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October Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. Meeting Minutes

Monthly Public Meeting Lawrence Township Library Tuesday, October 14, 2008; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Minutes: Meeting was called to order at 7:35 PM and adjourned at 8:57 PM. The September 2008 minutes were approved. Correspondence was reviewed. Discussion included: Mike Miceli’s arrest on 9/4/08 for using marijuana for Crohn’s Disease: Mike spent nine days in the hospital following his arrest and now faces major abdominal surgery since he can no longer use marijuana. Also, efforts on behalf of MS patient John Wilson who was arrested for medical marijuana use in Somerset Co. CMMNJ sent a follow-up letter to Gov. Corzine re: Miceli and Wilson; proposed letter to Wilson’s prosecutor was discussed. Wilson faces 20 yrs. CMMNJ was at the Hamilton Twp., NJ “Septemberfest” 9/14/08. Over 200 people signed statements supporting medical marijuana and we made $370. Hamilton Twp. mayor's office complained that a 12-year-old brought home a troubling message after visiting our booth. Board discussion included draft guidelines for our volunteers when talking with Middle School children. The Lawrence Twp. 2008 “Community Day” was Sunday, 10/5/08 in Lawrenceville. We made $90 and collected 54 signatures. Jim & Cathi attended the 14th Annual NY State Harvest Festival and Rally. They also attended the MS Bike Ride on 9/28 in Ocean City, NJ and distributed literature and displayed the Cheryl Miller Memorial Wheel Chair. Upcoming events: Ewing Twp., NJ “CommunityFest” is 10/25/08 on the campus of TCNJ from 10 AM to 5 PM. Late entry: A Candlelight Vigil for Medical Marijuana Patients will be held at City Hall in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, 11-1-08 at 8-PM. Volunteers needed for both. CMMNJ has new photos on Facebook at: AARP: “AARP has not taken a position on the medical use of marijuana.” Also, Sen. Lautenberg “sort of” replied to request for him to sponsor a senate companion bill to H.R. 5842. F/U needed to clarify issue. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) conference call was 9/25/08. Pre-written, customizable letters are available for NJ residents to urge their legislators to support the “NJ Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” (S-119 & A-804) through NORML at: & through DPA at: Do it today! Treasury report: Checking account ($2356.72) plus Paypal account ($575.69). 501(c)(3): CMMNJ received its Sales Tax Exempt Certificate (Form ST-5) from the IRS. Progress of fund raising letter? CMMNJ submitted our 26-minute DVD, “Marijuana is Medicine” to the Garden State Film Festival & developed an advertising poster. Web site update: Gary Sage is keeping the web site ( updated at $15/hr. Next Meeting: December 9, 2008 at the Lawrence Twp. Library, from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM. There will be no November meeting this year, due to the holiday on the 2nd Tues. of the month. 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

Could Mexico City Become the Next Amsterdam?

As the failure of the drug war in Mexico becomes increasingly difficult to deny, we’re beginning to see a change in the tone of the drug policy discussion:

The architect of Mexico's offensive against drug traffickers, President Felipe Calderon, has sent a proposal to Congress that would decriminalize small amounts of drugs by giving those consumers the choice of treatment instead of jail time. Authorities hope the change would free up resources to go after higher-level criminals.

The speaker of Mexico City's legislative assembly has gone even further, saying he wants to turn the capital into another Amsterdam by legalizing small sales of marijuana, which he calls a "soft drug" currently controlled by criminals. [Chicago Tribune]

Can you even imagine how U.S. drug warriors would react if Mexico tried to legalize marijuana sales? Move over Cuban Missile Crisis, this would really be the greatest national security nightmare in American history. I’m not kidding, because these drug war cheerleaders really are more afraid of an 1/8 ounce of marijuana than the devil himself.

But as far as Mexico is concerned, regulated marijuana sales would be frickin’ ingenious. You could de-fund a major sector of the blackmarket economy, while cashing in on massive tourism income. It would be like Amsterdam, except with delicious tacos instead of the wretched crap that passes for food in the Red Light District.

One year ago today...

Dear friend:

One year ago today, Robin Prosser took her own life.

For more than 20 years, Robin, a former concert pianist and systems analyst, suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus. Her muscles stiffened, impeding her ability to move, and she suffered from chronic pain, heart trouble, nausea, and migraines. She was allergic to many prescription drugs, and others simply didn't work. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide on October 18, 2007.

You can watch MPP's tribute to Robin here:

Won't you please help others like Robin? On November 4, voters in Michigan will have the chance to pass a law protecting medical marijuana patients like Robin from arrest and prison. You can help ensure this measure passes, by helping to fund the campaign here.

