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Sixth Annual IMMLY/Madison NORML Medical Cannabis Benefit

Save the Date: IMMLY Medical Cannabis Benefit and Awards, Oct. 3 in Madison! The IMMLY/Madison NORML Medical Cannabis Benefit is the opening celebration of the 38th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival. Join IMMLY’s Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck for the Sixth annual IMMLY/Madison NORML medical cannabis benefit featuring the First Annual IMMLY Medical Cannabis Awards, hosted by comedian Nick Mortensen with blues/roots music from Mark Shanahan. $10 suggested donation includes Glass Nickel pizza. More info: Is My Medicine Legal YET? www.immly.org Madison NORML www.madisonnorml.org Facebook Event Page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=26316871660 Harvest Fest on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=22473707971&ref=mf Harvest Fest on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/madisonhempfest
Date: 
Fri, 10/03/2008 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: 
418 E Wilson St.
Madison, WI
United States

Another Sign That Medical Marijuana Laws Are Working

Regulating medical marijuana under state law makes it possible for police to protect private property:

Mendocino County sheriff's deputies arrested eight Sacramento-area men Friday on suspicion of robbing at gunpoint a Laytonville man who grew marijuana in his garden for medical use.

The men, who range in age from 18 to 24, are from Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Sacramento, and are facing armed robbery and conspiracy charges. [Sacramento Bee]

It’s nice to see police helping patients and turning their attention towards real criminals.

South Asia: Sri Lanka in Medical Marijuana Quandary

Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced for thousands of years in South Asia, but it many of its preparations, which include marijuana, conflict with modern proscriptions against the herb. Now, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Indigenous Medicine and its Department of Ayurvedha are seeking to resolve that conflict.

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ayurvedic herbal garden (ayurveda.gov.lk)
On Monday, the ministry announced it needs 20 acres of land to cultivate marijuana for use in a number of ayurvedic medications. The ministry has forwarded a cabinet paper seeking permission for the medicinal marijuana garden. It is also discussing the possible grow with the Dangerous Drugs Board.

"We have to consider the security side of cultivating cannabis even if it is for medicinal purposes. People are sure to misuse the permission granted to cultivate the psychoactive drug," said Minister for Indigenous Medicine Asoka Malimage. "It is required to prepare ayurvedic medicines such as Madana Modaka and several other drugs," he said. "We have to address the matter with care."

Malimage said he would consult with his homologues in India about how their program works. India already allows the cultivation of marijuana for ayurvedic preparations.

Ayurvedha Commissioner Ramani Gunawardhana said Sri Lanka needs about 12,000 pounds of marijuana to supply its traditional medicinal needs. He added that the program currently gets most of its marijuana from crops seized by the courts when illegal cultivators are arrested. But the seized pot is often withered and dried and has lost its therapeutic qualities, thus the need for authorized cultivation.

Europe: Dutch Supreme Court Says Patient Can Grow Marijuana for Therapeutic Use

The Dutch Supreme Court Tuesday upheld an appeals court ruling allowing a patient suffering from multiple sclerosis to grow marijuana for therapeutic purposes. The high court found that while marijuana cultivation is illegal in Holland, patients could use what amounts to a medical necessity defense to avoid prosecution.

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California medical marijuana bags (courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
"An illegal scheme can be justified when committed out of necessity," the court ruled. In the case of the patient, the "exceptional circumstances" of his illness could get him out from under Dutch cannabis cultivation laws. "The state of necessity is established," the court held.

The court upheld an October 2006 ruling in the case of MS sufferer Wim Moorlag and his wife, Klasiena Hooijers, that the couple could grow marijuana for use in alleviating his illness. In trial court, the pair had been convicted of marijuana cultivation and fined $350. But the conservative Dutch government challenged the appeals court ruling, saying it set a precedent that could endanger the country's tolerant approach to marijuana.

Moorlag and his wife argued that they needed to grow their own because marijuana available in Holland's famous coffeeshops could contain fungi and bacteria harmful to MS sufferers.

