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ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: Week Ending 6/15/07

RESEARCH: Marijuana May Be Topical Allergy Cure ASA IN THE NEWS: Patients’ Right to Grow as Groups Tested in Court NEW YORK: Advocates Change Governor’s Mind on Medical Marijuana MICHIGAN: Advocates Seek Signatures for Medical Marijuana Initiative CONNECTICUT: Medical Marijuana Bill on Governor’s Desk COLORADO: Limits on Plant Numbers Challenged DISPENSARIES: Federal and Local Action in California -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RESEARCH: Marijuana May Be Topical Allergy Cure Few remember that cannabis was a popular remedy in the early twentieth century, commonly prescribed by doctors and widely available at pharmacies in several forms, including oral tinctures and topical salves. Scientists are rediscovering the potential of cannabis preparations for treating skin problems. Cannabis helps treat allergic reactions New Zealand Herald A cannabis folk remedy has been resurrected by scientists who found that active ingredients in the drug reduce allergic reactions. Extracts from the hemp plant were traditionally used to treat inflammation and could be bought from chemists in the early part of the 20th century. New frontier for medical cannabis -- topical pot by Kavita Mishra, San Francisco Chronicle Skin allergies may be the next reason to use marijuana -- a topical form, at least. Scientists have long suspected that marijuana, used for recreational purposes and to help fight chronic pain, nausea and even some mental disorders like anxiety and depression, also had anti-inflammatory effects in the body. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASA IN THE NEWS: Patients’ Right to Grow as Groups Tested in Court The most seriously ill patients must rely on others to grow medical marijuana, something California’s law recognizes with a “caregiver” provision. But many patients have also organized as cultivation collectives to help each other, which the state legislature expressly made legal in 2003. A new court case may help better define the responsibilities of law enforcement when dealing with those patient collectives. Medical marijuana suit could break new ground by Heather Hacking, Oroville Mercury-Register A Superior Court case heard in Chico is raising the question whether a medicinal marijuana case can be tried in civil court — a step that would open up law enforcement to fighting lawsuits from people who have plants confiscated or destroyed. Collectives were OK'd in March 2002 by the Legislature, said Joe Elford, a lawyer for Americans For Safe Access, an advocacy group for medical marijuana. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEW YORK: Advocates Change Governor’s Mind on Medical Marijuana Ten years of tireless work by medical marijuana patients and advocates has made a difference in New York. The Governor himself has had his mind changed by the education he has gotten from patients and doctors. Myths and misinformation are the biggest barriers standing between many patients and a safe, effective treatment option. Legislators Grapple Over How to Legalize Medical Marijuana Use by Danny Hakim and Michael Grynbaum, New York Times Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders said this week that the use of marijuana for medical purposes should be made legal in New York State. But whether all involved can come to an agreement on how that should be done with one week left in the legislative session remains in significant doubt. NY Pols consider 'medical marijuana' by James T. Madore, NewsDay (NY) Legalizing marijuana for medical use appeared Wednesday to gain momentum here with lawmakers and then lose it as the legislature's two houses disagreed over implementation. Medical Marijuana Legislation Passes State Assembly by John Abraham, Long Island Press A new measure which would allow patients experiencing pain to ingest and grow marijuana cleared the state Assembly Wednesday in a 92-52 vote. The controversial measure is currently being debated between Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate. Spitzer is open to New York legalizing medicinal marijuana by Tom Precious, Buffalo News (NY) Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, in a reversal of a campaign position, said Tuesday he could support legislation legalizing the use of marijuana for certain medicinal purposes. In a debate last summer, Spitzer said he opposed medical marijuana. Now he said he is “open” to the idea after being swayed by advocates in the past couple of months. Medical marijuana bill passed in Assembly Capital News 9 (NY) The state Assembly passed a bill legalizing medical use of marijuana Wednesday, after about a decade of attempts to approve similar legislation in the state. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MICHIGAN: Advocates Seek Signatures for Medical Marijuana Initiative Michigan's groundspring of public support is forcing lawmakers to recognize that medical marijuana is an option people want for themselves and their families. A flurry of local initiatives is being followed by a statewide measure that will be put to voters this fall, if organizers can get the required signatures. If passed, the bill will go to the legislature; if state lawmakers fail to act, it will return to voters. Prescription pot by Curt Guyette, Detroit Metro Times Rochelle Lampkin knows she's breaking the law when she lights a joint and takes a few tokes, but she doesn't feel like a criminal. The 48-year-old Detroit grandmother has multiple sclerosis, and an associated condition called optic neuritis, an excruciatingly painful inflammation of the optic nerve. It hits her a few times a month. Medical pot: Petition drive can put issue where it belongs - with voters by EDITORIAL, Lansing State Journal (MI) Six years ago, Michigan saw petition gatherers advocating a statewide vote on recreational use of marijuana. It was a bad idea at the time, as an LSJ editorial stated. It's still a bad idea, as Lansing-based pollster Ed Sarpolus affirmed in noting full legalization is still a no-go with state voters. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CONNECTICUT: Medical Marijuana Bill on Governor’s Desk Bipartisan support got a medical marijuana bill to the desk of the governor in Connecticut. She is being urged to sign it by her constituents and even a celebrity patient. Polling by the University of Connecticut shows 83% of the state wants to see the law enacted. MS Sufferer Montel Williams Makes the Case for Medical Pot by Montel Williams, AlterNet Editor's note: Connecticut may become the 13th state in the country to permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. After legislation was passed in the state legislature this month, it is now up to Gov. M. Jodi Rell. What follows is a letter of support from Montel Williams. Marijuana Law in Connecticut Gains Ground by Stacey Stowe, New York Times Seventeen years ago, Mark Braunstein dived 60 feet off a footbridge into a river, landed wrong and became a paraplegic. A librarian at Connecticut College, Mr. Braunstein, 55, walks with the aid of crutches and leg braces. He smokes marijuana every three days or so to control the pain and spasms in his feet that would otherwise immobilize him. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COLORADO: Limits on Plant Numbers Challenged State laws that impose arbitrary limits on the number of plants or medicine patients can possess are not realistic. With other medications, we let doctors decide together with their patients what treatment levels are appropriate. In addition, differences in cultivation techniques mean some grow many small plants indoors while others grow a few larger ones outdoors. ASA is working with Sensible Colorado to help make state policy more reasonable. Veteran challenges arrest under medical-marijuana law Associated Press A former Marine who said marijuana helps him deal with injuries suffered during Operation Desert Storm is challenging the state’s medical marijuana law. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DISPENSARIES: Federal and Local Action in California Many California state and local officials have recognized that dispensaries provide an invaluable service to patients while allowing oversight by the community. The state legislature made provisions for dispensing collectives in 2003, and local officials around the state have been implementing or considering regulations for their operation. (See AmericansForSafeaccess.org/DispensaryReport) A study by ASA found that regulations are working well. But that has not stopped the federal government from trying to intervene in local attempts to help patients. Federal agents search dispensary in Pomona by Monica Rodriguez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency - assisted by Pomona police officers - served a search warrant Wednesday afternoon at a medical marijuana dispensary in the eastern end of the city. D.A. rejects marijuana raid case Jewish Journal The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has rejected a case against the operator of a Van Nuys medical marijuana pharmacy that was raided in April by police who allegedly desecrated a mezuzah at the shop. New assistant DA sees no change in dispensary policy by K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun When it comes to medical marijuana dispensaries, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office will be standing by the white paper opposing dispensaries issued by former District Attorney Grover Trask last fall. City studying marijuana dispensary ban by Nisha Gutierrez, Whittier Daily News (CA) The Baldwin Park City Council is taking steps to consider placing a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, officials said. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MORE ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS Find out more about ASA at http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org. More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?list=type&type=122.
Location: 
United States

