Medical Marijuana

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Tracy orders marijuana club closed

Location: 
Tracy, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Inside Bay Area (CA)
URL: 
http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_4753809

Feature: Medical Marijuana Gets a Hearing in Michigan

The medical marijuana issue came to the Michigan statehouse for the first time ever this week. In Lansing on Tuesday, the state House Government Operations Committee held a hearing where medical marijuana patients, advocates, and supporters were given the floor -- and they came from across the state and the country to do just that.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/michigancapitol.jpg
Michigan Capitol
The hearing was tied to 5740, a bill that would allow people with 'debilitating medical conditions' to use marijuana without fear of arrest, which was introduced by Rep. LaMar Lemmons III and now has eight cosponsors. But with the legislative session just two weeks away from ending, the hearing will lead to no action this year.

It does, however, lay the groundwork for further work in the legislature next year, and perhaps for an initiative in 2008 should the solons prove recalcitrant. That it occurred at all is a testament to the efforts of local activists working in concert with reformers around the country.

"LaMar is my state representative," said Tim Beck, executive director of Michigan NORML. "I raised money for him, and he believes in this issue, so when he asked what I would like, I said I would like a medical marijuana bill," Beck told Drug War Chronicle. Beck was a moving force behind the successful 2004 Detroit medical marijuana initiative. Ferndale, Ann Arbor and Traverse City have also enacted ordinances permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Lemmons, a Democrat, introduced the bill, but to get a hearing also required the assent of the committee chair, Republican Rep. Leon Drolet. Not only did Drolet agree to hearings, he became a sponsor of the bill.

With that opportunity, the Michigan activists reached out, and, working with the Marijuana Policy Project, brought in people like federal medical marijuana patient Irv Rosenfeld, Republican Connecticut state Senator Penny Bacchiochi, and former Maryland legislator Donald Murphy, head of Republicans for Compassionate Access, as well as patients and supporters from across the state. Up against them was peripatetic deputy drug czar Scott Burns, who magically shows up to argue against medical marijuana wherever it appears.

Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbrocker who suffers from multiple congenital exostosis, has been receiving US government marijuana since 1982 in a program that was extinguished under President Bush the Elder. Rosenfeld and a handful of others were grandfathered in.

"I'm a very productive member of society because I have the right medication," Rosenfeld told the committee, adding that the 10 or so joints he smokes a day help keep him alive. "There is no need for prosecuting people who are sick."

Rep. Bacchiochi, the Connecticut Republican, has been a major legislative supporter of medical marijuana in her home state, and was eager to talk to her fellow solons about it. She told the committee how her husband was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer in the early 1980s and a doctor urged her to try marijuana for him. "I hadn't smoked marijuana, I had never done drugs, I knew I wanted a public career. It was a terrifying moment for me," she told the committee. "But as I watched my husband basically die in front of me, I decided I would do it at any cost. For three years I went out and I bought pot for him, and I watched his remarkable recovery. Not that he recovered from the cancer, but he was able to eat, he was able to laugh, he was able to regain some quality of life," she told lawmakers.

Laura Barber of Traverse City spoke of the difficulties her family went through when her husband, who uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, was arrested. Two other Michigan patients were ready to speak, but time ran out before they could testify. They were Rochelle Lampkin of Detroit, who uses the drug to treat the pain associated with multiple sclerosis, and Martin Chilcutt of Kalamazoo, a Navy veteran who used medical marijuana to relieve the pain and nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy.

"The medical use of marijuana has helped to relieve the pain and suffering associated with serious illnesses in my life and in the lives of several close friends of mine," Chilcutt commented. "We need rational decisions and action to combat an irrational status quo. The most perilous aspect of using medical marijuana is the threat of getting arrested and going to jail, and that's why the legislature needs to pass HB 5470."

The bill is likely going nowhere this year, but this week's hearing was important, said Beck. "The value of having the hearing is that it demonstrates we have power. We were able to get the hearing, and we were able to bring in heavyweights like Irv and Don and Penny. I don't think those legislators expected anything like the performance we had," he laughed.

