Horne, Montgomery challenge Arizona medical marijuana law
By Evan Wyloge Aug 24 2008
State and county prosecutors on Thursday renewed their legal fight against Arizona’s medical marijuana program, asking a court to rule that the voter-approved law is illegal on grounds that it conflicts with federal drug law.
Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery made separate but coordinated requests in a case involving a company’s application to operate a medical marijuana dispensary.
The Republican prosecutors’ requests specifically target dispensary provisions of the state law approved by Arizona voters in 2010, but a court ruling that the entire law is pre-empted by federal law would have broader impact.
The Arizona law permits people certified by doctors as having certain medical conditions to use marijuana. They also can be permitted to grow it unless a dispensary opens in their area. The state is considering applications for dispensaries.
“Possession, distribution and cultivation of marijuana are all forbidden by federal law, and state authorization of these activities is pre-empted,” Horne said.
The case pending in Maricopa County Superior Court involves a company applying to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City. White Mountain Health Center Inc. sued when county officials wouldn’t provide zoning clearances needed under the medical marijuana law.
The officials had been advised by Montgomery that county employees could face prosecution for aiding and abetting drug crimes.
Judge Michael Gordon recently ruled that state health officials could not decline to award a dispensary license to White Mountain because of the county’s inaction.
In their new filings, Horne and Montgomery asked Gordon to dismiss White Mountain’s lawsuit on grounds that Arizona’s law is illegal.
Hempfest 2012: Thousands Of Pot Fans Gather At Nation’s Largest Marijuana Rally
By : Gene Johnson Aug 17 2012 For : AP
SEATTLE — Tens of thousands of people descended on a waterfront park in Seattle Friday for the opening of what’s billed as the nation’s largest marijuana rally – an event that has a pressing political edge this year as Washington state’s voters consider whether to legalize the fun use of pot for adults.
Colorado, Oregon and Washington already have medical marijuana laws. And all three also have legalization measures on the November ballot.
Washington’s would allow sales of up to an ounce of dried marijuana at state-licensed stores and could bring the state nearly $2 billion in tax revenue over the next five years – if the federal government doesn’t try to block the law from taking effect. Pot remains illegal under federal law.
Washington’s measure, Initiative 502, also would prevent nearly 10,000 marijuana possession arrests every year in the state, proponents say.
“It looks like we’re finally reaching a critical mass to end this critical mess,” Hempfest director Vivian McPeak said as the festival began. “If I-502 passes, it’ll be a historic moment.”
Organizers expected at least 150,000 people at the three-day event. Thousands milled along the 1.5-mile long park under a blazing sun Friday afternoon, stopping at booths advertising colorful glass pipes, hemp clothing and medical marijuana dispensaries. Young women shouted at passersby to encourage them to obtain medical marijuana authorizations – “Are you legal yet?” – while other festival goers rested on driftwood logs, lighting joints and pipes.
Vendors hawked $2 bottles of water, but not just for hydration: “Ice water here! Get some ice water for your bong!”
Despite the pot-tolerant crowd, there was no consensus as to whether I-502 is the right thing for Washington’s marijuana smokers.
The measure has garnered opposition from the medical cannabis community, and some say its driving-under-the-influence provisions are so strict that it could prevent them from driving at all.
Others say the measure doesn’t go far enough because it wouldn’t allow people to grow their own pot for recreational use, although medical patients still could; it doesn’t contemplate the industrial growing of hemp; and it would not allow recreational use for those between 18 and 21.
Because of the split, Hempfest – now in its 21st year of advocating legalization – is taking no official position on the measure, something McPeak called “very painful and very awkward.”
Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for the measure’s sponsor, New Approach Washington, said she was disappointed, too.
“We’ve got a legalization measure on the ballot right now,” Holcomb said. “Seattle Hempfest, which has been carrying the legalization banner for 21 years, ought to be celebrating.”
Both sides of the debate were aired at the festival, as supporters and opponents set up tents and vied for the attention of potential voters.
At the No on I-502 tent, activist Arthur West said he’s been attending Hempfest since the late 1990s and never imagined that he’d be here to oppose a legalization measure. But then, he and fellow activist Poppy Sidhu said they don’t consider I-502 legalization at all.
“We’re all for legalization, but legalization, for me, is being able to grow as much as I want and being able to walk down the street to Starbucks smoking my joint,” Sidhu said.
