Medical Marijuana

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American Medical Association Ends Opposition to Medical Marijuana

Enemies of medical marijuana have almost completely run out of talking points, and now they just lost one of their favorite remaining arguments:

HOUSTON --- The American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and called for further research. [Opposing Views]

I wonder how long it will take for the DEA to correct their website.

BREAKING: A Legal Victory for Patients


BREAKING:  Legal Victory for Patients and Providers

 

This morning, Sensible Colorado attorneys delivered a victory in overturning the Board of Health's 10/19/9 decision which limited patients rights.   See coverage of this story HERE

As background, late on Monday Nov. 2, Sensible Colorado received word that the state was holding a stealth meeting to narrow the definition of who could provide medical marijuana.  Our staff immediately sent out an alert and over 200 of our supporters responded by either calling-in or attending the Board's 11/3 meeting.  At that meeting, after refusing to hear from any affected patients or caregivers, the Board voted to require caregivers to provide supplementary-- and often unnecessary services-- beyond supplying medical marijuana to sick patients.

Today, Sensible Colorado Board member Robert Corry, along with staff member Brian Vicente, and attorney Lauren Davis, successfully argued that the 11/3 "stealth" meeting was a violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law.  After hearing about the state's complete disregard for public testimony and their lack of notice to affected parties, Chief Denver District Chief Larry Naves ruled in favor of patients and invalidated the Board's recent finding.

Sensible Colorado wants to thank the two patients involved in this lawsuit, as well as the hundreds of patients and supporters who attended-- or tried to attend-- these hearings. 

What does this mean for patients and providers?  Judge Naves ruling means that, under Colorado law, medical marijuana caregivers can continue to simply provide medical marijuana for patients and are not required to provide supplementary services.  Please stay tuned for further alerts, as this area of the law is dynamic.

We can't do this without your help!!  Please support the work of Sensible Colorado by becoming a monthly donor today.  Click HERE to help.

Location: 
CO
United States

Press Release: AMA Report Recognizes Medical Benefits of Marijuana, Urges Further Research

PRESS RELEASE Americans for Safe Access For Immediate Release: November 10, 2009 AMA Report Recognizes Medical Benefits of Marijuana, Urges Further Research Largest and oldest U.S. physician-based group reverses long-held position on medical marijuana Houston, TX -- The American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and called for further research. The CSAPH report concluded that, "short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis." Furthermore, the report urges that "the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods." The change of position by the largest physician-based group in the country was precipitated in part by a resolution adopted in June of 2008 by the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA in support of the reclassification of marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance. In the past year, the AMA has considered three resolutions dealing with medical marijuana, which also helped to influence the report and its recommendations. The AMA vote on the report took place in Houston, Texas during the organization's annual Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates. The last AMA position, adopted 8 years ago, called for maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with no medical value. "It's been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that marijuana has both already-demonstrated and future-promising medical utility," said Sunil Aggarwal, Ph.D., the medical student who spearheaded both the passage of the June 2008 resolution by the MSS and one of the CSAPH report's designated expert reviewers. "The AMA has written an extensive, well-documented, evidence-based report that they are seeking to publish in a peer-reviewed journal that will help to educate the medical community about the scientific basis of botanical cannabis-based medicines." Aggarwal is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the largest medical marijuana advocacy organization in the U.S. The AMA's about face on medical marijuana follows an announcement by the Obama Administration in October discouraging U.S. Attorneys from taking enforcement actions in medical marijuana states. In February 2008, a resolution was adopted by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine. The ACP resolution called for an "evidence-based review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance to determine whether it should be reclassified to a different schedule. "The two largest physician groups in the U.S. have established medical marijuana as a health care issue that must be addressed," said ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson. "Both organizations have underscored the need for change by placing patients above politics." Though the CSAPH report has not been officially released to the public, AMA documentation indicates that it: "(1) provides a brief historical perspective on the use of cannabis as medicine; (2) examines the current federal and state-based legal envelope relevant to the medical use of cannabis; (3) provides a brief overview of our current understanding of the pharmacology and physiology of the endocannabinoid system; (4) reviews clinical trials on the relative safety and efficacy of smoked cannabis and botanical-based products; and (5) places this information in perspective with respect to the current drug regulatory framework." Further information: Executive Summary of AMA Report: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report_Executive_Summary... Recommendations of AMA Report: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report_Recommendations.pdf American College of Physicians resolution: http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijua... df # # # With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

AMA Calls for Review of Medical Marijuana’s Legal Status

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           
NOVEMBER 10, 2009

AMA Calls for Review of Medical Marijuana’s Legal Status

New Policy Marks Historic Shift From Prior Stance

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications …………… 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

HOUSTON, TEXAS — In a move considered historic by supporters of medical marijuana, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates today adopted a new policy position calling for the review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act. The old language in Policy H-95.952 had previously recommended that “marijuana be retained in Schedule I,” which groups marijuana with drugs such as heroin, LSD and PCP that are deemed to have no accepted medical uses and to be unsafe for use even under medical supervision.

