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Press Release: Hundreds to Rally in LA, Urge Governor to End Federal Medical Marijuana Raids

MEDIA ADVISORY from Americans for Safe Access For Immediate Release: October 9, 2007 Hundreds to Rally in LA, Urge Governor to End Federal Medical Marijuana Raids Republican elected officials speak out against federal attempts to undermine state law Los Angeles, CA -- Hundreds of patients and advocates are expected to rally in front of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Los Angeles office on Thursday, October 11, calling on him to stand up for patients' rights and defend the state's medical marijuana law by urging the Bush Administration to end the raids on patients and providers. The rally is being organized by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national medical cannabis (marijuana) advocacy organization. What: Hundreds rally to call on Governor to "Stand Up for Patients' Rights" When: Thursday, October 11 at Noon Where: Los Angeles office of Governor Schwarzenegger, 300 South Spring St. Who: Statements from Los Angeles City Councilmember and former LAPD officer Dennis Zine, and Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby; as well as the following speakers: medical marijuana patient and U.S. Supreme Court plaintiff Angel Raich; raided dispensary operator and advocate Don Duncan; recently raided edible-producer Michael Martin. ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer will MC the event Responding to recent federal enforcement of medical marijuana, Los Angeles Councilmember and former police officer Dennis Zine said in a July 2007 letter to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen Tandy that, "Voters in California and in Los Angeles support the medical use of cannabis and want safe, well-regulated access. Medical cannabis facilities are a community based response to the need for safe access and represent the State of California's effort to fully implement California's medical cannabis law." Patients and advocates, angered by increased federal attacks on medical marijuana patients and providers, are calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to take action to end interference by the federal government in the state's medical marijuana law. Paramilitary-style raids by the DEA have become routine since the June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, which gave the federal government the discretion to arrest and prosecute patients. However, this year the DEA has conducted at least 44 separate raids of patients and providers, more than twice that of the prior two years. Illustrating the breadth of these attacks, the DEA has conducted raids in no less than 10 counties across the state and has shut down entire regions of access to medical marijuana. Bringing a new dimension to the federal effort to undermine state law, letters were recently sent to more than 150 landlords in California, threatening asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution if they continued to lease to medical marijuana providers. By contrast, the state has had its share of success in implementing Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. After Governor Davis signed SB 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA), into law in 2003, Governor Schwarzenegger allocated more than $1 million to establish a statewide ID card program. In addition, more than 30 California cities and counties have adopted ordinances regulating medical cannabis dispensaries, which are now required to pay sales tax to the State Board of Equalization. "We cannot continue to effectively implement state law with this level of federal interference," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "It is time for the Governor to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its actions and to fend off federal attacks so that we can avert further harm to patients." The October 11 rally will culminate weeks of advocacy that resulted in more than 40,000 postcards sent to the Governor, as well as hundreds of phone calls and emails, all urging him to take action to defend patients' rights. In addition to calling on the Governor to end the federal raids on patients and providers, advocates are seeking a directive from the Governor to local law enforcement discouraging cooperation with federal raids. Advocates are also urging Schwarzenegger to solicit support from Governors of other medical marijuana states in order to ward off federal interference. In August, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson sent a letter to President Bush after the DEA threatened state officials with criminal prosecution if they implemented the state-mandated medical cannabis distribution system. *Further information:* One-pager on escalation of federal attacks: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/dea_escalation.pdf One-pager on requests of Governor Schwarzenegger: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/governor%20asks%20one%20pager.pdf One-pager on benefits of dispensaries: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/ca_dispensaries.pdf August 2007 letter from NM Governor Richardson to President Bush: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/richardson%20letter.pdf Speaker biographies: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/Rally_Speaker_Bios.pdf
Location: 
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ASA’s Medical Marijuana in the News: 10/05/07

FEDERAL: Medical Marijuana Provider Turns Himself In

About 50 ASA activists and other supporters of medical marijuana provider Mickey Martin protested at the federal court house when he turned himself in to authorities. Last week, DEA agents raided food-preparation locations they allege are connected to Martin and arrested three others. Martin, who was on vacation with his wife and two young sons, surrendered Thursday and was released on bond. Martin has been a leader in developing alternatives to smokeable forms of medicinal cannabis.

Pot Candy Maker Out On $300,000 Bail
KTVU TV2 (San Francisco)
The founder of an Oakland food factory that laces everything from cookies to barbecue sauce with marijuana surrendered Thursday to face a federal drug charge.

