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Europe: Britain Goes After Medical Marijuana Suppliers

In two separate trials, one beginning this week and one beginning next week, British authorities are prosecuting medical marijuana providers under the country's drug laws, the Guardian reported. The continued prosecution of medical marijuana providers comes despite the government's downgrading of marijuana from a Class B drug to the less serious Class C in 2004.

Four members of Therapeutic Help from Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis (THCforMS( faced charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana this week in crown court in Carlisle. THCforMS supplies free cannabis exclusively to MS sufferers and says on its web site it has handed out 33,000 cannabis chocolate bars to patients.

Next week, Bud Buddies founder Jeffrey Ditchfield goes on trial in Mold crown court on nine counts of cultivation and distribution of cannabis. Bud Buddies offers a number of marijuana preparations for anyone with a proven medical need and requires documentation of that need from a physician.

Under current British marijuana law, all of the defendants mentioned face up to 14 years in prison.

Meanwhile, life has become more difficult for as many as 30% of British MS sufferers who use the herb to alleviate the pain and spasms associated with the disease. One of those patients, who asked not to be identified, said she had applied to use the marijuana tincture Sativex on a trial basis, but was turned down. The preparation is currently undergoing a three-year trial. "I find it inconceivable that the crown sees these prosecutions as in the public interest when there is still no legal way for the people who are helped by cannabis to obtain and use it," she said.

The British Medical Association said in a 1997 report: "While research is under way the police, the courts and prosecuting authorities should be aware of the medicinal reasons for the unlawful use of cannabis by those suffering from certain medical conditions for whom other drugs have proved ineffective."

Even if the crown prosecutors don't get it, some trial courts do -- or at least they did. Up until last year, medical marijuana patients and providers successfully raised the "necessity" defense, which allows illegal acts to prevent a greater harm. But an appeals court ruling last year held that the "necessity" defense did apply to the use of marijuana to relieve chronic pain.

Medical Marijuana Research Takes a Few Surprising Turns

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Baltimore Examiner
URL: 
http://www.examiner.com/a-178910~Medical_marijuana_research_takes_a_few_surprising_turns.html

Prosecutors take a tough line on cannabis supplied to ease pain (UK)

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Guardian
URL: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,,1822253,00.html

SF Commission Denies Permit for Fisherman's Wharf Pot Club

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/07/13/state/n230614D08.DTL&type=politics

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Legislation

Location: 
NJ
United States
Publication/Source: 
Atlantic City Weekly
URL: 
http://www.atlanticcityweekly.com/view.php?id=4714&issue_id=135_

Medical Marijuana: Five Arrested, 13 Dispensaries Raided by DEA in San Diego

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Feds Hit San Diego Medical Marijuana Co-ops Again
Just a week after the US House of Representatives voted to continue funding Justice Department raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, the feds struck again. Five people have been arrested in a series of DEA and local police raids Thursday hitting 13 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County. Some people are being charged under state marijuana distribution laws in the cooperative federal-local effort. More arrests are expected, local law enforcement officials said.

The raids and arrests came as federal officials unsealed two indictments, one charging the Purple Bud Room and Tender Holistics Care dispensaries with illegally distributing marijuana, the other laying similar charges against five people who owned and operated Co-op San Diego.

The feds also went after four doctors on suspicion of providing medical marijuana recommendations for people the officials claimed did not legitimately need marijuana. State and federal officials have filed complaints with the state Medical Board against the doctors.

The San Diego District Attorney's Office announced it was filing marijuana distribution charges against five dispensaries: Ocean Beach Dispensary and Utopia, both on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach; Native Sun Dispensary on Rosecrans Street, in the Midway District; THC Dispensary, no longer in business, in Pacific Beach; and the California Medical Center, on La Jolla Boulevard in La Jolla.

In a statement announcing the busts, the DA's Office said it was not aiming at medical marijuana patients, but at retail pot outlets disguised as dispensaries. "Our office has no intention of stopping those who are chronically ill with AIDS, glaucoma and cancer from obtaining any legally prescribed drug, including medical marijuana, to help them ease their pain," said DA Bonnie Dumanis said. But the state's medical marijuana law is "being severely abused and it has led to the neighborhood pot dealer opening up storefronts from La Jolla to Ocean Beach to North Park," she said.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana defense group, announced in an e-mail Thursday afternoon it was holding an emergency meeting in San Diego that evening to craft a response.

San Diego Medical Marijuana Co-ops Raided Again!

Location: 
San Diego, CA
United States
URL: 
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/14982395.htm

Five Arrested, Marijuana Dispensaries Raided (DEA, San Diego)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060706-1601-bn06potbust.html

Presbyterian Church Joins Other Major Denominations in Support of Medical Marijuana

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/062206presbmmj.cfm

Medical Marijuana: National Multiple Sclerosis Society to Fund Study

In what could be the first sign of a course reversal by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which has scoffed at medical marijuana in the past, the group announced this week that it will fund a study on the effect of marijuana on spasticity in MS patients. While the Society acknowledges that up to 15% of MS patients use medical marijuana, funding the new study is the first time the group has indicated it is hearing what those patients are saying.

The society currently rejects the use of marijuana to relieve MS symptoms. As it notes on its web site, "Based on the studies to date, it is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Medical Advisory Board that there are currently insufficient data to recommend marijuana or its derivatives as a treatment for MS. Long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant serious side effects. In addition, other well-tested, FDA-approved drugs are available, such as baclofen and tizanidine, to reduce spasticity in MS."

The Society said it was moved by inconclusive earlier studies on the effect of marijuana on MS spasticity to fund a one using a new measure. The study is not a new one; the group is taking over funding for ongoing research at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, which lost funding when the investigation was only partially completed.

The study, by Dr. Mark Agius and fellow researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, is scheduled for completion in March 2008.

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