Medical Marijuana

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Medical Marijuana: Vermont Bill to Expand Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Advances

A bill that would significantly expand Vermont's two-year-old medical marijuana program passed its first legislative hurdle last Friday as members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to advance it. The bill, S. 7, has now been referred to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/springinvermont.jpg
springtime in Vermont for patients?
Under Vermont's current law, legal access to medical marijuana is limited to people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The new bill would expand that list to include any "life threatening, progressive, and debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms such as: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; or seizures."

But committee members heeded the fears of law enforcement officials, who testified earlier this month that broadening the law could lead to more drug crimes or more patients being targeted for theft. As introduced, the bill would have increased the number of plants patients or caregivers can grow from one mature plant to six and from two immature plants to 18. The amount of usable marijuana they could legally possess would have increased from one ounce to four. After pondering law enforcement concerns, the committee compromised. Under the language approved by the committee, patients would be allowed up to four mature plants and 10 immature ones. The amount of usable marijuana they could possess will be two ounces.

The bill will also allow patients to use recommendations from doctors outside the state. Current law restricts patients to in-state doctors. Finally, the bill would cut registration fees in half, from $100 to $50.

"We aren't legalizing marijuana," said Sen. John Campbell (D-Windsor), one of the bill's sponsors. "You have to look at this from a compassionate perspective," he explained. "Someone suffering from such devastating illnesses as we address in this, they should be able to use a substance that will alleviate their symptoms."

The Marijuana Policy Project is working the corridors in Montpelier. MPP lobbyist Adam Necrason told the Vermont Press Bureau that even with the modifications, the bill was a step in the right direction. "This bill marks a major step forward in Vermont's medical marijuana program," he said. "While not perfect, S. 7 will extend protection to many patients who suffer terribly but have no protection under our current law. The legislature and governor should pass this measure without delay."

New medical pot rule delayed

Location: 
Visalia, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Fresno Bee (CA)
URL: 
http://www.fresnobee.com/270/story/25882.html

Case highlights medical-pot dilemma

Location: 
WA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Seattle Times
URL: 
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2003538714_potraid24n.html

Lawmakers hear arguments on salvia ban

Location: 
Augusta, ME
United States
Publication/Source: 
Bangor Daily News (ME)
URL: 
http://bangordailynews.com/news/t/news.aspx?articleid=145495&zoneid=500

Feds Congratulate Themselves For Persecuting Sick People

From the Fresno Bee:

In a ceremony today, the White House drug czar is honoring the state, local and federal officers who took down Modesto's California Healthcare Collective. Officials charge the ostensibly nonprofit collective with fronting for big-time marijuana dealers.

Walters' grandstanding is particularly galling in light of widespread public condemnation of the DEA's recent activity in California. Indeed, raiding dispensaries that openly provide medicine to sick people in accordance with state law is one of the lamest and least helpful things police can possibly do with our tax dollars.

Every problem associated with medical marijuana distribution could be solved if the federal government rescheduled the drug and brought it inside the law where it belongs.

Instead, the Drug Czar and his army of federally-subsidized task forces continue to gorge themselves on confiscated proceeds and negative publicity. Perhaps recognizing the absurdity of it all, they bend over backwards to paint their targets as gangsters and criminals:

"Most health-care providers wear white coats and carry stethoscopes," said Bill Ruzzamenti, director of the Fresno-based Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. "In this particular case, they wore bulletproof vests [and] carried a gun."

Of course, it's actually the police who are playing doctor at gunpoint. And you can't blame dispensary owners for arming themselves when they have nowhere to turn for protection. The suggestion that these people are dangerous is a joke and should serve to remind us that truly dangerous people are the beneficiaries when police resources are wasted in a fraudulent political war against medical marijuana.

Are you watching this, Dennis Kucinich?


Location: 
United States

Cameron hint on cannabis medicine

Location: 
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
BBC News
URL: 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6284223.stm

Medical marijuana raids are criticized

Location: 
CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-pot19jan19,1,1262748.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

Medical Marijuana: Washington State Group Raided

Washington state drug enforcement agents raided the headquarters of CannaCare, an Everett-based medical marijuana advocacy and support group Wednesday. Agents with the federally-funded West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team seized what they said was more than a thousand marijuana plants, as well as computers containing medical records and other personal information on about 200 people authorized to use the herb under state law. No one has yet been arrested or charged with a crime.

It is the second raid in a week at addresses linked to CannaCare. Last week, agents raided the Renton home of John Worthington, an associate of CannaCare head Steve Sarich, a prominent Washington medical marijuana advocate who, according to the Seattle Times, provoked police by "aannouncing that CannaCare will provide pot plants to patients."

In the Renton raid, police seized six marijuana plants, and Worthington screamed foul. "They went after me because I'm an activist, and I've been terrorized out of growing," Worthington told the Post-Intelligencer. "I can't have my kids frisked like they're criminals. That was disgusting. I'm not Al Capone -- I'm a dad."