Owner of pot-candy factory surrenders on federal drug charges
by Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle
The owner of an Oakland marijuana candy factory surrendered Thursday to face federal drug charges, but not before blasting the U.S. government for what he called an unfair attack by federal bullies on ailing patients who rely on medical marijuana.

Pot Candy Dealer Turns Himself In
by Katie Hammer, ABC7/KGO-TV
A man who makes edible marijuana products for medical patients turned himself in this morning to federal authorities after they raided his Oakland factory. He had a lot of supporters today at the federal courthouse in Oakland.

ASA ACTION: Defending Democracy

The victory in ASA’s legal challenge to the electronic voting machines used in a local California election got more attention this week not because the questionable recount was of a medical marijuana measure but because of widespread concerns about the integrity of votes cast without a “paper trail.” The ruling makes clear to election officials that voters have a right to verifiable recounts.

Judge orders Berkeley medical marijuana measure back on ballot
Associated Press
A judge ordered a failed 2004 city initiative on medical marijuana returned to the ballot next year because county election officials failed to hand over data from voting machines.

Judge Orders Sanctions, New Election in Measure R Case
by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, Berkeley Daily Planet
In what would appear to be the most stinging rebuke possible to the conduct of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office in the November 2004 Berkeley Measure R Medical Marijuana initiative election, a California Superior Court judge has ordered that a new Measure R election be held in November of next year, and that Measure R proponents be reimbursed for litigation and recount costs.

Berkeley pot bill put on 2008 ballot after judge nullifies results
by Chris Metinko, Contra Costa Times (CA)
An Alameda County Superior Court judge has nullified the results of a hotly contested 2004 election because of mishandling of a recount by Alameda County election officials, and she ordered Berkeley's Measure R -- a citizen-sponsored medical marijuana initiative -- back on the ballot for a re-vote in 2008.

Election Results Tossed in E-Voting Case
by Catherine Pickavet, InternetNews
Electronic voting has promised security, accuracy, expediency and fairness since its advent. But amid continued controversy, a new ruling in California may add yet another mark in the tally against it.

DISPENSARIES: Long Beach, Visalia, Claremont, Arcata, Santa Ana

The crucial service medical marijuana dispensaries provide to the most seriously ill and elderly patients is detailed in two articles this week. Action being considered by Long Beach has caused much debate, as has the closing of a popular dispensary in Visalia that had worked diligently with local officials. The benefits of dispensaries to patients and the advantages of a regulated local approach are outlined in ASA’s report on the experience of California local officials at http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DispensaryReport.

A patient pleads for access
by Tom Hennessy, Columnist, Long Beach Press-Telegram
"My husband has terminal lung cancer," said the woman on the phone. That was her introduction to a complicated, sometimes harrowing story about trying to obtain the only medicine that gives her husband relief. The medicine is marijuana.

Patients make case for pot
by Gerald Carroll, Visalia Times-Delta (CA)
Visalia Compassionate Caregivers have suspended their long-standing practice of quietly dispensing marijuana to patients as a result of the city's nuisance-ticket ordinance.

Medical marijuana likely to be sold at a dispensary in Claremont in the near future.
by Paul Foreman, Student Life, Pomona State College
It seems likely that medical marijuana may be sold at a dispensary in Claremont in the near future.

Visalia pot shop faces closure
by Tim Sheehan, Fresno Bee (CA)
An organization providing medical marijuana to about 1,500 people is being forced to shut its doors in downtown Visalia.

Shannon denies pending action vs. pot clinics
by Tracy Manzer, Long Beach Press Telegram
In a memo issued to the mayor and City Council Tuesday, the city attorney denied his office is taking formal legal action against a group of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city without business licenses.

City identifies medicinal marijuana dispensaries operating without licenses
by Tracy Manzer, Long Beach Press-Telegram
Proposed legal action by the Long Beach city attorney's office is expected to ignite a new battle in the ongoing war over medical marijuana. Police have identified 11 locations in Long Beach where medical marijuana is sold to patients by dispensaries, which, according to the city attorney's office, are operating illegally.

Arcata council takes on regulations for marijuana growing houses, clinics
by Cerena Johnson, Eureka Reporter (CA)
The regulation of marijuana grow houses and clinics was a hot topic of discussion at the Arcata City Council meeting Wednesday.

