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Press Release: CT Set to Become 13th State to Legalize Use of Medical Marijuana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2007 CONTACT: Lorenzo Jones (860) 270-9586 or Gabriel Sayegh (646) 335-2264 Connecticut Set to Become 13th State to Legalize Use of Medical Marijuana Compassionate Use Bill Passes Legislature by Wide Margins, Heads to Governor’s Desk Patients, Doctors, Caregivers Call Upon Gov. Rell to Have Compassion, Support Patients by Signing HB 6715 HARTFORD, CT—Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the thirteenth state to allow the use of medical marijuana. The Connecticut State Senate passed HB 6715, the Compassionate Use Act late last Friday. The bill passed by a 23-13 margin after clearing the House of Representatives by an 89-58 margin weeks earlier. The bill now goes to Gov. M. Jodi Rell for her signature. If Rell neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it will automatically become law. Thousands of Connecticut residents live with crippling pain, are suffering with cancer and HIV/AIDS, or other debilitating ailments. HB 6715 allows Connecticut residents with certain debilitating medical conditions to cultivate and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a practicing physician. “This bill will help alleviate the feelings of helplessness that families face when their loved ones suffer,” said Lorenzo Jones, executive director of A Better Way Foundation. “We’ve believed all along that compassion and fairness would bring this bill to final passage. Now we need the Governor to sign the bill so families and patients can have some relief. We know she’ll do the right thing.” By passing HB 6715, the Legislature ended a five-year Legislative battle to win medical marijuana in a state that has overwhelming public support for the issue. A 2004 University of Connecticut poll found that 84 percent of Connecticut residents support the medical use of marijuana. Dozens of community organizations, including the CT Nurses Association, support medical marijuana. “Allowing for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is the right thing to do for the State of Connecticut,” said bill sponsor, Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-District 52. “This issue is not about legalizing drugs. It's about keeping those who seek compassionate care for treating crippling diseases out of jail.” Currently, there are 12 states with medical marijuana laws. New Mexico passed its medical marijuana bill in March. Last month, the Rhode Island legislature voted to make their state law permanent, and last week Vermont’s legislature voted to expand their medical marijuana law. Other medical marijuana bills are currently under consideration in New Jersey, New York and Alabama. “I am just 32 years old and yet due to my medical condition I feel as if, at times, I am 92,” said Joshua Warren, a patient in Wilton, CT, who suffers from chronic neurological Lyme disease. “I did not ask for this condition nor would I wish any of my pain and other symptoms on anyone else. I hope Gov. Rell will have compassion for me and for others and signs this bill.” ### -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-marijuana.artjun01,0,7... Allow Ill To Use Marijuana June 1, 2007 Rhode Island's yearlong experiment with legalizing medical marijuana has been a success. Connecticut should join its neighbor and 13 other states in letting seriously ill people have marijuana to ease their pain. So many of the 257 individuals in the Rhode Island medical-marijuana program have praised it that legislators in the Ocean State have voted overwhelmingly to make the law permanent. But Connecticut critics would impose such restrictions on a similar bill that recently passed the House of Representatives that they would put relief out of the reach of many who suffer greatly. For example, Gov. M. Jodi Rell's insistence on limiting the law only to the terminally ill could shut out those with debilitating chronic diseases. Under the bill, patients with certain medical conditions such as AIDS and with doctors' prescriptions could register with the state to grow up to four 4-foot plants. (Rhode Island's more liberal law allows 12 plants.) Some Connecticut legislators fear that doctors won't cooperate for fear of breaking federal drug laws, although they'd be immune from state prosecution. Such fears haven't stopped many Rhode Island doctors from participating in the program. And the vast majority of drug arrests are made by local and state police, not federal agents. Registration isn't a ticket to abuse, of course. A Rhode Island man who was registered to have medical marijuana was arrested for using the drug on MySpace to lure teenage girls. Abuse is rare, however, and outweighed by the compassionate relief that the medical-marijuana program could bring to hundreds of suffering patients. -------------------- Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant Lives Won't Go Up In Smoke If Marijuana Used Medicinally By Mark Braunstein Published on 5/31/2007 in Home »Editorial »Editorial After its longest debate of this legislative session, the Connecticut House of Representatives last week passed for its second time in three years what today is known as House Bill 6715, An Act concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana. Courtesy of public access through Web broadcast video, I was able to listen to five of the six hours of the discussion. During debate, advocates seldom challenged the opposition's many erroneous assertions. One of the bill's co-sponsors, Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, did say after the vote that she could have disputed the opposition's claims, but instead she coolly sat it out and let the heated debate take its course. As a paraplegic who has used marijuana medicinally for 17 years, and publicly for the past 10, I instead must take a stand. In past debates, many legislators had loudly called to question the very efficacy of medical marijuana. This year, however, such doubts were largely muffled. This can in part be credited to the many patients since 1997 who have volunteered their testimony at hearings before the Public Health and the Judiciary committees. Many of their painful stories encapsulated into three minutes are not easily forgotten. What does appear to have been forgotten is the list of more than 300 medical doctors in Connecticut who three years ago endorsed the bill. The objections voiced this year by House members instead centered on the tangential issue of marijuana as a recreational drug. In doing so, they confused medicinal apples for recreational oranges. Their two main contentions were these: marijuana is an addictive drug; and it opens a gateway to even more addictive drugs. I dispute both claims. For living proof, I look to all my friends and to the millions of youths who smoked pot during the 1960s, but eventually tired of and outgrew it in the '70s. No rehab, no 12-step programs, no purges. They simply shed it like a winter coat in summer. Now pushing 60, some of those former pot smokers have infiltrated the ranks of our legislators. Rather than further lengthen the debate, they simply ignored the opposition's impassioned but baseless claims, and voted for the bill. House members opposed to the bill several times cited extreme cases of ruined lives gone to pot. Some recreational users do become habitual abusers, but they rank among the exceptions, not the far broader rule. Adherents to the gene theory of addiction believe that if marijuana did not exist, born addicts who placate their addictive behavior with marijuana instead would seek harder drugs, namely tobacco and alcohol. On a personal note, I can attest that except for one cup of coffee once a month, I abstain from all addictive drugs, whether recreational or medicinal, whether herbal or pharmaceutical. Now age 55, during my lifetime I smoked tobacco only once and got drunk only twice. I must not have been born an addict. Presently, when I refrain from my herbal medication, I experience return of the muscle spasms and shooting pains that are the symptoms of spinal cord injury. As for any symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana, I experience none. Able to abstain from addictive tranquilizers to relax my spasms, and from addictive narcotics to assuage my pains, my life is not ruined precisely because I have gone to pot. Then there's the tiresome gateway theory. It is not true that 99 percent of all coke, crack and heroin addicts first started their descent on drugs with marijuana. They first started their descent with caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. What is true is that 99 percent of all youths who use marijuana never go on to use coke, crack or heroin. For that 1-percent minority, the relationship of marijuana to other recreational drugs is associative, not causative. If you restricted the sale of milk to only nightclubs and bars, then you could say that drinking milk leads to drinking alcohol. Again on a personal note, I can attest that I have tried coke only once and never tried crack or heroin. Never. And not for lack of opportunity. During my field research into the drug scene in southeastern Connecticut, I have borne witness a dozen times while people smoked crack and shot heroin. Indeed they were just people, not monsters nor demons. Demons may or may not lurk in the drugs they use. But demons surely reside in our fears of the drugs we do not use and therefore do not know. Mark Braunstein is a college librarian, a nature photographer, and the author of two books and many articles about art, literature, vegetarianism and wildlife. He has testified in support of Connecticut's medical marijuana bills many times before the Public Health and Judiciary committees, and hopes this year will be the last. He can be reached at herman.melville@yahoo.com.
Location: 
Hartford, CT
United States