Marijuana on the Ballot in Five States in November
By: Scott Shackford For: Reason
Even though the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana in California in 2010 ended with a massive bummer of a vote, other states aren’t giving up. Marijuana-related initiatives are scheduled for the ballot in Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
Julian Brookes over at Rolling Stone focuses on the legalization initiatives in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon (whose initiative was just approved for the ballot last week):
Of the three states where legalization is up for a vote in November – Colorado, Washington, and Oregon – Colorado “is definitely the best shot so far,” says Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, a national lobby group that’s kicking in about $1 million to support the measure. Under Amendment 64, the state would treat pot like alcohol – licenses for producers and sellers, 21-plus age restriction for buyers, and tax revenue government. Should it pass – and one poll has support up by 61-27 – “We’re hoping the federal government will not impose its will,” says Fox, “and that there’ll be an adult conversation about what Colorado has decided to do.”
In Massachusetts, voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical use. Voters in the state already decriminalized possessing an ounce or less of marijuana in 2008.
Montana’s medical marijuana referendum is a bit of an odd duck (Montana probably wouldn’t have it any other way). Montana voters already approved medical marijuana use back in 2004. Subsequently, state legislators, showing the kind deference to their citizens’ wishes that would make California politicians jealous, tried to repeal it. Their efforts made it all the way to the governor’s desk, but he vetoed it.
Another bill was introduced in 2011 that would kill the old initiative but this time replace it with new guidelines that would permit medical marijuana use with much stricter regulations. With the Montana Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum, voters will decide whether to keep the new, tougher regulations (by voting yes) or keep the 2004 rules (by voting no). That sounds like a nice, confusing vote.
More from Reason about marijuana, including wondering whether the Department of Justice’s crackdown on marijuana dispensaries in Colorado will cost President Barack Obama votes. Polls show Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson currently drawing 7 percent of the vote in the Centennial State.
Humble nixes plans to expand marijuana conditions
By Howard Fischer For : Capitol Media Services July 20 2012
PHOENIX — State Health Director Will Humble refused Thursday to expand the conditions for which marijuana can be legally recommended.
Humble said there were many “moving stories” from people who said that their use of marijuana helped them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and migraines. He also said his agency received numerous articles about the effectiveness of marijuana.
But Humble said all that, by itself, was not enough.
“My guiding principle for making the decision was to use science and research to guide when deciding whether to add petitioned conditions,” he wrote in his findings. And Humble pointed out that he specifically asked the University of Arizona College of Public Health to find that research.
But that, he said, came up lacking.
“In short, I didn’t approve the petitions because of the lack of published data regarding the risks and benefits of using cannabis to treat or provide relief for the petitioned conditions,” Humble said.
The decision was not surprising: Humble’s own medical advisory committee recommended earlier this week he do just that.
“Because marijuana has not been subjected to any high quality, scientifically controlled testing for any of the petitioned conditions, we find no convincing evidence that marijuana provides a benefit,” wrote Dr. Laura Nelson, the agency’s chief medical officer.
“We acknowledge there is anecdotal evidence that using marijuana has helped patients,” Nelson continued. “But there is no way to exclude the possibility that the improvement is due solely to placebo.”
And Nelson worried that allowing patients with any of the four conditions to use marijuana for treatment might actually cause harm.
“Patients may use marijuana to self medicate, and avoid seeking care from a trained medical professional,” she wrote. “Delaying initiation of appropriate, proven treatments and therapies could result in a worsening of their condition or misdiagnosis of a more serious condition.”
Humble’s decision disappointed Suzanne Sisley. She is a physician with the Telemedicine Program at the UA College of Medicine and a specialist in internal medicine and psychiatry.
She said that, despite the lack of formal full-blown scientific studies, she believes marijuana works.
“A large proportion of my medical practice is taking care of combat vets with PTSD and first responders who have PTSD,” Sisley said.
“All these folks have gone through all the standard conventional meds,” she said in hopes for finding something that works.
“Often what these folks find is they cannot achieve enough stability to be able to work and be functional,” Sisley continued. “And when they’ve exhausted all the conventional treatment, they end up being forced to buy cannabis on the street illegally.”
Sisley said, though, the decision comes as no real surprise.
She said that Humble, in demanding evidence from scientifically backed peer-reviewed studies, essentially set the requests to expand the medical marijuana program up for rejection. That’s because the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which controls the only legal supply of marijuana for medical research has consistently refused to give the go-ahead for the kind of studies Humble said he needs.
The 2010 voter-approved law allows doctors to issue formal recommendations for marijuana use to patients who have a specific set of conditions spelled out in statute. These range from glaucoma and AIDS to chronic or debilitating conditions that lead to severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
Someone with a doctor’s recommendation then can get a card from the Department of Health Services allowing them to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
But the law also requires the health director to consider adding to that list every year. That led to the requests to add the four specific conditions.
Oakland officials slam prosecutors over marijuana crackdown
By: Ronnie Cohen for Reuters
OAKLAND, California (Reuters) – Officials in the city of Oakland rebuked federal prosecutors on Thursday for seeking to shut down a medical marijuana dispensary that bills itself as the world’s largest in the latest clash over a federal cannabis crackdown in Western U.S. states.
