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Delaware House Committee Approves Rewrite of Drug Laws

United States
A House committee has approved a sweeping revision of Delaware's drug laws that supporters say will bring more consistency and fairness to the criminal justice system.

State Drug Warriors Want Prescription Requirement for Sudafed [FEATURE]

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicine consumers in a number of states could become unwilling participants in the perpetual war against methamphetamine as legislators consider bills that would require prescriptions for OTC preparations containing pseudoephedrine, a precursor chemical used in meth manufacture. But the moves are raising alarm bells among some economists and the OTC industry, which is touting its own electronic tracking system as an alternative.

By prescription only? Maybe in Kentucky, Nevada, and Tennessee.
The sale of OTCs containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, is already restricted under the federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which went into effect in 2006. That act requires that such preparations be kept behind the counter, that customers must present ID, that purchases be entered into a logbook accessible to law enforcement, and that purchases be limited to 3.6 grams per day or 9 grams every 30 days.

A number of states have enacted their own precursor tracking laws, and they were at least temporarily effective at reducing the number of meth labs. But as the Associated Press recently reported, those laws are increasingly ineffective, as meth producers enlist armies of "smurfs" to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine within legal limits, then pay them black market prices for their cold pills.

Two states -- Oregon and Mississippi -- have enacted laws required prescriptions for such products and are able to point at reductions in meth lab busts as an indicator they are working. Oregon reported that meth lab busts dropped from 190 in 2005 to 12 in 2009.

Now, legislators in at least three states -- Kentucky, Nevada, and Tennessee -- want to enact similar prescription laws. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), which represents the multi-billion dollars OTC industry, is fighting back, and it's not alone in criticizing the measures.

"This is just stupid," said Jeffrey Tucker, an economist at the libertarian-leaning Ludwig von Mises Institute and a long-time critic of what he calls the "War on Sudafed." "It hurts innocent people and rewards the dealers. Requiring prescriptions for Sudafed will just increase the buy-sell spread between the retail price and the street price and provide an even greater incentive for people to traffic. Lawmakers may want to stop meth production, but it's not going to work. If lawmakers could snap their fingers and make everybody lead a good, healthy life, I'm sure they would, but they can't."

Not only are the efforts to control pseudoephedrine counterproductive, they also harm millions of innocent consumers, Tucker said. He pointed to the effects of already existing restrictions on purchases.

"Before the restrictions kicked in, people were buying it to make meth, but meth usage wasn't any worse when President Bush began this than it was a decade earlier," said Tucker. "It wasn't exactly a big crisis. Only after the restrictions did meth become a major national problem, because it then became an incredibly profitable enterprise. It was now scarce, producers had reason to involve even more people, and they could afford to do so. Now, there are large communities involved in collecting Sudafed to make meth, and there is a strong incentive for producers to find even larger markets. The whole thing has backfired," he said.

If governments insist on continuing down the path of trying to repress meth production by restricting access to precursors like pseudoephedrine, then requiring prescriptions is the logical next step, said Tucker.

"But that won't work either, because anyone can go to the clinic and get a prescription, but now the stuff will be worth its weight in gold. This is a classic case of a bad policy backfiring, with many innocent victims. There is just no end to this. We keep increasing the misery and the coercion in the name of the drug war, and it doesn’t help the drug war."

While Tucker questions the whole logic of drug prohibition, the CHPA accepts that logic, but is seeking to minimize harm to its members who peddle the remedies, as well as the tens of millions of consumers who use them to fend off cold and allergy symptoms. Those consumers face having to go and pay for doctor's visits in order to get something they are currently able to buy by walking up to a counter.

The CHPA is pushing NPLEx, an industry-funded, real-time, electronic tracking system. The system is already in place in 12 states, including Kentucky, where the CHPA says it is blocking the sale of about 10,000 grams a month of pseudoephedrine.

"NPLEx is the better alternative to prescription status for PSE [pseudoepehedrine] that results in no new barriers to consumers, imposes no new costs on the healthcare system, allows the state to keep sales taxes generated by OTC PSE sales, meets the law enforcement goal of preventing illegal sales of PSE, and is provided to states and retailers at no charge," the association argues.

But that's not stopping lawmakers, prodded by law enforcement, from proposing the precursor prescription bills. In Kentucky, the bill is HB 15 (with identical companion bill SB 45); in Nevada, Sen. Sheila Leslie (D-Reno) will push an as yet un-filed prescription bill, and in Tennessee, lawmakers are likely to file both a prescription bill and a competing electronic tracking bill in the next few days.

For economist Tucker, lawmakers are engaged in quixotic, fruitless, and even counterproductive effort. "There are 50 different ways to make meth, and the drugs get ever more dangerous," he said. "Meth is a dreadfully dangerous drug anyway, but when you relegate it to amateurs cooking it at stoplights, it's catastrophic."

America loves its stimulants, as a glance at any Starbucks filled with happy caffeine-guzzlers or convenience store aisle lined with "energy drink" products will demonstrate. Perhaps instead of trying to repress methamphetamine, we could try to regulate it. But that's a very hard sell for what is arguably the most demonized of America's demon drugs.