Sarich, too, remains unrepentant. "Since they don't like medical marijuana, this is an attack on the people that support it," Sarich told the Seattle paper while insisting he is no drug dealer. According to Sarich, only a few ounces of marijuana were found in the raid, and most of the seized plants were unrooted clones and starter plants. The slightly more than $1,000 cash police seized was to pay his utility bill, he claimed.

But the network of patients around CannaCare and local privacy watchdogs are concerned about patient records falling into the hands of police. "Who knows what they're doing with our information?" said Steve Newman, who has multiple sclerosis and has been using marijuana, obtained through CannaCare, for two years. "It makes me concerned -- really, really concerned. But we're pretty helpless. Nobody can say much about it," he told the Post-Intelligencer.

"CannaCare had a lot of records related to patients they were providing cuttings for," said Alison Chin Holcomb, director of the Washington ACLU's Marijuana Education Project. "We are not real comfortable with law enforcement having the ability to disseminate information from people's medical records," she told Drug War Chronicle.

The group may move to restrict police access to those records, Holcomb said. "We're investigating what legal grounds we might have for requesting that a judge issue a protective order, or maybe even an order sealing those records," she said. "We want to minimize patient exposure."

But if CannaCare and Sarich were providing marijuana to more than one patient, there could be a tough legal battle ahead of them, Holcomb said. "Under Washington law, a designated caregiver can provide for only one patient. If it turns out he is providing to large numbers of people, that could be a real problem for him."

Feature: DEA Makes Major Move Against Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided 11 Los Angeles County medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday, including five in the city of West Hollywood, where supportive officials have been working with store owners to responsibly regulate their operations. The raids mark a departure from recent DEA actions in the state, which for the most part this year have targeted dispensaries in areas where local officials are unsupportive of or even hostile to medical marijuana.

DEA agents dressed in SWAT-style attire seized several thousand pounds of processed marijuana, bagsful of cash, guns, and hundreds of marijuana plants. Agents detained 20 people, but none have so far been charged with any crime. It was the largest DEA swoop in the county in recent memory.

The DEA raiders were greeted yesterday by dozens of protestors chanting "DEA Go Away" and "States' Rights" along Santa Monica Boulevard, where four of the raided dispensaries sit in a five-block stretch. Thursday morning, about 100 people gathered at West Hollywood city hall to protest the assault on the state's medical marijuana law.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dea-la-photo1.jpg
DEA post-raid publicity photo
California voters approved the use of medical marijuana in a 1996 initiative, but the federal government has never accepted that law. Wednesday's raids were only the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle that has seen dozens dispensaries raided this year. Unlike raids in places like Modesto, Riverside County, and San Diego, where recalcitrant local law enforcement worked hand in glove with the feds, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not participate, except to provide crowd control for anticipated expressions of public displeasure, and was not even informed of the raids until shortly before they took place.

"It's outrageous that we have a situation where the voters have spoken, the legislature has spoken, the courts have affirmed it, local officials are regulating it, and then the DEA comes in and says 'we know better,'" said William Dolphin, communications director for the medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access, which helped organize the Wednesday and Thursday protests. "This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, and it is a terrible problem for patients. They say they aren't targeting patients, but they're doing everything they can to shut off their access to their medicine, and they're taking a page from the terrorists' handbook by simultaneously hitting a bunch of places to create an atmosphere of pervasive fear."

Medical marijuana activists were not the only people upset by the raids. The West Hollywood city council, which supports the state's medical marijuana law, had only the night before introduced an ordinance establishing permanent regulations for the dispensaries. It was thus little surprise that council members reacted testily.

"The state of California voted to allow marijuana for medical purposes," said West Hollywood city council member Abbe Land. "The City of West Hollywood along with other cities across the state have established regulations to govern the dispensing of medical marijuana, so that people whose lives depend on this drug can be assured of safe access to their medicine. The DEA should spend their time going after dispensaries that are not operating in accordance with local ordinances, as well as unscrupulous doctors who write illegitimate prescriptions," she continued.

"Today's actions again demonstrate the skewed priorities of the Bush administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration," said West Hollywood City Council Member Jeffrey Prang. "Providing safe access to medical marijuana for those living with serious and often painful illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and other terminal diseases is something this city supports. We have worked closely with our community to insure these establishments operate safely and comply with the spirit of Proposition 215 adopted by the voters of California."

The DEA couldn't care less. For the agency, marijuana is illegal, period. For the feds, the raids are not about stopping people from getting their medicine, but about crime, or at least so they say. "Today's enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools," crowed DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Ralph Partridge, as the agency displayed seized cash, candy bars, and cannabis.

