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ASA’s Media Summary for the Week Ending 11/16/07

DOCTORS: Leading Psychiatrists’ Group Endorses Medical Marijuana

The preeminent association of psychiatrists has come out in favor of legal access to medical marijuana. The significance of yet another organization of health professionals endorsing medical use is heightened by a recent report that alleged a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. Experts have noted that the science behind the study is shaky, and if there were any correlation, the rate of schizophrenia would have increased dramatically with the increased prevalence of cannabis use, which it has not.

Psychiatrists for Medical Marijuana
by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine
The Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association, a legislative body composed of representatives from APA districts throughout the country, has unanimously approved an action paper that urges the federal government to stop interfering with the medical use of marijuana in states where it's legal.

WISCONSIN: Lawmakers Hold Hearings on Medical Marijuana

One of the leading physicians specializing in cannabis therapeutics, Dr. David Bearman, who serves on ASA's Board of Directors, testified before a committee of Wisconsin lawmakers this week. The state legislature is again considering enacting a measure that would remove criminal penalties for patients who use marijuana on the advice of their doctors. Dr. Bearman, a Wisconsin native, also gave an educational talk on “Cannabis and Cannabinoids in the 21st Century” to the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

Experts explain health benefits of marijuana
by Jackie Johnson, Wisconsin Radio Network
Dr. David Bearman is one of thousands of medical doctors who supports legalizing pot for patients. Dr. Bearman testified at an informational Health Committee hearing at the state capitol in support of the controversial drug.

Senate hearing on medical marijuana turns emotional
by Ken Harris, Badger Herald (WI)
A state Senate committee heard heated testimony Wednesday morning at the Capitol both for and against medicinal marijuana.

TENNESSEE: Prosecuted Patient Educates Lawmakers on Medical Marijuana

Lawmakers in the Volunteer State also held hearings this week on medical marijuana. Among those testifying career public health officer Bernie Ellis, who is also a medical marijuana patient. Ellis was convicted in federal court after local law enforcement declined to press charges over the cannabis he grew for himself and a few terminally ill neighbors. His battle to save his family farm from federal seizure has been the subject of recent media attention. Ellis is one of the patients featured in ASA’s "Patients in the Crossfire;" download it at

Medical Marijuana Lights Up Debate Again
by Tom Randles, WSMV TV (Nashville)
On Tuesday, Health and Human Resources Committee members got an ear full from those pitching pot as a way to heal and others who would like to see House Bill 486 go up in smoke. "It is both an effective therapeutic agent (and) extremely useful with many fewer side effects,” said Bernie Ellis of Americans for Safe Access.

Medical Marijuana Proposal Debated in TN Legislative Committee
by Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press
November 13th, 2007
Tennessee lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, although the idea has failed in the General Assembly before and its future is uncertain.

Medical Marijuana Debates Goes Before State Committee
WKRN TV (Nashville)
November 13th, 2007
Whether medical marijuana is beneficial for chronically ill patients and should be allowed in Tennessee was focus of a study Tuesday at Legislative Plaza.

Fowler Witnesses Testify Against Marijuana For Medicinal Purposes
The Chattanoogan
November 13th, 2007
Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday heard testimony opposed to the legalization of marijuana for “medicinal” purposes from Dr. David Murray, chief scientist for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President, and Dr. Kent Shih, an oncologist currently practicing in the Nashville area.

ILLINOIS: Documentary Details Medical Marijuana Benefits, Patient Hardships

The airing of a film that chronicles the medical benefits of marijuana has generated significant debate in the Chicago area. Bills that would remove criminal penalties for patients have been before the state legislature repeatedly in recent years, but lawmakers have yet to act, despite overwhelming public opinion in favor of legal access there. The screenings for the documentary have been organized by IDEAL Reform, an ASA affiliate.

Medical Marijuana
by Rachel Aissen, WMBD/WYZZ TV (IL)
Making marijuana legal for medicinal purposes is a heated debate across the U.S. The Illinois Congress recently took on the issue and now a film maker is asking Illinoisans to take a second look through his documentary "Waiting to Inhale."