         The revised policy, adopted today, states, “Our AMA urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.” It goes on to explain that this position should not be construed as an endorsement of state medical marijuana programs.

         “This shift, coming from what has historically been America’s most cautious and conservative major medical organization, is historic,” said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, who attended the AMA meeting. “Marijuana’s Schedule I status is not just scientifically untenable, given the wealth of recent data showing it to be both safe and effective for chronic pain and other conditions, but it’s been a major obstacle to needed research.”

         Drugs listed in Schedule II, for which medical use is permitted with strict controls, include cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine. A pill containing THC, the component responsible for marijuana’s “high,” is classed in Schedule III, whose looser requirements allow phoned-in prescriptions.

         With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Marijuana Legalization Confusion in Connecticut

Drug policy reformers did a double-take today when the following "Budget Suggestions" were discovered on the website of Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell:

January 9, 2009: Decriminalize marijuana – allow for medicinal purposes and collect taxes on it purchase. Create a tax stamp for these packages – anyone caught with a bag of marijuana without the stamp should face harsher penalties than someone caught with a bag with a stamp.

February 3, 2009: Legalize marijuana and have the Department of Agriculture grow it for sale in 1 ounce bags -- sell it over the Internet.

March 2, 2009: Increase revenue by legalizing marijuana and administering its sale and tax to be sold in pharmacies as well as in liquor stores. Apply law enforcement standards currently used for alcohol. This would save money in not having to chase drug dealers and generate huge revenues.

This is surprising stuff to see on the site of a governor who'd vetoed medical marijuana legislation. And, unfortunately, it was too good to be true.

It turns out these ideas came from unnamed current or former state employees as part of a program called the Innovative Ideas Initiative. They're not endorsed by the Governor's Office, although a much better job could have been done to explain the source of the proposals when posting them under a picture of Gov. Rell. It wasn't until reporters started calling her office today asking about marijuana legalization that the whole story emerged.

So I suppose you could argue that there's not much of a story here, but I do find it amusing to see the debate over marijuana legalization popping up where you least expect it.

What Drives Medical Marijuana Prices In California?

When you take the time to look at what’s really going on with the suppliers of medical marijuana these days it’s no wonder that there is so much political opposition to medical marijuana dispensaries. What is really going on in the medical marijuana supply scene? GREED. When the people passed Proposition 215, they did so believing that the spirit of the law they were voting for would be followed, and it would mean that seriously ill people would be able to obtain and use a natural medicine to relieve their suffering. They never intended to give rise to huge profit machines that only benefit those with the ability to grow and distribute medical marijuana. As we look around the State of California, though, we begin to see that the spirit of the law that people so readily supported to help the suffering is falling by the wayside to make room for PROFIT. Proposition 215 was written to allow people with the ability to grow medical marijuana to grow their own supply of medicine without fear of arrest. The law also intends to allow those persons to grow additional medicinal marijuana for others that are not able to grow it for themselves. The growers are supposed to provide the medical marijuana to those individuals at a price which allows them to recover their operating expenses (and maybe even make a small profit), but it was never intended to give rise to operations where the growers and distributers of the medical marijuana charge overinflated prices to those individuals who can least afford it. All anyone has to do is look at the prices that are being charged by the medical marijuana growers and distributers in dispensaries all over California. Medical marijuana is averaging $60 for an eighth of an ounce, and there is no way that such prices can be justified without factoring in huge profit margins. It is so often said that the medical marijuana suppliers of today are simply charging what they have to in order to keep afloat. What doesn't add up is that you can buy marijuana almost anywhere on the streets for around $5 - $10 per eighth ounce while supposedly legitimate providers are charging around $60 for the same amount. Medical marijuana providers use the excuse that they have a lot of expenses like lighting, utilities, security, etc., and so they have to charge that much to cover their costs of operations. I ask you though… Who actually has the greater operating expenses; those who grow legally or those who grow illegally? Medical marijuana providers no longer have to hide in the shadows to produce their product; they can grow it freely and they can organize in public storefronts and can advertise openly if they so choose. Shouldn't their operating expenses be quite a bit lower than those for the illegal growers who still have to hide their operations and activities in order to avoid arrest and prosecution, and that loose so much of their crops every year to police raids? That brings us to wonder again why legitimate medical marijuana providers are charging six times or more what illegal growers are. There is one answer that keeps rearing its ugly head; GREED.

