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CO: Vote on Medical Marijuana POSTPONED


Grassroots power forces Board of Health to postpone vote on medical marijuana


March 18 Hearing date is delayed

GOOD NEWS!    The Colorado Board of Health has officially postponed its vote on restricting medical marijuana patients rights.  This vote was previously scheduled for March 18th and will be moved to a date to be announced-- likely in June.

This delay is a direct result of the overwhelming grassroots response the Board received when it announced this vote-- including the hundreds of emails and letters sent by supporters like yourself.  

After receiving this response, the state decided to delay the vote to secure a room large enough to accommodate the many, many patients and supporters that care about this issue.  

Click HERE to support Sensible Colorado's important-- and effective-- work.   

On behalf of Colorado's over 5000 medical marijuana patients, thank you for responding to Sensible Colorado's action alerts (and those of our partners at MPP, ASA, SAFER, and Norml). 

For now, medical marijuana patients in Colorado can breathe a sigh of relief.  But we will need your help again in June.  Keep an eye out for further action alerts and donate today to support our work.  Every dollar we raise allows us to keep fighting this threat to safe access.   

In solidarity,

Brian Vicente

Executive Director  

United States

Feature: Citing Startling Research on False Positive Drug Tests, Researchers Call for Moratorium on Field Drug Test Kit Testing
from left: Ron Obadia, Nadine Artemis, John Kelly, Adam Eidinger, Rob Kampia, Omar Bagasra
The National Press Club in Washington, DC took on the aspect of a chemistry lab for a short while Tuesday afternoon as scientists and researchers sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project gave a startling demonstration of false positive drug test results obtained using some of the most widely used field testing kits employed by law enforcement to detect the presence of marijuana and other drugs.

As a lab-coated and rubber glove wearing researcher from the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology dumped a sample of oregano into a field test kit, Mintwood Media's Adam Eidinger produced a positive test result for cocaine with another kit simply by exposing it to the atmosphere. "This is just air," Eidinger said, opening up a test and waving it as the reagent turned orange, indicating a positive result. (See the YouTube video here.)

The testing done at the press conference replicated that done earlier by the researchers, who found that a surprisingly large number of common substances generated false positive results for the presence of drugs. "While testing the specificity of the KN Reagent test kits with 42 non-marijuana substances, I observed that 70% of these tests rendered a false positive," said Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the Center for Biotechnology, who conducted the experiments.
field test generating false positive from mere air
""That's just outrageous," exclaimed Eidinger.

That research came as part of new report, False Positives Equal False Justice, by forensics expert John Kelly in collaboration with former FBI chief scientist and narcotics officer Dr. Frederick Whitehurst. In the report, the pair uncovered "a drug testing regime of fraudulent forensics used by police, prosecutors, and judges which abrogates every American's constitutional rights," as Kelly wrote in the executive summary.

"Law enforcement officials, forensic drug analysts, and prosecutors knowingly employ the flawed Duquenois-Levine and KN Reagent tests as well as mere conclusory police reports to wrongfully prosecute and convict millions of individuals for anti-marijuana law violations," Kelly wrote. "These wrongful prosecutions and convictions violate Supreme Court rulings which prohibit the use of inaccurate, nonspecific tests and/or conclusory reports because they do not prove the presence of marijuana in a seized substance. In other words, millions of people have been, and continue to be, prosecuted and convicted of marijuana charges without proof that they possessed marijuana."
Dr. Bagasra testing the field test on chocolate
Both Kelly and MPP executive director Rob Kampia used the report's findings to call for a moratorium on the use of field drug testing kits. "It is imperative that law enforcement agencies take notice and voluntarily end the use of these flawed drug tests. The essential need of protecting the innocent must outweigh the convenience of a field drug test that only gives accurate information some of the time," wrote Kelly.

"In terms of policy recommendations, it's real simple, no one should be using these faulty field tests, they should be thrown out and the company that's making them should probably be put out of business," Kampia told the press conference. "Natural soap, chocolate and newspaper, among other household items, all will test positive for marijuana and other drugs such as GHB, yet these kits continue to be used in both arrests and prosecutions nationwide. In our society we have the principle that you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. These tests turn that on its head."

