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ABC News Says Marijuana Makes People Miserable

ABC News has one of those classic pot propaganda pieces that relies on anecdotal accounts to sound the alarm about marijuana addiction. We learn the sad stories of a couple people who smoked way too much pot for way too long and ended up unhappy. Meanwhile, buried within all of this is the one relevant statistic that puts it all in perspective:

About 40 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older -- about 94 million -- have tried marijuana at least once, according to a 2003 survey by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Of those, about 3.6 million were daily users.

Overwhelmingly, people who try marijuana don't get "addicted" to it. They also don't go on to try harder drugs. They don’t get lung cancer, or psychosis, or any of the other horrible outcomes that are so commonly and shamelessly associated with America's most popular illegal drug.

Yet according to ABC News, marijuana is dangerously addictive, and worse still, it's the legalization movement's fault that people don't know how bad it is:

Since the 1970s, when marijuana was the symbol of political protest, the risks of marijuana dependency have been clouded by the legalization debate and long-held beliefs that the illicit drug is harmless.

Nonsense. The reason so many people think marijuana is safe is because they've tried it and it was safe.

Update: If you'd like to read some more about this ABC News story and why it's bad, then this post is for you.

More Change, Please

You Can Make a Difference


Dear friends,

Urge President Obama to clarify where he stands on medical marijuana. 

Take Action
Email the President

"Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit,” President Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, told an audience in California last month.

That’s some pretty classic drug war rhetoric for someone who announced just a few months earlier that the United States is no longer fighting a war on drugs.
The Obama administration is sending mixed messages on medical marijuana.  The president has repeatedly said that science should trump politics and has advocated regulating medical marijuana like any other prescription medicine. Did he forget to tell his drug czar?

Ask President Obama where he really stands.

Obama’s Attorney General has said the federal government will not arrest patients and providers following their state’s medical marijuana law. Yet, his drug czar continues to say marijuana has no medical value, and those who own or work in medical marijuana dispensaries still live in fear of being raided by federal law enforcement simply for providing doctor-recommended medicine to sick people.

The administration owes us an explanation.  Where exactly does the White House stand on medical marijuana?  

A key House committee recently urged the administration to finally define its medical marijuana policy in no uncertain terms.  Now, the White House needs to hear from you too.

Write to President Obama today and urge him to make a clear statement on medical marijuana.  Tell him that people shouldn’t be denied the medicine they need because of backwards drug war politics.

If President Obama is serious about putting science before politics, he needs to make clear that his administration won’t fall back on the same old drug war lies about medical marijuana. And he needs to make sure his drug czar gets the memo.


Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance Network


Federal Prosecutor Drops Medical Marijuana Charges

Some interesting news from New Mexico:

On June 30, 2009 in the Federal District Court of New Mexico, Assistant US Attorney John Anderson agreed, on the record, to Honor the Medical Marijuana Recommendation of Charles Smith of Shasta Lake, California. Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Lorenzo Garcia further agreed to accept the State’s proposed recommendation of a Conditional Discharge upon provision of Mr. Smith’s Medical Marijuana Recommendation to the US Attorney’s office. This historic moment occurred during the federal Government’s prosecution of cases related to the Annual Rainbow Gathering that occurs in different states around the country and involves a large Federal Law Enforcement presence.

This is the first time in modern history, in which it is known that the US Attorney and the Federal District Court agreed to accept medical marijuana recommendations and licenses in order to dismiss marijuana possession charges.

And the universe didn’t collapse. Not only that, the story has gotten no press whatsoever. Often, when the government refrains from doing something cruel to someone, there isn't much of a news story left to report. This just goes to show how silly it is to assume that there's a political imperative requiring us to continue aggressively enforcing bad drug laws. There isn’t.

See how easy it is to just leave patients alone? Next time, try not arresting them in the first place.

