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Reform Global Drug Policy

 
 
UN Headquarters, New York

Our new coalition is pressing for a range of reforms to international drug policy, including the prioritizing of human rights, public health, economic development, access to medicines, security, and the revision of the UN drug control conventions to eliminate the conflict that has emerged between treaty language and legalization of marijuana or other drugs in UN member states.

The statement linked here was signed by over 100 organizations, including major ones like the ACLU and Human Rights Watch. It argues that in cases of irreconcilable conflict, nations' obligations under the human rights treaties, which are enshrined as fundamental in the United Nations Charter, take precedence over provisions of the drug control treaties. The statement calls for a range of improvements to policies; for the UN to appoint a "Committee of Experts" to study the topic of drug treaty reform; and calls on the Obama administration to harmonize its foreign policy on drugs with its domestic policies by providing leadership at the UN to make that happen.

We continue to accept signatories for this statement. To do so, please email David Borden at borden@drcnet.org with your organization's name, a sentence indicating that the organization endorses the sign-on statement, and your position within the organization.

Note that we have also circulated a sign-on letter opposing the death penalty for drug convictions. Information on this appears below.


Release: Major Groups Call for UN to Respect Countries That Legalize Marijuana or Other Drugs (5/5/15)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2015

CONTACT: David Borden, borden@drcnet.org

Major Groups Call for UN to Respect Countries That Legalize Marijuana or Other Drugs

Human Rights Should Take Priority Over Drug Enforcement, New Letter Says

NEW YORK, NY – As the United Nations prepares for the first comprehensive review of global responses to drug problems in nearly two decades, a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations is pushing for the international body to respect countries that move away from prohibition.

"Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups write in a new letter being released today.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange, Drug Policy Alliance and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights are among the signatories. Also notable are a number of organizations devoted to health policy and AIDS services.

The letter's release is timed to a United Nations "High-Level Thematic Debate on the World Drug Problem" taking place in New York on Thursday, May 7, in preparation for a UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) scheduled for April 2016. Advocates believe that countries should take the UNGASS as an opportunity to pursue a range of reforms to global drug policy, including revising provisions of the UN Drug Conventions that threaten to stand in the way of reform. The Obama administration has taken the stance that countries should be free to pursue different kinds of systems under the treaties – including legalization – but has also opposed treaty reform, a stance which advocates have questioned.

"The administration's call to respect countries' right to try regulation rather than prohibition is a positive step for drug policy, as are other reforms the US has sought internationally," said David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org, who coordinated the sign-on letter. "But it doesn't make sense to oppose having a discussion within the UN about modernizing the treaties to reflect that."

The coalition has called for the UN to appoint a "Committee of Experts" to study treaty reform, a common UN procedure for addressing issues of interest.

To date, four US states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis, as has the nation of Uruguay. Many other countries have decriminalized possession of certain drugs or have implemented harm reduction measures like syringe exchange programs. While the UN's drug enforcement body has warned that some of these policies may violate the treaties, the push for reform doesn't appear to be slowing anytime soon.

The new letter calls for revising the treaties, and says that in the meanwhile "in case of irreconcilable conflict, human rights principles, which lie at the core of the United Nations charter, should take priority over provisions of the drug conventions."  Human rights concerns may require shifting to drug control systems that aren't based on prohibition, the statement suggests. "Accommodating… experiments… with legalization and regulation of internationally controlled substances may require that the UN drug conventions are interpreted in light of countries' international human rights and other obligations."

Although marijuana legalization is a major factor driving the international drug debate, another is the impact the illicit drug trade has in Latin America, where violence and related criminal problems associated with the trade exceed that suffered in other regions.

John Walsh, senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), said, "Some Latin American leaders are now openly questioning the global drug prohibition regime, because of the destruction caused by criminal organizations fueled by enormous drug trade profits. Meanwhile, the US is undergoing important shifts in its own domestic policy, with the Obama administration wisely accommodating states that are legalizing and regulating cannabis. This expands the political space for other countries as well." Walsh is the coauthor of "Marijuana Legalization is an Opportunity to Modernize International Drug Treaties," co-published by WOLA and The Brookings Institution.