ODV, a subsidiary of Forensic Source, manufactures the NIK Narco Pouch 908 and 909 tested by the researchers. The company did not respond to requests for comment by day's end on Thursday. The tests' packaging warns that they can produce false positives, but does not mention that most of their positives are false.
common items that generate false positives (Katie Schuler,
False positive field drug tests can ruin your day. Ask Don Bolles, drummer for the punk band The Germs. He was arrested and jailed for three days in April 2007 because a field test said the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap he had with him tested positive for GHB. That field test was done with the NarcoPouch 928, another in the ODV line. Later testing revealed the 928 would generate false positives with a wide variety of natural soaps, as well as soy milk.

Bryn Mawr honor student Janet Lee was another victim of inaccurate field drug test kits. As she prepared to fly home for Christmas break in 2003, she was arrested at the Philadelphia airport after three condoms filled with flour (she said she squeezed them for stress relief) came up as cocaine on a cobalt thiocyanate (C-T) field test. She spent three weeks in jail facing charges that could net her 20 years in prison before an attorney demanded the drug be retested. Lee collected $180,000 from the city two years later to settle a lawsuit, but still suffered the Kafkaesque nightmare of being jailed.

Lee was lucky. A jail guard recognized her as a volunteer and beat the bushes for a good attorney. It is unknown how many others like her there are who, lacking such resources, either were found guilty or plea bargained to crimes of which they were innocent because of deceptive field drug tests.
the fraudulent field test packets
Another widely publicized incident of bad field drug tests occurred in August, when Ron Obadia and Nadine Artemis were arrested, handcuffed to a chair, and interrogated for hours at the Toronto Airport after their raw chocolate tested positive for hashish with the Duquenois-Levine color chemical test. They were placed in separate rooms and were told that they faced "life in prison" unless they confessed. Each of them was also told that the other already had confessed.

Later lab testing proved it was indeed chocolate, not hash, and the pair were sent on their way. They also accumulated a $20,000 legal bill. To add insult to injury, when the couple tried again to fly to the US three weeks later with their raw chocolate, it again tested positive on the field test kit. This time, Obadia was arrested and charged with hash possession.

Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Advances With Favorable House Committee Vote

For the first time, a medical marijuana bill has won an Illinois House committee vote. The House Human Services Committee voted 4-3 Wednesday to send forward HB 2514, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

Under the bill, persons diagnosed by a physician as suffering a debilitating medical condition and their caretakers would be issued an ID card and placed on a registry run by the Department of Public Health. Each patient could possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana and seven plants. If enacted, the Illinois medical marijuana law would expire after three years and have to be reenacted.

A companion bill, SB 1381, is pending in the state Senate. It is sponsored by former state's attorney Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) and is scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday.

Wednesday's House committee vote came after public testimony from proponents and opponents of the bill. Medical marijuana patient Lucie MacFarlane, 46, of Joliet, told the panel she uses the herb to relieve the constant pain she suffers from neurofibromatosis and a surgery that left her spine fused.

"Doctors need every safe, effective medicine available to them when treating patients with serious conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Jay Riseman, a Springfield physician who testified before the committee. "I've seen medical marijuana work for patients when nothing else did, and I should be able to recommend it to my patients without leaving them vulnerable to arrest and even jail."

House bill sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was perhaps the bill's most ardent advocate. "People cannot get relief in any other place, except totally sedating and debilitating medication that makes them unable to cope with life," he said, pointing to MacFarlane and other patients. "Strong evidence shows that this is very significant help to them in their life, and I don't understand why anybody would be against this," Lang said.

But Lang understood all too well the opposition and blamed posturing politicians looking for any excuse to kill it. Addressing concerns raised by the California experience -- a much more wide open system than that envisioned in his bill -- Lang said the legislation is tightly drafted. "This is a very controlled bill. It doesn't allow anyone to have more than seven plants," Lang said. "Second, we have to be able to trust the medical community." He said there is little outcry when doctors prescribe massive amounts of morphine, Vicodin or codeine to alleviate pain. "It's only when you start talking about cannabis that people start talking about that, because they're looking for an excuse to be against the bill," he said.