Medical Marijuana accepted to dismiss Federal Court Cases in New Mexico

PRESS RELEASE – AUGUST 2, 2009 – FROM JOHN MCCALL, ATTORNEY On June 30, 2009 in the Federal District Court of New Mexico, Assistant US Attorney John Anderson agreed, on the record, to Honor the Medical Marijuana Recommendation of Charles Smith of Shasta Lake, California. Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Lorenzo Garcia further agreed to accept the State’s proposed recommendation of a Conditional Discharge upon provision of Mr. Smith’s Medical Marijuana Recommendation to the US Attorney’s office. This historic moment occurred during the federal Government’s prosecution of cases related to the Annual Rainbow Gathering that occurs in different states around the country and involves a large Federal Law Enforcement presence. The cases were prosecuted as civil collateral forfeitures and the records have been transferred to the Central Violations Bureau for the Federal Government. Five Medical marijuana recommendations were honored including those from Wyoming, California, Hawaii and Washington State. This is the first time in modern history, in which it is known that the US Attorney and the Federal District Court agreed to accept medical marijuana recommendations and licenses in order to dismiss marijuana possession charges. This historic series of events followed the filing of a law suit by Bryan Krumm of New Mexicans for Compassionate Use in New Mexico Federal District Court in 2008. During those proceedings members of New Mexicans for Compassionate Use were able to speak to Justice Department representatives about the statements in March of 2009 by Eric Holder, US Attorney General, that medical marijuana would no longer be prosecuted. After this conversation in May of 2009, Attorney General Holder came to New Mexico in June of 2009 and again gave a public presentation on the matter stating that legally established medical marijuana distribution operations and legally sanctioned medical marijuana users (all under state laws), would not be prosecuted by the Federal Government. During the proceedings it was revealed that the AUSA’s prosecuting the cases in New Mexico told Defendants that they were not returning the medicine and that they would be prosecuted if they were caught with Marijuana in the National Forest again. During discussions with the US Attorney and his Assistants at the Court, long time Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Judy Rosenstein discovered that the US Attorney for New Mexico, Gregory J. Fouratt, was not involved in that decision to impose conditions on the Defendants. Contact Attorney John McCall for more information on this case. Charles Smith has given permission for this information to be released to the public and is available, somewhere in the woods around Shasta Lake, if you want to find him and talk to him about his experience. You can go to Youtube Lisa Law for video of the Rainbow Gathering and Law Enforcement activities. John McCall Attorney at Law Law Works L.L.C. 823 Gold SW Albuquerque NM 87102 (505) 256-1998 Cell (505) 480-7764

Marijuana is Safer Than Viagra

Is there anything it can’t do?

A fifty-five year old man has confessed to using marijuana in order to sexually please his wife.

Bal Birju was charged with possession of thirty grammes of marijuana.

In court he said he preferred to use the marijuana rather than the popular Viagra which can be dangerous. [i995fm]

Makes sense to me. Unfortunately, we're reminded once again of the one indisputable risk associated with using marijuana: they'll put you in jail for it.

Former Surgeon General Says Legalize Marijuana

Dr. Jocelyn Elders ignited a firestorm when she proposed studying the merits of drug legalization while serving as Surgeon General under President Clinton. It was a bold move back then and she's still eager to speak out in favor of reform:

You’re also a vocal proponent of medical marijuana. Why?

I have been speaking out about it for a long time. I’m a member of the board of advisors of a medical marijuana group. To me, it’s not nearly as toxic for our bodies as tobacco or alcohol. It should be legalized. As far as we know, it doesn’t cause lung cancer, it doesn’t cause people to go out and drive drunk and commit crimes. If it helps reduce the nausea and vomiting and reduce leg cramps, make patients feel better, what’s wrong with that? We should make it available to people who need it. I feel if people want marijuana, they could get a prescription. Then we can tax it and know who is getting it. I don’t think it is a drug that is doing harm to this country. By arresting people, putting them in jail for crimes related to marijuana, we’re spending millions on drug enforcement and it causes more problems. Young people are convicted of a crime, they can’t get money to go to school, we have over 2 million prisoners and many related to drug use—it is a vicious cycle and one we created. [New America Media]

She gets it. In fact, she got it a long time ago.

Americans for Safe Access: August 2009 Activist Newsletter

Americans for Safe Access
Monthly Activist Newsletter

August 2009

Volume 4, Issue 8

Calif. Senate Committee Urges New Federal Policy on Medical Marijuana

Resolution calls for comprehensive federal approach

Some California state senators are pushing for comprehensive changes in federal policy on medical cannabis.

After hearing testimony from Americans for Safe Access and other patient advocates, the California Senate Health Committee last month passed a resolution urging an end to federal interference in state medical marijuana programs, as well as a new national approach that supports research and makes the drug available in all states.

