Burn Notice

Posted August 20, 2009 in News

For years, the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition—a group cut from the same all-drugs-are-bad cloth as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign—waged its war against medical marijuana. But recently, this group turned up the rhetoric and elevated its lurid accusations against one particular dispensary located in the unincorporated area of San Bernardino County known as Bloomington.


And in a moment of supreme irony, its effort to prompt a drug bust, itself went bust.


In a series of email blasts the coalition sent to local government officials as well as local media over the course of several weeks, the outfit decried the Inland Empire Patients Group and urged county to shut down the “pot shop.” In another email, the group continued its Reefer Madness-style invectives with “Candy Pot Shop in San Bernardino County—More Shocking Details.”


Then the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department receives an anonymous tip accusing the Bloomington collective of selling weed willy-nilly like it was your local neighborhood pot dealer. Not surprisingly, deputies showed up at the dispensary earlier this month to investigate.


So, with drug-dealing accusations coming from such a supposedly law-and-order outfit (The coalition’s tagline is “Strengthening community action for the safety of our children.”), one would expect the end result would have been a big drug bust, right? A raid? Arrests? Confiscations of that “illegal” and evil weed?




     The thing is, the Inland Empire Patients Group, so far, appears to be standing on totally legit and legal ground. The collective, made up of roughly 330 members, says it’s operating in compliance with all state attorney rules and regs that came about after voters passed Prop. 215, a California ballot measure that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. More recently, medical marijuana’s legal standing was further bolstered after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit filed by San Bernardino and San Diego counties that argued the measure violated federal law (which still views pot as having no medical value). And if that isn’t enough, IEPG also made sure to set up shop in late June of this year, just prior to the county establishing a moratorium on dispensaries. Plus this is the same county that finally announced it would make medical marijuana patient ID cards available after dragging its feet for years (we do mean “years”) on the issue.


    “This was, in fact, a legitimate facility,” says Ryan Michaels, a director for IEPG, referring to the Aug. 5 visit by deputies. “They left and everything was peaceful.”


    The sheriff’s department later confirmed that their inspection of the IEPG’s operating procedures and protocol prompted no arrests, raids or confiscations.


    “We just wanted to make sure they were not violating state law,” Lt. Rick Ells says.


    This week, a member of the coalition agreed to talk about their allegations with the Weekly but, at press time, had not yet responded.

In prior email blasts, though, the group outlines its position:


“Leave no doubt. This is not about so-called medicine, this is simply about people wanting to get high while pushing their pro drug agenda into our communities—all while violating county and federal law.”


This leaves IEPG director Michaels confused over the coalition’s attacks—especially as medical marijuana continues to apparently pass legal muster in the region.


“I make no jokes about people whose efforts are most noble in trying to prevent drug abuse,” Michaels says. “That said, I don’t understand why an educated, informed individual can’t see the difference between a drug abuser or criminal and an actual medical marijuana patient. It confuses me.”


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