Carcieri vetoes medical marijuana

Location: 
Providence, RI
United States
Publication/Source: 
Providence Journal (RI)
URL: 
http://www.projo.com/news/content/MARIJUANAVETO_06-05-07_K95T58D.330d62e.html

ASA’s Media Summary for 6/1/07

FEDERAL: Rosenthal Retrial Ends With Split Verdict COLORADO: DA Rethinks Caregiver Case CALIFORNIA: Dispensary Regulations, More Patient Protection in LA VERMONT: Expanded State Medical Marijuana Law Enacted RHODE ISLAND: Overwhelming Support for Medical Marijuana Bill CONNECTICUT: Support for New State Medical Marijuana Bill Urged WISCONSIN: State Medical Marijuana Measure to be Considered Again FEDERAL: Dispensary Operators Charged CANADA: Patients Criticize Medical Marijuana Program CALIFORNIA: Dispensary Case Goes to State Court DOCTORS: Specialists Battle Prejudice on Behalf of Patients -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FEDERAL: Rosenthal Retrial Ends With Split Verdict Even though he did not put on a defense, author and medical marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal was acquitted on one felony charge and the jury deadlocked on another. He was re-convicted of three other charges related to his work growing cannabis for patients under a city of Oakland program, but there were other victories for medical marijuana patients. With help from ASA, seven members of the community who the government tried to compel to testify against Rosenthal refused; the judge ultimately complimenting them on their “dignity” and “decorum” and refused to punish them. And ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford got the bulk of the government’s case dismissed by arguing that it was “vindictive prosecution.” Medical marijuana advocate convicted by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Ed Rosenthal was a free man, but not a happy one, after a jury convicted him Wednesday for a second time of violating federal drug laws by growing marijuana for medical patients. "Ganja guru" convicted in San Francisco retrial Reuters After fighting for years to clear his name, a prominent marijuana advocate known as the "ganja guru" was convicted again on Wednesday on charges of cultivating and distributing the weed. Federal Jury Convicts 'Guru of Ganja' by Paul Elias, Associated Press The self-proclaimed "guru of ganja" was convicted again Wednesday in federal court of illegally growing hundreds of marijuana plants that he said were meant to treat sick people, which state law allows. 'Ganja guru' guilty, but won't see jail by Josh Richman , ANG Newspapers A federal jury in San Francisco convicted Oakland "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal on Wednesday of three of the five marijuana-growing felonies of which he stood accused. Jury Convicts Rosenthal on Three Marijuana Counts, Acquits on One by Julie Cheever, Bay City News Service Oakland marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal was convicted in federal court in San Francisco today of three counts of conspiring to grow marijuana and growing marijuana at an Oakland warehouse. Pot advocate convicted on three charges by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal was convicted for a second time today of violating federal drug laws by growing pot plants for medical patients, but he faces no punishment for the felony convictions, apart from the one day in jail that he has already served. `Ganja Guru' case goes to jury by Josh Richman, ANG Newspapers The fate of Oakland "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal once again rests in a federal jury's hands -- in a manner of speaking. after his first trial and conviction in 2003, later overturned by a federal appeals court. Whether with a clean slate or as a convict, Rosenthal will walk free no matter what this jury decides. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASA ACTION: DA Rethinks Colorado Caregiver Case What was touted as an important test case for medical marijuana caregivers in Colorado may send an even stronger message to the state’s law enforcement community. Like many states with medical marijuana laws, Colorado does not provide realistic guidelines for how qualified patients are to get their medicine, leaving its citizens to make ad hoc arrangements. Attorney Brian Vicente – who is director of the Colorado Campaign for Safe Access, a joint project of ASA and Sensible Colorado -- appears to have convinced authorities to recognize the legitimacy of this set of caregivers. Charges in medical marijuana case expected to be dropped today The Coloradoan The Larimer County District Attorney is expected to drop charges in the medical marijuana case against Fort Collins residents James and Lisa Masters, the couple's defense attorney said today. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CALIFORNIA: Dispensary Regulations, More Patient Protection in LA Thanks to the tireless efforts of ASA’s southern California office, LA has begun the process of issuing medical marijuana ID cards and regulating local dispensaries. ASA has worked closely with local officials to educate stakeholders on the importance of shielding patients from arrest and the community benefits of sound dispensary ordinances. See ASA’s study at http://AmericansForSafeAccess/DispensaryReport. Regulating medical pot by EDITORIAL, LA Daily News(CA) It's the correct action, just 10 years late. Medical marijuana was approved for use by sick people in California after Proposition 215 was passed by voters in 1996. Since then, dispensaries opened all over Los Angeles and enjoyed virtually no regulation by state government. LA County to Issue Medical Marijuana ID Cards Fox News LA Los Angeles County will begin issuing identification cards next month to patients with prescriptions for medical marijuana, health officials said today. ID cards for medical pot users to be issued Los Angeles Times A year after adopting an ordinance to provide medical marijuana users with identification cards, the county will begin issuing the state-mandated cards June 1, the board decided Tuesday. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VERMONT: Expanded State Medical Marijuana Law Enacted The Granite State has now expanded protections to more patients who are following their doctor’s advice on using cannabis as part of their medical treatment. Unlike California, which leaves decisions about who and what can be effectively treated in the hands of doctors, Vermont’s medical marijuana law enumerates the specific conditions that patients may legally use cannabis to treat. Now, at least, there are fewer patients who will have to fear arrest and incarceration. Expansion of Vermont medical marijuana statute becomes law Associated Press Vermont's medical marijuana law -- which lets people with life-threatening conditions use the illegal drug without fear of prosecution -- now covers people with chronic, debilitating conditions. Medical marijuana law expanded by Nancy Remsen, Burlington Free Press (VT) Steve Perry of Randolph Center welcomed news Thursday that a bill expanding eligibility for the state's medical marijuana registry would become law -- even though the governor refused to sign it. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RHODE ISLAND: Overwhelming Support for Medical Marijuana Bill The one-year medical marijuana program in Rhode Island is set to become permanent, regardless of what the governor chooses to do. A “sunset provision” in the law passed last year means that state lawmakers have to get a new bill on the books by the end of June for the program to continue. Testimony from patients who have been helped and an utter lack of problems convinced an astounding majority to vote for making the law permanent – more than 85% of the Senate and nearly 81% of the House. Medical marijuana legislation heads to Rhode Island governor Associated Press A bill that would make Rhode Island's medical marijuana program permanent is expected to have enough support to sustain a veto from the governor. The Senate on Wednesday passed the legislation by a 29 to five vote. The House approved an identical bill last week by a 51 to 12 margin. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CONNECTICUT: Support for New State Medical Marijuana Bill Urged Opinionmakers in Connecticut are weighing in on a pair of state bills, one in each house, that seek to protect medical marijuana patients there from arrest and prosecution. While it is too soon to know how the political winds will blow, the example of other eastern states is a good one. Voters in Maine and lawmakers in Vermont, Maryland and neighboring Rhode Island have all passed similar bills. Allow Ill To Use Marijuana EDITORIAL, Hartford Courant (CT) Rhode Island's yearlong experiment with legalizing medical marijuana has been a success. Connecticut should join its neighbor and 13 other states in letting seriously ill people have marijuana to ease their pain. Compassion: Connecticut should allow medical marijuana EDITORIAL, Danbury News-Times (CT) It is heartbreaking to hear patients and their loved ones begging for the legal right to the relief that marijuana provides to some patients. A carefully regulated program will allow them to get the help, the freedom, they request in a compassionate and legal manner. Lives Won't Go Up In Smoke If Marijuana Used Medicinally by Mark Braunstein, OpEd, The Day (CT) After its longest debate of this legislative session, the Connecticut House of Representatives last week passed for its second time in three years what today is known as House Bill 6715, An Act concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana. Courtesy of public access through Web broadcast video, I was able to listen to five of the six hours of the discussion. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- WISCONSIN: State Medical Marijuana Measure to be Considered Again For the past two years a Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin has introduced medical marijuana legislation; this year, it’s a Democrat’s turn. The bill’s sponsor believes he has the support this year to gain passage, in part thanks to the education provided by former-Representative Underheim, who learned firsthand about the horrors of chemotherapy but retired at the end of last year before seeing his bill passed. Medical marijuana bill in Wisconsin gets a shot in the arm by Danielle Kaeding, KUWS (WI) Following Minnesota’s lead, Wisconsin legislators are taking on the issue of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. State Representative Frank Boyle says he’s optimistic medicinal marijuana will become legal because other states have paved the way on the matter. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FEDERAL: Dispensary Operators Charged A San Francisco Bay Area medical marijuana dispensary that provided medicine for upwards of 1,000 patients was shut by a federal DEA raid last year. Now the dispensary’s operator and a manager are being charged with federal drug crimes that could send them to federal prison for decades. Mandatory minimum sentencing means harsh punishment (the highly unusual case of Ed Rosenthal notwithstanding) even for those whose mission was helping the sick and suffering. Proprietors of Hayward medical pot club face federal drug charges by Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle The owner and manager of a Hayward medical marijuana dispensary were charged in federal court today with using the business as a front to sell pot for profit. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CANADA: Patients Criticize Medical Marijuana Program In addition to the quality concerns expressed by many patients who receive Health Canada’s medical marijuana, there is also the issue of paying for it. The only prescription drug for which Canadians are required to pay is medical marijuana, causing many to question why and some indigent patients to refuse to pay. Unpaid pot bills chronic problem by Brennan Clarke, Saanich News (Canada) Any other terminally ill patient in Canada would have all his prescriptions covered by the Canadian health care system. Jason Wilcox owes so much money for his medication, Health Canada has cut off his supply and threatened to send a collection agency after him. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CALIFORNIA: Dispensary Case Goes to State Court While local prosecutors claim they are waiting on an opinion from the state Attorney general on the legality of dispensary operations in California, lawmakers and the courts have already spoken: they’re legal. The 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act expressly makes allowances for dispensing collectives in which the cannabis is paid for, and an appellate court affirmed in a published opinion (People v Urziceanu) that the Act covers dispensing operations. Canna case set for July 24 by K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun The outcome of a criminal case against CannaHelp owner Stacy Hochanadel could hinge on a much-anticipated opinion from the California attorney general on the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DOCTORS: Specialists Battle Prejudice on Behalf of Patients The New York Times was among the papers remembering cannabis pioneer Dr. Tod Mikuriya this week. His obituaries make clear the battle he fought to have not only cannabis taken seriously as a medicine again but his own medical recommendations. Because so few outside of oncology and HIV/AIDS practices understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis, doctors who have made a study of cannabis frequently develop specialty practices that result in the writing of many recommendations, as in the case of Dr. Banister. Tod H. Mikuriya, 73, Dies; Backed Medical Marijuana by Margalit Fox, New York Times Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, a California psychiatrist who was widely regarded as the grandfather of the medical marijuana movement in the United States, died on May 20 at his home in Berkeley. He was 73. The pot doc is in by Robyn Moormeister, The Union Grass Valley physician Dr. Stephen Banister is in the business of making people feel good - or at least a little more comfortable - with his approval of marijuana to treat their pain.
Location: 
United States

