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Denying Organ Transplants to Medical Marijuana Patients is Evil

Remember when John McCain said we never arrest dying patients for medical marijuana? He asked for documentation and here it is. This man wasn't just arrested, he is now also being denied a liver transplant, without which he will die:
SEATTLE (AP) — Timothy Garon's face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant.

His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days.

But Garon's been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons.
This is the legacy of the government's political war on medical marijuana. Patients are dying simply because some of our political leaders are afraid that showing compassion for the sick will lead to marijuana legalization. Healthcare and employment discrimination are the inevitable symptoms of our flawed federal policy, yet those who defend the war on patients couldn't be more oblivious to the brutal consequences of their intransigence.

Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report covers new research aimed at developing cannabinoid-based medicines that won't produce intoxication. The very existence of this research demonstrates once again that marijuana has long been understood to have remarkable medical potential. Now that even the drug warriors have conceded that point, and the scientific community has stopped debating and initiated product development, what justification exists for continuing to persecute patients who are already using this plant to treat their own illnesses?

This controversy should be over now. Instead, patients are still dying in the war over medical marijuana and politicians are still pretending not to notice.
United States

Press Release: Law Enforcement Objections to Medical Marijuana Bill at Odds With Reality, Advocates Say

APRIL 29, 2008

Law Enforcement Objections to Medical Marijuana Bill at Odds With Reality, Advocates Say Bill Supporters Refute Demonstrably False Statements, Unveil New Ad 

CONTACT: Neal Levine, MPP director of state campaigns, (612) 424-7001

    MINNEAPOLIS — In a press conference held today at the statehouse, advocates offered a point-by-point refutation of misleading-to-outright false statements made by some law enforcement officials during testimony before the legislature and in the media regarding the medical marijuana bill pending on the House floor.

    Proponents of S.F. 345, the bill to protect from arrest seriously ill Minnesotans who use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, said certain aspects of the law enforcement community were relying on misstatements and untruths to derail the bill.

    "Some legislators, as well as the governor, have indicated they may not be willing to support this sensible and compassionate legislation, based on the words of certain aspects of the law enforcement community," said Neal Levine, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Therefore, we feel it’s important to look at those words."

    For example, Dakota County Attorney James C. Backstrom stated in legislative testimony that "there is no proven medicinal value in using marijuana to treat illnesses or disease.” In fact, the 124,000-member American College of Physicians has noted "marijuana's proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity."

    For a detailed list of false and misleading statements made by Minnesota law enforcement officials, along with sourced refutations of each one, visit:

    Also during the press conference, Levine announced the latest in a series of TV ads airing statewide, featuring Minnesota medical marijuana patients urging Gov. Tim Pawlenty not to veto the medical marijuana bill as he has threatened to do if the House passes it.

    The new ad features K.K. Forss of Ely, who suffers constant debilitating pain caused by a ruptured disk in his neck and nerve damage from subsequent surgeries. The ad is available online here:

    "This doesn't have anything to do with culture wars," Forss says in the ad, noting that he is a registered Republican and a born-again Christian. "We have people suffering in horrible pain, and we talk politics – it doesn't have to be that way."

    With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit

Minneapolis, MN
United States

Media Advisory: Medical Marijuana Advocates to Announce Significant Changes to Bill

[Courtesy of Illinois Compassion Access Network] 

APRIL 29, 2008

Law Enforcement Input Means Significant Changes to Medical Marijuana Bill, Advocates to Announce Press Conference Scheduled to Explain Bill Amendments

CONTACT: John Walker, Illinois Compassion Access Network, (847) 769-1772

SPRINGFIELD, IL. – After a meeting with law enforcement officials to address their specific objections to Illinois' medical marijuana bill, advocates will announce significant changes to the legislation in a Wednesday press conference at the statehouse.

    The amendments, adopted earlier this month, reflect what bill proponents said they hope is a shared goal: to allow safe, legal access to medical marijuana for suffering Illinoisans who have a doctor's recommendation while ensuring police and prosecutors aren't hindered in enforcing laws involving illicit marijuana use.

    At the press conference, patients will also unveil their latest effort to convince legislators to support the medical marijuana bill under consideration in both chambers of the General Assembly: personal online video testimonies. For the past month, seriously ill Illinoisans – many of whom cannot travel to Springfield – have been sending the videos to their elected representatives so that they can explain the urgency of passing a sensible medical marijuana law in their own words.

