Medical Marijuana

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DrugSense FOCUS Alert: Use Medical Marijuana - Lose Your Job

In the latest blow to medical marijuana rights, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers can fire workers who test positive for the drug, even when it is used under a physician's advice. "Nothing in the text or history of the Compassionate Use Act suggests the voters intended the measure to address the respective rights and duties of employers and employees," wrote Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar in the 15-page opinion. "Under California law, an employer may require pre-employment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions...The Compassionate Use Act does not eliminate marijuana's potential for abuse or the employer's legitimate interest in whether an employee uses the drug." The decision is on line here: "The majority's holding disrespects the will of California's voters, "wrote Justice Joyce L. Kennard, whose dissent was joined by Justice Carlos R. Moreno, calling the decision "conspicuously lacking in compassion." The voters "surely never intended that persons who availed themselves" of the medical marijuana act "would thereby disqualify themselves from employment," Kennard wrote. Thus five of the seven justices - who will never face a drug test - showed their contempt for the people of California. Daily newspapers throughout California, as well as major national newspapers, covered the story. Please write letters to the editor to your local newspapers giving your views about the decision. A sample of the coverage may be found at this link: ********************************************************************** Style guides for writing effective letters to the editor are available at MAP's Media Activism Center: ********************************************************************** Please Send Us a Copy of Your Letter Please send copies of your letters to the sent letter list ( if you are subscribed, or email a copy to if you are not subscribed.
United States

Press Release: CA Supreme Court Denies Medical Marijuana Patients' Right to Work

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] For Immediate Release: January 24, 2008 Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford (415) 573-7842 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes (510) 681-6361 CA Supreme Court Denies Medical Marijuana Patients' Right to Work Advocates to call on state legislature to prevent discrimination Sacramento, CA -- The California Supreme Court ruled against medical marijuana patient Gary Ross today in his fight against employment discrimination. In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court claimed that Ross could not rely on the Fair Housing and Employment Act or the state's medical marijuana law to prevent discrimination at the workplace. The Court did indicate in its decision that the state legislature had not adequately clarified employment rights of medical marijuana patients. "Obviously, we are very disappointed by today's decision," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana advocacy organization that argued the case. "However, we remain hopeful that the legislature will come to the aid of patients by preventing the sort of discrimination that is likely to occur from such a decision." The dissenting opinion, written by Justice Joyce L. Kennard, stated that the ruling "has seriously compromised the Compassionate Use Act, denying to those who must work for a living its promised benefits." Despite a clearly worded amicus "friend of the court" brief filed in support of Ross in July 2006 by all of the original co-authors of SB 420 (state legislation that helped to define the rights of medical marijuana patients), the Supreme Court failed to believe that it was the intent of the entire legislature. Advocates assert that they will seek a different response from the state legislature in the form of a bill introduced in the next few weeks. Gary Ross, a 45-year old disabled veteran and a medical marijuana patient living in Carmichael, California, is at the forefront of a landmark employment case, with significant ramifications for patients in California and across the country. Ross was fired in September 2001 for failing an employer-mandated drug test while working as a systems engineer for RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc. "All I am asking is to be a productive member of society," said plaintiff Gary Ross. "I was not fired for poor work performance, but for an antiquated policy on medical marijuana,” continued Ross. “This practice allows employers to undermine state law and the protections provided for patients.” Ross's physician recommended cannabis for chronic back pain that resulted from injuries sustained during his military service. But Ross's employer, RagingWire Telecommunications, refused to make an exception to its policy of terminating anyone testing positive for marijuana. Ross filed suit after he was fired in 2001, arguing that RagingWire illegally discriminated against him because of his condition. However, a Sacramento Superior Court, and then the Third Appellate District Court both rejected his argument. In October 2005, ASA appealed to the California Supreme Court on behalf of Ross. Strong public support has been shown for Ross and the plight of California patients to seek and maintain employment. Since it began recording instances of employment discrimination in 2005, ASA has received hundreds of such reports from across California. Companies that have either fired patients from their job, threatened them with termination, or denied them employment because of patient status or a positive test for marijuana, include Costco Wholesale, UPS, Foster Farms Dairy, DirecTV, the San Joaquin Courier, Power Auto Group, as well as several construction companies, hospitals, and various trade union employers. Further information: Today's California Supreme Court decision: Photo of Gary Ross: Legislative-based amicus brief: Review legal briefs and more about the Ross v. RagingWire case here:
Sacramento, CA
United States

Medical Marijuana: Employers Can Fire Users, California Supreme Court Rules

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers may fire workers who use medical marijuana in compliance with California's Compassionate Use Act -- even if they are off duty and even if their use does not affect their job performance. The ruling came in Ross v. Raging Wire Telecommunications.