Double standard persists on marijuana

Location: 
Miami, FL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Miami Herald
URL: 
http://www.miamiherald.com/884/story/127744.html

Medical marijuana bill wins OK

Location: 
Hartford, CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Advocate (CT)
URL: 
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/local/scn-sa-marijuana3ajun02,0,7989888.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines

Medical marijuana law expanded

Location: 
Montpelier, VT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Burlington Free Press (VT)
URL: 
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070601/NEWS02/706010307/1007/NEWS05

Medical marijuana legislation heads to governor

Location: 
Providence, RI
United States
Publication/Source: 
WLNE-TV (RI)
URL: 
http://www.abc6.com/news/_26309___article.html/_.html

Feature: Battle Royal Looms as Canadian Government Set to Unveil Tough Anti-Drug Strategy

The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper is set to reveal what is expected to be a US-style approach to drug policy any day now. While action in parliament is unlikely until after the looming summer recess, battle lines are already being drawn in what promises to be a bitter fight.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/savecanada.jpg
pro-Insite demonstrators (photo courtesy timetodeliver.org)
Although the government has yet to reveal particulars, it is widely assumed that the new drug strategy will take a "tough on crime" approach to drugs, cracking down on grow-ops and drug sellers with harsher penalties, providing more money for law enforcement, and moving away from harm reduction approaches such as Vancouver's Insite safe injection site.

"There will be a heavier emphasis on enforcement, with some additional money for treatment," said Eugene Oscapella, head of the Canadian Drug Policy Foundation. "The other thing is they want mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, especially serious trafficking offenses," he told Drug War Chronicle.

An early hint of the Harper government's drug policy came in March, when Conservatives allocated an extra $70 million over two years for enforcement, treatment, and prevention, but no mention was made of harm reduction programs. In Canada, these also include needle exchanges and the distribution of sterile crack pipes.

Of the additional funding, treatment programs will get nearly half, law enforcement about a third, and the rest will go into "just say no" style youth prevention program. The new drug strategy is also expected to endorse the use of drug courts, where drug offenders can be ordered into treatment programs instead of jail or prison.

The Canadian federal government currently spends about $350 million a year on anti-drug efforts, the vast majority of which goes to law enforcement, with lesser amounts for treatment and prevention, and a pittance for harm reduction. Canadian drug policy is guided by a 20-year-old national drug strategy that has been widely criticized for lacking clear direction, targets, and measurable results.

