Medical Marijuana

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Fundraiser for Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy Featuring Tom Robbins

Please join the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy for a reception and reading with Tom Robbins. RSVP is required -- Purchase Tickets at www.SensibleMarijuanaPolicy.org or call (617) 901-7765. As always, anyone with questions should feel free to contact me directly. All my best, Whitney A. Taylor, Campaign Manager Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy P.O. Box 130151, Boston, MA 02113 (617) 901-7765 (phone), (617) 451-1897 (fax) www.SensibleMarijuanaPolicy.org
Date: 
Fri, 09/14/2007 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
2 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02116
United States

Sacramento: Please Attend Medical Marijuana Activist Bryan Epis Federal Resentencing Hearing Friday

Bryan Epis, a former medical marijuana provider who was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, and served two years before being released in the wake of the Raich medical marijuana decision, is returning to court for resentencing pending the filing of his appeal. Bryan asks that reformers in the area attend the hearing as a show of support. It is taking place at 10:00am this Friday morning (9/14) in Sacramento, California -- courtroom of Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr., 501 I Street, 15th floor, courtroom two. Click here to read our 2005 interview with Bryan, and click here to read about possible misconduct committed by the prosecution in his case. We will report in our blog Friday afternoon (or as soon as information becomes available) on what happens.
Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States

ASA’s Media Summary for the Week Ending 9/7/07

FEDERAL: Northern California Raids Spark Protests, Policy Talk

The DEA’s latest attempts at interfering with how California is implementing safe access to medical marijuana resulted this week in protests by patients and meetings of local officials. The raids on the San Francisco Bay Area community have created problems for the patients who relied on the three dispensaries. As in Los Angeles, many are challenging local law enforcement over their cooperation with federal agents. San Mateo ASA is launching a campaign to protect dispensaries; they testified at the city council meeting and will be doing the same at the County supervisors hearing next week.

Medical marijuana advocates protest shutdown of three San Mateo clubs
by Michael Manekin, MediaNews
Medical marijuana patients and advocates, upset over the federal raid and closing of three medical cannabis dispensaries in downtown San Mateo last week, are asking city officials for help. "We do not want to see our local tax revenues wasted on paying our local law enforcement to aid in federal raids when there has been no violation of state law," said Brent Saupe, a San Mateo resident and a volunteer with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group.

Officials to shape pot policy
by Dana Yates, San Mateo Daily Journal
Patients affected by the closure and recent raids of three San Mateo medical marijuana dispensaries have officials meeting to form a new countywide pot club policy, San Mateo City Manager Arne Croce told members of the City Council last night.

City calls for pot shop regulation
by Michael Manekin, San Mateo County Times
The many battles raging in California over medical marijuana are fueled by a basic disagreement between federal law, which prohibits the possession of cannabis altogether, and state law, which has allowed the selective use of medical marijuana for more than a decade.

OREGON: Federal Judge Says Patient Records Off Limits

A serious challenge to patients’ privacy was turned back by a U.S. District judge this week, who denied the federal government’s attempt to obtain patient records from Oregon’s state medical marijuana program. A chief criticism of programs that require patient registration – as most do – is that it leaves patients vulnerable to being target by the DEA and other federal agencies.

Ruling protects pot patients
by Anne Saker, The Oregonian
A federal judge has thrown out sweeping subpoenas for patient records kept by Oregon's medical marijuana program and a private clinic, saying privacy concerns overruled a grand jury's demand for information.

U.S. court won't allow subpoena of Ore. medical marijuana records
Associated Press
A U.S. District Court has decided the medical records of 17 Oregon medical marijuana patients do not have to be released.

NEW MEXICO: State Working to Implement New Program

Governor Bill Richardson personally assured the creation of the new medical marijuana program in his state, but now the real work of ensuring safe access for patients is underway. Already, federal agents have raided a paraplegic man authorized by New Mexico to grow and possess cannabis, causing the governor, who is also a former federal official and now a candidate for President, to vow a full scale battle.

Patient finds temporary relief with medical marijuana
by Sue Vorenberg, Albuquerque Tribune (NM)
There's no lie in her face, no subtlety in her responses - only a resigned acceptance and willingness to fight against her circumstances. At age 62, she has AIDS. She weighs 78 pounds. The side effects of her medications aren't as sickening as they used to be, but she's still constantly nauseated and in pain. What gets her through it all, she says, is marijuana.

