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Marijuana: Washington State Decriminalization Bill Wins Committee Vote

A bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Washington state was approved by the state Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The measure now heads for the Senate Rules Committee, which must also approve it before it can head for a floor vote.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/washingtonstatehouse.jpg
Washington State House, Olympia
The bill, SB 5615, reclassifies adult possession of no more than 40 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime carrying mandatory jail time to a civil infraction imposing a $100 penalty that can be paid by mail.

A companion bill, HB 1177, has been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, where it has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing. If a hearing isn't held by next Wednesday, the effort will be effectively dead because that's the day by which bills must be passed out of committee.

Twelve states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, the most recent being Massachusetts last November. A decriminalization bill is also being considered this year in New Hampshire.

Marijuana: Zogby Poll Shows Majority Support for Taxing and Regulating Marijuana on the West Coast, Support Climbing Nationwide

Support for taxing and regulating marijuana has climbed above 50% on the West Coast, according to a national poll of 1,053 registered voters. The poll was conducted by Zogby International and was commissioned by California NORML and Oakland's Oaksterdam University.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/marijuana-plants.jpg
marijuana plants (photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia)
The poll found that 58% of West Coast respondents agreed that marijuana should be "taxed and regulated like alcohol and cigarettes." Only 36% of West Coast respondents disagreed.

On the East Coast, 48% supported legalizing marijuana. In the south and central US, support fell to 37%. Overall, 44% of respondents nationwide agreed that pot should be taxed and regulated.

That's roughly in line with a CBS/New York Times poll earlier this month that found 41% of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, up from just 27% in 1979. That, said national NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre, is a good thing.

"Public support for replacing the illicit marijuana market with a legally regulated, controlled market similar to alcohol, complete with age restrictions and quality controls, continues to grow, and appears to have achieved majority support on the West Coast -- where many voters are already familiar with the state-licensed use and, in some cases, sale of medical cannabis," he said.

"As voters and legislators continue to look for alternative ways to raise tax revenue for public services and reduce law enforcement costs in this troubled economy, we expect the public's support for taxing and regulating cannabis to continue to grow -- not just on the West Coast, but nationwide."

Study: Marijuana Users Less Likely to Get Injured Than Non-Users

A new study from Switzerland looked at substance use among people admitted to the hospital with injuries. Not surprisingly, people who'd been drinking alcohol were more likely to get hurt than those who had not. But what about marijuana use?

Conversely, cannabis use was associated with significantly lowered risk of injury. Whereas the risk for injuries associated with the use of less than a pipe or joint’s worth were not significantly different from the on associated with no use,  relative risks decreased with increasing levels of use… [BioMedCentral]

Not only were marijuana users less likely to be injured than non-users, but risk of injury actually decreased with larger doses. It's incredible. But my point here isn’t that the more pot you smoke the safer you'll be (although that is what the data suggests). It was a small sample and I kind of doubt that continued research would confirm a massive reduction in risk of injury among marijuana users.

What matters here is that marijuana clearly doesn't raise your risk of doing something stupid and busting your head open or whatever. What better indication of this could there be than the fact that people who show up all bloody at the emergency room are disproportionately not high on pot?

The researchers note that marijuana use may sometimes take place in safer environments than alcohol use and that marijuana users as a group might be more careful to avoid risks while under the influence. I'm sure both of these points are correct, but to really sum all this up: marijuana just doesn’t make you do dumb shit.

The widely-disseminated notion that marijuana leads to impaired judgment is simply false. Thus, I'm tempted to conclude that much of the propaganda aimed at associating marijuana with risk-taking behaviors has been motivated by cynicism on the part of our opposition, namely to the effect that they recognized -- and sought to preemptively obscure -- the relative safety of the drug.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me in the marijuana debate is the extent to which anti-pot propaganda is not only false, but is in fact often the precise opposite of the truth.

Media Advisory: New Jersey Senate to Vote on Medical Marijuana on Monday, February 23

[Courtesy of Coalition for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey, Inc.] 

