ASA's Summary of Medical Marijuana Media: Week of March 16

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ASA ACTION: Rare Ruling Axes Some Rosenthal Charges FEDERAL: New Appeal from Raich Rejected NEW MEXICO: Governor Gets New Measure Passed MARYLAND: ASA Urges Legal Protections for Patients CONNECTICUT: State Bill Debated Again OREGON: Senate Votes for Discrimination Against Patients GEORGIA: Patient Who Gets Free Federal Cannabis Speaks Out CALIFORNIA: Another County Approves ID Cards DISPENSARIES: Community Solutions Debated ___________________________________________ ASA ACTION: Rare Ruling Axes Some Rosenthal Charges ASA’s chief counsel Joe Elford won an unusual victory in the re-trial of medical marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal, successfully arguing that the government’s new tax and money laundering charges were retaliation for the criticism heaped on the government after the first trial of the 62-year-old author. Prosecutors said they would go forward, regardless, which got them a lecture from the judge and a month to think about all the reasons why they shouldn’t. Rosenthal Trial Postponed While Prosecutors Consider Appeal by Bay City News Service, CBS 5 News A federal judge in San Francisco today delayed a possible trial for Oakland marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal while prosecutors decide whether to appeal the judge's dismissal of half the charges against him. Judge Delays 'Guru Of Ganja' Trial Pending Possible Appeal NBC 11 News A federal judge in San Francisco on Friday delayed a possible trial for Oakland marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal, the self-described "Guru of Ganja," while prosecutors decide whether to appeal the judge's dismissal of half the charges against him. Judge Urges Feds To Drop Charges In 'Ganja Guru' Trial Associated Press A federal judge told prosecutors Friday to consider dropping pot-growing charges against self-proclaimed marijuana guru Ed Rosenthal. Judge to feds: consider dropping `ganja guru' case by Josh Richman, ANG Newspapers A federal judge today gave a prosecutor one month to decide -- and a lecture to guide his way -- whether to continue the government's case against "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal. Judge guts federal case against 'Guru of Ganja' by Josh Richman, ANG Newspapers A federal judge dismissed money laundering and tax charges against "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal on Wednesday, gutting the government's case by ruling the new charges amounted to vindictive prosecution. Americans for Safe Access counsel Joe Elford, who argued the vindictive-prosecution motion on Rosenthal's behalf, said Wednesday such motions are rarely filed and even more rarely granted. Federal attempt to jail pot grower shot down by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle The federal government's five-year effort to throw one of the nation's most prominent advocates of marijuana in prison appears to be all but dead after a judge ruled that prosecutors had vindictively piled on charges against the Oakland man after he successfully appealed his pot-growing convictions. Tax Charges Dismissed Against Pot Guru by Marcus Wohlsen, Associated Press A judge dismissed tax and money laundering charges Wednesday against a man who declared himself ``Guru of Ganja,'' after defense attorneys argued the prosecution was retaliation. ___________________________________________ FEDERAL: New Appeal from Raich Rejected Angel Raich tried again to convince a federal court that she should be protected from prosecution for using the marijuana her doctors say is keeping her alive. The appellate court made clear that they wished there was a way under the law to prevent federal prosecution of patients, but that “medical necessity” would only be available as a defense if she were being prosecuted. The oped from one of her attorneys, Randy Barnett, spells out why he thinks they are wrong. Dying woman loses medical marijuana appeal by David Kravets, Associated Press A woman whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive can face federal prosecution on drug charges, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. Court says U.S. can ban medical marijuana by Adam Tanner, Reuters A California woman with an inoperable brain tumour may not use marijuana to ease her pain even though California voters have approved medical marijuana, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday. Dying Woman Loses Appeal on Marijuana as Medication by Jesse McKinley, New York Times Federal appellate judges here ruled Wednesday that a terminally ill woman using marijuana was not immune to federal prosecution simply because of her condition, and in a separate case a federal judge dismissed most of the charges against a prominent advocate for the medicinal use of the drug. A Right to Life-Saving Marijuana? A Federal Court Says No by Patrick J. Lyons, New York Times Another legal door was slammed today in the ever-contentious question of medical marijuana, when a federal appeals court ruled once again that Angel Raich of Oakland, Calif., could be prosecuted for smoking cannabis even though her doctor says it is the only drug keeping her alive. Court Rules Against Ill Woman in Medical Marijuana Case by Richard Gonzales, NPR, Morning Edition A chronically ill woman in California has lost a legal round in her effort to use medical marijuana. A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that even though medical marijuana use is legal in California, the woman is not immune from prosecution under federal drug laws. Patient loses court appeal for medical pot use by Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Medical marijuana patient Angel Raich's latest bid to win protection from federal drug laws went down to defeat Wednesday in U.S. appeals court despite her claim that cannabis is the only medicine that keeps her alive. Medical marijuana takes another hit in court by Josh Richman, ANG Newspapers Medical necessity