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Death Penalty: Malaysia to Execute Man for Marijuana, China to Execute Man for Meth

Even as the UN General Assembly voted this week for a death penalty moratorium, two Asian nations were once again exercising the ultimate sanction against drug offenders. In Malaysia, a man faces death for less than two pounds of marijuana, while in China, a man has been sentenced to death for trafficking in methamphetamine.

In Malaysia, Razali Ahmad, 33, was found guilty of trafficking marijuana Tuesday after police searched his house and found 858 grams. In Malaysia, the charge of trafficking carries an automatic death sentence.

Meanwhile, a Chinese court Monday sentenced Hao Chen to death for being a ringleader in a meth trafficking organization in southern Guandong Province. Five other ring members were sentenced to terms ranging from 15 years to life. The sentences were for trafficking about three pounds of meth.

In addition to the UN General Assembly's condemnation of the death penalty in general, the use of the death penalty against drug offenders has generated a campaign by harm reductionists to end such practices. Look for an in-depth report on all of this in the coming weeks.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Threatens San Francisco Dispensary Landlords, Dispensaries Sue, Conyers to Hold Hearings

In a reprise of a tactic first used against Los Angeles and Sacramento area dispensaries, the DEA this week sent letters to dozens of owners of buildings leased to San Francisco dispensaries warning them that their buildings could be seized. Dispensary operators responded by filing suit in federal court to stop the agency, and a high-ranking congressman has promised to hold hearings on the matter.

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, and currently, hundreds of dispensaries are operating in the state to provide marijuana to patients qualified under the state's admittedly loose law. DEA raids and federal prosecution have failed to blunt their growth, and the landlord letters are only the latest wrinkle in the agency's war on the will of California voters.

"By this notice, you have been made aware of the purposes for which the property is being used," said a copy of the letter sent to San Francisco landlords, signed by the special agent in charge of the DEA's San Francisco office, Javier Pena. "You are further advised that violations of federal laws relating to marijuana may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets."

The letter gave no deadlines.

San Francisco once had as many as 40 dispensaries, although only 28 have applied for licenses under a city regulatory process that began in July. But dispensaries may also be linked to other buildings where medical marijuana grows or storage take place.

"The feds do as they please... (and) they've done it before," San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi told the San Francisco Chronicle, adding he would not be surprised at a crackdown. "I would only hope they would coordinate with local law enforcement and that they are aware of the new regulatory system we have in place, and are sensitive to it."

Dispensary operators, however, were not quite so sanguine. A previously little known industry grouping, the Union of Medical Marijuana Providers, last week joined the Los Angeles area Arts District Healing Center in filing a federal lawsuit charging the DEA with extorting landlords. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to bar the DEA from sending any more threatening letters.

Dispensary operators and their supporters are also looking forward to hearings on the issue in the House Judiciary Committee. In response to complaints from California, last Friday, committee chair Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) announced he would hold hearings on the issue.

"I am deeply concerned about recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration is threatening private landlords with asset forfeiture and possible imprisonment if they refuse to evict organizations legally dispensing medical marijuana to suffering patients," Conyers said in a statement. "The committee has already questioned the DEA about its efforts to undermine California state law on this subject, and we intend to sharply question this specific tactic as part of our oversight efforts."

"When I saw Representative Conyers statement regarding the DEA's abuse of their power in order to thwart California's law, I knew that our legal efforts were beginning to pay off," said James Shaw, executive director of the Union. "The DEA has alienated too many citizens with their heavy-handed 'above the law tactics' for too long. We welcome all the support we can find in our efforts to ensure our rights are protected."

Steven Schectman, the Union's chief counsel, said he has contacted Representative Conyers' office in order to provide his staff copies of the litigation that was filed in both state and federal Court. "I am hopeful we can support the Judiciary Committee in any way possible. As a result of our research and investigation of the DEA's threatening letter campaign, in preparation of our litigation, we have become the most knowledgeable group, outside the DEA, who best understands the scope and import of their tactics. We are here to help."

A Holiday Surprise & Victory for Medical Marijuana!