In that case, Gary Ross, whose doctor recommended medical marijuana for chronic back pain resulting from an injury incurred while serving in the Air Force, was hired by Raging Wire as a systems engineer in 2001 and was required to take a drug test as a condition of employment. He provided the company with a copy of his doctor's recommendation, but the company fired him a week later because of a positive test result.

Ross sued, alleging that the company violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by not accommodating his disability. He also argued that the company fired him in violation of public policy because the Compassionate Use Act legalized medical marijuana in the state.

"All I am asking is to be a productive member of society," Ross said in a written statement. "I was not fired for poor work performance but for an antiquated policy on medical marijuana."

His case was watched with great interest by California medical marijuana users. Hundreds have complained of being fired, threatened with firing, or not being hired as a result of their medical marijuana use.

But in siding with employers, the state high court said the Compassionate Use Act protected users only from criminal prosecution. "Nothing in the text or history of the Compassionate Use Act suggests the voters intended the measure to address the respective rights and duties of employers and employees," wrote Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdeger for the majority. "Under California law, an employer may require pre-employment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions."

Additionally, Werdeger noted, even though medical marijuana is legal under state law it remains illegal under federal law, and "the FEHA does not require employers to accommodate the use of illegal drugs."

Justice Joyce Kennard was scathing in her dissent. The decision was "conspicuously lacking in compassion," she wrote. "The majority's holding disrespects the will of California's voters." The voters "surely never intended that persons who availed themselves" of the medical marijuana act "would thereby disqualify themselves from employment," Kennard said.

Reaction was rapid and only beginning on Thursday evening. The Los Angeles Times reported that Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) announced the same day he would introduce legislation to prevent employers from discriminating against medical marijuana users. "The people of California did not intend that patients be unemployed in order to use medical marijuana," he said.

Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) told the Times the decision was a slap at patients. "The court is claiming tha California voters intended to permit medical use of marijuana, but only if you're willing to be unemployed and on welfare," Mirken said. "That is ridiculous on its face, as well as cruel."

The ability of medical marijuana users to function in society is not just an issue in California. Legislative efforts are afoot in Oregon to explicitly allow employers to fire medical marijuana users. In Montana, the Department of Corrections wants to ban probationers and parolees from using medical marijuana. In some other states, like Rhode Island, protections for users are written into the law. Look for a feature article on this issue next week in the Chronicle.

Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Paraplegic Sues Over Seizure of Plants, Grow Equipment

One of New Mexico's first registered medical marijuana patients is suing Eddy County Sheriff's deputies for seizing his marijuana plants and grow equipment and turning them over to the DEA. Leonard French of Malaga received a license to grow and use marijuana for pain resulting from a spinal cord injury, but that didn't stop the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, headed by Dave Edmundson of the Eddy County Sheriff's Department, from seizing his plants and equipment shortly after he began growing last summer.
California medical marijuana bags (courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
Now, with the help of the ACLU of New Mexico, French has filed a lawsuit in state court seeking a declaratory judgment that the task force's actions violated the state's medical marijuana law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, as well as its asset forfeiture statute; an injunction to stop the task force from again raiding French and his garden; and compensatory damages for his stolen property.

"The New Mexico state legislature, in its wisdom, passed the Compassionate Use Act after carefully considering the benefits the drug provides for people who suffer from uncontrollable pain, and weighing those benefits against the way federal law considers cannabis," said Peter Simonson, ACLU executive director, in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "With their actions against Mr. French, Eddy County officials thwarted that humane, sensible law, probably for no other reason than that they believed federal law empowered them to do so."

When at least four Eddy County deputies acting as members of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force showed up at French's home last September 4, he thought they were checking his compliance with the medical marijuana law, so he presented them with his license, and showed them his grow, which consisted of two small plants and three dead sprouts. They then turned the plants and the grow equipment over to the DEA, which does not recognize medical marijuana or the state laws that permit its use. French has not been charged with any offense under either state or federal law.

