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Anti-Marijuana Crusaders Caught Violating Campaign Laws

We already know marijuana prohibition is a fraud, so it should come as no surprise that the people fighting to protect prohibition cannot be trusted to obey the law themselves.

The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy’s campaign to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Massachusetts has driven drug-thirsty prosecutors over the edge, prompting blatant lawbreaking by the exact people sworn to uphold the state’s laws (via MPP email):

*  Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to solicit, receive, or spend funds to support or oppose a ballot initiative without first forming a political committee. CSMP has from its inception followed all of these rules, but the district attorneys solicited, received, and spent donations before they were legally allowed to -- blatantly ignoring state law in a cynical attempt to conceal their campaign activity for as long as they could, undermining the very laws they have sworn to uphold.

*  Additionally, the district attorneys used public funds to post and house a statement urging voters to reject the decriminalization initiative on its Web site ... clear, indisputable violation of Massachusetts election law, which prohibits public officials from using public resources to advocate for or against a ballot initiative.

*  What's more, this illegal statement -- itself an abuse of public office and taxpayer resources -- is riddled with bald-faced lies ... like the claim that the initiative would permit any person to carry and use marijuana at any time. In reality, the measure simply changes the type of penalty for possession of less than an ounce and specifically reiterates that public use remains illegal.

Unsurprisingly, lying and cheating have become the last resort of the desperate drug war faithful. They have no legitimate arguments and the polls show them losing badly, so you can bet they’ll try anything.

One could never overstate the extent to which these hardened drug war prosecutors believe the law is theirs to toy with. It is their precious little plaything, a personal possession to be molded and manipulated until it fits just right. That very same mentality also explains why they love marijuana laws, which can be cast casually aside or brought crashing down with righteous ferocity.

Indeed, the very notion of a democratically-enforced public morality that trumps prosecutorial discretion is an affront to their world. That’s why they’d sooner break campaign laws that serve the public interest than risk the reform of marijuana laws that serve no interests but their own.

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey Meeting

Please join us for our next monthly public meeting. For more information, as well as minutes from our last meeting, see
Tue, 10/14/2008 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
United States

WAMMfest 2008

For complete information, see Vendors, please see:
Sat, 09/27/2008 - 12:00pm - 5:00pm
134 Dakota Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
United States

Marijuana: It's Official -- Fayetteville Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative Makes November Ballot

Fayetteville, Arkansas, will be the latest locality to vote on an initiative that would make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. City officials certified late last week that, after a second round of signature-gathering, initiative organizers had indeed collected more than enough valid signatures to place the measure on the November 4 ballot.

Sponsored by Sensible Fayetteville, the initiative would "make investigations, citations, arrests, property seizures, and prosecutions for adult marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the City of Fayetteville's lowest law enforcement and prosecutorial priority." It would also require city officials to write annual letters to state and federal authorities calling for the reform of marijuana laws.

According to Sensible Fayetteville, 402 people were arrested on marijuana possession charges in Fayetteville in 2005 alone, while the state of Arkansas spends $30 million a year enforcing marijuana laws. Marijuana arrests "clog the courts and jails" and policing resources "would be better-spent fighting serious and violent crimes," the group said.

But it looks like Fayetteville prosecutors and police, as well as University of Arkansas police, are going to ignore the will of the voters if the measure passes. The city attorney said that marijuana possession is a Class A misdemeanor under state law, and that a municipal ordinance cannot supersede state law, while city and college police chiefs said they would continue to enforce state law.

"From a legal point of view, this ordinance has no effect," City Attorney Kit Williams told the Arkansas Traveler. "It would be like if we passed an ordinance saying we weren't going to enforce drunken driving laws," Williams said. "We would still have to enforce them."

Spokesmen for the University of Arkansas Police Department and the Fayetteville Police also told the Traveler they would continue to enforce state law.

But supporters of the initiative said passage would be an historic move. "When we pass an initiative like this, we send a message that we will no longer accept inaction," said Jacob Holloway, field organizer for Sensible Fayetteville. "By bringing light to this issue, we can change not only local laws but state and federal laws, as well."

