Chronicle AM -- June 5, 2014

An Arkansas marijuana legalization initiative can start signature-gathering, DC's medical marijuana program now includes more eligible conditions, Tennessee's governor unveils his prescription drug plan, Canada's mandatory minimum sentencing law is being challenged, and more. Let's get to it:

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets scolded by the medical marijuana movement.
Marijuana Policy

Arkansas Legalization Initiative Approved for Signature-Gathering. State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday approved the popular name and ballot title for a constitutional amendment initiative that would legalize marijuana. Supporters of the Arkansas Hemp and Cannabis Amendment now have just over one month -- until July 7 -- to submit more than 78,000 valid voter signatures in order to qualify for the November ballot. A medical marijuana initiative sponsored by Arkansans for Compassionate Care is already in the signature-gathering phase.

Medical Marijuana

Group Targets DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Not Voting to End DEA Interference in Medical Marijuana States. The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access is now running TV ads criticizing Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee as "out of touch" for voting against a measure to bar the DEA from interfering in medical marijuana states. Wasserman Schultz was one of only 18 Democrats who voted against it while 170 Democrats voted for it. The ads are running on MSNBC in South Florida, where her district is.

DC Medical Marijuana Program Adds New Qualifying Conditions. The DC Department of Health has approved new conditions for which patients will be able to use marijuana. They are seizure disorders, Lou Gehrig's Disease, decompensated cirrhosis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, and Alzheimer's. Hospice patients will also be allowed to use marijuana. Previously, the DC program had been restricted to people suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and muscle spasticity.

Heroin

Ohio Democratic Candidates Call for Tougher Action Against Heroin. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper are calling for tougher action against heroin. FitzGerald said he wants tougher enforcement on dealers and that rising heroin use should be treated as a public health emergency. And Pepper called for heroin overdose deaths to be treated like murder. FitzGerald added that not enough dealers are going to prison, especially after a sentencing reform bill passed. The Ohio Republican Party responded calling the Democrats "tone deaf" and "ghoulish," saying that Gov. John Kasich (R) has been a strong advocate on the issue, and besides, Attorney General Mike DeWine's (R) office had just indicted two heroin dealers last week.

Prescription Drugs

Tennessee Governor Rolls Out Prescription Drug Plan. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) Tuesday unveiled his seven-point program to battle problems associated with prescription drug use. "Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee" calls for reducing the prescribing of prescription opiates, reducing overdose deaths (including through enactment of a 911 Good Samaritan law), increasing prevention, early intervention, and treatment, and increased cooperation among state agencies and between the state and other entities. While it has a law enforcement component, that doesn't seem to be emphasized. [Ed: There are some good provisions in this document, but reducing the prescribing of pain medications needs to be handled with great care. Although more people are getting opiates now, not all of the people who need them are, and it could easily get even worse for pain patients.]

Drug Testing

California Initiative to Drug Test Doctors Qualifies for Ballot. An initiative that requires random, suspicionless drug and alcohol testing of doctors has qualified for the November 2014 ballot, according to the Secretary of State's office. It also requires doctors to report any other doctor they suspect of being impaired by drugs or alcohol. It also increases the cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, which may the initiative's main goal. Legislative analysts estimate it could cost the state "at least in the low tens of millions of dollars annually" in higher malpractice costs and up to "hundreds of millions of dollars annually" because of changes in the amount and type of health care services provided.

Law Enforcement

In Massive Heroin Sweep, New Jersey Police Arrest Seven Users for Every Dealer. New Jersey cops arrested 325 people during an eight-week heroin sting, but only 40 of them are accused of selling heroin. The rest are alleged heroin users. Authorities said all were arrested on relatively low-level charges and all would have a chance to go through treatment programs, but the head of the state's drug court program said she wasn't sure the system could accommodate all of them.

International

New Zealand Workers Win Drug Testing Case. Workers at a mill who were subjected to mandatory drug tests after two marijuana plants were found growing on the site were treated unfairly and must be compensated, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled. The mill owner had argued that the discovery of pot plants was "reasonable cause" to drug test everybody, but the authority disagreed. "This is a victory for our members, and a victory for common decency and respect," says Ron Angel, a union organizer for timber workers. "Drug testing has to be about proving actual impairment at work - not treating workers as guilty until proven innocent."