"With the Compassionate Use Act, New Mexico embarked on an innovative project to help people who suffer from painful conditions like Mr. French's," said Simonson. "The law cannot succeed if the threat of arrest by county and local law enforcement hangs over participants in the program. With this lawsuit, we hope to clear the way for the State to implement a sensible, conservative program to apply a drug that traditionally has been considered illicit for constructive purposes."

And maybe teach some recalcitrant cops a lesson about obeying the law.

Internship Opportunity: Americans for Safe Access, Washington, DC

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens working to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. The organization is currently seeking graduate and undergraduate interns in their Washington DC office. Qualified candidates will work closely with ASA's Government Affairs department to research policy issues, facilitate grassroots outreach and assist with administrative work.

Intern responsibilities will vary but in general include administrative support to the Government Affairs staff; researching and reviewing medical cannabis policy topics; and drafting correspondence, fact sheets, memos, and other advocacy materials for federal policy makers. Interns will also be responsible for attending hearings and briefings and accompanying ASA staff at various meetings when appropriate.

Candidates should be prepared to demonstrate a willingness to undertake unfamiliar initiatives with enthusiasm and creativity, and possess some knowledge about the issues facing medical cannabis patients and their providers nationwide. Applicants should possess a sense of humor, excellent research, communication and organizational skills, have the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously while working independently or as a team, and have some basic understanding of the federal legislative process. Some prior campaign experience preferred but not necessary.

The internship is an unpaid experience, but ASA staff will work to ensure academic credit is received, if applicable. Interns are expected to work in ASA's Washington, DC office between 15-30 hours per week. The minimum duration of an internship is 8 weeks.

To apply, please fax or e-mail a cover letter, resume, and short writing sample (no more than 5 pages) to ASA at (510) 251-2036 or

No phone calls, please -- all applicants will be notified of receipt of their applications; only selected applicants will be contacted for phone or in-person interviews.

ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: 1/18/08

NEW MEXICO: Patient Suing Sheriff, County over Federal Raid

Within weeks of New Mexico implementing its medical cannabis law, federal agents, with the help of local sheriff’s deputies, raided the home of a paraplegic and seized his medicine. The raid outraged the state’s governor Bill Richardson, who sent an angry letter to Washington demanding that the federal government stop interfering in New Mexico’s efforts to care for its citizens. Now the man who was victimized is suing the county and local officers for their part in subverting the state law.

Lawsuit says deputies targeted man for medical marijuana
Associated Press
A paraplegic man from Malaga has sued Eddy County sheriff's deputies. Leonard French alleges they seized marijuana plants and equipment to grow them last summer despite the fact he has a license under New Mexico's medical marijuana law.

N.M. man sues deputies over pot seizure
A wheelchair-bound man is suing Eddy County deputies for seizing marijuana that he says he was using for medical purposes.

ACLU files suit over raid
by Tom Moody, Current-Argus (NM)
A paraplegic Malaga man who holds a medical marijuana permit from the state of New Mexico filed a lawsuit Thursday against Eddy County and several county law officers for their part in a drug raid that seized his marijuana plants and growing equipment, attorneys announced.

COLORADO: Police Pursued for Damaged Cannabis

The landmark court order for the return of medical marijuana to a Colorado couple got them their plants back, but in unusable condition. With the help of attorney Brian Vicente, director of the Colorado Campaign for Safe Access, the couple is now pursuing damages based on federal estimates of the plants’ value. State law has a provision that requires law enforcement to return wrongfully seized medical marijuana in good condition.

Couple seeks compensation for pot
by Trevor Hughes, The Coloradoan
In what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind request for Colorado, a Fort Collins couple is demanding police pay them more than $200,000 for improperly confiscating and destroying 39 marijuana plants.

Couple to ask police to pay for dead marijuana
by Jeffrey Wolf, KUSA 9News TV (CO)
A couple plans to file for compensation after they say police destroyed their medical marijuana.

Fort Collins couple to ask city for reimbursement for dead marijuana plants
The Coloradoan
The attorney for James and Lisa Masters, whose 39 medical marijuana plants were seized by Fort Collins police and later destroyed, plans to file a motion this afternoon asking the city pay the couple for the destroyed plants.

Couple Wants Police To Pay For Damaged Marijuana Plants
by Lance Hernandez, KMGH TV News7 - Denver
James and Lisa Masters said they want to send a message to police departments all across Colorado. The couple and one of their attorneys filed a motion late Thursday seeking compensation for 39 damaged medical marijuana plants.

