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Medical Marijuana: South Dakota Bill Killed, House Votes to Ban Salvia Divinorum for Good Measure

The 2010 South Dakota medical marijuana bill, HB 1127, died a newborn as a House committee voted to table it only a week after it was introduced. The bill failed in the House Health and Human Services Committee on a 9-4 vote after representatives of state law enforcement claimed it would make its job more difficult.
bad legislating in the South Dakota badlands
The committee heard from a number of South Dakota medical marijuana patients, including Gulf War veteran Valerie Hannah of Deerfield. She testified that exposure to chemical weapons during her service left her suffering from chronic pain. Since first trying marijuana in 2001, she said, she had been able to quit using morphine.

"Medical marijuana seems to have been the best pain and anxiety relief I've received in the past 10 years," said Hannah, who was a spokesperson for the failed attempt in 2006 to pass a medical marijuana initiative. That effort garnered 48% of the popular vote.

Sioux Falls MS sufferer Patrick Lynch also testified. He said marijuana eased the symptoms of his disease and the side effects of other treatments he was taking. "By taking a few puffs after I take my shot, which is an injection, it eliminates both the headaches and the nausea that go along with it," Lynch said. "I'm not a pothead. I'm a human being with a disease."

South Dakota Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles McGuigan was much more concerned about potheads than with human beings suffering from disease. He told the panel his office is opposed to marijuana in any form.

The push for the bill came from long-time South Dakota marijuana activist Bob Newland and the organization South Dakotans for Safe Access, who are vowing to put the issue to the voters in another initiative in 2010. During the legislative session, Newland told solons this year was their chance to craft a medical marijuana bill; next year it will be his turn.

A backup bill, HB 1128, which would have allowed an affirmative medical necessity defense, also died this week. It was "deferred to the 41st legislative day" by the House Judiciary Committee. South Dakota's legislative session lasts 40 days.

Meanwhile, the South Dakota House Monday passed a bill, HB 1090 that would place salvia divinorum on Schedule I of the state's controlled substances list. The bill declares an "emergency," meaning it will go into effect 30 days from being signed into law.

"I'd like to have the drug off the street by the end of February", said Rep. Chuck Turbiville (R-Deadwood), the bill's prime sponsor. "It's just finding its way onto the Internet. It's just finding its way onto the street."

At least the House accepted an amendment by Rep. Larry Lucas (D-Mission) that would provide for a misdemeanor possession charge. Under the Lucas amendment, less than two ounces of salvia would be a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

South Dakota looks to be well down the path to criminalizing salvia, joining an accelerating trend among the states.

Job Opportunity: Executive Director, Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, Providence

The Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC) is hiring an executive director for its Providence office.

The executive director will lead RIPAC, both executing day-to-day operations and planning long-term strategic goals. The executive director will develop advocacy strategies and implement campaigns on the state and municipal levels. He or she will manage the organization's office and full-time and part-time staff, and administer the organization's finances and accounting. He or she will also be RIPAC's point person in conducting outreach to the media, other advocacy organizations, patients, caregivers, law enforcement, the medical profession, funders and citizens. This will include scheduling and facilitating educational presentations and patient meetings, and editing print publications and web pages. The executive director will secure RIPAC's six-figure annual budget through grants and donations. The successful candidate will enter training May 1, 2009 and assume full responsibility August 1, 2009. This is a full-time position with an annual salary of $40,000 plus flexible health benefits.

Qualifications include a college degree or equivalent experience, with preference given to candidates with backgrounds in law, law enforcement, or medicine; excellent organizational skills and attention to detail; excellent interpersonal communication skills and proven ability to quickly build and maintain relationships with individuals in medical, legal, and government settings; reliable access to a car and the ability to travel within Rhode Island as needed; excellent writing skills; and proficiency with Microsoft Office (including Word, PowerPoint, Excel). The ability to speak Spanish is an advantage, but is not required, and experience maintaining web sites in HTML is an advantage, but is not required.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, and two professional references to RIPAC at or 145 Wayland Avenue, Providence, RI 02906. Applications will be accepted until February 28, 2009.

The Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC) is RI's grassroots medical marijuana community of patients, caregivers, and advocates. RIPAC connects and educates patients, doctors, nurses, lawyers, police, reporters, and legislators about medical marijuana in Rhode Island. RIPAC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Visit for further information.

Alert: Keep the Promise, President Obama -- Stop the Medical Marijuana Raids!

One of President Obama's campaign promises last year was that he would stop the DEA's cruel and senseless raids on medical marijuana clinics. But less than two weeks since he took office, such raids have already been conducted on two occasions, hitting several clinics in the Los Angeles area last Tuesday.

We are hoping this is just Bush administration holdovers at work, and an administration spokesperson yesterday had encouraging words to this effect in the media -- change is coming on this issue, the Obama administration says. Follow the link below to our feature report to read more.