    Examples of these videos – which average about 2 minutes each – are available online here:

                    -    WHAT: Press conference explaining changes to the medical marijuana bill requested by law enforcement officials

                    -    WHO: The following people are scheduled to appear at the press conference:
                                o    Zale Glauberman, veteran Springfield lobbyist
                                o    Julie Falco of Chicago, a multiple sclerosis patient who uses medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation

                    -    WHEN: Wednesday, April 30 at 9:15 a.m.

                    -    WHERE: State Capitol Press Blue Room

    The Senate medical marijuana bill is expected to reach the Senate floor within weeks.

    Copies of some of the patient video testimonies will be available on CD for members of the press.

Springfield, IL
United States

PRESS CONFERENCE RESCHEDULED: Medical Marijuana Advocates Refute Law Enforcement

APRIL 28, 2008

Medical Marijuana Advocates Offer Point-by-Point Refutations of Law Enforcement
Press Conference at 1 p.m. Tues. Will Also Feature Latest TV Ad Urging Governor to Allow Passage of the Medical Marijuana Bill 

CONTACT: Neal Levine, MPP director of state campaigns, (612) 424-7001

MINNEAPOLIS -- A press conference Tuesday will highlight false and misleading statements made by certain aspects of the law enforcement community during testimony before the legislature, as well as to the press, in an attempt to derail a bill that would protect seriously ill Minnesotans from arrest who use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

    Advocates will also unveil their latest TV ad urging the governor not to veto the bill as he has threatened to if it passes in the House.

    WHAT: Press conference refuting misleading-to-outright false statements made by certain aspects of the law enforcement community who oppose Minnesota's medical marijuana bill.

    WHO: Scheduled press conference participants include:

        * Neal Levine, Marijuana Policy Project director of state campaigns

        * KK Forss, an Ely photographer who suffers constant debilitating pain caused by a ruptured disk in his neck and nerve damage from subsequent surgeries and who is featured in the TV ad.

    WHEN: Tuesday, April 29, 1 p.m. Note: This is a change from the prior advisory.

    WHERE: State Office Building, Room 181

    With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit

Minneapolis, MN
United States

If Marijuana is Dangerous, How Come No One Gets Hurt at These Huge 4/20 Parties?

This year's 4/20 holiday was bigger and bolder than ever before, generating big headlines, big web traffic, and really really big pot parties. Even the Drug Czar participated by suggesting the holiday is dangerous and warning parents to keep a close eye on their children. But for all the fanfare, no one got hurt on 4/20.

I don't think one could possibly overstate how revealing that simple fact really is. Scanning the 4/20 news coverage, one fails utterly to find examples of the sort of negative outcomes we've been told to expect when people use this drug. Last week, more people got more stoned more publicly than any other day of the year. If pot is dangerous, this would be the time to learn that lesson in stark terms. So where are the hospitalizations? The fights? The car accidents?

In Boulder, CO a turnout of 10,000 produced no arrests or mishaps. This means not only that police were ignoring open marijuana use, but that the users were remarkably well behaved under the influence of the drug. They didn't fight, steal, damage property, or do anything else that would have forced the police to take action. Out of 10,000 people at a completely disorganized marijuana-themed event, nothing went wrong at all.

Similarly, at UC Santa Cruz a crowd of 6,000 led police to express embarrassment at their failure to suppress marijuana culture. And again, there were no arrests made for any offenses of any kind. Arrests and injuries are typical at sporting events, but not these giant impromptu 4/20 pot parties.

This quote from the Santa Cruz Sentinel illustrates that point nicely:
Monday, some readers and callers to the Sentinel expressed shock that police knew what was going on and yet nobody was arrested as they drove away from the gathering, apparently under the influence of marijuana.

Grant Boles, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in Aptos, said the CHP made no arrests Sunday…
Amazingly, the California Highway Patrol had an uneventful afternoon on the biggest pot-smoking day of the year. I guess no hippies crashed their cars that day. No one swerved over the yellow line and got pinched for DUI. You can bet we'd know about it if they had. I'm not saying people should get stoned and drive. I'm asking where to find the carnage we've been told to expect from stoned drivers.

So often, we're told that if we change our marijuana laws, everyone will get stoned and it will be horrible. Yet, when marijuana is used gratuitously by massive crowds at unsanctioned events, negative outcomes are extraordinarily rare. The drug is simply not effective at hurting people.

