Medical Marijuana

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Fresno Supervisors to Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana ID Card Program July 8

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
JULY 3, 2008

Fresno Supervisors to Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana ID Card Program July 8Patients, Advocates to Highlight Program's Importance at July 7 Medical Marijuana Documentary Screening

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California organizer, 707-575-9870

FRESNO, Calif. — The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing on the local implementation of the statewide Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program, 9 a.m., July 8, in the County Board Chambers in the Hall of Records at 2281 Tulare St.

    Although 40 California counties have implemented the program – including Merced, Tulare, Inyo and San Benito as well as Los Angeles, Orange and Kern – Fresno has yet to act.

    Patients and advocates from across the county, including Diana Kirby, 66, will attend the hearing. Kirby uses physician-approved medical marijuana, under state law, to treat severe pain from an auto accident that resulted in having her leg amputated.

    "Patients like me shouldn't have to worry about being falsely arrested because our county isn't offering the ID cards," Kirby said. "Let's hope our elected officials do the right thing for patients and taxpayers by implementing this program."

    Aaron Smith, California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project, noted that the program – mandated by a state law that went into effect in 2004 – benefits law enforcement by removing the burden of verifying patient documentation from officers on the street. The ID card provides a means for local peace officers to easily identify bona fide medical marijuana patients during enforcement stops.

    "We are merely calling on the Board of Supervisors to follow existing state law so that suffering patients like Diana do not have to live in fear of false arrest at the expense of local taxpayers," Smith said. "It is the duty of the county's leaders to protect their most vulnerable citizens and to make the jobs of local law enforcement easier by providing them with all the tools available. This program is a major step in the right direction."

    To help educate the community about this and other medical marijuana issues facing Fresno, MPP will host a free screening of the award-winning medical marijuana documentary "Waiting to Inhale," followed by a panel discussion, July 7, at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., in Clovis.

    With more than 25,000 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 www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
Fresno, CA
United States

Press Release: Advocates Hail One-Year Anniversary of New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law; Program Has Made Progress but Still Has Further to Go

[Courtesy of Drug Policy Alliance] FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2008 CONTACT: Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Julie Roberts at (505) 983-3277 Advocates Hail Today’s One-Year Anniversary of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act Patients’ Right to Medical Marijuana Protected for One Year in New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance: Program Has Made Progress but Still Has Further to Go NEW MEXICO—Today marks the one-year anniversary of the start date of New Mexico’s landmark medical cannabis law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has certified 160 patients with identification cards, affording them the right to protection under state law from prosecution for possessing small amounts of medical cannabis. “The New Mexico Department of Health has done a wonderful job of issuing ID cards to patients who meet the program criteria,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, “They’ve been very careful to ensure that all of the applications are verified and correct, and they’ve been a real resource for patients and physicians with questions.” The program has further to go, however. According to the state law, the Department of Health should have issued rules and regulations by October 1, 2007 to govern some aspects of the program, including the medical advisory board, the identification card system, and the production and distribution of medical cannabis. On April 15 the regulations governing the medical advisory board were published. The medical advisory board has not yet met, though the law requires the board to meet at least twice per year to consider petitions for new medical conditions. The remaining two sets of regulations have not been finalized. NMDOH convened two public hearings concerning the regulations on October 1, 2007 and January 14, 2008. Patients and advocates anxiously await these final two sets of regulations, partly to improve patient access to medical cannabis. Because these regulations are not finalized, no caregivers have been certified to assist patients in maintaining a supply of medicine, and the state licensed production and distribution system has not been implemented to ensure a safe and secure supply for patients. New Mexico’s law is the first in the nation to require the state to create a production and distribution system. “We recognize that the production and distribution system is very complex and should be carefully designed. That system will allow New Mexico to do what no other state has done - ensure a safe and secure supply of medical cannabis for patients,” said Szczepanski, “But it’s time to publish the identification card regulations and start certifying caregivers, who can help their patients until the distribution system is up and running. It’s been nearly six months since the last public hearing on these regulations.” Qualified patients whose doctors believe they would benefit from the medicinal use of cannabis will finally be protected as the New Mexico Department of Health issues the first patient identification cards next week. Applications for identification cards for both patients and their primary caregivers are available at the Department of Health’s website, http://www.health.state.nm.us/marijuana.html . Following a seven-year fight to pass legislation, New Mexico’s landmark medical cannabis law passed in the 2007 legislative session. During the legislative debate on the issue, advocates had predicted that the program would grow over five years to 250-500 patients. New Mexico was the twelfth state to endorse the use of medical cannabis and only the fourth state legislature to enact such a measure. The law protects qualified patients suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions, HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, epilepsy, spinal cord injury with intractable spasticity, or admittance into hospice care, to use medical cannabis for relief of their symptoms. For questions regarding qualification for the program or the application process, please contact Melissa Milam with the Department of Health at (505) 827-2321. ###
Location: 
NM
United States