Introduced in June by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by ASA, the resolution is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed there, it will go before the full Senate.

"Patients and providers in California remain at risk of arrest and prosecution by federal law enforcement, and legally established medical marijuana cooperatives continue to be the subjects of federal raids," said Sen. Leno in a statement.

Senate Joint Resolution 14 asks the federal government to both curtail raids in the state and "create a comprehensive federal medical marijuana policy that ensures safe and legal access to any patient that would benefit from it."

The resolution also urges President Obama and Congress to establish "an affirmative defense to medical marijuana charges in federal court and establish federal legal protection for individuals authorized by state and local law."

Don Duncan, ASA's California Director, and Lanette Davies, a Sacramento patient and activist were among those who explained to the senators why this is so important.

"With more than two dozen medical marijuana defendants currently being prosecuted by the Justice Department, each of them facing many years in prison, such a policy change would be timely, relevant and critically important," said Duncan. "The entire country needs a sensible, comprehensive medical marijuana policy."

While the Obama Administration has stated that it has a new policy on medical cannabis, federal raids on patients and providers have continued.
Currently, medical marijuana patients and providers charged under federal law cannot introduce evidence about their medical condition, their doctor's advice, or state medical marijuana laws.

The California Senate resolution also seeks expanded research into the medical benefits of marijuana. More research was a recommendation of the 1999 Institute of Medicine report on medical marijuana, a report commissioned by the White House but never acted on.

An administrative law judge ruled two years ago that the federal monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes has unnecessarily limited FDA-approved scientific studies, but the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected the judge's recommendations.

Further information:
Senate Joint Resolution on medical marijuana
ASA fact sheet on SJR 14

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ASA Wins Landmark Calif. Ruling on Cultivation of Medical Marijuana

Appellate court protects patient collectives and affirms civil rights

A case Americans for Safe Access has been fighting for three years resulted last month in an appellate court ruling that protects California patients who grow marijuana collectively.

The California Third District Court of Appeal issued a 2-1 decision affirming a superior court ruling that state and local law enforcement must respect the right of medical marijuana patients to cultivate their medicine collectively.

The court also found that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to search a patient's property and seize any marijuana found there. The judges wrote that to rule otherwise would "surely shock the sensibilities of the voters" who approved the state's medical marijuana initiative in 1996.

"In addition to protecting patients' right to collectively cultivate, the Court has reaffirmed that medical marijuana patients enjoy the same constitutional rights as everyone else, including the ability to file civil rights actions when those rights are violated," said Joe Elford, ASA Chief Counsel and the attorney who litigated the case.

ASA took the case in 2006 after receiving repeated reports that Butte County law enforcement and other police agencies throughout the state were refusing to recognize the legitimacy of patient collectives.
The landmark appellate decision in County of Butte v. Superior Court concerns the 2005 warrant-less search of a patient's home in Paradise, California.

During the search, the Butte County Sheriff ordered the homeowner, David Williams, 56, to uproot more than two-dozen plants being grown for a small collective of seven medical marijuana patients. Though state law allows for collective cultivation, the sheriff told Williams it is not lawful to grow marijuana for multiple patients.

A superior court judge in Butte County ruled otherwise in 2007, saying medical marijuana patients "should not be required to risk criminal penalties and the stress and expense of a criminal trial in order to assert their rights."

The appeals court last month agreed, finding that patients have "the same constitutional guarantee of due process available to all individuals, no matter what their status, under the state Constitution." The appeals panel noted that "[t]he fact that this case involves medical marijuana and a qualified medical marijuana patient does not change these fundamental constitutional rights or an individual's right to assert them."

"This ruling by the California courts sends yet another strong message to state law enforcement that they must abide by the medical marijuana laws of the state and not the competing federal laws," said ASA's Elford.

Even the dissenting opinion in the case contained a plea for new federal law on medical marijuana. Court of Appeal Judge James Morrison wrote that, "[t]he United States Congress should reconsider its refusal to amend the federal drug laws to make reasonable accommodation for the 13 states that have enacted some form of compassionate use exception to their penal codes."

Further information:
The ruling by the California Third District Court of Appeal
Information on ASA's work on the Butte Case

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Colorado Rejects Restrictions on Medical Cannabis Distribution

Grassroots Organizing Floods Hearing with Advocates

On July 20, patients and advocates convinced the Colorado Board of Health to reject a proposal that would have sharply restricted the ability of the state's citizens to access medical marijuana.