The criticism came a day after federal prosecutors announced lawsuits seeking to seize two properties housing the Harborside Health Center, a California cannabis dispensary that gained attention when it was featured on the reality TV show “Weed Wars.”
“I am deeply dismayed that the federal government would seek to deprive Californians of this vital medicine,” Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement released by her office and read at a news conference held at City Hall by Harborside’s owners.
“These actions will force patients into the underground market of street corners and back alleys, undermining public safety and endangering their health and lives,” Parker said.
The move against Harborside is the latest to target what federal prosecutors say is a flourishing network of illegal cannabis suppliers operating across California under the cover of the state’s medical marijuana law. Pot operations in several other Western states have also been in the federal cross-hairs.
The crackdown comes amid a growing chasm between the way many states and the federal government treat marijuana, which is allowed for medicinal use in 17 states and the District of Columbia even as the federal government continues to class it as an illegal narcotic.
No state has legalized pot for recreational use. But voters in Washington, Colorado, and possibly Oregon, will be asked to decide on that question in November at the polls – potentially setting the stage for a bigger clash with the federal government.
‘STOP HARASSING DISPENSARIES’
California, which in 1996 became the first state to decriminalize medical marijuana, rejected an initiative to legalize possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use in 2010.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag, in announcing the civil forfeiture actions on Wednesday, called them part of her office’s “measured effort to address the proliferation of marijuana businesses” in her district.
“The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need,” Haag said in a statement.
A spokesman for Haag declined to respond to the criticism by local officials. Federal prosecutors say the dispensaries operate outside of California law, which permits only primary caregivers to dispense marijuana and bans sale of the drug for profit.
Parker, in criticizing the crackdown, also called on the U.S. government to devote its resources to fighting violent crime in Oakland, which she said was “snuffing out” lives.
Oregon likely to put pot legalization to voters, proponents say
By : Theresa Carson For Reuters July 07 2012
SALEM, Oregon will soon qualify as the third U.S. state to ask voters in November to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a move that could put the state on a collision course with the federal government, proponents said on Friday.
Backers of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act said they have collected 165,000 signatures on petitions seeking to put the measure on the ballot, nearly double the 87,000 they were required to submit by Friday’s deadline to qualify.
“We believe we’re going to make it easily,” said Paul Stanford, the chief petitioner and founder of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, which runs medical marijuana clinics in several states.
The state has 30 days to verify if enough signatures are valid to qualify any measure for the ballot, said Steve Trout, Oregon elections director. Stanford said some signatures had already been disqualified but believed the rate of validation was high enough for the measure to win a place on the ballot.
If passed by voters in November, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would allow marijuana sales in the state to people over age 21, and would create jobs in the hemp industry by allowing it for clothing, food and other uses, the campaign’s website said.
Similar ballot measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use already have qualified in Washington state and Colorado, which, like Oregon, already allow marijuana for medical purposes.
No state has legalized pot for recreational use but 17 states and the District of Columbia allow medical cannabis even as marijuana remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law.
The Oregon move comes as federal authorities have cracked down on medical marijuana operations in several mostly western states, seeking to shut down storefront dispensaries and greenhouses they deem to be drug-trafficking fronts, as well as those located near schools and parks.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Close Doors in Malibu
By : Jacqueline Mansky
One of two medical marijuana dispensary stores in Malibu have already closed up shop, and the second will shut its doors for business by July 1, according to a city official.
Federal authorities began a crackdown on pot shops earlier this month.
Malibu Collective Caregivers will be out of their current location by July 1st, Olivia Damavandi, media information officer for the City of Malibu said.
The other Medical Marijuana dispensary in Malibu, PCH Collective, has already closed. Travis Crisco, who worked for PCH Collective said the store officially closed June 19.
PCH Collective received a Cease and Desist letter from the office of U.S. Attorney Birotte Jr. ordering the store’s closure within 14 days on June 5, Crisco said.
If the store did not close, Crisco said, it would risk potential raid and seizures by the DEA.
Earlier this month, federal authorities filed two asset forfeiture lawsuits against properties housing three marijuana stores in Santa Fe Springs and sent out warning letters to property owners and operators of 34 other dispensaries doing buisness or recently closed in Los Angeles County, including in Malibu, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said in a statement.
According to federal officials, the targeted establishments were violating federal law, which generally does not recognize the use of pot for any reason.
“Under federal law, the distribution of marijuana … is prohibited except under very limited circumstances not applicable here. The government is informed and believes that at all times relevant to this complaint, the operation of the marijuana stores on the defendant property was not (and is not) permitted under California law,” Lawsuits filed in Los Angeles federal court on June 5 read.