Advocates also warn that flexibility, as called for by the State Department, shouldn't be used to justify human rights violations in any country, such as the death penalty for nonviolent offenses or the banning of life-saving public health interventions like syringe exchange or opioid substitution therapy. "Prohibition has been a public health and human rights disaster," said Charles King, CEO of the US's largest community-based AIDS service organization, Housing Works. "That's why citizens around the world are calling for – and in some cases enacting – forward-thinking reforms that move away from criminalization and toward regulation and control. US and UN agencies should stop trying to cut off the treaty reform discussion and encourage a truly open debate instead."

The full text of the letter and list of signatories are online at http://stopthedrugwar.org/un.

StoptheDrugWar.org works for an end to drug prohibition worldwide, and an end to the "drug war" in its current form. We believe that much of the harm commonly attributed to "drugs" is really the result of placing drugs in a criminal environment. We believe the global drug war has fueled violence, civil instability and public health crises; and that the currently prevalent arrest- and punishment-based policies toward drugs are unjust.

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Don't Miss Mexican Human Rights/Drug War Activist Javier Sicilia in DC This Week

Mexico poet and human rights activist Javier Sicilia and the Caravan for Peace (Movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity) will be in the nation's capital Tuesday and Wednesday. Sicilia will address both Congress and the Organization of American States. The events are open to the public. This press release has more details.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Rally Monday at Obama Fundraiser in Oakland, Demand End to Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana

MEDIA ADVISORY

Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
July 20, 2012
Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes or ASA California Director Don Duncan

Medical Marijuana Patients to Rally Monday at Obama Fundraiser in Oakland, Demand End to Federal Attacks
President Obama's visit to Oakland follows aggressive DOJ actions aimed at shutting down city-permitted dispensaries

Oakland, CA -- Hundreds of medical marijuana patients and advocates will stage a rally Monday in downtown Oakland at a fundraiser for President Obama's re-election campaign. The president's visit to Oakland follows a recent forfeiture action aimed at shutting down Harborside Health Center, a city-permitted dispensary that has operated since 2006 without incident. Earlier this year, the Obama Justice Department raided and shut down another of Oakland's permitted dispensaries, Blue Sky, leaving the city with a dwindling number of facilities to serve Oakland's patient population. On Monday, protesters will demand an end to federal interference and call for the firing of Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for northern California.

What: Rally and press conference to protest federal attacks on the medical marijuana community and on Oakland's dispensaries in particular
When: Monday, July 23rd Press Conference at 1:45pm (Rally Noon-5pm)
Where: Press conference at Oaksterdam University, 1600 Broadway, Oakland (Rally at City Hall Plaza)

"The Obama Administration's attacks on the medical marijuana community are unprecedented and out-of-control," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization and one of the groups organizing Monday's rally. "We're here to let the president know that there's a political, and not just a financial, cost to shutting down law-abiding dispensaries," continued Sherer. "Patients are demanding that the president take account for his administration's harmful actions and address medical marijuana like the public health issue that it is."

President Obama has been dogged for the actions of U.S. Attorneys over the past two years, as his administration engaged in an all-out attack in medical marijuana states. From thinly-veiled threats against public officials in several medical marijuana states to hundreds of SWAT-style raids and threats against property owners, resulting in the closure of hundreds of dispensaries in California and other states, Obama's Justice Department has expended millions of dollars to target state law-compliant businesses.

These attacks represent an about-face to President Obama's stated policy that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." Most recently, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month that his Justice Department was only targeting medical marijuana businesses "out of conformity with state law." Four days later, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents raided El Camino Wellness, a legally permitted dispensary in Sacramento widely supported by City Council members and others in the community.

Just last week, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed a forfeiture lawsuit against the landlord of Harborside Health Center, lauded as the most popular dispensary in the country, in an attempt to shut down its two facilities in Oakland and San Jose. The legal action by Haag elicited outrage from not just the medical marijuana community, but also from a number of supportive public officials, including Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, State Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), and Betty Yee of the State Board of Equalization, which collects more than $100 million in annual sales tax revenue from California's dispensaries.