"This is an opportunity for the people of Fayetteville to say that the drug laws need to be changed," said Ryan Denham, campaign director for Sensible Fayetteville.

But if the comments from prosecutors and law enforcement are any indication, a victory at the polls in November will be only the first step in gaining actual reform of the city's marijuana policy. Still, you have to start somewhere.

Medical Marijuana: PTSD Victim Sues West Virginia Pain Management Center for Dismissing Him Because He Smokes Marijuana for Relief

Medical marijuana patients are routinely discriminated against in medical settings. Even in medical marijuana states, patients are denied transplants because they are considered "drug abusers." All across the country, medical marijuana patients face problems in obtaining traditional pain treatment, especially because of "pain contracts" used by doctors who either don't understand or believe in medical marijuana or who fear the heavy hand of federal law enforcement, or both. Now, in West Virginia, one patient is fighting back.

Putnam County resident Ronald Sprouse filed a lawsuit September 3 against a doctor and health center, claiming they refused to prescribe him pain medications and dismissed him as a patient after he tested positive for marijuana on June 13. Sprouse is suing the Family Care Health Center, officer manager Janice Amburgey, and Dr. Larry Beker for refusing to treat him because he uses marijuana medicinally.

In his complaint, Sprouse admitted he smokes marijuana and said he does so to relieve the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "In addition, the Plaintiff asserts that many medications have been used in the past to attempt to treat his disorder without success," the complaint said. "Only the use of marijuana has proven effective to control the Plaintiff's disorder." Without marijuana, Sprouse wrote, he becomes violent toward his family and is reluctant to leave his home for fear of how he will react to others. "Unless properly medicated the Plaintiff cannot sleep, has night sweats, and bouts of deep depression," the suit said

Sprouse admitted signing a pain contract, or pain management agreement that says: "Unannounced urine or serum toxicology screens may be requested, and your cooperation is required. Presence of unauthorized substances (legal or illegal) will result in discharge from the practice."

But Sprouse argued that the clause is invalid, first because Family Care did not provide him with a list of what it considered unauthorized substances. "Without such a list the Plaintiff had no way of knowing what Family Care considered to be legal or illegal unauthorized substances," the suit said.

He may have better luck with his second argument against the pain contract. He signed the contract under coercion, he argued, because he had to to obtain treatment. "In this case the Plaintiff was forced to sign the Pain Management Agreement or live a life in constant pain with no medication," his complaint said.

Sprouse also argued that he violated the agreement out of medical necessity, not malfeasance. "Family Care was not authorized to prescribe the medication needed to alleviate his serious medical condition, not is any medical professional in the state of West Virginia," the complaint states. "In order to preserve his health, mental stability, and the safety of his family and others, the Plaintiff was forced to medicate himself."

As a remedy, Sprouse is seeking a judgment against the center that would order it to continue treating him and bar it from placing any negative comments in his medical file that would inhibit other doctors or practices from prescribing him medication. He is also seeking court costs.

Sprouse has requested a jury trial. He is representing himself.

Medical Marijuana: California Activist Grower Eddy Lepp Guilty in Federal Cultivation Case, Faces 10 Years to Life

Eddy Lepp, a medical and religious use of marijuana advocate named High Times "2004 Freedom Fighter of the Year," faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence and up to life after a federal jury in San Francisco found him guilty of conspiracy and cultivation of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Sentencing is set for December 1.
Eddy Lepp (from
Lepp was arrested in 2004 after DEA agents said they found some 32,000 plants in gardens on his property near Upper Lake. Although US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled the seizure was based on an invalid search warrant, she allowed prosecutors to enter into evidence 24,000 plants that were growing in plain view of a state highway.

Under federal court rules, Lepp could not mount a medical marijuana defense, and Judge Patel also refused to let him mount a religious use defense. As she pondered the religious defense issue, Patel said that while it may have been possible in a personal use case, it could not apply in a case where someone was growing thousands of plants and distributing them to anonymous parishioners.

"I truly feel I was very, very railroaded by the system, and specifically by (US District) Judge Marilyn Patel," he told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat after the verdict. Lepp said he is both a Rastafarian and a member of the Universal Life Church and that the marijuana was being grown for spiritual as well as medicinal purposes.

