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Iowa's Board of Pharmacy Public Forum/Hearing on Medical Marijuana

The state Board of Pharmacy will hold the first public forum before it makes a final decision on the use of medical marijuana. Three more hearings will take place later this year in Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and in Mason City. Once all hearings are complete, the Pharmacy Board will make a recommendation to lawmakers on whether medical marijuana should be legalized. For more information, contact: tel: 515-281-5111 or Sarah.Macht@iowa.gov. Specifically, the Board is seeking information including, but not limited to, the following: * Marijuana's actual or relative potential for abuse * Marijuana's pharmacological effect * Current scientific knowledge regarding marijuana * The history and current pattern of abuse of marijuana * The scope, duration, and significance of abuse of marijuana * The risk to the public health from moving marijuana to a different controlled substance schedule * The potential of marijuana to produce psychic or physiological dependence liability, and * Whether marijuana is an immediate precursor of a substance on some other controlled substance schedule The Board is interested in hearing from medical practitioners including physicians, mid-level practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, and hospice workers; patients; care-givers; law enforcement personnel; regulatory agencies; legislators; educators; scientists; researchers; other interested parties; and members of the general public.
Date: 
Wed, 08/19/2009 - 10:00am - 7:00pm
Location: 
600 East Locust
Des Moines, IA 50319
United States

Book Premier: "Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?"

Three of the nation's most successful marijuana policy reform organizations will come together at the Oaksterdam University Student Union in Oakland to premier the highly acclaimed new book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? Co-authors Mason Tvert (of SAFER) and Paul Armentano (of NORML) will be on hand to discuss Marijuana Is Safer, beginning at 6 p.m., followed by a session of Q & A and time for book-signing. More information on Marijuana Is Safer is available at http://www.MarijuanaIsSafer.com. About the Book Nationally recognized marijuana-policy experts Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert compare and contrast the relative harms and legal status of the two most popular recreational substances in the world-marijuana and alcohol. Through an objective examination of the two drugs and the laws and social practices that steer people toward alcohol, the authors pose a simple yet rarely considered question: Why do we punish adults who make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol? Marijuana Is Safer reaches for a broad audience. For those unfamiliar with marijuana, it provides an introduction to the cannabis plant and its effects on the user, and debunks some of the government's most frequently cited marijuana myths. For current and aspiring advocates of marijuana-law reform, as well as anyone else who is interested in what is becoming a major political battle, the authors spell out why the message that marijuana is safer than alcohol must be a prominent part of the public debate over legalization. Most importantly, for the millions of Americans who want to advance the cause of marijuana-policy reform-or simply want to defend their own personal, safer choice-this book provides the talking points and detailed information needed to make persuasive arguments to friends, family, coworkers, and elected officials. About the Authors Steve Fox is the Director of State Campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the nation's largest organization dedicated to reforming marijuana laws. From 2002-2005, he lobbied Congress as MPP's Director of Government Relations. He cofounded Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) in 2005 and has helped guide its operations since its inception. He is a graduate of Tufts University and Boston College Law School and currently lives in Maryland with his wife and two daughters. Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the NORML Foundation. A recognized national expert in marijuana policy, health, and pharmacology, he has spoken at dozens of national conferences and legal seminars and has testified before state legislatures and federal agencies. He appears regularly on Drew Pinsky's nationally syndicated radio show, Dr. Drew Live, and his work has appeared in over 500 publications. Armentano is the 2008 recipient of the Project Censored Real News Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. He currently lives in California with his wife and son. Mason Tvert is the cofounder and executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) and the SAFER Voter Education Fund. He appears frequently in the news and travels the country promoting the "Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol" message. He resides in Denver, where he serves on the city's Marijuana Policy Review Panel appointed by Mayor John W. Hickenlooper. Advance Praise for Marijuana Is Safer "The follies of marijuana prohibition have never been laid bare with more erudition and plain common sense. Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? is a book every citizen needs to read, and a question we all have to raise our voices to ask." -Barbara Ehrenreich, bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation "Finally, a book that confronts the half-baked hallucinations of a drug policy gone mad. If you are one of the millions of Americans who support keeping marijuana illegal but enjoy a good beer, glass of wine or cocktail now and then, I suggest you read Marijuana is Safer, rehab your mind, and get high on the facts. If, on the other hand, you already believe our marijuana laws are illogical, this book will give you hope that change is in the air--and show you how you can do your part to push it along." -David Sirota, nationally syndicated columnist and bestselling author of The Uprising and Hostile Takeover "I have always maintained that the legalization of marijuana would lead to an overall drop in substance abuse in this country. In particular, the option of legal marijuana use, as an alternative to the death and violence associated with alcohol use, would be a welcome societal change. Surprisingly, though, there has never been a book dedicated to conveying this basic idea to the public. But with Marijuana is Safer, now there is. Kudos to Fox, Armentano, and Tvert for their remarkably insightful and important book." -Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico "Our current draconian laws prohibiting the use of marijuana by responsible adults are doubly flawed. Not only does such prohibition violate fundamental freedoms but also, as this book documents, it undermines personal health and public safety. Regardless of your views on the civil liberties issues, this book should convince you of another compelling justification for marijuana law reform: that it will promote health and safety for all of us, including our nation's children." -Nadine Strossen, former President, American Civil Liberties Union, and Professor of Law, New York Law School "From my own work and the experiences of other members of the law enforcement community, it is abundantly clear that marijuana is rarely, if ever, the cause of disruptive or violent behavior. That marijuana causes very little social harm is reason enough in a free society to legalize it for adults. But as Steve, Paul, and Mason so brilliantly demonstrate in this book, an even more persuasive reason is that by prohibiting marijuana we are steering people toward a substance that far too many people already abuse, namely alcohol." -Norm Stamper, former Chief of the Seattle Police Department "I took great pride in my performance on and off the field, and often questioned why our culture embraces alcohol while simultaneously stigmatizing those who choose to consume a less harmful alternative, marijuana. Marijuana Is Safer makes an irrefutable case for liberating current cannabis policy by comparing and contrasting its use with that of alcohol. This outstanding book makes it clear that it is inconsistent, both legally and socially, for our laws to punish adults who make the 'safer' choice." -Mark Stepnoski, five-time NFL Pro Bowler and two-time Superbowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys "In a society too often paralyzed by fear when it comes to finding smart solutions to our failed drug war, Marijuana Is Safer offers a pragmatic way forward. The authors offer a new and common sense approach to marijuana policy--one that is motivated not by incarceration or punishment, but by reducing the overall harm to our society." -Rick Steves, travel guidebook writer and TV and radio host
Date: 
Tue, 08/04/2009 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: 
1915 Broadway
Oakland, CA
United States