Marijuana: Puerto Rico Ex-Officials Say Legalize It

A former health secretary and an ex-university president are calling for the legalization of marijuana in Puerto Rico in a bid to reduce the prison population and prevent young people from being exposed to criminality. According to a report by the Associated Press late last week, their plan to tax marijuana sales, with proceeds going to drug treatment programs, is also supported by other former public officials and a medical doctor.

"The fight against drugs, using punishment, has not worked," said José Manuel Saldaña, former president of the University of Puerto Rico. "This is a social reality." People should not go to jail for smoking pot, he added.

According to the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections, 24% of the island territory's 13,500 inmates are doing time for drug offenses. The department estimates that 80% of crimes are "drug-related." More than 21,000 minors under age 18 were arrested in "drug-related" incidents between 1990 and 2005, according to police statistics.

The proposal for marijuana legalization comes as part of a broader package that includes tougher penalties for drug traffickers. It comes as the island is getting ready to begin drug treatment programs aimed primarily at the abuse of heroin and crack cocaine.

Saldaña was joined by former Health Secretary Enrique Vázquez Quintana in pushing for legalization. They have been discussing the proposal with prison officials and legislators, he said.

But lawmakers have said they only want to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes -- if that. Corrections Secretary Miguel Pereira told the AP he favors drug treatment programs legalizing marijuana, but only for medicinal, not recreational, use. "It's a proposal that we should be open to discussing," he said.

Feature: Future Doctors Support Medical Marijuana

The Medical Student Section (MSS) of the American Medical Association (AMA) overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution urging the AMA to support the reclassification of marijuana for medical use at the AMA's annual conference in Chicago earlier this month. The resolution will now go before the AMA House of Delegates for a final vote at its interim meeting in November.

After a lengthy series of whereases detailing scientific support for therapeutic uses of cannabis, the MSS resolved that:

  • RESOLVED, That our AMA support reclassification of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance into a more appropriate schedule; and be it further
  • RESOLVED, That this resolution be forwarded to the House of Delegates at I-08.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/wrigleybuilding.jpg
Sunil Aggarwal and Tapoja Chaudhuri, Wrigley Building in Chicago, near conference site
With some 50,000 members, the MSS is the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the US. The other major medical student group in the county, the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), which split from the AMA in the heady days of the 1960s to pursue a more socially activist agenda, endorsed rescheduling marijuana in 1993 and added its own resolution endorsing clinical research on medical marijuana in 1999. (AMSA claims 68,000 members, but also includes pre-med students.)

Those two organizations join a growing list of medical groupings supporting medical marijuana, including the AIDS Action Council, the Alaska Nurses Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Preventive Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, the California Academy of Family Physicians, the California Medical Association, the California Pharmacists Association, the Connecticut Nurses Association, Cure AIDS Now, the Florida Medical Association, the Los Angeles County AIDS Commission, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the Medical Society of the State of New York, the National Association for Public Health Policy, the National Association of People with AIDS, the National Nurses Society on Addictions, the New England Journal of Medicine, the New Mexico Medical Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the San Francisco Medical Society, the Virginia Nurses Society on Addictions, the Wisconsin Public Health Association, and state nurses associations in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, according to the medical marijuana education and advocacy group Patients Out of Time.

