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Is a "Grow Your Own" Marijuana Policy Better Than Legalization?

Mark Kleiman has an interesting post observing the rapidly evolving political climate surrounding marijuana policy reform. He points to recent polling data and observes correctly that we're entering new territory in terms of public attitudes and political opportunities.

Of course, this is a Mark Kleiman post, so there's guaranteed to be something in there that I can't quite wrap my head around. Kleiman condemns the alcohol model, which he says "would provide a strong incentive for the marketing effort to aim at creating and maintaining addiction." He estimates that rates of marijuana addiction would double if it were sold like alcohol, so he proposes this instead:

So I continue to favor a "grow your own" policy, under which it would be legal to grow, possess, and use cannabis and to give it away, but illegal to sell it. Of course there would be sales, and law enforcement agencies would properly mostly ignore those sales. But there wouldn't be billboards.

That beautifully-crafted policy has only two major defects that I'm aware of: it wouldn't create tax revenue, and no one but me supports it…

Well, I'd favor this over our current policy without hesitation, but is Kleiman serious that he only sees two significant flaws in his plan? What about the fact that marijuana would still be sold by criminals? It's the biggest cash crop in America and its distribution (absent for medical use in some states) occurs exclusively on the black market. Even under a "grow your own" model, marijuana entrepreneurs will proliferate. And when their door gets smashed down in the middle of the night, they still won’t know if it's an armed robbery or the DEA. People will still get shot and killed over an otherwise completely non-lethal drug.

Can anything be done about that, Mark?

BREAKING: New Jersey Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

The New Jersey State Senate this afternoon approved the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (S 119) by a vote of 22-16. The measure now goes to the state Assembly, where it faces a committee vote and then a floor vote. If it passes the Assembly, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has indicated he would sign it. The bill would remove state penatlies for marijuana possession, use, or cultivation for patients suffering a qualifying medical condition who have a physician's approval. Qualifying conditions include chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn's Disease. Patients could grow up to six plants and possess up to one ounce. They would register with the state Department of Health, as would any designated caregivers. “The bill is very conservative," siad Ken Wolski, RN, head of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, which is leading the campaign. "No medical marijuana state has a smaller plant limit or possession amount. Still, it will help a tremendous number of patients here. We applaud the senators who supported this bill.”

Press Release: Today First-Ever Senate Floor Vote on NJ Medical Marijuana Legislation

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2009 Contact: Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Rosanne Scotti at (609) 610-8243 First-Ever Senate Floor Vote on NJ Medical Marijuana Legislation New Jersey State Senate to Hold Voting Session on Monday, February 23, 2 P.M. Patients, Doctors and Advocates Are Hopeful As Compassionate Use Legislation Moves Forward Trenton - New Jersey is yet another step closer to becoming the fourteenth state to allow safe access to medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation for qualifying patients. The State Senate will hold a floor vote on Monday, February 23 on Senate Bill 119 (The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act). The voting session is scheduled at 2 p.m. and will take place in the Senate Chambers. Senate Bill 119 would allow patients suffering from certain debilitating and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Medical marijuana has proven efficacious for relief from chemotherapy-induced nausea, muscle spasms, chronic pain, loss of appetite and wasting syndrome. Patients would need a recommendation from a doctor and would need to register with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. When approved, they would receive registration cards indicating that they are allowed to legally possess and use medical marijuana. "New Jerseyans overwhelmingly support this legislation," said Roseanne Scotti, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. "Polling has shown support running as high as 86 percent. This legislation is moving forward because legislators have heard the voices of constituents across the state. For the sake of our most vulnerable, our sick and dying patients struggling for relief, now is the time for New Jersey to join the growing list of states allowing compassionate use of medical marijuana." Senate Bill 119 is sponsored by Senators Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union), Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), Sandra B. Cunningham (D-Hudson), Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), Brian P. Stack (D-Hudson), Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester), Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), and Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex). Senator Scutari explained the need for the legislation. "It is time that we adopt a policy on medical marijuana that reflects both our values and the facts," said Sen. Scutari (D-Union). "I strongly believe that we have a moral obligation not to stand in the way of relief for people who are painfully suffering from chronic and debilitating illnesses. My bill, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, is a common sense measure that places a premium on treatment and relief." Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), one of the primary sponsors of the companion bill in the Assembly, echoed Scutari's strong support for the legislation. "If you can go to your doctor and get a derivative of the poppy to treat pain, why can't you get a derivative of the cannabis plant to treat your symptoms? There is no such thing as an evil plant," Carroll said. "If a doctor using his or her best medical judgment thinks marijuana is the best thing for the patient, he or she should be allowed to [recommend] it." On December 15, 2008, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted S119 out of committee by a 6-1 margin and amended the legislation so it would allow for the licensing of centers where qualifying patients could safely access medical marijuana. Informational hearings on the Assembly companion bill, A804, were held on May 22, 2008 in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and a scheduled vote is pending. Advocates are looking forward to New Jersey moving in the direction of Compassionate Use legislation. Don McGrath, whose son-a cancer patient who suffered from wasting syndrome-found medical marijuana drastically improved his quality of life during his battle, was thrilled that the entire Senate would be considering the important issue of medical marijuana. "If passing this bill could reduce the suffering of just one patient in New Jersey, it would be worthwhile and it would demonstrate the concern the Senate has for their most needy citizens." Dr. Denis Petro, an internationally known expert on medical marijuana who has testified before the legislature regarding the scientific support for medical marijuana, praised the New Jersey State Senate for scheduling a vote on the legislation. "With passage of the legislation, patients with serious and life-threatening disorders can be offered a safe and effective alternative when conventional therapy is inadequate. The bill represents a positive step toward a rational policy regarding medical marijuana," said Petro, a board-certified neurologist in Pennsylvania with more than 25 years experience in neurology, clinical pharmacology and marijuana research. Nancy Fedder, a 61-year-old, who lives with her daughter and two grandchildren, is a retired computer programmer who has coped with multiple sclerosis for 16 years. She tried every legally prescribed medicine her doctors suggested while searching for relief from her symptoms, before she decided to try medical marijuana. Nancy is excited regarding the prospects of medical marijuana access in New Jersey. "I have struggled with terrible muscle spasms, pain and nausea, which at times was complicated by the side effects of my prescribed medications. However, after trying marijuana to treat my symptoms my quality of life drastically improved," said Nancy. "I am so grateful that the Senate will be taking action on this important piece of legislation and hope that they vote in support of seriously ill patients like me." Supporters of the legislation include: the New Jersey State Nurses Association; the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians; the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; the New Jersey League for Nursing; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Southern NJ and Northern NJ chapters; and the American Civil Liberties Union. # # #
Location: 
NJ
United States

