You Can Make a Difference
Who's really in charge here?
While on the campaign trail, President Obama promised to end medical marijuana raids in places like California where the right to use marijuana on a doctor's recommendation is protected.
And now, the DEA has raided not one, but at least four medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Either those were hollow promises or President Obama's Department of Justice is not respecting his stated positions.
Sick patients who use medical marijuana in states like California are in grave danger from these wasteful abuses of federal power. You can do something to help.
Last week, thousands of DPA Network supporters like you faxed the White House imploring President Obama to end these raids. He has yet to respond -- so now is the time to take the next step.
By taking just a few moments to call the White House now and urge President Obama to honor his campaign promise to end these raids, you can protect sick and dying patients. There are detailed instructions on the website.
DPA Network is already working behind the scenes with our allies in Congress to pressure the new administration to stand up for justice. Together, we can ensure the safety of patients across the country, but only if you take action.
I'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation continues to develop.
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance Network
P.S. Did you miss my note last week regarding Obama and Medical Marijuana? It's not too late to join the more then 3,100 people who've faxed the White House on this issue. You can also read the news about the most recent raid, and I've pasted below the phone number for the White House, but it's most helpful for coordination efforts if you use the take action button above and log your call.
Who to Contact: The White House, at (202) 456 - 1414.
What to Say: "I just read that the DEA made several raids recently on medical marijuana patients and providers in California. I’m calling to urge President Obama to put a stop to this."
Additional Talking Points (choose one):
- "I'm mad that my tax dollars are being used to harass cancer and AIDS patients."
- "I know that President Obama said last year that if he was president he wouldn’t waste law enforcement resources undermining state medical marijuana laws. I really hope he puts a stop to these wasteful raids."
- "President Bush spent eight years undermining state medical marijuana laws. I hope President Obama doesn't spend eight years doing the same."
- “I support medical marijuana and hope Obama does, too."
Americans for Safe Access
Monthly Activist Newsletter
Defending Patients' Access to Medical Marijuana
ASA accuses Solano County of violating state law
Medical marijuana advocates went to court in California last month asking local officials to respect state law. Six years after the state legislature established an ID card program for medical marijuana patients, ASA has filed suit against one of the counties that has refused to implement the program.
The 2003 law mandates that all counties in California implement a voluntary identification card program meant to assist law enforcement and provide greater protections for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, but Solano County officials have failed to comply.
"Solano County cannot flout its obligation under the law," said Joe Elford, ASA Chief Counsel. "This lawsuit is aimed at forcing all counties to fully implement state law and stop denying medical marijuana patients their legal rights and protections."
ASA's action follows a landmark decision from the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, rejecting San Diego County's challenge to the law. ASA's Elford was among those arguing on behalf of patients in that case.
After that July 2008 decision, ASA sent letters to officials from Solano and 15 other counties warning them that lawsuits could result if they did not take action on the ID card program. Letters were sent again in October after the state Supreme Court declined to review the case.
Since 2003, 40 of California's 58 counties have implemented the medical marijuana ID card program. As a result of ASA's letters and the new court mandate, 11 additional counties (Alpine, Fresno, Kings, Mariposa, Modoc, Nevada, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, and Ventura) have made ID cards available or have pledged to do so.
California law directs each of the state's counties to provide medical marijuana patients and their caregivers ID cards that help law enforcement identify qualified patients and caregivers and provide those individuals protection from arrest and prosecution.
Staff Combines Policy Support with Political Pressure
Change has come to Washington, D.C. with the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th President, and ASA will be working with his administration and the new Congress to ensure that change comes to federal policy on medical cannabis as well.
ASA's D.C. office, lead by Director of Government Affairs Caren Woodson, has provided members of the Obama transition team and members of Congress with detailed policy agendas and specific recommendations for lawmakers to take action on that can help meet the immediate needs of medical cannabis patients, their providers, physicians, and researchers.
