Medical Marijuana

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Dia Mundial de la Marijuana (Global Marijuana Day), Mexico City

Here in Mexico's capital, several thousand people gathered at the Alameda Central, a large park in the historic center of the city, to celebrate Global Marijuana Day. Punks, Goths, hippies, and members of all the other "urban tribes" that constitute the youth counterculture of one of the world's premier cities came together for a day of respect, tolerance, music, and above all, to call for the legalization of the sacred herb. Of course, it's not just the youth cultures of Mexico City that we're talking about here; it's the global cannabis culture. Cannabis Nation knows no boundaries. In many respects, I could have been standing in Memphis or Malmo or Madrid or Mombasa or Minsk--the t-shirts and slogan are the same, the concerns roughly identical. I'll say this for the global prohibition of marijuana: It has created a global culture of resistance that supercedes national identities or barriers. The music and musicians were spot-on, but lyrically and rhythmically. Some of the songs were pure celebration:
We're going to the beach and I wanna smoke We're going to dance and toke
Some of the songs were highly politicized and, naturally, critical of the US. One rapper compared Bush ("creating hell on earth") with Hitler and Hernan Cortes, placing him squarely in a particularly Mexican pantheon of villains. Speaking of politics, one of the great battles going on in Mexico right now is over the government's efforts to privatize Pemex, the state oil monopoly. For many Mexicans, Pemex is a symbol of the Revolution a century ago that overthrew foreign domination. After the Revolution, the Mexicans expropriated the foreign oil companies; now they fear the government is going to give the national oil industry back to the foreigners. One sign at the march tied that struggle to the struggle for marijuana legalization:
Mariguana y petroleo Eso es nuestro patrimonio Marijuana and Oil That's our patrimony
The police presence was minimal, and as far as I could see, there were no problems and no arrests, although pot-smoking was open and frequent throughout the day. I took lots of photos, as you can see. (Sixteen more below the fold.)Sadly, my memory stick got full, and I missed some of the potentially most impressive shots, when the multitude was marching down Avenida Juarez, past the Bellas Artes palace and in front of some of the old colonial buildings in the city center. Still, Global Marijuana Day in Mexico City was a trip. Enjoy the photos, and look for a full report on the action in the Chronicle later this week. marching down Avenida Juarez -- Torre Latinoamericana in the background marching around the Alameda Central at the circulo Benito Juarez hip hip and reggaeton artist Moyenei Youalli G police observe the event -- no arrests march organizer Leopoldo Rivera addresses the crowd Jorge Hernandez Tinajero and Leopoldo of AMECA explaining the medical marijuana and decrim bills before Mexico's Congress Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) mask with marijuana leaf Reefer Bender (Futurama character) civil disobedience civil disobedience jello with marijuana leaf police woman in front of signs mounted policeman in sombrero, with punketos (punks) Sylvia Maria Valls, Mexican activist and friend of DRCNet from our 2003 Latin America conference
Location: 
Mexico City
Mexico

Press Release: Federal Medical Marijuana Program Marks 30th Anniversary May 10

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 6, 2008 

  

Federal Medical Marijuana Program Marks 30th Anniversary May 10
Little-Known Program Supplies Marijuana to Four Patients

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications, 415-668-6403 or 202-215-4205

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A little-known federal government program that supplies medical marijuana to a handful of patients will mark its 30th anniversary on May 10.

    The federal medical marijuana program -- referred to as a Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program -- resulted from a lawsuit filed by glaucoma patient Robert Randall, who successfully showed that his use of marijuana was a medical necessity.

    The program slowly grew for over a dozen years. In the wake of a flood of new applications from patients battling AIDS -- who found that marijuana boosted their appetites and relieved the nausea often caused by anti-HIV drugs -- the George H.W. Bush administration closed it to new applicants in March 1992, but continued supplying federal marijuana to those already receiving it. Four of those patients survive today.