What the Harper government is proposing is not the answer, says a growing chorus of critics. The Liberal Party was quick off the mark to attack the yet-to-be-seen Conservative drug strategy.

"Stephen Harper's government is expected to announce next week new measures that will retreat from harm reduction measures that help Canadians, such as the safe injection site in Vancouver," said Liberal Health critic Bonnie Brown in a press release last week. "They are trying to do this under the guise of cracking down on illicit drug trafficking and prevention -- even though all the research suggests that an ideologically-motivated war on drugs is ineffective, while programs such as the safe injection site are producing positive results."

A series of reports -- including the Canadian Medical Association Journal and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS -- have concluded that the site has had a positive effect on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and has not increased crime or addiction rates, or threatened public health and safety.

"Rather than focusing its efforts where they are needed most -- such as funding the safe injection site and other programs vital to a larger harm reduction strategy in Canada -- this government is putting its right-wing agenda ahead of scientific evidence, and at a tremendous cost to those affected by addiction," said Brown.

Brown's charge resonates with a number of Canadian researchers. "The science is there. What we're seeing here is political interference," said Dr. Thomas Kerr with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, who has led several research studies on Insite. "I think it's a sad day for drug policy in Canada given that the Conservative government is now advocating a US-style approach to drug policy that's been shown to fail," he told reporters in Vancouver last week.

Kerr isn't the only one complaining. Several prominent researchers from across Canada have written an open letter to Health Canada criticizing it for calling for new research on Insite despite years of research showing positive incomes. The call for proposals from Health Canada ensures that the research will be superficial and inadequately funded, they said. They also took issue with a condition that researchers not be allowed to talk about their findings for six months after reports are submitted.

"Clearly what that does is to muffle people who might have something to say until after the curtain has dropped on this piece of political theatre," Benedikt Fischer, a director of the BC Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, said in an interview last Friday. "Overall, we get the feeling that what this is about is there's an attempt to instrumentalize science in a fairly cheap way for politics."

"The Conservatives don't like InSite," said Oscapella. "This is not an issue of science, but of ideology and playing to the peanut gallery. They have tried to misstate its purpose, what it has achieved, and the position of other countries. This is a propaganda exercise by the government to further its electoral objectives," he said.

"But the Liberals are no angels, either," he pointed out. "They had three opportunities to reform the cannabis laws and they didn't do that. I give them some credit for the medical marijuana regulations, but at the same time, the process is now incredibly cumbersome. They backed away from decriminalization. In effect, they backed a tough drug war, but with softer rhetoric."

"The Liberals are known to oppose from the left and govern from the right," said Dana Larsen, a New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate for a West Vancouver riding and head of the party's anti-prohibitionist wing, eNDProhibition. "Now they're in opposition, and they will say that Harper's drug war is wrong. But they passed our current drug law in 1996 despite testimony from nearly everyone it was bad law, and marijuana arrests went up every year the Liberals were in power."

But while the national NDP supports harm reduction and legalizing marijuana as part of its platform, its national leadership has not embraced the issue, Larsen said. "The party is good on policy, and the party spokesperson on drug issues, Libby Davies, is great, but we haven't succeeded yet in getting the party to make ending the drug war a priority."

Davies was traveling on personal business outside the country and unavailable for comment this week.

Canada will have all summer to brood over the coming battles over drugs and crime, but with the Harper government a minority government, it will have to reach out to the Liberals, the NDP, or the Bloc Quebecois to pass anything. None of the opposition parties seems likely to support a "tough on drugs" package like that now envisioned by the Conservatives.

"They don't have the votes to pass this by themselves," said Oscapella. "The fear is what happens if they get reelected with a majority. Then they could walk all over everybody."

Feature: Ed Rosenthal Convicted Again in Pyrrhic Victory for Feds

A federal jury Wednesday found "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal guilty for a second time of growing hundreds of marijuana plants in what is no more than a symbolic victory for federal prosecutors. Because Rosenthal has already served a lenient one-day sentence after he was first convicted of the same charges in 2003, US District Court Judge Charles Breyer, the presiding judge in the case, has already ruled that he cannot be resentenced.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/edrosenthalcourtdate.jpg
Ed Rosenthal at courthouse, with supporters, September 2006 (courtesy indybay.org)
Rosenthal's original conviction was overturned on appeal. Vengeful federal prosecutors angered by his public criticism of their methods retried him knowing they could not further punish him. They even filed additional charges that Judge Breyer threw out as vindictive.

