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Pot Advocate Quizzes Police on Medical Marijuana Laws
Pot advocate quizzes police on medical marijuana laws.
By KRISTIE CATTAFI, The Record
CLIFTON, N.J. (AP) — Edward “Lefty” Grimes was in pain.
It had been an hour since he’d arrived at the Clifton police station with what should have been a straightforward question: Where could he legally smoke his medical marijuana? One officer on duty knew, but he was out on an assignment and couldn’t be reached.
Meanwhile, Grimes, who suffers from back pain after a fall at work forced him to undergo multiple spine surgeries, was starting to hurt. He debated: Should he light up, and risk getting arrested? Or should he wait for the officer to return?
He decided to wait. Finally, more than an hour after Grimes first arrived, Lt. Favio Toyas returned. You can smoke outside by the ashtrays, he told Grimes after checking his patient identification card, apologizing for the delay.
“They don’t run into this every day,” Toyas said of his fellow officers.
But for Grimes, a self-styled medical marijuana advocate from East Hanover, it’s a scene he knows all too well.
In the past four years, Grimes has visited more than 70 police departments across the state in an effort to educate officers about the guidelines for enforcing New Jersey‘s medical marijuana law. In encounters that he films and later posts to YouTube, police are generally civil but often do not know the guidelines or — in some cases — that medical cannabis is even legal in New Jersey.
“We’re here to educate police so patients don’t get arrested,” said Grimes. “Unless an officer takes it upon himself to do the research, they don’t know the law.”
This is particularly concerning now, says advocates, because Gov. Phil Murphy and other state leaders are pushing to not only legalize recreational marijuana but also patients’ access to New Jersey’s existing medical marijuana program.
Murphy has ordered a review of the program, including how dispensary licenses are obtained, the allowable medical conditions and the various ways that medical marijuana can be ingested.
“Right now there are lines at dispensaries and they can’t fulfill our needs,” Grimes said. “If it’s going to be legal, we need to worry about cannabis patients’ rights first.”
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey has also called on the state to approve an additional 43 ailments for which patients can be treated with marijuana.
About 15,000 people are eligible to receive medical marijuana in New Jersey — far lower, says Murphy, than the number of patients in states like Michigan, which has a comparable population. If the coalition’s list, which is under review, is approved, that number would grow, says executive director Ken Wolski.
“With a planned expansion, now is the time to look at training for police,” said Wolski. “Police should be made aware of the rights of patients in New Jersey.”
Grimes, 50, is an unlikely advocate. Though he sometimes wears suits and ties, he has also been known to sport T-shirts proclaiming, “Don’t shoot me, I’m white,” or “I’m recording you.” Around his neck hangs a camera, which he tucks beneath his long, wavy hair. He’s also known to have a cane in his left hand, which is how he got the nickname Lefty.
Grimes says he was inspired to act after attending a town hall hosted by then-Gov. Chris Christie.
Medical marijuana patients in New Jersey can smoke anywhere tobacco can be smoked in public.
But at the town hall, Grimes — who medicates every three hours for his back pain — said he asked a state police trooper where he could legally smoke cannabis. Rather than direct him to an appropriate location, Grimes said the officer threatened to arrest him if he lit up.
This encounter, says Grimes, occurred in 2014 — four years after medical marijuana was legalized in New Jersey and two years after the state Attorney General’s Office issued guidelines to police outlining how they should enforce the state’s program.
“After that we started to go to police departments to see if they all thought the same,” Grimes said.
The result has been what Grimes calls the “Ignorance is No Excuse Tour,” a series of videos posted to YouTube that show him and other patients approaching police around the state. Often, he will walk up to a desk officer, identify himself as a medical marijuana patient and ask where can legally smoke pot to medicate.
Reactions vary, from officers initially looking baffled to offering him — as happened in Mahwah — space in the station’s lobby to roll a joint. In a couple of instances, he says, he has been threatened with arrest or blatantly ignored.
While police have been quicker to respond to him since he began his effort, he says on average he still waits about 20 minutes for an officer to answer him.
The problem, says advocates, is that while some officers may have been trained in the state’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, or CUMMA, enforcement guidelines, there is no requirement that they receive this instruction.
They could not provide specific figures, but Grimes and other advocates say they are aware of medical marijuana patients who have been arrested by officers who were not familiar with the law.
Most of the time, the charges are dropped, unless the patient is found to be in possession of more marijuana than is allowed under state law or was smoking in an unauthorized location, according to the group Americans for Safe Access.
The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey has called for training for all state, county and local law enforcement officers.