    "Most Americans would be shocked to know that the federal government supplies medical marijuana to patients while claiming that marijuana is a harmful drug with no medical value," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "If federal officials believe their own statements, they're knowingly poisoning four innocent people, but in fact they know better. The four remaining patients in the federal program have benefited from their medical marijuana use, groups like the American College of Physicians and the American Public Health Association have said that marijuana is a safe and effective medicine and, as a result, we must change the federal laws that prohibit medical marijuana."

    Officially, the Compassionate IND is a research program. Participants were required to sign a consent document calling the program a "study." Yet the federal government has never studied the patients in the "study." In fact, the only study ever published of these patients was privately financed and conducted.

    "May 10 marks the 30th anniversary of federal hypocrisy and dishonesty about medical marijuana," Kampia said. "When future historians see how much effort our government made to avoid learning that marijuana is a safe and effective medicine, they'll shake their heads in disbelief."

    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.

####
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

House Judiciary Chair Questions DEA Tactics

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access]   Dear ASA Supporter,

ASA’s ongoing campaign to hold the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) accountable for its continued efforts to undermine state medical marijuana laws is working. We are pleased to announce that US House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has sent a letter to DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart challenging the DEA's actions.

ASA staff together with grassroots activists helped make it possible for Chairman Conyers to issue this letter. Please donate now to support our important work in Washington, D.C.!

As a follow-up to a public statement he made in December, Chairman Conyers’ letter questions DEA directly about its heightened raid activity across California and its intimidation of property owners owners with threats of prosecution and asset forfeiture because they rent to medical cannabis dispensaries. Chairman Conyers is the highest ranking elected official to question the DEA’s tactics since medical cannabis raids in California escalated dramatically in 2007. This letter is an important and necessary step towards Congressional hearings by the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the actions of the DEA.

Over the past several months, ASA and advocates all over the country have lobbied Chairman Conyers to convene hearings. Dozens of legal, tax-paying dispensaries have been shut down or evicted by their landlords, and many more face the same fate if Congress does not intervene. ASA Director of Government Affairs Caren Woodson has been lobbying the offices of Chairman Conyers and Subcommittee Chairman Scott about this issue for months, and her persistence is paying off!

Caren’s work with the House Judiciary Committee was bolstered by a statewide effort to get California’s elected officials to call for an end to the harmful tactics of the DEA. ASA and its allies were successful in garnering strong letters of support from several elected officials, urging Chairman Conyers to hold hearings. Among those who spoke up were Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine, and the mayors of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and West Hollywood.

I urge you to make a special commitment to support the kind of persistent, strategic, and effective organizing that ASA demonstrated in moving Chairman Conyers forward on this issue by making a monthly pledge of support or a one time contribution to ASA.

Please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Donate and make a contribution today!


Steph Sherer
Executive Director
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. Please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/ConyersLetter to read the letter from Chairman Conyers.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Man Dies After Being Denied a Liver Transplant For Using Medical Marijuana

Rest in peace, Timothy Garon. I'm not making it up, this really happened:


SEATTLE (AP) — A man who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C has died.


His death came a week after his doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list because of his use of marijuana, although it was authorized under Washington state law.

They let him die. They let him die because he took his doctor's advice and used medical marijuana to treat his hepatitis C.

Here's what the Washington Post, a reputable news source, said about marijuana and hepatitis C. This is from 2006, a long enough time ago to make policy changes:

Marijuana can improve the effectiveness of drug therapy for hepatitis C, a potentially deadly viral infection that affects more than 3 million Americans, a study has found. The work adds to a growing literature supporting the notion that in some circumstances pot can offer medical benefits.

So marijuana is effective in treating hepatitis C, unless of course, the fact that you used marijuana is held up as an excuse to deny you a liver transplant, in which case using marijuana will get you killed. If what they did to Timothy Garon doesn't qualify as medical malpractice, then it's time to rewrite the rules.

Alert: Patient Sentenced to Death for Medical Marijuana

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

Dear friends:

Timothy Garon's face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant. His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days.