FOR IMMEDIATE Release: February 19, 2009

For more information, contact: Ken Wolski @ (609) 394-2137

New Jersey Senate to Vote on Medical Marijuana

WHO:      State Senators in New Jersey

WHAT:   Will vote on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (S119)

WHEN:   Monday February 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM

WHERE: Senate Chambers of the New Jersey State House in Trenton, NJ

WHY:       To advance a bill that will protect seriously ill or injured New Jersey patients who use therapeutic marijuana on the advice of a licensed physician. 

The New Jersey State Senate will vote on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" (S119)  on Monday, February 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM in the State House Senate Chambers in Trenton, NJ.  Many supporters of the bill plan to attend the voting session, led by the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ).  New Jersey would become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana by passing this legislation into law.

S119 will remove the state penalties for the possession, use and cultivation of a small amount of marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for a debilitating medical condition.  Qualifying medical conditions include chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, etc.  Patients will be issued ID cards in a program run by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).  Patients will be permitted to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of marijuana, but they will not be permitted to use their therapeutic marijuana in public or while operating motor vehicles.  Patients may designate a caregiver or treatment center to grow the plants for them, but the caregiver/center must also register with DHSS.  CMMNJ Executive Director, Ken Wolski, RN said, “The bill is very conservative.  No medical marijuana state has a smaller plant limit or possession amount.  Still, it will help a tremendous number of patients here.”  The American Nurses Association, the American College of Physicians, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine and many other professional healthcare organizations have endorsed medical marijuana. 

S119 was originally introduced by Senator Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, in January 2005, and was referred to the senate health committee.   Hearings were conducted on the bill in June 2006 and in December 2008, at which time the bill was favorably released out of committee by a 6 – 1 vote.  If the bill passes in the senate, it will then go to the assembly for votes by the health committee and the entire assembly.  Governor Jon Corzine has said on several occasions that he supports medical marijuana and that he will sign the bill when it gets to his desk. 

CMMNJ, 501(c)(3) public charity, provides education about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
844 Spruce St., Trenton, NJ  08648
609.394.2137 www.cmmnj.org   ohamkrw@aol.com

This link from the Drug Policy Alliance allows personalized e-mails to be forwarded to all NJ State Senators:

http://dpa.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=9921.0&dlv_id=24781

Location: 
Trenton, NJ
United States

Tour For Compassion

Get your bicycles ready, a couple spare tubes and tires.. We are going to ride across the United States again for medical marijuana patients' rights and freedoms. Clearly we have seen the efforts of those who have, for the past 70 years, misinformed and false educated the world that Cannabis/Marijuana does not have medical uses, or medical properties and the benefits of cannabis is it natural form, is not possible...they are so mistaken. On April 7, 2006 we (Journey for Justice Seven), rode from Folly Beach, SC to San Francisco, CA. We met and saw so many great people that come out and supported us. From young to old, smokers and non smokers, lawyers, store owners, park rangers, police officers, doctors, moms, dads, and grandparents signed our truck. So much was accomplished by a small group, and so many medical testimonies where recorded by Mark Pedersen, driver of the Journey for Justice Seven support truck, and the world now gets to know what medical patients are going though on a daily basis and how medical cannabis has helped relieve so much pain and suffering that goes on every day. Show your support, help how you can, with the next epic journey across our country. Let's change the laws together, for the good of humanity -- with enough people together, anything can be done. If you want your state or town to be on the route, please share your request ASAP!! The route is growing and building, getting detailed as the days and weeks pass. For more information and complete details, contact Tonya Davis at 937-479-0461, 937-435-7922, or tonyadavisis@hotmail.com.
Date: 
Fri, 05/15/2009 - 12:00pm
Location: 
Blaine, WA
United States

Press Release: House Committee Passes Medical Marijuana, 9-6

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
FEBRUARY 18, 2009

House Committee Passes Medical Marijuana, 9-6

CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- Minnesota's medical marijuana bill, H.F. 292, cleared its first hurdle in the House of Representatives today, passing the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee in a vote of 9 to 6. The vote came after medical marijuana patients and others testified to the relief provided by medical marijuana when conventional treatments had failed.

    "Before medical marijuana, I was in such pain I had no life," said K.K. Forss of Ely, who suffers chronic, severe pain as a result of a ruptured disk in his neck and repeated surgeries on his neck and upper spine. "It was so horrible I wanted to die every day. No one should have to face a choice between suffering unbearably and risking arrest and jail."

    Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), sponsor of the bill, hailed the vote, saying, "Today's vote is an important step toward protecting seriously ill Minnesotans. The evidence is clear that medical marijuana can help some patients who suffer terribly, and it's time to protect these patients from arrest and jail."

    "This sensible, humane, bipartisan bill is modeled after laws that have been working well for years in states like Montana and Rhode Island," said Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan). "We should not be using our scarce law enforcement dollars to arrest suffering patients for using a medicine their doctor has recommended."

    Thirteen states, comprising approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population, now permit medical use of marijuana under state law if a physician has recommended it. The newest such law was enacted by Michigan voters last November, passing with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote. Medical organizations which have recognized marijuana's medical uses include the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and American College of Physicians, which noted "marijuana's proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity," in a statement issued last year.

####

Location: 
St. Paul, MN
United States

Free Screening of "Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine, and the Law"

*FREE REFRESHMENTS* Joining us for the screening of "Waiting to Inhale" is the mayor of Cliff Village, MO, Joe Blundell. An open forum will follow the movie where he will talk about his recent village ordinance that made Cliff Village the second municipality in MO to approve of medical marijuana, after Columbia in 2004. See more info on his story here: http://www.joeblundell.blogspot.com/ OR AT http://www.joplin-norml.org Let's all invite a couple people and get a great turnout at this event. All you gotta do is: 1> Go to the event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=65379801150 2> Click on "Invite People to Come" 3> Add some friends 4> Click on "Send Invitation" The best way to spread the word is for everyone to tell at least one person (preferably more!) Bring your friends! Waiting to Inhale examines the heated debate over marijuana and its use as medicine in the United States. Twelve states have passed legislation to protect patients who use medical marijuana. Yet opponents claim the medical argument is just a smokescreen for a different agenda-- to legalize marijuana for recreation and profit. What claims are being made, and what are the stakes? Waiting to Inhale takes viewers inside the lives of patients who have been forever changed by illness—and parents who lost their children to addiction. Is marijuana really a gateway drug? What evidence is there to support the claim that marijuana can alleviate some of the devastating symptoms of AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis? Waiting to Inhale sheds new light on this controversy and presents shocking new evidence that marijuana could hold a big stake in the future of medicine. Attendees will also hear details and be encouraged to mobilize and get active in contacting their elected representatives regarding Missouri's just introduced medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 277, an act to exempt qualified medical cannabis patients from state arrest and prosecution. Visit this site to take action on HB 277: http://joplin-norml.org/support-medical-marijuana-in-missouri.php For more information, contact Kelly at 417-291-0135 or kelly@joplin-norml.org. For more information about Waiting to Inhale, visit the film's official website at http://www.waitingtoinhale.org/.
Date: 
Thu, 02/26/2009 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: 
300 S. Main Street
Joplin, MO
United States

Support Safe Access for the Seriously Ill - Benefit Concert

A Benefit for Berkeley Patients Group's James R. Russell Memorial Hospice Program. A Program that brings free medicine to those who need it most. Featuring Elevation 42, Rachel Levant, and Jon Perri. A $12 donation to a fantastic cause gets you in! The Starry Plough http://www.starryploughpub.com/history/ http://www.myspace.com/rachela_l http://www.myspace.com/jonathanperri For more information, contact Jon at 401-265-9445 or jon@ssdp.org. The BPG is a medical cannabis collective organized to serve patients in the Greater Berkeley area. We provide safe and affordable access to a wide variety of medication, including dried herbs, edibles, extracts, and concentrates. Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) is one of California's largest and most respected medical cannabis collectives. The BPG has provided safe access, fair prices, and a 2,500 square foot community center to thousands of Northern California patients since 2000. Our management team has over 50 years of collective experience in medical cannabis provision, grass roots activism, public education, and cannabis law reform efforts. The BPG is committed both to providing safe access -- and to protecting it. We strive to operate a dispensary that is a model of compassion and legal integrity. The BPG operates in strict compliance with the letter and the spirit of California's medical cannabis laws.
Date: 
Thu, 03/05/2009 - 8:00pm - 11:59pm
Location: 
3101 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA
United States

