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Medical Marijuana: Have a Piece of History and Help Change Federal Policy

Have a Piece of History
and Help Change Federal Policy

Dear ASA Supporter,

ASA was born in the midst of the federal government’s attacks on medical cannabis dispensing collectives in 2002. On January 22nd of this year we were all shocked and disappointed to see the DEA raid another dispensary during the first days of the new administration. Thousands of us voiced our outrage by calling the White House. Less than two weeks later, the White House responded by issuing a strong statement to the Washington Times, clearly indicating that the raids would soon end. It was a day so many of us will never forget.

Just a few weeks after the White House made its initial statement, Attorney General Eric Holder followed up to assure the public that policy would be changing. "What the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing in law enforcement," Holder said. "What he said during the campaign is now American policy."

And so far, President Obama and Attorney General Holder have held true to their words. The DEA has not raided a medical cannabis provider since February 4th.

But that does not mean that our fight is over. There are still dozens of defendants awaiting federal trial on medical cannabis charges, several others who are already serving time and hundreds of thousands of Americans that live without safe access to their medication. There is obviously a lot of work left to do to protect safe access in this country and we need your help to do it! Please make a commitment now to the next phase of our fight by donating now.

I am excited to present a limited offer that will help you remember the day the White House came to its senses. The first 40 people to donate $1,000 will receive one of the last copies of the issue of the Washington Times featuring the White House statement in a front page story and a copy of the Los Angeles Times editorial supporting Attorney General Holder’s statement.

Act now!


Steph Sherer
Executive Director
Americans for Safe Access

Medical Marijuana: 10 years ago ...

Dear Friends:

Ten years ago yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its landmark report that forever changed the public debate on medical marijuana.

In November 1996, California became the first state to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative. The following month, the Clinton administration struck back, threatening doctors if they recommended medical marijuana to patients. But the American Medical Association and the American public responded with outrage and condemnation, throwing the Clinton administration off-balance. The next month, in January 1997, the White House drug czar's office attempted to deflect attention by awarding $1 million in taxpayer money to the Institute of Medicine to conduct a two-year study of medical marijuana.

In 1997 and 1998, MPP brought dozens of patients to a series of IOM hearings to testify about their fear of being arrested. Indeed, many of the patients had already been arrested and/or incarcerated for using medical marijuana.

Then, on March 17, 1999, the Institute of Medicine finally released a report that was not at all what the drug czar's office had hoped for. The report contradicted the claims of the drug czar and other federals officials on a number of fronts:

1. It showed there is scientific evidence indicating that marijuana has medical uses.

2. It recommended that people with AIDS, cancer, and chronic pain who have an urgent need for marijuana be provided with immediate legal protection while further research is done on marijuana's medical uses.

3. It debunked the "gateway theory," saying that there is no evidence that using marijuana will "lead" someone to use cocaine and other drugs.

4. It said there is no evidence that allowing sick people to use medical marijuana will cause an increase in the recreational use of marijuana.

That report has been used as the intellectual foundation of most medical marijuana efforts in the decade since.

MPP co-founder Chuck Thomas with IOM investigators in 1998

The release of that report was the first time that MPP received a barrage of national media coverage, all over the course of just two weeks. But that media coverage pales in comparison to the coverage that MPP and the broader marijuana policy reform movement has been receiving over the last four months.

This is now a lesson in "be careful what you wish for." As the marijuana issue continues to explode across the political landscape in nearly all 50 states, MPP and our allies are getting stretched more and more thin ... as we attempt to capitalize on the opportunities that are presenting themselves in the news, in state legislatures, in Congress, and at the ballot box.

Anything you can give to help fund these exploding efforts would be greatly apprecated.

Thank you,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Is it Even Intellectually Possible to "Oppose" Medical Marijuana?

I was taking this online poll at The Chicago Tribune about medical marijuana and the wording got me thinking:

Do you support the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes?

Naturally, over 90% said yes because only a small number of really difficult people still have a problem with medical marijuana. But what do these people even mean that they don't "support the use of marijuana for medical purposes?" There are FDA approved medications with the same active ingredient as marijuana. Saying "marijuana isn't medicine" isn't an opinion, it's a factual error.

Really, the poll question might as well read: Do you support the use of medicine for medicinal purposes?

Police Dispatcher Fired for Giving Medical Marijuana to Sick Relative

Via MPP, another example of the daily idiocy that will continue until medical marijuana use is protected throughout the country:

Laura Llanes does not regret buying her aunt marijuana, even though it has cost her a job as police dispatcher.

She was stunned, nevertheless, when she was fired last week after admitting she bought the marijuana to help relieve her aunt's suffering through breast cancer and chemotherapy.

Marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal with a prescription in 13 states; Illinois is not one of them.

Llanes, 28, of Lake Villa remains adamant she did the right thing, saying her biggest mistake was telling a few co-workers what she had done: "They ratted me out."

Her aunt, who lives in Aurora, was "sick constantly, not eating, not having an appetite. She is diabetic. She has to eat. She was whittling away to nothing," said Llanes.

"I thought I will get her some marijuana so it would get her to eat. It worked. She did get the munchies." [Chicago Tribune]

It's a sad story to be sure, but if there's a bright side, it's that this entire story in The Chicago Tribune makes opponents of medical marijuana sound like monsters. There's a bill in the Illinois legislature to end this madness once and for all. I hope the state's legislators read the paper today, because this story tells you everything you need to know about why medical marijuana laws are needed.

Coalition for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey, Inc.: March Minutes and Press Release

Monthly Public Meeting Minutes

Lawrence Township Library

Tuesday, March 10, 2009; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

7:20 PM:  Meeting called to order.  February 2009 minutes approved.  Discussion:

Ø  CMMNJ supporters are urged to contact your assembly representative now to show your support for A804, “The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.”  The final steps to passing this bill into law will be the votes the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and in the full assembly.  When will the NJ Assembly act on this Senate-approved bill that Gov. Corzine said he will sign into law when it gets to his desk?  There are no more assembly health committee hearings scheduled until May and June 2009.   The legislature then breaks for the summer and returns in the fall.  Let’s stop arresting patients and stop needless suffering as soon as possible.     

Ø  Chris Goldstein and CMMNJ gave a medical marijuana seminar at Rutgers University/Camden Law School on 2/18/09.  (CMMNJ plans to return to R.U./Camden for Law Day on 4/4/09 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM.)  Other medical marijuana seminars are planned for Collingswood Public Library on 3/21/09 from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM, and the PhillyNORML meeting on 3/19/09 at 7:30 PM.  Follow Goldstein’s blogs about medical marijuana in New Jersey at  Jim Miller appeared on My9New York’s TV show, “New Jersey Now” on 3/8/09 at 12 noon.  You may listen to the live senate debate from 2/23/09 and hear CMMNJ’s comments on MyFoxPhillyChannel 29.  CMMNJ appeared on WIFI 1460 AM Talk Radio in Burlington County, NJ on 2/12/09 and plans to appear again on 3/12/09 at 4:00 PM.  CMMNJ has possible appearances scheduled for 4/18, 4/20, and 5/2/09.  Letters requesting support were sent to the national and NJ Elks (BPOE) and Communications Workers of America (CWA).      

Ø  The Drug Policy Alliance, Patients Out of Time  & NORML NJ  are actively supporting A804.  CMMNJ has new photos, etc. on Facebook and Facebook Friends of CMMNJ.

Ø  Treasury report: Checking account - $2,039.45; PayPal account - $640.15.  Help us raise funds by buying Wristbands/$2, T-shirts/$15, Lapel Pins and DVDs/$10 each. Also, consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization.  Donations may be made securely through Paypal or checks made out to “CMMNJ” and sent to corporate headquarters at the address below.  At the March 10, 2009 meeting, CMMNJ received $136 in donations.  Thank you.   

9:00 PM Adjourn meeting.

Upcoming CMMNJ meetings are: April 14, 2009, May 12, 2009, & June 9, 2009.  CMMNJ meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., NJ (Tel. #609.882.9246).  All are welcome.  Snacks are served.  (Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.)  For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.

844 Spruce St., Trenton, NJ 08648

(609) 394-2137

United States

Police Shoot Unarmed Marijuana Suspect

As long as the war on marijuana continues, police will continue shooting harmless people:

GRAND RAPIDS -- The family of a Grand Valley State University student shot by police said he did nothing to provoke gunfire in a drug raid at the student's off-campus apartment.

"All he had time to do was cover his face from a flashlight in his eyes, and they shot him," George Copp said today. []

Police haven’t even announced what, if anything, was found in the raid. Of course, the shooting was reprehensible either way, but it's just another reminder that police use these violent, confrontational tactics without even having good information. Believe me, if there was more than a pinch of dope in that apartment, the police would have told everyone about it by now.

The one thing we do know about Derek Copp is that he's a hippie and he smokes pot. We know this because some intrepid journalist got into his Facebook page and published portions of it in the newspaper. Great job! Now that you're done frolicking on Facebook, can you please go find out why the hell the cops shot this guy?