Medical Marijuana: On the Move in Minnesota as Second Senate Committee Gives Okay

A bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Minnesota has cleared a second committee in the state Senate, with the Judiciary Committee approving it on a narrow 4-3 vote. A hearing on the companion House bill before the House Civil Justice Committee is expected shortly.

The bill, SF 97, would allow qualified patients or their caregivers to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants. People suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Hep C, or Tourette's Syndrome or a chronic or debilitating disease or its treatment that produces wasting syndrome, intractable pain, severe nausea, seizures, or spasms whose doctors approve of their use would qualify.

A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee vote during the 2007-2008 session, but died without a House floor vote. It faced the strong opposition of law enforcement and a veto threat from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty's position has not changed, but bill supporters are hoping it will.

"I am increasingly confident that this will be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 other states that have acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). "This is an issue where science, compassion and simple common sense come together."

Before voting, the Senate committee heard testimony from opponents and proponents of the bill. "Two puffs, two minutes, and the violent sickness was totally gone," said Kathy Rippentrop, who described her mother's use of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of cancer chemotherapy. "An hour later, Mom was able to have a good meal. The stomach problems from the chemo were totally gone. It also helped her regain a quality of life that allowed her to continue to fight."

And while some worried that allowing for the use of medical marijuana would make law enforcement's job more difficult, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), whose husband died of colon cancer, was not one of them. "We're not talking about getting people hooked on drugs and then going out in the street and, you know, destroying their lives and passing it on to other people," said Prettner Solon. "We're talking about end of life issues -- a last resort for people's suffering."

Europe: Dutch Mayors Say Border Coffee Shops to Close in Bid to Stifle Drug Tourism

The mayors of the Dutch border towns of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom confirmed Thursday that they will shut down all marijuana selling coffee shops in their towns by September 16. They said that by closing the coffee shops they hoped to end the public nuisances created by an influx of some 25,000 non-Dutch pot buyers a week.
Smokey coffee shop in Amsterdam -- not closing down (courtesy
Because of more repressive laws in neighboring countries such as France and Germany, Dutch coffee shops have been a favorite haunt of pot seekers in northwestern Europe. But the huge numbers of foreigners coming to the border towns has created traffic, public order, and other problems. Mayors of other border towns have responded with plans to move coffee houses from city centers to the outskirts.

The conservative Dutch national coalition government, while desiring to see an end to the coffee shops, has committed to taking no action until after new elections in 2010. That leaves the regulatory field to the mayors.

An attorney for coffee shop owners said there was little he could do until coffee shops are actually closed down. "But if you want to change drug policy, you first need to discuss it nationally and also check EU law if you want to discourage European tourists," said Harrie Nieland.

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. Monthly Public Meeting

Please join us at our next meeting! Here's the agenda: 7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve minutes. Discuss: - On to the Assembly! The entire NJ Senate voted to approve “The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” as amended, on 2/23/09, by a vote of 22 – 16. We could not have done this without your support. Now, the final steps to passing this bill into law will be the votes the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and in the full assembly. Contact your assembly representative now. Every major newspaper in NJ has editorially endorsed medical marijuana, polls in NJ show overwhelming public support (70% to 86% in favor), and numerous healthcare organizations support medical marijuana. Gov. Corzine has said that he will sign this bill into law when it gets through the assembly and onto his desk. Let’s get it done. - Chris Goldstein and CMMNJ gave a medical marijuana seminar at Rutgers University/Camden Law School on 2/18/09 thanks to the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter there. Follow Chris’ blogs about medical marijuana in New Jersey including a live blog of the senate vote at Or, listen to the live senate debate and hear CMMNJ’s comments on MyFoxPhillyChannel 29. Medical marijuana was one of the top news stories on WZBN TV-25, New Jersey's Capital News Station on 1/13/09. CMMNJ also appeared on WIFI 1460 AM Talk Radio in Burlington County, NJ on 2/12/09. - The Drug Policy Alliance is running a medical marijuana Compassionate Use Campaign in New Jersey. NORML NJ is also actively supporting the bill, as is the national organization, Patients Out of Time. CMMNJ has new photos, etc. on Facebook and Facebook Friends of CMMNJ. - Treasury report: Help us raise funds by buying Wristbands/$2, T-shirts/$15, Lapel Pins and DVDs/$10 each. Also, consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations may be made securely through Paypal or checks made out to “CMMNJ” and sent to corporate headquarters at the address below. Thank you. 9:00 PM Adjourn meeting. Scheduled Meetings are March 10, 2009, April 14, 2009, & May 12, 2009. CMMNJ Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., NJ (Tel. #609.882.9246). All are welcome. Snacks are served. (Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.) 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
Tue, 03/10/2009 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
2751 Brunswick Pike
Lawrence Township, NJ
United States