Breaking: California Legislator Files "Tax and Regulate" Marijuana Legalization Bill in Wake of Poll Showing Majority West Coast Support

A bill to tax and regulate the production and sale of marijuana will go before the California legislature. At a press conference at his San Francisco offices -- going on right now -- California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano announced he was introducing legislation to do just that. The bill comes as the state is in the grip of a strong economic downturn and a severe fiscal crisis. Estimates of tax revenues that could be generating by regularizing the status of California's leading cash crop range from $1.5 billion to $4 billion a year. A poll by Zogby International, released last week, found majority support on the west coast for the proposed reform. I am currently at the press conference, and will post a more detailed report later today. Phil's report, including pictures from the press conference, is online here. Check back Friday morning at the same URL for a full-length Drug War Chronicle feature story.
Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States

Oregon Medical Marijuana Program 101

Learn the program, learn the law...attend this meeting brought to you by Oregon NORML. In order to attend, you must be a cardholder in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. That card can be a patient, or a caregiver, or a grower, but you must have a card. If you're a patient in a wheelchair, for example, and you bring someone to help you with mobility, that person must have a caregiver card to enter. No card, no entry! As always, you must be in line for the meeting and inside before noon -- the doors lock at noon and no one is admitted after noon. For more details, and frequently asked questions, see http://www.ornorml.org/events/cardmtg.html.
Date: 
Sat, 02/28/2009 - 12:00pm - 3:37pm
Location: 
700 NE Dekum
Portland, OR 97211
United States

Medical Marijuana Week Sat/Sun: Read the Paper, and Respond!

Read the Paper, and Respond!
Medical Marijuana Week - Saturday/Sunday February 21-22

Dear ASA Supporter,

This weekend when you’re reading the Sunday paper, flip to the Letters to the Editor section and skim the opinions of some readers. The Letters to the Editor (LTE’s) section is one of the most widely read, and its how others learn about what issues are important in their area. As someone who cares about medical cannabis, it’s up to you to write one in support! Take some time on Sunday to write and submit a brief LTE to your local paper!

Letters to the Editor are usually short, only a few sentences or a couple paragraphs that stress an issue in a succinct way. Just a couple of talking points is all you need – and opportunities to write a good LTE are all around!

LTE’s that are most likely to get published are ones that “piggyback” off of current events already in the news. For instance, President Obama issued a White House statement earlier this month that was covered by numerous papers across the country. Now is a good time to send an LTE praising President Obama for his statement and connecting it to needed action by the community. Get talking points here!

Also, President Obama continues to appoint officials who will influence medical cannabis policy. Obama’s choice for Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Gil Kerlikowske was the former Seattle Police Chief who worked under and in compliance with the medical cannabis laws of Washington State. It’s a great opportunity to get talking points and write an LTE!

ASA provides an excellen t tool to find contact information for papers in your area. All you have to do is put in your zip code! And also check out ASA’s site for tips on writing LTE’s and keeping them short, succinct, and to the point.

Keep an eye open for other opportunities to write a medical cannabis LTE. State laws, publicized arrests or raids of medical cannabis patients, caregivers, or collectives, public events or hearings related to the issue, and events hosted by the local ASA chapter – all are great subjects for LTE’s!

As a medical cannabis supporter, if you don’t raise your voice on this issue, no one else will. It’s up to you to bring medical cannabis to the attention of your community through local media! Good luck and get writing!

