’s ruling means that the suit, Estate of Andy Lopez v. Erick Gelhaus; County of Sonoma, has been sent back to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in Oakland, where (absent a cash settlement between the county and the Lopez family) a civilian jury would be be charged with sorting out the details of the officer-involved shooting incident.

A jury trial could represent another big-ticket budget item for Sonoma County, which has already dedicated more than $2 million to fight against the Lopez suit—and is so far 0-2 in court for all the money spent.

Repercussions from the shooting continue to bedevil Sonoma County and Santa Rosa as the SCSO has struggled to gain the trust of local Latino and police accountability groups outraged by the 2013 shooting. Former Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, citing health concerns, retired from his post this summer as local activists set organized a recall election to remove him from office over support for Gelhaus, which include Freitas promoting him to sergeant in 2016.

Anxious for a "healing moment" and to move on from the Lopez shooting, Sonoma County officials now have to decide whether to appeal this Ninth Circuit Court decision, deploy further taxpayer dollars to defend Gelhaus and the county before a citizen jury at the U.S. District Court, or cut its losses and settle with the Lopez family.

Should the county choose the appeal route, the next step could be the United State Supreme Court. A more likely route, should the county chose the appeals option, is for county lawyers to ask for a re-hearing at the Ninth and seek a favorable “en banc” ruling where a panel of eleven judges would issue its opinion.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Giordano: DACA repeal undermines trust in communities we serve

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 12:19 PM

In an interview with the Bohemian on Tuesday, Sonoma County's interim sheriff Rob Giordano says that Trump's decision to repeal the Obama-era DACA program, which protected the immigrant children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, would serve to undermine the very trust that SCSO is trying to build and maintain in the communities it serves. "We will not have any involvement with that policy," Giordano says. "On a human level, it undermines trust," he adds, noting that the harsh proposed rollout to destroy DACA, delivered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, could make it less likely for "regular people in the community," to come forward and work with law enforcement in the shared pursuit of public safety.

Giordano's comments come as state lawmakers held a press conference Tuesday afternoon on the planned destruction of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was implemented by Obama in 2012 and gave some 800,000 young people protections against deportation.

Trump's public hand-wringing over the issue saw the puny-fingered amoral wreck of a fake president punt to a right-wing revanchist congress that showed no willingness to work with President Barack Obama when he proposed the Dream Act as a legislative solution to a human problem—but is now charged with the task of working up a DACA replacement in the next six months, to avoid the appearance that this is all being driven by an obsession with demolishing the Obama legacy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell immediately praised Trump's move to end DACA so we'll see how that proposed legislative process works out.

Many if not most Dreamers were brought here by their parents when they were kids and only know life as residents, if not official citizens, of the United States. Under Obama, they were encouraged to come out of the shadows and participate in the program. In a widely publicized moment of bitter irony, one registered Dreamer, Alonso Guillen, was killed while rescuing Americans during Hurricane Harvey, almost at the very moment Trump was conspiring to give the young man the boot.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kale-a-Bunga! Star Route Farms sold to the University of San Francisco

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 10:20 AM

Legendary Star Route Farms sold to University of San Francisco for a cool and foggy $10.4 million - TOM GOGOLA
  • Tom Gogola
  • Legendary Star Route Farms sold to University of San Francisco for a cool and foggy $10.4 million

