Medical Marijuana

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Editorial: Why Do People the Government Says Don't Exist Keep Writing Me?

David Borden, Executive Director
David Borden
One of the mantras in the prohibitionist movement is the claim that "medical marijuana is a hoax." They call it a "cruel hoax" when they're feeling especially passionate or threatened.

We in the drug reform movement often feel bemused by this. After all, we actually know medical marijuana patients -- yes, real live medical marijuana patients. We interact with them at conferences. We help them with protests. Some of us lobby with them in Congress or the state houses. Their relatives are our friends and colleagues too.

During the recent efforts around the Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment last month, a lot of people concerned with the issue sent us emails, and some of them were patients. I've published some of their comments on our blog, but I think they merit republishing here:

"I have had multiple sclerosis and a seizure disorder for 13 years now. I tried it the legal way and just got sicker and sicker, to the point of staying in bed all day. Then I tried marijuana, and it's like a wonder drug for me! I do not get high from the marijuana, it helps relax my muscles and takes the spasms away. Not to mention it's the only way I have an appetite to eat anything. How could someone tell me, no medical marijuana for you?"

"Six years ago I was literally struck down with Fibromyalgia. I simply couldn't get out of bed one morning. I crawled versus walking most of the time as it was less painful. My husband had to lift me onto the toilet, give me baths, cook, etc., because I was of no use to anyone, including myself. I also had no appetite whatsoever. I lost 20 pounds in a matter of weeks, leaving me a frail 100 lb 50 year old. My husband thought maybe marijuana might help with my appetite, so he "scored" some for me. It not only restored my appetite, it also took a lot of my pain away. It makes me sick to think we both could have been arrested. When is this country going to wake up?!!"

"I have had to move back home to a state that does not allow the medical use of marijuana -- the state I was in before, Maine, allowed it -- and it is very hard for me to find relief from my pain now. My doctor has increased my medications twofold, and I do not get the pain control I had on 1/2 the narcotics with the smoke. I just hope some day the government will stop demonizing a very useful tool, and allow us who really get relief from it without abuse of the drug."

Why do these people whom the government claims don't exist keep writing me? So much for the "hoax" -- the hoax is calling it a hoax. Another particularly misleading argument we hear from prohibitionists is that "there are better medicines" than marijuana for the conditions people are using it for. Even if it were true (across the board in the way they are claiming), the idea that there are better medicines implicitly contains within it the implication that marijuana is at least a medicine -- and therefore not a hoax.

But the argument is fundamentally flawed. Medicine is an individual matter. The best medicine for me, for a given condition, might not be the best one for you, even if you suffer from the same condition, and vice versa. Doubtless some medications stand out as having a superior track record overall to other ones -- some doubtless stand out for their negatives too, and there may even be some conditions for which one choice of medicine really is the best one across the board. But in general that's not the case -- the idea that there is one best medicine, for all patients, is a false one, and being the "best" is not the standard that's in place for approval of a drug as a medicine. The standard is that the drug has medical benefit, and can be taken with a sufficient degree of safety. Those who argue that there are better medicines than marijuana are applying a double standard, and one that doesn't really make sense.

So who's committing the hoax? (Hint: Not I.)

Canada: Health Canada Gives Okay to Sativex for Cancer Patients

Health Canada announced Tuesday it has approved Sativex, a marijuana-derived sublingual spray, for use as a pain reliever in patients suffering from advanced cancer. Sativex contains THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, as well as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound.

The drug, manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British concern, and Bayer, can now be used by adult cancer patients who experience moderate to severe pain even while using the highest tolerated doses of opioid pain medications. Previously, its use in Canada had been limited to multiple sclerosis patients.

Like its use for MS, Sativex's use in cancer patients was approved under Health Canada's Notice of Compliance with Conditions policy, which means that while Sativex has demonstrated promising benefits, is of high quality, and possesses an acceptable safety profile, it still needs further study.

"Cannabinoids have an important role in treating complex cancer pain, particularly neuropathic pain, and demonstrate a positive effect with current treatment options," Dr. Lawrence Librach, the director of the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, said in a Health Canada release.