During the confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, ASA lobbied committee members to ask questions about how enforcement policies will be changed to respect state laws and protect patient rights. ASA members also contacted their U.S. Senators on the issue, using the January newsletter action alert as a guide. The action may not have elicited new commitments, but it got the attention of Washington insiders, including mention in Marc Ambinder's influential politics blog for the Atlantic Monthly.
President Obama has promised to instill new respect for science in policymaking, and medical cannabis is a key area of public health where research has been ignored or blocked. And the new administration is already hearing about it.
The Obama transition team's "Citizen Briefing Book" project was designed to create a virtual white paper, authored by engaged citizens, to pitch ideas, information, and expertise to the incoming administration on a variety of topics. The issues voted the most popular were compiled and provided to President Obama upon being sworn in. Ranking third among thousands of suggestions to the transition team was a recommendation to "Stop using federal resources to undermine states' medicinal marijuana laws."
That recommendation is one ASA is working to hold President Obama accountable for, particularly since he pledged during the campaign to end federal interference in state medical cannabis programs (see this month's action alert).
After Bush loyalists in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) staged yet another raid on a medical cannabis patient dispensary in California, just two days after President Obama was sworn in, and another in Colorado, ASA organized an immediate response, enlisting members and supporters to call the White House to register their outrage. Volunteers answering the phone reported receiving hundreds of calls, ensuring the voice of patients are being heard on Pennsylvania Avenue.
During his election night victory speech, President Obama told the country that "victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change." By applying public pressure at all levels and providing lawmakers with detailed policy recommendations as well as political support, ASA is working to bring to medical cannabis policy the change we've been waiting for.
"The opportunity for real change is here," said Caren Woodson. "But we are counting on our members to support our legislative efforts in Washington, DC by reinforce our work in their local communities."
Among the actions ASA hopes to see the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress take are new policies that:
(1) suspend the federal resources used to interfere with state medical marijuana laws,
(2) encourage advanced clinical research trials that meet accepted scientific standards,
(3) permit affirmative defense for individuals authorized by state and local law to use or provide cannabis for therapeutic use.
With your help, ASA will be working to ensure that our government takes action.
As a grassroots organization, ASA gets its power from the people. In addition to its almost 60 chapters and affiliates working for medical cannabis laws across the country, ASA also has a dedicated network of concerned citizens. While they are not part of any chapter, they can be counted on to take action when they're called. It's these "after-work" activists that ASA is mobilizing with the launch of the new ASA Ambassador Project.
The ASA office gets calls everyday from people who don't live close to a chapter or don't have the time to start one up. But they still want to do their part - and now they can.
By signing up with ASA's new Ambassador program, they'll work on their own and with other Ambassadors in their region to educate and engage their communities. They are ASA's representatives to their families, friends, neighborhoods, political organizations, social clubs, support groups, and the communities in which they live. And they also act as important liaisons with their local, state, and federal elected officials.
"The program is taking off," said George Pappas, ASA's Field Coordinator. "People from across the country seem to have been waiting for just this opportunity. They are signing up to take the reins in representing ASA's goals."
ASA Ambassadors are already making an impact, meeting with elected officials and taking the responsibility of passing on ASA's actions to their networks.
"ASA members know that the actions we take in the next few months will help shape President Obama's medical cannabis policies for the next four to eight years," said Pappas. "It is going to take a commitment from every one of us to make real change at the Federal level."
To make that commitment, pledge to become an ASA Ambassador and join ASA's new campaign for 2009: MAKE IT SAFE. MAKE IT LEGAL. MAKE IT HAPPEN!
The jury failed to return a verdict on Tuesday and will continue deliberating Wednesday. Having followed the case closely, I’m pretty worked up about it and I’ll be glued to the computer until this gets resolved. A guilty verdict would not only send an innocent man to prison, but would provide a symbolic victory for the worst aspects of drug war policing, those that created this tragedy in the first place.