But Garon's been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons.
 Associated Press, April 26, 2008

If federal law allowed marijuana to be treated like a medicine and not a drug of abuse, Timothy Garon wouldn't be about to die. (Because donated organs are scare, hospitals use selection standards that include drug use — even if that drug is medical marijuana that was recommended by the patient's doctor and legal under state law.)

When we say that the federal government's marijuana policies actually kill people, it's no exaggeration. This is a wrenchingly outrageous example of federal marijuana laws being responsible for killing a patient ... for no other reason than that he followed the advice of his doctor and used medical marijuana, as permitted by Washington state, where he lives.

Would you take one minute to ask your member of Congress to put a stop to this cruelty? MPP's online action center makes it simple; just enter your name and address and we'll do the rest.

You can also watch news coverage of this awful story here and here.

Our thoughts are with Timothy Garon and others like him — but thoughts are not enough. Won't you please insist that Congress change federal law now?

Thank you,
Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Location: 
WA
United States

Minnesota Medical Marijuana Bill Under Attack

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

Dear friends:

Some members of Minnesota's law enforcement community are lying in order to kill MPP’s medical marijuana bill in the state — in other words, in order to keep patients in pain. This small but vocal contingent is claiming that marijuana has no medical value, that “every prosecutor in every medical marijuana state” opposes its use, that you can “overdose” on marijuana, and more than a dozen other outrageous lies.

We’re fighting back. Yesterday, MPP held a news conference at the Minnesota statehouse to refute the outright false testimony that law enforcement officials have been providing the legislature and the news media. And we distributed to reporters and legislators an 18-page booklet cataloguing the opposition’s litany of mistruths — along with facts and proof to the contrary — and we’re releasing to the public, legislators, and media one video clip each day showing law enforcement's lies about medical marijuana.

But we're relying on the generosity of supporters to ensure we have the resources to combat our opposition. Would you please give whatever you can today so we can fight back?

MPP's bill, which passed out of the Senate last year, is currently awaiting an historic vote on the House floor. The vote could happen any day now, so it is urgent that supporters like you donate what you can today.

Our campaign has generated an enormous amount of media coverage in Minnesota, which you can read here. And the two largest papers in the state — the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press — have editorialized in favor of the bill, which also has the support of the Minnesota Nurses Association, the Minnesota Public Health Association, the Minnesota AIDS Project, the Minnesota Senior Federation, and 2-to-1 support among Minnesota voters.

Also yesterday, MPP debuted the second in a series of hard-hitting TV ads featuring seriously ill Minnesotans who are pleading with Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) not to veto MPP’s medical marijuana bill. The new TV ad features Ely resident K.K. Forss, who suffers from excruciating, debilitating pain after a disc in his neck exploded, causing extensive nerve damage. "This doesn't have anything to do with culture wars," Forss says in the ad, noting that he is a registered Republican and a born-again Christian. "We have people suffering in horrible pain, and we talk politics — it doesn't have to be that way."

If you agree that K.K. and others like him shouldn't face the threat of arrest and jail for trying to alleviate their pain, would you please consider donating $10 or more today so that we can keep these ads on the air at this critical moment?

Thank you,

Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Location: 
MN
United States

Job Listing: Field Coordinator, Americans for Safe Access, Oakland

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 uses and research. ASA works in partnership with state, local and national legislators to overcome barriers and create policies that improve access to cannabis for patients and researchers, and has more than 30,000 active members with chapters and affiliates in more than 40 states.

ASA provides legal training for and medical information to patients, attorneys, health and medical professionals and policymakers throughout the United States, and organizes media support for court cases, rapid response to law enforcement raids, and capacity-building for advocates. ASA's successful lobbying, media and legal campaigns have resulted in important court precedents, new sentencing standards, and more compassionate community guidelines.

The mission of Americans for Safe Access is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic uses and research.

The field coordinator is responsible for building and maintaining ASA's field of organizers, and for maintaining communication between the field, ASA staff and ASA campaigns. The position is supervised by, and accountable to, the Chief of Staff. This is a full-time, salaried position. This position is based out of our Oakland, CA headquarters.