Medical marijuana documentary sparks bigger debate
by Deborah J. Siegelbaum, Medill Reports (IL)
Grass, pot, weed, bud, dope, cannabis - it’s a drug with many names. In some cultures it is considered a portal to another realm of consciousness, and vilified in others as a gateway drug to a life of addiction. But treatment for symptoms of diseases like AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological disorders? Can it be that this illegal party drug is…a cure?

CALIFORNIA: Implementation Around the State

As communities around the state grapple with how best to implement the 1996 law that makes safe access to medical marijuana a right, local officials are looking to successful models in other communities and activists are providing additional services. One aspect is the disparity in access in California, an issue the legislature tried to address with the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act. New clinics such as the one being opened in Riverside help serve patients locally.

Councilwoman visits marijuana facilities
by Will Bigham, Daily Bulletin (CA)
Claremont Councilwoman Ellen Taylor took a trip to San Francisco last weekend to research that city's medical marijuana dispensary program.

Riverside clinic will offer doctors' notes for medical marijuana
by Gregor McGavin , The Press-Enterprise
Riverside residents could soon have a much shorter drive to get a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana.

New medical marijuana clinic coming
by K. Kaufmann, Desert Sun (CA)
Riverside County is about to get a new clinic for medical marijuana patients. And Lanny Swerdlow, president of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, is going to be running it.

Pot ordinance stirs passions
by Mike A'Dair, Willits News (CA)
Supervisors will consider a new, more restrictive medical marijuana ordinance at their December 5 meeting. The measure was returned to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel for review following the board's November 6 meeting after Supervisor John Pinches, father of the main concept behind the ordinance, said he would not support it, and Nadel said she needed to take a second look before the proposed ordinance came to a vote.

OREGON: Expansion of State Law Proposed

At the same time as state health officials are working on redefining rules for medical marijuana patients in Oregon, an initiative has been proposed that would expand the rights of patients and expand methods of access.

Changes to state marijuana law could expand drug growth, possession rights
by Carly Nairn, Daily Vanguard (Portland State, OR)
A drafter of Oregon's marijuana law visited Portland State yesterday, advocating law changes, including increased rights to possess the drug as well as its limited legalization, which could be presented to the state legislature this session. The initiative would give legal rights as well as cost reimbursements to patients who privately grow the drug for medical use. The initiative also calls for the creation of a regulated and licensed dispensary system.

RESEARCH: Cannabis Extract Works when Other Painkillers Don’t

While pain management is one of the oldest and best-documented medical uses for cannabis, with a history stretching back hundreds of years, new clinical research using a dosage-controlled cannabis extract confirms that it can help control pain when conventional drugs fail.

If Sativex Works, So Does Pot
by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine
A new study reported in the journal Pain finds that Sativex, an orally administered cannabis extract spray, is effective at treating neuropathic pain in patients for whom standard painkillers do not provide adequate relief. Every study that demonstrates Sativex's medical utility also demonstrates marijuana's medical utility, belying the U.S. government's claim that it has none.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

ASA's blog is helping keep activists informed on the issues and events affecting medical marijuana patients and providers.

California Weekly Round Up
by Rebecca Saltzman
ASA Fights in the California Supreme Court to Protect Patients’ Rights to Work; Federal Defendant Bryan Epis Remains Free

A Medical Marijuana Patient’s Long Road to Victory
By Nate R.
I wanted to write this post to let others who are qualified patients know that the law is here to work for us.

Advocacy in a Hurry
by Don Duncan
Sometimes, medical cannabis advocates have plenty of time to prepare in advance for an important vote at their City Council or County Board of Supervisors. In other cases, however, you may have to jump and run when you learn about a challenge or opportunity in your community. That is exactly what happened last week in Orange County.