In May, the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee unanimously adopted a resolution, decrying the federal raids as "a breach of promise and ill-directed use of taxpayer dollars," and calling on the federal government "to adhere to Administration promises about respecting state laws on medical marijuana by directing federal agencies to cease and desist from any further such action in California."

# # #

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 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.

Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States

US Law Enforcement Officials Call on Canadian Prime Minister to Legalize Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC -- A high-profile group of current and former law enforcement officials from the United States is calling on the Canadian government to reconsider the mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses proposed in Bill C-10, arguing that the taxation and regulation of marijuana is a more effective policy approach to reducing crime.

On Wednesday, the law enforcers released a letter outlining their concerns, addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian senators. It is signed by more than two dozen current and former judges, police officers, special agents, narcotics investigators and other criminal justice professionals, all of whom are members of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The letter strongly reinforces the failure of U.S. crime policies that those proposed in the Canadian federal government’s Bill C-10 legislation seem to be modeled on.

“Through our years of service enforcing anti-marijuana laws, we have seen the devastating consequences of these laws,” the letter states. “Among the greatest concerns is the growth in organized crime and gang violence. Just as with alcohol prohibition, gang violence, corruption and social decay have marched in lockstep with marijuana prohibition.”

“We were deeply involved with the war on drugs and have now accepted, due to our own experience and the clear evidence before us, that these policies are a costly failure,” the letter continues. “Marijuana prohibition drives corruption and violence and tougher laws only worsen the problem.”

Bill C-10, titled “The Safe Streets and Communities Act,” is currently being heard by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Among other proposals, the bill calls for stricter mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses, including minimum six-month sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants.

“The Canadian government believes the answer is to get tougher on criminals,” said Norm Stamper, retired chief of police in Seattle, Washington. “But as we’ve learned with our decades-long failed experiment with the ‘war on drugs,’ the stricter sentencing proposed in the bill will only serve to help fill jails. It will not reduce harms related to the illicit marijuana trade, make Canadian streets safer or diminish gang activity.”

Said retired Washington State Superior Court Judge David Nichols: “Policies similar to those in the U.S. and now under consideration in Canada have been costly failures in the United States, wasting tax dollars and bankrupting state budgets. Following our path presents obvious and significant risks to Canadians.”

Among the 28 signers of the letter are many law enforcement officials working in border areas. They pointed to the illegal cross-border marijuana trade as sustaining gang activity in the region.

“Organized crime groups move marijuana to the U.S. from British Columbia and return with cocaine and guns,” said Stamper. “Prohibition continues to fill the coffers of organized criminals, making communities on both sides of the border less safe.”

Eric Sterling, who helped the U.S. Congress write the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, cautions: “As counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the 1980's, I played a major role in writing the mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws which later turned out to not only be ineffective in reducing drug use, but which directly contributed to the disastrous overincarceration problem in this country. I urge policy makers in Canada to learn from our mistakes.”

Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, a member of LEAP’s advisory board and a former member of the RCMP and its drug squad, added: “I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues will listen to the voice of experience, and take into account the advice from leading U.S. law enforcement officials to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. The U.S. and many of its citizens have suffered greatly due to the inflexible and dogmatic nature of mandatory minimum sentences, and Canada would be wise to learn from and avoid that costly and socially destructive mistake.”

U.S. Becoming More Progressive than Canada with Marijuana Policy

While Canada moves towards stricter sentencing with Bill C-10, many states in the U.S. are shifting in the opposite direction, toward control and regulation of the marijuana trade. The law enforcement officials pointed to the 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that have already passed laws allowing medical use of cannabis, the 14 states that have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession and the initiatives to fully tax and regulate marijuana that are likely to appear on statewide ballots this November in Washington State, Colorado and possibly California.

“We assume this news will not make you consider closing the borders with the United States,” the law enforcement officials write in their letter.

For a copy of the law enforcement letter, please visit http://www.leap.cc/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/regulation-in-canada.pdf

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate marijuana and other drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence.