The most recent addition to that list was the American College of Physicians (ACP), which adopted a resolution called for rescheduling of marijuana and an expansion of research into its medical efficacy in February. With 124,000 members, the ACP is the country's second largest physician group, second only to the AMA.

But the AMA remains recalcitrant. Its most recent recommendation on medical marijuana, adopted in 2001, calls for further study, but urges that marijuana remain at Schedule 1 pending the outcome of those studies. The resolution passed by the MSS is designed to prod the organization forward.

The MSS may have some clout, but it can't do it alone, said Sunil Aggarwal, a University of Washington medical student who championed the resolution in Chicago. "If it's just us, we lose," he said. "Between now and November, we'll be trying to get different organizations within the AMA to stand with us. We'll be going after the state medical societies in all the medical marijuana states, and we'll be building alliances with groups that are our allies, like the ACP," he strategized. "We have to be careful, though. There are some forces that would like to quash us, like the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Even though they're a relatively new organization, everyone tends to defer to them on matters of addiction and substance abuse. If they say no, the AMA might get cold feet."

Medical marijuana advocates were pleased at the news. "This is a positive and necessary step in the right direction," said Dr. David Ostrow, a member of the AMA and Chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. "We are hopeful that the full house of delegates will follow the example set by the American College of Physicians earlier this year and vote to support this resolution, thereby placing the needs and safety of our patients above politics."

Whether the battle is won this year or not, Aggarwal and his colleagues are the wave of the future, he said. "The two organizations that represent medical students nationally have now both called for the reclassification of marijuana," he said. "We're the future doctors of America. These are the people who are going to be the leaders in American medicine, and now they are officially supporting medical marijuana," he said. "This is a big milestone."

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Documentary "Waiting to Inhale" Screening in Clovis July 7

 

MEDIA ADVISORY   
JUNE 25, 2008

Medical Marijuana Documentary "Waiting to Inhale" Screening in Clovis July 7

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California organizer, 707-575-9870

FRESNO, Calif. — A free screening of the award-winning medical marijuana documentary, "Waiting to Inhale," takes place July 7, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno in Clovis, followed by a panel discussion with local medical marijuana patients, advocates and medical experts.

    The film is a gripping examination of all angles of the medical marijuana controversy, including interviews with leading researchers, patients, advocates and government officials. This summer, the U.S. Congress is expected to vote for the sixth time on an amendment that would forbid the Department of Justice – including the Drug Enforcement Administration – from using its resources to attack patients and providers who are obeying state medical marijuana laws. Last year, the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment was defeated, 165-262, but drew more "yes" votes than ever.

    Additionally, the Fresno Board of Supervisors is expected to hold hearings soon about implementing a state-mandated medical marijuana identification card program.

    Winner of several awards, including the Worldfest Houston 2005 Goldfest Special Jury Award, Best Documentary 2005 New Jersey International Film Festival and winner of the Eureka! International Film Festival, "Waiting to Inhale" examines the debate over marijuana's use as medicine in the United States.

        -    WHAT: Free screening of the medical marijuana documentary "Waiting to Inhale," presented by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, followed by panel discussion

        -    WHO: Scheduled panelists include:
                        o    Dr. Terrill E. Brown, a Fresno emergency medicine specialist

                        o    Diana Kirby, a Fresno medical marijuana patient with severe back pain and neuropathy after an automobile accident that resulted in having a leg amputated

                        o    Aaron Smith, California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project

        -    WHEN: Monday, July 7, 7 p.m.

        -    WHERE: The Unitarian Church of Fresno, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., Clovis, CA 93611

    With more than 23,000 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 www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
Clovis, CA
United States