Santa Ana outlaws marijuana stores
by Doug Irving, Orange County Register
City council members voted unanimously late Monday to outlaw storefront medical-marijuana dispensaries, but they left the door open for hospitals and other state-licensed care centers to provide the drug.

OPINION ON DISPENSARIES

Medical pot law trumps Anaheim
EDITORIAL, Orange County Register (CA)
Superior Court Judge David Thompson last Friday essentially punted the issue of whether the city of Anaheim's law that essentially bans anything that remotely resembles a medical marijuana dispensary is in conflict with state law. Qualified Patients Association, an association of medical marijuana patients and caregivers, had challenged the law and sought an injunction against its enforcement.

It's time for L.B. to come to terms with pot dispensaries.
EDITORIAL, Long Beach Press-Telegram
The Long Beach City Council issued a six-month moratorium on business licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries in 2005. The pot dealers went ahead and opened or continued to operate 11 known dispensaries not far from homes, business and - in a couple cases, schools - in Belmont Shore, Belmont Heights, Naples and other neighborhoods where getting a liquor license can be tougher than uncorking a wine bottle with your incisors.

Publisher’s Notebook: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
by Michael Rosenthal, Santa Monica Mirror (CA)
60 Minutes did a hatchet job on medical marijuana the other night. They criticized how easy it is to get a prescription for medical marijuana, yet made no comparison to how simple it is to get one for Valium, a more widely prescribed drug. Any good doctor can see the benefit of a drug that allows for almost instant relaxation and in a method that allows the patient to regulate the usage. The story ended by having one of the subjects in the piece claim the current system is just “chaos.” It seems to me the only thing chaotic is the Federal government’s randomness in attacking dispensaries.

ASA IN THE NEWS: Speaking Up For Patients

When confronted with another story of a patient whose terrible suffering or debilitating condition was relieved by medical marijuana, officials from the DEA and the Drug Czar’s office universally dismiss the experiences as “anecdotes” and insist there are legal alternatives. ASA spokespersons point out that the history of such anecdotes is well-documented and thousands of years long, and the government’s own research concludes that Marinol is not a substitute for medical marijuana in all cases.

Two report relief from medical marijuana, but government doctor unconvinced
by David Olson, Press-Enterprise (CA)
Carl Casey is convinced marijuana saved his sight. Kathy Jones says cannabis provides more relief for her muscle-related disease than the 27 pills she used to take for it. Caren Woodson, director of governmental affairs for Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, which supports the use of medical marijuana, said many people say that smoked or baked marijuana provides much more relief than Marinol and other prescription drugs.

FEDERAL: FBI Raids Patient Garden in California

Raids by federal agents are becoming nearly routine in California, but they continue to expand in scope, targeting smaller collectives and individual patients and using IRS agents as well as DEA. Now the FBI is even getting involved, seizing a small, fully documented, state-legal collective garden.

FBI makes medical marijuana seizures in Lakeport
by Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local authorities last week seized nearly 100 marijuana plants from a home whose owner said he was growing it for medicinal purposes.

FEDERAL: Locals Ask Court to Bar Feds From Interfering

The outrage over the 2002 DEA raid on a medical marijuana collective in Santa Cruz has not dimmed with passing years. City and county officials are joining again with the patients’ group to sue the federal government, seeking to prevent them from interfering in efforts to distribute medical marijuana.

Santa Cruz Leaders, Group, Sue Government Over Medical Marijuana
KSBW Monterey
The city and county of Santa Cruz, along with the Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, are suing the federal government over the use of pot to help ease chronic pain.

MONTANA: Employment Rights for Medical Marijuana Patients Tested

A court case in Montana may help decide the employment rights of medical marijuana patients there. Oregon has faced similar questions, and a landmark appellate case ASA is litigating in California, Ross v. Raging Wire, has had oral arguments scheduled for next month.

Testing Montana medical marijuana users and the law
by Paul Peters , Missoula News (MT)
A Kalispell man may be the first in the country to test an employer’s right to fire workers who use state-sanctioned medical marijuana.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

New blog entries from ASA staff and invited guests are helping keep activists informed on the issues and events affecting medical marijuana patients and providers.

No Pattern or Rules to DEA Attacks
by James Anthony
Patients and advocates often ask if there’s any pattern to DEA raids. This a common and understandable question–as human beings we want a predictable and sensible universe.