More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2012

CONTACT: Tom Angell, media@leap.cc or Steve Finlay, steve.finlay@leap.cc

Location: 
Canada

Bipartisan New Mexico Bill Supports Fund for State Medical Marijuana Program

 

Drug Policy Alliance

www.drugpolicy.org

 

For Immediate Release:                            Contact: Emily Kaltenbach (505) 920-5256

February 3, 2012                                                             Tony Newman (646) 335-5384

 

In Rare Bi-partisan Move, State Legislators Back Fund to Support New Mexico Medical Marijuana Program

Senators Adair (R), Ortiz y Pino (D), and Ryan (R), join Senator McSorley (D) to sponsor Senate Bill 240

 

(Santa Fe) – Midway through the 2012 Legislative Session, a bill aimed at protecting thousands of sick New Mexicans' legal right to the most appropriate medication to relieve their symptoms and suffering has been introduced by Senator Cisco McSorley (D) and signed on by Senator Rod Adair (R), Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D), and Senator John Ryan (R).  Senate Bill 240 creates a Medical Marijuana Fund sustained by the producer and patient production licensing fees currently being collected by the Department of Health.  The Department of Health will be able to use these funds to directly administer the program.

"This bill is an unusual partnership among conservatives and liberals for the advancement of policy efforts in New Mexico," said Emily Kaltenbach, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. "Many of the best ideas defy political labels."

SB240 is one of those ideas.  Since the funding will come from existing fees, there is no added burden to the taxpayers and the additional resources will greatly strengthen the state's ability to fulfill its oversight and legal duties under the existing law (Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act) while continuing to provide safe access to safe medicine to patients who are suffering from serious illnesses.  

Yesterday, SB240 unanimously passed the Senate Conservation Committee and will be heard next in the Senate Finance Committee.

Out of the 16 states with medical marijuana laws, New Mexico was one of few states in which a majority of Republican legislators voted for the passage of the legislation. New Mexico passed its medical marijuana bill in early 2007 with overwhelming bi-partisan legislative support, including a Senate vote of 32 – 3.

Today, New Mexico's vital Medical Marijuana Program is serving over 5,000 patients diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, spinal cord injury, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and epilepsy. 

A New Mexico Drug Policy Reform study found 79% of New Mexico voters support making medical marijuana available to seriously or terminally ill patients in order to reduce their pain and suffering.

Senate Bill 240’s bi-partisan sponsorship comes on the heels of a forum co-hosted by the Rio Grande Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance in late 2011.  Last October, more than a dozen New Mexico legislators from both sides of the aisle joined about 70 others to explore their shared values and principles on a more rational public safety and health response to drug policy reform. 

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights. 

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Location: 
NM
United States

YouTube Ignores Cop's First Place Marijuana Legalization Video Question for Obama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:January 30, 2012
CONTACT:Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

YouTube Ignores Cop's First Place Marijuana Legalization Video Question for Obama

Site Finds Time for Questions About Dancing, Late-Night Snacks and Playing Tennis

WASHINGTON, DC-- Today YouTube ignored a question advocating marijuana legalization from a retired LAPD deputy chief of police that won twice as many votes as any other video question in the White House's "Your Interview with the President" competition on the Google-owned site. They did, however, find the time to get the president on record about late night snacking, singing and dancing, celebrating wedding anniversaries and playing tennis.  

Stephen Downing, the retired LAPD police officer and a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), had this to say about the site ignoring his question: "It's worse than silly that YouTube and Google would waste the time of the president and of the American people discussing things like midnight snacks and playing tennis when there is a much more pressing question on the minds of the people who took the time to participate in voting on submissions. A majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana to de-fund cartels and gangs, lower incarceration and arrest rates and save scarce public resources, all while generating new much-needed tax revenue. The time to discuss this issue is now. We're tired of this serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off."

The top-voted video question from Downing is as follows: "Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country’s drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?" The question can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0IpiATxdR4.

Downing's question came in first place for video questions and ranked second out of all questions (with the overall top spot going to a text question about copyright infringement). Many of the other top-ranking questions were about marijuana policy or the failed "war on drugs," as has been the case every other time the White House has invited citizens to submit and vote on questions via the web. 