ALERT: #368 California Patient Caught In The War On Medical Marijuana

[Courtesy of DrugSense] FOCUS Alert #368 - Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008 Orange County is considered to be among the most conservative in California. The Orange County Register is the county's major newspaper. Over the years the newspaper has supported in editorials and columns California's Proposition 215. Last Saturday the newspaper printed the article below. In addition to the article, the newspaper's website is currently conducting an opinion poll titled "Should marijuana be legal?" and providing a discussion forum about the article. If you wish to vote in the poll and/or place a comment in the forum please go to: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/monson-says-marijuana-2072170-police-... Please also consider sending a Letter to the Editor to The Orange County Register expressing your reaction to the article. Thanks for your effort and support. It's not what others do it's what YOU do. ********************************************************************* Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jun 2008 Source: Orange County Register, The (CA) Copyright: 2008 The Orange County Register Contact: letters@ocregister.com Author: Eugene W. Fields, The Orange County Register DISABLED MAN FIGHTS FOR HIS MARIJUANA Charles Monson, a Quadriplegic, Had His Home Raided and His Medicinal Marijuana Seized at Gunpoint. A swimming accident three decades ago at Newport Beach left Charles Monson paralyzed. A drug raid at his home about a year ago left Monson without the marijuana he says he needs. The raid has left him depending on a medical marijuana dispensary in Orange that was also raided. Fighting to stay in business, the small store-front dispensary has helped Monson deal with his pain. Monson, 45, was paralyzed in 1979 when he and a friend decided to go for a swim. "I dove under a wave, hit a shallow spot and broke my neck," Monson recalls. "I was paralyzed instantly and was floating face-down." Monson, who is confined to a wheelchair and has lost most of the use of his hands, tried to remain active. He's an avid skydiver, despite breaking his legs twice Nevertheless, he says he lives in constant pain and discomfort. "My brain isn't able to constantly able to monitor the muscles in my legs," he says. "Any little stimulus like being touched or moving my wheelchair or sitting still for a while and then moving will trigger a muscle spasm, big ones, that will yank my body to the side." As a result, Monson was chronically sleep-deprived to the point of falling asleep behind the wheel of his specially equipped van. Doctors prescribed muscle relaxants and various other seizure medications, but Monson says he didn't like the side effects. Finds Relief "I had tried Valium, Baclofen, Gabapentin. That gave me a sense of not being sharp in my mind and just feeling kind of woozy," Monson says. "I tried Marinol, which is synthetic marijuana. It's very hard to dose. It's either not very effective, or when it gets to the point of being effective, you're loopy." Monson says a friend recommended marijuana in the 1980s and after trying it, he said he found relief: "I smoked it in bed and I slept better than I ever had. The other thing that makes cannabis so much more effective than any other of the spasticity drugs is that it allows me rather than just treating my spasticity to manage it." When California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, which allowed marijuana usage for medicinal purposes, Monson says he started to grow marijuana. Monson says his life changed dramatically on the morning of October 30, 2007. "I wake up to a horrendously loud pounding on the front door at 7 a.m. in the morning," Monson says. "My friend said it was the police and I told him to let them in." Monson says a dozen Orange police officers armed with assault rifles and bullet-proof vests swarmed into his modest home and handcuffed both his house guest and care provider before coming into Monson's bedroom, demanding he get out of bed. "I told them I couldn't so they uncuffed my care provider," Monson says. "He got me dressed and into the chair and then they (police) went about ransacking my house." Monson says he used a spare bedroom to cultivate his marijuana plants, where a sign posted on the door read that the plants were for medicinal purposes. The police entered the room and, according to Monson, confiscated 16 plants and roughly 2-1/2 ounces of marijuana. "I told them I was growing it legally and they said it's against federal law," Monson says. "They came down on me like I was some drug kingpin." Sgt. Dan Adams of the Orange Police Department says 19 plants were seized and Monson was arrested for felony cultivation of marijuana, theft of utilities, sales of marijuana and conspiracy. "When you get 19 plants and you get a full-blown irrigation system and a light system, it was obviously a substantial operation he had running there," Adams said. "It's a good amount, but anything is a good amount because it's illegal as far as law enforcement is concerned." The District Attorney's office declined to prosecute the case. "The first month after the raid, I couldn't sleep well," Monson said. "Finally, it occurred to me that I was having a post-traumatic effect because I didn't know when they were going to bang down my door again." Searching for Marijuana Fearful of growing marijuana, Monson turned to other sources. "I had to go to people a buy it. None of them have ever been touched by the police," he says. "I don't know why they came after me. Somebody thought I was a king-pin." In December, Monson hired an attorney and decided to file a civil suit against the city. Four months later he read about Nature's Wellness, a dispensary on Lincoln Avenue in Orange that had been raided. Monson said he visited with Bob Adams, the dispensary owner, to share information about his case. Monson said he worked out a deal to receive half of the two ounces of marijuana he needs a month to manage his condition. Adams, who was detained by the Drug Enforcement Agency after his shop was raided in March, says he was just providing a service to another patient with a doctor's recommendation. "This man needs medicine and I've got it," Adams says. "That's what I'm here for." Adams says hearing about Monson's arrest upset him. "We've got a quadriplegic here. It's amazing that he wakes up every morning," Adams says. "Don't we have better things to do as far as our local authorities are concerned than chase around a quadriplegic that's in pain?" Monson says he was grateful for the aid from the dispensary and is waiting for his court case to move ahead. "I probably won't (grow) until that whole thing is settled with the police," he says. "I don't want a decent garden going again, just to have it taken away." ********************************************************************* Additional suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center: http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides, or contact MAP's Media Activism Facilitator for tips on how to write LTEs that are printed at heath@mapinc.org. ********************************************************************* PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to heath@mapinc.org if you are not subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others can learn from your efforts. Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing efforts.
Location: 
CA
United States