Medical marijuana patients face difficult task of finding drug
by Sue Vorenberg, Albuquerque Tribune (NM)
At the center of the labyrinth of issues around medical marijuana is a snarled garden of Catch-22. Certified patients in New Mexico can use it - but they have no way to legally get it.

Commentary: Why fight medical marijuana?
by J. Michael Jones, Albuquerque Tribune (NM)
New Mexico is the most recent state to legalize medical marijuana - not the last. The feds' pursuit of those violating federal laws but not state laws is a waste of time, money and effort. But the tide is turning, and eventually this version of prohibition will come to an end, like the previous one, for much the same reason.

WASHINGTON: Officials Seek Input on Medical Marijuana Rules

For the past two years Washington state officials have been trying to improve their medical marijuana law. Currently they are engaged in a statewide process of consulting with stakeholders over reasonable limits for how much patients may cultivate and possess. Many state programs have limits far below what the most desperately ill or injured patients need. The federal government’s own medical marijuana program distributes more than six pounds a year to a handful of patients, more than most states currently allow.

Medical Marijuana Laws Under Scrutiny
by Evan McLean, Sequim Gazette (WA)
Marijuana growers and law enforcement in Clallam County are watching the state cultivate rules to better define the legal medical use of the drug.

COLORADO: Registration Requirement Enforced, But No Jail

Like most medical marijuana states, Colorado requires medical marijuana patients to register with the state to enjoy full immunity from prosecution. But many patients who use marijuana on their doctor’s advice do not register, either out of fear of giving their name to the government (see Oregon) or for other reasons. A Colorado man challenged the registration requirement at trial, arguing that his doctor’s recommendation should be enough to acquit him of criminal charges. A jury disagreed, but even the prosecutor urged the judge to impose no jail time.

Jury finds ill man guilty in pot case
by Bill Scanlon, Rocky Mountain News
A Thornton man with several debilitating conditions didn't get the verdict he wanted when an Adams County jury found him guilty of cultivating marijuana - but not guilty of possessing more than 8 ounces of the drug. Jack Branson, 39, and his attorney, Rob Corry, argued that because Branson, who is HIV- positive and has hepatitis B, needs marijuana to help him with his pain - and had gotten a verbal recommendation from a doctor - it was irrelevant that he hadn't filed the proper medical marijuana forms with the state.

DISPENSARIES: Officials Balancing Community Concerns and Patient Needs

California officials are finding that careful regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries helps them monitor distribution while ensuring that their neediest constituents get the services they need. ASA’s report on the experience of communities with regulations shows that fears about dispensaries are misplaced, as they tend to reduce crime in the neighborhoods where they operate. For more info, see www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DispensaryReport.

AG resident in medical marijuana battle
by Hector Trujillo, Santa Maria Times (CA)
Arroyo Grande resident Charles Lynch is embroiled in a legal battle with federal prosecutors over his medical marijuana dispensary.

Cities racing to set rules
by Harrison Sheppard, Daily Bulletin (Inland Valley, CA)
More than a decade after California voters passed legalization of medical marijuana, an explosion of dispensaries and patients has cities and counties scrambling to regulate the operations.

Dealing a harsh blow
by Raheem Hosseini, Ledger Dispatch
When the Jackson City Council voted unanimously to repeal an ordinance that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate, I was disappointed, but not surprised.

FEDERAL: Denial of Medical Efficacy Disproven by Patients

Much science and medical experience demonstrates the absurdity of the federal government’s continued insistence that there is no medical use for marijuana. But nothing shows the folly of their position like the testimony of patients for whom it is a life-transforming treatment.

Why Do People the Government Says Don't Exist Keep Writing Us?
by David Borden and Paul Armentano, Huffington Post
According to the federal government, 53-year-old Deborah Palmer (not her real name) doesn't exist. A grandmother and former California corrections officer, Ms. Palmer suffers from chronic spinal pain (the result of a pair of botched back surgeries) and fibromyalgia. Because her body is allergic to opioid medications, she recently began using medical marijuana to obtain relief from her daily suffering. That is until federal and state law enforcement officials raided the California dispensary that provided her medicine.

FEDERAL: Patient Collective Cannot Block Future Raids

When the DEA descended on the Wo/Mens’ Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, a patient cooperative that provided marijuana free to seriously ill members, they created a lasting controversy. The mayor and City Council responded by giving away marijuana to patients at City Hall, and then joined the collective in suing the federal government. In a ruling that echoed the US Supreme Court Decision in the case of Angel Raich, a federal judge this week said that WAMM cannot get an injunction against future raids.