Medical Marijuana Users Seek $200K For Lost Stash
by Emil Steiner, Columnist, Washington Post
Today in Fort Collins, Colo., a lawyer will walk into a court house and ask the city to pay his clients for destroying their marijuana. The motion for compensation asks Fort Collins to fork over $202,800, the most money ever sought for the destruction of a drug.

CANADA: Court Ruling Allows Patient Choice

Medical marijuana patients in Canada have been complaining about the quality of the government-provided medicine for some time. But they should soon have more choices, thanks to a court ruling that has tossed out government limitations on who can grow medical marijuana for patients. The government contractor who currently supplies medical cannabis is trying to scare patients about safety, but it was the discovery of dangerous heavy metals in the government’s cannabis (which is grown in an abandoned mine) that spurred many patients to call for alternatives. Growers are already coming forward to offer more variety to patients.

Be compassionate
by Colby Cosh, OpEd, National Post (Canada)
Once again a Canadian court has spoken up and said it's time for the federal government to stop choking off supplies of medical marijuana to the more than 2,000 users it licenses. And once again, the government is expected to seek every conceivable obstacle, use every possible loophole and exhaust every avenue of appeal that might help delay the adoption of a logical, humane medical marijuana policy.

Medical pot users can choose supplier: court
by Anne Kyle, Saskatchewan News Network, Regina Leader-Post (Canada)
Medical marijuana users such as Tom Shapiro will now have more choices when it comes to finding a supplier as a result of a Federal Court ruling striking down a key government regulation governing the controversial program.

New Pot Ruling Not A Concern For Local Police
by Craig Huckerby, SooNews (Canada)
Last week's decision to challenge the federal government and its controversial medical marijuana program means more growers of the weed will be allowed to administer the drug to approved patients meaning an end to the government's monopoly on pot.

Ruling disappoints medical pot producer
by Darren Bernhardt, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (Canada)
Health Canada's contract producer for medicinal marijuana fears patient safety and product quality will suffer as a result of a federal court ruling that relaxes government restrictions and allows other growers to become suppliers.

Medical marijuana grower ready to expand after ruling
CanWest News Service
A company in Duncan on Vancouver Island is gearing up to supply nearly 300 customers with medical marijuana in the wake of a federal court ruling striking down a key restriction on sales of the drug.

DISPENSARIES: Access Important for Patients

ASA’s study of dispensaries in California has found that a majority of patients in urban areas have come to rely on them for safe, consistent access. But the role of dispensaries in meeting patient needs is seen most clearly in the case of elderly patients who would otherwise have no access to either medical marijuana or information about using it. A UC Berkeley researcher has also found that many dispensaries offer critical social support services to the most seriously ill. More on how dispensaries meet the needs of patients and communities can be seen at

First marijuana clinic in Riverside to open Thursday
by Gregor McGavin, Press-Enterprise (CA)
An 80-year-old great-grandmother from Temecula could be the first person to get a legal recommendation in the city of Riverside to use marijuana for medicinal reasons.

Business-license refusal for med-pot shops upheld
by Roger Phelps, El Dorado Hills Telegraph (CA)
County supervisors Jan. 8 denied an appeal of a business-license refusal for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of El Dorado County.

County moves toward a ban on pot clubs
by Ryan Huff, Contra Costa Times (CA)
Contra Costa supervisors took the first step toward prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county on Tuesday, aiming to pass a new ban by March.

Santa Clarita Planners Pass On Grass
by Katherine Geyer, The Signal (Santa Clarita, CA)
Santa Clarita Planning Commissioners just said no to marijuana Tuesday night when they unanimously approved a city code change that prohibits the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city.

Buellton council bans marijuana dispensaries
by Julian J. Ramos, Lompoc Record (CA)
With no public opposition, the Buellton City Council has moved to permanently ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

IDAHO: City Advised to Ignore Will of Voters

When voters approved an initiative that grants medical marijuana patients an exemption from the enforcement of criminal statutes they no doubt expected local officials and law enforcement to comply. But the city attorney is trying to circumvent the will of the voters.

