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ACTION ALERT: Statewide Bill Threatens Patient Rights

On Thursday, March 4, starting at 1:30pm, the Colorado State Legislature will hear the first reading of a bill which seeks to regulate dispensaries-- and weaken patient rights.  This bill, HB 1284, which was largely authored by law enforcement, threatens to cripple the state medical marijuana law in a number of ways. (Note a version of this bill will be posted on our website shortly.)

 

Here are a few of the most damaging provisions of the bill:

 

  • Prohibits patients from living near schools.  Patients could not possess medicine within 1000 feet of a school, which means patients could not live near schools.
  • Patients could not join together with family members or others to share grow space.
  • Would allow cities and towns to ban dispensaries-- forcing sick patients to "get on the bus" to find medicine.

 

Here's how you can help fight HB 1284

 

Attend the Thursday Hearing.  Legislators need to hear from patients and professionals about how damaging HB 1284 will be.  This Hearing should begin around 1:30 at the State Capitol in Denver in the Old Supreme Court Chambers (2nd floor).  Please show up, dress nice, and spread the message to "vote no on HB 1284."

 

Call your state legislator

 

Every state legislator should hear how bad HB 1284 is.  You can find and contact your state legislators here.  Note you will need to enter your nine digit zip code to find your state rep and senator.  Find your full zip code here.
Location: 
CO
United States

How Can We Stop Drug Gangs From Growing Pot in the Woods? Legalize Pot

One of the most embarrassingly mindless trends in the mainstream media's marijuana reporting is that of publishing one redundant story after another about the explosion of illegal outdoor cultivation in our national parks, while failing entirely to diagnose why it's happening and how it might be prevented: 

Pot has been grown on public lands for decades, but Mexican traffickers have taken it to a whole new level: using armed guards and trip wires to safeguard sprawling plots that in some cases contain tens of thousands of plants offering a potential yield of more than 30 tons of pot a year.

"Just like the Mexicans took over the methamphetamine trade, they've gone to mega, monster gardens," said Brent Wood, a supervisor for the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. He said Mexican traffickers have "supersized" the marijuana trade. [AP]

This Associated Press report is over 1,200 words long, yet does not contain one single idea for addressing the problem. Not even a stupid hopeless drug war idea like "we need more funding for eradication," or "we need to get everyone to stop using marijuana." Apparently, the AP is simply content to point out to us that our most precious natural resources are being slowly destroyed by Mexican marijuana cartels and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it.

But, of course there is. Illegal outdoor marijuana growing will immediately end the instant it becomes legal for Americans to grow their own marijuana on private property. People don't plant pot in remote wilderness because they like to go hiking. The reason they do it is obvious, but not so obvious that the AP should be forgiven for writing so much without mentioning it.

Marijuana is illegal and until that changes, the problems associated with it will get worse every year. Keep that in mind. As devastating as our marijuana laws are today, they are actually causing greater and greater harm the longer they continue.

Thanks to the Drug War, Innocent People Fear Police

When a mysterious package of marijuana arrived at the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, police arrived moments later and murdered his dogs in a horrible botched drug raid. He was completely innocent, and now other innocent people who receive suspicious packages have to worry about being victimized by law-enforcement:

Sloan and Anderson have a German shepherd named Cheyenne. Sloan said the Berwyn Heights fiasco sprang to her mind the instant her husband told her about the coffee grounds.

"Before he even looked in to see what kind of drugs they were, I called 911," she said. "I told them exactly what was going on. I'm like, I don't want them coming through my door with guns drawn, because I love my dog." [Washington Post]

It's just so tragic that anyone would even have to worry about such a thing. Every single element of this problem is a symptom of prohibition, from the smuggling technique of intercepting packages at random addresses all the way up to the violent raids and dog killings that occur when police crash into private homes with big guns and no proof of guilt. It's a dreadful situation and no one is safe from it.

For more on the horrors of paramilitary policing, here's an interesting piece from Radley Balko and some disturbing news from Pete Guither.

What is Keeping Maryland from Passing a Medical Marijuana Law?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

MARCH 2, 2010

What is Keeping Maryland from Passing a Medical Marijuana Law?

Despite overwhelming public support and virtually no opposition, key officials are still silent about their stance on the issue

CONTACT: Mike Meno, MPP assistant director of communications …………… 202-905-2030

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND — Last Friday, Feb. 26, the Maryland House Judiciary and Health and Government Committees held a public hearing on a bill that would allow chronically ill patients to have safe access to medical marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation—an idea supported by 81% of Americans nationwide, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. Dozens of witnesses—including physicians, patients, and former law enforcement officials—testified in favor of the bill, and no one testified in opposition. Fourteen other states have already passed medical marijuana laws. So why hasn’t Maryland?