U.S. Court hands setback to WAMM's fight for legal medical pot
by Kurtis Alexander, Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
A federal court ruling Thursday dashed hopes of local medical marijuana advocates seeking to keep the government out of their pot gardens. In the case of Santa Cruz County v. Alberto Gonzales, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel granted the attorney general's motion to prevent a Santa Cruz marijuana cooperative and its supporters from suing the office to stop federal marijuana raids.

MORE ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS

Find out more about ASA at AmericansForSafeAccess.org. More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at AmericansForSafeAccess.org/News.

Location: 
United States

DEA Agent Admits Medical Marijuana Laws Work

This piece in the Providence Journal is remarkable for several reasons. The stories of the real people who benefit from Rhode Island's medical marijuana law are simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring. This is required reading for anyone who doesn't understand why medical marijuana advocacy is so important.

One seemingly minor point caught my eye, and raises issues that need to be discussed at the national level:
Anthony Pettigrew, agent for the New England field office of the DEA, said that while marijuana possession is against federal law, "the DEA never targets the sick and dying." The agency is more interested in organized drug traffickers, Pettigrew said. "I've been here for 22 years," he said, and "realistically, I've never seen anyone go to federal jail for possessing a joint."
This is a significant and unusual concession on DEA's part. Pettigrew's argument essentially refutes the typical ONDCP strategy of intimidating patients and legislators in prospective medical marijuana states by arguing that medical users will remain vulnerable under federal law.

If DEA won't arrest patients and state police can't arrest patients, then medical marijuana laws work very well. DEA continues to raid dispensaries in California, but the totality of this activity utterly fails to undermine patient access or the spirit of the state's medical marijuana law. In fact, dispensary raids continue for the sole purpose of obscuring the otherwise obvious benefits of laws that protect patients.

It doesn't matter whether DEA's policy of not arresting patients is motivated by compassion, political sensibilities, funding constraints, or some combination thereof. The fact of the matter is that state laws are effective at protecting medical marijuana users from prosecution, which is their intended purpose. This simple fact demonstrates the importance of these laws, while also revealing how empty and fraudulent the federal government's threats against medical marijuana states truly are.
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Americans for Safe Access Monthly Activist Newsletter -- September 2007

ASA Argues for Return of Patients' Unlawfully Seized Marijuana

Ruling from state appellate court could end years of local law enforcement violations

ASA's Return of Property campaign reached a pivotal point this month. Chief Counsel Joe Elford appeared before a state appeals court to argue that any California patient whose medical marijuana is seized in a law enforcement encounter has a right to get that cannabis back as soon as the patient demonstrates that the marijuana is lawfully possessed underCalifornia law.

State law says any wrongfully seized property must be returned, but some law enforcement agencies have argued that they cannot give back medical marijuana because doing so would violate federal law, even though the state Attorney General has said otherwise. California court rulings have split on the issue, with some judges ordering the return of medical marijuana and some refusing.

The appeals court is considering two cases. The first is that of Felix Kha, a Garden Grove patient who had eight grams of medical marijuana confiscated. A Superior Court judge ordered the return of his medicine, but the city of Garden Grove not only refused, it appealed the order. The second case is that of Jim Spray, a Hunt-ington Beach patient who was denied a court order by a different judge in the same Court that issued Kha's order.

"It is bad enough to have your medicine seized by police,” said Elford. “But to then be denied its rightful return shows a blatant disregard for the law."

Over the past two years, ASA has had success getting law enforcement agencies such as the California Highway Patrol to change their policies and has even helped patients get cash compensation for medicine that was destroyed or lost before it could be returned.

For further information, refer to:
Felix Kha's return of property case, including a description and legal briefs
The City of Garden Grove's appeal
ASA's opposition to Garden Grove's appeal
The California Attorney General's amicus brief in support of Kha
The California Police Chiefs Association amicus brief in support of Garden Grove
Examples of return of property court orders issued by Superior Court judges in California

Program for Seniors Considers Medical Marijuana

Poll Shows Nearly All Viewers Support Safe Access

Medical marijuana was the subject this month of a news magazine program on the country's largest television network devoted to retired Americans. The "Viewpoint" program on Retirement Living Television (RLTV), a cable channel that boasts 29 million viewers, included interviews with patients, medical researchers, dispensary operators, and federal officials.

Among those featured in the program were Florida medical marijuana patient Irv Rosenfeld, who receives his medicine free from the federal government; Dr. Bertha Madras, the Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; and Dr. John Benson, one of the co-investigators for the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, which concluded that there are medical uses for marijuana. ASA's Director of Government Affairs, Caren Woodson, was part of an RLTV promotional program that aired the day before.