Americans for Safe Access March 2009 Activist Newsletter

Americans for Safe Access
Monthly Activist Newsletter

Defending Patients' Access to Medical Marijuana

·    Mar. 2009

  • Volume 4, Issue 3

U.S. Attorney General Says Medical Marijuana Raids Over

Pressure from Advocates Brings Change to Long-standing Policy

The tireless work of medical cannabis patients and activists has begun to pay big dividends in Washington, D.C., with the new Administration's attorney general, Eric Holder, telling a news conference that ending the raids on medical cannabis providers is now government policy.

Attorney General Eric HolderAttorney General Eric Holder and Pres. Obama

ASA members were among the thousands of advocates calling the White House and their elected representatives in the wake of the raids, deluging the administration's website with pleas for policy change, and participating in a large protest at the federal building in Los Angeles.

Holder, appearing at a Washington news conference on Feb. 25 alongside the DEA's current Acting Adminstrator, Michele Leonhart, was responding to a question about whether the DEA raids that have occurred in California since Obama took office last month would continue.

"What the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing in law enforcement," Holder said, noting that Obama is his boss. "What he said during the campaign is now American policy."

During the campaign, President Obama was repeatedly faced with questions about federal interference in the 13 states that have enacted medical cannabis laws. Obama said then that his experience with his mother's death from cancer made him sympathetic with the plight of patients, and that he saw no difference between a doctor prescribing morphine and marijuana. During a March 2007 interview, he also said that he thought it "entirely appropriate" for states to look after the health and welfare of their citizens be legalizing the medical use of marijuana "with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors."

The attorney general's comments follow a White House statement from earlier in the month, in which spokesman Nick Shapiro responded to pressure over recent raids in California.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws" Schapiro said, and that the president's appointees would be expected to "review their policies with that in mind."

The statements this month from the White House and the Attorney General were greeted with relief and jubilation by patients and advocates across the country.

"Americans for Safe Access welcomes President Obama's continued pledge to end federal interference with state medical marijuana laws," said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Government Affairs. "These statements reflect a sea change in federal policy."

ASA, the nation's largest medical cannabis advocacy organization, sent policy recommendations aimed at harmonizing federal and state law and encouraging research to President Obama and Congress earlier this year. More than 72 million Americans live in a state that has enacted laws that authorize the limited use and distribution of cannabis for therapeutic use.

"We look forward to working with the President and his Administration to enact long-term policies that support safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research," said Woodson.

While fierce federal opposition to state medical cannabis programs begun during the Clinton Administration, which threatened to sanction any physicians who even spoke with their patients about the therapeutic potential of cannabis before being rebuffed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the First Amendment rights of doctors in such cases. Under Clinton, civil court action was taken to shut down medical cannabis dispensing collectives.

The Bush Administration pursued a more aggressive policy, raiding medical cannabis dispensaries throughout California, brining criminal charges against more than 100 individuals who were in compliance with state law, and threatening commercial property owners with criminal proceedings and forfeiture of their property for renting to patient collectives. Patients in New Mexico and Colorado were also targeted, though not on a similar scale.

