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New Study: Marijuana Might be Good for Your Memory

It’s hard to overstate the extent to which marijuana does the opposite of what the government says it does:

The more research they do, the more evidence Ohio State University scientists find that specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

"When we're young, we reproduce neurons and our memory works fine. When we age, the process slows down, so we have a decrease in new cell formation in normal aging. You need those cells to come back and help form new memories, and we found that this THC-like agent can influence creation of those cells," said Yannick Marchalant, a study coauthor and research assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State. []

Over and over again, research finds that marijuana appears to prevent the exact conditions we were told it might cause. It’s amazing and we’re only just getting started. Not long from now, it’s quite likely that we’ll be faced with a new climate in which marijuana’s seemingly endless medical applications become impossible to ignore, even among those most determined to do so.

In the meantime, how do we explain to skeptics that marijuana is something completely different than they’ve been led to believe? Even the most sympathetic people look at me like I’m crazy when I explain that marijuana doesn’t cause cancer and may even cure it. We’re conditioned to instinctively reject a notion such as that and it usually takes a considerable amount of personal research and reflection to even become receptive to the reality that marijuana is a fascinating substance of untold potential.

If nothing else, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to understand why marijuana users so often report wonderful outcomes in their lives. Many of the drug’s effects are decidedly positive and the only way to obscure that fact is to constantly obstruct users from participating in public discussions of what marijuana actually is.

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed Against Department of Motor Vehicles

For Immediate Release: November 19, 2008 Medical marijuana lawsuit filed against Department of Motor Vehicles Americans for Safe Access fights baseless revocation of patient's driver's license Merced, CA -- A lawsuit was filed today by medical marijuana advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA) against the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on behalf of Rose Johnson, a 53-year-old patient from Atwater. Despite Ms. Johnson's clean driving record, not having caused an accident in 37 years of driving, the DMV revoked her license on July 26, 2008 because of her status as a medical marijuana patient. The DMV refused to renew Ms. Johnson's license only after obtaining her medical records and finding out that she was a qualified medical marijuana patient. According to the DMV, Ms. Johnson's license was revoked "because of...[an] addiction to, or habitual use of, [a] drug," thereby rendering her unable to safely operate a motor vehicle, even though no evidence existed to substantiate this claim. "The DMV cannot simply disregard California's medical marijuana law," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who is representing Ms. Johnson in her claim against the DMV. "When the voters of California enacted the Compassionate Use Act, they never intended to authorize the DMV to strip medical marijuana patients of their drivers' licenses," continued Elford. "The DMV should not be in the business of revoking the licenses of drivers like Ms. Johnson simply because she is a medical marijuana patient." Advocates assert that the DMV policy of suspending and revoking the licenses of medical marijuana patients is widespread, occurring in at at least 8 California counties, including Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Glenn, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, and Sonoma. License revocations by the DMV, which have been based on a person's status as a medical marijuana patient, are often rationalized by calling the drivers "drug abusers" despite no evidence of the claim. In 2007, Merced -- the county in which Ms. Johnson lives -- implemented a police policy that instructed its Sheriff deputies to respect state law and not to cite medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine. "The DMV is not under a different set of requirements than local police in California," said Elford. "The failure to uphold California's medical marijuana law is entirely inappropriate for any local or state agency." The lawsuit filed today by ASA is expected to be heard in Merced Superior Court in the next few months. The lawsuit against the DMV is part of a campaign by ASA to fully implement California's medical marijuana laws. Further information: ASA's lawsuit against the DMV: # # #
United States

San Francisco Chronicle Catches Drug Czar in a Crazy Lie

The drug czar's recent claim that there are more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks stores in San Francisco has finally achieved the level of public embarrassment it so thoroughly deserved.

San Francisco's Department of Public Health, which issues permits for medical marijuana dispensaries, is also befuddled by the federal data.