Attorney tells Hailey to slash marijuana reforms
by Cassidy Friedman, Twin Falls Times-News (ID)
Strip the teeth from three Hailey marijuana reform initiatives - right down to the gums. That's what Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson proposed Monday night to a city council that has already voiced considerable reluctance about the initiatives passed by voters in November.

MONTANA: Attempt to Limit State Law Condemned

Corrections officials in Montana are trying to prevent anyone on parole or probation from being part of the state’s medical marijuana program, even though they do not similarly forbid the use of other prescription medications. And why would they? Medical treatment is something we trust doctors to determine in consultation with their patients. Prison guards are in no position to second-guess physicians’ prescriptions or treatment recommendations.

Guest Opinion: DOC policy would violate medical marijuana law
by Edwin Stickney, OpEd, Billings Gazette (MT)
The Montana Department of Corrections is trying to ban the use of medical marijuana by anyone on parole or probation. This proposal is almost certainly illegal for numerous reasons. Among these is the fact that Montana's medical marijuana law clearly allows anyone suffering from certain medical conditions, with a doctor's recommendation, to use medical marijuana.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

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

California Weekly Round Up
by Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
Medical Marijuana and the 2008 Presidential Candidates


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

United States

Americans for Safe Access North Carolina Meeting

Americans for Safe Access' new western NC chapter is having its first public meeting this Sunday in Asheville, NC. ASA, based in California, is a great patient advocacy organization: ASAWNC has long-term goals for realizing North Carolina's potential to be the first legal medical marijuana state in the southeast. The public and the science is on our side. Please spread the word and attend if you can. Also, if you know of any folks who may want to be on ASAWNC's e-mail/newsletter list, please pass them along. I hope to see you there. - Ervin
Sun, 01/20/2008 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm
90 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC
United States

ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: 1/11/08

COLORADO: Another Return of Medical Marijuana

Another case of wrongfully seized medical cannabis has come to a happy close in Colorado, as a former Marine had his medicine returned by police. The return is thanks largely to landmark litigation brought in part by Brian Vicente, director of the Colorado Campaign for Safe Access, a joint project of Sensible Colorado and ASA. Even the Washington Post is taking note.

Aurora Police Return Marijuana To Former Marine
by Rick Sallinger, CBS 4 Denver
Police in Aurora have given back dozens of marijuana plants they seized. The owner claimed the pot was being used for medicinal purposes and he had a state issued card to back it up.

Medical Marijuana Payback Burns Colorado Police
by Emil Steiner, Washington Post
Policing pot in Colorado is about to get a lot more complicated. The kick-in-the-door raids SWAT teams have long employed could now cost cities hundreds of thousands of dollars following two landmark court decisions upholding the state's constitutional protection of medical marijuana. Under the rulings, police departments are required to return any marijuana and paraphernalia taken from state-sanctioned growers, and can be sued by those growers if the crops aren't preserved.

CANADA: Caregiver Limits Found Unconstitutional

A federal court in Canada has again found that country's policies on restricting access to medical cannabis to be unconstitutional, saying the current approach has "caused individuals a major difficulty with access." In this case, the issue is the number of patients for which a person may provide cannabis, which had been limited to a single patient per grower, and the government's requirement that those who cannot grow their own use the cannabis provided by the government's contractor. The court's decision opens up the possibility of a more efficient dispensary model, such as California's.

Federal Court strikes down regulation limiting growers of medical marijuana
Canadian Press
Canadians who are prescribed marijuana to treat their illnesses will no longer be forced to rely on the federal government as a supplier following a Federal Court ruling that struck down a key restriction in Ottawa's controversial medical marijuana program.

Canada court rejects supply limit on medical pot
Canadian Press
A Federal Court judge has struck down a government regulation that prevents medical marijuana growers from producing the drug for more than one patient.

IMPLEMENTATION: Cultivation Quantities Disputed

The number of plants patients are legally entitled to grow has been a source of contention in California since medical use was approved by the voters. Californians had the wisdom to recognize that the amounts patients would require could vary considerably, so they did not try to mandate medication amounts. Since then, law enforcement, courts, local officials and even municipal referenda have tried to establish limits, but the law is clear in its silence on the subject, and cannot be changed except by another statewide initiative. What the legislature and local entities can do, is provide guidance on the levels at which law enforcement can decline to investigate further or refer matters to the courts for decision.

Medical pot users arrested
by Stacia Glenn, San Bernardino Sun (CA)
JoAnn Cates, who has 16 great-grandchildren, seems an unlikely candidate to be handcuffed and hauled off to jail for growing a marijuana crop in her backyard.