Specific tasks and responsibilities include recruiting new volunteer organizers and sending them introduction packets; reaching out to field organizers from other organizations and to other key allies; schedule and staff tabling outreach at public events and conferences; following up with new contacts from public events and conferences; conducting web and email outreach; collecting new contacts through internet, personal, and chapter-based outreach; adding new emails to email lists regularly; maintaining regular communication with key organizers & chapter leaders including convening monthly organizer conference calls; providing information, guidance, assistance, and training to local leadership; maintaining project and program-based materials and distributing such to organizers; maintaining relationships with field organizers from other organizations with other key allies; maintaining Internet responsibilities including updating the website and managing listservers and discussion forums; sending monthly action packets to organizers; coordinating regular trainings; visiting chapters and affiliates as needed; maintaining clear records of organizers, including updating contact information and tracking communication and activities; advising and participating in strategic planning with chapter leaders and key organizers; acting as a liaison to staff through regular meetings; setting up constituent meetings on legislation; coordinating grassroots actions based on current programs, projects and campaigns; organizing court support for medical marijuana defendants; writing campaign materials, activist alerts, updates, and letters to organizers; creating and maintaining political materials for national and state-based outreach; writing regular reports of grassroots activity for distribution to staff and the public; and posting to blogs and discussion forums regularly.

Experience and qualifications necessary include a minimum of two years experience in grassroots organizing; political campaign and/or lobbying experience preferred; commitment to the mission and goals of Americans for Safe Access; computer literacy, and being comfortable with acquiring new skills; exceptional time management and prioritization skills; calm under pressure; being flexible at setting (and re-setting) priorities and managing multiple projects; exceptional communication, organizational and diplomacy skills with strong written communication skills; a sense of humor, high ethical professional standards, and a multi-cultural perspective; the ability to work well in a team environment; a flexible schedule, including availability to work occasional evenings and weekends, and to travel periodically throughout the state and nationally; and dedication to working closely and cooperatively in a community-based organization with diverse staff, volunteers, and community members.

If interested, a cover letter and resume should be sent to HR@SafeAccessNow.org.

No phone calls or faxes please. ASA is an equal opportunity employer.

Dedication: Seattle Musician Timothy Garon, Victim of the Drug War

Earlier this week, Scott Morgan discussed on our blog the case of musician Timothy Garon, denied a transplant by the University of Washington Medical Center due to his medical use of marijuana to control nausea (Denying Organ Transplants to Medical Marijuana Patients Is Evil). Medical use of marijuana is legal in Washington state, and marijuana is not known to damage the body, the stated rationale for denying transplants to patients.

We are saddened to report that Garon passed away late last night. This issue of Drug War Chronicle is dedicated to him. We will report more fully on this injustice next week.

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Bill Lead Sponsor Announces Law Enforcement Requested Changes to Bill

[Courtesy of Illinois Compassion Access Network] 

MEDIA ADVISORY: APRIL 30, 2008

Medical Marijuana Bill Lead Sponsor Announces Law Enforcement Requested Changes to Bill

CONTACT: John Walker, Illinois Compassion Access Network, (847) 769-1772

SPRINGFIELD, IL. – In a press conference today, Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), lead sponsor of a bill to protect from arrest seriously ill Illinoisans who use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, announced significant changes to the legislation based on input from law enforcement.

    Although members of the law enforcement community have been among the most vocal opponents of the bill, Cullerton said the recent amendments reflected specific objections law enforcement officers raised in good faith in a meeting with bill proponents last month.

    "I'm grateful to the members of the law enforcement community who sat down with us to help us craft this improved medical marijuana bill," he said. "Thanks to their help, I'm confident we have legislation here that protects our most suffering patients while ensuring law officers are able to do their jobs and keep our streets safe."