Press Release: Medical Student Section of AMA Unanimously Endorses Medical Marijuana

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] For Immediate Release: June 14, 2008 Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes at (510) 681-6361 or AMA-MSS member Sunil Aggarwal at (206) 375-3785 Medical Student Section of AMA Unanimously Endorses Medical Marijuana Resolution proceeds to AMA House of Delegates for a vote in November Chicago, IL -- The Medical Student Section (MSS) of the American Medical Association (AMA) unanimously approved a resolution yesterday urging the AMA to support the reclassification of marijuana for medical use. The AMA is currently holding its annual conference in Chicago and is making a number of policy decisions over the next few days. The MSS will send the resolution to the AMA House of Delegates for a final vote at its interim meeting in November. With nearly 50,000 members, the MSS is the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the United States. "While it is an historic occasion for any section of the AMA to endorse medical marijuana, the MSS is merely affirming existing science and urging the adoption of a sensible medical marijuana policy," said medical student and AMA-MSS member Sunil Aggarwal, who is leading the effort to seek AMA endorsement. "As a future medical doctor, I look forward to exploring and utilizing the many medical benefits of cannabinoid medicines in patient care." Aggarwal is also supported by many of his colleagues in the AMA already in the field of medicine. "This is a positive and necessary step in the right direction," said Dr. David Ostrow, a member of the AMA and Chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. "We are hopeful that the full house of delegates will follow the example set by the American College of Physicians earlier this year and vote to support this resolution, thereby placing the needs and safety of our patients above politics." The American College of Physicians (ACP) adopted a resolution in February, on which the AMA-MSS resolution is based. Like the AMA-MSS resolution, the ACP called for rescheduling of marijuana and an expansion of research into its medical efficacy. The ACP, at 124,000 members, is ranked as the country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine. Since 1996, twelve U.S. states have adopted medical marijuana laws, and in 2002 a Times/CNN poll showed that 80% of Americans support access to physician-recommended medical marijuana.
Location: 
Chicago, IL
United States

Medical Marijuana: Massachusetts Entrepreneur Gets Monopoly Distribution Initiative on Michigan Town Ballot -- Officials Surprised and Confused

Thanks to the efforts of a Massachusetts man, voters in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, Michigan, will have a chance to vote November 4 on an initiative that would allow only one outfit to distribute medical marijuana. The initiative would allow something called the National Organization for Positive Medicine to seek a court order to distribute and sell medical marijuana to qualified patients.

Medical marijuana is not currently recognized by the state of Michigan, although voters in several cities, including Detroit and Ferndale, have already voted to approve it at the municipal level. An initiative that would legalize medical marijuana statewide is on the November ballot.

The Ferndale distribution initiative is not linked to the statewide initiative, nor is it linked to local activists. According to the Detroit Free Press, the National Organization for Positive Medicine is headed by a Carl Swanson of South Boston, Massachusetts. Swanson's attorney told the Free Press Swanson was not available for comment.

