In this age of political action committees, it's hard to fathom that there wasn't already a committee dedicated to fight for medical marijuana initiatives and boost pro-pot politicians. Well, now there is. On January 6, California's secretary of state signed off on the formation of the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access (ARMA) PAC.
The political action committee, according to documents posted on the county clerk's website, will be represented by some familiar faces in San Diego's medical marijuana circle. Heading up ARMA is Bob Riedel, the former business executive–turned–marijuana dispensary owner, who for a time owned and operated the only legal marijuana dispensary in San Diego County, Mother Earth’s Alternative Healing Cooperative Incorporated. (Riedel was featured in a San Diego CityBeat article in October of last year.)
Operating the county's sole legal dispensary was short-lived. The feds, under the direction of U.S. attorney Laura Duffy, launched a crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, eventually targeting landlords who leased space to the pot shops. More than a year after opening for business inside a warehouse in El Cajon, Mother Earth was forced to close its doors.
Now, Riedel and others are taking their fight to the political arena. As states such as Colorado and Washington are trying to profit on the cash crop, advocates in California — especially in San Diego County — continue to fight for access.
In an email, Riedel says the political action committee is still in the beginning stages.
"We formed the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access to be a policy voice for medicinal marijuana patients and the people who seek to serve them legally. Our sole focus is ensuring legal medicinal access. We're just getting started and haven't made any determinations on funding at this point."
They will have plenty of work ahead of them. As the City of San Diego works on adopting an ordinance, the city's code-enforcement team, under the direction of city attorney Jan Goldsmith, is on the lookout for dispensaries, all of which are operating without proper permits.
In October of last year, as first reported in the Reader, the city filed two new lawsuits against dispensary owners Sanda, Jerry, and Richard Vue, who operated two dispensaries, the Mari-Medic Farmacy and Medicated, located in Pacific Beach.