Will Foster: Habeus Corpus Hearing

Please come show your support for Will Foster. Judge Antolini will hear arguments in the case that determines whether Will is sent back to Oklahoma. It is important for people to be in the courtroom. Publicity does affect court decisions. Will needs your support, so help bring attention to his case. Please email me at angelabacca@gmail.com if you have any questions about Will and his case. Angela Bacca (510) 533-0605 ext 5# For more information, see: www.edrosenthal.blogspot.com
Date: 
Tue, 08/04/2009 - 1:30pm
Location: 
600 Administration Drive Court Room 3, Judge Antolini
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
United States

Marijuana: Decrim a Done Deal in Cook County

Last Friday, Drug War Chronicle reported that the Cook County (greater Chicago) Board had passed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance Tuesday, but that there were mixed signals from Board President Todd Stroger about whether he would sign it or veto it. After equivocating for a couple of days, however, Stroger has told the Chicago Tribune that he will not veto decriminalization.

The measure will go into effect in unincorporated areas of Cook County in 60 days. It will not automatically go into effect in towns and cities in the county, but it will give those municipalities the option of adopting it. Under the ordinance, police officers will have the option of issuing $200 tickets for people caught in possession of 10 grams or less instead of arresting and booking them.

The move has caused some controversy in Illinois, with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who once supported decriminalization, ridiculing it, and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) offering tepid semi-support. Five years ago, Daley supported decrim as a revenue enhancement measure and because "it's decriminalized now... they throw all the cases out."