Peaceful Protest for Charles C. Lynch and Medical Marijuana

PLEASE JOIN US! Show your support for Charles C. Lynch, his family & the hundreds of others facing Federal prosecution. On Aug 5, 2008, Charles C. Lynch was found guilty of 5 cannabis-only felonies and faces up to 100 years in federal prison: *DESPITE the fact that he called the DEA before opening his dispensary & they told him, "It's up to the cities and counties to decide how to handle that [medical marijuana dispensary] matter." *DESPITE the fact he followed ALL his "Medical Marijuana Dispensary" Business license requirements, city regulations, county restrictions and CA STATE LAW! Come attend a PEACEFUL protest that will let Federal official & local representatives know that taxpayers & voters will NOT tolerate local cooperation with DEA raids & Federal disregard for the California State Law. MEDICAL CANNABIS www.friendsofccl.com Watch Drew Carey's Project/Reason.tv episode "Raiding California" featuring Charles C. Lynch: http://www.friendsofccl.com/2008-06-11_reasontv.htm ***This is a NON-MEDICATING EVENT that takes place on federal property & is subject to Federal & State Laws. Please leave your medication at home or in the trunk of your vehicle before attending event! *** Even if you are a qualified California medical marijuana patient you could be arrested for possession on federal property. It's against BOTH federal & STATE law. Please be safe. IF YOU WERE IN CHARLIE'S SHOES.... WHAT WOULD YOU WANT YOUR SUPPORTERS TO DO FOR YOU?!
Date: 
Mon, 02/23/2009 - 12:00pm
Location: 
Corner of Main St. & Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
United States