Obama Urged to End Intimidation of Property Owners

The Obama Administration has been asked to stop the Bush tactics of intimidating California commercial property owners who rent to patient collectives that provide medical marijuana.

Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) sent a letter last month to incoming U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, decrying threats by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office against property owners that lease space to state-sanctioned medical marijuana providers. The letter was prepared with assistance from ASA's Washington office.

Since the summer of 2007, the DEA has sent letters to at least 300 landlords in California threatening federal criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture if they continue to lease to medical marijuana dispensaries. The Department of Justice had not acted on the DEA threats until early January, when property owners in Capps' district of Santa Barbara received an ultimatum -- evict their tenants by February 21, or face legal jeopardy.

Capps letter urges the new administration "to act swiftly to suspend the enforcement threats against the property owners in California who are in compliance with local and state law."

Though licensed under a Santa Barbara city ordinance, since the threatening letters were first sent in 2007, most of the dispensaries in Santa Barbara have been evicted by their landlords or have closed voluntarily to avoid legal problems.

Caren Woodson, Director of Governmental AffairsCaren Woodson, Director of Governmental Affairs

"We applaud Representative Capps' leadership in opposing DEA intimidation," said Caren Woodson, ASA Director of Government Affairs. "Given public statements by President Obama and others in his administration about changing medical marijuana policy, these tactics are completely indefensible."

ASA and other advocates estimate that approximately 400 dispensaries help provide medical marijuana to a majority of the more than 200,000 qualified patients in California. In August of 2008, State Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines recognizing the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries and offered a set of recommendation for how such facilities could comply with state law. In 2005, the California Board of Equalization began collecting tax on the sale of medical marijuana, a revenue source for the state budget estimated by ASA at more than $100 million.

Congress Asks DEA to End Monopoly on Medical Marijuana Research

Sixteen Members of Congress Urge Attorney General Holder to change DEA policy

More medical cannabis will be available for research soon, if members of Congress have their way.

After lobbying by ASA, Sixteen members of Congress sent a letter last month to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to act "swiftly to amend or withdraw" an order that significantly curtails medical marijuana research in the United States.

At issue is a 2001 request by a University of Massachusetts, Amherst researcher, Dr. Lyle Craker, to grow pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for federally approved research studies. Currently, many approved studies are unable to proceed for lack of research materials. In February of 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that monopoly should end because expanded medical marijuana research is "in the public interest." The DEA sat on the ruling for nearly two years before rejecting it less than one week before the new administration took office.

For more than forty years, the government has given the University of Mississippi a monopoly on cultivating marijuana for medical research. Not only is this arrangement unlike that for any other controlled substance regulated by the federal government, no other country restricts research in this way.

The Congressional letter authored by John Olver (D-MA) notes the broad scientific and political support for Craker's proposal: "Forty-five members of the House of Representatives and Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, as well as a broad range of scientific, medical and public health organizations including the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation have all written to DEA in support of Professor Craker's efforts."

In her 87-page Opinion and Recommended Ruling, Administrative Law Judge Bittner concluded that the quality and quantity of marijuana supplied by NIDA was inadequate for the level of research that cannabis deserves.

The ACLU, which represents Professor Craker in this matter, is requesting reconsideration and an opportunity to respond to new evidence used by the DEA in its decision.

Maryland Lawmaker Backs State Medical Marijuana Study

Patients, advocates call Maryland law inadequate, seek changes

Maryland has edged one step closer to expanding a state medical marijuana law that advocates say is too limited.

With assistance from ASA, Maryland State Delegate Henry Heller (D-Montgomery County) introduced legislation in February that creates a task force to study the issue.

The bill, HB 1339, would require the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to staff a Governor-appointed task force to evaluate whether the current state law is effective, fair, and equally enforced across all state jurisdictions, among other issues.

Tony BowlesTony Bowles

"Maryland's medical marijuana law is broken," said Tony Bowles, a spokesperson with the Montgomery County Chapter of Americans for Safe Access. "People suffering from serious or chronic conditions are still vulnerable to arrest and prosecution, and are left without a safe, secure way to access physician-recommended medical marijuana."