In the meanwhile, patients and the people who serve them are being subjected to continued injustice. Please click here to e-mail President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to ask them to take action now to stop the raids sooner rather than later. Don't just click, though, use the phone too -- the White House Comment Line is at (202) 456-1111 (be persistent, it's pretty busy right now), and the Attorney General's office is at (202) 353-1555.

If you are on Facebook or might want to be, please click here to sign our petition to President Obama on this issue. Please forward both of these links to your friends too.

Click here to read our feature story on this week's raids and the administration's encouraging response.

Thank you for taking action to bring positive change to US drug policy now!

Drug Raids: Virginia Man Found Guilty of Manslaughter in Shooting of Police Officer Battering His Door Down

A Virginia jury on Wednesday convicted Ryan Frederick (see his MySpace page here)
of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a police officer during a no-knock drug raid. Prosecutors asked for and the jury recommended a 10-year prison sentence for the 28-year-old resident of Chesapeake. The trial judge will make a final determination in a May hearing.

The jury did not convict Frederick of capital murder as prosecutors had sought. Nor was he found guilty of marijuana production -- the police raid was in search of an alleged grow -- but only of possession of a small amount of pot.

On January 17, 2008, local police executing a search warrant based on the word of questionable snitch -- who admitted burglarizing Frederick's home days earlier -- began breaking down Frederick's door. Saying he thought he was under assault from violent unknown intruders, he picked up his rifle and fired a shot through the door, killing Officer Jarrod Shivers, whose job it was to break down doors during raids. As Frederick put it himself in a jailhouse interview shortly after the incident:

Frederick said he was sleeping in a back bedroom because his job as a soft drink merchandiser required him to get up early. His dogs, Dora and Bud, were in the house. He woke up because his dogs "were barking like crazy. They're going like really crazy, so I grab my gun. As I'm walking through the hall, someone comes busting through my door."

Intruders were pushing through the bottom panels of the four-panel door, he said. The lighting in the house was dim. Frederick said he didn't hear anyone say "police" or see identification.

"I was like, 'Oh, God, if I don't shoot, then he's going to kill me'... I think I shot twice. I can't remember. It happened so fast. All I know is the gun jammed."

Frederick said he then went back to the bedroom to get a telephone. When he realized police were outside, he walked out of the house and surrendered.

In tears at times, Frederick said he doesn't grow or sell marijuana. He had a smoking bong and a small bag of marijuana, he said.

The raid and its unfortunate outcome for all involved added to rising concerns among civil libertarians and drug reform advocates about the apparently routine resort to SWAT-style tactics employed against small-scale drug offenders and, all too often, completely innocent parties.

The particulars in this case also raise serious questions about the quality of justice in that particular part of Virginia. For a closer look, try Radley Balko's detailed coverage for Reason magazine's Hit & Run blog here.

The case isn't over yet. Frederick's attorney said an appeal was definite.

Yes you did - Obama vows to end raids

Dear friends:

More than 10,000 of you have written President Obama and Congress to ask that the president send a clear signal to Bush holdovers at the DEA about their continuing raids against medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

It worked:

On the front page of the Washington Times today, a White House spokesman said:

“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind."

Your letters paid off. Would you take one minute to use MPP's easy online system to e-mail the president and thank him for his commitment to protecting medical marijuana patients?

Change is happening, and you're a part of it.

Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

White House Says Medical Marijuana Raids Will End

Friends, this is a moment we’ve been anticipating for a long time:

The White House said it expects those kinds of raids to end once Mr. Obama nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said. [Washington Times]

It looks like we’re on the verge of a major victory for state medical marijuana laws. For over a decade, this battle has raged from the hills of California to the Nation’s Capital. It has been a defining cause, not only for the medical marijuana community, but for drug policy reform as a whole.

There is no question that a great many challenges remain in our path, but let’s all take a moment to reflect on the fact that our president is poised to order the DEA to stand down. That is not something that happens easily or often. Today’s news suggests the pending culmination of a substantial effort by a broad coalition that is frequently perceived to lack meaningful political leverage. The political landscape is changing before our eyes and I believe we have much to look forward to.

(Please participate in our online action alert and our Facebook petition on this issue.)

Protest Rally Against DEA Raids

While the DEA continues to stage medical marijuana raids in California, nearly three-quarters (72%) of voters think President Obama should honor his campaign pledge to end the raids, according to a poll of 1,053 likely voters by Zogby International. Please join us for this rally/protest! For more information, contact Dale Gieringer at or (415) 563- 5858.
Thu, 02/05/2009 - 12:00pm
255 E. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Press Release: Poll -- 72% Want Obama to End DEA Medical MJ Raids