"It was extremely incorrect," said Larry Kessler, a senior health inspector at the department. "I don't know how they got that." [San Francisco Chronicle]

SF Chronicle obtained the alleged dispensary list from ONDCP and found double listings, closed businesses, and even a business in Los Angeles. With their fraud fully exposed, ONDCP has issued a totally bizarre reply saying it's "good news" that their story got press.

It’s straight-up insane. By the time you get to the part about how many Taco Bells there are in San Francisco, you’ll join me in hoping Sarah Palin is the next drug czar so we can at least get MSNBC to give these clowns the daily fact-checking they deserve.

People Who Punish Other People for Using Marijuana

Here’s a substance abuse counselor describing a new diversion program for marijuana offenders:

"We've had two groups go through the program now, and we are just thrilled with the results we've seen," she said. "Individuals are coming in with no real perception of how marijuana is impacting their lives." [Toledo Blade]

Could it be that marijuana wasn’t impacting their lives? If you forced a bunch of people into treatment for enjoying poetry, they’d be confused too. But after 48 hours of court-mandated therapy, I bet they’d tell you whatever you wanted to hear just to get the hell out of there. People can be terribly insincere when you hold a gun to their head.

I’m not saying there aren’t people who can benefit from marijuana treatment, but rather that having some in your pocket is a wildly insufficient diagnostic criteria for marijuana addiction. That’s like saying you’re an alcoholic if you have beer in the fridge.

And yet, despite the complete lunacy of indiscriminately forcing recreational marijuana users to complete drug addiction treatment, there are some who strongly believe a harsher approach is needed:

Bowling Green Police Chief Gary Spencer said he does not believe allowing people charged with a crime to complete an educational program and have the charge dismissed deters future crime.

"I'm not sold on any diversion program because I think it's a 'get out of jail free' card," he said. "It's giving someone a warning. To me, there has to be consequences for your actions."

No, there don’t have to be consequences for your actions. There just don’t. If someone smokes marijuana 1,000 times and nothing bad happens, then it’s all good. There is no logical reason on earth why there have to be consequences for people who enjoy marijuana. Just leave them alone.

We’ve Cut Cigarette Smoking in Half Without Arresting Anyone

NORML’s Paul Armentano has a good piece at The Hill, pointing out that sensible drug education can be effective without having to arrest anybody. Even if you believe marijuana is the worst thing in the world, you can’t rationally argue that we must arrest people in order to stop them from doing it. It’s an important observation that I hope can be effective when reaching out to folks who hate drugs.

Please consider posting a comment on the original article to show The Hill that marijuana reform is a popular topic. They’ve been cool about publishing pieces from NORML, which is great since their paper is widely read by Washington insiders.