"GW is delighted to receive Health Canada's regulatory approval for Sativex in the relief of cancer pain," said GW chairman Dr. Geoffrey Guy. "Sativex has been shown to provide important pain relief to the most high need patients with advanced cancer. We are pleased to be able to offer the prospect of an improved quality of life for people who previously had little such opportunity."

Press Release: Report Reveals Massive Inefficiencies in Government's Medical Cannabis Program, Urges Cost Coverage for Medicine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- August 9, 2007 CONTACT: Rielle Capler, T: 604-875-0214, E: Report Reveals Massive Inefficiencies in Government's Medical Cannabis Program, Urges Cost Coverage for Medicine A report released today by the BC Compassion Club Society (BCCCS) uncovers massive spending inefficiencies in Health Canada's Medical Cannabis program. It was recently discovered that the government is marking up their supply of cannabis by 1500%--and that many people who have ordered the government's supply are unable to afford it and have been cut off from accessing this sole legal source. The BCCCS felt this situation warranted further scrutiny of the cultivation contracts between Health Canada and its supplier of cannabis, Prairie Plant Systems (PPS). The report's highlights include findings that: 63% of the cannabis Health Canada buys from PPS is unusable, at a cost of $220,000 this year; and 80% of the total cost of the government program are operational costs, including the cost of reports at a price of $86,740 per month. These are some of the costs being passed on to patients. The original contract between Health Canada and PPS began in December 2000, with the cost of the contract now totaling over $10 million. The report finds that community-based dispensaries are more cost-effective--while also providing higher quality services to many more people who suffer from critical and chronic illnesses. It costs the government $500,000 more per year to serve 10 times fewer people than the BC Compassion Club. The BC Compassion Club, a non-profit medical cannabis dispensary, just celebrated its 10th year anniversary of distributing high quality cannabis to over 4000 critically and chronically ill Canadians. Together compassion clubs across the country serve an estimated 10,000 people, whereas Health Canada's program has licensed only about 1,700 Canadians, of whom only 350 are accessing their cannabis from PPS. "Health Canada is requiring taxpayers and medical cannabis patients to fund inefficient practices, capital upgrades, and equipment for a private contractor. Instead of providing affordable medicine to those in need, Health Canada has chosen a policy and program that seemingly creates a windfall for one monopoly supplier," states Rielle Capler, the report's author. The report highlights the need for cost coverage of this important medicine, regardless of the source. "The cost of cannabis for those in medical need must be covered under Canada's universal health care system as it is for other medicine," says Ms. Capler. The Attorney General's office is in the early stages of an audit of certain user fees in Health Canada's program. The Vancouver Island Compassion Society (VICS) is currently in court with a constitutional challenge of the government's program. Senator Pierre Claude Nolin and Lynne Belle-Isle of the Canadian AIDS Society testified against the program this week in Victoria. "It's clear from the testimony of patients enrolled in this program that the cost is an obstacle to safe access to medical cannabis," said Philippe Lucas, director of VICS. "Compassion clubs have long urged the government to explore cost-coverage options through provincial or federal funds." To see the report:

Press Release: New Organization Advocates Compassion for Medical Marijuana Patients in Kansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2007 CONTACT: Laura A. Green, Coalition Director, Kansas Compassionate Care Coalition, T: 785-865-9001 (office) or 785-550-4757 (mobile), E:, Web: New Organization Advocates Compassion for Medical Marijuana Patients in Kansas Poll shows 62% of Kansans would not oppose a law protecting patients from arrest A new, grassroots organization has been created in Kansas to advocate for legal protection of patients who use medical marijuana and for physicians who recommend the drug as part of a treatment program. The group, known as the Kansas Compassionate Care Coalition, is committed to supporting those who use marijuana as a last resort when more traditional medications prove ineffective in addressing the effects of chronic pain, cancer, chemotherapy, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma and other serious conditions. “Our objectives are simple: To allow physicians – not politicians – to make decisions about what is best for patients and to protect citizens from the risk of arrest simply because they’re trying to gain relief from a major medical problem,” said Coalition Director Laura Green. A nationwide Gallup Poll conducted in 1999 found that 73 percent of American adults favor “making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering.” Twelve states that make up about 22 percent of the U.S. population already have enacted laws that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes. An estimated 115,000 Americans have obtained physician recommendations to use marijuana for medical purposes in states with existing medical marijuana laws, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition, a growing number of mainstream medical organizations have voiced support for the use of medical marijuana under a physician’s supervision, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association. The New England Journal of Medicine also has editorialized in favor of patient access to marijuana. “No one should face the ordeal of arrest and possibly prison because they want to feel better,” Green said. “That’s why the Compassionate Care Coalition is working closely with state legislators, law enforcement officials, healthcare leaders and others to pass laws that will help our fellow Kansans in their time of need.” In Kansas, the possession of any amount of marijuana for whatever purpose currently is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Cultivation of five or more marijuana plants, even for medical purposes, is a felony punishable by 11 to 17 years in prison. Green said that common misconceptions about medical marijuana have been shown to be inaccurate. A 2002 study by the Government Accounting Office, for example, found no evidence that abuse of medical marijuana laws was routinely occurring in states that had passed medical marijuana legislation. “We look forward to working with the growing number of Kansans who believe that our fellow residents have a right to access medical marijuana if it is recommended by their physician,” Green said. The Kansas Compassionate Care Coalition currently has more than 400 members and chapters in NE Kansas and Wichita. The group includes concerned patients, doctors, nurses, caregivers and others. For more information see the coalition web site, # # #
United States

and yet another letter from a medical marijuana patient that the feds claim don't exist...

We received this message earlier in the week:
I have had to move back home to a state that does not allow the medical use of marijuana -- the state I was in before, Maine, allowed it -- and it is very hard for me to find relief from my pain now. My doctor has increased my medications twofold, and I do not get the pain control I had on 1/2 the narcotics with the smoke. I just hope some day the government will stop demonizing a very useful tool, and allow us who really get relief from it without abuse of the drug.
United States