For Immediate Release: February 4, 2009 Contact: Dale Gieringer, Coordinator, California NORML (415) 563-5858 Zogby Poll: 72% of Voters Want Obama to End DEA Medical Marijuana Raids Los Angeles Protest Rally - Thurs. Feb 5th, Noon, Federal Courthouse While the DEA continues to stage medical marijuana raids in California, nearly three-quarters of voters think President Obama should honor his campaign pledge to end the raids, according to a poll of 1,053 likely voters by Zogby International. In a question sponsored by NORML, voters were asked: During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said he would stop federal raids against medical marijuana providers in the 13 states where medical marijuana has become legal. Should President Obama keep his word to end such raids? Response: Yes - 72%, No - 21%, Not sure - 7%. Yes votes outnumbered No by over 2 to 1 in all geographic, political, and demographic groups. The poll, conducted January 29-31, had a margin error of +/-3.1%. In view of Obama's pledge to end federal medical marijuana raids, advocates have been disappointed by the fact that they have continued since Jan. 20th. Yesterday, the DEA raided four LA-area medical marijuana dispensaries: Venice Alternative Healing, Marina Caregivers, Alternative Caregivers Discount Dispensary, and the Beach Center Collective (contrary to initial reports, a fifth dispensary wasn't raided). The raids were all "smash and grab" operations, in which agents took medicine and cash, destroyed surveillance cameras, and grabbed computers, but did not arrest anyone. California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer denounced the DEA for "unprofessional and piratical conduct" and is calling on supporters to urge President Obama to end the raids. A rally to protest the DEA raids will be held on Thursday, Feb 5th at noon at the LA federal building, 255 E. Temple St. -- Dale Gieringer - California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 -

Michael Phelps Faces Possible Prosecution for Bong Hit

I swear, if you give these drug war idiots enough rope…

Authorities will file criminal charges if the investigation determines that they are warranted, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"If someone breaks the law in Richland County, we have an obligation as law enforcement to investigate and to bring charges," Sheriff Leon Lott said in a statement.

"The Richland County Sheriff's Department is making an effort to determine if Mr. Phelps broke the law. If he did, he will be charged in the same manner as anyone else. The sheriff has a responsibility to be fair, to enforce the law and to not turn a blind eye because someone is a celebrity." [CNN]

Yeah, right. Because I’m so sure that if a picture of some random dude taking a bong hit showed up on the sheriff’s desk, he’d put his best detectives on the case immediately. The rank stupidity of this was summed up nicely by Whoopi Goldberg of all people:

Elisabeth Hasselbeck is turning Michael Phelps into her own personal crusade: This morning on The View, she started hammering away at the alleged-bong-hitting Olympic star for his "illegal action," saying his example "takes the wind out of any mom trying to teach her children" good values.

"If he wasn't  Michael Phelps, wouldn't he be in jail?" she added.
"No," said Whoopi Goldberg, "because [if he wasn't Phelps], his picture wouldn't have been in the newspapers!"

As if the ritualistic public shaming of Michael Phelps weren’t sufficiently and self-evidently brainless to begin with, we must now watch in complete bewilderment as law-enforcement willfully exposes its arbitrary application of our drug laws. Putting aside my sympathy for Phelps, it’s more than a little delightful to observe such a public exhibit in the frivolity of marijuana enforcement.

They can’t prove anything and they know it, thus this is really just another pitifully ill-conceived attention grab by a frustrated sheriff who can’t stand not being at the center of a story unfolding in his backyard. Seldom has the war on drugs produced a more ironic moment than when the healthiest person on the planet is targeted for taking one bong hit.

DEA Raids Again! Call Obama Now!

What Part of ‘Change’ Does DEA not Understand?
For the Second Time, DEA Ignores Obama's Statements, Raids Four L.A. Dispensaries

Dear ASA Supporter,

They must think we’re just going to sit back and take it.

Yesterday, the DEA simultaneously raided four medical cannabis dispensing collectives in Los Angeles. This is the second time, in as many weeks, that the DEA has defied President Obama’s campaign pledges to not use federal resources to undermine state medical cannabis laws.

Our community is in an uproar and we are not going to take this lying down! We need you to ACT!.

The L.A. Times even published an article suggesting that maybe DEA hadn’t gotten the memo that Bush is out?

The U.S. Senate just confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the Department of Justice under the Obama Administration. We expect this to be the FIRST and LAST of the DEA raids under Eric Holder’s leadership. President Obama said he would stop the raids, and we aim to hold him to his word.

Enough is enough! Please make two short phone calls so that both the President and the Attorney General know that people are sick and tired of DEA interference and intimidation in medical cannabis states. Tell your federal government that you will not tolerate wasteful spending by having DEA harass innocent civilians with smash and grab tactics.

First call President Obama at (202) 456-1111, and then call Attorney General Eric Holder at (202) 353-1555. Be sure to call during office hours, Monday – Friday, 9am -5pm.

Use this script for both:

"Hi, my name is ___________. For the second time under President Obama, the DEA conducted raids on multiple medical marijuana dispensaries in California, despite the President’s pledge to end federal threats, intimidation, and interference in states that have medical marijuana laws. Patients and providers should not have to live in fear of the DEA. Please help us and stop these raids now!."

This is our chance under President Obama. We have to get his attention, and we need your help.


George Pappas
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. For more information, visit

United States

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