Pro-pot measure returns to ballot
Press-Democrat (CA)
A landmark 2000 Mendocino County marijuana measure will be back before voters in the June primary, a move taken Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors after a contentious three-hour public hearing.

WASHINGTON: Workers’ Rights Again in Question

Medical cannabis patients continue to face persecution in the workforce for using the medication their doctors’ recommend, even away from the workplace and on their won time. Because the metabolites of cannabis are detectable for upwards of two weeks after use, standard drug tests mandated by many employers will show positive for even those qualified to use cannabis who do so only on their own time. While concerns about operating dangerous machinery may be worth considering, a similar standard should be applied to that which regulates those employees who are prescribed painkillers or other drugs with demonstrably greater effects on motor skills and judgment than cannabis.

Off-job pot use up for debate
by Associated Press, Seattle Times (WA)
A construction-industry group wants companies to have the legal right to bar users of medical marijuana from working in potentially hazardous jobs such as operating heavy machinery.

DISPENSARIES: Local Officials Challenged to Meet Need

Many patients rely on collectives for their medical cannabis because dispensaries typically provide not just a more efficient means of access but also support networks for the most seriously ill. Local officials that have implemented sound regulatory ordinances have found that they can both ensure patient needs are met and community concerns are addressed, as ASA’s statewide study shows. It can be downloaded at:

A medical marijuana dispensary could soon be opening in Templeton
KSBY - NBC TV 6 (San Luis Obispo)
The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission approved a permit request to open a facility to provide cannabis to patients with a prescription. The facility will provide counseling and educational services to patients when they receive the marijuana.

Medicinal pot supplier turns to court to stay in business
by Cathy Locke, Sacramento Bee (CA)
A medical marijuana advocate told El Dorado County officials that he will seek a court's permission to continue operating a dispensary for medical marijuana patients.

Tulare County looks to halt establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries
Visalia Times-Delta (CA)
A measure to temporarily stop the establishment of any new medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of Tulare County could be passed at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting.

City to consider ban of medical marijuana dispensaries
by Julian J. Ramos, Lompoc Record (CA)
Medical marijuana dispensaries in Buellton could be prohibited under an ordinance scheduled for a public hearing and introduction at tonight's City Council meeting.

Perris passes emergency ordinance to ban pot dispensaries
by Julissa McKinnon, Press Enterprise (CA)
The Perris City Council took the first step Tuesday night to quash any medical marijuana dispensaries that might be budding in town.

IN MEMORIAM: Patient Advocate Passes

A Michigan woman who became an outspoken advocate for medical cannabis after a son’s experience with cancer, died last week. Mae Nutt saw how cannabis helped her son fight the ravages of the disease and became a crusader for all patients as a result, speaking to the media and traveling to Washington, D.C. to testify before the DEA in the 1988 rescheduling hearings. Those hearings concluded with Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruling that it would be “arbitrary and capricious” for the DEA not to make cannabis immediately available by prescription, as scientific testimony had demonstrated that it is “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” The DEA refused to implement the judge’s ruling.

Woman who fought to legalize medical marijuana dies
by Tom Gilchrist, Bay City Times (MI)
Long before Mae Nutt was ''Grandma Marijuana,'' Mary Offenbecker simply knew her as a loving mother. Nutt, 86, a former Gladwin County resident who gained fame fighting to legalize marijuana for medical use, died Jan. 1 in California.

Longtime medical marijuana advocate dies at 86
by Tony Lascari, Midland Daily News (MI)
A longtime Beaverton resident who pushed for legalizing medical marijuana use has died.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

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

2007: ASA’s Year in Review
by Rebecca Saltzman
In the January edition of ASA’s monthly newsletter, we review much of what we accomplished in 2007.

California Weekly Round Up
by Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
California State Senator Carole Migden Takes a Stand for Safe Access; San Luis Obispo County Approves the Opening of the First Dispensing Collective; Mendocino Supervisors Vote to Limit Patients’ Access and Revisit Measure G; El Dorado County Denies Dispensing Collective Permit


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

United States

ASA’s Medical Marijuana in the News: 1/5/08

ASA ACTION: City of San Diego Sides with ASA on Patient Rights

When officials from three counties tried to opt out of California’s requirement that they issue medical marijuana patients ID cards, ASA’s legal team took action. ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford appeared in court on behalf of a coalition of advocacy groups to argue that state law must be respected, and won. San Diego County was alone in deciding to appeal the ruling, and now the city of San Diego has filed a brief arguing in favor of patients.