Seminar on Medical Marijuana Tax Issues

In an effort to get more owners of medical marijuana businesses to properly remit sales and use taxes, the city of Boulder, Colorado is hosting an informational seminar on marijuana taxes.

The seminar will focus on the city's tax rules as they pertain to medical marijuana businesses, and will include topics such as audits and tax returns.

The event requires reservations. To reserve a spot, call 303-441-4017.

Wed, 01/26/2011 - 1:30pm - 3:30pm
1777 Broadway Municipal Building Plaza
Boulder, CO 80302
United States

Marijuana Legalization Bills Filed in Massachusetts, Washington

Legislators in two states on opposite ends of the country have introduced bills that would legalize marijuana. In both cases, the bills are a continuation of legalization efforts that did not reach fruition last year.

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson
In Washington state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, chair of the Human Services Committee, Tuesday introduced House Bill 1150, which would legalize marijuana for persons 21 and over, provide for regulation and taxation of marijuana commerce, and see pot sold through state liquor stores, with growers licensed by the Liquor Control Board.

"Drug cartels and black-market dealers have made it easier for kids to get cannabis than alcohol," Dickerson said. "The Liquor Control Board has a proven track record of shielding kids from its products. I’m confident our bill will break the back of cannabis crime-syndicate profits and make it possible to preserve vital health services across Washington in these very difficult budget times."

The bill has 13 cosponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. That's where it died last year.

On the opposite coast, Massachusetts Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) Monday filed House Docket Number 1091 (H1091 for short), An Act to Regulate and Tax the Cannabis Industry. The bill will be assigned a bill number later.

It would immediately remove all of Massachusetts criminal and civil penalties upon persons over the age of 21 who possess or cultivate marijuana for personal or share it with other adults. It would also set up a system to regulate, license, and tax commercial cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana when such regulation is lawful under federal law.

As in Washington, the Massachusetts bill didn't make it through last year. But advocates in both states continue to plug away.

State Senator: Should Indiana Legalize Marijuana?

United States
A state senator is asking a question she hopes will spur debate over sentencing laws and possibly save Indiana millions of dollars: Should the state legalize marijuana? Sen. Karen Tallian, D- Portage, is sponsoring a bill that would direct the criminal law and sentencing study committee to examine Indiana's marijuana laws next summer and come up with recommendations. Senate Corrections Committee Chairman Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said he would give Tallian's proposal a legislative hearing.
The Republic (IN)

Washington State Bill Proposes to Sell Marijuana Through State Liquor Stores

United States
State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, is again proposing that the state legalize marijuana and regulate it much like alcohol. House Bill 1550, filed today, proposes that marijuana be sold through state liquor stores to adults aged 21 and over, and that the state Liquor Control Board issue licenses to commercial growers. Dickerson sponsored similar legislation in the previous legislative session, but the bill was voted down in the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
The Seattle Times (WA)

Senator Margaret Rose Henry Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill in Delaware (Press Release)


Senator Margaret Rose Henry Introduces Medical Marijuana

Bill in Delaware

Delaware Patients Join Montel Williams, Multiple Sclerosis Patient & Former Talk Show Host, in Dover to Urge Passage of Medical Marijuana Bill

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, MPP communications manager ……………….… 202-905-2031 or

DOVER, DELAWARE — State Senator Margaret Rose Henry and three Senate co-sponsors today introduced SB 17 in the Delaware State Senate, calling for a common sense approach to providing compassionate care for seriously ill patients seeking relief with medical marijuana. Rep. Helene Keeley is the prime sponsor in the House, with eight co-sponsoring House members on the bill.

            Montel Williams, a popular former talk show host and multiple sclerosis patient, will attend today’s legislative session to meet with lawmakers and the Governor to urge them to support SB 17. Passage of the bill would allow Delaware patients suffering from several devastating illnesses to receive medical marijuana upon the recommendations of their doctors. Neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis is one of the ailments for which marijuana has been shown to provide relief.

            Sen. Henry and Mr. Williams were joined at a press conference today by Joe Scarborough, an HIV/AIDS patient and longtime advocate, as well as Don Brill, a cancer survivor who created the patient advocacy website Delawareans for Medical Marijuana to keep patients informed and provide them with a forum for discussing their experiences.

            “Delaware legislators have been listening to patients and families in community meetings and the stories they’ve heard changed minds and hearts,” Sen. Henry said. “Legislators have begun to understand the very real need for legislative action to allow this treatment option without in any way undermining law enforcement or the prosecution of those engaged in the recreational use of marijuana. This bill carries forward common sense restrictions that are now part of state law and it provides an appropriately strong component that is right for our communities.”

            Williams has been using medical marijuana for a decade to treat the pain and spasms associated with his degenerative disease. “The Delaware legislature should act without delay to make marijuana legally available for medical use,” Williams said. “Every day that legislators delay is another day of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state.”