Action Alert: Protest Rule Changes for Medical Cannabis Caregivers

Action Alert: Protest Board of Health Proposed Rules Changes for Medicinal Cannabis Caregivers Compiled by: Colorado Citizens for Compassionate Cannabis March 2: Written Comments Deadline Feb 20: Pre-Public Hearing "Conference" and Silent Protest March 18: Public Hearing The Colorado Board of Health is proposing sweeping new rules to regulate medical cannabis that contradict the intent of Article 18, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution, Colorado's medical cannabis law that was approved by voters in 2000. These proposed rules only serve to make it more difficult for patients to get their medicine by forcing them back into the black market. The Board of Health should be compassionate and helpful towards these sick and dying people and not put more obstacles in their way. Currently, patients with a debilitating medical condition and approval of their physician may legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants. If they are unable to grow the medicine themselves, the Constitution allows them to appoint a primary caregiver to provide the medicine for them. The Constitution does not set limits on how many patients for whom a person can be the caregiver, nor does it set limits on the type of person that can be considered the patient's caregiver. The Board of Health's proposed new rules set limits on caregivers that are clearly unconstitutional. 1) The Board of Health wants to require caregivers to provide other services to the patient besides cannabis-related ones. The other services required would amount to those of a full-time nursing assistant and would have to include transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping and making medical care arrangements for the patient. Currently, a person can be a medicinal cannabis caregiver without providing other services. The Constitution only states that the caregiver must have "significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient", which would include providing them with medicine. It does not impose any other requirements on caregivers 2) The Health Department is proposing a 5-patient-per-caregiver limit on the number of patients for whom a caregiver could provide. Currently, a caregiver can provide for many patients. Most patients do not have the knowledge or are too sick to grow their own cannabis. It takes years of practice to learn how to grow an adequate supply of cannabis for one patient with only the 6 plants allowed by the Constitution. Cannabis cultivation experts have been enlisted to serve as caregivers and have not been limited on how many patients they are able to serve. As reported in Westword, therapeutic cannabis dispensaries have formed all over Colorado to provide for multiple patients. The dispensaries are able to produce medicines in quantities large enough to keep the cost to the patient at a minimum and to create edible forms of cannabis, such as cookies, brownies and other foods. Cooking with cannabis requires a much larger amount of the raw substance than smoking cannabis does. However, eating medicinal cannabis food is a far healthier way to ingest the medicine than inhaling its smoke is, especially for those with chronic conditions. In fact, having caregivers provide for multiple patients has been the only way that poorly-written Article 18, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution has worked at all. At the time, the out-of-state authors of Colorado's Medicinal Cannabis Law were widely criticized for not addressing the issue of cannabis dispensaries clearly enough and for not providing any legal way for patients to obtain medicinal cannabis outside of the black market. This left a gray area in the law that the Health Department has since tried to exploit in order to deny patients their Consitutionally-protected medicine. In the nine years since the law was approved by voters, the state of Colorado has been more concerned with putting roadblocks in the way of patients instead of trying to help implement the law. The possible upcoming change in federal policy concerning medicinal cannabis makes it the perfect time for Colorado to develop a plan to provide safe access to cannabis for patients. President Obama has made repeated campaign promises that he would stop the federal prosecution of cannabis patients and create a "green economy." . Recently, the White House reiterated their intention to change federal policy to allow states to regulate cannabis without federal intervention. In light of this new federal policy, it is time for Colorado to regulate medicinal cannabis statewide in a way that provides safe and inexpensive access to cannabis. The Colorado Board of Health should be issuing rules that encourage and regulate cannabis dispensaries, just like any other pharmaceutical manufacturer. Or alternatively, they could enlist the aid of the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Ag School at CSU to create a regulated state-run cannabis dispensary program. We are urging Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to form the Colorado Therapeutic Cannabis Commission, as described in the Compassionate Therapeutic Cannabis Act, an initiatve that was proposed as an alternative to the flawed Article 18, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution. The Colorado Therapeutic Cannabis Commission would be a statewide panel of experts charged with the duty of ensuring patients can obtain an affordable and adequate supply of therapeutic cannabis. The key to successful implementation of Article 18, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution is to put the patient first and find a way to provide them with medicine in a safe and cost-effective manner without endangering them by forcing them to deal with the black market. How You Can Help March 2: Written Comments Deadline 1) Submit your comments in writing to by March 2 to: Colorado Board of Health C/O Linda Shearman Program Assistant Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South EDO-A5 Denver, CO 80246-1530 FAX: 303-691-7702 Email: linda.shearman@state.co.us Sample wording: I strongly oppose creating any limits on the number of patients a caregiver may provide for. I also strongly oppose limiting the types of people that may be considered caregivers. These new rules will make it more difficult for patients to obtain their medicine. Colorado should be trying to help patients instead of trying to limit their sources of medicine. You can read the full rules for commenting. Feb 20: Pre-Public Hearing "Conference" and Silent Protest 2) Attend Pre-Hearing "Conference" AND Pre-Hearing Silent Protest Friday, Feb. 20 Time: 2:00 p.m Apparently the Board of Health thinks the Public Hearing will be contentious, so they are having a "pre-hearing conference" to establish procedures for how they will control the public at the public meeting on March 18. The Board of Health announcement says "no public testimony concerning the rulemaking proposal will be taken at the pre-hearing conference." So we are encouraging people to wear cannabis clothing or T-shirts with messages, and use other means to send a silent protest to the Board of Health as they try to figure out how they will deal with all the angry patients at the public hearing. Location: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Sabin-Cleere Conference Room Bldg, A., First Floor 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246 March 18: Public Hearing 3) Attend the PUBLIC HEARING Rules and Regulations pertaining to the Medical Use of Marijuana Wed., March 18 Hearing starts at 1:00pm, but *** Please arrive by noon to get a seat and sign up on the comment sheet. Verbal testimony by the public may be limited to 5 minutes or less and will be taken in order of the sign-up sheet. Location: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Sabin-Cleere Conference Room Bldg, A., First Floor 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246 ________________________________________ For more information, see: Denver420.com http://www.denver420.com/ Notice of Rule-Making Meeting http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/bh/hearingnotices/UPCOMING0309.pdf Proposed New Rules http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/bh/hearingnotices/MedicalMarijuanaDraft_... Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hs/medicalmarijuana/marijuanafactsheet.html Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/ Westword: Medical marijuana has become a growth industry in Colorado By Joel Warner February 04, 2009 http://www.westword.com/2009-02-05/news/medical-marijuana-has-become-a-g...
Location: 
CO
United States

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