The state and Bergen County Policemen’s Benevolent Associations did not return requests for comment.
But a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office dismissed calls for police training.
“The Office of the Attorney General is not aware of concerns pertaining to the knowledge or enforcement of these guidelines that would necessitate training for law enforcement officers at this time,” said Sharon Lauchaire, the office’s acting communications director.
As he continues to advocate for training, a new front in Grimes’ fight has emerged in recent months.
The debate over legalizing recreational marijuana has prompted some municipal officials to pre-emptively introduce or adopt bans on marijuana retail sales.
The Hasbrouck Heights and Garfield councils adopted bans in February, while Ramsey’s council chose instead to limit sales to certain areas of town. Hawthorne is expected to vote on a ban on March 21.
These new restrictions have led Grimes to attend council meetings, where he has implored local officials to consider the patients he says will be affected by these bans.
“There are sick people in town that you don’t see,” he recently told the Garfield City Council. “They need dispensaries in town. Why would you want sick people to jump through more hoops?”
Currently there are five medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, with a sixth on the way.
Garfield’s ban doesn’t specifically address medical marijuana, but the city’s mayor disagrees that a dispensary should be allowed. If patients need cannabis to treat their ailments, they can go to another town to buy it, he argues.
“I don’t want to bring drugs into the heart of Garfield,” Mayor Richard Rigoglioso said.
But Grimes argues cannabis can help patients.
Christian Velasquez, 25, of Dover, who joined Grimes when he recently visited the Clifton police department, credits the drug with allowing him to live a “normal and productive life.”
With the help of marijuana, Valasquez, who also suffers from a back injury, said he was able to complete school and now goes to work every day.
Grimes himself has benefited from cannabis.
For 10 years, he says, he used opioids to treat his pain. It wasn’t until he started using marijuana that he was able to wean himself off the medications, he said.
“I was in incredible pain and it got me off drugs,” Grimes said. “Marijuana helps a lot of people get off pharmaceuticals.”
The recent backlash to legalization, then, has him concerned.
“Towns are on a banning spree right now,” he said. “I’ve never seen so much ignorance in my life.”
Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — A contingent of medical marijuana patients is pushing Seaside Heights officials to let them light up on the boardwalk where tobacco smokers do.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz said the borough council would consider the request of Edward “Lefty” Grimes and his two friends who had a civil encounter with police officers on Saturday and then took their issue to the borough council meeting on Wednesday.
In videos recorded of both events and posted to his Facebook page, Grimes, a self-proclaimed educator of New Jersey’s medical marijuana laws, said he’s been to about 60 towns across the state to explain to local officials the rights of medical marijuana patients.
Grimes and two friends were approached by Seaside Heights police officers on Saturday when Michelle Burns tried to light up a marijuana joint while they were sitting in a designated smoking area on the boardwalk on Saturday.
Burns has multiple sclerosis and uses marijuana to ease her symptoms, Grimes tells the officers.
In the video, the officers cordially explains to them that while that area is set aside for smokers, it doesn’t mean smokers of marijuana – even if they have a medical marijuana card.
They’d have to go off the boardwalk, preferably to the privacy of their own vehicles, to smoke, the officers tell them.
Grimes, an East Hanover resident, says the state’s medical marijuana laws allow them to smoke wherever tobacco smokers do. The officers say that’s not their understanding of the law and that until the town gets clarification from a higher law enforcement agency, it’s sticking with its position banning smoking of marijuana on the boardwalk.
At the council meeting, the borough attorney said officials were within their right to ban the smoking of medical marijuana there because the boardwalk is considered a recreation center – one of the places exempt from the law.
“That is not to say there can’t be alteration of the rules,” the borough attorney said. “It is something that will be considered.”
Ignorance Is No Excuse Tour: Seaside Heights Council Meeting
Police Give Back Stolen Marijuana
Written by: Severin
On 12/2/16 I received a live stream alert from Edward Grimes aka Lefty. He was at the Bayonne police department in New Jersey.
Over the last few years New Jersey has had to make a major adjustment in their tactics. The legalization of medical marijuana has led to departments filled with staff members that are used to taking everyone’s weed and even arresting them.
Lefty is no stranger to the transition. He has spearheaded a campaign called the “Ignorance Is No Excuse” Tour. He is taking the fight for the right to smoke straight to each department along his route.
Armed with the “Sativa Cross Podcast” he is getting the word out (sometime live) that marijuana is no longer a crime in the state of New Jersey.
The sad thing is, despite Lefty’s bold and even funny efforts, many departments are still confiscating Marijuana from patients.