Please stand with us and send a loud message to the federal government: No more.

Thank you,
Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

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

P.S. MPP would like to thank Patients & Families United for providing footage and film for the tribute video, as well as for its outstanding advocacy work on behalf of Montana's medical marijuana patients.

P.P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled. (And as always, you can opt out of receiving fundraising mentions in the e-mail alerts I send you in 2008 by visiting at your convenience.)

United States

Press Release: California Supreme Court Denies Review of San Diego Medical Marijuana Case

ASA's web page on the San Diego case: For Immediate Release: October 16th, 2008 California Supreme Court Denies Review of San Diego Medical Marijuana Case Advocates prepared to pursue litigation against counties refusing to uphold state law San Francisco, CA -- The California Supreme Court refused to review a landmark medical marijuana case today that will require all counties to implement the state identification program. The County of San Diego filed suit against the State of California in February 2006, arguing that state law was preempted by federal law. That argument was rejected by the San Diego Superior Court in December of 2006 and was also later denied by the Fourth District Court of Appeals on July 31, 2008. The lawsuit challenged the validity of the state identification card program, as well as the foundation of California's medical marijuana laws, but the decisions by both lower and appellate courts found that the ID card program and state law remained valid and does not violate the state constitution. "The San Diego case is now final under California law," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of Americans for Safe Access, who argued before the appellate court on behalf of patients. "The courts have made clear that federal law does not preempt state law relating to medical marijuana and that local officials must comply with California's medical marijuana laws." In a unanimous opinion earlier this year, the Court of Appeals ruled that the federal Controlled Substances Act "signifies Congress's intent to maintain the power of states to elect 'to serve as a laboratory in the trial of novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country' by preserving all state laws that do not positively conflict with the CSA." Americans for Safe Access (ASA), along with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, defended the interests of patients in fighting San Diego's appeal to the State Supreme Court. Both organizations successfully intervened as defendants in the lawsuit in August of 2006, while the case was still being litigated in the Superior Court. After the appellate court ruling, ASA put all counties that had not yet implemented the ID card program on notice of their obligation to implement state law, in particular the state ID card program, which both assists law enforcement and affords greater greater protection to patients. "We expect the remaining holdout counties to implement the medical marijuana card program immediately," continued Elford. "And if they continue to refuse to comply with state law, we will call upon the courts to require them to do so." San Diego County was originally joined by San Bernardino and Merced Counties, but Merced chose not to appeal, opting instead to implement the state ID card program and a Sheriff's policy on medical marijuana patient encounters. In an unusual move, the City of San Diego voiced its opposition to the County's lawsuit by filing an amicus 'friend of the court' brief in December 2007, siding with the Attorney General and medical marijuana patient advocates. For further information: California Court of Appeals ruling from July 31, 2008: ASA's web page on the San Diego case:
United States

Drug czar attacks!

Dear friends:

Once again, the White House drug czar is using taxpayer money to lie and interfere in an MPP state ballot initiative campaign. Earlier this week, drug czar John Walters and deputy drug czar Scott Burns appeared in Michigan to campaign against MPP's medical marijuana initiative there.

Walters pulled out his usual despicable lies. His claims in Michigan this week included:

  • Medical marijuana laws lead to “people who are dependent on this drug using the medical excuse to acquire the drug, to use the drug, to remain dependent, to get more teenagers and pre-teenagers to use.” (In fact, teen marijuana use has consistently declined in states with medical marijuana laws.)
  • Marijuana has no legitimate medical use. (In fact, the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and dozens of other medical organizations recognize marijuana's medical value.)

While the drug czar spends taxpayer money to lie to voters, MPP's campaign committee is running out of funds to fight back and badly needs your help. Would you please consider donating $10 or more today?

This isn't the first time that the drug czar's office has campaigned against a state initiative. In fact, the drug czar makes a habit of targeting MPP. He campaigned against the medical marijuana laws that MPP successfully passed in Rhode Island in January of 2006 and in Montana and Vermont in 2004. And he has a history of swarming the airwaves with misleading and fear-mongering TV ads during the last two weeks of MPP's campaigns, so we expect the lies to escalate.

But we're fighting back. Just this week, MPP filed a complaint against the drug czar's office in the form of a Data Quality Act petition. The federal Data Quality Act requires federal agencies, like the drug czar's office, to ensure the quality, objectivity, and integrity of information it distributes. In other words, it mandates that the drug czar's information about marijuana rely on sound science — not twisted propaganda.