OPNews from the Ohio Patient Network is Back

[Courtesy of Ohio Patient Network] SPONSOR AND PROPONENT TESTIMONY HEARING SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 19 A Sponsor and Proponent Testimony Hearing for SB 343 has been scheduled by the Ohio Senate Criminal Justice Committee for 10:00 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in the North Hearing Room at the Ohio Statehouse. Known as the Ohio Medical Compassion Act, SB 343 would allow patients and their caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana to treat the patients' serious illness. The Proponent component of this hearing will be grounded in testimony from seasoned medical professionals. If you would like to encourage your state Senator to vote for this important legislation, please visit It is hoped that this bill will be accorded swift passage in consideration of the highly successful Michigan Initiative. MICHIGAN LEGALIZES MEDICAL MARIJUANA Before the statewide initiative was started in five citywide medical marijuana votes, medical marijuana won in a landslide (with 62% in Flint in February 2007; with 63% in Traverse City and 61% in Ferndale in November 2005; with 74% in Ann Arbor in November 2004; and with 60% in Detroit in August 2004). All these efforts were spearheaded by Michigan NORML and it's affiliated chapters. Based on these efforts Tim Beck wrote 'Taking the Initiative; A Reformer's Guide to Direct Democracy' online at When the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care launched it's statewide signature drive they sought the help of Michigan NORML. The NORML members gathered a substantial share of the signatures, and then went on to support the initiative in every way possible. They wrote letters to the editor and OPEDs, which were published. They placed thousands of Yes on 1 yard signs. What they did not do was connect their effort in any way at with NORML to preclude any perception that they were really working to legalize marijuana. Thus they set a standard of professionalism for other NORML chapters to emulate. On Election Day, the initiative, on the ballot as Proposal 1, passed by 63% with 3,005,678 Yes votes. It passed in every county in the state. The new Michigan law, now known as The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, will be certified and go into effect later this year. However, implementing regulations to include the patient and caregiver I.D. Card system may take until May of next year to go into effect. Unique among the 13 states with medicinal marijuana laws, covering a quarter of the U.S. population, Michigan's law recognizes the patient identifying documents of the 12 other states. The Ohio Patient Network salutes Michigan activists for their success with the hope that it will catch not only the attention of Congress but also the Ohio State Legislature. MEETING WITH OHIO SENATOR TOM ROBERTS The meeting of Ohio medical marijuana activists, called by Ohio Senator Tom Roberts (D-5), was held on November 6, 2008, in the Senate Minority Conference Room on the Southeast corner of the Ohio Statehouse. Excluding the Senator and his staff, around fifteen people participated in this meeting, including Ohio Patient Network officers Jeff Horvath, Nikki Plassenthal, and Mary Jane Borden, each of whom introduced themselves by their respective titles (Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer) and were recognized by the Senator as such. Others in attendance included Eleanor Ahrens, Christy Becker, Jim Cowen, Tonya Davis, Dennis Day and Dawn Dunlap (Ohio Patient Action Network); Damien Hardy (Senator Roberts' aide), Brian McCann, Cher Neufer, Ed Orlett (Drug Policy Alliance), and Penny Tipps (State street Consultants). Topics covered included LTEs; meetings with editorial boards; consumption (the Senator wanted to know how much patients typically consumed); Marinol and Sativex; possible pharmaceutical industry resistance; and opposition to the bill from government agencies. Medical marijuana advocates should be inspired by the harmony and unified purpose displayed at this meeting. OPN ANNUAL MEETING HELD ON MAY 31, 2008 The Ohio Patient Network held its Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 31, 2008, at the offices of the Columbus Free Press at 1000 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH. Forty-three people participated in this meeting to elect the organization's officers for the coming year. After the meeting, OPN Past President, Mary Jane Borden commented, "This is a very special board. Well over half of the original co-founders came together to seat this board, which includes three of them in the positions of President, Vice President, and Treasurer." Board President Brandy Zink said that she looks forward to setting the organization on a course to better achieve its goals and be of service to patients. "With the introduction of the Ohio Medical Compassion Act, there is a greater need for educational resources from a credible, professional organization such as the Ohio Patient Network. The OPN Board Members are listed at RIGHT, MORAL AND GOOD It has been said that we are living in a time of great change. There are new voices in Washington, the legislature, and even in the world of activism. If we could offer leadership advice at this pivotal moment, we wish that change, which has been given so much lip service, would be based on the principle of right, moral, and good. We encourage leadership to weigh decision making and