Voting in the YouTube contest wrapped up Saturday at midnight EST. In addition to the top-voted marijuana and drug policy questions mentioned above, there were a number of other similar questions that received thousands of votes but were mysteriously deleted after being marked "inappropriate."

More information about the contest and the top-voted questions can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse. The Gallup poll referenced in Downing's winning question can be found online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/150149/Record-High-Americans-Favor-Legalizing-Marijuana.aspx.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the war on drugs and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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Patient Advocates File Appeal Brief in Federal Case to Reclassify Medical Marijuana

 

PRESS RELEASE
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2012
Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes

Patient Advocates File Appeal Brief in Federal Case to Reclassify Medical Marijuana
Lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit challenges DEA denial to reschedule marijuana for medical use

Washington, DC -- The country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), filed an appeal brief today in the D.C. Circuit to compel the federal government to reclassify marijuana for medical use. In July 2011, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied a petition filed in 2002 by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC), which was denied only after the coalition sued the government for unreasonable delay. The ASA brief filed today is an appeal of the CRC rescheduling denial.

"By ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence that clearly shows the therapeutic value of marijuana, the Obama Administration is playing politics at the expense of sick and dying Americans," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the appeal today. "For the first time in more than 15 years we will be able to present evidence in court to challenge the government's flawed position on medical marijuana." Although two other rescheduling petitions have been filed since the establishment of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the merits of medical efficacy was reviewed only once by the courts in 1994.

The ASA appeal brief asserts that the federal government acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the United States. ASA argues in the brief that the DEA has no "license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case." ASA is urging the court to "require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly," and order "a hearing and findings based on the scientific record."

Patient advocates argue that by failing to reclassify marijuana, the federal government has stifled meaningful research into a wide array of therapeutic uses, such as pain relief, appetite stimulation, nausea suppression, and spasticity control among many other benefits. In 1988, the government ignored the ruling of its own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young who said that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

Since the CRC petition was filed in 2002, an even greater number of studies have been published that show the medical benefits of marijuana for illnesses such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's. Recent studies even show that marijuana may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Last year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, added cannabis to its list of Complementary Alternative Medicines, pointing out that it's been therapeutically used for millennia. The ASA appeal asserts that scientific evidence that  was studied or discovered after 2002 is still relevant and must be considered.

Attorneys David Holland and Michael Kennedy filed the original petition in 2002 on behalf the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, which included several individual patients and groups, such as ASA and Patients Out of Time.

AFI: Several patient-petitioners are available for interviews:

William Britt
Mr. Britt is a 52-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, who developed polio as a child, which caused him to have scoliosis, a fused left ankle, shortened left leg, and bone degeneration in his left hip.  Mr. Britt also suffers from epilepsy, depression and insomnia, and uses marijuana to treat chronic pain in his leg, back, and hip. Marijuana has reduced Mr. Britt's seizures and depression, and helps him sleep. Although Mr. Britt has taken prescription medication such as Marinol, Robaxin, Soma, and Xanax, none has proven as effective as marijuana.

Michael Krawitz
Mr. Krawitz is a 49-year-old resident of Elliston, Virginia, who suffered an automobile accident in 1984 while serving in the United States Air Force.  Mr. Krawitz has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as being totally and permanently disabled. Mr. Krawitz uses marijuana to treat chronic pain and trauma associated with his accident.  He also use marijuana to treat central serous retinopathy. However, because of Mr. Krawitz's medical marijuana use, he has been denied pain treatment by the VA.

Steph Sherer
Ms. Sherer is a resident of Washington, D.C. and the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In April of 2000, Ms. Sherer suffered a physical attack that has caused her to suffer from a condition known as torticollis, which causes her to experience inflammation, muscle spasms, pain throughout her body, and decreased mobility in her neck. Because of pain medication she was prescribed, including Soma, Robaxin and Ibuprofin, Ms. Sherer suffered kidney damage. After her doctor recommended medical marijuana, Ms. Sherer successfully reduced her inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. This prompted Ms. Sherer to found ASA in April of 2002 to share what she learned about the medical benefits of marijuana with others. Since then, ASA has grown to more than thirty-five thousand members, including many seriously ill persons who would have benefited from the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but who were deterred from doing so, in part, by the government's statements that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

Further information:
ASA appeal brief filed today: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf
DEA answer to CRC petition: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Petition_DEA_Answer.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf

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With over 50,000 active members in all 50 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.