According to Malibu’s city code, no more than two medical marijuana dispensaries are permitted to operate in the city at any time.
Illegal marijuana used by 10 per cent of fibromyalgia patients: Study
By: Rick Wilking Reuters June 24th 2012
People who suffer from a medical disorder that causes chronic pain are buying marijuana on the street for relief, a new study has revealed.
The study, led by Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a rheumatologist at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, appears in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
It shows that 13% cent of patients living with fibromyalgia (FM) use cannabinoids for relief from symptoms such as widespread pain, fatigue, and insomnia, and 10% buy cannabis illegally for these reasons. It says these people tend to have poorer mental health, and are often on additional prescribed medications that could result in negative drug interactions. Cannabinoids are a type of chemical in marijuana that causes drug-like effects all through the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system.
“Fibromyalgia affects up to three per cent of the population and is more common in women,” says Dr. Fitzcharles, who is also a professor of medicine at McGill University. “Unfortunately, FM pharmacologic treatments for pain have modest results, prompting some patients to self-medicate with more non-traditional therapies, such as marijuana.”
Dr. Fitzcharles says she and her colleagues assessed cannabinoid use in 457 FM patients being treated at the MUHC Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit. They determined that 13% of participants used cannabinoids to help manage pain, fatigue, and insomnia, and 10% cent bought cannabis illegally.
Men were more likely to turn to marijuana more than women, and marijuana users were more likely to have an unstable mental illness and display opioid drug-seeking behaviour. Additionally, marijuana users had a 77% unemployment rate, which researchers believe may be a result of ineffective pain control or a more serious functional disability.
“While self-medicating with cannabinoids may provide some pain relief to fibromyalgia patients, we caution against general use of illicit drugs until health and psychosocial issues risks are confirmed,” says Dr. Fitzcharles. “Physicians should also be alert to potential negative mental health issues with these patients using illicit drugs for medical purposes, and that some cannabis users may be dishonestly using a FM diagnosis to justify self-medicating with illegal drugs.”
Uruguay aims to legalize, oversee marijuana market : Officials say selling pot would be less harmful than allowing it to be trafficked
By : Hillary Burke of Reuters June 22 2012
Uruguay’s government unveiled a proposal to legalize and monitor the marijuana market, arguing that the drug is less harmful than the black market where it is trafficked.
President Jose Mujica’s leftist government will send a bill to Congress shortly on this as part of a package of measures to fight crime in the South American country.
The government will also urge that marijuana sales be legalized worldwide, Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said, adding the measure could discourage the use of so-called hard drugs.
Marijuana consumption is already legal in Uruguay.
“We want to fight against two different things: one is drug consumption and the other is drug trafficking. We think the ban on certain drugs is creating more problems in society than the drug itself,” the minister told a news conference.
“Homicides related to settling scores have increased and that’s a clear sign that certain phenomena are appearing in Uruguay that didn’t exist before,” he said.
The bill would legalize and set rules for the production and sale of marijuana but would not allow people to grow the plant for their own personal use. The government did not give details on how the new system would work.
In Uruguay about $75 million changes hands each year in the illegal marijuana trade, according to official estimates.
As of last year, 20 percent of people between 15 and 65 years old reported they had smoked marijuana at least once and about 5 percent of respondents were habitual users.
The proposal to legalize the marijuana market is one of Uruguay’s 15 crime-fighting measures that include tougher penalties for police corruption, crack-cocaine trafficking and juvenile offenders.
Federal Officer Threatens To Return The Black Tuna To Prison
Story By Steve Elliot of Toke of the town
Robert Platshorn became the longest serving marijuana prisoner in United States history, doing almost 30 years in federal prison for importing Colombian pot in the 1970s. When he got out four years ago, Platshorn — a weed warrior through and through — didn’t take the easy way out and opt for a quiet retirement. Instead, he took up the cause of medical marijuana, launching The Silver Tour to bring the good news about cannabis to senior citizens.
Platshorn did his time, and when he got out, he started trying to make the world a better place and to help sick people. Now, even though he’s been officially released from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Parole Commission, the federal government is trying to silence him, ordering travel restrictions — which would effectively end The Silver Tour — and forbidding him to associate with fellow Silver Tour director, federal medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld.
The Showtime movie Square Grouper featured Platshorn’s story; federal agents dubbed him the Black Tuna. But today, millions of senior citizens call him the Pied Piper of medical marijuana, and often refer to him as “the secret weapon for legalization.” Last year, after being released from parole, he joined with Rosenfeld to found The Silver Tour to teach seniors the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
After getting home from a book signing tour (he wrote an autobiography, Black Tuna Diaries) and an international medical cannabis conference hosted by Patients Out of Time and the University of Arizona, Platshorn got a surprise visit from a new parole officer. The stranger demanded a urine sample and made it clear to Robert and his wife that Platshorn could be returned to prison if he refused.