Lepp told the court that the plants, grown at a site known as "Eddy's Medicinal Gardens," were not his, but were being grown cooperatively by members of his church, the The Multi-Denominational Ministry of Cannabis & Rastafari. "All I did was make the land available to the ministry," he said.

Lepp is a well-known promoter of marijuana legalization and in recent years has been a fixture at West Coast marijuana reform conferences and festivals. Until she took ill, dying last November, his wife, Linda Senti, was his constant companion. The couple worked to gather petitions for Proposition 215 in 1996 and lobbied Lake County supervisors to set medical marijuana standards. Lepp was also known for publicly smoking marijuana in front of the federal building in Santa Rosa in 2002 in support of medical marijuana.

His attorneys said they planned to appeal on the religious defense and possibly other grounds. If those appeals fail, Lepp will spend much -- if not all -- of the rest of his life in the federal gulag.

Europe: Irish Judge Balks at Unquantified Drugged Driving Test

An Irish judge last Friday threw out drugged driving charges against a young driver, saying that a positive result for marijuana in his urine sample was not specific enough to allow him to conclude that the driver was indeed impaired. Judge Kevin Kilrane of the Ballyshannon District Court in Donegal also criticized the Road Safety Medical Bureau for failing to test for the level of drug intoxication in its drug tests.

Peter Gillen was pulled over shortly after 4:00am for driving erratically, and Garda Officer Sean Flynn described him as "very shocked, unsteady, and very agitated" upon being stopped. Gillen tested negative on a breath test for alcohol, but Flynn arrested him on suspicion of drugged driving, and a urine sample Gillen provided soon after came up positive for marijuana.

That wasn't enough for Judge Kilrane to find Gillen guilty of drugged driving, which carries a harsh penalty of an automatic four-year loss of one's drivers' license. The mere presence of marijuana in Gillen's system did not show he was impaired, the judge said.

"The defendant could have been stoned out of his mind or he might have had a trace element only," Kilrane said. "At best, all you have is suspicion, and suspicion is not enough." The evidence was "too thin" to convict he said, as he dismissed the charge.

Kilrane scolded the Road Safety Medical Bureau for only testing for the presence of marijuana and not quantifying the amount present. "It is not the fault of the gardaí," he said. "It is the fault of the bureau that does not give a concentration of drugs."

US states that have "zero tolerance" drugged driving laws operate on the same standard criticized by the Irish jurist. In such jurisdictions, the mere presence of marijuana or its metabolites is sufficient to garner a conviction, without the need to show actual impairment.

VIDEO: Medical marijuana patient facing prison time

United States

Fresno Becomes 41st California County to Adopt Medical Marijuana I.D. Card Program


Fresno Becomes 41st California County to Adopt Medical Marijuana I.D. Card ProgramDecision Is a Sign that Counties Can No Longer Ignore Law

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California organizer, 707-575-9870

FRESNO, Calif. — The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 today to adopt a medical marijuana I.D. card system, making it the 41st county to comply with a requirement mandated by a 2003 state law. One board member abstained.

    By giving patients the option of obtaining cards identifying them as qualified medical marijuana patients, law enforcement officers will be able to quickly discern whether they are operating within the law, sparing taxpayers the burden of costly, time-consuming false arrests, advocates said.

    "California's voters, Legislature and the courts have made it clear that counties must comply with the state's medical marijuana law," said Aaron Smith, California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Hopefully the decision to implement this program in Fresno County will send a message to the other counties across the San Joaquin Valley that have yet to comply."

    The board had decided in July to delay a decision until the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a challenge to the I.D. card program by the counties of San Diego and San Bernardino. Although the case was unanimously dismissed July 31, officials from both counties vowed to appeal to the California Supreme Court.

    "While their colleagues in San Diego and San Bernardino continue to avoid reality, Fresno board members today demonstrated they understand and respect the rule of law," Smith said. "There is no longer any excuse for any county official in this state to obstruct this simple, commonsense – and mandatory – I.D. card program."