MPP's filing is the first of its kind. No organization has ever formally requested that the drug czar redact his lies. If we win, drug czar propaganda about marijuana will have to be corrected.

But there are only 19 days left until Election Day. MPP's campaign committee needs your help now. Won't you be part of making Michigan the 13th medical marijuana state — and the first in the Midwest?

Thank you in advance for anything you can give to help.

Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

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 $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

United States

Search and Seizure: Long Island Woman's Strip Search Suit Can Move Forward

A federal appeals court ruled October 8 that a Long Island, New York, woman's rights were violated when police strip searched her in a room with a video camera after finding a marijuana stem in the vehicle she was driving. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the $1 million lawsuit filed three years ago by Stacey Hartline against the Village of Southampton and four of its police officers.

Hartline was driving a work vehicle owned by her construction company in 2001 when she was pulled over for lack of a rear license plate. After the arresting officer spotted a pot stem on the floorboard, he cuffed Hartline, then searched the vehicle, finding a roach and other small amounts of pot debris. Hartline was placed under arrest for marijuana possession, taken to the police station, and subjected to a strip search by a female officer in a room with a video camera while male officers allegedly watched on monitors.

Hartline was "crying hysterically" while she was forced to remove her lower garments and allow the officer to inspect her orifices, then lift up her bra and allow the officer to inspect her breasts, according to her account.

Hartline sued, alleging two violations of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. First, she argued, police had no probable cause to think she was hiding contraband, and second, the search was unconstitutional because the Village of Southampton had a policy of strip searching all female arrestees while it did not have such a policy for male arrestees.

Her civil suit was thrown out in 2006 by US District Judge Denis Hurley in Central Islip. Hurley held that police did have reason to believe she was hiding contraband and that no higher courts had dealt with such circumstances.

But in last week's opinion from the 2nd Circuit, the appeals court judges sharply disagreed with Hurley. It was irrelevant that no other court had ruled on the circumstances, the judges said, and whether police had "a reasonable suspicion that she was secreting contraband on her person" was a question to settled by a trial court, not Judge Hurley.

"Ultimately, if the facts of this case amount to reasonable suspicion, then strip-searches will become commonplace," the judges further wrote in a 15-page opinion. "Given the unique, intrusive nature of strip-searches, as well as the multitude of less invasive techniques available to officers confronted by misdemeanor offenders, that result would be unacceptable in any society that takes privacy and bodily integrity seriously."

Now, Hartline's case will go to trial. No trial date has yet been set.

Hartline told the Associated Press after the decision that she was relieved. "It's very hard to sit back and challenge a municipality," she said. "It's frightening. I've lived in this town my whole life. I love Southampton. The relief I feel is tremendous. I'm so pleased this won't happen to anyone else."

Feature: Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Organized Opposition

Michigan's Proposal 1, the medical marijuana initiative sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, appears headed for easy victory according to recent polls, but now it is seeing organized opposition, including visits from the drug czar and one of his minions to urge Michiganders to reject the proposal.

When they go to the polls on November 4, Michigan voters will see the following ballot language and be asked to vote yes or no on whether the measure should be adopted:

The proposed law would:

  • Permit physician approved use of marijuana by registered patients with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, MS and other conditions as may be approved by the Department of Community Health.
  • Permit registered individuals to grow limited amounts of marijuana for qualifying patients in an enclosed, locked facility.
  • Require Department of Community Health to establish an identification card system for patients qualified to use marijuana and individuals qualified to grow marijuana.
  • Permit registered and unregistered patients and primary caregivers to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana.

If passed by the voters, the measure would make Michigan the 13th medical marijuana state and, significantly, the first in the Midwest. Currently, all the medical marijuana states are in the West or the Northeast.
marijuana plants (photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia)
That could explain why the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, the drug czar's office) is concerned enough to send its top people to Michigan, but at the state level, the organized opposition is a collection of the usual suspects from law enforcement, moral crusader, cultural conservative, and staid medical groups resorting to the same old medical marijuana bogey-man arguments always made by defenders of the status quo.

State opposition emerged late last month with the public coming out of Citizens Protecting Michigan's Kids. The group's spokesman, state appellate judge Bill Schuette, has been holding news conferences, this week in conjunction with drug czar Walters, and penning op-eds, in order to stoke fear about the initiative through a barrage of distortions, disinformation, misinformation and fabrications.

Schuette is especially fond of warning that -- gasp! -- if the initiative passes, Michigan will turn into California with its "chaos, pot dealers in storefronts and millions of dollars being dumped into the criminal black market," as he put it in the op-ed piece. The Michigan initiative "is just like the California law," he wrote, even though the Michigan law is much more restrictive on who can become a medical marijuana patient and does not provide for medical marijuana dispensaries.