It is not clear what impact the decision will have on other Dutch medical marijuana patients. But after the 2006 appeals court ruling, Moorlag's lawyer said the decision meant that other patients, such as people with AIDS, would also be able to legally grow their own medicine.

Feature: Serious Crime Down, Drug Arrests Hold Steady, But Marijuana Arrests Increase to 872,000

Nearly 1.9 million people were arrested on drug charges in the United States last year, some 872,000 for marijuana offenses, according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report, released Monday. While overall drug arrest figures declined marginally (down 84,000), marijuana arrests increased by more than 5% and are once again at an all-time high. Drug arrests exceed those for any other type of offense, including property crime (1.61 million arrests), driving under the influence (1.43 million), misdemeanor assaults (1.31 million), larceny (1.17 million), and violent crime (597,000).

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People arrested for drug offenses face not only the distinct possibility of serving time in jail or prison -- drug offenders account for roughly 20% of all prisoners, and well more than half of all federal prisoners -- but also face collateral consequences that can haunt them for the rest of their lives. In addition to carrying the burden of a criminal record, drug offenders can lose access to various state and federal benefits, including students loans, food stamps, and public assistance, as well as being barred from obtaining professional licenses, and in some states, other consequences such as having their drivers' licenses suspended.

The high level of drug arrests comes as overall drug use rates remain roughly at the level they were 30 years ago. In the meantime, state, local, and federal authorities have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and arrested tens of millions of people in the name of drug prohibition.

The increase in drug arrests comes as the overall crime rate decreased. Violent crime was down 0.7% over 2006 and property crime was down 1.4%, marking the fifth consecutive year of declining numbers. All seven categories in the FBI's list of serious criminal offenses -- murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and car theft -- saw declines last year. But not drug arrests.

The rate of drug arrests was highest in the West (677.5 per 100,000), followed by the South (664.5), the Midwest (549.6), and the Northeast (508.0). Nationally, the drug arrest rate was 614.8 per 100,000.

Of those arrested on pot charges, 775,000, or 89%, were charged only with possession, a figure similar to that for drug arrests overall. Another 97,000 pot offenders were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation or sales offenses, even those involving small-scale violations. Marijuana arrests last year accounted for 47.5% of all drug arrests. Almost three-quarters of marijuana arrests involved people under the age of 30.

The continuing high levels of drug arrests and the increase in marijuana arrests prompted sharp responses from drug reformers. "For more than 30 years, the US has treated drug use and misuse as a criminal justice matter instead of a public health issue," said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Yet, despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent and millions of Americans incarcerated, illegal drugs remain cheap, potent and widely available in every community; and the harms associated with them -- addiction, overdose, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis -- continue to mount. Meanwhile, the war on drugs has created new problems of its own, including rampant racial disparities in the criminal justice system, broken families, increased poverty, unchecked federal power, and eroded civil liberties. Continuing the failed war on drugs year after year is throwing good money and lives after bad."

Marijuana reform organizations naturally zeroed in on the pot arrest figures. "Most Americans have no idea of the massive effort going into a war on marijuana users that has completely failed to curb marijuana use," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, DC. "Just this summer a new World Health Organization study of 17 countries found that we have the highest rate of marijuana use, despite some of the strictest marijuana laws and hyper-aggressive enforcement. With government at all levels awash in debt, this is an insane waste of resources. How long will we keep throwing tax dollars at failed policies?"

"These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor cannabis offenders," said NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre, who noted that at current rates, a cannabis consumer is arrested every 37 seconds in America. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources that diverts law enforcement personnel away from focusing on serious and violent crime, including the war on terrorism."

"It's time for a new bottom line for US drug policy -- one that focuses on reducing the cumulative death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug misuse and drug prohibition," said Piper. "A good start would be enacting short- and long-term national goals for reducing the problems associated with both drugs and the war on drugs. Such goals should include reducing social problems like drug addiction, overdose deaths, the spread of HIV/AIDS from injection drug use, racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and the enormous number of nonviolent offenders behind bars. Federal drug agencies should be judged -- and funded -- according to their ability to meet these goals."