ASA Fresno Chapter Patients and Caregivers Monthly Meeting

ASA Fresno Chapter Patients and Caregivers Monthly Meeting

Tuesday, November 10th at 6:00 pm

Full Circle Brewing Company - 620 "F" Street in Fresno

This month's meeting will feature guest speaker Attorney William Logan. Attorney Logan is very knowledgeable about cannabis law issues, and he gives an interesting and informative presentation for those interested in this important subject. Attorney Logan will hold an involved question and answer session after his presentation. We request that anyone wanting to have any question(s) answered by Attorney Logan will write their question(s) down and give them to either Diana or Tommy prior to the start of the meeting. This way everyone has an equal chance of getting their question(s) answered by Attorney Logan, and we can avoid duplicate questions being asked. ASA Fresno Chapter monthly meetings are open to the public. Please bring anyone you know who would like to learn more about medical cannabis issues. Thank you for your continued support of safe access to medicinal cannabis.
Location: 
Fresno, CA
United States

Feature: Maine Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Voters in Maine Tuesday approved Question 5, the Maine Medical Marijuana Act, an initiative instructing the state government to set up a system of state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The measure passed with 59% of the vote.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/maineplea.jpg
a plea from a patient -- Maine voters listened (courtesy mainecommonsense.org)
Sponsored by Maine Citizens for Patient Rights (MCPR) and the Maine Medical Marijuana Policy Initiative (MMMPI), and funded primarily by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Maine Medical Marijuana Act will:

  • Establish a system of nonprofit dispensaries which would be overseen and tightly regulated by the state;
  • Establish a voluntary identification card for medical marijuana patients and caregivers;
  • Protect patients and caregivers from arrest, search and seizure unless there is suspicion of abuse;
  • Create new protections for qualified patients and providers in housing, education, employment and child custody;
  • Allow patients with Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's disease access to medical marijuana;
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a procedure for expanding the list of conditions for which marijuana can be used; and
  • Keep current allowable marijuana quantities at 2.5 ounces and six plants.

"We weren't surprised at all by the outcome," said Jonathan Leavitt of Maine Citizens for Patients Rights, who had predicted weeks ago the measure would cruise to victory. "We would have done a lot better in most elections, but this time there was a big turnout from the hard-core religious right," he said, referring to the heated battle over a gay marriage referendum that went down to defeat the same day.

"We're really tickled," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which also supported the campaign. "This was a state election with some controversial issues, but medical marijuana wasn't one of them. Oh, the usual suspects objected, but nobody was listening. This suggests the comfort level with medical marijuana is growing by leaps and bounds."

Some long-time Maine marijuana activists, such as the Maine Vocals, had joined the "usual suspects" in opposing the measure. They argued that the measure gave too much power to the state. But their complaints appeared to have little impact on the electoral outcome.

"It's great to see Maine leapfrog other states in adopting cutting-edge medical marijuana legislation," said Jill Harris, DPA managing director for public policy. "What's especially nice is that the medical marijuana guidelines recently issued by the US Department of Justice provide reassurance to Maine officials that they can implement the new law without fear of reprisal by federal authorities."

"This is a dramatic step forward, the first time that any state's voters have authorized the state government to license medical marijuana dispensaries," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. "Coming a decade after passage of Maine's original marijuana law, this is a huge sign that voters are comfortable with these laws, and also a sign that the recent change of policy from the Obama administration is having a major impact."

Maine becomes the sixth state to allow medical marijuana dispensaries, and, as Kampia noted, the first one to approve state-licensed dispensaries through a popular vote. New Mexico and Rhode Island approved state-licensed dispensaries through the legislative process, while California, Colorado, and Washington adopted locally-approved dispensaries through the initiative process.

In New Mexico, there is currently one state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary; in Rhode Island none yet exist. In Colorado, by contrast, there are nearly a hundred, while in California, the number of locally-permitted (or not) dispensaries is somewhere shy of 2000. In Washington State, the number of dispensaries is much lower, but still higher than in states where dispensaries are licensed by the state.

"The trend toward licensed dispensaries is a good thing," said Kris Hermes, communications director for Americans for Safe Access, the nation's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "Back in 1996, when the first initiative was passed in California, that initiative included language calling on the state and federal governments to work together to create a plan for distribution. But because the federal government was not only unhelpful, but actually working to actively undermine medical marijuana distribution in California during the Bush years, people at the local level were forced to develop a model they could advance. What we now have in California is a local model of distribution," he noted.