That particular distortion is even embedded in the group's web site URL,, although, again, the Michigan initiative does not allow for dispensaries.

Schuette and company are also hitting the theme that passing the initiative will lead to an orgy of teen marijuana use. "Law enforcement officials in California point to their state's marijuana law as a cause for the dramatic increase in drug use among high school students," he wrote, reprising comments along the same line he made at an earlier press conference.

Again, Schuette was spouting misinformation. According to a June 2008 report from the Marijuana Policy Project based on official state and national survey data, teen marijuana use has gone down in all grades in California and almost across the board in all other medical marijuana states in the 12 years since California passed its medical marijuana law.

"The opposition is using scare tactics out of desperation, which does not diminish the fact that medical marijuana can safely and effectively relieve the pain and suffering of seriously ill patients," Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for the Michigan Coalition told the Associated Press earlier this month in response to the opposition claims. "They are just throwing things up in the air and hoping something will stick," she said, emphasizing that Michigan's initiative does not allow for the opening of "pot shops." "This law is nothing like California," she said flatly.

On Monday, the feds arrived. Deputy drug czar Scott Burns flew in to hold a press conference with Schuette and a roomful of law enforcement officials.

"Proposal 1 is bad for Michigan and it is bad for America," Burns said. "This issue is about dope, not about medicine."

Burns also argued that the initiative is backed by wealthy individuals who have supported similar measures in other states. "They are funded by millions of dollars from millionaires who live in Washington, DC, to hire people to come to Michigan to try and con voters from the state to pass it," he said without apparently noting the irony that he, if not a millionaire himself, had come from Washington, DC, representing an agency with a multi-billion dollar budget to tell Michigan voters what to do.

On Tuesday, the big dog himself, drug czar Walters showed up. In a Lansing press conference that same day, Walters repeated some of Schuette's misinformation about the possible increase of teen marijuana use and his deceptive comparisons with California.

Walters also said that the initiative "gives people who are addicted a way to say I have a medical problem" to obtain more of the herb. He also argued that marijuana, unlike opiate pain medications, is unregulated with varying potency, and that a pharmaceutical form of marijuana, Marinol, is already on the market. "To say we need to smoke a weed to make people high because that's the best we can do for them is an abomination," the Michigan native declared.

But the emergence of Michigan Citizens and the arrival of the drug czar and his deputy may be too little too late. The measure was well ahead in the most recent poll, and the state press has balanced the dire warnings of Walters and his local counterparts with interviews with patients and initiative supporters, so it is unclear how much ground the opposition offensive can gain.

For Bruce Mirken, communications director for MPP, which has confronted ONDCP interference with state initiatives in the past and which is supporting the Michigan initiative, the drug czar's schtick seemed time-worn and grasping.

"We're about equal parts amused and horrified," he said. "It's the same old disinformation campaign at taxpayers' expense that Walters has done again and again. This time, not only did he go to Michigan on our dime, he even brought along a medical cannabis vending machine the DEA seized a few months ago from a dispensary in Los Angeles, even though the Michigan initiative doesn't allow for dispensaries, let alone vending machines. It's the Walters Disinformation Tour 2008," Mirken groaned.

The campaign of false attacks on the initiative suggests that the opposition is desperate, said Mirken. "In some ways, that's a good sign for our side," he argued. "They don't have any actual facts and are reduced to making stuff up."

The voters of Michigan will have the final say in a little more than two weeks from now. Stay tuned.

Europe: British Home Secretary Announces New Marijuana Possession Penalties

When marijuana is rescheduled from a Class C to a more serious Class B drug in Britain on January 26, repeat marijuana possession offenders will face more severe sanctions, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced Monday.

Marijuana had been down-scheduled to Class C in 2004, but the Labor government ignored the advice of its drug policy panel, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and moved to reschedule it earlier this year. The move came against a background of sensational British tabloid press reports on marijuana-induced madness and more down-to-earth concerns about links between teen marijuana use and a slightly increased incidence of schizophrenia, especially with "skunk," the apparent British name for any high-quality marijuana.

Although teen marijuana use has decreased since 2004, the British are in the throes of a full-blown reefer madness. Reports of "cannabis factories" being raided and hooligans blaming pot for their crimes are staples in the press.

According to Home Secretary Smith, first-time pot possessors will continue to receive warnings, as is the practice with marijuana under Class B, but second-time offenders will be hit with a $138 fine and third-time offenders will be arrested. It's for your own good, she said.