    Patients and advocates hailed the decision as the latest sign that local and state officials have come to understand the importance of protecting the rights of seriously ill Californians to use medical marijuana to relieve their pain if their doctors recommend it. In August, Attorney General Jerry Brown issued the most comprehensive directives on how law enforcement should interact with medical marijuana patients and collectives, a move lauded by the state’s Police Chiefs Association as an important step toward clarifying the law. The guidelines state that the I.D. cards “represent one of the best ways to ensure the security and non-diversion of marijuana grown for medical use."

    "The Fresno Board of Supervisors' decision represents a victory for sensible, compassionate policymaking," said Dana Bobbitt, a Fresno resident who turned to medical marijuana to aide in his treatment for hepatitis C. "It's about time that our local leaders realized their obligation to uphold the rule of law and the will of the voters by implementing this program."

    With more than 25,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit

Fresno, CA
United States

Americans for Safe Access: September 2008 Activist Newsletter

California Legislature OKs Job Rights for Cannabis Patients

The California legislature has taken action to guarantee employment rights for cannabis patients. The state senate this month sent to the governor's desk an assembly bill that would prevent discriminating against patients in "hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment" based on their status as a state-qualified medical cannabis user or a positive drug test for marijuana.

The bill, AB 2279, was introduced by Assemblymember Mark Leno in answer to a California Supreme Court decision that found medical marijuana patients can be fired for positive drug tests, even if their cannabis use is legal under state law and occurs only outside the workplace. AB 2279 is sponsored by ASA and was drafted with assistance from ASA's Legislative Analyst, Noah Mamber.

The bill leaves intact existing state law prohibiting consumption at the workplace and protects employers from liability by allowing exceptions for jobs where physical safety could be a concern.

Gary Ross Gary Ross, speaking to the media

"The California legislature has stood up for the right of patients to work and be productive members of society," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who represented Gary Ross, the software engineer whose firing became a test of California's medical marijuana law. "Now the governor must act to protect the jobs of thousands of law-abiding Californians who are fighting serious illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS."

The employment rights bill has the support of unions representing nearly 1 million workers in California, as well as the National Lawyers Guild and several HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations. ASA lobbying helped gain the early endorsements of the statewide California Labor Federation, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

California joins Oregon and Hawaii in considering laws to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

More about the bill can be seen at




CA Attorney General Directs Law Enforcement on Medical Marijuana

Comprehensive recommendations include protection of dispensaries

Guidelines for California medical cannabis patients and the operation of dispensaries that serve them have been issued by the state's attorney general.

Under the new guidelines, California law enforcement agencies should not take qualified patients into custody or seize their cannabis, so long as they are abiding by state law and local regulation. In instances where medical cannabis is seized, officials are required to return it to patients. The guidelines also provide recommendations for operating medical cannabis dispensaries in accordance with state law.

Jerry Brown Attorney General Jerry Brown

"Today we stand beside the Attorney General of California in his effort to fully implement the state's medical marijuana law," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford. "We welcome this leadership and expect that compliance with these guidelines will result in fewer unnecessary arrests, citations and seizures of medicine from qualified patients and their primary caregivers."

Americans for Safe Access and other advocates have been urging Attorney General Jerry Brown and other state officials to take action on implementing the medical cannabis program. The guidelines on return of patient cannabis are in keeping with recent court decisions won by Americans for Safe Access.

The most significant aspect of the guidelines may prove to be the recommendations for operating storefront medical marijuana dispensaries in accordance with state law. Lack of state guidance has meant that the issue of how to regulate the operation of such dispensaries -- which some estimates say more than half the state's cannabis patients rely on for access -- has been left to city councils, county supervisors and local zoning boards.

The guidelines note that "a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful under California law." The key question is what constitutes proper organization and operation. The attorney general's guidelines claim that medical cannabis dispensaries must operate on a not-for-profit basis.

This stems from language in the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420), passed by the state legislature in 2003. But the voter-approved Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215) makes no mention of profit or non-profit in its call for the establishing of a state distribution system.