Find out about ASA at More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at

United States

Medical Marijuana: Invited By "Pro-Family Group," Drug Czar's Chief Scientist Testifies at Tennessee House Hearing

A Tennessee House committee considering a medical marijuana bill heard from a number of witnesses, many of them hostile, including Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) chief scientist Dr. David Murray, at a hearing this week. Much of the opposition was organized by a "pro-family" Christian organization normally worried about issues such as gay adoption and subtle anti-Christian messages in movies. Reformers were present too, among them Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Nathan Miller and Maury County epidemiologist and substance abuse researcher Bernie Ellis, himself a medical marijuana patient.

The hearing came Tuesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee on House Bill 486, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville). The bill would create a state identity card and registry system for terminally ill patients only. But even that was too much for drug war bureaucrats and moral crusaders.

According to a report in The Chattanoogan, Murray, New York anti-drug crusader Steven Steiner, and Nashville oncologist Dr. Kent Shih, who all testified against the bill, all appeared thanks to the efforts of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. Headed by former state Sen. David Fowler, the council says it promotes "the culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good" and is generally concerned with opposing reproductive rights, restricting adult-oriented businesses, and fighting homosexuality.

"We appreciate the willingness of these individuals to come, at their own expense, to educate the committee members about what is really at stake in the debate over 'medical marijuana,'" said Fowler. "Having seen my own mother suffer and die from cancer, I know how much we all desire to see relief for those we love. But we cannot allow the compassion of the average American to overcome good science and good medicine. Nor can we allow that compassion to be manipulated by those who have, as their ultimate agenda, the legalization of marijuana and even other drugs."

Worse yet, Fowler said, the bill "would inevitably lead to increased public consumption of marijuana and make a mockery of our criminal drug laws. What has been observed in other states is that marijuana distribution becomes uncontrollable in society at large even when it is restricted to 'medicinal uses.' With an individual able to produce up to 13,000 joints per year under this bill, it is naïve to think that those joints won't wind up in the wrong hands."

Fowler also cited California's wide-open medical marijuana scene to suggest the Tennessee bill would make enforcement of the criminal law regarding marijuana impracticable. "In North Hollywood, there are now more medical pot clubs than there are Starbucks. In fact, the co-founder of the California medical pot referendum has now said that most of the medical pot dispensaries in California are 'little more than dope dealers with storefronts,'" he added, citing the infamous words of Scott Imler.

Miller told committee members 12 states have medical marijuana laws and there was no evidence they "send the wrong message" to young people. In 11 of those states, Miller pointed out, teen marijuana use had declined.

Ellis, who suffers from degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia, and who was convicted on federal drug charges for growing medical marijuana for himself and providing it for free to four terminal patients, said that marijuana was once a significant medicine before it was banned 70 years ago. He read testimonials from cancer and AIDS patients who said marijuana helped eased their suffering. "We would not be here urging you to make medical marijuana legal again in the state if it were not safe and effective," Ellis said.

ONDCP's Murray told lawmakers they should not do an end run around the Food & Drug Administration. "My concern is we're doing more harm than good with these measures," he said.

Dr. Shih, who practices in Nashville, told the committee that marijuana is "impractical" and that other legal medications are as effective. "I believe there are safer drugs," he said.

William Benson, assistant director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, also testified. He said the bill could present complications for law enforcement because Tennessee is a leading producer of marijuana.

Rep. Jones, for her part, went after Fowler's characterization of her bill as a stalking horse for legalization. "This is not about making marijuana legal across the state. This is strictly for medical reasons, only to help people feel better," Jones said. "Any suggestion that there might be something hidden in the legislation is absurd."

Former Sen. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), now a member of the US House of Representatives, tried with no luck to get a medical marijuana bill through in years past. Jones' bill is unlikely to go anywhere this year, although she said she was open to changes that could make it more politically palatable next year. Given the mobilization of the "pro-family" groups and the participation of the drug czar's office, it will be an uphill battle in the Volunteer State. The drug czar has lost before, though, so stay tuned.

Marijuana Evolves Faster Than Human Beings

Explaining the failure of marijuana prohibition is easy. Sociology, economics, history, and psychology can all help to explain why a safe and popular drug cannot be removed from the market by force. Still, there is another important reason why marijuana is here to stay: it evolves at an incredibly rapid pace, becoming stronger and more profitable every day.