Nice Reponse to Daily Bulletin smear Op-Ed
By Noah Mamber
Drug Law Blog does a nice job of taking apart a misinformed Inland Empire Op-Ed railing against medical marijuana dispensaries.

MORE ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS

Find out more about ASA at AmericansForSafeAccess.org. More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at AmericansForSafeAccess.org/News.

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Mitt Romney's Horrible Encounter With a Medical Marijuana Patient

I thought it couldn't get any worse than McCain and Giuliani, but I was so wrong. Republican front-runners are literally competing to see who cares the least about medical marijuana patients. And the winner is…Mitt Romney.

Romney may be toeing the party line, but I don't doubt his handlers have had a word or two with him about not insulting people in wheelchairs on CNN. I mean, really, could he have handled this any worse?

Let's set one thing straight here: if you oppose medical marijuana, you support arresting patients. It is just that simple. If you leave patients under the jurisdiction of the DEA, you know what's going to happen. Mitt Romney's unqualified, "I'm not in favor of medical marijuana," is an endorsement of every atrocity – past, present and future – that patients inevitably suffer at the hands of the heavily armed cavalry that so clumsily and callously insists on its right to police their private medical decisions.

Stay tuned, folks. Rumor has it Fred Thompson plans on drop-kicking a paraplegic down a flight of stairs.

Americans for Safe Access Monthly Activist Newsletter

Win for Collective Cultivation Case in Butte

Superior Court Rules in Favor of ASA Suit Challenging Ban on Patient Collectives

The legal team for Americans for Safe Access won the first round this month in their fight to protect the right of California patients to organize as collectives for cultivation.

A strongly worded ruling from Superior Court Judge Barbara Roberts on September 6 found that that seriously ill patients cultivating collectively "should not be required to risk criminal penalties and the stress and expense of a criminal trial in order to assert their rights."

The ruling came in response to an attempt by Butte County to stop the lawsuit ASA filed in May 2006 on behalf of a seven-person private patient collective.

"The court has sent a clear message to local law enforcement in California that they must respect the rights of patients to cultivate collectively." said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford.

At issue is a September 2005 warrantless search of a patient's home by the Butte County Sheriff's Department, during which David Williams, 54, was forced to uproot and destroy more than two dozen plants or face arrest and prosecution.
"We were told that it was not lawful to grow collectively for multiple patients," said Williams.

Judge Roberts' ruling also rejected Butte County's policy of requiring all members to physically participate in the cultivation, thereby allowing collective members to "contribute financially."

"The next step is to show that Williams was running a valid collective," said Elford. "At that point, the court is expected to make a final determination consistent with yesterday's ruling, which strongly vindicates the right of medical marijuana patients to associate together to grow the medicine they need."

ASA's intervention came after repeated reports of unlawful behavior by Butte County sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies.

For more information:
Butte County Superior Court ruling from September 6, 2007
ASA's lawsuit challenging Butte County's ban on collective cultivation

Activists Persuade Congress to Intervene with DEA

45 Reps Sign Letter Urging Research Cultivation License

ASA lobbying was part of a successful, many-month effort by medical marijuana activists to get Congress to support research into cannabis therapeutics. On September 19, a letter signed by 45 members of the U.S. House of Representatives was delivered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), urging the DEA to allow a UMass-Amherst professor to grow marijuana for approved research studies.

Over the past four months, ASA National Office staff, led by Governmental Affairs Director Caren Woodson, have been part of a campaign to get members of the House to sign the bi-partisan letter to DEA Adminstrator Karen Tandy. ASA members across the country contributed to a national grassroots campaign, contacting their representatives to ask them to sign on.

The letter, which was authored by U.S. Representatives John Olver (D-MA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), asks Tandy to accept DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner's February 2007 Opinion and Recommended Ruling in support of the UMass-Amherst Medical Marijuana Research Production Facility. The law judge's ruling is non-binding and DEA has no deadline to decide whether to accept or reject it. The ruling is the result of legal action sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and other drug policy reform groups.

The DEA's handling of the UMass application to cultivate marijuana for research studies has already elicited congressional questioning. A DEA deputy administrator faced criticism on the subject during hearings this summer.

"The DEA is ignoring the vast scientific evidence that clearly shows medicinal use of marijuana benefits patients who are extremely ill," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who sits on one of the committees charged with oversight. "When it comes to providing the best treatment options to sick Americans, we should trust doctors and medical researchers and not federal bureaucrats."