Such was the case in the live stream I was alerted to today. Lefty was accompanying a medical patient to a local police department to try to get her property back. This was not the first time there. In fact the woman he is helping has been there over a dozen times. Since Lefty’s involvement they had returned to the station nearly a handful of times alone.
That did not stop either of them. It would seem that it had not brought their spirits down either. They were in the waiting room throughout the whole encounter laughing.
After a short time the police Lieutenant in charge of evidence came out to greet them. She immediately asked for the “tag” that comes with all medical marijuana purchases.
You see only certain places are allowed to sell the Marijuana. These places charge a huge premium compared to street prices. The difference is extremely high with street value of an ounce being no more than $300 and dispensaries charging over $500. It would seem the government is more greedy than even the street dealers were.
Back to the police station, the woman did not have the sales proof since it had been months ago. She quickly asks for the date so she can go to her dispensary and get the proof. She was ready to yet again leave and come back the next day.
That’s when a possible Christmas miracle happened. The Grinches heart grew 3 sizes that day…..
But seriously the cop said “forget it I’ll just get it”. Maybe it had been the dozen visits. Maybe it had been the woman’s obvious disability. Maybe it was just a really good day for the cop. The officer calls the woman into the back. She even gives the woman a hug before sending her on her way with her bag and weed.
The duo did not wait to celebrate. The stepped outside the police department and lit right up in front of the doors. They even gave a thumbs up wave to cop that was sitting to a motorcycle right in front of them. He was not so friendly, giving a snark look and driving off.
This was a success. This gives me hope. If a state as strict as New Jersey can become more relaxed, perhaps there is hope for my state of Pennsylvania.
Be sure to visit Sativacross.com for all of Lefty’s work.
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Bayonne’s War On Wheelchairs
Still Waiting For Medical Cannabis
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Governor Chris Christie Parody Videos
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Drug Testing 101
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Robert Platshorn interview with Jim Miller & Lefty Grimes 9/10/15
Genny Barbour’s Dad, Roger with Sativa Cross 9/10/15
SATIVA CROSS MISSION STATEMENT:
We are here to bring awareness to New Jersey Law Enforcement on The Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (C.U.M.M.A.) by visiting NJ Police Departments and making sure they know where NJ Medical Marijuana Program patients can legally medicate!
Ignorance Is No Excuse Tour Videos:
Red Bank 3
“So where can you smoke pot in New Jersey?” I ask Lefty Grimes of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana who, along with Chuck Kwiatkowski, are the “Sativa Cross” duo, two medical marijuana patients, musicians, and activists. They’ve been traveling the Garden State for the “Ignorance is No Excuse Tour,” to visit local police departments to inquire where they may smoke their legally acquired cannabis.
The pair are recording and uploading the encounters to Youtube, and they’re all worth watching.
Lefty Grimes with a photo of 15 month old Sabina Rose, who died awaiting implementation of medical marijuana law delayed by Governor Christie
And where can you get high in New Jersey? “Anywhere you can smoke tobacco,” Lefty tells me, and this is the case for patients who law enforcement officials can determine are duly prescribed for a medical need, with additional exceptions prohibiting use before operating machinery or various winged and wheeled vehicles.
Despite the apparent relative ease with which licensed cannabis patients can consume their medication, medical marijuana law in New Jersey has been a stuttered and truncated body of legislation under Governor Chris Christie, since he assumed office not long after the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law by his predecessor John Corzine in 2010.
There are currently only about 2,000 legal medical marijuana patients in the state of almost 9 million people (Compare this figure to 111,030 medical marijuana patients in Colorado, population 5 1/2 million). Lefty says another primary motivation for the tour is to increase awareness of the need for marijuana as a medical treatment.