The vigorous growth and adaptability of the marijuana plant has long frustrated efforts by law-enforcement to thwart its production. Specific strains are easily cross-bred, producing offspring that emphasize certain qualities, thus growers in Oregon can develop a strain that grows well in Oregon's climate with minimal effort. Hybridization not only improves potency, but can also shorten flowering time and increase yield, thereby enabling growers to produce more in less time.

We're witnessing a situation in which the biological vigor of the plant itself has far outpaced law-enforcement efforts that were never effective to begin with. Indoor-grown strains can advance through 3-4 generations in a year's time, with the best specimens from each batch selected for cloning or crossbreeding. Each successive generation carries on the best traits of the former, which explains why growers can now accomplish in a basement what used to require an acre or more in the woods.

The great irony of all this is that drug warriors still think increased marijuana potency is an argument for their side. In reality, nothing could better illustrate the failure of their efforts to reduce the drug's production. Harsh marijuana laws have incentivized growers to produce a stronger product, which carries the same penalties by weight, while commanding higher prices on the street.

As the bitter debate over marijuana legalization rages on, the plants will grow ever faster, bigger, and stronger. Marijuana is one of nature's most remarkable creations, and it is unbelievable that so many people still haven't figured out that this plant is here to help us. From healthy foods to a promising cancer cure, we should be grateful that cannabis sativa grows and evolves as vigorously as it does.

With every forward step in marijuana's evolution, the war against this resilient plant becomes less and less effective.

Note: Thanks to court-qualified cannabis expert Chris Conrad for answering growing questions, and to pot-paparazzi Steve Bloom for turning me on to the government's awesome 2008 cultivation assessment, which got me thinking about this.
United States

ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: Week Ending 11/9/07

ASA ACTION: Defending Patients’ Right to Work

The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week from ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford on behalf of patients’ right to use medical marijuana without fear of termination. ASA contends that the voters intended for a patient using medical marijuana should be accorded the same workplace protections as those using other prescription drugs. This case is being closely watched, as it will affect how the state’s employers handle employee drug testing. For a video of the hearing, see

Calif high court considers whether medical pot users can be fired
by Paul Elias, Associated Press
When his new boss at Ragingwire Inc. ordered Gary Ross to take a drug test, the recently hired computer tech had no doubt the results would come back positive for marijuana. But along with his urine sample, Ross submitted a doctor's recommendation that he smoke pot to alleviate back pain—a document he figured would save him from being fired.

Calif. Supreme Court May Need Tiebreaker for Pot Dispute
by Mike McKee, The Recorder (CA)
Pity Justice Carol Corrigan. Not only was she sick with the flu on Tuesday, but she might turn out to be the deciding vote in a major case that could determine whether employers have the right to fire employees who use marijuana as medicine.

Local Man's Firing for Medical Pot Goes to State's High Court
by George Warren, KXTV News 10
California's medical marijuana law is facing a critical test Tuesday morning. The state Supreme Court will decide if an employee can be fired for off-duty marijuana use.

The Clash Between Federal Drug Law and California's "Medical Marijuana" Law
by Vikram David Amar, FindLaw
Two news items during the past couple of weeks in California highlight the complicated legal and political tangle that is American federalism - the relationship between federal and state governments -- today. Both incidents involve the interplay between, on one hand, California's (now decade-old) decision to decriminalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and, on the other hand, the continuing illegality under federal law of all marijuana cultivation, possession, distribution and use, for any purpose.

NETHERLANDS: Health Minister Defends Medical Marijuana

Cannabis is available by prescription from Dutch pharmacies, but the Health Ministry would like to see more progress on research into targeted cannabis derivatives. A five-year extension to the government-funded program will ensure patient needs are met while drug development process goes forward.

More research into medical marijuana
Research into the medicinal effects of cannabis should be continued for a further five years, health minister Ab Klink said on Wednesday. The extension means there is a serious chance a medicine with cannabis as a raw material can be developed, a ministry spokesman said.