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] 

Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chair, Rep. Conyers (D-MI) pledged to investigate the DEA’s recent and ongoing tactics threatening the safety and security of state-sanctioned patients, providers, and innocent third-party landlords. Chairman Conyers’ commitment to question DEA attacks on medical marijuana states has brought holiday cheer to medical marijuana patients and supporters. Please thank Chairman Conyers, and his staff, today!

Click here to thank Chairman Conyers right now! Chairman Conyers needs to know you support and appreciate his decision to hold oversight hearings. Be sure to thank him and tell him that as a patient and/or medical marijuana supporter, you look forward to working with him and his dedicated staff as they prepare for the oversight hearing.
Visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ThankYouRepConyers to send a short message.

Since the DEA began raiding medical cannabis dispensing collectives in 2002, Congress has never held a hearing to investigate the goal of these raids, how much these raids are costing taxpayers in both dollars and precious resources, or what impact these raids are having on patients and the state and local governments attempting to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana in accordance with state law. A House oversight investigation is an important and significant opportunity for the medical marijuana community. Please thank Chairman Conyers today. Click here to send a message.

Thank you for your commitment to safe access.

Sincerely,

Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Why Doesn't the DEA Just Crack Down on Medical Marijuana?

Ever wonder why the federal government doesn't just go ahead and raid every medical marijuana dispensary in California? The DEA seems to conduct only enough raids to create the perception of risk, while completely failing to prevent widespread medical access. In an online chat, someone asked the Drug Czar about this, and you know what he said? Nothing. He may be afraid to answer, but I'm not.

First check out his lengthy response and note that it doesn't answer the main question:
Patrick, from San Francisco, CA writes:
Mr. Walters-- My son is a high school junior here in San Francisco, CA. A large percentage of high school students in San Francisco smoke pot on campus several times a day. Teachers and school administrators are powerless to stop it and simply look the other way, all due to state and local laws which make it almost impossible to control pot and thereby keep it out of the hands of kids. How serious is the federal government in its attempts to shut down the phony "medical marijuana" industry, which is really just an underhanded way to make it easy for people to use pot recreationally. Raiding pot clubs could be stepped up easily (with very few people), couldn't they? --Patrick

John Walters
I’m glad you raised this concern, Patrick. We’re hearing the same thing from many other communities dealing with the same issue.

We believe that if there are elements of marijuana that can be applied to modern medicine, they should undergo the same FDA-approval process any other medicine goes through to make sure it’s safe and effective. In absence of that approval, the Federal position is clear: the smoked form of medical marijuana is against Federal law and we will continue to enforce the law.

Last year, the FDA issued an advisory reinforcing the fact that no sound scientific studies have supported medical use of smoked marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data support the safety or efficacy of smoked marijuana for general medical use. This statement adds to the already substantial list of national public health organizations that have already spoken out on this issue, including the American Medical Association, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – all of which do not support the smoked form of marijuana as medicine. So who’s pushing for the smoked form of medical marijuana then?

Funded by millions of dollars from those whose goal it is to legalize marijuana outright, marijuana lobbyists have been deployed to Capitol Hill and to States across the Nation to employ their favored tactic of using Americans' natural compassion for the sick to garner support for a far different agenda. These modern-day snake oil proponents cite testimonials—not science—that smoked marijuana helps patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, and other painful diseases “feel better.” While smoking marijuana may allow patients to temporarily feel better, the medical community makes an important distinction between inebriation and the controlled delivery of pure pharmaceutical medication. If you want to learn more about this, we have information available that shows how medical marijuana laws increase drug-related crime and protect drug dealers. Hopefully you can help us educate more of our citizens about this fraud.
So it's clear that the Drug Czar opposes medical marijuana, but what about the raids? Well, I can think of a few reasons why a full-blown attack on medical access in California would be highly problematic:
1. Simultaneously raiding California's several hundred dispensaries would provoke aggressive protests and widespread bad publicity. The ensuing press coverage would highlight marijuana's well-known medical applications.