City files amicus brief for medical ID cards
by Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union Tribune
In the legal tug of war between the county and state over medical marijuana, the city of San Diego has sided with Sacramento – and voters.

County Wants Relief of Duty Providing ID Cards for Medical Marijuana Users
Fox 6 San Diego
The city of San Diego has taken the state's side against San Diego county in a battle about medical marijuana use, according to court documents.

County, City At Odds Over Medical Marijuana
NBC San Diego
The city of San Diego joined the fight in support of medicinal marijuana Friday, issuing a request to the state court to confirm that ailing patients have the right to use the drug for medicinal purposes.

MONTANA: Corrections Officials Try to Block Access

Medical care for Montanans under state supervision would be limited if corrections officials get their way. But there is substantial opposition to the plan, which would eliminate access to the state’s medical marijuana program for those on parole or probation.

Medical Pot Ban Sought for Parolees
by Mattt Gouras, Associated Press
Montana's Department of Corrections is facing stiff resistance to a proposal to prohibit all people on parole or probation from obtaining medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana - No medicine for parolees
by Patrick Duganz , Missoula News (MT)
Convicts on parole or probation in Montana currently have the same rights as anybody else to use medical marijuana as prescribed by a physician, but the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) wants to alter this policy because of a perception that parolees are “doctor shopping” for the legal medication.

NEW MEXICO: Patient Grateful, but Still Fearful

Federal officials routinely say they are not going after sick people who use medical marijuana, but their actions say otherwise. The federal response to New Mexico enacting a medical marijuana program was to raid the home of a paraplegic man with a handful of cannabis plants, an action that elicited an angry letter to Washington from New Mexico Governor and presidential-hopeful Bill Richardson. None of that is lost on this aging AIDS patient.

Where are they now? "Lisa," 62-year-old medical marijuana patient
Albuquerque Tribune (NM)
The only thing still keeping her together, sane and alive, she said, is that the state has given her a license to use and grow her own medical marijuana.

NEW JERSEY: Medical Marijuana Bill Languishes in Legislature

The governor has promised to sign a medical marijuana bill if it ever reaches his desk, but so far legislation has been blocked in a state senate committee, despite strong public support. This OpEd from the widow of an MS patient whose suffering was eased by medical marijuana points out that protecting patients from prosecution makes good fiscal sense.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Proposed bill cost-effective
by Jim Miller, OpEd, Asbury Park Press (NJ)
There is a health care proposal that a key New Jersey lawmaker refused to post for a floor vote. It's the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. The program's cost would have been negated by the registration fees charged to participants. It would have cost the state virtually nothing. It would have saved New Jersey money in other areas. Not only is the proposed bill financially feasible, it would have eased the suffering of so many seriously ill and dying residents.

FEDERAL: Nomination for US Attorney Bodes Ill for California

The US Attorney’s office in Northern California has proven repeatedly that it is not afraid to subvert the will of the people in its district, repeatedly prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers -- despite state law, local ordinances and overwhelming public support. The past actions of the new nominee for the post indicate he may make the conflict even more intense, if confirmed. But questions over his role in the Iran-Contra scandal make that confirmation less than a sure thing.

Drug Warrior's Shadow Looms Over California's Pot Clubs
by Steven Wishnia, AlterNet
Bush's pick for a CA prosecutor post of hardliner Joseph Russoniello signals a possible crack down on the state's multi-billion dollar pot industry.

CANADA: Crusading Patient Memorialized

As compelling as the thousands of scientific studies on medical uses of cannabis are, it is the experience of individual patients that has propelled the movement for legal access. That is no less true in Canada than the US.

Woman led fight to legalize medical marijuana
by Karen Kawawada, Waterloo Record (Canada)
In recent years, when people saw Catherine Devries of Kitchener, they saw a tiny and obviously ill woman who needed to use a wheelchair when she managed to get out of bed at all. But her family and friends don't remember the trail-blazing medical-marijuana activist as frail. Anything but.