Platshorn has a document from the U.S. Parole Commission that clearly states “By this action you are no longer under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Parole Commission.” “Despite this, a new parole officer showed up at my door, demanded I take a urine test, and ordered me not to leave the district, cancel speaking and book signings, and ordered me not to associate with Irvin Rosenfeld,” Platshorn told Toke of the Town.
The officer, Scott T. Kirsche from the West Palm Beach Federal Parole office, claimed the visit was prompted by Platshorn’s recent appearance at the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Los Angeles, and his participation in the medical conference.
The outcome of the urine test was already predetermined. Robert had informed his old parole officer than he was a legally registered cancer patient being successfully treated with concentrated cannabis oil.
Urine test results normally take a week, but just 48 hours after testing, Bobby was ordered to report to the parole office and was put under tight supervision pending a decision by the Parole Commission in Washington, D.C., on whether to put Platshorn — who turns 70 this year — back in federal prison.
“Kirsche has written a report to the U.S. Parole Commission stating that I gave a UA dirty for THC (unconfirmed) followed by several clean UAs,” Platshorn told me. “More troubling, he reported that I have been traveling without permission. This is simply untrue.
“I requested that Kirsche contact my former P.O., Anthony Gagliardi, to confirm my sanctioned travel arrangements,” Platshorn said. “He simply refused to do so, even after my lawyer, Mike Minardi, made the same request.”
Platshorn’s original parole officer, Gagliardi, is unwell and is on indefinite leave. “He oversaw my travel arrangements and is the only one who can confirm I had permission for travel anywhere in the U.S., so long as he was notified,” Platshorn told me. “He never once provided written confirmation of permission for any specific trip.”
Robert, who after 30 years of incarceration, left prison penniless, supplements his $600 Social Security check by traveling to promote his memoir, Black Tuna Diaries, the documentary Square Grouper and speaking at major events. Kirsche ordered him to cancel his traveling for the immediate future.
“Thirty years in prison and this guy is trying to make brownie points going for the last drop of my blood, and at the same time he wants to be the government hero who ended The Silver Tour,” Platshorn told Toke of the Town. “This has already killed most of my income. Speaking and book signings at events are most of it.”
Lawmakers work on marijuana decriminalization compromise
NEW YORK (WABC) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly is trying to strike a compromise with Senate Republicans over his plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
The governor’s plan is not going over well with Republicans who are reluctant to change the state’s drug laws, especially during an election year.
The proposal would make it a violation and not a crime to openly possess less than an ounce of marijuana.
New York’s Senate majority leader said Wednesday that Cuomo’s proposal won’t pass his chamber.
Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said it’s wrong to downgrade punishment to a simple violation for having up to 25 grams of marijuana in the open. However, he said the Senate would work on a narrower measure ensuring that the lesser penalty applies when police order someone with a joint in his pocket to bring it out in the open.
“Being able to just walk around with 10 joints in each ear and only being a violation I think that’s wrong,” Skelos told reporters. “If the question is emptying out your pockets and that becoming a misdemeanor, then I think we can work on it.”
Concealed possession of small amounts of marijuana is a violation, subject to a ticket and $100 fine, while smoking or public possession rises to a misdemeanor. Critics say New York City police have used the marijuana law in connection with their stop-and-frisk policies to disproportionately arrest minority youths, who accounted for about 80 percent of the nearly 50,000 people they charged with the misdemeanor last year.
The Democratic governor on Monday proposed cutting the penalty for public possession from a criminal misdemeanor to a violation, saying it would save thousands of New Yorkers, mostly black and Hispanic youths, from unnecessary arrests and criminal charges. He said the difference between the two penalties is “incongruous.” He proposed leaving public pot smoking as a criminal misdemeanor.
City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and district attorneys from the five boroughs endorsed Cuomo’s proposal.
In response to allegations that police were arresting people for marijuana that was in their pockets until officers made them reveal it, Kelly issued a directive last year reminding officers how existing law should correctly be applied. He said the proposed legislative change would eliminate any confusion and people holding small amounts of marijuana would be charged with a violation either way.
“Carrying 10 joints in each ear would require some set of ears,” Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said Wednesday. “We look forward to working these issues through with the Senate in order to end an injustice that has been allowed to go on for too long.”
Medical Marijuana Is Now Legal In Connecticut
By: Beth Buczynski care2.com June 2 2012
On Friday, Connecticut became the 17th state in America to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Governor Dannel Malloy signed the groundbreaking legislation that will allow licensed physicians to certify and prescribe medical marijuana for adult patients will qualifying medical conditions.