Lyle Craker, who is the director of the Medicinal Plant Program in the Department of Plant, Insect and Soil Sciences at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, submitted his initial application to DEA in June 2001. Craker plans to cultivate marijuana that would be used in clinical trials to determine whether marijuana meets FDA standards for medical safety and efficacy.

Since 1968, the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse has maintained a monopoly on the supply of research marijuana. Judge Bittner found that NIDA has repeatedly refused to supply marijuana for FDA-approved studies that could develop marijuana as a prescription medicine. Federal law requires adequate competition in the production of such Schedule I drugs as marijuana, to ensure a supply for approved research.

ASA Staff Attend AARP Convention

Members of the leading organization for seniors, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), had the opportunity to speak with ASA staff members during the group's convention in Boston from September 6-8. More than 25,000 people attended the AARP's annual event, with an average age of 62.

"Meeting so many older Americans who are interested in how medical cannabis can help them was a great experience," said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Governmental Affairs. "We know from the AARP's own polling in 2004 that the vast majority of their members believe in making access safe and legal. We had an overwhelmingly positive response, not just from baby-boomers, but from the "depression era" generation."

ASA sponsored a booth where AARP members could pick up information about medical marijuana, including condition-based booklets on aging, which can be seen at AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Aging_booklet. The booth also offered ASA gear and ways for seniors to plug in to medical marijuana activism. Last month's Retirement Living TV program on medical marijuana was featured, as well.

ASA at AARP Convention The ASA booth at the 2007 AARP Convention in Boston

"There was a lot of interest about ways to ingest marijuana without smoking it, and people were generally surprised by how much progress we have made in 10 years," said Woodson. "We also heard some heartbreaking stories about loved ones with cancer and how much they would have liked another option for pain and wasting."

The broad-spectrum therapeutic nature of cannabis makes it a good choice for many people with a variety of conditions, such as arthritis, chronic pain, gastro-intestinal problems, and movement disorders such as Parkinson's.

With cancer more prevalent with aging, the well-established benefits of cannabis for coping with the devastating side-effects of chemotherapy are also of interest to older Americans.

Cannabis Specialist Educates Kaiser Docs

ASA Coordinates Workshop for 200 Physicians

On September 19, a leading physician specializing in cannabis therapeutics gave a workshop for more than 200 doctors. The Continuing Medical Education (CME) workshop on medical marijuana was the first hosted by Kaiser Permanente in San Jose.

More than 200 physicians attended the workshop conducted by Dr. David Bearman and coordinated by Americans for Safe Access.

Dr. Bearman’s presentation covered the history of medical cannabis, an overview of its many benefits, and the legal rights of physicians.

Dr. Bearman examines a patient Dr. Bearman examines a patient

Dr. Bearman is a well-respected physician with extensive experience in public health. A graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr Bearman was the Director of Medical Services for the Santa Barbara Regional Health Authority (SBRHA) since its inception in 1983 through June 1997, when he became Senior Health Care Advisor/Grants Development Director.

He has a long and illustrious background in the field of drug abuse treatment and prevention, including serving as Medical Director of Santa Barbara County Methadone Maintenance Clinic and Ventura County Opiate Detox Program; teaching courses on substance abuse at UCSF, UCSB, and SDSU; and authoring numerous articles on drug abuse treatment and prevention, as well as other medical topics. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the Harvard Business Review, and other publications.

ASA plans to continue educating Kaiser physicians, as well as those across California and the rest of the country, in order to counter the misinformation spread by the federal government. Eventually, ASA hopes to have a CME available that can be downloaded by physicians online.

NATIONAL ACTION ALERT

Contact Candidates: Demand Action on Safe Access!

As the presidential primaries get closer and closer, we need to know where all the candidates stand on important medical marijuana issues. Call, write, and ask the candidates in person on their campaign trail where they stand on medical marijuana. Ask them the following questions:

Will you pledge to end the gridlock and lift the federal government's monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research?

If elected, will you seek a comprehensive change in federal policy to resolve the differences between state and federal laws?

If elected, what specific actions will you take to ensure that the Department of Justice, the DEA, and other federal agencies are not working to undermine state medical marijuana laws on your watch?

If elected, will you consider granting Presidential pardons to medical marijuana patients and providers who have been sentenced to lengthy federal prison terms who were abiding by state law?

See AmericansforSafeAccess.org/08PresidentialCandidates for contact information on the candidates. For more help, contact Sonnet: Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org.

