So three weeks ago, I went down to Marin County to help out a friend.
This friend's name is Lynnette Shaw. For anyone living in California, who possesses a valid med marijuana card, Lynnette's name should be a household name.
She was among the original group of five who put together the wording of Proposition 215. The wording of the Proposition can be found here:
I know that to some of you , Prop 215 is "old news." And hardly worth re-visiting. And for others on this board, there is criticism - why in the world weren't Californian activists smart enough to put together legislation that would legalize marijuana as a recreational drug, overall, instead of this halfway measure?
To the last point, I would say that no one criticizes Alexander Graham Bell for not coming up with the cell phone.
What was done in Calif. was the first step taken by citizenry in any of the 50 states, and the action took place way back in 1996. This was a full 18 years ago. The people here were ready and determined to approve med marijuana. However, anything more, at that early point in the game, would not have passed as a legalized measure.
So why am I bringing Lynnette to your attention? Because right now, the woman is facing a life of governmental harassment, poverty and unemployment, and all due to her selfless devotion to this issue.
Due to her success in setting up the Fairfax club, and her overseeing the Marin Alliance for Medicinal Marijuana, she was very early on targeted by authorities. By 1999, the authorities had her in their sights. President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno jointly issued a citation that would bar her forever from any involvement with any medical marijuana dispensary. Knowing the law fairly well, Shaw fought off this injunction successfully for over a decade. Her legal battle allowed her to continue to run the Fairfax dispensary.
But in 2011, the Ninth District Court of California gained a new and ambitious prosecutor, one Melinda Haag. This woman had as her top two goals the total destruction of Lynnette Shaw, legally financially and personally! and also the closure of the Fairfax dispensary, which was the first dispensary to open its doors inside the state, and which served as the model for the other dispensaries.
By the end of that year, Haag had closed the Fairfax dispensary and helped the Feds in their efforts to destroy Shaw. In all of Marin County, population 250,000, there remains only one open and operating dispensary, in the town of Corte Madera. And activists fear that dispensary will be closed soon.
Among the things that have happened to Lynnette since 2011 are these: the declaration by the IRS that she owed the government some 10 million dollars, the seizure of her personal bank account, worth $ 10,000, the closure of her dispensary, which not only meant that Marin County patients had to find another source to meet their needs, but that she no longer had her job there. She is also the first and only American citizen whose Social Security earnings have been zeroed out!
Due to the fact that she has not worked since 2011, her car was re-possessed.
The 10 million dollar IRS finding was later lowered to a mere 3 million dollars plus change. Much of this ruling has to do with the IRS not allowing various normal overhead costs to be declared as business expenses. Then when this ruling was fought by Shaw lawyers, it was decided that seven million dollars of business expenses would be allowed, but the other 3 million plus would not be.
There is a huge irony in the IRS' ruling - for the first five years of her operating the Fairfax dispensary, she was audited twice a year, and she did everything by the book. For each year she was audited, the IRS signed off on her business operations and tax declarations. So for the hammer to fall on her some 10 years down the road seems capricious, illogical and possibly illegal.
The one thing saving Ms Shaw at this point is Eric Holder's most recent decision that banks must treat marijuana growers with their income the same way that any other customers and their income would be treated. This decree by Holder indicates that perhaps all of Shaw's IRS penalties and owed money amounts will be stricken from her record. If bankers have been told to treat their marijuana customers the same way they treat other customers, then it stands to reason that the IRS must treat citizens' operating med marijuana dispensaries the same way. (I wish also to point out that for all the years that Shaw served as the director for the Fairfax dispensary, she never paid herself more than $ 38,000.)
The local newspaper in Marin County, The Marin Independent Journal, had one of its finer reporters write the following article:
Anyone wishing to help out Ms Shaw can "friend" her at Facebook, "Lynnette Mont-eton Shaw," and then contact her directly. At that Facebook site, she can offer you her phone number or other means of more private contact.