Dutch health minister extends medical marijuana program for five years
Associated Press
The Dutch Health Ministry announced plans Wednesday to extend its experimental medical marijuana program for five years, despite setbacks. Under the program, launched in 2003, standardized marijuana is grown by government-licensed growers under controlled conditions and sold by prescription in pharmacies.

Dutch want cannabis registered as regular medicine
by Emma Thomasson, Reuters UK
The Dutch government said on Wednesday it wants to promote the development of cannabis-based medicine and will extend the drug's availability in pharmacies by five years to allow more scientific research.

OREGON: Grand Jury OK with Medical Hash-Making

Claims that hash processed from legal medical marijuana is no longer a protected substance were rejected by a grand jury in Oregon. While many patients use the whole plant, separating the active ingredients from the fibrous material reduces the amount of other chemicals ingested, without altering the therapeutic efficacy.

Grand jury says no to prosecuting medical pot user on hash charge
Associated Press
A grand jury has refused to indict a man police suspected was making hashish or hash oil from his medical marijuana.

CALIFORNIA: Not All State and Local Officials Adhere to Law

Since voters removed criminal penalties for medical use and the legislature expanded protections, many California law enforcement officers have diligently applied the law. But others have hidden behind federal prohibition, despite a constitutional obligation to uphold state law first. Some have even actively undermined state law by turning medical marijuana patients and providers over to federal prosecution, where they face harsh sentences and no opportunity to present a defense.

The War on Medical Marijuana
by Patrick McCartney and Martin A. Lee , Consortium News
Eleven years ago, California voters passed Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act, permitting the use of marijuana to treat medical conditions. But state and local officials are still collaborating with federal law enforcement in a war on medical marijuana.

CALIFORNIA: Northern Town Debates Growing Rules

A tradition of self-sufficiency and alternative choices may have contributed to the acceptance the medical use of marijuana has received in some communities. Northern California has historically been an area that appreciated the potential of cannabis, and the proliferation of personal and collective gardens reflects that. Officials are currently working to ensure that safety measures are being observed.

Gold From Green In A Gray Area
by Bob Doran, North Coast Journal (CA)
A billowing cloud of controversy surrounding medical marijuana has made it the hot topic du jour in Arcata. Last month, after an indoor medical marijuana growing operation burned in a rental house, the subject jumped from the front pages of local newspapers to the City Council chambers. City staff from the planning, fire and police departments had been chewing on the perceived problem at weekly confabs for over a year, but the house fire moved the issue to the forefront of public debate.

ID CARDS: Voluntary State Program Expands to Glenn Co.

When the state legislature told California’s county health departments that they are required to provide ID cards to qualified medical marijuana patients who want them, they neglected to say when. As a result, four years later the cards are still not available in all counties. Chief among the benefits of the card program is that it provides verification of patient status for law enforcement, protecting the patient from arrest and freeing up public safety resources.

Glenn Health Services to issue medical-marijuana IDs
by Barbara Arrigoni, Chico Enterprise-Record
Glenn County joined 35 other California counties Tuesday with a decision by the Board of Supervisors to approve a fee for dispersing medical-marijuana identification cards to people who have prescriptions.

CELEBRITY: Drew Carey Medical Marijuana Video Gets Attention

The media buzz about Drew Carey’s medical marijuana video continued this week. The veteran comedian, actor and now game-show-host includes many perspectives, but comes down strongly on the side of safe access. Among the interviewees is ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, who tells how federal raids on patients led to the founding of Americans for Safe Access. To view this episode of the Drew Carey Project, please visit

Carey Supports Prescription Pot
by The Early Show, CBS News
Bob Barker had his cause. He signed off every "Price is Right" by saying: "help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered." Now the new host of "The Price is Right," Drew Carey, has found a cause to call his own and it's a little more controversial than fixing your pets.

Drew Carey Shares His Pipe Dreams
by Natalie Finn, E! Online
Drew Carey has his issues—with the federal government, that is. The latest of which is Congress' refusal to legalize medical marijuana across the board, an issue near and dear to Carey's heart according to his latest video for the nonprofit Reason Foundation.

