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Los Angeles, City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich was taking questions from the floor Oct 10, 2009 at the 2009 Congress of Neighborhoods held at City Hall in Los Angeles, California. Trutanich and a woman, later identifying herself as Kathryn Schorr and claiming to be a cancer survivor and taking medical marijuana, got into a heated exchange over the subject. She felt that she was badly treated by Trutanich.
Trutanich said the marijuana being in sold in dispensaries, based on samples he supplied to the FDA, is contaminated by bifenthrin, a pesticide and also by other stuff he wouldn’t identify.
After Schorr left the council chambers I went outside to talk to her. She appeared to be distraught and was crying and being comforted by a security guard and others. The security guard cautioned her not to drive home in her condition.
Schorr felt that Trutanich was overbearing and bullying her and he should have let her make her point without interference. That being, one needs 10 pounds to do a proper lab analysis of contaminants in marijuana. She had the floor and his insisting that she should give lead to her children was wrong. She said she couldn’t understand how an elected official could talk to her that way.
I spoke to Trutanich, Wednesday, when he said “I’m.was sorry it happened that way and it came at the end of a long day. But she was lying, she was wrong, and I felt as she was lying I had to say so”.
He said he was trying to make a point that smoking the contaminated marijuana was akin to eating lead.
Trutanich said, “He has an obligation to bring to light the fact that the medical marijuana being sold is a health hazard, he would be remiss in his duties if he did not make it public.” Further, he said, “The City could be sued if he didn’t make his findings public and people were injured by using medical marijuana [obtained in the City]”.
“People simply don’t know what’s in the stuff.”
Trutanich said that bifenthrin is used to mainly control fire ants which he said we don’t have here in Los Angeles, but they do in a few parts of Texas and in Mexico, therefore the marijuana is most likely is coming from Mexico.
A Google search, however, showed many sites that sold the pesticide for the treatment of a whole host of pests. The brand Talstar Professional made by FMC Cop., whose active ingredient is bifenthrin, is advertised as a “multi-Insecticide … one of the most trusted and widely-used insecticides by pest control professionals today.” The ad goes on to say it “…controls over 75 different pests -- everything from spiders, mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks and fleas to pill bugs, chinch bugs, earwigs, millipedes, Dichondra Flea Beetles … , Talstar is simply fantastic”
Talstar is approved for use in California, however not necessarily for marijuana or fruits and vegetables.
Bifenthrin has been found as a contaminant in tobacco products as cited on the internet. Including one report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The fire ant problem that Trutanich touched on in his talk at the 2009 Congress may actually be for the Rasberry [sic] Crazy Ant problem in Texas going back to 2002. [I swear I’m not making this up] Rasberry Crazy Ant
FMC Corp has a special formulation of their pesticide called Talstar Special that also contains bifenthrin. But this one can’t be used in California. The directions caution: “Do not apply to pets, food crops, or sources of electricity.”
The Crazy ant is apparently tough to control. The resident in Texas said, if they had a choice, they would prefer to have the fire ants back instead of the Rasberry crazy ants.
Back to L.A.: Trutanich feels his testing procedure is above reproach. He said his office is continuing to test samples from around the City.
The actual samples, Trutanich carefully pointed out, although collected by his staff, were tested by the US Food & Drug Administration not the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
He said, he understands and employs the proper procedures to insure the chain of custody of the samples is not violated.
Schorr tried to make the point that you need a large amount of medical marijuana, 10 pounds to properly test for the presence of pesticides. The same amount that Michael Backes, who runs the Cornerstone Collective in Eagle Rock, said at the Neighborhood Council Action Summit the previous Saturday, is necessary. Michael Backes outtake vimeo.com/7078024
Trutanich disagreed, indicating a tiny amount is all that is necessary for testing purposes.
Even if Trutanich is right, is the FDA unbiased? It adamantly opposes the use of marijuana and as it says on its website. The FDA…” has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease indication.”
Trutanich said he has no problem with the compassionate use of marijuana and encourages collectives to grow their own. He has always supported that, claiming he hasn’t switched sides. When he was in private practice as an attorney he worked with Charlie Linder, a major marijuana defense lawyer.
In truth the Cornerstone Collective mentioned previously, recommended a vote for Trutanich over all other candidates for City Attorney earlier this year.
The problem in California is that while marijuana has been legalized for compassionate medical use there is not help for the patients in getting it.
No help on the state level for regulating the purity, or potency or place of origin as is done for other drugs and even fruits and vegetables.
If the Department of Agriculture was aware of where the medical marijuana was being grown they could, in principle, be able to monitor it. However, most medical marijuana is grown in secrecy for fear of robbery and government intervention.
The collectives should and need to work with the City to establish an inspection and certifying process that ensures that the medical marijuana is unadulterated and the myriad types of marijuana have their components and potency listed.
Frank Sheftel, a collective owner and a recent candidate for City Council, said he would welcome a partnership with the City in regulating the purity of marijuana. His dispensary he said only distributes organically grown marijuana - usually grown indoors for purity using grow lights [and for security no doubt]. He feels that L.A. is capable of supplying all of its local needs that way.