The trial itself was noteworthy for the mass refusal of medical marijuana movement people subpoenaed to testify for the government to do so. Equally noteworthy was their escaping without contempt citations -- at least so far.

Rosenthal grew the plants to produce medical marijuana for use in California, where it is legal, but his defense was unable to explain that to the jury because it was blocked from doing so by Judge Breyer. Federal law and the federal courts do not recognize "medical" marijuana. Neither was Breyer willing to let defense attorneys go too far in urging the jury to vote its conscience.

"There are places that we can't go... There are answers too realistic, reasonable questions you may have that I can't give you," defense attorney Robert Ampranan told the jurors during final arguments. "I fear my government because it does not always tell us the truth. The federal government has had almost six years to complete this recipe... and yet their recipe, ladies and gentlemen, contains tainted, soiled, spoiled ingredients," he said. "If it smells like something that's going to make you sick, you have the right to reject it."

Shortly later, as Amparan compared Rosenthal's prosecution to past injustices done under color of law, such as slavery and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, Breyer sent the jury from the courtroom and accused Amparan of trying to lead the jury into questioning the federal law itself. When Amparan replied that he wasn't, but that he intended to cite the false pretenses for the war in Iraq and the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina as other examples of government mistakes, the packed courtroom burst into cheers. Breyer warned that he would clear the courtroom if any more outbursts occurred, then ordered Amparan not to make that argument to the jury.

After deliberating for two days, the jury convicted Rosenthal of growing more than 100 marijuana plants, conspiring to cultivate the drug and maintaining a growing operation in a warehouse. He was acquitted of a fourth charge, and Breyer sternly ordered prosecutors to drop the fifth charge when the jury said it was deadlocked.

"It's a shame that the federal government continues to put California citizens in the position of having to set aside their own votes at the ballot box and pretend they don't know anything about the state law or medical science," said William Dolphin, a spokesman for the Rosenthal defense fund Green Aid. "After 60% of the jury pool just refused to be involved in a case like this, we ended up with a jury that felt like it had to follow the instructions of the court."

"The government has shown it can in fact win a conviction in a medical marijuana case in the most pot-sympathetic district in the country," said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML. "Of course, when we have to play by their rules and can't even mention the main element of the defense, it's an open and shut case. Ed was clearly growing pot, as was shown by the government."

If the verdict was somewhat anticlimactic, there was high drama and civil disobedience in court last Friday. That's when six medical marijuana movement witnesses subpoenaed by the government to testify against Rosenthal simply refused. Five others who were prepared to join them were dismissed on technical grounds.

One by one, recalcitrant witnesses Debbie Goldsberry, James Blair, Etienne Fontan, Evan Schwartz, Brian Lundeen, and Cory Okie told the court they would not participate in an immoral prosecution. (Read the transcript here.) "I told them I could not participate and go against the wishes of the community," said Goldsberry.

Judge Breyer praised the six for their dignified conduct and asked them if being sent to jail for the weekend would make them change their minds about testifying. When they replied in the negative, he sent them home for the weekend. They reappeared on Tuesday, reiterated their refusal to testify, and Breyer simply excused them.

The successful act of civil disobedience merits attention, said California NORML's Gieringer. "It's important that this gets some attention because it is one of the few actions where people have had the courage to risk going to jail for refusing to testify for the government," said Gieringer. "The prosecutor can file contempt charges if he wants, but I think the judge would be pretty unhappy. Rosenthal isn't going to jail in any case, so to have someone go to jail would be a real travesty."

"The community is getting fed up," said Green Aid's Dolphin. "The jury pool was not happy, the judge was not happy, and a dozen people subpoenaed to testify just said 'I'm not going to do it, and you can't make me.'"

The federal government prevailed by winning several convictions against Rosenthal, but the victory may be a pyrrhic one. The Justice Department and local federal prosecutors have managed to irritate just about everybody in Northern California, from the presiding judge on down. And the continuing persecution of Rosenthal and other medical marijuana providers has only strengthened the community and emboldened it to try new, provocative tactics.

Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana (ACMM) Meeting

Please join us at the next Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana meeting.
Date: 
Mon, 06/18/2007 - 10:00am - 3:00pm
Location: 
800 NE Oregon St., Conference Room 1E
Portland, OR 97232
United States

Drug War Issues

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