But Daley was singing a different tune this week. "People say you cannot smoke... They said, 'Please don't smoke.' Now, everybody's saying, 'Let's all smoke marijuana.' After a while, you wonder where America is going," the mayor said. "Pretty soon, the headline [will be], 'Let's bring cigarettes back. It makes people feel calmer, quieter, relaxing.'… We said you cannot smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is bad for you. Now all the sudden, marijuana smoking is good for you. Can we take Lucky Strikes, mix 'em together and say, 'Smoking is coming back in the United States?'"

The mayor continued to confuse lessening the penalties for pot possession with advocating its widespread use in his remarkably incoherent remarks. "The issue is really clouded. It's a health issue. We're worried about health care for everyone and, all of the sudden, we think marijuana smoking is the best thing if someone drives down the expressway, someone's driving a cab, someone's driving a bus, someone's flying a plane. After a while, where do you go?" the mayor said.

Gov. Quinn, for his part, suggested that he is open to local decriminalization ordinances, but declined to actually endorse the Cook County Board vote. "I think it's important that counties assess what their law enforcement priorities are," he told Chicago Public Radio. "Crimes that are not grievous crimes against persons need to be looked at," he added.

Medical Marijuana: Maine Activist Headed for Prison

Longtime Maine marijuana and medical marijuana advocate Donald Christen is headed for prison. The Maine Supreme Court Tuesday rejected his appeal and he will have to report for an eight-month sentence soon. Christen was sentenced to 14 months, but six months were suspended. After he does his time, he will serve two more years on probation.

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Don Christen
Christen was arrested after a November 2004 raid on his home in Madison in which police seized 13 marijuana plants and 22 ounces of marijuana. He was charged with two counts of aggravated trafficking in marijuana and one count of aggravated cultivation, but ultimately convicted only of the cultivation offense.

Christen had argued he "was growing marijuana legally as a designated caregiver for several people who qualified as eligible patients pursuant to Maine's medical marijuana statute." A Somerset County jury disagreed.

Christen appealed, arguing that the trial judge had improperly instructed the jury regarding the applicability of an affirmative defense for medical marijuana. But in its decision, the Supreme Court held that the judge's instructions were correct.

Feature: Two Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Have Been Filed in California for Next Year's Ballot

Last month, Drug War Chronicle reported that cannabusinessman and dispensary operator Richard Lee, creator of Oaksterdam and founder of Oaksterdam University, had assembled a team of activists, attorneys, political consultants and signature-gathering pros for an initiative to tax and regulate marijuana in California they hoped to place on the November 2010 election ballot. Drug reform organizations were apprehensive, however, worrying the proposed initiative was too soon, the polling numbers weren't high enough, and that a loss could take the steam out of the legalization push for years to come.

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Is reefer madness (e.g. marijuana prohibition) winding down?
Lee has pushed forward, such concerns notwithstanding; on Monday he and Oakland medical marijuana pioneer Jeff Jones filed the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.

And then there were two. On July 15 -- two weeks prior, but with less heraldry -- a trio of NORML-affiliated Northern California attorneys filed the Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010.

To avoid confusion, we'll refer to the second as the Omar Figueroa initiative (coauthored by Joe Rogoway and James Clark) and the first as the Richard Lee initiative.

"Cannabis prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, is an expensive and ineffective waste of taxpayer money," said Figueroa.

"California's laws criminalizing cannabis have failed and need to be reformed," said Lee. "Cannabis is safer than alcohol. Cannabis doesn't cause overdose deaths or make people violent like alcohol. It makes sense to regulate cannabis like alcohol, instead of prohibiting it completely."

The Figueroa initiative is broader and would bring complete legalization under state law, while the Lee initiative would create semi-legalization, allowing adults to possess up to one ounce and grow their own in a 5' x 5' garden space. The Figueroa initiative would allow the state of California to tax marijuana sales, while the Lee initiative would allow cities and counties to tax marijuana sales. The Figueroa initiative would end marijuana prohibition statewide, while the Lee initiative would give cities and counties the local option to tax and regulate or not, but would also provide that people could still possess and grow the specified amounts even in locales that opt out of regulating.