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Passes Another Senate Hurdle, Wins First House Vote

The Minnesota medical marijuana bill has survived a third state Senate committee vote and won its first House vote. The Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division passed the measure Tuesday on a divided voice vote. The following day, the House version of the bill passed the House Civil Justice Committee on a voice vote with no dissenting votes.
Minnesota State Capitol
The bill, SF 97, would allow qualified patients or their caregivers to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants. People suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Hep C, or Tourette's Syndrome or a chronic or debilitating disease or its treatment that produces wasting syndrome, intractable pain, severe nausea, seizures, or spasms whose doctors approve of their use would qualify.

A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee vote during the 2007-2008 session, but died without a House floor vote. It faced the strong opposition of law enforcement and a veto threat from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty's position has not changed, but bill supporters are hoping it will.

"I am increasingly confident that this will be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 other states that have acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). "This is an issue where science, compassion and simple common sense come together."

Now the bill goes to the Senate Finance Committee. Its companion bill is awaiting further action in the House.

Marijuana: US Rep. Loretta Sanchez Ponders "Pilot Program" for Pot Regulation

US Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) suggested Thursday that the time may be right for a "pilot program" of marijuana regulation. The congresswoman's comments came as she was interviewed live on CNN to discuss a congressional hearing on the prohibition-related violence taking place in Mexico. Sanchez is chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism.
Loretta Sanchez
Citing a recent Zogby poll commissioned by NORML that found majority support for taxed and regulated marijuana use and sales on the West Coast, Sanchez was responding to her host's question about the whole notion of drug legalization. California's receptiveness toward less restrictive marijuana laws would make it a good place to experiment, she said.

"Well, certainly, I have seen in my own state of California people over and over voting a big majority the whole issue of marijuana and possession of that," Sanchez said. "So maybe it would be a good pilot program to see how that regulation of marijuana might happen in California since the populace, the majority of Californians believe maybe that should happen."

Sanchez compared marijuana prohibition to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. "Well, certainly there is one drug -- it's called alcohol -- that we prohibited in the United States and had such a problem with as far as underground economy and cartels of that sort that we ended up actually regulating it and taxing it," she said. "And so there has always been this thought that maybe if we do that with drugs, it would lower the profits in it and make some of this go away."

Sanchez's comments came two weeks after California state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced the first marijuana legalization bill in state history and one week after the Obama administration announced it would no longer persecute medical marijuana providers in the state.

With staunch Republican anti-prohibitionist Rep. Ron Paul and liberal Democrat and federal decriminalization bill author Rep. Barney Frank as possible strange bedfellow allies, the question now becomes: Is it time for a marijuana legalization caucus in the House of Representatives?

NBC Insults Marijuana Users

Once again, we find the press struggling to cover drug policy reform without resorting to derogatory epithets:

State Moves Toward Lighter Sentences for Potheads
By Scott Ross

The state Assembly has struck a blow for the state's stoners by voting to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws that have threatened so many tokers with the wrong kind of joint. []

This is really an achievement in childish drug reporting in that it not only sounds ridiculous, it actually renders the story utterly frivolous and misleading. Marijuana arrests are a problem in New York to be sure, but simple possession is technically decriminalized already. Rockefeller reform is primarily not about marijuana at all. It's about reforming wildly draconian sentencing guidelines for a variety of drug offenses. Framing it as a marijuana policy reform is just wrong. Many of the worst excesses of the Rockefeller laws have nothing at all to do with marijuana.

Sadly, it looks as though the author loved his dumb headline so much, he destroyed the entire story just so he could use it. It's pure journalistic malpractice.

Please take a moment to click over there and leave a polite comment.

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Passes House Civil Justice Committee Without Dissent

Minnesota Cares logo

MARCH 11, 2009

Medical Marijuana Passes House Civil Justice Committee Without Dissent

CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- The House version of Minnesota's medical marijuana bill passed the House Civil Justice Committee this morning in a voice vote with no dissenting votes. The vote came after powerful testimony from Joni Whiting, whose adult daughter's suffering was relieved by medical marijuana while she was undergoing treatment for the melanoma that eventually took her life.

    "It really feels like the momentum is building and this is the year we're going to get this done," said Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. "One-quarter of the country now protects medical marijuana patients from arrest, and there is simply no reason to use Minnesota's police resources to arrest the sick for trying to relieve their suffering."

    A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee in the 2007-2008 session, but was never brought up for a vote on the House floor.

    Thirteen states, comprising approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population, now permit medical use of marijuana under state law if a physician has recommended it. The newest such law was enacted by Michigan voters last November, passing with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed on Feb. 25 that the Obama administration intends to pursue a policy of non-interference with these state laws. A number of other states are considering medical marijuana legislation this year, including New Jersey, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire.


St. Paul, MN
United States

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