- Lieutenant Dougherty of Old Bridge in Sativa Cross’s return visit to the town
What is encouraging is that pretty much every meeting seems to involve a genuine learning experience – what is discouraging is that even in larger cities such as Trenton (population ~ 85,000), officers are misinformed about the legality of marijuana use, if not under the impression that the substance is outright banned for consumption by the general public. Sativa Cross has visited about a dozen stations so far, and the campaign is ongoing. http://phillydeclaration.org/2014/03/13/to-educate-law-enforcement-in-state-law-medical-marijuana-patients-visit-nj-police-stations-to-ask-where-to-get-high-with-video/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdJauwwd4CU Sativa Cross started as a punk rock band in South Amboy in 1986. Originally called the Pukechewers they strove to be the most offensive, most silly band possible. Songs like Stinkfinger, Dementions, Marijuana were both awful and funny. Lefty (The artist formerly known as Evel Ed) played bass & sang, Gary Butler played drums and Richie Quatros played guitar. It was a great project but was short lasted as Richie was found dead under the rt 1 bridge in Edison after a fall(?). Gary & Lefty continued on, until a few years later when Gary was found dead in the Edison river. Many of Sativa Cross’s songs were written during this punk rock era of the Pukechewers and promises made to these dead friends will be kept. These songs will finally be made! Sativa Cross reformed as a heavy metal band in the early 90’s with Lefty singing, Roy Dey on guitar, Mark Marciniec (of the Markus James Incident) on drums, Rusty Brake on Bass and John Jones on Bass. Songs like School Free Drug Zone and Timebomb would rock a concert hall. A guitar was sacrificed for every show by being smashed over Lefty’s head. The band was featured on the Rikki Lake Show “I Hate My Neighbor” highlighted by Lefty self-smashing a guitar over his head and eating it. Normally a helmet is worn and an audience member will smash the guitar but the Rikki Lake Show wouldn’t allow it so they took Lefty’s helmet away. Lefty was only allowed to “strum along” to the song as it played. The band lied to producers and instead of the guitar being strummed Lefty smashed it over his own head, with no helmet and then proceded to eat the guitar live on TV to the shock & dismay of Rikki Lake and her audience members. That said, the band was brought back on the show repeatedly so Rikki Lake wasn’t really that mad..
VIDEO: CLICK ON LEFTY TO SEE HIM SELF-SMASH A GUITAR AND EAT IT ON THE RICKI LAKE SHOW!
http://cdn.makeagif.com/media/12-31-2013/vpbNIa.gif Lefty & his good buddy D Freshmon recorded the Sensimelia Sessions during a snowstorm in Jamesburg during the mid 90’s. They recorded Marijuana, Sweaty Betty, Goin Home To Feed That Pussy, Bowel Bong Bung, Living Abortion, Wacko From Waco, and others. The guitar work on this recording by DFreshmon is outstanding. Lefty going back to his “Johnny Cash” vocal style made the recording quite eclectic. This amazing recording was erased by engineer Mr Bill because of an outstanding bill of $14, but the groundwork was laid for Sativa Cross’s future. D Freshmon is a classical trained musician. His studio is filled with guitars and guitar books from everyone from Mozart to Uli Roth. Fresh plays piano and mandolin as well as an assortment of guitars including a Les Paul custom, Telecaster, Stratocaster, 12 string, BC Rich, as well as his own designs….the list goes on…Fresh plays all genres; Country, Rock & Roll, Classical, Metal, Blues, Jazz, Punk…I’m sure the future will include Dub Step & Hip Hop too… Lefty also played keyboards & backing vocals for Double Green Zero with Joey Craparotta (Ashes Of Your Enemy) and the hard rock band “Lefty” with Joey Craparotta, Roy Dey, John Jones (Never Enough), Jay Auletto, J. Harvey & Kevin “Lefty” Norton. Joey Craparotta currently plays bass with the popular NJ band “Ashes Of Your Enemy” and was recently endorsed by Peavey. (Hey Joey can I get some picks & strings?) Lefty also joined Tripp Eisen’s progressive industrial glam band Ego with Preston Nash (Dope, Primer 55) and Dave Weakley (Roughhouse, Tease, American Sugar Bitch) Lefty sang lead on songs “Kill OJ!” & “God Ungood” while playing keyboards & samples. Tripp is the greatest showman, changing outfits & guitars between songs which was fine with the guitar-chewing Lefty. Lefty was with Ego until Tripp moved on to commercial success with Marilyn Manson, Dope & Static X. [Edit] Before you start hating on Tripp, consider why you’d hold him to a higher standard than Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Page, Steven Tyler, Ted Nugent etc…Those guys bragged about all the underage groupies they slept with over the years. It’s rock & roll mannnn and I dont think they’re checking ID’s at 2am on a tour bus! Tripp made a mistake and paid for it yet he’s still being punished for it. He’ll land on his feet cuz he’s too damn talented not