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Two New Features for ASA’s Online Community

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is excited to announce that we have added two brand new features to our online community designed to allow patients and advocates to communicate more directly and effectively with each other. Please read on for more information on ASA’s new blog and our new discussion forums.

Sign Up for ASA's Discussion Forums
www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ASAForum

ASA is building an online community for activists and supporters to discuss the latest news, actions, and research around medical cannabis issues. More than 200 people have already signed up for the forums and have engaged in discussions in state, regional, media, legal, activist, and condition-based forums.

To check out our forums and sign-up to participate, visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ASAForum and get involved today!

Introducing ASA's New Blog -
Medical Cannabis: Voices from the Frontlines

www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/blog

Last week, ASA launched our blog, Medical Cannabis: Voices from the Frontlines. ASA staff and guest bloggers will be posting here regularly with the latest news and analysis of medical cannabis issues.

Here is a sampling of what we have blogged about so far:

Visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/blog today to read our posts and to share your comments.

Thanks for your continued support for safe access. We look forward to meeting you online!

Sincerely,

Rebecca Saltzman
Chief of Staff
Americans for Safe Access

Location: 
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McCain and Giuliani Say Terrible Things to a Medical Marijuana Patient

Via MPP, battle lines are being drawn on the campaign trail over medical marijuana. Linda Macia of Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana suffers from nerve damage, fibromyalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy and degenerative arthritis. She's allergic to other medications and has only found relief through medical marijuana.

You'd think that anyone hoping to become president would show some compassion for this unfortunate woman, but alas…

Notice how McCain turns his back to her the moment she utters the phrase "medical marijuana." Words could not better describe his position. McCain goes on to claim he's seen no documentation of medical marijuana's effectiveness, even though Granite Staters' Stuart Cooper had personally presented him with sound scientific evidence.

Will she have better luck with Rudy Giuliani? Let's see…

Ouch. Giuliani struggles when she explains that she's allergic to the "other medications" he recommends. He also claims not to have lobbied on behalf of OxyContin, which I guess depends on your definition of "lobbying."

Sometimes we don't get the answers we want. That's what happens when you look to the drug war for answers. But at least we're asking the right questions, and asking them often. Perhaps next time we should ask if they've seen the polling on medical marijuana. Maybe that will get their attention.

PS: Also watch McCain insult a New Hampshire student who asks him about medical marijuana, then apologize to him.
Location: 
United States

Europe: Dutch Marijuana Trade Under Pressure

An increase in police raids on Dutch marijuana grows has caused prices to increase and potency to decline, the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction (Trimbos Institute) reported Tuesday. Meanwhile, the city of Rotterdam announced this week it has ordered nearly a third of the city's cannabis coffee shops to close because they are too close to schools. Other locales could follow as concern rises over youth drug use.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/maastricht-coffee-shop.jpg
downstairs of a coffee shop, Maastricht (courtesy Wikimedia)
According to the Trimbos report [sorry, Dutch only], Dutch marijuana, or nedervviet, had an average THC level of 16%, down from 17.5% last year. At the same time, it now costs 20% more than last year, going for a little over $10 per gram. The price increase is the first one since Trimbos started monitoring pot prices in 1999.

According to Bloomberg News, Dutch police have stepped up raids on the estimated 40,000 home grows in the Netherlands. Police in Rotterdam reported earlier this year they had shut down 600 of the estimated 6,000 home grows there since 2005.

Growing more than five marijuana plants remains illegal in the Netherlands, even though authorities turn an official blind eye to regulated marijuana sales in the coffee shops, leading to a state of affairs known as the "back door problem." Marijuana is bought and leaves the coffee shops openly through the front door, but to supply themselves, coffee shop owners must deal with illicit growers who come in through the back door.

Rotterdam is also taking the lead on shutting down coffee shops near schools. "The sale of soft drugs will have to end by June 1, 2009, in a total of 18 coffee shops within 200 to 250 meters (yards) of schools," said the city council in a statement early this week. It said it was worried about soft drug use among vulnerable young people.

With a national government that would like to shut down the coffee shops, the Dutch marijuana business is under increasing pressure. At the back door, police are squeezing supply, and at the front door, local officials are pulling out the pad-locks. Don't expect the Dutch marijuana community to just roll over and take it, however.