2. DEA's tactic of suppressing evidence in court that the marijuana is for medical use wouldn’t work if they raided all the providers at once. Jurors would figure it out and vote to acquit, wasting federal law enforcement and prosecutorial resources.

3. Black market violence would erupt immediately as criminals rush in to meet demand. This would prove to everyone that the medical marijuana industry actually made California safer.

4. Anti-medical marijuana statements from Republican presidential hopefuls have already jeopardized their chance at winning California's 54 electoral votes. An aggressive DEA campaign at this time would ensure a democratic victory there. Bush's Drug Czar knows better than to help democrats win California.

I suppose it's not very surprising that the Drug Czar declined to elaborate on this. He certainly wouldn't want to put ideas in anyone's head.

The point here isn't that providing medical marijuana carries no legal risks. It clearly does. But it's important for everyone to understand how hollow most of the DEA's threats really are. DEA's ongoing efforts against medical marijuana providers in California are designed to create the appearance of chaos, which is then cited as evidence that the medical marijuana industry is inherently harmful. This is purely political.

The Drug Czar's failure to answer this simple and common question reveals a great deal about his own reluctance to interfere with the will of California voters.

Location: 
United States

10th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert at Tobacco Road

Ploppy Palace Productions and Tobacco Road will be hosting the 10th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert to raise funds for FL NORML’s (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) medical marijuana campaign and the protection of patients’ rights. As part of this four stage extravaganza, some of South Florida's top bands, spoken word artists and community activists will join together for patients’ and physicians’ right to use medical cannabis. As a testament to the diversity of supporters for this cause, there will be a broad variety of musical styles including jazz, rock, reggae, folk, vocal harmonies, hip-hop, funk, experimental, tribal rhythms, world beat fusion, psychedelic grooves and various interactive jams. Johnny Dread, Sweetbone, Jahfe, Kuyayky, Aurapool, Addax, Day Music Died, Miami Creative Music Collective, Under No Order, Carl Ferrari & Friends, 4 Shillings Short, The Tribe, Ana Kanpa, Togen, Addax, Elisa Melendez, Erica Sommer, Robby Hunter, Minimal, January, Pat De Leon, Andrew Bayuk and more will be showcasing original music. Alonso, Martian Ambassador and other spoken word artists will be presenting innovative spoken word poetry with musical accompaniment. Mark A.S. will be presenting social satire about the laws concerning medical marijuana and the drug war. Plus Carlos Rodriguez, Anibal Fernandez and Linx will be rendering a live painting demonstration to visually complement the music. Irvin Rosenfeld, legal medical marijuana patient, will be describing his experiences with obtaining medical marijuana through the federal government. The 10th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert will also feature a selection of community speakers who will present information about the issues including Toni Latino and Corinne Bowes from Florida NORML, members from the Miami-Dade Green Party and other concerned citizens. FL NORML, Emerge Miami, Miami-Dade Green Party and various other organizations will have informational booths with literature and handouts to help educate about community issues and the medical marijuana campaign in Florida. The event will work to raise funds and awareness for FL NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) medical marijuana campaign and the protection of patients’ rights. Previously, a person's right to use medical necessity as a defense to marijuana charges has been upheld by several appeals courts in Florida. Marijuana has proven therapeutically useful in treating numerous medical conditions including muscle spasticity, arthritis, and the nausea related to AIDS and cancer chemotherapy. Currently there are 11 states that have laws allowing marijuana to be used as medicine. In addition there will be vendors and small businesses promoting and selling their merchandise, including The Wallflower Gallery, Emerald City Imports, Xango and selected independent corporations. Production support provided by Ploppy Palace Productions, Anamaze Productions, Atlas Sound and 7th Circuit Productions. The 10th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert at Tobacco Road is currently looking for supportive sponsors and unique vendors to help to build up the community outreach and contribute to the cause. The 10th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert at Tobacco Road is sponsored by Ploppy Palace Productions, OnlineGigs.com, 7th Circuit Productions, Antidote Productions, Roostas No. 5 and FL NORML. See: www.tobacco-road.com or www.myspace.com/tobaccoroad626. Must be at least 21 years old with ID. Admission is $10. Advance tickets available. For more information, please email Ploppy Palace Productions at events@ploppypalace.com www.myspace.com/medmj
Date: 
Sat, 01/19/2008 - 4:00pm
Location: 
626 South Miami Ave.
Brickell, FL
United States