The “OG” of certified organic farming in California, Star Route Farms in coastal Bolinas, was bought by the Jesuit University of San Francisco this week, it was announced.
News of this sale had been rumored for months around the various gossip-chewing maypoles of Bolinas, and this week the university announced that the deal had indeed gone down, as of Tuesday July 8.
University spokeswoman Ellen Ryder says the purchase price for the farm was $10.4 million, “which included [the] property (land and buildings), equipment, business operations, etc.”
The university will use the 100-acre property as a teaching farm and community-outreach platform, and USF president Rev. Paul. J. Fitzgerald says in a statement that the purchase will enable and enhance “USF’s commitment to environmental and social justice,” central tenets of a Jesuit faith that encourages righteous activism in the name of Jesus and this hot and holy damaged planet of ours.
The purchase will save Star Route for future generations of would-be organic farmers and, as it forever protects a glorious swath of West Marin from a feared onslaught of big-ticket developers who would turn the Bolinas Lagoon-side sprawl into, God help us, a condo complex. That was the fear, anyway, as the aging Star Route founder Warren Weber reportedly spent the past several years trying to find an appropriate buyer.
Weber opened Star Route Farm in 1974 and runs it with his wife, Amy. It provides sustainable, organic vegetables—rows of kale are currently waving in the fresh foggy breeze of Bolinas—to restaurants and markets around the Bay Area.
Says Weber in a statement, “We are very pleased and honored that the University of San Francisco will continue the Star Route Farms legacy. We hope young people, entry level farmers, and farmers around the world who struggle with conventional agriculture will learn from the passion and expertise that USF offers this enterprise.”
Huzzahs were quick in coming from around the Bay Area, from some of the most prominent slingers of organic hash in the country. Alice Waters, the chef and author and founder of the estimable sustainable- and organic-only Chez Panisse in Berkeley, noted that “school supported agriculture is an idea whose time as come” as she praised Weber for continuing the operation and launching an “interactive educational program that can be a model for the rest of the country.”
Traci Des Jardins, the chef-owner of Jardiniere in San Francisco says she’s been buying Weber’s product for decades as she celebrated the new partnership. “The preservation and continuation of this visionary farm will play an important role in educating new generations.”
Looking ahead, the new owners expect a seamless transition to a full take-over of the farm. Current operations will continue, and Weber’s employees’ jobs are safe, assures the university.
Plans in the works include cross-disciplinary research, community education, “and programs focused on nutrition, biodiversity, sea level rise, and more.”
Star Route has indeed come a long way in its pioneering role as California’s first organic-certified farm. Weber’s farm started as a five-acre tract that utilized horse-drawn plows and, as the university notes in its announcement, was a pioneer in adopting “production and post-harvest technologies such as precision planters and hydro-cooling equipment which allowed it to bring the freshest possible product to market.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pot, Politics and Priorities: Mike McGuire Announces 2018 Re-election Bid

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 10:19 AM

McGuire pledges to stick it to the anti-pot Trump regime. Cool.
  • McGuire pledges to stick it to the anti-pot Trump regime. Cool.
North Coast Second District State Sen. Mike McGuire announced this week that he’s running for re-election in 2018, via a press release that was sent out by a San Francisco communications firm.

The freshman Healdsburg native got the jump on a 2018 political season this week in a race that will presumably take place under the continued administration of the viciously anti-pot Trump regime—but this release gives somewhat of a short shrift to McGuire’s recent lead role in carving out a cannabis policy for California that squares up the state’s medical and recreational laws.

The release comes from Storefront Political Media, whose client base ranges from PG&E to 2018 gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The announcement highlights McGuire’s work with Gov. Jerry Brown (let's not forget that Brown was a cannabis-legalization opponent) and lays out an impressive array of policy initiatives that McGuire’s had a hand in since he was sent to Sacramento in 2014: “Good jobs, strong public schools, affordable health care, better and safer roads, a pristine coast and a strong rainy day fund.”

Those priorities are not unique to North Coast voters—but many voters up here do put a priority on a cannabis policy that protects growers and the environment. And while the campaign statement mentions one of McGuire’s signature legislative achievements, a late-season budget bill rider this year that squared up the state’s medical and recreational cannabis laws while making sure legacy growers in his district don’t get squeezed out by “Big Cannabis”—it’s the last one on the list.

That placement seemed a little weird, to me anyway, given that it’s a legislative achievement that had a direct benefit to a uniquely North Coast constituency: McGuire’s district includes a voting bloc of many Emerald Triangle elders of the herb.

In press materials attending the rider bill that codified the combined medical-and-recreational bills and also protected those growers from corporate cannabis invaders, McGuire noted that his district provides an estimated 60 percent of all cannabis grown in the United States every year and that he had a particular responsibility to the industry given that eye-popping stat.

So is it fair to question whether the campaign is going to downplay McGuire’s cannabis achievement? After all, cannabis politics are still tricky business in a state and a region that supported legalization last year via Prop 64 but that has plenty of local detractors in the North Bay, along with the renewed call for a federal crackdown from the federal administration.

A sizable bloc of Sonoma County homeowners have been strident in their opposition to a blown-out local cannabis industry invading quiet neighborhoods. Marin County, which McGuire also represents, has vowed to keep storefront cannabis industries out of the county.

In the re-election campaign announcement, McGuire says he’ll fight the minority president Trump tooth and nail as part of his promise to North Coast constituents to protect the progress that’s been made to shore up the state’s economy and its environment.

And he’s taken a direct shot at Trump via a proposed bill that would force future presidential candidates to release their taxes as a condition of being granted a place on the California ballot. That’s an issue that polls very well, with surveys finding that up to 75 percent of voters believe Trump should release his tax returns.

But where’s the direct pro-pot pushback against a Trump administration that’s been out-front in its call to re-criminalize weed at the hands of Attorney General Jeff Sessions? It’s nowhere to be seen in this release.

But McGuire says not to worry and in an emailed statement from his office he says he’s all in on protecting Prop 64 and his constituents.