SENIORS: Aging Americans Look to Medical Marijuana

The benefits of medical cannabis are particularly clear for older patients who frequently confront problems related to side effects and interactions between increasing numbers of prescription drugs. The broad-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabis means that it can frequently be substituted for multiple medications, reducing ‘polypharmacy’. Unfortunately, seniors have difficulty getting good information about medical marijuana, as evidenced by this piece from Consumer Affairs, which gets a host of facts flatly wrong. (For example, there are 12 states where medical marijuana is legally available, not the “more than half” the author claims.)

The Healthy Geezer: Medical Uses of Marijuana
by Fred Cicetti, Consumer Affairs
Q. I heard that marijuana helps glaucoma. I’d like to try it, but won’t I get in trouble?

DISPENSARIES: Operator Defends Safe Access

While many would like to dismiss those who operate medical cannabis dispensing collectives as mere drug dealers, the zeal with which those operators defend their patients suggests otherwise. While dealers will do anything to avoid law enforcement, dispensary operators typically seek out local officials to work out ways to remain where they can serve their patients, or even go to court.

West Slope: Cameron Park pot shop owner won't close without a fight
by Ken Paglia, Mountain Democrat (CA)
A Cameron Park medical marijuana dealer will be appealing El Dorado County's refusal to renew his business license.

CALIFORNIA: Medical Cannabis Conflict on North Coast

The voters in Ukiah on California’s northern coast made clear in a voter initiative seven years ago that they do not want local law enforcement interfering with qualified medical marijuana patients or providers. But some in the community remain resistant, with one group leading an effort to repeal the local ordinance. The local paper has even printed a negative article based on speculative opinion as part of a series of articles on medical cannabis.

'Pot docs' issuing 'Get Out of Jail Free' cards
by Linda Williams, OpEd?, Willits News
While most think of cancer and AIDS when hearing of medical marijuana, in recent years most marijuana recommendations have been issued for far less serious illnesses by a small cadre of "pot docs." Medical marijuana recommendations seem to be evolving into Get Out of Jail Free cards rather than treatment for serious medical conditions.

Ukiahan seeks to overturn Measure G
by Mike A'Dair, Willits News (CA)
Local television producer Jimmy Rickel has taken a bold step to answer former Congressman Dan Hamburg's challenge to put Measure G up to a vote.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

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

California Weekly Round Up
by Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
Oakland Mayor Dellums Speaks Out for Safe Access; Court Appeals Verdict: Patient’s Conviction is Reversed; Ukiah City Council Calls for Medicine Limits- Board of Supervisors to Consider Ballot Initiative; Orange County Begins Issuing Medical Cannabis ID Carrds


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

United States

Marijuana: Idaho Balks at Town's Pot Initiatives

Last month, voters in tiny Hailey, Idaho, approved three municipal initiatives that legalized medical marijuana, cultivation of industrial hemp, and ordered the city to make enforcement of state and federal marijuana laws the lowest law enforcement priority. Now, city officials have delayed acting on the initiatives, and Idaho's attorney general says the first two initiatives conflict with state law and are invalid and the third "is likely not an allowable subject for an initiative, and therefore invalid."

In the brief written by Deputy Attorney General Mitchell Toryanski, Toryanski said that in addition to conflicting with state law, the initiatives were also problematic on free speech grounds and because they affected the constitutional division of powers between the state and municipalities.

In the brief, Toryanski wrote that: "The Idaho Constitution guarantees that 'every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. The right to free speech includes the right not to speak.'"

Toryanski also cited Idaho case law on the division of powers to invalidate the lowest law enforcement priority initiative, noting that "while subjects of a legislative nature were allowable for local initiatives, subjects of an administrative nature were not."

"None of this surprises me in the least," Hailey city attorney Ned Williamson told Sun Valley Online. "There are at least three issues, three problems with the initiatives."

"The provision in the initiatives that require you guys to advocate for changes in law violate your freedom of speech and freedom of political discretion," Williamson said, referring to the requirement imposed on city officials to attempt to persuade officials in other cities, the county and anyone else to promote legal use of marijuana.

"The bottom line is that major provisions of the initiatives are illegal and are invalid," Williamson said. "It coincides with what I said in the past, and we have to decide how to proceed." Williamson said the city can choose between litigating, repealing or amending the initiatives.

Now, city officials have put off any decisions even on whether to move ahead with the oversight committees mandated by the initiatives. No word yet from the Idaho Liberty Lobby, the group that sponsored the initiatives.

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