While locally-approved dispensaries appear to provide access to medical marijuana to greater numbers of people, they are also subject to more harassment and even prosecution by the state or even the federal government. The Obama administration has declared it will not go after dispensaries operating in accord with state law, but in states like California and Colorado, where local prosecutors determine legality -- not a state law -- dispensary operators could still see themselves prosecuted by the feds.

One such incident occurred in September in San Diego, where hard-line county District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis led joint state and federal raids against dispensaries, and at least two people were charged with federal marijuana distribution offenses. Similarly, the Los Angeles county prosecutor has warned that he considers almost all LA-area dispensaries to be illegal.

"That's the fundamental difference Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island on one hand, and California and Colorado on the other," said MPP's Mirken. "The latter have a large number of dispensaries, but they are operating in a grey area. In California, we've seen the feds justify participating in raids where local DAs say the dispensaries aren't legal."

That could continue to happen, even with the Obama edict, Mirken said. "Until the courts settle these issues, it's not shocking that the feds might defer to local prosecutors," he said. "There's something to be said for legal clarity."

What is needed, said Hermes, is federal acceptance of medical marijuana. "As long as the federal government continues to deny medical marijuana's efficacy and refuses to develop a national plan that goes beyond law enforcement, states will have to develop their own laws to deal with the issue of distribution," he said. "Having said that, we continue to work with the Obama administration to develop that national policy, and hopefully, one day soon we will have a policy that obviates the need for individual policies at the state level."

In the meantime, it's up to the states. In Maine, that means getting the state-licensed dispensary system up and running. "The process starts when the governor signs it into law, which we expect shortly," said Leavitt. "He will then set up a task force to pull together appropriate oversight for the new law. We hope to be part of that stakeholder process. I think it will take at least three or four months before we actually have functioning dispensaries."

Maine Votes “Yes” on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                             
NOVEMBER 3, 2009

Maine Votes “Yes” on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,

Becomes 3rd State to License Medical Marijuana Providers; Vote Seen as Latest Advance Spurred by Obama Policy

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications …………… 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

AUGUSTA, MAINE — In a landmark vote, Maine voters today approved Question 5, making the state the third in the country to license nonprofit organizations to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients and the first ever to do so by a vote of the people. With 49 percent of the vote tallied, the measure was cruising to an easy win with 60.2 percent voting “yes” and 39.8 percent voting “no.”

         Under the measure, the state will license nonprofit organizations to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients and set rules for their operation. While 13 states permit medical use of marijuana, only Rhode Island and New Mexico have similar dispensary provisions, both of which were adopted by the states’ legislatures. Maine’s original medical marijuana law was passed in 1999.

         “This is a dramatic step forward, the first time that any state’s voters have authorized the state government to license medical marijuana dispensaries,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., which drafted the initiative and provided start-up funding for the campaign. “Coming a decade after passage of Maine’s original marijuana law, this is a huge sign that voters are comfortable with these laws, and also a sign that the recent change of policy from the Obama administration is having a major impact.”  

         In October, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a formal policy indicating that federal prosecutors should not prosecute medical marijuana activities authorized by state law.

         Question 5 also expands the list of medical conditions qualifying for protection under Maine’s law to include several conditions that are included in most other medical marijuana states, including intractable pain, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“Lou Gehrig’s disease”).

         With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####

Location: 
ME
United States

Maine Votes to Okay Medical Marijuana Dispensaries; Measure Passing With 60% of the Vote

Voters in Maine Tuesday approved Question 5, which will allow the state to license nonprofit organizations to operate medical marijuana dispensaries for qualified patients. In early returns with nearly half the vote tallied, the measure was winning easily, with 60% of the vote. Maine thus becomes the third state to create a system of state-licensed dispensaries, and the first one to do so by a direct vote. Only Rhode Island and New Mexico have similar dispensary provisions. "This is a dramatic step forward, the first time that any state’s voters have authorized the state government to license medical marijuana dispensaries," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, DC, which drafted the initiative and provided start-up funding for the campaign. "Coming a decade after passage of Maine’s original marijuana law, this is a huge sign that voters are comfortable with these laws, and also a sign that the recent change of policy from the Obama administration is having a major impact." MPP local affiliate Maine Citizens for Patients' Rights led the fight on the ground. Question 5 also expands the list of medical conditions qualifying for protection under Maine’s law to include several conditions that are included in most other medical marijuana states, including intractable pain, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ("Lou Gehrig’s disease"). Look for a feature article on the Maine victory and the push for state-licensed dispensaries in the Chronicle on Friday.
Location: 
ME
United States

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