DOCUMENTARY: Getting the Patient Perspective Out

One of the barriers to safe access has been a lack of concrete information. Many patients have been afraid to speak about their experiences with the relief they’ve gotten from cannabis for fear of criminal prosecution or loss of their jobs or community standing. Documentaries such as “Waiting to Inhale” help show the human cost of the federal government’s rejection of medical marijuana.

Local screening of film on medical marijuana
WJBC AM 1230 (IL)
There will be a screening of a documentary on medical marijuana at Illinois State University this weekend. The film called "Waiting to Inhale" examines the debate over the use of pot for medical reasons. It includes interviews with researchers and patients like Jamie Clayton. He's an AIDS patient from Grafton, Illinois who participated in a study at the University of California.

DISPENSARIES: Threatening Letter Leads to Closing

One of the DEA’s latest tactics in California is to threaten the law-abiding landlords who rent building space to patient collectives. Hundreds of landlords throughout the state have received letters “explaining” that their buildings could be subject to federal asset forfeiture because of the criminal drug enterprises (i.e. state-legal patient collectives) operating in them. Because the rules for asset forfeiture are much easier for the government than a criminal trial, it has become a favorite intimidation tactic.

Marijuana dispensary to close
by Mike Sprague, Whittier Daily News (CA)
There will be no more medical marijuana dispensed from the city's only clinic after Dec. 31, the planning commission ruled Monday night. Additionally, the Whittier Collective has reached agreement with its landlord to vacate the site by that date.

TENNESSEE: Patient Loses Child on Paraphernalia Charge

Among the hardships faced by patients in states without medical marijuana protections is the threat to their families. Despite the compelling medical need of this mother – she has a rare but well-documented form of glaucoma – the possession of just a marijuana pipe led to the loss of her son.

Mother vows to fight abuse, drug charges
by Brad Williams, Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)
If Suzette Evans lived in North Carolina, where marijuana possession is decriminalized, it's unlikely she'd have gotten more than a $50 citation when police found a pipe in her home. In Grainger County, however, like most of Tennessee, possession of a marijuana pipe can cost nearly $1,000 - and your children. Evans' 15-year-old son was taken away from her the night of Aug. 10, to remain in protective custody for 34 days. Evans uses marijuana to treat a rare form of glaucoma.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

ASA's blog is helping keep activists informed on the issues and events affecting medical marijuana patients and providers.

California Weekly Round Up
by Rebecca Saltzman
ASA Fights in the California Supreme Court to Protect Patients’ Rights to Work; Federal Defendant Bryan Epis Remains Free

A Medical Marijuana Patient’s Long Road to Victory
By Nate R.
I wanted to write this post to let others who are qualified patients know that the law is here to work for us.

Advocacy in a Hurry
by Don Duncan
Sometimes, medical cannabis advocates have plenty of time to prepare in advance for an important vote at their City Council or County Board of Supervisors. In other cases, however, you may have to jump and run when you learn about a challenge or opportunity in your community. That is exactly what happened last week in Orange County.


Find out about ASA at More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at

United States

Caribbean: Trinidad & Tobago Political Leader Calls For New Approach in Dealing with Marijuana

In the run-up to Trinidad & Tobago's national elections Monday, United National Congress (UNC) Party leader Basdeo Panday called for a new approach to dealing with marijuana in the island republic. It wasn't enough to bring the UNC to victory, though; it was defeated once again by the ruling People's National Movement (PNM), which picked up 26 seats in the legislature, compared to 15 for the UNC. Still, the leader of the primary opposition party in the country is calling for a reefer reassessment.
"I think we ought to look at that to see whether prohibiting things really ends the problem," Panday said during a pre-election radio forum. Panday recalled the "old days," when there was a shop selling "ganja" in Princes Town and people would smoke it in chillums on Saturday nights after working in the fields all week. "It never was a problem. That is the strange thing about it. I think we ought to go back and study that," Panday said.

If ganja were to become unavailable because of police crackdowns, Panday said, "fellas would plant it in their backyard" and such a crackdown would be as unsuccessful as American attempts to prohibit alcohol in the 1920s. There needed to be "another approach" to marijuana," he said without going into specifics.