"While cannabis has always been illegal, reclassifying it to a Class B drug reinforces our message to everyone that it is harmful and should not be taken. Fewer people are taking cannabis, but it is crucial that this trend continues. I am extremely concerned about the use of stronger strains of cannabis, such as skunk, and the harm they can cause to mental health," she said.

"This is the next step towards toughening up our enforcement response -- to ensure that repeat offenders know that we are serious about tackling the danger that the drug poses to individuals, and in turn communities," Smith continued. "We need to act now to protect future generations."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) had supported the reclassification and welcomed the new penalties. "There is evidence of increasing harms to community safety associated with criminal behavior around the cultivation, distribution and the use of cannabis," said Tim Hollis, the ACPO Lead on Drugs. "While enforcement alone will not provide the total solution to a crime that is a global problem, this will act as a deterrent, along with better education about the impact of drugs. Where cannabis use is repeated or where there are aggravating circumstances locally, officers will take a harder line on enforcement and escalate their response accordingly. Every encounter at street level provides intelligence and helps us to act against the criminal gangs who seek to profit from cannabis production and distribution."

But while the new penalties sound tough enough, there is a loophole, the London Times reported. According to the Times, warnings for a first possession offense will not be recorded on the national police computer, making it difficult for police to verify if someone was a first- or second-time offender, particularly if the person was caught by different police forces.

Even with the apparent loophole, the move won no kudos from Danny Kushlick of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. He told the Times the rescheduling of marijuana was little more than "populist posturing," adding, "Escalating penalties for possession only serve to further marginalize and criminalize millions of otherwise law-abiding people."

Home Secretary Smith has admitted smoking pot herself as a university student. She did not say whether she should have been warned, fined, or arrested, nor did she say whether she would have benefitted from being busted for her offense.

Medical Marijuana: Four More Massachusetts Local Questions on the Ballot

Two weeks ago Drug War Chronicle reported on the various drug reform-related initiatives appearing on state and local ballots this November. While we mentioned the Massachusetts decriminalization initiative, other lower profile efforts in the Bay State were moving too. On Wednesday, the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the state NORML affiliate, MassCann, announced that voters in four Massachusetts legislative districts will be voting on public policy questions urging legislators to support medical marijuana.
Voters in 15 towns will be able to decide the following ballot question: "Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill patients, with their doctor's written recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal medical use?" The 15 towns are part of the following representative districts: 1st Middlesex, 13th Norfolk, 21st Middlesex, and 6th Plymouth.

This will mark the fifth consecutive biennial election in which local activists have placed marijuana policy-related questions on the ballot. They have been overwhelmingly successful, winning all 41 ballot questions in 125 Massachusetts towns representing one-third of the Commonwealth. Medical marijuana questions won with an average of 68% of the vote, while marijuana decriminalization questions won with an average of 62%. Industrial hemp and tax and regulate ballot questions also won.

The years of effort by local activists have helped lay the groundwork for this year's statewide Question 2, the marijuana decrim initiative. They are also laying the groundwork for passage of a medical marijuana bill, H 2247, which has been stalled at the statehouse since it was introduced in January 2007.

Legalizing Marijuana Would Stop Growers From Destroying Our Forests

The annual marijuana harvest season each fall brings increased discussion of the hopeless process of eradicating outdoor marijuana crops on public land. Growers are damaging precious natural resources and their livelihood continues unabated even as police achieve record marijuana seizures each year.

Fortunately, the Marijuana Policy Project has introduced the only plan that could possibly address the problem:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Recent alarming reports of environmental damage caused by illegal marijuana farms in national forests and wilderness areas in California and elsewhere show that an entirely new approach is needed in order to solve the problem, officials of the Marijuana Policy Project said today.

"Year after year we hear from law enforcement and U.S. Forest Service officials about growing environmental damage caused by these criminal operations, even as law enforcement seizures of marijuana plants set new records every year," said Bruce Mirken, MPP's California-based director of communications. "What we've been doing is plainly not working and has actually caused the problem in the first place. It's time to get off the treadmill and try a new approach."

Seriously. Who in their right mind could possibly contend that we are on pace to bring this mess under control? For decades, cops in combat fatigues have been rappelling from helicopters armed with industrial strength hedge-clippers and for what? Marijuana is the number one cash crop in America and that isn’t going to change no matter how many police we send off on these ridiculous drug war nature hikes.

Californians should be allowed to grow marijuana on their own property for all the same reasons that they are currently permitted to grow grapes and make wine.

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