Medical Marijuana Measure Falls With Connecticut Governor’s Veto

Location: 
Stamford, CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/nyregion/20rell.html

ONDCP's Emphasis on Marijuana is Incoherent on So Many Levels

This statement from Tom Riley at ONDCP is just jaw-dropping:
"It's easy to do ads about drugs like heroin and meth, and the awful consequences that manifest," says Tom Riley, director of public affairs at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "It's harder to make ads about marijuana. 'Marijuana's gonna melt your face off' isn't really a credible thing to say to teens." [Slate]
The first problem here is that ONDCP really did make an ad quite recently in which a girl melts from smoking marijuana. You can watch it here. Nice try, Tom Riley. You should know better than to attempt an example of something your office wouldn't say about marijuana.

The second problem is that these supposedly easy-to-make ads about heroin and meth are not being made. Marijuana users have been portrayed by ONDCP as supporting terrorism, getting pregnant at a party, shooting a friend accidentally, running over a toddler, getting a fist stuck in their mouth, and on and on, but there are no ONDCP ads about heroin or meth.

Perplexing as it may be, Riley's statement perfectly captures the mindset of our marijuana-obsessed federal drug war establishment. He basically admits here that his office takes for granted the understanding that heroin and meth are harmful. It would be wasteful to tell the public what it already knows, particularly since smaller user populations make for bland statistical shifts even if you're successful. The drug war must be fed if it is to survive, and there just aren't enough heroin and meth users to sustain it.

The only downside is that some people will say you're a charlatan if kids are dying from heroin while you're busy making ads about chick-magnet space aliens that don't smoke weed.

Location: 
United States

Medical marijuana: New York is waiting to inhale

Location: 
Albany, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Buffalo News (NY)
URL: 
http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/101789.html

Pot, Aliens, and ONDCP

Seth Stevenson at Slate is in love with the new ONDCP ad in which a pot-smoker's girlfriend dumps him for a non-smoking alien:
Grade: A. This is very possibly the most effective, and least offensive, anti-marijuana campaign ever created. I know that ONDCP, and the Partnership for a Drug Free America, are cautiously thrilled with it. I expect it will be the model for years to come.