The focus of the RLTV programs was "the relationship between seniors living with chronic pain and their choice to use medical marijuana to alleviate their constant discomfort," according to RLTV, which offers additional information at www.rl.tv.

A poll of RLTV viewers found that only one person did not support access to medical marijuana with a physician's recommendation. This is consistent with a December 2004 poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which found that 72% of their membership "agree that adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it." Nearly one-third said that they smoked marijuana.

Many of the ailments commonly associated with aging - such as arthritis, cancer, glaucoma, and chronic pain - can be effectively treated with cannabis, as outlined in the ASA booklet on medical marijuana and aging.

Fore more info, see:
RLTV Viewpoint promotional segment
AARP 2004 Report
ASA Chapter Focus

Front Range ASA, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Front Range ASA (FRASA) chapter members have been pioneers with their organizing tactics to ensure safe access for Coloradoan patients. Working with one of ASA's Medical Advisory Board members, Dr. Bob Melamede, the chapter has used both science and activism to improve access for patients. Just this year, one of FRASA's leaders and a medical cannabis researcher, Matt Schnur, filed two petitions with the Colorado Department of Health to expand the list of conditions for which cannabis is approved. The petitions cite research indicating diabetes mellitus and anxiety and depression can be treated with cannabis. The chapter is waiting for a response.

FRASA has also been reaching out to the medical community and patients groups. In addition to distributing ASA's condition-based booklets and research to hospitals, patients groups, doctors' offices, and other health associations, FRASA has contacted the American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association about updating their official public statements about medical cannabis. The intersecting patient populations ASA shares with a variety of condition-based organizations provide unique opportunities for collaboration.

This summer, FRASA and the Colorado Campaign for Safe Access, a project of ASA and Sensible Colorado, sponsored an educational seminar for El Paso County Drug Taskforce members. This seminar on Marijuana Education and Dispensary Safety, or MEDS, was taught by Colorado Campaign for Safe Access' Executive Director, Brian Vicente. Participating law enforcement members learned about Colorado's medical cannabis laws and patients' rights.

The Colorado Campaign for Safe Access and FRASA also worked together in August to organize mass e-mails, petitions, calls, and meetings with their Congressional representatives, urging them to sign on to a letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, asking her to grant UMass Amherst professor Lyle Craker a license to grow marijuana for medical research.

FRASA has already made great strides towards ensuring safe access in Colorado and will continue to work towards this goal.

Los Angeles City Council Fast Tracks Dispensary Issue

LA-ASA's two years of work to establish sound regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles has accelerated in the wake of the latest DEA raids there.

The large patient protests ASA organized have given the City Council a new sense of urgency to complete the permanent ordinance. The city's medical cannabis working group has abandoned plans to start from scratch, and is instead using the LA County ordinance as a template.

This model ordinance, which ASA was instrumental in helping craft, includes on-site consumption, the distribution of medical clones, and other patient-centered provisions.
Since last month's raids, the Los Angeles City Council has been working even more closely with LA-ASA.

Government Must Answer for Marijuana Misinformation

ASA has taken the next step in its lawsuit to force the federal government to tell the truth about medical marijuana and admit that many doctors routinely recommended marijuana to their patients.

On August 17, ASA filed an amended complaint with the federal District Court, charging that the government's failure to answer ASA's 2004 Data Quality Act petition violated the law and constitutes an "unreasonable delay."

The government has 60 days to respond.

ASA's petition documents why the government cannot factually say that marijuana "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," and "there have been no studies that have scientifically assessed the efficacy of marijuana for any medical condition."

The Data Quality Act says federal agencies must rely on sound science in the information they disseminate.

The case will likely be heard in late 2007.

ASA Activists Deliver Message on National Congressional Drop-in Day

On August 29, ASA activists throughout the country visited their Representatives' local district offices to ask for Congressional action on medical marijuana.

Activists asked their Representatives to join others in the U.S. House who are trying to eliminate funding for federal raids on medical marijuana patients and providers.

They also asked their Representatives to add their names to a "sign-on" letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy from John Olver (D, MA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R, CA).

The letter urges Tandy to accept a judge's recommendation that scientists at University of Massachusetts Amherst be allowed to cultivate cannabis for federally approved medical research.