Sincerely,


George Pappas
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

Fighting for Medical Marijuana

You Can Make a Difference

 

Dear friends,

Meet Nancy. She lives with multiple sclerosis and risks arrest every time she uses medical marijuana to relieve her symptoms. Watch this video and make a donation to join us in fighting for medical marijuana.

We are now in an all out push in the New Jersey legislature to relieve the suffering of many people, like Nancy, for whom currently available medicines just don't work. We have an important vote in the senate on Monday and then we'll take this fight to the assembly.


   

DPA Network already passed legislation -- with your help -- in New Mexico, protecting the right of critically ill patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Thirteen states currently allow the use of medical marijuana -- and you are a big part of why we've been so successful.

Please make a donation today. Let's do everything we can to relieve Nancy's suffering. Any amount will help. Bit by bit, state by state, together we are improving the lives of seriously ill patients around the country.

Sincerely,

Ethan Nadelmann
Executive Director
Drug Policy Alliance Network

Location: 
NJ
United States

Medical Marijuana Week, Friday: Connect with a Prisoner of Bush’s Other War

Connect with a Prisoner of Bush’s Other War
Medical Marijuana Week - Friday, February 20th

Dear ASA Supporter,

On February 5th, the White House issued a statement of President Obama’s position on ending federal interference in state medical cannabis laws. But this still leaves innocent people in prison who would have been protected by their state laws, if they had not been raided by the policies of George W. Bush. They’re still in prison, and they need to know we’re behind them. Today, write a short note to let them know they are not alone.

There are many people currently serving time in federal prison for crimes that would have been protected by the medical cannabis laws in their states. Check ASA’s website for a list of individuals currently serving time. You’ll be able to read their stories and write to an individual whose situation really catches your attention.

Find the mailing addresses for these medical cannabis caregiver prisoners here, along with some helpful tips for writing to inmates in federal prison.

When writing to inmates, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

1.    Don’t write about anything illegal or incriminating in the letters

2.    Be yourself, focus on giving them sympathy and emotional support, and try to be understanding about what they may be going through.

3.    Use common sense and be forward and clear with your intentions

It is not only those who are currently serving time that need our support, but also those who have yet to be sentenced or who are currently awaiting trial. If, as Obama says, the federal government stops undermining state medical cannabis laws – then what does that mean for those “in limbo;” those who have already fallen victim to George W. Bush’s war on innocent Americans? Get a list of upcoming court cases here – where you’ll also find additional details and information on individual cases.

In addition, call President Obama to tell him about the status of these cases and ask him to grant pardons or clemency to these individuals. Call 202-456-1111 and use this sample script:

Hi, my name is _____________ and I live in __________. I would like to thank President Obama for agreeing to end federal interference in states with medical cannabis laws. It is a much needed step forward and will help alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Americans. However, there are still many individuals currently serving time in federal prisons or awaiting sentences from federal prosecutions for crimes that would have been protected by the laws in their own states. I ask that the President consider the fate of these people, and whether or not federal prison terms for these individuals is consistent with the White House position on federal interference and the values of the American justice system. Thank you.

Don’t forget that these people need our help. They are political prisoners, and casualties of Bush’s War on Patients. Communicating with one who’s been unjustly imprisoned can be a profound experience.

Sincerely,


Josie Weisbrich
Legal Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

Solidarity Event to Help Protect Safe Access to Medical Marijuana

"Don't let them take away my medicine." - Damien, longterm AIDS survivor Safe access to medical marijuana is in danger! The Colorado Health Department is acting to restrict patient access to medical marijuana. The Board of Health will be voting on a rule which would rip patients out of safe caregiver relationships and force them onto the streets in search of their life-giving medicine. Help us fight to protect patients by: (1) Take one minute to sign this online petition: www.SafeAccessNow.org/COhealth (2) Show your support on March 18 by attending the Hearing where the Board will vote on this rule. What else: This is NOT a rally. This is a formal Hearing and we need supporters to dress nice and act in a professional manner.
Date: 
Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:00pm
Location: 
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246
United States

Safe Access to Medical Marijuana in Danger!

"Don't let them take away my medicine." - Damien, longterm AIDS survivor Safe access to medical marijuana is in danger! The Colorado Health Department is acting to restrict patient access to medical marijuana. In March, the Board of Health will be voting on a rule which would rip patients out of safe caregiver relationships and force them onto the streets in search of their life-giving medicine. Help us fight to protect patients by: (1) Take one minute to sign this online petition: www.SafeAccessNow.org/COhealth (2) Show your support on March 18 by attending the Hearing where the Board will vote on this rule. What: Solidarity event to help protect safe access Place: 4300 Cherry Creek Drive S., Denver 80246 (Colorado Health Department Bldg.) Time: Noon on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 What else: This is NOT a rally. This is a formal Hearing and we need supporters to dress nice and act in a professional manner. (3) Fundraiser: Attend a fundraising concert to support Sensible Colorado's work on behalf of medical marijuana patients. This event starts at 4pm on Friday, Feb. 27th and is at the beautiful Mishawaka amphitheater. Great Music. Great Cause. Show your support.
Location: 
Denver, CO
United States

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