"Our initiative repeals cannabis prohibition; Richard's just narrows the scope," said Figueroa, a San Francisco attorney specializing in medical marijuana and marijuana cultivation cases. "People would not be free to possess more than one ounce and there would be limitations on growing your own. And our initiative is going to have that big economic impact statement for the state budget that Richard's will not," he said.

"We worked for many weeks with Richard on his initiative, and we support both, but we think ours would result in more far-reaching change and would generate money for the state through tax revenues," Figueroa added. "We want to stimulate debate and provide an alternative to Richard's initiative, which we don't think would create enough change."

The initiative effort is moving forward and preparing to begin signature-gathering, said Figueroa, but its prospects are iffy. "We don't have the deep pockets Richard has," he said.

Lee has signed a $1.05 million contract with a signature-gathering organization and says he has already raised half of that sum. "We are confident we will be on the ballot," he said. "Then we need to raise another $10 to $20 million to win, depending on the opposition."

The initiatives come as the noise level around marijuana legalization in California grows ever louder. An April Field poll put support for legalization at 56%. Gov. Schwarzenegger said this year that the issue should be discussed, and the state Board of Equalization's estimate that legalization could generate $1.4 billion in revenue for the state has generated considerable interest. That estimate was a response to a bill before the legislature, Rep. Tom Ammiano's AB 390, which would legalize marijuana and allow the state to tax it.

Meanwhile, voters in Oakland last week overwhelmingly supported a special dispensary tax, another Richard Lee effort. And now the Los Angeles city council is considering doing the same thing.

The Figueroa initiative would appear to have more appeal to hard-core marijuana legalizers, but the Lee initiative has more money behind it and is more likely to actually make it to the ballot. That is making the Lee initiative the subject of more discussion as to its likelihood of passage. That discussion in turn has opened a window on just how complex the issues around legalization are, how difficult it is to create a "perfect" legalization initiative, and how difficult it is to decide if this is the time to act or whether it would be premature.

The major national marijuana and drug reform groups are generally skeptical that a legalization initiative can win in California in 2010. They also worry about the impact of a defeat on the movement.

"We're concerned about the timing and we're not sure it's the best worded initiative," said Dan Bernath, assistant communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It is getting the conversation about marijuana policy reform going, but we're concerned it could set the movement back if it loses. We're more interested in Ammiano's bill," he said.

"We would like [the Lee initiative] to win," said Steven Gutwillig, California State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, whose funding of Proposition 215 helped make medical marijuana legal in the state, "and we're not that concerned that losing would be an enormous setback to the movement unless it really loses big. We are looking to end marijuana prohibition as quickly and effectively as possible, and if this is the way to do it, we're all for it."

But unlike the Prop. 215 effort, DPA will be cheering from the sidelines. "We're not an official proponent of this and we're not in a position to fund a campaign of this scale anytime soon," said Gutwillig. "We're still relatively fresh from the $7.5 million campaign to pass Proposition 5 sentencing reforms, which didn't go the right way."

Lee is optimistic, and he thinks that now, rather than 2012 as others have suggested, is the time. "We have poll numbers that show a majority, and we have the terrible economy working for us," he said. Lee pointed to the budgetary crisis afflicting California cities and counties, which lost big in the latest state budget. "The governor and legislature stole a bunch of money from the cities and counties, and this could help them recoup some of the money they're losing," Lee argued.

Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML, worries the lack of a provision for taxation directly by the state will hurt the initiative at the polls, even if the potential revenues for counties and cities are equivalent. "The state always writes a financial analysis on initiatives, and I suspect this one will say uncertain or none." Gieringer pointed to the Board of Equalization's $1.4 billion estimate. "The tax benefits make this a sexy issue, and sacrificing that sacrifices most of the appeal of legalization to non-users."

Still, if it's happening, CANORML will support it. "We support anything that improves the marijuana laws," said Gieringer. "There is a lot of enthusiasm right now, and people want to do something for legalization."

"Omar Figueroa and Richard Lee are both pushing the envelope," said national NORML head Allen St. Pierre, who was more sanguine about the effort than MPP or DPA, though only slightly. "These initiatives are a good thing; I just don't know if they will be successful. Even if they aren't, they will move the ball forward on the public discussion of the issue. When we have public discussions about reform, the longer and deeper the discussion, the more it breaks toward reform."