“For years, we’ve heard from so many patients with chronic diseases who undergo treatments like chemotherapy or radiation and are denied the palliative benefits that medical marijuana would provide,” Governor Malloy said. ”With careful regulation and safeguards, this law will allow a doctor and a patient to decide what is in that patient’s best interest,” he said.
Despite coming out strongly in favor of state’s rights to legalize and monitor medical marijuana when he was on the campaign trail, the Obama Administration has since waffled in his support of the plant’s medical use. In a Rolling Stone interview early this year, the President was quoted as saying “he can’t nullify congressional law.” Fortunately, states have forged ahead in their quest to provide ill citizens with a natural medication that can greatly improve their quality of life.
“By giving patients safe, legal access to medical marijuana, Connecticut joins over a third of the United States in recognizing the plant’s economic and medical value,” said Brad Burge, Director of Communications for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit pharmaceutical development company. “The new law also reminds us how far state and federal attitudes toward medical marijuana have diverged. The Obama administration continues to fight medical marijuana, and the states just don’t agree.”
Under the bill, patients and their caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, a doctor must certify there is a medical need for marijuana to be dispensed, including such debilitating conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. This is the same or very similar to the way medical marijuana is prescribed in other states.
What sets the Connecticut law apart, however, is that patients will only be able to obtain medical marijuana from pharmacists who are certified to dispense it. The Connecticut law also only allows for the licensing of at least three but not more than 10 marijuana producers statewide. Officials hope this model will reduce instances of abuse and black market dealing that have occurred in states that allow patients or appointed caretakers to grow their own.
Despite these restrictions, Burge says it’s a step in the right direction for patients and more states are likely to follow suit. “The federal government, through a decades-long blockade on medical marijuana research, has succeeded in preventing marijuana from becoming a federally-regulated prescription medicine. In the meantime, getting patients access to the medicine they need will depend on the continued success of state-based medical marijuana policy reform.”
Medical marijuana brings relief for sick kids in Michigan but the treatment is controversial
By : Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau
LANSING — Rebecca Brown says she tried every prescription drug she could find to control the frequent seizures her son suffered because of a severe form of epilepsy.
When nothing worked consistently, and the drugs and special diet caused kidney stones and pancreas problems as side effects, the Oakland County woman turned to medical marijuana.
Now, Cooper Brown, 14, is one of 44 Michigan residents younger than 18 with a medical marijuana card. His mom says his seizures have dropped off dramatically since he started using it early this year.
But the treatment is controversial. Marijuana — medical or otherwise — is illegal at the federal level and some doctors say it shouldn’t be used by adults, let alone children. A lack of clinical studies means there is uncertainty about its effects on developing brains and nervous systems.
Though still in middle school, Cooper is not the youngest child on the state’s medical marijuana registry. A 7-year-old, two 9-year-olds, an 11-year-old, and a 13-year-old can also legally possess and consume medical pot in Michigan.
NY judge with cancer makes case for marijuana
Published: May 20, 2012 By Reuters
A cancer-stricken judge in New York has become an unlikely voice in support of legalizing the use of medical marijuana with the admission that he smokes pot to ease the side-effects of his treatments.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach, who is being treated for pancreatic cancer, wrote in a New York Times article on Thursday that he had been using marijuana provided by friends at “great personal risk” to help him cope with the nausea, sleeplessness and loss of appetite from chemotherapy treatments.
“This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue,” wrote Reichbach, 65, who has spent 21 years on the bench in Kings County Supreme Court, and continues to hear cases even as he receives cancer treatment.
In the past, admitting to taking a few puffs of marijuana has been enough to derail some judges’ careers. U.S. appeals court Judge Douglas Ginsburg saw his nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court go up in smoke in 1987 after admitting he had used marijuana several times in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 2011, a Georgia judge was removed from the bench for various infractions including publicly admitting to smoking pot regularly.
New York is not among the U.S. 16 states and the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana. Cannabis remains an illegal narcotic under federal law.
Under New York’s Code for Judicial Conduct, judges are required to “respect and comply with the law.” First-time possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana is punishable by a $100 maximum fine.
While Reichbach’s editorial amounts to an admission he broke the law, his story is more likely to elicit admiration than condemnation, judicial ethics experts said.
“It’s brave and wonderful, but it’s heart-wrenching,” said Ellen Yaroshefsky, a law professor at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. “There are key moments in history where a judge makes a bold stand. This is one of the moments, and we should be proud of it.”
Attorney General Holder Admits Obama Misled On Medical Marijuana
Posted by TJ Green April 29th For the Weed Blog.
As many of you have heard by now, Jimmy Kimmel called Obama out on marijuana at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night. Kimmel asked, “What is with the marijuana crackdown? Seriously, what is the concern? We will deplete the nation’s Funyun supply? Pot smokers vote too. Sometimes a week after the election, but they vote.”