December Cannabinoid Chronicles Newsletter Available Online

[Courtesy of Vancouver Island Compassion Society] The December issue of Cannabinoid Chronicles is online and available for viewing at: http://www.thevics.com/publications/vol5/VICSNews5_4.pdf Some stories: Constitutional Challenge Hits Bump Loosen Medical Cannabis Rules, Lawyers Argue Ontario Court Ruling Challenges Cannabis Prohibition Comments on Swiss Study (Cannabis and Adolescents) Drug Disposal 101 IACM Bulletin Enjoy, Robin at the VICS
Location: 
Canada

Press Release: Day After Lawsuit Filed Against DEA, U.S. Congress Decides To Question Agency

[Courtesy of Union of Medical Marijuana Providers] One day after the Union of Medical Marijuana Providers filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Central District of California (case CV07-07951) challenging the DEA's tactic of sending threatening letters to hundreds of owners of Commercial Property who rent to Marijuana Providers, the House Judiciary Committee will question the agency about the practice. Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) December 10, 2007 -- The DEA, who has declared war on California's Medical Marijuana Law, began the draconian tactic of sending letters to Commercial Property owners who rent to legally authorized Medical Marijuana Providers this summer. In the letter, the DEA informed the owners of these properties that if they continue to rent to dispensaries they may face federal prosecution which could result in a possible prison sentence for up to 20 years as well as seizure of their property. The Union of Medical Marijuana Providers which was formed in part, as a direct result of the DEA's letter writing campaign, as well as L.A.'s Arts District Healing Center, have been aggressively litigating this issue in both state and federal court for the past several months (state case in Los Angeles Superior Court, case 07K21837). Just yesterday, December 6, 2007 they filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Central District, which requested that the Court issue an injunction stopping the DEA from continuing to send these letters. "When I saw Representative Conyers statement regarding the DEA's abuse of their power in order to thwart California's law, I knew that our legal efforts were beginning to pay off," said James Shaw, Executive Director of the Union. "The DEA has alienated too many citizens with their heavy-handed 'above the law tactics' for too long. We welcome all the support we can find in our efforts to ensure our rights are protected." Steven Schectman, the Union's chief counsel said he has contacted Representative Conyers office today in order to provide his staff copies of the litigation that was filed in both state and Federal Court. "I am hopeful we can support the Judiciary Committee in any way possible. As a result of our research and investigation of the DEA's threatening letter campaign, in preparation of our litigation, we have become the most knowledgeable group, outside the DEA, who best understands the scope and import of their tactics. We are here to help." The Union of Medical Marijuana Providers (UMMP) is a legal advocacy group based in Los Angeles, California. The Union's membership comprises legally compliant cooperatives, collectives, and caregiver groups throughout the State of California. UMMP was founded in 2007 to address the shared concerns of legally compliant medical marijuana patient groups.
Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Law Needs Fixing

[Courtesy of Iowans for Medical Marijuana]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 8, 2007

CONTACT: Carl Olsen Iowans for Medical Marijuana (515) 288-5798

Dear Governor Richardson,

In your press release dated August 17, 2007, you vowed to fight the federal intimidation efforts, and use every state resource to fully implement the state law making medical marijuana legal for the most seriously ill patients. We think it is inconsistent that New Mexico state law continues to classify marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31-5(A)(2) (2007), with no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

Although federal law currently classifies marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, the actual determination of whether marijuana has accepted medical use is specifically reserved to the states under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) (21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq.). This is clear from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006).

Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243, 250 (2006) (referring to 21 U.S.C. § 903):

"No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which that provision operates . . . to the exclusion of any State law on the same subject matter which would otherwise be within the authority of the State, unless there is a positive conflict between that provision . . . and that State law so that the two cannot consistently stand together." § 903.

Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243, 269-270 (2006):

In deciding whether the CSA can be read as prohibiting physician-assisted suicide, we look to the statute's text and design. The statute and our case law amply support the conclusion that Congress regulates medical practice insofar as it bars doctors from using their prescription-writing powers as a means to engage in illicit drug dealing and trafficking as conventionally understood. Beyond this, however, the statute manifests no intent to regulate the practice of medicine generally. The silence is understandable given the structure and limitations of federalism, which allow the States "great latitude under their police powers to legislate as to the protection of the lives, limbs, health, comfort, and quiet of all persons." (Citations omitted).

United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, 532 U.S. 483, 492 (2001):

The Attorney General can include a drug in schedule I only if the drug "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," "has a high potential for abuse," and has "a lack of accepted safety for use . . . under medical supervision." §§ 812(b)(1)(A)-(C). Under the statute, the Attorney General could not put marijuana into schedule I if marijuana had any accepted medical use.

Although New Mexico Senate Bill 523, effective July 1, 2007, now includes marijuana in both schedule I and schedule II of New Mexico's state version of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, the question that we have for New Mexico is why New Mexico's version of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act continues to list marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31-6 (2007), which has "no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States", N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31-5 (2007). Under both New Mexico and federal law, the criteria for placing a substance in schedule I is "no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States".

We fear that this inconsistency is going to cause problems for patients in New Mexico who are attempting to comply with the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31C-1 (2007), as amended by New Mexico Senate Bill 523, effective July 1, 2007.

Carl Olsen, George McMahon, Barbara Douglass

Directors of Iowans for Medical Marijuana (http://www.iowamedicalmarijuana.org/)

Members of the Board for Patients Out of Time (http://www.medicalcannabis.com/)

Petitioners in The Federal Marijuana Rescheduling Petition (http://www.drugscience.org/)

Location: 
NM
United States

ASA: Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers Opposes DEA Tactics

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers Opposes DEA Tactics Pledges to Question DEA During Oversight Hearings Dear Friend, As many of you know, DEA recently launched an entirely new tactic in their continued efforts to undermine the effective implementation of medical marijuana laws in California. They have sent hundreds of letters threatening prosecution and asset forfeiture against property owners who rent to legal medical cannabis collectives – a strategy that could have ramifications for medical marijuana programs nationwide. ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson has been talking to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers’ (D-MI) staff and other Democratic leadership to encourage them to oppose these tactics and stand up for patients in states where medical cannabis is legal. Today, Chairman Conyers issued at a statement saying: “I am deeply concerned about recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration is threatening private landlords with asset forfeiture and possible imprisonment if they refuse to evict organizations legally dispensing medical marijuana to suffering patients. The Committee has already questioned the DEA about its efforts to undermine California state law on this subject, and we intend to sharply question this specific tactic as part of our oversight efforts.” In conjunction with more than fifty raids at medical cannabis collectives in California this year, the asset forfeiture threats against property owners represent the most serious challenge to patients’ access in the United States today. Conyers’ support signals the first significant Congressional opposition to the DEA’s attempted end run around voters and state lawmakers. ASA welcomes this statement and we look forward to working with Chairman Conyers to finally end DEA interference in state medical marijuana laws. Congratulations to the hundreds of ASA members who helped put grassroots strength behind our work! Keep your eyes open for an Action Alert next week to put even more support behind Conyers’ initiative, and visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Donate to make a contribution to support our effective advocacy today. Thank you, Steph Sherer Executive Director Americans for Safe Access -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Americans for Safe Access: December 2007 Activist Newsletter

Victory for Patients' Right to Return of Marijuana

Appeals Court Says Police Must Give Back Property Despite Federal Law

ASA's legal team won another huge victory when a California appeals court said police must return marijuana seized from qualified patients. The November 28th ruling in favor of Felix Kha, a medical marijuana patient from Garden Grove, means police must return the eight grams of medical marijuana they took from him in a June 2005 traffic stop.