Although marijuana is woven into Trinidad & Tobago culture, as it is throughout much of the Caribbean -- "The Ganja's Farmer's Lament" topped the charts there a couple of years ago -- the islands' use rates are among the lowest in the region. According to the United Nations Office on Drug Control 2007 World Drug Report, use rates were 3.7% in Trinidad and Tobago, compared with nearly 11% in Jamaica and more than 5% in Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Marijuana is one thing, but "heavy drugs" are another matter, Panday said, claiming that 80% of crime in the country was linked to their use and trafficking. To combat hard drugs, he said, the "mafia" would have to be dealt with.

Europe: Dutch to Extend Medical Marijuana Program for Another Five Years

The Dutch Health Ministry announced Wednesday it would extend Holland's experimental medical marijuana program for another five years. Under the program, which began in 2003, marijuana grown by government-licensed growers is sold by prescription in pharmacies.

But the prescription weed got few buyers. In Holland, where cannabis possession and limited sales are illegal but tolerated, patients found they could buy marijuana at coffee shops for one-third the price of prescription pot. As a result, the Bureau for Medical Cannabis is running a $200,000 budget deficit this year because it is overstocked with unsold medical marijuana.

Still, the Health Ministry said the program should continue because of the possibility of research advances in cannabis-based medications. In a letter to parliament, Health Minister Ab Klink said one Dutch company, Echo Pharmaceuticals, was making progress in getting a cannabis-based drug approved and needed more time to succeed.

"This development track will take years, but it can yield scientific evidence and give insight into the balance between safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis," he wrote. "By making medical marijuana available as a raw material for five years, I want to give this track a serious chance."

A spokesman for Echo, Geert Woerlee, told the Associated Press that his company will be starting trials next year on a pill that contains THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The Health Ministry hopes the drug being developed by Echo will eventually replace marijuana in pharmacies.

Marijuana: Three of Four Reform Initiatives Pass in Hailey, Idaho

Voters in small-town Hailey, Idaho, Tuesday approved three out four marijuana initiatives placed on the ballot over the objections of town officials. Initiatives to legalize the medical use of marijuana, make marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, and legalize industrial hemp all passed. A fourth measure, which would have mandated the city to tax and regulate marijuana sales, failed.

Some 1,288 eligible voters went to the polls in Hailey, with medical marijuana gaining the most votes (687), followed by hemp (683) and lowest priority (637). Taxation and regulation lost by a margin of 573-674.

The initiatives were the brainchild of Ryan Davidson, chairman of the Idaho Liberty Lobby, who three years ago began efforts to put marijuana on the ballot in the Wood River Valley towns of Hailey, Sun Valley, and Ketchum. Local authorities in all three communities denied his petitions, and a series of court battles ensued, out of which Davidson emerged victorious. Davidson is working on initiatives for Sun Valley and Ketchum.

The initiatives require the city of Hailey to create a Community Oversight Committee to oversee implementation. They also require the city of Hailey to lobby other branches of government for reform of the marijuana laws.

State and local officials are likely not happy. The Idaho Attorney General's Office issued a statement last week reminding voters that marijuana possession is a crime under both state and federal law, and Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson predicted before the vote that the city could be the subject of expensive litigation at taxpayer expense if voters approved the measures.

But now the voters have spoken, and it is up to city officials to heed their will.

Feature: Denver Votes to Make Marijuana Offenses Lowest Law Enforcement Priority

For the third time in as many years, voters in Denver told local officials to quit arresting people for marijuana offenses. An initiative that would direct the city to make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority won Tuesday with 57% of the vote.
SAFER rally, August 27, 2007
The vote came two years after the marijuana reform group SAFER (Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation) pulled off a successful initiative to legalize the possession of up to an ounce in Denver -- a win city officials have ignored by continuing to arrest people under state law -- and one year after Denver voters gave majority support to marijuana legalization in a failed statewide initiative.

The measure rolled to easy victory despite the opposition of Mayor John Hickenlooper and other city officials who said it was meaningless and would not be enforced. It was also opposed by the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, both of which editorialized against it.

