Friday, October 09, 2009

It should be obvious by now to even my most rabid detractors that this blog does not shoot from the hip. Years ago when I reported that a campaign was afoot to drive blacks out of certain neighborhoods, I was blasted by all and sundry for being everything from an alarmist, to a nutbag, to (according to one former editor of a weekly rag) "having an agenda for inciting racial hatred." In the fullness of time, the US Attorney filed a case against Avenues for precisely the campaign I had reported. Obviously I was on to something and events proved me correct. There's no joy in being right about something like that. Check out the latest:

Earlier this week, I posted an item about Mexican cartels moving product through the med pot dispensaries. Again I was blasted for "really losing it" and other assorted attacks that weren't fit for the comments section. It took all of two days for LA County's top cop to validate my claim.

Just for the record, I don't pull stuff out of thin air. I deal in facts. Think of this blog as a beautiful iceberg. The visible part is what appears online. But there's ninety percent under the surface that you don't see. That tiny visible part could not exist without a mountain of facts supporting it. For future reference, do not doubt me. If it appears on this blog, there's enough evidence behind it to choke a whale.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Well that didn't take long. According to the LA Times, LA District Attorney Steve Cooley just announced that every single medical marijuana store is breaking the law and is subject to prosecution.

Obviously, this is going to drive Med Pot advocates insane. Just when they thought they'd won the fight, it turns out victory went to their head. They were a little too celebratory in victory. The explosion of legal and quasi-legal dispensaries has correctly drawn the attention of law enforcement.Look at the ads in KUSH L.A. Magazine and it's obvious that the stores are flaunting the regulations, even as thin and ineffective as they are.

No matter where you stand on the issue, you have to admit that there aren't that many people suffering from glaucoma and undergoing chemo that you need 800 dispensaries moving hundreds of pounds a day to take care of legitimate needs. The sheer number of stores has rightly resulted in concern that there may be something going on here that has little to do with sick people.

It's become clear to anyone familiar with the production and distribution matrix that illegal dope is entering the system and putting money into the hands of organized criminal groups. That's a legitimate law enforcement concern. And as the County's chief law enforcement officer, Cooley has an obligation to act.

The pro Med Pot war cry is this - Legalize it and Tax it. Proponents argue that it's a legitimate drug used for serious medical problems. On the other hand, they also want Cannabis treated like tobacco and liquor. Those arguments taken together frankly don't make sense. Tobacco and liquor are not medicine.

If cannabis is medicine, as they claim, then it should be regulated, controlled taxed and monitored like medicine. But that's one argument missing from their lexicon. The pro potters aren't busting down the doors at the FDA demanding to regulated, poked, prodded, tested and evaluated to the same degree as Ambasol.

The Med Pot lobby can't have it both ways. You can't use the medical argument if you object to being regulated and controlled like medicine. And you can't ask for equal treatment as tobacco and booze if you claim you're in the pharma business.

Tobacco and booze are heavily regulated. And Chivas Regal never claimed to cure insomnia. You can't for instance, brew up some bourbon in the back yard tub and sell it at the local quicki-mart. Same thing with tobacco. There's an agency called the ATF you have to deal with.

As the current Med Pot regulations are written, anyboby with a med card and ten square feet of dirt can get into the cannabis business. A cash business free of taxation, regulation or control. Consequently, it opens up huge possibilities for corruption and illegal operations.

The Med Pot proponents really need to examine their premises. Are they purveyors of recreational drugs? Or are they medical providers? Right now it appears they want to be treated with the deference of medical caregivers but they want to do it on the honor system. We don't let Wyeth or Glaxo work that way.

This issue needs to be reset to zero and finessed by somebody with the brains to make pot available to the genuinely sick while preventing corruption and reduce the likelihood of criminal exploitation.
We might start calling them hybrids. Or maybe non-traditionals. Or maybe we can graft the two criminal orgs together and call the new entity a MEXTEL.