Location: 
United States

Medical Marijuana: WAMM Lawsuit Hits Bump

A Santa Cruz medical marijuana cooperative that was raided by the DEA in 2002 was dealt a setback August 28 when a federal judge granted a US Justice Department motion to stop them from suing it. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) and the city and county of Santa Cruz sought to sue US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to prevent his office from continuing raids on medical marijuana providers in California.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/wamm-march.jpg
2005 WAMM march, downtown Santa Cruz (courtesy santacruz.indymedia.org)
The lawsuit cited California's Compassionate Use Act, approved by voters in 1996, which makes the medical use of marijuana legal in the state. But the Justice Department successfully argued that marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and US District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel agreed, granting its motion to block the lawsuit.

"Naturally, we're disappointed. I had hoped for something better," said Mike Corral, who, along with his wife Valerie, were cofounders of WAMM.

WAMM and Santa Cruz may be down, but they're not out just yet. Judge Fogel left two of the county's claims intact: a 10th Amendment argument that the states -- not the federal government -- have say over marijuana, and an argument that medical necessity trumps federal drug laws. The county's legal team says it will continue to argue those claims while trying to build a stronger case that the federal government is improperly intervening in areas that should be the purview of the states.

If Medical Marijuana Patients Don't Exist, How Come They Keep Sending Us Letters?

Our Executive Director David Borden and NORML's Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano have coauthored an updated version of Dave's DWC editorial, "Why Do People the Government Says Don't Exist Keep Writing Me?"

Check it out over at Huffington Post. It's quite good.

You know, it's funny how drug policy reformers keep getting accused of exploiting sick people in the medical marijuana debate, yet when patients write to us, it is always to thank us for our efforts. Somehow I doubt the Office of National Drug Control Policy gets many letters from medical marijuana users thanking them for opposing the evil marijuana lobby that tries to exploit them by making their medicine legal.

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United States

ASA’s Media Summary for the Week Ending 8/31/07

FEDERAL: New Mexico Paraplegic Raided

New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson is outraged over a federal raid on a paraplegic who is registered with the state to legally use medical marijuana. The patient was attempting to grow six plants, as he is entitled to, but most had died. Agents seized them regardless. The Governor has said he will use every available means to curtail federal interference with his state’s medical marijuana program. See ASA’s press release on the federal escalation to undermine medical marijuana state laws.

Governor to battle with feds over marijuana law
by Ray Seva, KOB TV 4 (NM)
A battle is brewing in Santa Fe over medical marijuana. An angry Governor Richardson wants the feds to leave sick New Mexicans alone and let them grow their pot. "I'm very concerned that the Bush administration instead of going after drug dealers, is going after people suffering from cancer, a paraplegic, most recently," said Governor Richardson.

Feds raid man's house for marijuana
KOB TV 4 (NM)
A drug task force on Tuesday raided the home of a man holding a state certificate allowing him to have and use marijuana. The problem for 44-year-old Leonard French is that the certificate exempts him from state law, not federal law, and the raid was a federal operation staffed by DEA agents and local law enforcement.

COMMENT

Multi-Agency Drug Task Force Wastes Money and Time Harassing Wheel-Chair Bound Patient
by Reena Szczenpanski, Huffington Post
Yesterday, the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force in southeastern New Mexico entered another skirmish in the failed war on drugs. Officers raided and seized a marijuana grow operation from the home of Leonard French, a paraplegic man who lost the use of both of his legs in a motorcycle accident. They seized...six plants, most of which were dead, according to Mr. French. Mr. French suffers chronic pain and muscle spasms due to his spinal cord injury, and qualified as a medical marijuana patient under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act state law that passed earlier this year.

FEDERAL: DEA Raids Northern California Dispensaries

The escalation of DEA attacks on patient access to medical marijuana continued this week with a coordinated series of raids on three dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area. As with earlier raids in the San Diego area, the DEA action came at the behest of the local district attorney’s office, which concluded that it was easier to ask the feds to act than comply with state law.

Pot club asks city for help
by Dana Yates, San Mateo Daily Journal (CA)
For more than a year, the Patient’s Choice Resource Cooperative distributed marijuana to 800 members quietly in San Mateo — until federal drug agents closed down the operation Wednesday. Now the lead director of PCRC is making some noise, urging the San Mateo City Council to enact a policy that supports marijuana dispensaries for sick patients.

San Mateo raids stir conflict on medical marijuana
by Michael Manekin, ANG Newspapers (CA)
Soon after the Patients Choice Resource Cooperative moved into its new digs in downtown San Mateo, the group received a cease-and-desist letter from the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. "We could have sat here and spent a great deal of taxpayer money in San Mateo County, prosecuting it and going through the appeals, or we could bring the case to the attention of the federal government," the deputy district attorney said.