         Previous efforts to pass medical marijuana legislation in Maryland all failed to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Del. Joseph F. Vallario , Jr., (D-Dist. 27A, Calvert and Prince George’s Counties). In the past, Del. Vallario has expressed concern over legislation that might clash with federal law. But medical marijuana should no longer trigger such concerns following the October release of an Obama administration memo instructing federal prosecutors not to target medical marijuana patients or caregivers who obey state law.

         Just last week, a poll conducted by Conquest Communications in Del. Vallario’s House District showed support for passing this year’s medical marijuana bill outnumbered opposition nearly 3-1.  

         “Sometimes in an election year you’ll see politicians shy away from controversial issues, but these polls show there’s nothing controversial anymore about medical marijuana – except maybe opposing it,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. “Now that the federal government has given the green light to states to enact medical marijuana laws, there should be nothing stopping Chariman Vallario and others here in Maryland from listening to the will of their constituents.”

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####

Location: 
MD
United States

Which is More Dangerous: Marijuana or Machine Guns?

Via The Agitator, here's another vexing example of the inherent hypocrisy of performing heavily armed SWAT raids in the name of protecting the public:

Police arrested Jonathan E. Whitworth, 25, of 1501 Kinloch Court on Feb. 11 on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and second-degree child endangerment.

SWAT members encountered a pit bull upon entry, held back and then fatally shot the dog, which officers said was acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner.

Whitworth was arrested, and his wife and 7-year-old son were present during the SWAT raid, Haden said. A second dog, which Whitworth’s attorney Jeff Hilbrenner described as a corgi, also was shot but was not killed. [Columbia Tribune]

So this guy is charged with child endangerment for possessing a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, yet police are free to enter private homes and shoot the family pets right in front of innocent children. It seems the only thing dangerous about a small bag of weed is that police might get the mistaken idea that you're a major supplier and raid your home with guns blazing.

As safe as marijuana is, it would be a hell of a lot safer if the cops didn't do these kinds of things.

Tell MTV to "Get Real" on Marijuana

Since 1992, MTV has produced and aired programs like "The Real World," which feature young people consuming large quantities of alcohol and then engaging in reckless, violent, destructive, and oftentimes illegal behavior. Yet it has never once shown a cast member consuming marijuana, which the network almost surely prohibits and undoubtedly discourages. Please visit http://tinyurl.com/y8elkmn and take just a few seconds to sign SAFER's on-line petition calling on MTV to stop driving its cast members to drink and "start getting real." In the real world, millions of people use marijuana and every objective study on it has concluded it is far safer than alcohol for them and society. Yet in "The Real World" and other reality shows like "Jersey Shore," MTV makes sure alcohol is always available in abundance -- and that cast members never make the safer choice to use marijuana instead. Recently, things have gotten more out of control than ever. On this week's episode of "The Real World," an extremely drunken cast member shoved another off the tall ledge of the staircase outside their house, resulting in him being taken away on a backboard by paramedics. And just a couple a months ago MTV's new reality show, "Jersey Shore," received worldwide attention when a drunken young man at a bar punched one of the female cast members hard in the face after she accused him of stealing some drinks purchased by a fellow castmate.* You can help us draw much-needed attention to MTV's dangerous "alcohol only" reality programming by visiting http://tinyurl.com/ y8elkmn today and taking just a few seconds to sign: --- A petition in support of SAFER MTV programming --- Future cast members of "The Real World," "Jersey Shore," and other MTV reality shows should be allowed to use marijuana as a safer recreational alternative to alcohol. In the real world, millions of adults enjoy using marijuana responsibly, and every objective study on it has concluded it is far safer than alcohol both for them and society. Yet MTV embraces -- and often encourages -- the use of alcohol by its cast members, and it prohibits them from making the rational choice to use a less harmful substance instead. "The Real World," "Jersey Shore," and MTV's other reality shows should stop driving cast members to drink and "start getting real."

Medical Marijuana Bill Gets Hearing Today in Annapolis

MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                                                                               

february 26, 2010

Medical Marijuana Bill Gets Hearing Today in Annapolis

HB 712 Would Allow Seriously Ill Patients to Use Medical Marijuana With Doctor’s Recommendation

CONTACT: Mike Meno, MPP assistant director of communications …………… 202-905-2030

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND— Today, the Maryland House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees will hold a hearing to receive testimony on HB 712, a bill introduced by Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) that would make Maryland the 15th state in the nation to have a medical marijuana law. The bill would allow pharmacies or other state-regulated outlets to dispense medical marijuana to patients who receive a recommendation from their doctor.

         WHAT: Hearing on HB 712, a medical marijuana bill in Maryland

         WHERE: Maryland Legislative Services Building—across from the statehouse—in the hearing room

         WHEN: Friday, February 26, 1 p.m.