What we're talking about here is a developing phenomenon that first showed up along the border and making its way into our local neighborhoods. Based on information from reliable sources, border cops making their usual intercepts of migrant workers are also coming across Mexican nationals already tattooed up with U.S. gang identifiers. Basically these individuals already have some working or personal relationships with U.S. street gangs even though some of them have never been north.

At this point, it's an unclear dynamic as to who these trans-nationals are working for. Are they cartel-connected and working on behalf of the cartels in the U.S.? Or are they neighborhood connected and working on both sides of the border for U.S. shot callers? Or could it be both?

Since the early 1990s, some neighborhoods such as Pozole and Logan Heights in San Diego, there's been an easy alliance between U.S.-born and bred soldados and Associates hiring themselves out to the Cartels. Some of these people were purely free-lance operators but others had the full backing, support and even participation of high ranking shot callers in the U.S. So this latest phenomenon does have historical precedent. We may be seeing an expansion of that alliance in other neighborhoods in California and Arizona.

In Los Angeles, there's also been evidence of street operators and Associates serving two masters - one in the Bay and the other in Mexico. Sometimes they're serving both masters simultaneously because both overlords are involved in the same operation.

What we might be seeing here is the beginning of a higher order merger where it might be hard to separate the domestic and cross-border operators living and working under the umbrella of traditional neighborhood structures.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Now that the med pot experiment is well under way, it’s becoming clear that the current law has not done what it was intended to do. In some ways, it’s made the situation worse.

For years we’ve been hearing from the pro-dopers that the key to reducing drug related violence and take the profit motive out of drug smuggling was – wait for it – legalize it and tax it. Simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker.

Armed with this simplistic revelation, the LA City Council licensed hundreds of “caregivers” to grow dope and sell it to anyone with a doctor’s note. When bumper sticker policy hits the real world, however, the result is generally a Pandora’s box. Or a Pandora’s footlocker. In the case of LA's Med Pot, it's a Pandora’s cargo container.

Reality is a bitch. Which is why our elected officials choose to operate in fantasy land. The brains that run the city and passed the pot ordinance completely ate it the first time around. Med Pot 1.0 left so many holes in the system that you have to wonder if the real authors of the ordinance were guys like Chapo Guzman or the Humboldt County Pot Growers Association.

As currently formulated, the laws controlling the sale of “medical” pot are tailor made to promote criminality and create more of a problem than they were designed to prevent. For instance, there’s no monitoring of where the pot comes from. It’s SUPPOSED to be grown either on the premises of the store or some mysterious “secure” location. In reality those secure locations are places like Sinaloa, Mexico, the Los Padres National Forest or the verdant hills of Honduras.

There’s no indication in the ordinance as to who monitors the grow plots, how the cannabis is transported, who transports it or how big the plot is allowed to get before it becomes illegal. The loopholes are big enough for Mexican and domestic DTOs (Drug Trafficking Organizations) to drive vans full of weed to the allegedly legal dispensaries.

What the original ordinance accomplished was nothing less than hand the DTOs four hundred to six hundred legal retail outlets. Some LA City Council staff I spoke to called putting millions of dollars into the pockets of criminals an “unexpected consequence.” To anybody with a shred of common sense, this particular consequence was as unexpected as say, finding a Cosa Nostra connection in a North Jersey concrete company.

Legal pot did not reduce street sales and it didn’t cut the smugglers out of the loop. Instead, it just gave them a new market and increased their cash flow. And this is cash in the literal sense. The pot stores don’t like checks or credit cards. Cash leaves no paper trail. So nobody, including the IRS, knows how much these “caregivers” are making. And, since the retail proceeds aren’t even taxed by the city, state or federal government, the taxpayers are seeing zero benefit. That notion that DTOs could have written this ordinance doesn’t sound so far fetched. And we’re paying our elected officials to write a law that any drug smuggler would have happily written for free. When the aspirations of drug smugglers seem indistinguishable from the policies created by the City Council you have to wonder about politicians’ intelligence or their true intentions.

Med Pot 1.0 was a bust. Right now, LA is working on the 2.0 version. Like the first version, this one doesn’t address the looming holes that leave the system wide open to corruption. Is anybody in the City Council actually thinking?