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Solidarity Event to Help Protect Safe Access to Medical Marijuana

"Don't let them take away my medicine." - Damien, longterm AIDS survivor Safe access to medical marijuana is in danger! The Colorado Health Department is acting to restrict patient access to medical marijuana. The Board of Health will be voting on a rule which would rip patients out of safe caregiver relationships and force them onto the streets in search of their life-giving medicine. Help us fight to protect patients by: (1) Take one minute to sign this online petition: (2) Show your support on March 18 by attending the Hearing where the Board will vote on this rule. What else: This is NOT a rally. This is a formal Hearing and we need supporters to dress nice and act in a professional manner.
Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:00pm
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246
United States

Federal Budget: Economic Stimulus Bill Stimulates Drug War, Too

Law enforcement was among the winners in the massive economic stimulus bill passed last week by Congress and signed this week by President Obama. The package includes nearly $3.8 billion for state and local law enforcement, much of it destined for enforcing the country's draconian drug laws.
may be coming to a police force near you soon
The biggest single chunk of police money in the bill, $2 billion, goes to fund the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program. While Byrne JAG grant funds may be used for a variety of state and local criminal justice programs, including drug courts and drug treatment programs, the bulk of Byrne JAG spending has gone to fund multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task forces.

The Byrne JAG program has been criticized by fiscal conservatives and progressive reformers alike as ineffective and a waste of money. The Bush administration tried repeatedly to zero out funding for the program, but it was always reinstated -- albeit sometimes at lower levels -- by the Congress.

The second largest chunk of police spending in the bill, $1 billion, is for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. It will pay to put thousands more police officers on the street.

The bill also includes $225 million in state and local law enforcement grants "to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system" and another $225 million for law enforcement assistance to Indian tribes. There is another $40 million in grants "to provide assistance and equipment" to police agencies along the Mexican border, with $10 million of that allocated for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for its Project Gunrunner aimed at reducing gun smuggling into Mexico. Another $125 million is destined for rural states and rural areas to prevent and combat crime, "especially drug-related crime."

Cops and elected officials are already salivating and have created huge wish lists. The public safety wish list from the US Conference of Mayors totaled $5.5 billion and includes items such as $1.6 million for SWAT equipment, $56,000 for military grade rifles, $625,000 for unmanned aerial surveillance drones, and $130,000 for "covert operations" in Arlington, Texas; $600,000 for a "live fire" SWAT team practice house and $420,000 for a SWAT armored vehicle in Sparks, Nevada; $3.5 million for "Air Tactical Unit Support and Equipment" (read: cool new helicopter) for Hampton, Virginia; and $60,000 for five "tactical entry rifles" and other equipment in Ottawa, Iowa. (See more wish list examples at Radley Balko's The Agitator.)

Methamphetamine: Bill Equating Meth Use with Child Abuse Passes New Mexico House

The New Mexico House voted 67-3 Saturday to approve a bill that makes using or possessing methamphetamine in a home where minors are present child abuse. At least three other states -- Iowa, Michigan, and South Dakota -- have already approved similar laws.

The bill, HB 117, amends the state's child abuse and neglect statute to include the following language: "Evidence that demonstrates a child has been knowingly, intentionally or negligently exposed to the use of methamphetamine shall be deemed prima facie evidence of abuse of the child."

While "meth equals child abuse" laws may be well-intentioned, critics say they do more harm than good. When Drug War Chronicle covered this issue in 2006, Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform called them cruel and "ineffective."

"If the idea is to help children, these kinds of laws are extremely ineffective," said Wexler, head of the coalition and a harsh critic of the nation's child protection services. "If the idea is to drive women underground and leave the children far worse off, it's extremely effective. These laws hurt the children they are allegedly intended to help. Listen, you can't be a meth addict and be a good parent, but further criminalizing them doesn't help anything. The key is to offer treatment. If you simply confiscate the kids, then they wind up in America's dreadful foster care system, bounced from home to home, unable to form lasting bonds with anyone," he told the Chronicle.

National Advocates for Pregnant Women generally concentrates on the distinct -- but closely related -- issue of the plight of drug using expectant mothers (12 states and DC charge drug using mothers as child abusers, and 12 more have specific reporting procedures for infants who test positive at birth), but the group is also concerned about the meth as child abuse laws.