"Swanson is looking ahead to when it's decriminalized statewide and he can distribute legally," Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey told the Free Press. "But it's just for him. We are just scratching our heads here."

The text of the initiative is not yet available on the City of Ferndale web site, but Covey said it allows only the National Organization for Positive Medicine to seek a court order to sell medical marijuana.

Councilman Scott Galloway told the Free Press the initiative was a publicity stunt by marijuana legalizers, but conceded that it could pass. "Like any movement, it has to start somewhere. My guess is that it passes, but has no real effect. You have to get a court order. That's never going to happen," he said.

But on the face of it, the initiative appears more likely to be an effort by an entrepreneurial spirit to position himself to profit from medical marijuana sales in the event that the statewide initiative passes. The profit motive is a powerful force, for medical marijuana distribution as for any other product that people want.

Medical Marijuana: Bill Passes New York Assembly, Senate Must Act By Monday

For the second year in a row, the New York Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill. But the state Senate must act by Monday, when the legislature recesses, or the effort to enact a medical marijuana law in the Empire State will be dead for this year.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), would allow patients to use marijuana for specified life-threatening or debilitating conditions upon their doctors' certification that it is the most effective treatment. Patients and caregivers would register with the state and receive ID cards. They would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants and possess 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, although the bill foresees a state-regulated distribution system upon approval of the federal government.

After the state Senate balked at the last minute last year, supporters of the medical marijuana bill attempted to assuage the worries of foes, some of whom felt that last year's version did not provide adequate regulation. The state-regulated distribution system attempts to address those concerns.

"Every day that goes by without this sensible, compassionate law is a day in which our most vulnerable citizens must choose between suffering debilitating pain or risking arrest in order to find relief," said bill sponsor and Assembly Health Committee Chair Gottfried in a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the bill. "These patients don't have the luxury of waiting another year for their elected representatives to act -- they need the Senate to stand up for them now."

No word yet on what the Senate Republicans will do. Last year, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said he supported medical marijuana, but changed his mind at the last minute. This year one of his staffers delivered a statement for Bruno at an event organized by the Marijuana Policy Project to support the New York state lobbying effort to pass the bill, so maybe this will be the year.

Press Release: New Report Finds Teen Marijuana Use Down in States With Medical Marijuana Laws

A newly updated analysis released June 16, coauthored by Dr. Mitch Earleywine, associate professor of psychology at the Albany campus of the State University of New York, shows that state medical marijuana laws have not increased teen marijuana use, despite fears that have been raised when such measures are considered. Teen marijuana use has consistently declined in states with medical marijuana laws, and generally more markedly than national averages.

The report, based entirely on data from federal and state government-funded drug use surveys, is available at http://www.mpp.org/teens/.

In New York, medical marijuana legislation passed the state Assembly last year, and the issue awaits Senate action.

"Opponents of medical use of marijuana regularly argue that such laws 'send the wrong message to children,' but there is just no sign of that effect in the data," said Dr. Earleywine, a substance abuse researcher and author of the acclaimed book, "Understanding Marijuana" (Oxford University Press, 2002). "In every state for which there's data, teen marijuana use has gone down since the medical marijuana law was passed, often a much larger decline than nationally."

In California, which passed the first effective medical marijuana law in 1996, marijuana use has declined sharply among all age groups. Among ninth-graders, marijuana use in the past 30 days ("current use" as defined in the surveys) declined by 47 percent from 1995-96 to 2005-06, the latest survey results available.

A similar pattern is emerging in the states with newer medical marijuana laws. Vermont and Montana, whose medical marijuana laws were enacted in 2004, have seen declines in current marijuana use of 15 percent and 9 percent, respectively. In Rhode Island, whose medical marijuana law took effect in January 2006, current use declined 7 percent from 2005 to 2007. There are no before-and-after data available yet from New Mexico, whose medical marijuana law was passed last year. Overall, declines in teen marijuana use in the 11 medical marijuana states for which data are available have slightly exceeded the national trends.

With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 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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