The whole "marijuana is harmless" argument for reforming marijuana laws certainly has its limitations, but damn, look how amazingly safe marijuana is! Wow!
United States

Europe: Head of Dutch Police Union Says Legalize Marijuana, a Dutch Mayor is on the Same Wave-Length

Hans van Duijn, head of the Dutch police union, told Radio Netherlands Wednesday that the struggle to arrest marijuana growers and providers was pointless and that marijuana should just be legalized. Under Dutch practice, the sale and consumption of small amounts of marijuana are illegal but tolerated, while police continue to seek to arrest the people who supply the coffee shops where the weed is sold, as well as people who are growing or selling outside the coffee house system.

But attempting to arrest growers and suppliers detracts from police ability to deal with other, more serious, crime issues, van Duijn said. Unfortunately, the retiring union head added, Dutch politicians are reluctant to consider that possibility because of international pressure. They are "sticking their heads in the sand," he said.

Van Duijn also called for letting hard-core drug addicts use drugs under supervision. He said that is the only effective way to fight crime.

Meanwhile, the substitute lord mayor of Terneuzen, a city of 60,000 close to the Belgian border, has called for a pilot program for legal marijuana cultivation. Access to a legal supply of marijuana would solve the "backdoor problem" for the Dutch, wherein coffee shops can sell the weed, but no one can legally provide it for them. Substitute Lord Mayor Co Van Schaik told the Dutch news source PZC it was time for such a program.

Feature: Medical Marijuana Bill to Be Introduced in Mexico Next Week

Deputy Elsa Conde of the Social Democratic Alternative Party, or simply Alternativo, will introduce a bill to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Mexico next week. A press conference to announce the move is set for Monday, and the bill should be filed Tuesday, a day before the Mexican congress goes on vacation.

The bill would make medical marijuana available for seriously ill patients. It proposes a system of licensed dispensaries to handle supply. The text of the bill was not available by Thursday afternoon.

"I will introduce the bill on Tuesday," said Deputy Conde, "If marijuana helps sick people, we should not punish them for using it," she said Thursday.
Elsa Conde
Alternativo is a small party with only four seats in the 500-member Chamber of Deputies, but bill supporters said the measure also has support from some members of the leftist Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), at least one member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and may pick up some support from a key member of the conservative governing National Action Party (PAN). (The three big parties in Mexico are the PRD, the PAN, and the PRI.)

While the number of supporters from major parties is currently small, it is a prestigious group. The three PRD deputies who have signed on are all doctors, and the PAN member expressing support is the chair of the health committee in the Chamber of Deputies, where the bill will get its first hearing.

Deputy Conde has been working with a small group of activists, academics, lawyers, and celebrities known as Grupo Cáñamo (the Hemp Group). Last fall, Conde introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession in Mexico. The final bill in Conde's and Grupo Cáñamo's tripartite marijuana offensive, one that would legalize hemp production, is in the works.

Grupo Cáñamo came together to push for legislative reforms, said Mexico City activist Ricardo Sala, whose own organization, Convivencia, has been a leading voice for a more rational approach to drugs. "Deputy Elsa wanted to present some marijuana legislation, and she said we needed to show broad support, so we organized the group to help push that effort" he said. The group hopes to expand and broaden its mandate, but right now is focusing on marijuana issues, he said.

While Conde's decrim bill has gone virtually nowhere in the congress, the medical marijuana bill should have better prospects, said Jorge Hernández Tinajero, a member of AMECA (the Mexican Association for Cannabis Studies) and an advisor to Conde. "This measure is very attractive medically and scientifically," he said at a Grupo Cáñamo strategy session Thursday morning. "It will be easier to achieve than decriminalization."

Tinajero said he joined Grupo Cáñamo in a bid to move from street activism to the halls of power. "We do the global marijuana day marches," he noted, "but we have to do politics if we want to change the law."

For Dr. Humberto Brocca, a leading Mexico City drug treatment provider who specializes in acupuncture therapy and deals with the city's street youth population, making medical marijuana available to those who need it is paramount. "This is a human rights issue," he said at the Thursday meeting. "The right to health is fundamental."

There are challenges, said Brocca. "The government here is very moralistic, and what we need and want to do is move medical marijuana from the moral sphere to the scientific sphere. Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug with no medical use, and we need to open the scientific and political space to move it to Schedule II. What we need is to move beyond policy based on moralism to policy that is evidence-based."