Kimmel’s comments were funny, and of course it’s always good to see celebs bringing attention to the movement, but what happened off stage is tremendous news for the medical marijuana movement.
Last Thursday, I reported on Obama’s response to a question during a Rolling Stone interview on why his administration is cracking down on medical marijuana. Here is what he said:
“I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.’ What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.’ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.”
A day used to celebrate marijuana
By The Associated Press
April 20, 2012DENVER—Students and others across the country have long observed April 20 as a day to celebrate marijuana. Here are some questions and answers about the counterculture holiday and the state of marijuana in the United States:
WHO CELEBRATES? The observation is shared by marijuana users from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to New York’s Greenwich Village. Last year, some 10,000 people gathered at the University of Colorado-Boulder to simultaneously smoke marijuana. This year, the university is shutting down a campus quad that hosts the annual 4/20 gathering. Organizers say the protest may be moved to a nearby off-campus neighborhood, which could cause clashes between police and protesters. A rally is planned for Denver near the state capitol on Friday and Saturday. Police have suggested they’ll be taking a hands-off approach to the gathering, which could draw tens of thousands of people. In Austin, Texas, country music legend Willie Nelson, who’s open about his marijuana use, was expected to help unveil an 8-foot statue of himself in downtown Austin at 4:20 p.m. local time.
WHAT’S IT MEAN? The number 420 has been associated with marijuana use for decades, though its origins are murky. Its use as code for marijuana spread among California pot users in the 1960s and spread nationwide among followers of the Grateful Dead. Like most counterculture slang, theories abound on its origin. Some say it was once police code in Southern California to denote marijuana use (probably an urban legend). It was a title number for a 2003 California bill about medical marijuana, an irony fully intended. Others trace it to a group of California teenagers who would meet at 4:20 p.m. to search for weed (a theory as elusive as the outdoor cannabis crop they were seeking). Yet the code stuck for obvious reasons: Authorities and nosy parents didn’t know what it meant.
HOW MANY STATES HAVE LEGALIZED MEDICAL MARIJUANA? In 1996, a ballot measure made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Sixteen states now allow the use of medicinal marijuana.
HOW MANY STATES ARE CONSIDERING LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL POT? Two states — Colorado and Washington — are considering legalizing pot for recreational purposes.
Synthetic marijuana retailers’ opinions vary on statewide ban.
By Gordon Block Times Staff Writer.
New state regulations banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products have generated a wide range of responses from business owners who have sold the product.
On Thursday, state Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, citing public health law granting the department an ability to regulate people or activities that are a “danger to the health of the people,” issued an order banning any chemical substance that mimics the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
The products, sold as an incense or potpourri under the names Spice, Phunk, K2 and Mr. Nice Guy, have been linked to hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. Users of the product get high through smoking, injecting, ingesting or snorting the substance.
The products are frequently labeled as “not intended for human consumption.”
Cannabis Science, Inc. : Cannabis Science Reports Its First Documentary Release Date of April 5, 2012 “CHRONIC FUTURE – KILLING CANCER” A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE TRUTH AND BENEFITS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA
From Business Wire
Cannabis Science, Inc. (OTCBB:CBIS.OB – News) a pioneering U.S. biotech company developing pharmaceutical cannabis (marijuana) products, is thrilled to announce that Muse Productions out of SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – announced today the Premier date of CHRONIC FUTURE – KILLING CANCER. The first of many Documentaries’ centering on the successful cancer treatments Cannabis Science has been reporting.
CHRONIC FUTURE – KILLING CANCER will premier on April 5th, 2012, at the Harkins Theater on Shea and Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Media are invited to the 5:00pm airing (limited seating) with a Q & A to follow. A VIP airing will start at 7:00pm. CRONIC FUTURE will remain in rotation through the month of April at this Harkins Theater.
CHRONIC FUTURE is a documentary created by Henry Miller and Cory Pritchard. It tells the story of Arizona’s Governor, Janet Brewer’s attempt to close down medical marijuana dispensaries and Allan Sobol, along with advocate attorney Tom Dean, fight to keep them. After the win in court, the story continues as it introduces patient after patient with debilitating ailment where medical marijuana healing ingredients have successfully treated the disease.
Perhaps the biggest revolution to this story is the apparent success and healing power that cannabis has when used to treat cancer patients. Cannabis Science (NASD OTCBB: CBIS) is a pioneering US biotech company that is developing pharmaceutical cannabis products. Cannabis Science has worked with 4 patients who administered Cannabis Science approved extracts to self-treat basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas (skin cancer).
The film covers everything from seed to success in the political and medical arena. As the unfortunate dark side the film also illuminates and exposes the story of how the government has avoided and covered up the successful medicinal use of marijuana, and decades of hypocrisy and misdirected messaging.