The Maryland state legislature passed the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act in 2002, requiring state and municipal courts to consider a a physician's recommendation for medical use of cannabis to be a "mitigating factor" in marijuana-related state prosecutions. The law permits an affirmative defense in state court, yet qualified patients may still be convicted and fined up to $100.

Advocates say Maryland's citizens with a physician's recommendation to use marijuana are routinely arrested, prosecuted, and, in some cases, fined more than the statutory $100 limit.

"Maryland's qualified patients in Maryland should not be forced to break the law and use the illicit market to access to the medicine their doctors recommend," said Bowles.

Thirteen other states, containing more than 72 million people, have passed laws authorizing patients living with a serious or chronic condition to use physician-recommended marijuana free from criminal prosecution.

The Maryland chapters of Americans For Safe Access have been working with patients and their supporters bring similar protections to their state.

"Every year, Maryland wastes precious law enforcement resources to investigate, arrest and prosecute scores of people who legitimately use medical cannabis," said Bowles. "We applaud Delegate Heller's proposal and hope this task force will put science above politics, paving the way for much needed changes to a flawed medical marijuana law."

Take A Marijuana Use Survey, Advance Science, Possibly Win iPod or $250 Amazon Gift Card

Want to participate in an anonymous survey that can help advance scientific understanding regarding marijuana use? Want to possibly win a $250 Amazon gift card? How about a free iPod? This survey from NORML advisory board member and university researcher Dr. Mitch Earleywine assesses a number of attitudes and personal preferences. Some questions are directly about marijuana and some are more general beliefs and opinions. the survey also takes a close look at drug and alcohol use, some symptoms of anxiety and depression, and personality characteristics. It’s markedly shorter than surveys in the past NORML’s highlighted and should intrigue most folks in the NORML community. As usual, the survey is completely anonymous, and there’s a chance to win prizes. Registration for prizes comes via a code number generated at the end that participants send to a separate email address, so there’s no way to connect your responses to your email or your identity. Take the survey here (

Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee for the First Time Ever, 4-3

MARCH 4, 2009

Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee for the First Time Ever, 4-3

Patients, Supporters Hail Passage as Important Step to Protecting Seriously Ill Who Use Doctor-Recommended Medical Marijuana

CONTACT: Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747 ex. 2030

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS — The Illinois House Human Services Committee passed a bipartisan bill today, 4-3, that would allow seriously ill patients with certain debilitating conditions who have their doctors’ recommendations to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest. A companion bill, SB 1381, is sponsored by three-term former state's attorney Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) in the Illinois Senate and is expected to receive a hearing in the Senate Public Health Committee next Tuesday.

    HB 2514, the House medical marijuana bill, is sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

    Although this isn't the first time a medical marijuana bill was introduced in the Illinois House, this is the first time a House committee passed such a bill. Advocates hope state lawmakers will note that 63 percent of Michigan voters approved a similar law last November and that a 2008 statewide poll shows 68 percent support among Illinois voters for such a law.

    "Doctors need every safe, effective medicine available to them when treating patients with serious conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Jay Riseman, a Springfield physician who testified before the committee today. "I've seen medical marijuana work for patients when nothing else did, and I should be able to recommend it to my patients without leaving them vulnerable to arrest and even jail."

    With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit


United States

Senate Committee Passes Medical Marijuana, 4-3

Minnesota Cares logo


MARCH 3, 2009

Senate Committee Passes Medical Marijuana, 4-3

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

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- The Senate version of Minnesota's medical marijuana bill, S.F. 97, cleared its second hurdle in the Senate today, passing the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 4 to 3.

     "I am increasingly confident that this will be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 other states that have acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). "This is an issue where science, compassion and simple common sense come together."

     A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee in the 2007-2008 session, but was never brought up for a vote on the House floor. A hearing on the companion House bill is expected in the House Civil Justice Committee shortly.

     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. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed on Feb. 25 that the Obama administration intends to pursue a policy of non-interference with these state laws. Medical organizations that 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.


United States

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