ASA’s Media Summary for the Week Ending 8/03/07

ASA ACTION: Pursuing the Truth about Medical Marijuana FEDERAL: DEA Interfering with Medical Marijuana Dispensaries OREGON: Feds Escalating Investigation of Patients CALIFORNIA: Merced Patient Wants Seized Property Back CALIFORNIA: Implementation Around the State CALIFORNIA: Dispensary Debates Continue RESEARCH: Biased Reporting Skews Findings -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ASA ACTION: Pursuing the Truth about Medical Marijuana When ASA petitioned to correct misinformation about medical marijuana spread by the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, the agencies stalled for two years and then refused to respond. So ASA filed suit to force the issue. The judge hearing the case has indicated that ASA may be able to make the government respond, but may have no legal recourse to correct the false information. Yet the law says federal agencies must rely on sound science in the information they disseminate, so ASA will first try to get an answer. And if that answer does not acknowledge the consensus of doctors and scientists about the medical efficacy of marijuana, there will be an appeal. Suit Over Pot's 'Benefit' Stumbles by Matthew Hirsch, The Recorder (CA) An Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit can't put the federal government on trial for saying that marijuana has no medical use -- but it might get to challenge the government for blowing deadlines, a federal judge in California ruled last week. Americans for Safe Access sued in February after two federal agencies refused to alter government-published statements saying marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use in the United States." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FEDERAL: DEA Interfering with Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In the week after the coordinated raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, editorial pages and patient protests around the state have denounced the interference with state and local handling of public health matters. Collusion between the DEA and rogue elements of the LAPD is being investigated, and local officials are calling for changes in the law. Feds, LAPD freeze Berkeley pot club's assets by Paul T. Rosynsky, Oakland Tribune A city-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensary had its assets frozen this week, prompting some city council members to call for new city laws protecting such businesses. Berkeley medical pot club raided by Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle The Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seized the assets of a Berkeley marijuana club Tuesday, following a raid of its sister club in Los Angeles. Backers of medical marijuana protest raids by John Asbury, Press-Enterprise (CA) Medical-marijuana advocates staged a protest in front of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration building in Riverside on Friday to oppose recent raids on Southern California distributors. DEA's Scarlet Letter by Celeste Fremon, LA Weekly The DEA and the City of Los Angeles are at war over medical marijuana. On one side of the fight is the Drug Enforcement Administration, which seems to be doing all within its power to shut down the 180 or so medical-marijuana collectives (as dispensaries are called) in Los Angeles County. COMMENT Only Congress can resolve pot battle EDITORIAL, Daily Breeze (CA) In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana users could be federally prosecuted, though the court did suggest that supporters of medical marijuana could lobby Congress to change the law. That's where municipal leaders who support regulating medical marijuana at the local level should place their energies. Federal intervention EDITORIAL, Los Angeles Daily News Feds, back off. That's what the Los Angeles City Council and medical marijuana advocates hope will happen by adopting a moratorium on new dispensaries and bringing current ones into compliance while stricter rules are written. Why Don't More Republicans Oppose the DEA's Medical Marijuana Raids? by Jacob Sullum, Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted for a measure that asked the federal government to stop harassing medical marijuana users in California. Minutes later, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County. Fed's medipot raid priorities are out of whack by Thomas Elias, Columnist, San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA) There's something almost idiotic about the obviously confused and misguided way in which federal authorities are trying to enforce anti-marijuana laws in California today. DEAsy Pickings by Dan Bernstein, Columnist, Press-Enterprise (CA) I never realized the Drug Enforcement Agency gets the summer blahs, just like everybody else. But I happened to be talking with a friend who knows all about this stuff. DEA thwarts Montana's medical marijuana law by Robin C. Prosser, OpEd, Billings Gazette (MT) Five years ago, I starved myself to bring attention to the plight of the sick in Montana that need medical marijuana. Two years later, I worked hard on the campaign for our state medical marijuana initiative, which passed with more support than any other. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OREGON: Feds Escalating Investigation of Patients When the US Supreme Court told the federal government that the Constitution does not prevent them from prosecuting medical marijuana patients, government officials said that they would not be going after sick people, just “drug dealers.” Yet they have systematically targeted those who help patients in California obtain their medicine, and now they appear to be secretly preparing for attacks on patients in Oregon. Feds strike medical pot growers by Nick Budnick, Portland Tribune (OR) A secret federal grand jury is duking it out with the state of Oregon to obtain the confidential records of some medical marijuana patients, the Portland Tribune has learned. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CALIFORNIA: Merced Patient Wants Seized Property Back Since ASA began its Return of Property Campaign, patients in California have had fewer problems getting back medical marijuana wrongfully seized in law enforcement encounters. And when there is a problem, patients understand better that they have rights they can insist be respected, as in the case of a Merced man. Medical pot user challenging city by Scott Jason, Merced Sun-Star (CA) Sam Matthews doesn't mind blowing a sweet, thick cloud of marijuana smoke in the city's face. The 25-year-old resident has challenged just about every city official to get the police to return two handfuls of medical marijuana. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CALIFORNIA: Implementation Around the State While state law does not set limits on how much marijuana a patient can possess, leaving that to doctors and patients to decide, the state has set minimum amounts that local authorities must accept without question. Some counties and cities are setting guidelines that allow patients to grow and possess more, without it being specified by a doctor, and one local sheriff has created an ID system for the plants to ensure none will be wrongfully destroyed. Doctors are also developing procedures and standards for the writing of recommendations. Counties, cities set their own marijuana limits by Paul Boerger, Mt. Shasta News (CA) It hasn't happened in Siskiyou County yet, but elected officials in other California counties and cities have passed ordinances governing how many marijuana plants and how much processed plant a legitimate user of medical marijuana may possess at one time. Allman: Zip-ties are in by Mike A'Dair, Willits News The zip-ties are in. So says Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman. The zip-ties are an effort by Allman to reduce the element of fraud in the medical marijuana industry. Goleta Doctor Cracks Down on Pot-Seeking Patients by Barney Brantingham, Santa Barbara Independent You can amble down to one of Santa Barbara’s eight medical marijuana shops, letter from a doctor in hand, and score pot to ease your physical woes. But getting that letter might be a lot harder than some people seem to think, especially if you try to make an appointment with Dr. David Bearman, a well-known Goleta physician. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CALIFORNIA: Dispensary Debates Continue The federal government is trying to intimidate Californians into abandoning its medical marijuana program, but many local officials have recognized that dispensaries not only provide an irreplaceable service for their most seriously ill citizens but allow for closer monitoring. The benefits are outlined in ASA’s statewide study, which is at Those who have refused to permit regulated dispensary operations are facing legal challenges from patients. Pleasanton takes lid off medical pot issue by Meera Pal, Contra Costa Times Dressed in a suit and tie, Pleasanton resident Kirk Warren is the last person one would point to as a medical marijuana user. Warren, an executive for a Fortune 500 company, recently went public when he attended a Pleasanton City Council meeting to put a face to the medical marijuana issue. Heated prescription pot users to sue county over canni-ban KGET NBC TV Bakersfield Medical marijuana users said they will sue the county over the closure of local pot shops. They’re angry because Sheriff Donny Youngblood, with the blessing of Board of Supervisors, has stopped issuing permits for the medical pot clinics. Plan to limit new medical marijuana dispensaries OK'd by council by Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News Ban will last a year, while a more detailed ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries is drafted. Pot store moratorium extended by Tania Chatila, San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA) The city continued a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries but could make it permanent in the next few months. Hayward City Council secretly snuffs pot club by Rachel Cohen, ANG Newspapers More than a dozen patients from the Hayward Patients Resources Center pleaded with council members at the meeting to keep the city's last medical marijuana dispensary open. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RESEARCH: Biased Reporting Skews Findings When another research study is released showing that smoking marijuana is not only far less harmful than smoking tobacco but actually has an apparent protective quality for those who smoke both, one might expect the news reports to tout marijuana’s healthful benefits. But instead, reporters have mischaracterized questionable findings on a single measure of lung function not associated with disease. Such sensationalism serves the government's agenda but not the public interest. Study: 1 joint is as bad as 5 cigarettes Associated Press A single joint of marijuana obstructs the flow of air as much as smoking up to five tobacco cigarettes, but long-term pot use does not increase the risk of developing emphysema, new research suggests. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MORE ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS Find out more about ASA at our website
United States