doesn't shield medical-marijuana users from federal prosecution, a clearly sympathetic federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in an Oakland woman's case that earlier went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Raich loses medical marijuana appeal by Julie Cheever, Bay City News Service A seriously ill Oakland woman who says she needs medical marijuana to "avoid intolerable pain and death" lost a bid to a federal appeals court today for the right to use the substance. OPINION ON RAICH Reefer Madness by Randy Barnett, OpEd, Wall Street Journal On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit turned away another constitutional challenge to the federal ban on using cannabis for medical purposes. Its decision revealed a glaring weakness in how the Supreme Court protects liberty under the Constitution. Federal Court Vetoes Marijuana For Dying Mom by Emil Steiner, Columnist, Washington Post A wiser man than I once wondered whether stiffer sentences for suicide bombers might reduce the number of terrorists who blow themselves up. With that perhaps in mind, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, Wednesday, that even if doctors say marijuana is the only thing keeping you alive, it is still illegal for you to smoke it. Schiavo vs. Raich coverage: Where's the outrage? by Silja Talvi, WIMN's Voices, Reclaim the Media It might still be too early to tell, but I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of mainstream media outlets will not be sitting on Angel McClary Raich’s doorstep, reporting on the urgency of her struggle right now to stay alive. Right marijuana ruling, wrong marijuana law by Jon Mendelson, Columnist, Tracy Press Scientific research suggests marijuana can be an effective tool in a doctor’s arsenal against disease and discomfort. That’s why Tracy needs to nix a rumored plan to specifically outlaw dispensaries within the city. And it’s why our representatives should take action to decriminalize medical marijuana on the federal level. Otherwise, people like Raich will continue to draw the wrath of federal drug enforcers simply for trying to ease symptoms no one should have to live with. ___________________________________________ NEW MEXICO: Governor Gets New Measure Passed In an all-too-rare display of a politician putting the health and welfare of constituents above political gain, Governor Bill Richardson, a candidate for President, refused to accept the New Mexico legislature’s rejection of a medical cannabis bill. He personally called the lawmakers who opposed the measure and, within a week, got a new bill introduced and passed. Medical marijuana: Governor calls bill 'right thing to do' by Deborah Baker, Associated Press Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, poised to sign a bill making New Mexico the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana, said Thursday that he realizes his action could become an issue in the presidential race. Lawmakers change minds on marijuana by Kate Nash, Albuquerque Tribune (NM) Gov. Bill Richardson worked hard to change minds on a medical marijuana bill he wants to sign into law. Apparently he didn't change a single one - according to the Democrats who did what he wanted and switched their votes from "no" last week to "yes" on Tuesday. Lawmakers give final approval to medical marijuana Associated Press Lawmakers have sent New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson a bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Few would get marijuana meds KRQE News 13 (NM) The medical marijuana bill expected to become law would affect an estimated 50 to 200 ill New Mexicans who would be allowed to smoke pot to alleviate their suffering. Medical marijuana bill back on floor by Casey Peacock, Portales News-Tribune (NM) After initial efforts to pass a medical marijuana bill in the state Legislature were shot down in the House last week, the issue is back at the urging of the governor. ___________________________________________ MARYLAND: ASA Urges Legal Protections for Patients Among those testifying before the Maryland legislature as it considers making medical use of cannabis legal in the state was ASA’s government affairs director, Caren Woodson, who explained why the state should do more than simply reduce criminal penalties for patients. Currently, those arrested for marijuana possession may have the charges reduced to a minor misdemeanor if they can show medical need. Oaks' bill would allow marijuana for medical uses by Sharahn D. Boykin, Capital News Service (MD) A 49-year-old Chestertown mother of two was in Annapolis this week to support legislation introduced by a north Baltimore-area legislator that would make Maryland the 12th state to allow patients to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. ___________________________________________ CONNECTICUT: State Bill Debated Again The legislative process can be a slow one, with bills introduced year after year until a winning coalition is formed. Connecticut is among the many states currently considering exempting patients from criminal liability, as they have in years past. Each year, the scientific evidence in support of medical use grows, as does the number of states with medical cannabis laws. Medical marijuana debate returns to state Capitol by Keith M. Phaneuf, Journal Inquirer (CT) The question over whether to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes is back before state legislators. The question, which has produced some rousing floor debates over the past four years, never has made it to the governor's desk. ___________________________________________ OREGON: Senate Votes for Discrimination Against Patients Patients in Oregon may have a right to use medical cannabis on a doctor’s recommendation, but the state senate doesn’t think they have a right to a job if they do. A controversial bill that would allow employers to fire any employee who uses medical cannabis – even at home on the weekends – passed this week. Even if it gets all the way to the