Canada Battle over Mandatory Minimum Sentences Heads to BC Appeals Court. A case that could eventually overturn the Conservative government's mandatory minimum sentence scheme for drug offenses is being heard in the BC Court of Appeals today. Earlier this year, a BC provincial court judge ruled unconstitutional an automatic one-year prison term for a person repeatedly convicted of drugs. Lawyers for the government appealed; thus today's hearing. The case is that of Vancouver Downtown Eastside resident Joseph Lloyd, a long-time drug user with 21 previous convictions who was convicted last fall of trafficking small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and meth. The provincial court judge held that mandatory minimum sentences amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Bolivian Village to Bake Coca Birthday Cake for UN Head Ban Ki-Moon. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be in Bolivia when his birthday rolls around on June 15, and the mayor of Cobija, Ana Lucia Reis, says they are going to bake him a coca birthday cake. "The idea is that Ban tries the coca and realizes that coca is part of our culture and is not cocaine," she said.

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Ohio heroin overdose

David Pepper in Ohio is all about punishment I see . Treating overdose`s as murder is absurd . How many murder charges does he plan to bring against Big Pharma ? More people die from prescription drug use than all illegal drugs combined . I`m talking about people that actually have a prescription . Where are the murder charges for Wal-Mart pharmacists ? David Pepper is pure lunatic .

Coca, the sacred coca leaf.

Coca, the sacred coca leaf. You know it's holiness when you see what happens I people when it is satanized. Well, everything in moderation I course.

Leaf, not crack; toke, not monoxide

Anonymous$, I imagine the cocaine plague touches thousands of persons in the US for every one who has ever seen a coca leaf.   Have you ever heard of someone vaping sifted particulate leaf (like with cannabis or oregano, with a flexible drawtube one-hitter), and whether it was a worthwhile experience?  Maybe holiness resides in natural rather than pHARMaceutical use.

 

@kickback, seems like these are Democrats outrepublicating Republicans.   Maybe the solution is to make the public VAPE-LITERATE:

 

(a) cannabis can SUBSTITUTE for  heroin (and tobacco), and

 

b) SUBSTITUTE 25mg "single toke" servings in a flexible-drawtube one-hitter for 500-mg-per-lightup "joint $moking" .

Fear of Marijuana

Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please all you prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, "Conspiracy Theories" and "Doomsday Scenarios" over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay? Furthermore, if all you get when you look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of yours, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest you return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money you shelled out for it, since it is obviously defective.  The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.  If you're going to take it upon yourself to worry about "saving us all" from ourselves, then you need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!  Why do you feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when you could more wisely focus your efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?  You really should get your priorities straight and or practice a little live and let live. You'll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if you refrain from being hell bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

agreed, but...

I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I want to correct something, it is tobacco that kills more people than all other drugs combined. Unless you are an alcoholic like me, that is. I quit both alcohol and tobacco, and for me, the booze had to go before the cigarettes. But statistically, its tobacco that is the most deadly, by far. I still smoke pot, because it's good for me. And it never killed anyone!

Wasserman-Schultz is running scared

As she ought to be.

She's pissed off a major Democratic Party donor, who's raising Hell about her vote.

Pols like Wasserman-Schultz still think they can still spout the same old, tired reeking ONDCP/DEA supplied propaganda tailored for the ignorant old folks who demi-consciously, reflexively voted for anything touted to 'Save the Childrennnnnnnn!' And thus were suckers in the multi-generational con game called drug prohibition.

She and her kind must be made to understand those days are over. A new electorate is rising to power to replace the ignorant oldsters who held back progress on this issue for so long. And they don't believe the BS, despite having heard it all their lives.  They know what the prohibs tried to do to them with their DARE program: make another generation of suckers to keep the gravy train/con game going. And they're NOT buying it.

They vote for the sanity of re-legalization every chance they get. And if all that people like Wasserman-Schultz can do is sound like a prohib nutjob, then it's time for her to go.

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