Piper agreed with the marijuana reform advocates that the marijuana laws are a good place to start. "Policymakers should especially stop wasting money arresting and incarcerating people for nothing more than possession of marijuana for personal use," he said. "There's no need to be afraid of what voters might think; the American people are already there. Substantial majorities favor legalizing marijuana for medical use (70% to 80%) and fining recreational marijuana users instead of arresting and jailing them (61% to 72%). Twelve states have legalized marijuana for medical use and 12 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana use (six states have done both)."

As Piper noted, marijuana law reform is happening, but it's not happening at fast enough a pace to slow the number of pot arrests. Alaska remains the only state to allow for the legal possession of marijuana (in one's home). A federal decriminalization bill was introduced this year for the first time since the Jimmy Carter presidency, but no one thinks it will get anywhere anytime soon. And even decriminalization means that marijuana users are still punished for their choice of substance, as well as having their property stolen by law enforcement.

The situation is even more bleak when it comes to non-pot drug offenders. There is virtually no impetus to rein back the war on them, and even the reform efforts that could reduce their numbers in prison, such as the Nonviolent Drug Offender Rehabilitation Act on the California ballot this fall, would not do anything to reduce the number of arrests. It would merely funnel those arrested into coerced treatment instead of prison.

Barring serious radical reform efforts to end the war on drugs -- and not merely ameliorate its most outrageous manifestations -- there is little reason to expect we will have anything different to report when it comes to drug arrests next year or the year after that.

Marijuana: Massachusetts Decrim Initiative Organizers Take Off the Gloves, File Criminal Complaints Against Prosecutors

The battle over a Massachusetts initiative that would decriminalize marijuana possession is heating up. Although the initiative, which would make marijuana possession a civil rather than a criminal infraction (and is known as Question 2 on the ballot), leads comfortably in early polling, organized opposition led by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association (MDAA) emerged this month, and on Wednesday, initiative sponsors the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) announced it had filed criminal complaints against the prosecutors for violating campaign fundraising laws and publishing false statements about the initiative.

The prosecutors, organized into the Coalition for Safe Streets, filed a statement of organization on September 5 and have come out swinging since then. There's just one problem, according to CSMP. Under state campaign finance laws, ballot committees cannot raise money until they register with the state, as the Coalition for Safe Streets did less than two weeks ago. But CSMP has evidence that prosecutors were funneling money into the effort as far back as July. This unlawful fundraising and spending constitutes the 14 counts of CSMP's first complaint.

CSMP's second complaint charges prosecutors violated state election laws prohibiting the making of false statements about candidates or ballot issues in at least five instances. Targeted by the complaint are such anti-marijuana fare appearing on the MDAA web site as "Decriminalization will reverse a recently documented positive trend in youth marijuana use," "There is a direct link between marijuana use and criminal activity," and "There is a direct link between marijuana use and motor vehicle crashes." In its complaint, CSMP systematically rebuts each of these statements.

"The people who are paid to uphold the law should also be expected to follow the law," said CSMP campaign manager Whitney Taylor. "The DAs blatantly ignored the law in a cynical attempt to conceal their campaign activity for as long as they could, undermining the very laws they have sworn to uphold. Not only does this warrant an immediate investigation, but because of the positions they hold, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Anti-Marijuana Crusaders Caught Violating Campaign Laws

We already know marijuana prohibition is a fraud, so it should come as no surprise that the people fighting to protect prohibition cannot be trusted to obey the law themselves.

The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy’s campaign to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Massachusetts has driven drug-thirsty prosecutors over the edge, prompting blatant lawbreaking by the exact people sworn to uphold the state’s laws (via MPP email):

*  Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to solicit, receive, or spend funds to support or oppose a ballot initiative without first forming a political committee. CSMP has from its inception followed all of these rules, but the district attorneys solicited, received, and spent donations before they were legally allowed to -- blatantly ignoring state law in a cynical attempt to conceal their campaign activity for as long as they could, undermining the very laws they have sworn to uphold.