governor’s desk, it is sure to face court challenge. Under bill, medical-marijuana users could be fired by Aaron Clark, Associated Press Employers could fire medical-marijuana users who fail drug tests under a bill passed Wednesday by the Oregon Senate. Marijuana and the Workplace by Edward Walsh, The Oregonian It may soon become easier for Oregon employers to enforce drug-free workplace policies, even against employees who hold valid state medical marijuana cards, under a bill passed by the Oregon Senate Wednesday. ___________________________________________ GEORGIA: Patient Who Gets Free Federal Cannabis Speaks Out Few people know that, despite the federal government’s vociferous denial of cannabis’s medical uses, it nonetheless provides free medical cannabis to a handful of patients who were able to prove they needed it decades ago. The Investigational New Drug program provides up to six pounds of cannabis a year to these patients, along with federal documentation that they may legally use and transport it anywhere in the country. Ms. Musikka thinks that should be true for all cannabis patients. Medical marijuana endorsed by patient by Joshua Brown, Albany Herald (GA) Elvy Musikka, a widely known advocate of medical marijuana use, credits pot with restoring her vision. Musikka said Thursday during a visit to Albany State University that the drug should be used as a medical treatment for illnesses because it helps to make the body function better and, in her case, restored lost eyesight. ___________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Another County Approves ID Cards Since the state health department rolled back its enormous fee hike in California’s voluntary ID card program, another county has approved a plan to issue the cards to patients. Currently 31 out of 58 counties have voted to implement the state-mandated program. Medical marijuana cards OK'd by John Holland, Modesto Bee Medical marijuana users in Tuolumne County soon can get identification cards under a plan narrowly approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors. Tuolumne County Approves California's Medical Marijuana ID Program by BJ Hansen, The Motherlode (CA) Supervisor Teri Murrsion had the task of casting the deciding vote on whether to implement the state's medical marijuana identification card program in Tuolumne County. Pot program to be put in place by Alisha Wyman, Union Democrat (CA) An identification card system for Tuolumne County medical marijuana patients will soon be in place. OPINION ON ID CARDS Very hazy landscape EDITORIAL, Contra Costa Times (CA) Let’s see now... California voters want it. The federal government doesn't. Patients need it. But if they use it, they could be prosecuted. Oh yes, lest we forget, the state department charged with keeping track of it is making it more expensive to obtain. State must follow voters wishes on medical marijuana EDITORIAL, The Argus (CA) You would have thought the state Department of Health Services was out to kill the medical marijuana identification card program. The department planned to increase the cost of the cards tenfold before wiser minds prevailed and the hike was cut in half. __________________________________________ DISPENSARIES: Community Solutions Debated As compassionate, community-based solutions to the problem of patient access to cannabis, dispensaries have been opening throughout California. Those communities that have established regulations for their operation have had great success both meeting the needs of patients and allaying the concerns of the larger community. See ASA’s study of the issue at New medical marijuana dispensary opens in Palm Springs KESQ News 3 A new medical marijuana dispensary in the Coachella Valley is opening shop in the same location of another dispensary that shut down in January. New medical marijuana dispensary opens in Palm Springs by K Kaufmann, Desert Sun (CA) A new medical marijuana dispensary has opened in Palm Springs at the location of the recently closed Collective Apothecary of Palm Springs, or CAPS. Cannabis club must shut immediately, judge rules by Ryan Huff, Contra Costa Times A Pacheco medical marijuana dispensary that has remained open despite a county order to close must stop selling cannabis immediately, Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga ruled Thursday. Medical Marijuana Clinics Face Crackdown by Andrew Glazer, Associated Press Federal agents trailed Sparky Rose as he drove a Porsche Carrera convertible to his medical marijuana clinic. Under California law, clinics are supposed to dispense marijuana just to seriously ill people and clinic owners are to get only "reasonable compensation." But to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the sports car suggested that Rose might be pocketing big money from his purportedly nonprofit clinic, New Remedies Cooperative. Ceres bans marijuana dispensaries by Michelle Hatfield, Modesto Bee With little fanfare, the City Council unanimously voted Monday night to ban groups from dispensing medical marijuana in the city. OPINION ON DISPENSARIES Medical marijuana and the feds: The California saga continues EDITORIAL, Las Vegas Review Journal On the one hand, the DEA and Justice Department continue to insist in court that the state law has no validity at all -- routinely arguing not only that voters have no power to overrule the federal ban on marijuana, but that juries need not even be told that clinic operators have been operating legally under state law. On the other hand, the DEA has now undertaken what appears to be selective enforcement of that very same California state law, arguing some clinic owners are taking home more than "reasonable compensation." As We See It: Medical marijuana abuse? EDITORIAL, Santa Cruz Sentinel Like Capt. Renault in the movie classic "Casablanca," we were shocked — shocked! — to discover that some proprietors of medical marijuana clinics have pulled down millions of dollars, even as "nonprofit" clinics.
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