"Cannabis users should not be persecuted, either for medical marijuana or personal use," said anthropologist Sandra Tovar, who is married to Brocca and has coauthored several books with him.

"I think this can pass," said Tinajero. "The PAN needs to have a human face, and taking a bold stance on a health issue may help them do it."

Whether or not the bill passes, consideration of it will advance the cause, said Brocca. "We need to make this a public discussion so we can educate not only the public, but also the medical community and the politicians. This effort can only help," he said.

Medical Marijuana: Watch this lying TV ad in Michigan

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

MPP’s medical marijuana initiative in Michigan is under attack by out-of-state prohibitionists, who have purchased thousands of dollars' worth of airtime on major TV stations in Michigan to run this outrageously false ad that claims “every major health organization rejects” medical marijuana.

This is a flat-out lie, of course. To the contrary, numerous major health organizations support medical marijuana access and even call on the government to change the law and stop arresting medical marijuana patients — including the American College of Physicians, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, AIDS Action Council, American Academy of HIV Medicine, National Association of People With AIDS, and many others.

We can’t let the drug warriors lie to the public and jeopardize our ability to pass the medical marijuana ballot initiative in Michigan. Would you please help us fight back with the truth by donating to our campaign today?

We know from past successes that we can pass state medical marijuana initiatives, and we can do it again in Michigan this November — if we have the financial resources to make sure voters hear the truth. Since our well-financed opposition is swarming the airwaves with false and fear-mongering ads, it's crucial that we have the funds to fully execute our campaign plan.
Would you give what you can today? If you help us respond, you’ll be able to tell your friends and family that you helped pay for the campaign that succeeded in making medical marijuana legal in Michigan.

Thank you in advance,
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

Police Admit Humiliation After 4/20 Celebration at UC Santa Cruz

As I noted earlier, the meteoric rise of the 4/20 marijuana holiday into a national phenomenon is really something to behold. While some may flinch at the spectacle of widespread open consumption, there's a message here about the unity of marijuana culture in America and the futility of criminalizing so many people.

Just look at the reaction of law-enforcement:
SANTA CRUZ -- For those who arrest people who use, abuse or sell drugs, Sunday's pot-smoking festival at UC Santa Cruz was "a moral slap in the face to the cause," said Rich Westphal, task force commander with the Santa Cruz County Narcotics Enforcement Team. [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

Here's how it went down:

Police may find all of this embarrassing, but it's not really their fault. Marijuana shouldn't be illegal. Any law targeting this many Americans is just flawed on its face. These gratuitous events are a symptom of the bunker mentality of our marijuana culture, which now erupts into a public free-for-all every year on April 20.

It is marijuana prohibition that glamorizes these events and makes them fun. That is just a fact, and one which shouldn't be lost on law-enforcement. These are anti-prohibition pot riots and they are the safest riots you'll ever find. You'd have to call the national guard if any other type of criminal gathered in such numbers.

So if you can't catch them all on the highways or in their homes, and you can't even catch them when they're all together in one place, maybe it's time to stop trying to catch them.

United States

4/20 Gets Bigger Every Year

In 2006, Colorado University police photographed participants in a 4/20 celebration and offered rewards for information leading to their capture. It didn't just fail, it backfired colossally, galvanizing contempt for the drug war and the petty police tactics that have spawned in its name.

Two years later, this quote says it all:
"We can't do the same thing year after year," [CU police Cmdr.] Wiesley said hours before Sunday’s smoking began. "So I doubt we'll do anything like the pictures. ... There's no way our 12 to 15 officers are going to be able to deal with a crowd of 10,000. We just can’t do strong enforcement when we're outnumbered 700 or 800 to one." []
This video, via Steve Bloom, shows that 4/20 has now evolved from a spattering of small secretive gatherings into a full-blown civil disobedience protest against the war on drugs:

Huge turnouts at 4/20 events this year, along with a Chicago Tribune report on the commercialization of the marijuana holiday, are a powerful signal that this phenomenon is becoming rather public. Pete Guither notes in a lovely reflection that we're on an unstoppable trajectory towards victory in the larger fight for drug policy reform and it's hard to argue when you see these teeming masses taking control, if only for a day.

I don't think smoking pot in a field is going to end the drug war. But the existence of these events, their size, the surrender of police, the fact that nothing bad happened; these things are illustrative of the resilient and massive drug war resistance.

If the war on drugs can be overwhelmed for one day, there is no doubt it can someday be overcome altogether.
United States

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