         WHO: House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

####

Location: 
MD
United States

Colorado Congressman Fights Back Against DEA's Medical Marijuana Raids

The DEA's recent tough-guy tactics in Colorado aren't winning them any friends in the press, the public, or even in politics. Colorado Congressman Jared Polis sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Holder and President Obama demanding that DEA be required to uphold the administration's policy of respecting medical marijuana laws. Here it is in part:

Despite these formal guidelines, Friday, February 12, 2010, agents from the U.S. Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the home of medical marijuana caregiver Chris Bartkowicz in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. In a news article in the Denver Post the next day, the lead DEA agent in the raid, Jeffrey Sweetin, claimed "We're still going to continue to investigate and arrest people...Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law," he said. "The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment."

Agent Sweetin's comment that "we arrest everybody" is of great concern to me and to the people of Colorado, who overwhelmingly voted to allow medical marijuana. Coloradans suffering from debilitating medical conditions, many of them disabled, elderly, veterans, or otherwise vulnerable people, have expressed their concern to me that the DEA will come into medical marijuana dispensaries, which are legal under Colorado law, and "arrest everybody" present. Although Agent Sweetin reportedly has backed away from his comments, he has yet to issue a written clarification or resign, thus the widespread panic in Colorado continues.

On May 14, 2009, Mr. Kerlikowske told the Wall Street Journal: "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country." The actions and commentary of Mr. Sweetin are inconsistent with the idea of not waging war against the people of the State of Colorado and are a contradiction to your agency's laudable policies. [Westword]

Right on. We're witnessing a conspicuous disruption of the White House's carefully crafted effort to reduce controversy in the war on drugs, and it's clear that the silence must soon be broken in Washington. It's easy to say "we're not at war," but until you order the soldiers under your command to lay down their arms, it won't be possible to sugarcoat any of this.

Marijuana: Legalization Bill Reintroduced in California Assembly

Maybe the voters won't have to take things into their own hands this November in California after all. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has reintroduced his marijuana legalization bill, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act (AB 2254).

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/sacramento-jan10-3.jpg
bill sponsor Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, with Dale Gieringer, Stephen Gutwillig and Aaron Smith in background
In a historic first, last session's version of the bill won a 4-3 vote in the Assembly Public Safety Committee -- the first time any legislative committee anywhere in the country has approved marijuana legalization legislation. But the bill failed to get to the floor before the consideration deadline passed.

The bill would "remove marijuana and its derivatives from existing statutes defining and regulating controlled substances" and would instead provide for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to regulate the possession, sale, and cultivation of the herb by people 21 or older. The bill would not affect California's existing medical marijuana law (except perhaps to render it unnecessary).

Under the bill, the ABC would regulate wholesale and retail sales. A special fee would be imposed, with proceeds going to fund drug abuse prevention programs. The bill would also "ban state and local assistance in enforcing inconsistent federal and other laws relating to marijuana."

"It is time to acknowledge that the existing model of prohibition has failed, and that California is long overdue for a public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana that reflects the reality of what is happening in our state," Ammiano said.

Marijuana is California's largest cash crop, with an annual estimated value of $14 billion. In evaluating last session's version of Ammiano's bill, the state Board of Equalization estimated that taxes generated under a legalization and regulation scheme could generate more than $1 billion a year.

"The fact that California's largest cash crop continues to go untaxed and unregulated is astounding, especially in such tough economic times," said Marijuana Policy Project California policy director Aaron Smith in a statement welcoming the bill. "We once again applaud Assemblyman Ammiano on his dedication and leadership on this issue and remain optimistic that 2010 is the year California ends its state's failed marijuana policies."

If the California legislature fails to act this year, it looks extremely likely that the voters will have a chance to vote for legalization in November. Organizers of the Tax Cannabis 2010 ballot measure last month turned in nearly 700,000 signatures, more than 250,000 more than then 434,000 valid signatures needed to make the ballot. That measure awaits certification by state election officials.

Medical Marijuana: Measure Passes New York Senate Health Committee, Assembly Health Committee

The New York Senate Health Committee approved a medical marijuana bill, S 4041-B, on a 9-3 vote Tuesday. The measure now moves to the Senate Codes Committee. The Assembly version of the bill, A 9016, passed out the Assembly Health Committee last month and is now before the Assembly Codes Committee.

The Assembly approved medical marijuana bills in 2007 and 2008, but the measure had never gotten a Senate floor vote while Republicans controlled the state Senate until after the 2008 elections. Last year, the Senate Health Committee passed a bill, but it never got a floor vote as the Democratic leadership in the Senate imploded in bitter infighting.

The bill would allow patients with a doctor's recommendation and state registration or their caregivers to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of usable marijuana, but not to grow it. Marijuana cultivation would be done by registered producers, who would not provide the product to patients and caregivers, but would instead sell it to pharmacies, the state or local health departments, or nonprofit organizations registered as medical marijuana providers.

"We applaud the New York Senate Health Committee members for doing the right thing and taking this important step toward protecting sick and dying New Yorkers from arrest or jail," said Noah Mamber, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. "Let's hope New York legislators will follow the lead of New Jersey, the state next door, which is about to become the 14th state to implement an effective medical marijuana law."

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