“I believe Californians know what is best for California,” McGuire said. I'm going to the mat to protect our progress from interference by the President and the Congress on many important issues. This includes defending the voters voice on approving cannabis regulations and taxes. There’s no going back and California will keep moving forward with the implementation of Proposition 64.”

Whew. Was a little worried there for a second.

And just as the senator was responding to my pain in the neck inquiry, his office kicked out a release that said he would be chairing a meeting, which was held on July 19, that was devoted to the potential “Green Gold Rush” that may come as the state sets out to implement the cannabis tax regime established under Prop 64. Onward into the breach.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Cannabis Codes of California: An Instant Classic!

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 12:01 PM


When I worked in New Orleans as an online reporter most of my work was in the criminal justice arena—police, the courts, the notorious Orleans Parish Prison. It was intense and difficult work at times and as a newcomer to that city around 2009 I arrived in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and all the horrible police-related stuff that went on after the storm. There was a built-in bloc of institutional and historical knowledge that I had to get up to speed on, and quick. The work was intense and difficult but it was never intimidating.

That was not the case when I was doing some freelance work down in New Orleans for the local daily, and got assigned to cover the annual Satchmo Festival in the French Quarter, the celebration of Louis Armstrong.

And let me tell you that I never felt, as a reporter, anything approaching the angst I felt when I sat down to write the fateful words, “Louis Armstrong” for publication for the first time, in a town where every other person is an armchair Armstrong scholar ready to pounce on any mis-reported fact about the jazz great. And the other person is a trumpet player or some other jazzbo steeped in the living history of New Orleans jazz.

I confess that I feel the same way any time I sit down to write a story in the Bohemian about cannabis in California (despite the fact that it's a fact that Satchmo was a total pothead): I feel totally intimidated. I am going to screw this up.

Why this horrible feeling? Same reason: There are thousands upon thousands of people in the state, many in the North Bay, with lots of deep history and knowledge in this area, and given the complicated and intersecting medical- and recreational-use laws now on the books—it’s hard to keep up! With so many moving parts and competing and/or complementary cannabis constituencies, it can be hard to get out of the weeds to see the weeds for the trees for the forest, to figure out what the news hook is—or something like that.

As with the Satchmo scholars, people in the North Bay are invested, and often heavily so, and for decades, in their chosen field of study and celebration. Every time I report one of these pot stories, I feel that same terror of being exposed as a canna-fraud should I misrepresent some crucial fact or bollix some niggling detail about a particular strain and who is responsible for it.

But not anymore! Enter Omar Figueora, Sebastopol cannabis lawyer and the recent author of the hardcover instant classic, Cannabis Codes of California.

With this handy, exhaustive and essential guide to cannabis-related law in the state, I’m no longer intimidated at the thought of reporting on the latest update on cannabis taxation, or distribution, or the black market, or the medical-community’s concerns, the mom-and-pop growers, the Big Cannabis operators—etc. I've got Omar's comprehensive Codes to see me through.

Cannabis Codes of California isn't a novel but it does have a built-in plot-line that lays out the law at various junctures in California social and political history. Omar gives a brief upfront history of cannabis in the state and the various moments where legislators weighed in on some aspect or another of the industry: For example, the 1996 landmark medical-use act, is reprinted in its (short but revolutionary) entirety, along with relevant penal codes, fish and wildlife code, health and safety, taxation—et al.

This is a dense and delightful legal-reference book whose content is delivered in a nice, big fat font size for ease of reading among elders of the cannabis community. It’s a timely and useful guide, a greatly informative cover-to-cover read (or casual flip-through) for anyone, myself included, who is intent on having a working, if not expert, knowledge of this fascinating and ground-breaking American experiment in cannabis freedom—and without fear of hearing from some know-it-all canna-crank from NORML if I screw something up in reporting on the latest twist and turn in the law. I got the law, or at least this estimable legal guide, on my side now—and you can, too. Cannabis Codes of California is available on
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Unearthed FBI memo reveals agency quietly backed off from full investigation of Andy Lopez shooting—less than a week after announcing it on Oct. 25 2013.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 12:34 PM

The Bohemian has a story in tomorrow's epic Best Of issue that's taking a look at a new documentary about Andy Lopez made by Sonoma County filmmaker Ron Rogers. As part of the research for this story, an FBI memo from Oct. 30 2013 reveals that the agency re-classified its involvement in the Lopez shooting from a full investigation to the lowest-rung of FBI prioritization, an assessment. What's it all mean? The FBI weighs in on the memo in tomorrow's paper and says the agency they did their due diligence in the Lopez inquiry. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here's the memo. What do you think it means?


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