Effort to put marijuana legalization measure on ballot is in disarray.
From LA Time March 10, 2012
Backers need more than $2 million to hire professional petitioners to get the 700,000-plus signatures they say they need by April 20 to qualify for the ballot. But they are getting little financial support from medical marijuana dispensaries that have profited from laws that pot activists brought forth in earlier years.
Just weeks before the deadline for state ballot initiatives, the effort to put a marijuana legalization measure before voters in the general election is in disarray as the federal government cracks down on medical cannabis and activists are divided on their goals.
After Proposition 19 received 46% of the vote in 2010, proponents took heart at the near-miss. They held meetings in Berkeley and Los Angeles and vowed to put a well-funded measure to fully legalize marijuana on the 2012 ballot, when the presidential election would presumably draw more young voters.
Instead, five different camps filed paperwork in Sacramento for five separate initiatives. One has given up already and the other four are teetering, vying for last-minute funding from a handful of potential donors.
Go ahead and fuss, but medical marijuana is the future.
From The Olympian February 07, 2012
Readers of the Jan. 29 Sunday Olympian woke up to two front-page headlines, five full-color photos and 85 column inches about the legal woes of local medical cannabis providers. The story had all the makings of great political drama: ambiguous laws, ambivalent lawmakers, undercover cops, lawyers of all stripes.
Marijuana users can breathe easier: Lung function not harmed in 20-year study.
From Canadian Press January 10, 2012
CHICAGO – Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn’t harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn’t do the kind of damage tobacco does.
The results, from one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, are hazier for heavy users — those who smoke two or more joints daily for several years. The data suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there weren’t enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.
Still, the authors recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”
Marijuana users speak to the Copenhagen Post about what legal smoking would mean to them.
By Peter Stanners, For The Copenhagen Post
Cannabis users have a variety of reasons for supporting the City Council’s proposal to legalise the drug, but taken together, their arguments paint a picture of a society already largely tolerant of marijuana and users unafraid of punishment.
Rebecca* is a student in her early 20s. She smokes marijuana regularly and hardly ever drinks. Growing up, her parents knew of her habit but thought as long as she was doing well in school, it didn’t matter. Her father, a successful doctor, also smokes marijuana.
She doesn’t feel that legalising marijuana will make people more likely to take it up – she found it exciting as a teenager precisely because it was illegal.
“I was taking more risks as a kid, but now I’m more conservative. I used to smoke it outside pretty much everywhere. Now I just smoke in my apartment. And anyways, even if I did get caught, I would only have to pay a small fine.”
Ordinance brings Chicago closer to marijuana decriminalization.
By Kate Oelrich of The DePaulia
A new ordinance proposes that offenders caught in possession with small amounts of marijuana receive a fine instead of jail time.
The law currently lists marijuana possession as a class B misdemeanor, which carries penalties of up to six month jail sentence and $15,000 fine. The new ordinance would allow Chicago police officers to issue $200 tickets to individuals caught with under ten grams of marijuana.
Alderman Danny Solis who represents the 25th ward, introduced the ordinance in City Hall Nov. 2 and said it could generate $7 million a year in revenue. It also would save time and money for police and courthouse workers.
Last year, Solis said police spent at least 84,000 hours transporting offenders, doing paperwork, inventorying evidence and performing other duties in order to keep the streets safe–and that excludes the hours spent when officers must appear in court.
Cannabis Chef: Infuses Wine with Medical Marijuana.
From NBC News November 19, 2012
While controversial, medical marijuana is now legal in 16 states.
There are already a variety of ways medical marijuana patients can ingest that pot.
Some smoke it.
Some choose to eat it in things like cookies or even ice cream.
Now a California chef is taking it to the next level by adding pot to wine.
“I wouldn’t doubt that winemakers have been making this as far back as we know,” says chef Herb Seidel.
Marijuana infused wine and can go by nicknames like “green” or “tree” wine.
Seidel caters private parties in southern california.
He has a medical marijuana card and enjoys teaching other medical marijuana patients how to cook with weed.
His pot recipes are published in magazines and he even has his own set of cooking DVDs.
He says his friends in the wine country are making pot wine.
Online food blog Gourmet Live also reports that winemakers are taking a couple of barrels a year and putting marijuana inside, steeping it.
Winemakers are then pouring pot wine at the end of winemaker dinners and VIP tours, something that is illegal under federal law and would be illegal in the state of California, unless everyone tasting had a medical marijuana card.
Chef Herb doesn’t sell or serve marijuana infused wine, but knows how to make it.
Although cannabis cookies, brownies, and other foods are sold at medical marijuana dispensaries, pot wine is not.
Still some think it should be