The rally at the governor's office ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford

Attorneys for the police claimed that they should not have to since federal law prohibits possession of marijuana, even for medical use. But a three-justice panel from the state's Fourth Appellate District unanimously rejected that claim, saying "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws."

"California law enforcement is now on notice that they cannot seize and keep the medicine of seriously ill patients," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who represented Kha. "The court has ensured that patients have a way to get their cannabis back."

The ruling was more than two years in the making. After a marijuana possession charge against Kha was dismissed in August 2005 because he had a valid doctor's recommendation, an Orange County Superior Court judge ordered the return of his medicine. But the City of Garden Grove refused and appealed the order.

The issue was ripe for review, as state courts have split on the issue previously. The question found the California Attorney General and the California Police Chiefs Association on opposite sides. Both filed "friend of the court" briefs in the case on opposite sides of the issue, with the state Attorney General in support of Kha.

In analyzing reports from nearly 800 patient encounters with local or state police in 53 of California's 58 counties, ASA found that more than 90% resulted in medicine seizure by police, regardless of probable cause.

The court's ruling also affirms a 2005 policy change by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). CHP abandoned its policy of mandatory seizure of medical marijuana after a court challenge from ASA.

"Both today's court ruling and the new CHP policy go a long way toward restoring patients' rights in California," said Elford.

For further information, refer to:
Decision by the California Fourth Appellate District Court
Background on Felix Kha's return of property case

 

Double Win For Cannabis Caregivers in Colorado

Attorney Brian Vicente Champions Patient Rights

Colorado courts have been the scene of two momentous victories for patients in that state, thanks to the tireless work of attorney Brian Vicente. Both cases help clarify Colorado's medical marijuana law as it applies to caregivers.

Brian Vicente Brian Vicente, director of the Colorado Campaign for Safe Access

In the first case, a caregiver couple in Fort Collins was awarded the return of medical cannabis and cultivation equipment seized from their home in August 2006.

In June, a Larimer County judge dismissed all charges against James and Lisa Masters, citing an illegal search by police. Then on November 29, he ordered a full Return of Property, including the 39 cannabis plants the Masters were growing and about 8 ounces of dried medicine.

Colorado state law specifically requires that police return seized cannabis to qualified patients and spells out how to handle growing plants.

"The state medicinal marijuana law requires authorities to maintain the plants and not destroy them or damage them in any way," Vicente told the media after the ruling. "I'm fascinated to see if the police have been following the law."

Vicente - who is director of the Colorado Campaign for Safe Access, a joint project of Sensible Colorado and Americans for Safe Access - said he intends to pursue financial compensation for the Masters, since the refusal of police to return the plants in a timely manner has destroyed the plants' medicinal value.

"We believe the plants were probably worth at least $100,000," he said.

The ruling in the Masters case comes little more than a week after another big win by Vicente.

On November 20, a state court overturned a Colorado Health Department policy that limited the number of patients for which a caregiver could provide cannabis. The department had capped the number at five, though the law approved by voters stated no limit.

The ruling came thanks to Damien LaGoy, who has AIDS and hepatitis C. He sued the state after his caregiver request was denied based on the five-patient restriction.

"I was in a very dangerous situation," LaGoy told the media at a news conference after the decision. "I was trying to get medical marijuana from some of the darkest spots in town, risking my life at times."

The court overturned the five-patient policy because it had been adopted in a closed meeting, a violation of the Colorado open meetings act.

"The health department just randomly selected five as the limit in a secret, clandestine meeting that was not open to patients or caregivers or doctors or the scientific community," said Vicente.

Advocates in Colorado hope the ruling will pave the way for the establishment of better community-based solutions to safe access, such as the collective dispensary model adopted throughout much of California.

The Masters may be the first to test that, as well. They opened a patient collective in Ft. Collins in October.

ASA Argues Medical Marijuana Employment Rights

California Supreme Court Case to Decide Fate of Qualified Patients

A 45-year-old disabled veteran is at the center of a California Supreme Court case that will decide whether California medical marijuana patients can be fired for using the medicine state law allows.