Beyond all that, the trial itself has been a grand injustice, really just a classic railroading that brought out the worst of the worst as far as drug war prosecutorial tactics are concerned. Ryan Frederick is simply not the man the prosecution made him out to be, not on any level whatsoever. In one familiar example, prosecutor Paul Ebert used testimony from a "marijuana expert" to grossly exaggerate the capacity of Frederick’s personal marijuana garden:
Meinhart says 1 plant produces 1 pound of salable marijuana. 1 pound is 16 ounces, and at $400.00 per ounce is $6400.00 times 10 plants is $64000.00. [Tidewater Liberty]
Yet, as Radley Balko points out, Frederick had a not-so-great job getting up at 4 a.m. to deliver sodas. He didn’t have $64,000. Police only found 12 grams of marijuana in the raid. All of this is just pure garbage, the same bogus story recycled over and over again in every marijuana trial. But it’s particularly insidious in this case, since the goal is not only to convict Frederick of a marijuana offense, but to destroy his image before the jury and nail him on a false murder charge.
Please join me in keeping your fingers crossed that Frederick will be set free.
Washington, DC -- On the day that Eric Holder was sworn in as the next U.S. Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted raids on multiple medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. No arrests were made, but typical of such raids, money and medical marijuana were seized from the facility. [Americans for Safe Access]
Despite President Obama’s campaign trail promises to end the DEA’s controversial attacks against state medical marijuana laws, the raids have continued under the leadership of Bush officials who have yet to be removed from office. It’s a disgraceful last minute effort to politicize the issue as the new attorney general takes office.
This is really a wicked strategy if you think about. The reality is that they simply have nothing to lose. Obama has already pledged to end these raids, so the folks who enjoy doing them are afraid they’ll be told to stop any day now. Clearly, they won’t stop until explicitly told to do so.
If DEA hopes to mount a defense of their tactics and try to persuade Obama to reverse his position, continuing the raids is their only apparent option. As ugly and unpopular as these activities have become, they must be continued in order to maintain the viability of their argument that the raids are important. After all, how important could the raids be if you aren’t even doing them?
I imagine the new president is thoroughly annoyed by all of this, as he’s hoping not to make headlines with his marijuana policy. Alas, neither the DEA nor the marijuana reform community intends to make that particularly easy for him. My assumption has generally been that Obama would quietly make the raids go away and we’d begin celebrating at an arbitrary point when it became clear that things were different. If DEA had been willing to accept that fate, things may well have played out that way.
Unfortunately, these maniacs won’t go quietly. So let’s spell it out for the new administration: You have to stop them. That’s exactly what you promised to do on the campaign trail and it clearly didn’t bite you at the ballot box. Fix this now.
Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Township Library
Tuesday, February 10, 2009; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve minutes. Discuss:
The vote by the entire NJ Senate on “The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” (S119), as amended, is expected to take place between 2/23/09 and 3/31/09. Contact your senator today to show your support. If the bill passes in the senate, it will then go to the assembly.
Upcoming events: National radio personality Chris Goldstein and CMMNJ will host a free, educational seminar on medical marijuana on Tues., 2/3/09 at 7:00 PM at the Willingboro Public Library, 220 Willingboro Parkway, Willingboro, NJ 08046 (609) 877-6668. A second seminar is tentatively scheduled at Rutgers University/Camden Law School on 2/16/09. Further info to follow.
The Times of Trenton published CMMNJ’s OPED, "Drug laws vs. medical science" 1/15/09.
The Nursing Spectrum, a widely read professional journal for nurses, interviewed the ED of CMMNJ and published the article, “The Great Debate: Medical Marijuana or Not? Will New Jersey legislators pass a law in 2009?” on 1/26/09.
CMMNJ appeared on WIBG 1020 AM Talk Radio in Ocean City, NJ on 1/20/09 from 10AM to 11AM as guests of Dr. Bob Zlotnick on the “Hurley in the Morning” show. A podcast of the live radio show is expected to be available soon.
Updates on Jackson, NJ Crohn’s patient Mike Miceli who was arrested for medical marijuana on 9/4/08, and Somerset County, NJ multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Wilson who was arrested on 8/18/08 for medical marijuana.