"We're here to enforce the drug laws," DEA Los Angeles spokeswoman Special Agent Sarah Pullen told Drug War Chronicle Thursday. "Those were marijuana distribution centers, and the cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana in any form is a crime under federal law. Obviously there is a drug problem out here and there are many different types of drugs. We're working many different kinds of cases, and these raids are just one of them. We're doing our best to enforce the law."

"You certainly have to wonder if these guys don't have anything better to do," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "They raided several places in West Hollywood, a city which is working very hard to regulate its dispensaries to ensure that they're operating properly. The DEA cannot reasonably argue that these were runaway dispensaries; they went after some of the most carefully regulated dispensaries in the state," he told the Chronicle.

"This is yet one more example of the federal government's priorities being out of whack with any respect for federalism and state's rights, let alone human decency," Mirken said. "One can only hope this will give new impetus to efforts in Congress to rein them in," he said, referring to what was known in previous years as the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the use of federal funds for raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal.

"That's the only good side to this," said ASA's Dolphin. "Speaker Pelosi is an outspoken defender of medical marijuana access for patients, and we have a large number of new Democrats in the House, along with some Republicans like Rohrabacher. With this new Congress, we're much closer to passing something like Hinchey-Rohrabacher. And we will definitely see much more pressure for the DEA to provide some accountability."

When asked whether the agency might be setting itself up to lose funding for raids against medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, the DEA's Pullen deferred to Washington. "That's a question for the director," she said. "We're just here to enforce the law." A Chronicle call to DEA director Karen Tandy's office has so far gone unreturned.

With the Justice Department and the DEA feeling emboldened since last year's Supreme Court decision in Raich, it may be that the only way to bring an end to the raids is to adopt a tactic increasingly bruited about in discussions of ending the war in Iraq: Cut off the funds.

Advocates will demonstrate against the DEA raid on Monday, January 22, noon, at 255 East Temple Street in Los Angeles, and a planning meeting will take place the preceding Saturday. Visit http://www.ASAaction.org for further information or to download a master copy of the event flyer. Visit http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=3747 for info on supporting events happening nationwide.

City of West Hollywood Officials Decry DEA Raids on Five Marijuana Dispensaries

Press Release Source: City of West Hollywood City of West Hollywood Officials Decry DEA Raids on Five Marijuana Dispensaries Wednesday January 17, 9:52 pm ET WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--City of West Hollywood officials reacted swiftly today to news that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had raided and shut down five medicinal marijuana dispensaries located in West Hollywood. "The City of West Hollywood has had a long-standing commitment to the compassionate use of medical marijuana for those persons who are facing catastrophic illnesses," said City Manager Paul Arevalo. The DEA's enforcement of federal drug laws against the dispensaries conflicts with Proposition 215, a ballot measure approved by the California voters in 1996 decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana. The following five marijuana dispensaries located in West Hollywood were raided by the DEA today: 7828 Santa Monica - Alternative Herbal Health 7825 Santa Monica - Medical Marijuana Pharmacy 7901 Santa Monica - West Hollywood Caregivers 8464 Santa Monica - California Cannabis Pharmacy 8921 Sunset - West Hollywood Center for Compassionate Healing Just last night the West Hollywood City Council introduced an ordinance establishing permanent regulations to mitigate the impacts of medical marijuana dispensaries, following a two-year moratorium. "The DEA raids came as a complete surprise to the City," said Arevalo. "It is regrettable that the federal, state and local governments cannot work together on this issue." The City of West Hollywood has been a long-standing supporter of the use of marijuana that is prescribed, dispensed and used for medicinal purposes. West Hollywood is home to a disproportionately large percentage of seniors afflicted with a variety of chronic illnesses, and people with HIV and AIDS, for which medicinal marijuana diminishes suffering. Here are comments regarding today's DEA action from two West Hollywood City Councilmembers: "The state of California voted to allow marijuana for medical purposes," says West Hollywood City Councilmember Abbe Land. "The City of West Hollywood along with other cities across the state have established regulations to govern the dispensing of medical marijuana, so that people whose lives depend on this drug can be assured of safe access to their medicine. The DEA should spend their time going after dispensaries that are not operating in accordance with local ordinances, as well as unscrupulous doctors who write illegitimate prescriptions," she continued. "Today's actions again demonstrate the skewed priorities of the Bush administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration," says West Hollywood City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang. "Providing safe access to medical marijuana for those living with serious and often painful illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and other terminal diseases is something this City supports. We have worked closely with our community to insure these establishments operate safely and comply with the spirit of Proposition 215 adopted by the voters of California," he continued. Contact: City of West Hollywood 323-848-6431 Fax: 323-848 6561 Tamara White Public Information Officer [email protected] or Helen J. Goss, Esq. Director, Public Information and Prosecution Services [email protected]
Location: 
West Hollywood, CA
United States

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