subsequent action using this three-legged principle. Right, moral, and good means: Right: Right refers to the information on which decisions are made and asks if that fact base is correct. What are the holes in it and where might it be potentially wrong? Is the information on which actions are planned logical? Does it pass the smell or common sense test? Can it be substantiated by independent, third party sources? Right is not a feeling; it is the truth and cold hard facts that withstand repeated tests to discredit them. Moral: Morality concerns principles of conduct. For moral teachings, we often look to the Golden Rule or the 10 Commandments. The Golden Rule quite simply states, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." As most people don't seek harm, we should behave toward others as we would want them behave toward us. The 10 Commandments also provide a moral compass. "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor" - don't lie. "Do not steal" - don't take things that aren't yours. "Do not covet." - don't desire or scheme to obtain that which belongs to another. Morality doesn't equate to any specific religion or doctrine; all religions have their tests of moral conduct. Still, moral conduct pivots on the query: does action find its roots in lies, harm, theft, or greed? Would I want to be treated this way? Good: Good is actually a two-part test. There is the definition of good as beneficial and also good as of high quality. The beneficial test of good deals with well being. Good draws a direct line to positivity, prosperity, health, and vitality. It easily bridges to its benefits to others through the greater good. Good being of high quality equates to functional excellence. When something is good, all parts work, all pieces fit together, beauty radiates, and intended results are achieved. In both definitions, good refers to a plural or to the larger whole. As a two-part test, good asks, is action both beneficial to and functional for the larger whole and for the greater good? The right, moral, and good paradigm of decision making is a three legged stool that will topple when one leg becomes compromised. Actions cannot be moral or good if their fact base is lacking. They are neither right nor good if based in lies, theft, or greed. They can't be right or moral, if they function improperly or harm overall well being. We encourage leadership both nationally and locally to weigh these three tenets in the decision making process and as it considers actions based on this process. If we are to engender change at this pivotal time, then change should mend the rips and tears in our culture. Engaging in thinking that is right, moral, and good - holistically - gives all of us the best chance of achieving the results that we all want and for which we chanted change in the first place. You may wish to read another essay on this topic, "On Harmony," You can also participate in an online discussion about it on our forum at THE OPN WEBSITE AND EMAIL LISTS A Thank You goes out to Jo-D Harrison, our OPN webmaster. While she has made minor changes to the current OPN website she has plans to move the entire website into a more modern webmastering software in the future. Please note that a number pages on the website have yet to be updated. And also Thank You to our listmaster, Richard Lake. We plan to reactivate our discussion list in the near future. If you have questions about our email lists please contact Richard at We are undecided about which direction to take our OPNews email list. Doing a monthly message as we did in the past was very labor intensive. Perhaps it would be better to create and send OPNews as needed. For example, when an actual hearing in the legislature is scheduled. This could result in two or three messages in a month or, rarely, a month with no messages. If you have an opinion or suggestions please email HELP THE OPN SUPPORT PATIENTS The Ohio Patient Network's goal is to provide a voice for Ohio's medicinal cannabis patients and create an environment where this vital medicine becomes an accepted and legitimate therapy. To do this, we need your help. We'd like you to personally become involved in OPN by donating your time. Please check out our various committees on our website. If you'd prefer, you can also support medicinal cannabis and what we are doing by contributing monetarily to OPN. Please note that the Ohio Patient Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in the State of Ohio. Donations to OPN are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. Please visit our website ( and click on the Donate button on any page to make a contribution using your credit card. Please note that these donations will be processed through Paypal. If you would prefer to donate by check or money order, please make them payable to the "Ohio Patient Network" and mail to P.O. Box 26353, Columbus, OH 43216. Thank you for supporting the Ohio Patient Network HOW TO CONTACT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATOR Find your Representative in the Ohio House at Find your Ohio Senator at Write to your officials care of their district office, or send your letter to their Columbus office at: The Honorable (name) Ohio House of Representatives 77 South High Street Columbus, Ohio 43266-0603 -or- The Honorable (name) Ohio Senate Building Columbus, Ohio 43215 Telephone calls and emails are also persuasive, especially when the constituent contacts the district office.
United States

Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition 2008 Fundraiser Party

Come join the celebration! There will be hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, a silent auction, and friends... For more information, including a printable ticket, see
Wed, 11/19/2008 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
186 Fountain St.
Providence, RI
United States

Police Should Enforce Laws, Not Complain About Them

On Monday, I wrote about angry cop Jim Carnell, who attacked Massachusetts voters for supporting marijuana decrim. Yesterday, Boston Herald ran this response from NORML’s Paul Armentano:

Am I the only one who is troubled to learn that a public servant like Jim Carnell has such a low opinion of those he’s paid to protect ("Everybody musn’t get stoned," Nov. 8)?

According to Carnell, those 2 million Bay Staters who decided in favor of Question 2 are “starry-eyed nitwits” and those 100 million Americans who have ever tried pot are "cretins."

And the author’s home state is a national "laughingstock" because its voters enacted common sense pot policy that is nearly identical to the laws in Mississippi and Maine. Sorry Jim, but the joke’s on you!

It’s true and the more I think about it, the more crazy Carnell’s rant really is. He all but wishes out loud for the new policy to cause problems. Ideally, the law will work well, and even police should be hoping for a positive outcome, right?

If it turns out that marijuana decrim doesn’t create major problems, then everybody wins. And I’m quite sure that’s exactly what will happen, so long as Jim Carnell and his colleagues don’t find a way to screw this up.

Europe: Czech Lower House Approves Lower Marijuana Penalties

The Czech lower house of parliament Tuesday approved changes in the country's penal code that distinguish between hard and soft drugs and make possession of small amounts of marijuana only a low-level offense. The reform must now pass the upper chamber and be signed by the president of the republic.
Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Under current Czech law, the production and sale of any sort of illicit drug is punishable by five to fifteen years in prison. Under the reforms approved by the lower house, while those possessing more than personal use amounts of most drugs would face up to two years in prison, those found possessing large amounts of marijuana would face up to one year in prison and those caught growing larger amounts of pot would face up to six months.

The Czech government has already issued a draft decree effectively decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, including up to 20 joints or three pot plants, 25 magic mushrooms, 0.3 grams of Ecstasy and morphine, 0.2 grams of heroin, a half-gram of cocaine, and 0.005 grams of LSD. But that draft is not yet binding on the courts.

Passage of the reform measure didn't come without clashes among junior members of the ruling coalition. The Greens proposed the complete legalization of marijuana use and production for adults, while the Christian Democrats argued against any differentiation between soft and hard drugs. Both those measures were rejected.

Europe: Swiss to Vote on Marijuana Decriminalization, Heroin Prescription

Swiss voters will go to the polls November 30 to decide whether to approve marijuana decriminalization and the government's ongoing "four pillars" drug strategy, which includes the prescription of heroin to hard-core addicts. A Swiss Broadcasting Corporation poll late last month showed the decriminalization effort in a virtual dead heat, leading 45% to 42%, with 13% undecided, while the referendum on the broader strategy appears headed to easy victory, with 63% in favor, 20% opposed, and 17% undecided.

The referendum on marijuana policy envisages its legalization for personal use, with its cultivation and sale being regulated by the state. It comes a decade after Swiss voters narrowly rejected a similar proposal. An attempt to decriminalize through parliament failed in 2004.

While the vote on decriminalization looks to be close, the effort is supported by a 1999 government advisory committee report and the governing coalition, and it is picking up some unexpected allies. Regulation would protect young people, argued the Social Democrats. Somewhat surprisingly, the effort is also supported by the center-right or libertarian Radical Party and the respected daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, which described both the decrim effort and the amended drug law as steps in the right direction.

"A policy which is only based on abstinence, bans and repression ultimately leads to more spending on welfare. It also is against the spirit of liberalism and leaves no room for people to take responsibility for themselves," the newspaper editorialized.

But not everyone is jumping on the decrim bandwagon. The rightist Swiss People's Party remains staunchly opposed. "Switzerland would become the drug Mecca of Europe," said People's Party parliamentarian Andrea Geissbühler.

The government's four-pillars drug strategy appears much less controversial, especially after a decade of pilot heroin prescription programs that have proven effective. Even the grassroots of the rightist parties approve, according to the poll.

"The number of drug-related deaths per year dropped from 400 at the beginning of the 1990s to 152 last year," said Felix Gutzwiller, a Zurich Radical Party senator, adding that each year some 200 addicts graduate from heroin maintenance to methadone maintenance. "It is telling that drugs issues are no longer top of the list of public concerns, unlike 20 years ago," he said.

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