On November 6, ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford appeared before the court on behalf of Gary Ross, a software engineer who was fired in September 2001 for failing an employer-mandated drug test - even though Ross had a valid doctor's recommendation for cannabis and only used the drug away from work.

Gary Ross Gary Ross, outside of court.

Elford, along with co-counsel Stewart Katz, argued that state law should protect Ross and other medical marijuana patients.

"Neither the People of California nor the state legislature intended to exclude medical marijuana patients from a productive workforce," said Elford. "California must continue its leadership role in protecting disabled workers."

Ross's physician had recommended he use cannabis for chronic back pain that resulted from injuries sustained during his military service. But his employer, RagingWire Telecommunications, refused to make an exception to its policy of terminating anyone testing positive for marijuana.

"I was fired not for poor performance but for an antiquated policy on medical marijuana," said Ross. "This practice undermines state law and the protections provided for patients."
Ross filed suit against RagingWire, alleging discrimination, but a Sacramento Superior Court and then the Third Appellate District Court rejected his argument. ASA then joined his case and appealed to the California Supreme Court.

The court received many 'friend of the court' briefs in support of Ross, including briefs from 10 national and state medical organizations and one signed by all of the legislative co-authors of California's Medical Marijuana Program Act.

"Mr. Ross is not only standing up for his own rights, but for the rights of every Californian to comply with Proposition 215 and not face discrimination at work," said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), one of the co-authors of the MMPA.

A decision is expected by February of next year.

For more on Gary Ross' landmark employment rights case, see: www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Ross.

Drew Carey Takes on Medical Marijuana Issue

Episode Features Interview with ASA's Steph Sherer

In this second episode of The Drew Carey Project, released on Reason.tv, Drew interviews ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and takes a look at federal interference with medical cannabis dispensing in California.

In the video, Steph shares her story with Carey, who is currently the host of the TV game show The Price is Right, and talks about how her own experiences led to her founding of Americans for Safe Access. Drew also visits a Los Angeles dispensary and goes on to interview Steve Whitmore, spokesperson for the LA County Sheriff's Department, as well as Bill Leahy, Vietnam vet and medical marijuana patient.

The piece has garnered a significant amount of media attention. Many articles have compared Carey's activism to that of Carey's predecessor as host of The Price is Right, Bob Barker, who signed off every show with a public service announcement asking the audience to spay and neuter their pets.

The video is the second episode of The Drew Carey Project, a joint venture between Carey and Reason magazine. Its mission is to create "a series of video documentaries that take a hard look at the variety of threats to our liberties -- and celebrate what it really means to be free."

You can view Carey's report at www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DrewCarey.

NATIONAL ACTION ALERT

Give Thanks! Send Holiday Greeting Cards
to Prisoners of the Medical Marijuana War

This holiday, be sure to send a greeting card to the men and women serving time in prison for medical marijuana offenses. These brave individuals have sacrificed their freedom for medical marijuana patients. Please wish them holiday greetings and let them know how much the medical marijuana community appreciates them.

If you have not yet written to a medical marijuana prisoner, you can find tips on how to write a letter and information about these prisoners at: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/WritetoPrisoners.

Keith Alden
96424-011
FCI Sheridan Satellite Camp
P.O. Box 6000
Sheridan, OR 97378

David Oakley Harde
16536-097
USP Lompoc Satellite Camp
3705 West Farm Road
Lompoc, CA 93436

Thomas Kikuchi
Prisoner #ULK-745
Dyer Detention Facility
550 6Th Street
Oakland CA 94607

Stephanie Landa
09247-800
FCI Dublin Satellite Camp
5675 8TH ST
Dublin, CA 94568

Dustin Robert Costa
62406-097
FCI Big Spring
1900 Simler Ave.
Big Springs, TX 79720

Click here to download a pdf of
this newsletter to print and distribute
.

Americans for Safe Access * 1322 Webster Street, Ste. 402 * Oakland, CA 94612
info@AmericansForSafeAccess.org * 510-251-1856 * www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org

Location: 
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School