I'm not going to beat Stevenson up over this. He shares my belief that these ads shouldn't be offensive, and I agree that this is obviously tame by ONDCP standards. But what on earth does it mean to say that ONDCP is "cautiously thrilled" with this?

When has ONDCP ever been less than thrilled with their advertisements? They've vigorously defended their media campaign throughout its numerous incarnations, never once finding fault, even as a growing mountain of evidence depicts their public outreach efforts as an undeniable failure. Could it be that they were more candid with Seth Stevenson than the U.S. Congress?

Stevenson's analysis is fair enough, at least insofar as this ad is concerned. But, dude, before you go gushing anymore about truth in advertising at ONDCP, you might wanna check out "Stoners in the Mist."

Location: 
United States

Veteran using medical pot fights arrest

Location: 
Centennial, CO
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Denver Post (CO)
URL: 
http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_6143690

South Pacific: Northern Mariana Islands in Tizzy Over Marijuana Decriminalization Proposal

A proposal by the highest law enforcement official in the Confederation of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to consider decriminalizing marijuana has met with a barrage of public criticism, according to the Saipan Tribune. The proposal saw the light of day when the newspaper obtained a copy of a letter from Health Secretary Joseph Villagomez to Attorney General Matthew Gregory addressing a May meeting between the two.

According to the letter, Gregory and Villagomez met to discuss Gregory's proposal to convene a meeting of experts to discuss marijuana's "benefits and lack of harm." In the letter, Villagomez said the Gregory hoped the health secretary would ask the legislature to remove marijuana from the archipelago's list of controlled substances.

That got to Senate Vice President Pete Reyes. "Just the idea that the highest law enforcement of the land is even thinking about it is very disheartening, frightening. It gives the impression that we're so desperate to generate some money that we would sell our souls," Reyes said.

In the wake of the blast from Reyes, a Gregory spokesman denied that he wants to legalize marijuana, but said that he is in touch with people who want to hold such a conference. He also said the administration has not take a position on making marijuana legal in the CNMI, but it approves of an open debate on the issue.

"No definite commitment has been made with regard to this proposal. The AGO will not do anything without the consent of the governor. We support an open discussion. We should let the people decide what they think is right," the spokesman said.

Health Secretary Villagomez, a 15-year substance abuse professional, declined to ask the legislature to decriminalize marijuana, saying he could not ignore the physical and psychological damage that he had seen drugs, including marijuana, cause to people. He also expressed concern that legalizing marijuana would result in more broken families, traffic accidents, and teen addiction, among other things. He noted that DPH would have to deal with these likely consequences. If Attorney General Gregory wants to decriminalize the weed, he should ask the governor to convene a meeting, he said.

"If the governor is onboard with this plan then I respectfully ask the governor to call for such a meeting. Since the Legislature will be the ultimate body that will remove marijuana from the listing, maybe they should be the one to call for such a meeting," Villagomez said.

Medical marijuana bill passes in Assembly

Location: 
Albany, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
Mid-Hudson News (NY)
URL: 
http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/med_mar-14Jun07.html

Medical Marijuana: New York Bill Passes General Assembly, But Now Senate Balks

A bill that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in New York state passed the General Assembly Wednesday night on a 92-52 vote, but now the Republican-dominated Senate is balking. Although Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) sounded agreeable at a Wednesday morning news conference, just hours later he was criticizing the bill as unworkable and vowing to introduce competing legislation.

With the clock ticking toward adjournment of the legislature next week, the move could kill the legislation this year. Even if the Senate passed its own bill, there is little time left reconcile differences, and the lawmakers face other pressing matters.

Sponsored by Rep. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), who has fought for a decade to advance it, the bill, A04867, would allow patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other severe illnesses or their designated caregivers to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of usable marijuana and up to 12 plants. Patients must be certified annually by a physician and register with the state Health Department.

Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D), who last year had opposed medical marijuana, signaled this week that he was willing to sign a carefully crafted bill, but any elation on the part of the bill's proponents, which include the Marijuana Policy Project, was tempered by Sen. Bruno's contradictory pronouncements Wednesday.

During a morning news conference, Bruno said a colleague would introduce a companion bill this week and predicted "the chances are better than not that it will go to the governor." But by that afternoon, Bruno had changed his tune. The Assembly bill is, he said, "too broad and we think it just lets too many things happen that may be inappropriate... We're going to do our own bill."

The Empire State is potentially one vote away from enacting a medical marijuana law, but the Republican Senate leadership appears determined to use a procedural trick to derail it.

Montel Williams Calls on Connecticut's Governor to Sign Medical Marijuana Bill

Montel Williams, who suffers with multiple sclerosis, continues to crusade for medical marijuana, this time with a letter to Connecticut's governor, Jodi Rell (R), published on Alternet. Writes Montel:
Medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country -- less well-known than me but whose stories are just as real -- have experienced the same thing.
Now it's up to Gov. Rell to show if she is a reasonable, compassionate leader, or a heartless political hack. Montel at a 2005 press conference with Rep. Maurice Hinchey
Location: 
Hartford, CT
United States

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