The Lee initiative in particular is a harbinger of things to come and demonstrates changing dynamics within the California marijuana reform movement, said St. Pierre. "What is really changing drastically is that this will be driven by cannabusinesses' ability to raise and spend money, not by one or two elite wealthy people whose stake in this is magnitudes less than say, Richard Lee, who has created Oaksterdam."

There is another reason for the local option, said Lee. "It gets us around federal law. We don't have any other way until federal law changes because the state would be in conflict with federal law. But we had cities taxing medical marijuana outlets; that's why we wrote it that way."

Will the competing initiatives both make it to the ballot? If they do, can they win? Will it fly in Fresno? Will the threat of an initiative spur the legislature to act on the Ammiano legalization bill? Stay tuned. It looks like very interesting times are ahead.

Want to Prevent Marijuana Growing on Public Land? Legalize it

The widespread destruction of our national forests caused by illicit marijuana cultivation is becoming a bigger story every summer. The problem just keeps getting worse and it seems that Mexican cartels aren’t the only ones cashing in on it:

Forest Service law enforcement staff was doubled from 14 to 28 agents in California between 2007 and 2008, said spokesman John Heil, resulting in the eradication of 3.1 million marijuana plants in the last fiscal year.

Congress is responding too, with a recent $3 million supplemental appropriation secured by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that allowed the Park Service to add 25 new law enforcement officers to its Pacific Region parks…[New York Times]

The more marijuana gets planted, the more jobs are created for people to cut down the plants, which causes still more marijuana to get planted. The harder you try to put a stop to this, the worse the damage gets. The cops doing this work won’t hesitate to tell you that there's more of it every year. We haven't even scratched the surface of how bad it's going to get:

"As more pressure happens in California, they're going to start looking at Oregon, Nevada and Idaho," said Krogen, of the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew. "Then they'll start looking at the Southeast too, closer to distribution."

Does anyone really believe that law enforcement is going to solve this problem? I'm sure going on treasure hunts in the woods is a popular assignment, but I have a hard time believing that these guys actually think they're accomplishing anything.

The bottom line is that legalization is absolutely the only option that exists for controlling where, how, and by whom marijuana is grown. I hope it won't require the permanent destruction of precious natural resources across the country to illustrate that fact. It never ceases to amaze me that all of this is happening because the government won’t let people grow their own marijuana.

More Evidence That Marijuana Prevents Cancer

Paul Armentano at NORML has the details. He rightly points out that we can only imagine how much progress could have made towards developing promising marijuana-derived treatments if the government and the press hadn’t spent the last several decades trying to vilify marijuana instead of examining its potential.

It's a plant, and like other plants, it's here to help us. It's probably just a matter of time until marijuana's full potential as a cancer cure is discovered, and when that happens, the consequences of decades of mindless anti-pot propaganda will be revealed like never before.

Trick Question on the DEA Job Application?

Anyone applying for a job at the Drug Enforcement Administration must answer this question:



That's funny, I thought there was no such thing as "legally prescribed" marijuana under federal law. Either this is an idiot test for prospective applicants, or we've come so far that the DEA is beginning to lose track of its own ideology.

Cop Accidentally Reveals the Wisdom of Marijuana Legalization

As the call for legalization continues to reverberate louder than ever before, the hired soldiers in the war on drugs are seeking to defend their livelihood with arguments of unprecedented desperation and incoherence:

Legalization is not the solution, [statewide CAMP Commander Michael] Johnson said, given that most of the pot is being grown illegally on public parkland by foreign citizens who cannot be taxed. [San Francisco Chronicle]

You won't have to tax them because they'll be out of business. No one's going to buy some crappy weed that's grown illegally and destructively in our national forests if there's an alternative. The instant you allow California's legions of skilled and socially conscious marijuana growers to operate in a regulated and legitimate environment, everything ugly and uncontrollable about the state's marijuana industry will change overnight.

Just watch how he proves my point:

"I've been doing this for five years, and there just seems to be more and more of it everywhere," Johnson said. "We don't even bother with medicinal grows. What we're concerned about is the destruction of the habitat."
See how he admits that the "medicinal grows" are not what's causing the problem? That's because they're legal and regulated. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

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