to!] Lefty experimented with electronic music with Pauly Maimone and Sympty Productions in the mid 90’s. Armed with a Nord Lead, Rave-O-Lution 309, Roland 505, Korg X3, a pair of Technics 1200’s and Pioneer CDJ1000’s Lefty became a turntablist and live performer. Sympty created the Countdown to the Millennium Series, which went on for many years. Lefty helped build Sympty productions as a performer and sound engineer along with Archie Joyner, Jevic, Frazzle, Raphael Les Freud, MTech, Dr Stepper, Dirty Human and countless othes. Lefty also worked with other production companies like Chemically Unbalanced, Koncept Crew, Eden, Demented & Frazzled. Sympty’s Big Pauly was world reknowned up until his untimely death in 2003. R.I.P. In 2003, Lefty’s life hit a wall when he suffered a horrible disabling fall at his job and was laid up for years recovering from multiple spine surgeries. Laying in bed all those years in horrible pain, taking awful drugs made him hungrier than ever to make music again. After an epiphany during a bowel movement, it all became clear the reason for being left on this 3rd rock. Lefty used medical marijuana to get off opiates, nerve blockers, & muscle relaxers. Something the doctors told him could never be done. Cannabis CAN save lives! Lefty also plays bass guitar, keyboards, saxophone and drums. (Cannot play drums anymore because of the injury) Most of these songs were written by Lefty singing or playing the riffs on bass and then watching Fresh make his magic. Sometimes we’ll just record Fresh until he makes up an incredible riff and then we’ll take it and build a song. Lefty has over 30 years experience in audio engineering & music. For decades he worked for a large company running the auditoriums, satellite uplink/downlink, webcasts, video conferencing, production & recording. He lost his job due to the injury and still suffers with chronic pain, scaitica & spasms. Lefty supports CMMNJ, The Love Nugget Foundation, NORML, & FEAR. Sativa Cross is creating awareness for children with epilepsy and other diseases treatable with cannabis. [Edit by Lefty:] “My entire life changed in a matter of seconds and will never be the same. You never know what life will have in store for you. Life is so so short and you are all here for a reason. It’s crazy how some people come in & out of our lives and why others are taken from us very young and why others linger. Finally being able to take a musical shit on the world will continue my life’s mission, and I hope to linger like a bad fart if only to annoy sophisticated pseudo intellectuals. The perverted, offensive lyrics are a product of a perverted offensive society and are meant to be taken totally tongue in (ass) cheek.” [/Lefty] Finally in 2012 Sativa Cross is making a comeback. Complimented by the unheralded and amazing guitar work of D Freshmon, the Funniest Funkiest Filthiest Pot Songs Ever has finally been realized. Some Rock & Roll, some Country, some weird, but all in good fun. Sativa Cross recorded songs like “Why’d You Flush My Weed Down The Toilet Bowl?” “School Free Drug Zone” “The Homeless Song” as well as older jammies already mentioned. The future is bright for Sativa Cross as they release free music videos all summer. “Bowel Bong Bung” is the first release highlighted by Lefty singing on the toilet about shitting in the toilet. Mixed by Emmy Award winning Jenna Emens ( B-Sides Radio 91.5FM ). Helping produce Sativa Cross is Lou Sosa. July’s first video is the pot anthem “Take My Bong And Smack You Upside Your Head” featuring Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty has her own music video too, recorded in Bayonne, called ” ‘Ol Sweaty Betty The Pot Farmer (LeadLesson #6 7/8) ” August’s featured video was made in 1993. Recorded by filmmaker Mitch Siff, it’s a parody called “Living Abortion” about a Central Park jogger getting an abortion, a most shocking & disturbing video from the punk rock days of the Pukechewers. “Feed That Pussy” is an unplugged little ditty soon to be remade into a shitkickin hillbilly hoedown. “Pieces” is about the perils of smoking pot on a railroad track. 2013 TO PRESENT Rather than watching cooking shows all day, Lefty & Chuck decided to partner with the Illuminati to save the world. Lefty & Chuck are medical marijuana patients on a mission to deliver the CUMMA guidelines to the police since Chris Christie never did. We’re asking police where we can legally smoke cannabis. It’s been very educational.
VIDEO FOR: “BOWEL BONG BUNG”! KINDLY CLICK ON THE BIG BONG BELOW!
VIDEO FOR: “TAKE MY BONG & SMACK YOU UPSIDE YOUR HEAD”! KINDLY CLICK ON THE BIG BRAIN BELOW! (yes that’s Lefty’s brain!) VIDEO FOR: ” ‘OL SWEATY BETTY THE POT FARMER” (LeadLesson 6 7/8) KINDLY CLICK ON SWEATY BETTY BELOW… VIDEO FOR “LIVING ABORTION (Artificial Womb Mix)” KINDLY CLICK ON THE CHICKEN FÆTUS BELOW… VIDEO FOR “GOIN HOME TO FEED THAT PUSSY” KINDLY CLICK CURLY THE CAT… VIDEO FOR “PIECES”…..KINDLY CLICK CANDY BELOW! VIDEO FOR THE SONG “420”: KINDLY CLICK LEFTY PROTESTING BELOW!