Maybe the L.A. Convention, being the money loser it is, should be turned into an indoor hydroponic garden for the cultivation of medical marijuana on a large scale. The taxes and revenue produced thereby would certainly eliminate the City’s budget deficit for years to come. And just like Nevada has, with its legalized gambling, we might be able to eliminate other taxes along the way.
The Obama administration has said that they would not interfere with distributors if they were following state law. However, in an October 9th NY Times story, it said “… in recent weeks, law enforcement officers, some of them federal, have raided dispensaries in California and Washington State, and in the absence of any actual change in the federal law, many still fear prosecution."
NY Times article nytimes.com/2009/10/10/us/10pot.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=medical%20marijuana&st=cse&scp=1
As long as Federal and California law is so fundamentally opposed there will continue to be problems.
To further compound the problem in Los Angeles, the City Council created a loop-hole that has produced a medical marijuana boom, some would say a runaway refer industry.
(Michael N Cohen is a member of the Reseda Neighborhood Council and is a long time community activist in the San Fernando Valley. Views expressed are his own.) ◘
Dear Michael Cohen and CityWatch,
CORRECTION: The point Carmen Trutanich did not let me make, wasn't whether you could detect the presence of pesticides from a small sample but, that you are unable to quantify how many times over the limit, or the concentration of the contaminant in a large sample with only the tiny sample he described.
That is not a lie, and I am not wrong according to a source at the LA Sheriff's department as well as a source at a Lab in San Diego. And, the fact the he felt I was lying somehow makes it okay to characterize me as a mother who let's her kid play with lead toys, twice? Or, the fact that he had a long day makes it okay for him to tell me to "Go home. make your kid a nice green salad, spray Raid on it, have him eat it, and see what happens." Twice?
I'm an very disappointed and frankly puzzled that no where in your article do you tell your readers the offensive things he said to my face and has rationalized away. They are, on record and playing over the internet. Maybe you and the people at Citywatch don't feel they are offensive, but you should have let your readers decide, don't you think?
Apparently, only the City Attorney gets to lie about "rare" pesticides that are actually quite common and available to the public, or the lack of fire ants in Los Angeles, even though the California Pest Management Agency warned of "red ant Infestations in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernadino and to a lesser degree San Diego" back in 2006.
As long as politicians get to keep lying about their motives, from verbally abusing stakeholders to persecuting patients, everybody loses.
Judge grants injunction against city's medical marijuana dispensary ban
October 19, 2009 | 11:13 am
A Superior Court judge concluded today that Los Angeles' moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries is invalid and granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ban sought by a dispensary that had sued the city.
Judge James C. Chalfant determined that the city failed to follow state law when it extended its initial moratorium. "The city cannot rely on an expired ordinance," he said.
Green Oasis and a number of other medical marijuana collectives sued the city last month, challenging its efforts to control the dispensaries. The lawsuit argued that the City Council violated state law when it extended the ban until mid-March and that it is unconstitutionally vague.
Although the injunction applies only to Green Oasis, the judge's ruling calls into question the city's power to enforce the moratorium against hundreds of dispensaries that have opened in the last two years. The ruling could inspire other dispensaries to join the lawsuit or file similar actions.
Despite the moratorium, the city has seen explosive growth in the number of dispensaries. Under the ban, the city allowed 186 outlets to remain open. Many more – the exact number is unknown – are operating in neighborhoods across the city, and more continue to open.
In its answer to the lawsuit, the city argued that the moratorium is not subject to the conditions and limitations of state law because it is not an ordinance dealing with zoning, but with public safety. Zoning ordinances cannot be extended beyond 24 months. The city adopted the first of two moratoriums on Aug. 1, 2007.
The judge rejected that argument.
The city also argued that a decision to issue an injunction would cause "grave irreparable harm." "This lawsuit is not just about one 'bad apple.' It is about illegally dealing marijuana," the city's answer said. "Hundreds of unlawful marijuana stores have cropped up throughout the City and will likely attempt to bootstrap their illegal operation on the outcome of this action."
Jeri Burge, an assistant city attorney, told the judge this morning that granting the injunction would "reward illegal conduct."
"You're going to open the floodgates," she said.
Robert A. Kahn, an attorney for Green Oasis, argued that the dispensary did nothing wrong, noting that, under state law, the moratorium expired 45 days after it was first enacted. "The did not believe they were violating the law," he said.
The L.A. City Council has struggled for more than two years to write a permanent ordinance to replace the temporary ban.
Dan Lutz, a co-owner of Green Oasis and president of the collective association, filed the lawsuit after the council voted to shut down his dispensary, which opened in May.
Lutz, like hundreds of other dispensary owners in Los Angeles, had filed a request with the council for an exemption from the moratorium so he could operate, but opened without permission. The council failed to act on these requests until June, an oversight that prevented city officials from taking legal steps to close the dispensaries.
-- John Hoeffel at L.A. Superior Court
A Case for Medical Marijuana
Michael Backes outtake vimeo.com/7078024
City Attorney Clashes with Speaker
Rasberry Crazy Ant
NY Times article
EPA Bifenthrin; Pesticide Tolerance thefederalregister.com/b.p/agency/Environmental_Protection_Agency/2007-10-24