The guidelines also make clear that state and local law enforcement are not to use federal law as an excuse for arresting state-qualified patients or seizing their cannabis. In so doing, the attorney general affirmed several court decisions that find California's medical marijuana law is not preempted by federal law.

The differences between state and federal laws have led to escalating interference by federal officials. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice have targeted California with a campaign of investigations, raids, seizures, prosecutions, and imprisonment of medical marijuana patients and providers.

In response, several California mayors, including San Francisco's Gavin Newsom and Oakland's Ron Dellums, have asked House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) for oversight hearings. Rep. Conyers has publicly questioned federal tactics and demanded answers from the DEA.

"It is now up to Congress and the new President to align federal policy with California and other medical cannabis states," said ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes. "It is time to resolve the federal-state conflict that serves only to undermine California and other states' sovereignty and inflict harm on seriously ill patients and their care providers."

The new guidelines can be seen at:

ASA Forms Alliance with Student Drug Policy Group

The national leadership of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and Americans for Safe Access have formed an alliance to work more closely on the common goal of a compassionate drug policy.

SSDP, one of the most effective and fastest-growing student organizations in the country, and ASA, the largest national organization working solely for safe access to medical cannabis for research and patients, are asking student chapters to become official ASA affiliates.

SSDP chapters across the country have long worked on ASA campaigns, and over the years many ASA staffers have had their beginnings with SSDP. But by becoming official affiliates, SSDP chapters can work directly with ASA on federal and local campaigns, promote educational events on campus, and make a larger impact.

SSDP chapters can contact ASA's national office to find out how to:

· Host screenings of the award-winning documentary Waiting to Inhale and bring writer and director Jed Riffe to speak about the film
· Host lectures with medical cannabis researchers, patients, activists, and others to speak on the medical cannabis movement
· Work with ASA on campaigns to influence schools and communities to help change medical cannabis laws at the state and federal levels.

ASA's is providing SSDP chapters with professional activist training in event planning, lobbying, media training, and other activist skills, as well as giving student activists a chance to gain experience on professional legislative campaigns. ASA is also helping SSDP chapters work together locally, regionally and nationally.

As ASA affiliates, SSDP chapters can benefit from ASA's credibility with legislators and healthcare groups as an organization focused exculsively on medical cannabis as a healthcare crisis. In return, ASA benefits from the powerful presence of SSDP chapters across the country.

"College students have played a central role in all social justice movements, this one included," said George Pappas, ASA Field Coordinator. "This an excellent opportunity for young activists, and one more step to making this movement a force for change."

For more information on how to get started, contact ASA Field Coordinator George Pappas ( at (510) 251-1856, or SSDP National Field Director Micah Daigle ( at (415) 875-9463.

Chapter Update: ASA Launches Mentorship Program

ASA is launching a mentorship program to help new chapters and affiliates establish themselves. The ASA Chapter Mentorship Program is a response to the increasing interest in medical cannabis issues across the country.

New research, patient testimonials, and the abusive actions of federal agencies have led concerned citizens to speak out. Americans fed up with cruel, outdated policies are forming ASA chapters. Community organizations grappling with healthcare crises are becoming ASA affiliates. Condition-based groups whose members already use cannabis under threat of arrest are joining ASA campaigns.

Through "chapter mentorship," emerging ASA chapters are connected with seasoned veterans. New activists are guided through their campaigns step-by-step, while building relationships with groups that have reputations for success.

The goals of the ASA Chapter Mentorship Program are to:
1. Expand the number of ASA chapters and affiliates across the US
2. Strengthen the impact of existing ASA chapters and affiliates
3. Promote greater cooperation, communication, and interconnectedness among ASA chapters and affiliates, leading to more success

The "mentored-to-mentor" relationship means regular communication and support, as groups paired by ASA work step-by-step to plan and implement campaigns. Mentors help identify strategic projects, engage in step-by-step project planning, and communicate regularly to make change.

This program is for official ASA chapters or affiliates, though groups will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Interested chapters or parties should submit a one-page application outlining the recent activities of their group, why they need an ASA Mentor, and at least two specific projects they need help with. Questions and applications should be directed to George Pappas at or (510) 251-1856.

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