HARSH TOKE!

Things not to attempt while stoned: 1. Going online to play the stocks. 2. Reading Joyce. 3. Building a legal defense for your felony drug charges using Washington state's new medical marijuana law.

The medical marijuana law was adopted last year after a statewide vote in favor of Initiative 692, which allows patients with serious and terminal illnesses to smoke weed, as long as they get permission from their doctors. But the law's true effects have been widely misunderstood by cops, doctors, and prosecutors, not to mention recreational stoners whose "terminal illnesses" (general dissatisfaction with the social structure and powers that be, lack of motivation) hardly qualify them for legal cannabis.

A new 13-page guide (available through the local ACLU office and on the web at www.eventure.com/i692) attempts to clarify the situation, answering numerous questions about who qualifies under the new law and who doesn't. The details may pounce on your buzz.

An excerpt: "The Medical Marijuana Act was designed to protect a specific class of people--the seriously and terminally ill. It does not apply to recreational users of marijuana who simply feel they get some 'medical' benefit. It does not even apply to terminally ill patients who fail to get their physician's approval.... Don't put yourself at risk on a flimsy claim of a medical need for marijuana. Remember, it is a class C felony to fraudulently produce any record claiming to be valid medical documentation."--Ben Jacklet


SIDRAN: SOCIALIST OR WEIRDO?

The Stranger obtained a letter penned by City Attorney Mark Sidran that is either a brilliant and poisonously sly political dig, or a sincere plea for proletarian consciousness. Either way, the letter, dated June 23 and sent to homeless advocate Reverend Rick Reynolds and c.c.'d to the city council, is mondo-bizarro.

Reynolds, the director of Operation Nightwatch, a Western Avenue shelter, sent Sidran a letter asking for suggestions on where to send homeless people who were being turned away due to overcrowding. The letter was clearly a swipe at Sidran's anti-homeless measures like the parks ban, which ejects people from parks for a variety of offenses.

In coming to his conclusion ("I do not think there is an answer to your question"), Sidran weaves between outraged lefty, bitter right-winger, smart-mouthed comic, and weirdo.

Sidran the Socialist: "There... are more people seeking shelter in Seattle than ever.... If we are to have any hope of doing better in the next 10 years than we have in the past, we need... to craft strategies that will provide not just shelters but solutions."

Sidran the Bitter Old Man: "Over the past 10 years the City has more than doubled its spending on services for the homeless, the voters have passed a $50 million low-income housing levy... I see no reason to believe that steps like expanding summer shelters will do any more to alleviate the current situation than all the previous expansions... in the past 10 years have done...."

Sidran the Weirdo: "We need to ask those seeking shelter... how long have they lived in the area? Where are newcomers from? What is their prior housing and employment status and why did they come here?"--Josh Feit


TAKING A BITE OUT OF SIDRAN

In a strongly worded decision released June 29, U.S. District Court Judge John C. "Mad Dog" Coughenour ruled that a state law requiring businesses with liquor licenses to get government permission before offering music and entertainment is unconstitutional. "It is hard to conceive of a more blatant prior restraint on speech," Coughenour wrote of RCW 66.28.080.

As previously reported in The Stranger ["The Odd Couple," Ben Jacklet, June 24], the ruling could derail Mark Sidran's two-year quest to pass a Seattle club law that would require licenses for "added activities."

Less than two weeks after hearing arguments in the case, Coughenour had this to say: "The power of censorship... is the central concern of most prior restraint cases, and the threat that this power might be abused is sufficient to invoke the requirements for a prior restraint."

And further: "The procedures employed by the city of Seattle and the Liquor Board are, if possible, even less defensible.... The health and safety concerns put forward by the defendants are certainly government interests; however, prior restraints which lack procedural safeguards are unconstitutional regardless of ...the government interest at stake."--Ben Jacklet

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