Nearly 1,000 medical cannabis patients and supporters -- including lawyers, doctors, care providers, veterans, and numerous health-care and religious organizations -- attended the 12-hour hearing, and nearly 200 supporters of safe access testified, thanks to months of coordinated efforts by Sensible Colorado, an ASA affiliate.

As a result, the Board of Health voted 5-4 to table a proposal that would have limited caregivers to assisting no more than five patients. The proposal would have also restricted who can qualify as a caregiver under Colorado law, requiring medical marijuana providers to assist patients in ways that would be impractical for many -- including providing patients with food, transportation, and housekeeping services.

When these changes were first proposed in January, Sensible Colorado mounted a grassroots campaign that delayed the hearing until July so patient advocates could organize a response. The successful outreach efforts among patients that ensured the large turnout at the hearing were just part of Sensible Colorado's campaign.

Director Brian Vicente also convinced such prominent state organizations as the Northern Colorado AIDS Project, the ACLU of Colorado and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar to publicly oppose the changes, and he persuaded one of the state's Congressional delegation, Rep. Jared Polis, to write a personal letter of opposition to the board.

The success of Sensible Colorado's organizing paves the way for increased access to medical marijuana through safe and affordable distribution, an issue that many of the 13 states with medical cannabis laws are confronting.

With only one exception, state medical marijuana laws failed to address how qualified patients are to obtain their medicine. The legislatures of several states have now amended their laws to establish rules for centralized distribution of marijuana to patients.

In the past few years, California, Washington and Oregon have created provisions for regulating distribution. This year, both Maine and Rhode Island have taken up the issue, with Rhode Island changing its law in June to license three "Compassion Centers" to provide medical marijuana to patients. Voters in Maine will also have the chance to approve a ballot initiative in November that would implement a distribution mechanism for patients.

One state that has tried to deal with this issue from the beginning is New Mexico. When the legislature adopted a medical marijuana law in 2007, lawmakers not only established protections for patients who use medical marijuana, but directed state officials to find ways of distributing it. In March, the New Mexico Department of Health issued its first license for non-profit medical marijuana production.

Distribution questions are also shaping new medical marijuana laws coming before state legislatures. Lawmakers in New Jersey and Iowa have been debating measures that incorporate plans for distributing medical marijuana to patients, not just protect them from prosecution once they have it.

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Media Hypocrisy in the Marijuana Debate

Russ Belville shares the fascinating story of some "higher ups" at CBS pulling the plug on a NORML radio show that was about to go on the air. The whole thing is magnificently absurd considering that CBS owns Showtime, home of the hit series Weeds.

If CBS has a problem with marijuana, then they really shouldn’t be out there making money by sensationalizing it. Boy, it would really suck for CBS if word got out among Weeds viewers that the show's corporate owners have some kind of problem with debating marijuana laws.

Marijuana is Safer Than Water

I sometimes wonder if we rely too heavily on the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco. People who don't know anything about marijuana (which comprise a substantial portion of our opposition) may have a hard time understanding what we mean by that. Moreover, it's tricky to compare the totality of harm produced by those drugs vs. marijuana because our opponents obscure the analysis by blaming the harms of alcohol and tobacco on their legality.

Inevitably, the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco suffers by virtue of the fact that those drugs are pretty dangerous. Being safer than them doesn’t mean it's safe. So for a while now, I've been trying to think of something else to compare it to and I think Pete Guither nails it in this post.

Presentation of The Society for the Study of Social Problems' 2009 Social Action Award to Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana

The national organization of sociologists, "The Society for the Study of Social Problems," has named the California medical marijuana organization, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, as the recipient of its 2009 Social Action Award. WAMM, which is a small patient-caregiver cooperative in Santa Cruz, California, has collectively grown and given away millions of dollars worth of cannabis to seriously and terminally ill people since the early 1990s. The organization is strictly not-for-profit. The organization is the subject of a recent ethnography by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb, Dying to Get High: marijuana as medicine (New York University Press 2008): For more information, contact Michele Smith Koontz (SSSP Administrative Officer) at (865) 689-1531 or
Sat, 08/08/2009 - 8:00pm
905 California Street -- Nob Hill
San Francisco, CA 94108
United States

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