Medical Marijuana Patient Surrenders Today -- Pardon Sought from Gov. Christie

MEDIA ADVISORY
January 27, 2012

Medical Marijuana Patient Surrenders Today; Pardon Sought from Gov Christie

Somerville – Multiple sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson will appear at the Somerset County Courthouse today at 8:30AM. He is expected to be taken into custody to serve the reminder of a five-year prison term for growing seventeen cannabis plants. The NJ State Supreme Court refused to hear his latest appeal. He was convicted just before the New Jersey medical marijuana law was passed in 2010.

"John Ray Wilson exemplifies the fact the NJ has some of the most retroactive, ill-advised draconian marijuana laws in the country," said civil rights attorney William Buckman who represented Wilson in the appeal.

"The notion that taxpayers should pay to lock up a sick man for 5 years is ludicrous and tragic," said Buckman, "The governor should quickly commute his sentence."

Governor Chris Christie could intervene. State Senator Raymond Lesniak issued a press release yesterday also renewing that call: "I am disappointed by the recent decision of the Supreme Court to deny the appeal of John Ray Wilson. Mr. Wilson was not selling drugs on our streets. He was merely trying to alleviate the symptoms of a dreadfully painful and regressive disease. It is unconscionable that this Friday he will be behind bars."

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) has been keeping up demonstrations in support of John since his original trial. The group plans to hold solidarity events for Wilson while he is in prison. A support rally is planned in front of the court house today.

John Wilson's case has symbolized the ongoing plight of New Jersey's medical cannabis patients.

For more information about this release, please contact Ken Wolski or Chris Goldstein.

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WHAT: Support rally for John Ray Wilson
WHERE: Somerset County Courthouse 40 N Bridge St, Somerville
WHEN: 1/27/2012 - - - 8:30AM ET

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ  08618

Location: 
North Bridge St.
Somerville, NJ 08876-1262
United States

NJ Supreme Court: 5 Years in Prison for MS Patient Growing Marijuana

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

NJ Supreme Court: 5 Years in Prison for MS Patient Growing Marijuana

Family, senators and community seek pardon from Governor


Trenton, NJ – January 24, 2012 - Multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson is preparing to resume his 5-year prison sentence after the state Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal on January 20. Attorney William Buckman called the result “wrongheaded and a vicious travesty.”

Wilson was arrested on August 18, 2008 and charged with “manufacturing” 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson faced 20 years in state prison for this crime.   

The jury was not allowed to hear details about Wilson's condition, essentially removing his only defense. In December 2009, Wilson was acquitted of the most serious charge but convicted of a second-degree charge of manufacturing marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison on March 19, 2010. Members of the community protested outside the courthouse in Somerville. 

On July 26, 2011, an appellate court ruling affirmed the conviction and sentencing. The court agreed with the trial judge there was no “personal use” exemption to the charge. They agreed that five years in prison for this crime was an appropriate sentence.

Governor Chris Christie ignored appeals from state Senators Nicholas Scutari and Raymond Lesniak seeking a pardon. The official pardon request to the Office of the Governor remains active.

 

“This is further proof that there is no justice for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey," said Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ).

MS is a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy in New Jersey according to the two-year-old Compassionate Use Act, but the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is not operational yet.

The National MS Society confirmed that standard therapies often provide inadequate relief for the symptoms of MS and that marijuana helps with MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity and could limit disease progression. An estimated 15% of people with the disease use marijuana for symptom relief.  

Chris Goldstein on the Board of Directors at CMMNJ said, "How many more seriously ill residents are we going to pay to send to prison? We call on Governor Chris Christie to demonstrate his compassion for qualifying medical marijuana patients and his commitment to a new stance on non-violent drug offenders by issuing a pardon for John Ray Wilson."

For more information about this release, please contact Ken Wolski (609) 394 2137 or Chris Goldstein (267) 702 3731.

CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ  08618

Location: 
Trenton, NJ
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School