Revised Michigan medical marijuana rules/regulations that CMMNJ commented on are due 1/30/09.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) national conference call 1/28/09.
Treasury report: Please consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) organization. Any amount is appreciated and 100% goes towards public education about medical marijuana. CMMNJ is an all-volunteer organization—we are nothing without our volunteers! Donations may be made securely through Paypal or checks made out to “CMMNJ” and sent to corporate headquarters at the address below. Thank you for your support.
9:00 PM Adjourn meeting.
Next Meeting: March 10, 2009. CMMNJ Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Lawrence Twp. Library, from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM. All are welcome. Snacks are served. The library is located at 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp. (Tel. #609.882.9246). (Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.) For more info, contact:
A new CBS/NYT poll finds that 41% of Americans agree that marijuana use should be legalized. While legalization still fails to garner majority support, it’s clear that we’re headed in the right direction. Notice that only 27% supported legalization in 1979:
LEGALIZING MARIJUANASHOULD MARIJUANA USE BE LEGALIZED?
Like 30 years ago, a majority of Americans do not think the use of marijuana should be made legal, but the percentage that thinks it should be has grown. Now, 41% of Americans support legalizing marijuana use, compared to just 27% who felt that way in 1979.
Yes 41% 27%
No 52% 69%
There is a huge generation gap on this issue. More adults under 45 (49%) approve of legalizing marijuana use than oppose (45%), while just 31% of adults over age 45 approve of it; six in 10 are opposed.
The generation gap is particularly encouraging, confirming a popular theory among reformers that if we simply wait not-so-patiently, we’ll eventually win when our opposition literally drops dead.
These numbers reveal that we’re well within striking distance of achieving majority support for legalization. Moreover, we’re comfortably within the range in which meaningful reform to our marijuana laws will produce significant and vocal approval from the public. If there was ever a time when our political climate was fatally non-receptive to this idea, we have moved beyond that.
Keep in mind that the 41% result was arrived at without any particular political context. That’s just the number of people who generally walk around believing that marijuana should be legal. It’s possible to build that number significantly when the question is framed around an actual policy proposal, such as in Massachusetts where 65% of voters supported decriminalization. Because our arguments are strong, we benefit from the debate.
Legalization initiatives were unsuccessful in Nevada and Colorado in 2004, but I’d like to think that in the current change-focused political climate, it’s quite possible that similar measures would be victorious. For one thing, the departure of drug czar John Walters means we’re unlikely to face the same vicious opposition we’ve become accustomed to, as I simply do not envision Obama’s White House undertaking a regional propaganda scare-tour the next time we try something big.
The fact is that we’re moving in exactly the right direction, though not nearly as fast as any of us would prefer. We must be patient, so long as our patience doesn’t take the form of inaction. We’re entering a period of remarkable political opportunity for our cause.
In case you missed it, Olympic badass Michael Phelps got photographed taking bong hits at a party and nothing will ever be the same. He’s really, really sorry about it and he urges the public to forgive him and stop taking pictures of him at parties.
Radley Balko says pretty much everything that there is to say about this, but let me add that if anyone has a problem with Michael Phelps smoking marijuana, you should look in the mirror and think about how badly you suck. I don’t care who you are, you will never be as good at anything as Michael Phelps is at swimming. He’s better than you.
For all I care, Michael Phelps can suck gravity bongs out of an Olympic swimming pool on international television with his 14 gold medals around his neck. If you’re waiting for him to sell his trophies for dope money, don’t hold your breath. Speaking of which, Michael Phelps can hold his breath longer than you.
Update: NORML's hilariously brilliant Russ Belville has this. I want it on a t-shirt.
Whereas researchers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s primarily assessed cannabis' ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms — such as the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy — scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to modify disease.Most of the public has already woken up to the lie that's been told by drug warriors to justify medical prohibition of marijuana, the false claim that it has no medical uses. What may never be fully understood is the opportunities tragically lost, the good that could have been done if promising lines of research had been pursued decades earlier instead of decades later, but for our government's bizarre antagonism against a plant...