"This completely misses the boat if we're talking about the public health angle," said Wyndi Anderson, national educator for the group. "We try really hard to get a lot of women access to a whole range of public health services. They need addiction treatment. Automatically labeling them child abusers doesn't help them at all, it only helps get them into prison and their children into foster care," she told the Chronicle.

"These laws are an exercise in showboating," said Wexler. "The legislators want to look like they're cracking down on drugs and child abuse, but since it is already child abuse to commit an act that actually harms a child, these laws are redundant. All they do is frighten people away and take away one way to reach out to addicted parents and get the help that will help -- not hurt -- their children."

"When you equate meth use with child abuse, you create the possibility of a witch hunt," Anderson warned. "We want to keep communities healthy and families intact, and these kinds of laws will just bust up both. If you believe in family values, I don't see how you could be for something like this."

The bill now heads for the New Mexico Senate.

Medical Marijuana: New Jersey Senate to Vote on Bill Monday

A bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is set for a Monday vote in the New Jersey Senate. The Senate floor vote comes after the bill was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in December.
Jim Miller, husband of well-known patient/activist the late Cheryl Miller, at CMMNJ press conference introducing Sen. Scutari's first medical marijuana bill
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (SB 119) would remove state penalties for the possession, use or cultivation of a small amount of marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for a debilitating medical condition. Qualifying medical conditions include chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, among others. Patients would be issued ID cards in a program run by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). They would be permitted to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of marijuana, but not to use their therapeutic marijuana in public or while operating motor vehicles. Patients would be able to designate a caregiver or treatment center to grow the plants for them, but the caregiver/center must also register with DHSS.

The New Jersey legislature has had medical marijuana legislation before it since 2005, when Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden) first introduced a bill. The bill had hearings in June 2006 and last December, when it passed out of committee on a 6-1 vote.

"The bill is very conservative," said Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey. "No medical marijuana state has a smaller plant limit or possession amount. Still, it will help a tremendous number of patients here."

If the bill passes the Senate Monday, it then goes to the Assembly, where it must be approved by the health committee and then the Assembly as a whole. Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has said repeatedly that he supports medical marijuana and would sign a bill that makes it to his desk.

Marijuana: Washington State Decriminalization Bill Wins Committee Vote

A bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Washington state was approved by the state Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The measure now heads for the Senate Rules Committee, which must also approve it before it can head for a floor vote.
Washington State House, Olympia
The bill, SB 5615, reclassifies adult possession of no more than 40 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime carrying mandatory jail time to a civil infraction imposing a $100 penalty that can be paid by mail.

A companion bill, HB 1177, has been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, where it has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing. If a hearing isn't held by next Wednesday, the effort will be effectively dead because that's the day by which bills must be passed out of committee.

Twelve states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, the most recent being Massachusetts last November. A decriminalization bill is also being considered this year in New Hampshire.

Law Enforcement: Maryland Bill Would Require SWAT Team Monitoring

Last July, police in Prince Georges County, Maryland, made national news headlines when their SWAT team raided the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo. Police had tracked a box containing marijuana to Calvo's porch, and when he carried the box inside upon returning home, the SWAT team struck. Team members broke down the door, restrained Calvo and his mother-in-law for hours, and shot and killed Calvo's two Labrador retrievers, one while running away.
PolitickerMD cartoon about the Berwyn Heights raid
It would have been just another SWAT raid, except for two things: Calvo and his wife are well-liked public figures, and Calvo was an innocent victim. The real culprits in the case artfully protected their marijuana shipments by having them delivered to unknowing people, in this case the mayor of Berwyn Heights.

Now, in the wake of the Calvo incident, as well as other well-known SWAT raids gone bad, such as the one last year in which a 26-year-old Lima, Ohio, woman was killed and the one a few months later in which a Pennsylvania FBI agent was shot dead by a homeowner who claimed she thought she was defending her family from intruders, a handful of Maryland legislators are trying to rein in the SWAT teams.