            Williams noted that 15 states and Washington, D.C. already have passed laws that allow the medical use of marijuana to treat patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, and similarly devastating diseases. “Delaware lawmakers now have an opportunity to ensure that patients suffering in Delaware will be treated with the same compassion as patients fortunate enough to live in one of those 15 other states,” said Williams, who retired from the U.S. Navy as Lieutenant Commander after more than two decades of service prior to beginning his television career.

            Under SB 17, qualified patients could obtain medical marijuana from state-licensed medical cannabis organizations regulated by the State Department of Health and Social Services, which would also issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients who receive recommendations from their doctors. Public use of marijuana and driving under the influence would be prohibited.

            Nationally, the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many other respected health organizations have endorsed the efficacy of medical marijuana.

            With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit


United States

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

United States
Montana's House Human Services Committee today hears a bill tackling medical marijuana in the workplace. This the third bill to come from an interim committee that spent six months working on medical marijuana legislation, Republican Representative Gary MacLaren’s (House District 89,) House Bill 43 gives guidelines and restrictions to employers on how to handle employees who use medical marijuana. Medical cannabis supporters say they interpret the bill to mean that an employer could terminate an employee simply for having a medical marijuana card, at the same time subjecting them to drug testing that violates privacy.

Montel Williams Urges Passage of Maryland Medical Marijuana Bill (Press Release)



Multiple Sclerosis Patient and Baltimore Native to Speak at Press Conference to Announce Medical Marijuana Legislation in Maryland

CONTACTS: Morgan Fox, MPP Communications Manager …………… 202-905-2031 or

      Dan Riffle, MPP Legislative Analyst …………………….. 202-905-2026 or

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND — Montel Williams, multiple sclerosis patient and popular former talk show host, will attend a press conference today to urge General Assembly members to support legislation that would make Maryland the 16th state in the nation to allow the medical use of marijuana. Williams and other patients will be joined by Deputy Majority Leader and physician Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), and Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick & Carroll Counties) for a press conference at 4:00 pm, Monday, January 24, in room 302 of the House Office Building.   

            “I grew up in Maryland, graduated from the Naval Academy, and my family still lives in Baltimore today, so I’m excited about the prospect of helping my home state put in place a policy that’s more compassionate toward our most vulnerable residents,” said Williams, whose father was Baltimore’s first African-American fire chief. Prior to beginning his television career, Williams retired from the U.S. Navy as Lieutenant Commander after more than two decades of service. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago and has sought treatment at Maryland’s Johns Hopkins Hospital.

            The Maryland Senate passed similar legislation last year by an overwhelming margin of 35-12, and this week, Del. Morhaim plans to file a new medical marijuana bill.

            “As a physician, I see this as just another tool in the toolbox,” said Morhaim. “This isn’t about ending the war on drugs – it’s about getting the sick and dying off the battlefield.”

             Sen. Raskin, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, noted that Maryland law already provides reduced penalties for marijuana possession to anyone who can show a medical necessity, but that patients have no legal way to obtain it and are still given a criminal conviction even if they are successful in showing a medical need. 

            “Maryland law already recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana but, bizarrely, sends very sick people into the streets and alleys to find medical relief and then exposes them to criminal arrest and prosecution for seeking relief from pain and nausea,” says Sen. Raskin. “We need to put the doctor-patient relationship at the heart of our policy and we have done that with the most carefully regulated and defined proposal in the country.”           

            Sen. David Brinkley, a two-time cancer survivor, sponsored the Senate version of last year’s bill and joined with Raskin in leading the bi-partisan effort to pass it.

            Says Sen. Brinkley, “This is a bi-partisan bill because compassion is a bi-partisan issue. If it were my loved one suffering from a devastating disease, I would want every treatment option that could relieve their suffering to be on the table. There should be nothing controversial about that.”


Annapolis, MD
United States

Welfare Drug Testing Bills Filed in Virginia

Add Virginia to the list of states where lawmakers are seeking to impose drug testing requirements on recipients of public assistance. One bill would direct state officials to assess the cost and benefits of drug testing welfare recipients, while another would require drug screening of participants in the Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW), the commonwealth's welfare-to-work program.

Virginia Capitol
A bill filed by Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville), HJ 616, calls on the state's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to review the cost and benefits of drug testing people on the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

A bill filed by state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds (D-Ridgeway), SB 781, would require local social service departments to screen each participant in the state's welfare-to-work program to determine if there is probable cause to believe the participants is using illegal drugs. If there is probable cause to suspect drug use, the participant would be subject to a formal substance abuse assessment, which could include drug testing. People who test positive or who refuse to participate in the screening or assessment would be ineligible for TANF payments for a year.

Marshall told the Martinsville Bulletin area employers complained that "they can't find people who are drug-free to hire" and that his bill is intended to be a first step toward his goal of a "drug-free Virginia." Under his bill, he said, TANF recipients who fail drug tests "would go through the process to get them clean... so they can become productive members of society."

Welfare or unemployment drug testing bills, a perennial favorite of posturing politicians, have been introduced in at least five states this year. But that's really nothing new. They are introduced in a handful of states each year, but no state has passed such a bill since Michigan did so in 1998. That bill was found unconstitutional by the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003.

Richmond, VA
United States

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