Marijuana: Hawaii Supreme Court Rejects Religious Use Defense

In a split decision, the Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled against a Big Island man who claimed he smoked marijuana as part of his religion and thus should not be prosecuted. In its September 21 decision in State v. Sunderland, the Court rejected Joseph Sunderland's argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected him from prosecution, but failed to address his contention that privacy provisions of the Hawaii state constitution also protected him from arrest for using marijuana in his home.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/volcano-national-park.jpg
Volcano National Park, Hawaii Island
The case started in 2003, when a Big Island police officer searching for a missing child spotted a marijuana pipe on Sunderland's kitchen table. Sunderland admitted the pipe was his, said he had used it to smoke marijuana that morning, and told the officer he had a right to use it for religious purposes. Sunderland presented a membership card in The Cannabis Ministry, a religious organization headed by Roger Christie that uses marijuana as a sacrament.

Sunderland was subsequently charged with promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree, the Hawaiian version of a paraphernalia law violation. Before trial, Sunderland filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that his constitutional right to the free exercise of religion precluded his prosecution for using marijuana.

"I believe that God put the holy herb onto this earth to help mankind to better understand Him," Sunderland told the trial court.

The trial court disagreed with Sunderland's legal argument, and Sunderland was found guilty and fined $175. He appealed, and now the state Supreme Court has shot him down.

Citing precedent to reject the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the states, the court held that under controlling law, the state has a legitimate "compelling interest" in regulating marijuana use, and thus, "the free exercise clause of the First Amendment is not a viable defense."

But there may still be a glimmer of hope for both Sunderland and the rest of Hawaii's pot smokers. The Supreme Court did not address Sunderland's contention that Hawaii privacy protections should immunize his in-house marijuana use, arguing that he had failed to present it in a timely fashion. But in his dissenting opinion Justice Levinson suggested that such a right indeed exists.

The framers of Hawaii's constitution meant to limit criminal sanctions to cases where people are harmed, Levinson argued. "The issue is whether... a fundamental right to privacy... constrains the state from criminalizing mere possession of marijuana for personal use. My thesis is that it does," Levinson wrote.

Sunderland's attorney, public defender Deborah Kim, said she planned to ask the high court to address the privacy issue. "The court has ducked the question of whether the right to privacy prevents the police from enforcing marijuana laws when someone is using marijuana in their home for religious purposes," Kim said. "The question is still very much open."

Marijuana: Pot Prohibition Costs $41 Billion a Year in Enforcement Costs, Lost Tax Revenues, Study Finds

Last week, the Chronicle reported on yet another record high number of marijuana arrests, with more than 800,000 people busted for pot last year. This week, a leading researcher put a price tag on marijuana prohibition: $41.8 million a year in law enforcement spending and lost tax revenues.

According to public policy and economic development analyst Jon Gettman of Drug Science, author of the report, Lost Revenues and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws, governments at all levels spend $10.7 billion on arresting, prosecuting, and punishing marijuana offenders. At the same time, by maintaining the policy of marijuana prohibition, those governments are forgoing an estimated $31.1 billion a year in lost tax revenues by keeping the $113 billion a year marijuana industry in the underground economy.

Gettman's analysis is based primarily on official government figures on US marijuana supply, prices, and arrests. Perhaps even more surprising than the costs associated with pot prohibition is the huge size of the domestic marijuana market, which Gettman pegs at more than 31 million pounds.

"This report documents a massive waste of taxpayer dollars in pursuit of eradicating a government-forbidden plant, and the financial waste hit all-time high levels last year, as the FBI just reported there were a record 829,627 marijuana arrests in 2006," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Prohibition has done nothing to reduce marijuana use, which remains at about the level it's been for decades, but prohibition has created a massive underground economy that's completely unregulated and untaxed. The parallels with Alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s, including the needless violence and a huge underground economy, are eerie."

John McCain is Sick of Being Asked About Medical Marijuana

SSDP activist Jon Perri just nailed John McCain over his opposition to medical marijuana. McCain is noticably frustrated about being forced to repeatedly explain his lack of compassion for patients. He belittles Perri, only to subsequently apologize for doing so.


Note how McCain emphasizes his opposition to medical marijuana, but still claims he would not arrest patients. That's sort of the point of the question, Senator.

Cheers to Jon Perri for asking the question smartly and maintaining his composure despite McCain's interruptions. At this pace, one wonders if the Senator will have a complete meltdown the next time this question is asked of him.

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