    A comprehensive list of the amendments made at the request of law enforcement representatives can be viewed online here: http://www.mpp.org/states/illinois/ChangesToSB2865.html

    Also at the press conference, medical marijuana activist and Chicago multiple sclerosis patient Julie Falco announced a new campaign to reach out to representatives by sending personal video appeals by seriously ill patients asking for support on the medical marijuana bill.

    Many of the videos are available online here: www.illinoiscan.com/videos.html

    "I think it's important for people like me – who are counting on compassion to prevail – to let legislators know who we are and why we need this law, especially those whose conditions prevent them from appearing in person," Falco said. "It's very easy for hysteria and fear to take over the debate, but this medical cannabis bill is about only one thing: easing the suffering of seriously ill people with a medicine that is proven safe and effective."

    Despite opposition from some elements of the law enforcement community, medical marijuana enjoys great support among the medical community and among Illinois voters. In February, the American College of Physicians – the second largest physician organization in the country with 124,000 members – became the latest major medical association to endorse laws protecting patients and doctors from arrest for using medical marijuana.

    Also in February, a Mason-Dixon telephone poll of 625 randomly selected Illinois voters – commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. – found that 68 percent of respondents agreed that "seriously and terminally ill patients should be allowed to use and grow medical marijuana for personal use if their doctors recommended it." Full poll results are available here: http://www.mpp.org/states/illinois/2008poll

    SB 2865 – the medical marijuana bill – is expected to reach the Senate floor within weeks.

###
Location: 
Springfield, IL
United States

Send A Fax: Don't Deny Transplants To Medical Marijuana Patients!

Send A Fax: Don't Deny Transplants To Medical Marijuana Patients!

I can't stop thinking about Tim Garon, who was removed from the list to receive a liver transplant due to his legal, physician-recommended use of medical marijuana.

Four days ago, Tim, a talented musician (you can get his music on Amazon.com: <http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0016XDSCW/ref=dm_sp_alb?ie=UTF8&qid=1209409177&sr=8-1>) and by all accounts a great guy, was told he wouldn't be receiving a liver due to his "illicit drug use."

This is unconscionable and inhumane. Beyond that, it's simply barbaric.

I've listened toTim's song, "Goodbye Baby," <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJDihYn_fJA> dozens of times over the past two days and I don't mind telling you that there have been a few tears.

It's hard to believe this kind of thing is still happening, even in states where voters have legalized medical marijuana when recommended by a physician.

The back story, for those not already familiar with Tim Garon's plight:

<http://realitycatcher-alapoet.blogspot.com/2008/04/seattle-medical-marijuana-patient-near.html>

This amounts to a death sentence for using legal medical marijuana.

This isn't the first time this has happened -- but we need to do all we can to make sure that it's the last.

I just spoke with a very nice and helpful person at the UW Medical Center who has given me a fax number:

Liver Selection Committee
Fax 206-598-0628

If we could all send reasonable, respectful and short messages to this fax number explaining that we disagree with legal, physician recommended medical marijuana use being used as a basis for disqualifying patients from the list to receive livers, we very well might make some positive impact on the way they think about and handle this.

I'm going to send a message like this:

"I realize that the types of decisions you have to make regarding transplants are very difficult. But at the same time, I’d like to register my sincere opinion that denying a patient a liver transplant on the basis of his or her use of legal medical marijuana as recommended by a physician is not a good decision, nor a humane one."

I strongly encourage all of you who have access to a fax machine to send a message of your own.

For those without reasonable fax access, here are some phone numbers, but be aware that last time I tried, voicemail boxes tended to be full, preventing messages from being left. If you do get through, please be respectful but firm:

UW Medical Center Transplant Services
Jorge​ D. Reyes​,​ direc​tor,​ 206-​543-​9738

Liver Transplant
Mary Kester, clinical coordinator, 206-598-4838
Theresa Hernandez, program coordinator, 206-598-4902
JoAnn Williams, patient care coordinator, 206-598-0017

Thanks for caring and blessed be...

Steve
http://www.realitycatcher.com

Location: 
Seattle, WA
United States

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