Denver now joins cities like Seattle; Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, California; Missoula, Montana; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and -- also on Tuesday -- Hailey, Idaho; that have embraced the lowest priority movement.

The question now is how city officials will respond to a third rebuke from voters. The mayor's office did not respond Wednesday to inquiries from Drug War Chronicle. SAFER executive director Mason Tvert said officials were huddled Wednesday afternoon trying to draft a response.

But Tvert wasn't waiting to celebrate. "The people of Denver have made it unmistakably clear they do not want their city wasting its limited law enforcement resources arresting and prosecuting adults for possessing a drug less harmful than alcohol," he said. "Whereas marijuana users were once the law-breakers in the Mile High City, city officials will now be the ones violating the law if they do not respect the will of the voters."

In Seattle, arrests for adult marijuana possession plummeted following passage of the initiative, and in Missoula city officials recently adopted an official policy directing police to stop citing adults for possession and encouraging prosecutors to treat any cases as their lowest priority. That shows it can work in Denver if officials cooperate, Tvert said.

"The experiences of these other cities proves that Denver can make changes in how they handle adult marijuana possession," Tvert said. "We hope city officials will respect the will of the voters who elected them and direct police to stop arresting adults for simply possessing small amounts of marijuana. It's not a matter of whether they can do this, but a matter of whether they will. If they do not, they are officially breaking more Denver laws than any adult marijuana user."

Tvert wasn't the only one crowing, nor was he the only one warning elected officials to take heed. Spokesmen for leading national marijuana reform organizations used almost identical language when contacted by the Chronicle.

"This is good news, but not unexpected," said Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "The mayor should be looking at who he represents. In three election cycles now, Denver voters have clearly said don't arrest pot smokers."

"We're very, very pleased," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Hopefully, this time Denver city officials will listen to the message the voters have so clearly sent them."

That hasn't happened so far. Tvert and SAFER are waiting to see if it will. "At this point we're just wondering what they're going to do," he said. "The big tough city officials who were willing to say how they were going to ignore this have been mum all day, waiting for the mayor to take the lead. Will they challenge this in the courts, or will they announce they will follow the will of the voters?"

Stay tuned. All the dust hasn't settled yet in Denver. But the voters have spoken loud and clear for the third time. Perhaps it will take a city official getting defeated in the next election, but perhaps city officials won't want to take that chance now.

Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic

Dr. David Bearman, a Santa Barbara, California physician and surgeon with Wisconsin roots, will be presenting at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Bearman is one of the most clinically knowledgeable physicians in the U.S. in the field of medical marijuana. He has spent 40 years working in substance and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. Dr. Bearman was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement. His career includes public health, administrative medicine, primary care, pain management and cannabinology. He is on the Board of Advisors for the group Patients Out of Time [] and worked closely with them to present the Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Santa Barbara, CA in April 2006. Contact Information: David Bearman, M.D. 805-961-9988, 7394 Calle Real, Suite C Goleta, CA 93117,
Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
750 Highland Avenue Room 1335 of the Health Sciences Learning Center
Madison, WI 53705
United States

Medical Marijuana Panel Discussion at Saint Joseph's University

Medicinal Use of Marijuana: A Panel Discussion Pro's and Con's Whether marijuana will relieve your side effects or symptoms is questionable. But the risks of smoking pot are clear. Examine the facts about marijuana before making your decision. Since 1996, twelve states have legalized medical marijuana use: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA. Eight of the twelve did so through the initiative process. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana stated, "The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation." British Medical Journal: "The US Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against the medical use of marijuana, finding, by eight to nil, that because it is an illegal substance in federal law, no exceptions can be made, even for its medicinal use." Speakers include: *Rosanne Scotti, Esquire, Director, Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey *Sr. Patricia Talone, RSM, Ph.D, Vice President, Mission Services, Catholic Health Association *Kenneth R. Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey State Nurses Association
Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:30pm
5600 City Avenue Mandeville Hall - Teletorium
Philadelphia, PA 19131
United States

Drug War Issues

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