Feds Bust Former Portland Police Detective for Medical Marijuana

Portland, OR
United States
Publication/Source: (OR)

Women Advancing Medical Cannabis March

Please come get involved! You are cordially invited to join with Women Advancing Medical Cannabis for a symbolic march to City Hall. We will display our patriotism as citizens dedicated to the will of the people and our empathy for all patients who feel bereft of hope that safe access will remain a reality. We at WAMC are your sisters, mothers, lovers and friends. We need your support more than ever before. If you would like to RSVP, please do so to; our website is still blossoming but available at, as well as our MySpace, at We have flyers available for you to print and distribute at our website and MySpace, and some of your favorite collectives will have them as well. We are in the process of organizing provided transportation via bus and van, so please let us know if you are interested so that we may reserve the necessary amount of seats for what will be a united, beautifully orchestrated arrival of many of us at once. (Again, some of your favorite collectives may have sign-up sheets concerning transportation.) We urge all interested parties to march alongside us - be they in wheelchairs, walkers, canes or in need of someone to lean on while we make our way up to City Hall. How you 'march' is how you feel, and it shows. WHO ARE THESE WOMEN? We are not Sondheim's Ladies Who Lunch. We have little appreciation for cocktails of Flexeril, Ambien, Oxycodone or Actiq followed by multiple Mimosas. We are concerned patients who are dedicated to the further enrichment of the Medical Cannabis community and survival of safe access for all patients. We are your mothers, sisters, daughters and partners; we seek to merge these traits into the minds of those who know not what a 'patient is'. We hope to see you there. Spread the word! The more the merrier. Thank you! Lauren Rothman Women Advancing Medical Cannabis E-mail:
Wed, 08/15/2007 - 9:00am
255 E. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA
United States

City firm on pot lawsuit

Claremont, CA
United States
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (CA)

A Peek Inside a Marijuana Dispensary

United States

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