A bill filed earlier this month, SB 447, would require police departments to monitor their SWAT team use and report it annually to the governor and the General Assembly. As the bill puts it:

"On a monthly basis, beginning January 1, 2010, a law enforcement agency that maintains a SWAT team shall report the following information to the office of the attorney general using the format developed under subsection (c) of this section:

(1) the number of times the SWAT team was activated and deployed by the law enforcement agency in the previous month;

(2) without identifying an exact address, the approximate location within or outside of the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency to which the SWAT team was deployed for each activation;

(3) the reason for each activation and deployment of the SWAT team;

(4) the legal authority, including type of warrant, if any, for each activation and deployment of the SWAT team; and

(5) the result of each activation and deployment of the SWAT team, including:

(i) the number of arrests made, if any;
(ii) the type of evidence seized, if any;
(iii) whether a forcible entry was made;
(iv) whether a weapon was discharged by a SWAT team member; and
(v) whether a person or domestic animal was injured or killed by a SWAT team member."

"This bill is an important first step that doesn't restrict [SWAT] use," Calvo told the DC Examiner. "It merely brings transparency."

And that would be a much needed beginning to reining in the SWAT teams, which were originally intended for hostage situations and other high-risk affairs, but have ended up being used routinely in drug raids and other law enforcement endeavors. If the bill passes, Maryland would be the first state in the nation to demand accountability from its law enforcement agencies when it comes to SWAT teams.

Media Advisory: New Jersey Senate to Vote on Medical Marijuana on Monday, February 23

[Courtesy of Coalition for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey, Inc.] 

FOR IMMEDIATE Release: February 19, 2009

For more information, contact: Ken Wolski @ (609) 394-2137

New Jersey Senate to Vote on Medical Marijuana

WHO:      State Senators in New Jersey

WHAT:   Will vote on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (S119)

WHEN:   Monday February 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM

WHERE: Senate Chambers of the New Jersey State House in Trenton, NJ

WHY:       To advance a bill that will protect seriously ill or injured New Jersey patients who use therapeutic marijuana on the advice of a licensed physician. 

The New Jersey State Senate will vote on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act" (S119)  on Monday, February 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM in the State House Senate Chambers in Trenton, NJ.  Many supporters of the bill plan to attend the voting session, led by the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ).  New Jersey would become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana by passing this legislation into law.

S119 will remove the state penalties for the possession, use and cultivation of a small amount of marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for a debilitating medical condition.  Qualifying medical conditions include chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, etc.  Patients will be issued ID cards in a program run by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).  Patients will be permitted to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of marijuana, but they will not be permitted to use their therapeutic marijuana in public or while operating motor vehicles.  Patients may designate a caregiver or treatment center to grow the plants for them, but the caregiver/center must also register with DHSS.  CMMNJ Executive Director, Ken Wolski, RN said, “The bill is very conservative.  No medical marijuana state has a smaller plant limit or possession amount.  Still, it will help a tremendous number of patients here.”  The American Nurses Association, the American College of Physicians, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine and many other professional healthcare organizations have endorsed medical marijuana. 

S119 was originally introduced by Senator Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, in January 2005, and was referred to the senate health committee.   Hearings were conducted on the bill in June 2006 and in December 2008, at which time the bill was favorably released out of committee by a 6 – 1 vote.  If the bill passes in the senate, it will then go to the assembly for votes by the health committee and the entire assembly.  Governor Jon Corzine has said on several occasions that he supports medical marijuana and that he will sign the bill when it gets to his desk. 

CMMNJ, 501(c)(3) public charity, provides education about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
844 Spruce St., Trenton, NJ  08648

This link from the Drug Policy Alliance allows personalized e-mails to be forwarded to all NJ State Senators:

Trenton, NJ
United States

Press Release: House Committee Passes Medical Marijuana, 9-6

FEBRUARY 18, 2009

House Committee Passes Medical Marijuana, 9-6

CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- Minnesota's medical marijuana bill, H.F. 292, cleared its first hurdle in the House of Representatives today, passing the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee in a vote of 9 to 6. The vote came after medical marijuana patients and others testified to the relief provided by medical marijuana when conventional treatments had failed.