*  Additionally, the district attorneys used public funds to post and house a statement urging voters to reject the decriminalization initiative on its Web site ... clear, indisputable violation of Massachusetts election law, which prohibits public officials from using public resources to advocate for or against a ballot initiative.

*  What's more, this illegal statement -- itself an abuse of public office and taxpayer resources -- is riddled with bald-faced lies ... like the claim that the initiative would permit any person to carry and use marijuana at any time. In reality, the measure simply changes the type of penalty for possession of less than an ounce and specifically reiterates that public use remains illegal.

Unsurprisingly, lying and cheating have become the last resort of the desperate drug war faithful. They have no legitimate arguments and the polls show them losing badly, so you can bet they’ll try anything.

One could never overstate the extent to which these hardened drug war prosecutors believe the law is theirs to toy with. It is their precious little plaything, a personal possession to be molded and manipulated until it fits just right. That very same mentality also explains why they love marijuana laws, which can be cast casually aside or brought crashing down with righteous ferocity.

Indeed, the very notion of a democratically-enforced public morality that trumps prosecutorial discretion is an affront to their world. That’s why they’d sooner break campaign laws that serve the public interest than risk the reform of marijuana laws that serve no interests but their own.

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey Meeting

Please join us for our next monthly public meeting. For more information, as well as minutes from our last meeting, see http://www.cmmnj.org/.
Date: 
Tue, 10/14/2008 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: 
NJ
United States

WAMMfest 2008

For complete information, see http://www.wammfest.org/. Vendors, please see: http://wammfest.org/vendorsignup.htm
Date: 
Sat, 09/27/2008 - 12:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: 
134 Dakota Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
United States

Marijuana: It's Official -- Fayetteville Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative Makes November Ballot

Fayetteville, Arkansas, will be the latest locality to vote on an initiative that would make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. City officials certified late last week that, after a second round of signature-gathering, initiative organizers had indeed collected more than enough valid signatures to place the measure on the November 4 ballot.

Sponsored by Sensible Fayetteville, the initiative would "make investigations, citations, arrests, property seizures, and prosecutions for adult marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the City of Fayetteville's lowest law enforcement and prosecutorial priority." It would also require city officials to write annual letters to state and federal authorities calling for the reform of marijuana laws.

According to Sensible Fayetteville, 402 people were arrested on marijuana possession charges in Fayetteville in 2005 alone, while the state of Arkansas spends $30 million a year enforcing marijuana laws. Marijuana arrests "clog the courts and jails" and policing resources "would be better-spent fighting serious and violent crimes," the group said.

But it looks like Fayetteville prosecutors and police, as well as University of Arkansas police, are going to ignore the will of the voters if the measure passes. The city attorney said that marijuana possession is a Class A misdemeanor under state law, and that a municipal ordinance cannot supersede state law, while city and college police chiefs said they would continue to enforce state law.

"From a legal point of view, this ordinance has no effect," City Attorney Kit Williams told the Arkansas Traveler. "It would be like if we passed an ordinance saying we weren't going to enforce drunken driving laws," Williams said. "We would still have to enforce them."

Spokesmen for the University of Arkansas Police Department and the Fayetteville Police also told the Traveler they would continue to enforce state law.

But supporters of the initiative said passage would be an historic move. "When we pass an initiative like this, we send a message that we will no longer accept inaction," said Jacob Holloway, field organizer for Sensible Fayetteville. "By bringing light to this issue, we can change not only local laws but state and federal laws, as well."

"This is an opportunity for the people of Fayetteville to say that the drug laws need to be changed," said Ryan Denham, campaign director for Sensible Fayetteville.

But if the comments from prosecutors and law enforcement are any indication, a victory at the polls in November will be only the first step in gaining actual reform of the city's marijuana policy. Still, you have to start somewhere.

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