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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.

The Economist Calls Medical Marijuana Patients “Stoners”

Why can’t The Economist acknowledge the political progress of marijuana policy reform without resorting to derogatory stereotypes?

Meanwhile stoners continued their slow, shuffling march to social acceptance. Massachusetts voters decided to downgrade possession of less than an ounce of cannabis to an infraction, punishable by a mere $100 fine. Michigan legalised medicinal marijuana.

Grow up. This isn’t a joke, not anymore. In Massachusetts, voters overwhelming supported reforming harsh marijuana laws that ruin lives. It’s not about getting stoned. It’s about getting an education and getting a job.

In Michigan, voters overwhelmingly agreed that it’s wrong to arrest seriously ill patients for using medical marijuana on the advice of their doctors. What the hell does that have to do with being a "stoner"? Seriously, I’d like to know. This isn’t journalism, it’s childish name-calling.

If anyone remains confused about what marijuana policy reform really is, this ought to answer your questions:

Will Bush’s DEA Launch a Final Assault on Medical Marijuana Before January?

President-elect Obama has pledged to end the federal government’s war on medical marijuana, but he doesn’t take office for several weeks. Meanwhile, the DEA has spent the last 8 years periodically raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California based on undisclosed criteria, stealing money, scaring patients, and even convicting good people on harsh charges for activities that are legal under state law.

So what happens now? With their livelihood threatened, will the bloodsucking narc-warriors dive in for one last bite? They’ve got everything mapped out and they’ve spent years investigating this (which is embarrassingly easy since these are legal, storefront co-ops). No one really knows what the marching orders will be after January, so you can bet there are scores of pissed-off drug cops just dying to throw one last flurry before the bell rings.

You’d think the election of a more supportive president would enthrall the medical marijuana community, but I’m hearing that people on the ground in California are buzzing nervously about the coming weeks with no clear indication of what direction things will go. The potential withdrawal of prosecutorial resources could have a chilling effect, but prosecutions are only one dimension of the problem. Asset forfeiture is another major concern following DEA’s recent threats against landlords, and you can bet there’s no limit to the greed and spite that has defined the federal war on medical marijuana since its inception.

So while I’ll decline to speculate what’s to come, I keep reminding myself that the federal drug warriors’ actions always carry political consequences. These raids have long sought to create the perception of impracticality surrounding state medical marijuana laws, and that strategy has failed. Medical marijuana continues to gain momentum as a political issue, as evidenced by the strong showing in Michigan and universal support from candidates in the democratic primaries.

The faceless drug war army perched over California must consider the ramifications of any ugliness they unleash in the weeks to come, because any action they take will provoke tremendous rallying cries that will surely reverberate all the way to Washington, DC. A final exhibit in the repugnance of the federal war on medical marijuana might be exactly what it takes to bring about the burial of this bullshit once and for all. If DEA wants to play hardball, it would seem wise to wait until the new referee takes the field.

Drug Czar Sets New Standard for Stoner Stereotyping

Just when you thought anti-marijuana propaganda couldn't get any more frivolous and shallow, the drug czar arrives with a new slogan: "Hey, not trying to be your mom, but there aren’t many jobs out there for potheads."

The whole thing is just absurd on its face, released days after a former marijuana user was elected president and weeks after the drug czar’s own blog observed that 75% of illicit drug users have jobs.

These new ads read like a mockery of typical drug czar propaganda, devoid of facts and premised on the self-evidently false proposition that marijuana use is some kind of physical handicap. It is just so over-the-top crazy and childish that I must keep reminding myself that it is the nation’s top drug policy official who is responsible for this.

Angry Cop Insults Voters for Supporting Marijuana Reform

Jim Carnell of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association has come completely unhinged in the aftermath of the decisive victory for marijuana decrim in Massachusetts. Just listen to him trashing Massachusetts voters in The Boston Herald:

Many starry-eyed nitwits wearing rose-colored glasses, who obviously comprise the majority of our electorate, fell hook, line and sinker for this.

Sir, you work for these people. If you hate the community, then quit your job as a public servant. Seriously, it is not everyday that one sees police in the newspaper just talking shit about everybody. It’s ugly and inappropriate, but perfectly illustrative of the enemy mentality our marijuana laws have nurtured between police and almost everyone else.

Carnell goes on to claim that the new law effectively legalizes smoking pot in the streets, because the rules of search and seizure will be turned on their head (and everyone knows police would never circumvent those rules). And he concludes by urging the people of Massachusetts to choke on the miserable smoldering hell they’ve built for themselves.

The great irony of all this is that, while Jim Carnell insists that it’s now legal to smoke marijuana in the streets of Massachusetts, he sounds more than a little inclined to punch you in the face if he sees you doing it.

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