    "Before medical marijuana, I was in such pain I had no life," said K.K. Forss of Ely, who suffers chronic, severe pain as a result of a ruptured disk in his neck and repeated surgeries on his neck and upper spine. "It was so horrible I wanted to die every day. No one should have to face a choice between suffering unbearably and risking arrest and jail."

    Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), sponsor of the bill, hailed the vote, saying, "Today's vote is an important step toward protecting seriously ill Minnesotans. The evidence is clear that medical marijuana can help some patients who suffer terribly, and it's time to protect these patients from arrest and jail."

    "This sensible, humane, bipartisan bill is modeled after laws that have been working well for years in states like Montana and Rhode Island," said Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan). "We should not be using our scarce law enforcement dollars to arrest suffering patients for using a medicine their doctor has recommended."

    Thirteen states, comprising approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population, now permit medical use of marijuana under state law if a physician has recommended it. The newest such law was enacted by Michigan voters last November, passing with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote. Medical organizations which have recognized marijuana's medical uses include the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and American College of Physicians, which noted "marijuana's proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity," in a statement issued last year.


St. Paul, MN
United States

Free Screening of "Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine, and the Law"

*FREE REFRESHMENTS* Joining us for the screening of "Waiting to Inhale" is the mayor of Cliff Village, MO, Joe Blundell. An open forum will follow the movie where he will talk about his recent village ordinance that made Cliff Village the second municipality in MO to approve of medical marijuana, after Columbia in 2004. See more info on his story here: OR AT Let's all invite a couple people and get a great turnout at this event. All you gotta do is: 1> Go to the event page: 2> Click on "Invite People to Come" 3> Add some friends 4> Click on "Send Invitation" The best way to spread the word is for everyone to tell at least one person (preferably more!) Bring your friends! Waiting to Inhale examines the heated debate over marijuana and its use as medicine in the United States. Twelve states have passed legislation to protect patients who use medical marijuana. Yet opponents claim the medical argument is just a smokescreen for a different agenda-- to legalize marijuana for recreation and profit. What claims are being made, and what are the stakes? Waiting to Inhale takes viewers inside the lives of patients who have been forever changed by illness—and parents who lost their children to addiction. Is marijuana really a gateway drug? What evidence is there to support the claim that marijuana can alleviate some of the devastating symptoms of AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis? Waiting to Inhale sheds new light on this controversy and presents shocking new evidence that marijuana could hold a big stake in the future of medicine. Attendees will also hear details and be encouraged to mobilize and get active in contacting their elected representatives regarding Missouri's just introduced medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 277, an act to exempt qualified medical cannabis patients from state arrest and prosecution. Visit this site to take action on HB 277: For more information, contact Kelly at 417-291-0135 or For more information about Waiting to Inhale, visit the film's official website at
Thu, 02/26/2009 - 7:30pm - 9:00pm
300 S. Main Street
Joplin, MO
United States

Rally, Concert and Lobby Day to End Cannabis Prohibition

Rally, Concert and Lobby Day to demand an End To The Prohibition of Marijuana! Lobby Noon - 2 p.m.*, Rally & Concert 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., Dead show doors 6 p.m. (*more Lobbying will take place from 2-5. We will have free info packets for you to drop off at your representative's offices, which are in the building across the street (we will help you figure out who they are if you don't know). Look for our booth and come talk to us if you're interested in making a big impact!) Featuring over 10 activist speakers! Musical Performances by: Lynch (w. Jim of moe.), Half Step, Free Grass Union, Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets, Special guests TBA NY residents, if you cannot make it to the event please contact your elected representatives on or before April 17, 2009 to help increase our impact! We have links set up on our sites to make it easy for you to contact them. You can also write a letter to the editor in support of legalization. Info to help with that is also on the sites. Join us for a great time, for a great cause!, Make a difference–make sure your representatives hear your voices!!! The rally will be held across the street from the Legislative Office Building where the NY Senate and NY Assembly have offices and meet to make the laws. Please come on down to our lobbying booth and find out who your representatives are, and how they voted/where they stand on cannabis issues. We will show you just how easy it is to stop by their office and say hello to their staff and leave info for them and have your opinions expressed. This helps them do their job representing the public better since it lets them know what we want from them. Please come and experience the change you want to see!
Fri, 04/17/2009 - 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Albany, NY
United States

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