Spring Gathering panel story

Note: This is the original story sent mid Saturday focusing on the panel. A review of the event is upcoming

By Wes Woods II
Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO – Marijuana activists encouraged their followers to get out and work.

The message came at Saturday’s Spring Gathering, a music festival and medical marijuana expo with artists like Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill, which featured a panel discussion on the modern cannabis movement.

“Everything you can do,” said Drug Policy Alliance’s California state director Stephen Gutwillig, including supporting  cannabis movement organizations, sympathetic elected officials, giving money and “coming out.”

Lanny Swerdlow, registered nurse who is the manager for the The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation medical clinic in Riverside, spoke about the lack of involvement from people who use cannabis, including Saturday’s concert goers.

“There’s 20,000 people out there partying who don’t do anything. They don’t make phone calls,” Swerdlow said.

Dale Gieringer state coordinator for the California division of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), added people need to push for marijuana legalization in the upcoming election year.

“Put on the pressure and speak up in elections,” Gieringer said, adding some politicians have campaigned on reform but did not live up to their promises.

Swerdlow said in 2012 there would be a new ballot initiative to legalize marijuana which he urged people to vote in support of.

Chris Conrad, publisher of the quarterly publication West Coast Leaf, said the movement needs to do a better job of recruiting mothers groups, safety groups, public safety groups and unions into the fold besides showing up to city council and county supervising meetings.

“For people to splinter and say we do not do enough … we need to fight this. Let’s not screw this up.”

Proposition 19 would have have granted Californians age 21 or over to grow marijuana and allow local jurisdictions to tax and regulate weed sales but in November California voters defeated it.

In 1996, state voters passed Proposition 215 where medical marijuana was legalized and collectives can take donations and give medical marijuana to their members.

But some cities have banned medical marijuana dispensaries despite the proposition because of various reasons including marijuana being designated as a controlled substance by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Still, the need for medical marijuana collectives has continued to be discussed. 

In May, police served seven dispensaries with eight warrants for violating the city’s municipal code in San Bernardino.

The city banned dispensaries last year by prohibiting their permits but officials say the operators continue to be open and some residents have made complaints.

Gieringer added to fight the attempts at stopping Proposition 215, supporters need to change federal law.

“We’ve got to address it,” Gieringer said.

Besides the panel discussion taking place, a medical marijuana expo took place nearby with colorful glass pipes, a wide variety of dispensaries and collectives and vendors selling colorful marijuana related T-shirts or trying to promote products with names like Chronic
Ice and Ganja Juice.

Outside the marijuana movement was the music, which included acts like Long Beach based superstar Snoop Dogg, fellow hip-hop act Tha Dogg Pound performing a tribute to deceased Pomona resident Nate Dogg and one of the festival organizers, Cypress Hill.

“I’m having a good time,” said Michelle Garcia, 34, of Highland.

“There’s lots of interesting booths and the music is awesome.”

Josh Dulaney contributed to this report