Three San Mateo pot distribution centers raided
by John Cote, San Francisco Chronicle
Federal agents and local police on Wednesday raided three locations in San Mateo that authorities described as "marijuana distribution centers."

Feds Shut Down 3 San Mateo Marijuana Centers
NBC 11 TV
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña and San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer announced Wednesday the execution of several federal search warrants on three marijuana distribution centers in San Mateo.

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United States

Feds Raid Wheelchair-bound Paraplegic For Medical Marijuana [Updated]

The federal government is so desperate to undermine New Mexico's new medical marijuana law, they've started arresting harassing handicapped people:
MALAGA, N.M. — Agents with a regional drug task force raided Leonard French’s home in southeastern New Mexico on Tuesday and seized several marijuana plants [Ed., it was actually just 6 seedlings]
But the wheelchair-bound man said he’s certified by the state Health Department to possess and smoke marijuana for medical reasons. The 44-year-old lost the use of his legs about 20 years ago as the result of a motorcycle crash and now suffers from chronic pain and muscle spasms. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
Normally, the DEA would avoid this kind of bad publicity. But since New Mexico's medical marijuana program just started, they're trying to intimidate patients and confuse legislators in other prospective medical marijuana states:
A press release jointly issued by the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force illustrates the political nature of the raid, reading in part, "Citizens of New Mexico need to be aware that they can still be prosecuted on the federal level even though New Mexico has a law permitting marijuana for medicinal use." [DPA]

Drug warriors keep arguing that medical marijuana laws create conflict between state and federal laws, but all they have to do is stop arresting threatening patients and there'd be no problem. They're creating confusion and then citing that confusion as an argument against state laws that protect patients. Meanwhile, sick people like Leonard French are caught in the crossfire, and countless other patients are afraid to try medicine that could help them.

Revealingly, Mr. French has not yet been charged with a crime. You see, DEA is tough enough to arrest wheelchair-bound medical marijuana patients, and even boast about its authority to continue doing so. All of that serves their interest in scaring people and creating doubt as more and more states pass laws to protect their citizens from precisely this sort of foul treatment. But they won't actually try to put him in jail because that would be just hideous.

So the real message here, for those reading between the lines, is that the feds aren't always going to enforce federal law. And that tells you everything you need to know about the debate over medical marijuana. This is all a big stupid publicity stunt, and while there are casualties to be sure (getting arrested and losing your medicine does suck), the whole "conflict with federal law" argument is largely a hoax.

Regardless, we cannot tolerate any federal efforts to scare people out of treating their illnesses with doctor recommended medicine that is legal in their state. That is obscene, and it's no surprise presidential candidates are lining up in opposition to it.

Update: My mistake. Leonard French wasn't taken into custody, so "arrested" was the wrong way to describe what happened to him. I've updated the post accordingly. It's important, because patients in New Mexico should understand that you're not in any great danger if you choose to participate in the medical marijuana program. I should have been more careful about this, because I certainly don't want to perpetuate these intimidation tactics. The fact that he wasn't even arrested is significant.

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It's Time for Medical Marijuana "Plan B"

Did you know that along with raiding medical marijuana clinics and prosecuting people, the DEA is actually blocking research into medical marijuana too -- research that if allowed to take place could lead to marijuana's approval as a medicine through the FDA? Yet at the very same time, DEA hypocritically cites a lack of research as justification for keeping medical marijuana illegal! Most recently, DEA has stalled an application from the University of Massachusetts to grow research-grade marijuana in a secure facility for FDA- and DEA-approved medical studies. Though DEA's own Administrative Law Judge has said it should be approved, we expect them to show bad faith and reject it -- after waiting as long as they can -- unless they are pressured to do otherwise. A group of US Representatives is preparing to send a sign-on letter to the DEA, next month, for just that purpose. Please visit our web site to write your member of Congress asking him or her to sign on! We encourage you to personalize your email. When you're done, please forward this alert to everyone you know who might support it too. Thank you for your help on this -- and thanks to the thousands of you who used our site to lobby for the Hinchey medical marijuana amendment last fall too. With your help, we believe that this "Plan B" will help get us closer to the goal. (Click here to read the text of the Congressional sign-on letter on the MAPS web site, and click here to read the results of this summer's Hinchey medical marijuana vote on ours.)
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