"This is an historic first, and we got massive publicity out of this hearing," Beck continued. "We're laying the groundwork for next year. The one thing we have is the initiative process, and I think the legislators understand that. The Democrats will control the state House next year, and I think we'll get a better reception then. But it will be like 'Do you want to write the law or do you want us to write the law?' We don't want to do an initiative if we don't have to. It's cheaper to go through the legislature."

Medical Marijuana: California Supreme Court Rules Patients Can Transport It

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state's medical marijuana laws allow people to transport the drug as long as they can show it was for their personal medical use. The court said that the law protects even patients carrying large amounts of weed as long as they can show it is consistent with their medical needs.

The 6-1 decision disappointed prosecutors, said a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Nathan Barankin told the Los Angeles Times prosecutors had hoped the court would make it easier to prosecute marijuana sellers using a medical marijuana defense. Still, Barankin added, the court's clarification was helpful.

The decision "expands the defenses that can be used for medical marijuana," attorney Maureen J. Shanahan told the Times. She represented Shaun Wright, the defendant in the case.

Wright was arrested in Huntington Beach in 2001 and charged with possession of marijuana for sale and transporting it after police found more than a pound of weed, a scale, and several baggies in his truck. During trial Wright's physician testified he had recommended Wright use marijuana for pain, abdominal problems, and stress. The physician also testified that Wright preferred to eat his medicine and thus required more than patients who smoked it. The doctor said Wright needed a pound of pot every two or three months.

Wright asked that jurors be instructed that he did not commit a crime if it was determined he was a legitimate patient, but the trial judge ruled Wright was not protected by the state's medical marijuana laws because of the large quantity and the fact he was transporting it. Wright was convicted on both counts, but an appeals court overturned the conviction, saying jurors should have been given the medical marijuana instruction.

While the state Supreme Court agreed that Wright should have been able to present a medical marijuana defense, it refused to overturn his conviction, saying the jury "found beyond a reasonable doubt that he possessed the drug with the specific intent to sell it."

The lesson for Golden State pot patients: Leave your scales at home.

Marijuana Bill Snuffed Out

Location: 
Lansing, MI
United States
Publication/Source: 
Lansing State Journal
URL: 
http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061129/NEWS04/611290350/1005/opinion

THC4MS 3 face jail for helping Multiple Sclerosis sufferers

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Indymedia UK
URL: 
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/11/357312.html

The War on Medical Marijuana Patients Continues...But Why?

Medical marijuana activist Dustin Costa was convicted in federal court last week and could now spend the rest of his life in prison. Costa’s was the first federal trial of a medical marijuana patient in three years, demonstrating that the feds remain willing to pervert justice and lie to jurors in order to undermine California’s medical marijuana law.

The defense was prohibited from informing jurors that Costa is president of the Merced Patients Group and that his 908 plants were unquestionably intended for medical use.

Meanwhile, further north, the Washington State Supreme Court recently upheld the conviction of medical marijuana patient Sharon Lee Tracy.

From Northwest Public Radio:

Even the majority justices say Sharon Lee Tracy is exactly the kind of person Washington voters intended to help when they passed a medical marijuana initiative back in 1998. She suffers from a hip deformity, migraine headaches and endured eight surgeries to repair a ruptured bowel and colon condition. So why was she arrested and convicted of growing marijuana back in 2003? Because Tracy had permission to use marijuana from a California doctor, but not a Washington doctor as required by law.


As I understand it, the decision is legally sound in that Washington’s medical marijuana law does require an in-state recommendation. Dissenting Justices argued that other medicines are available with out-of-state prescriptions, but to no avail.

Either way, there’s no excuse for sending this feeble woman to prison. I can forgive these judges for upholding the law as it’s written, but the prosecutors who fought this all the way to the State Supreme Court should be ashamed. Tracy should never have been charged in the first place.

I shudder to think that some smug DA walked out of court grinning after successfully convicting a woman with chronic migraines, a deformed hip, and a ruptured bowel simply because she tried to relieve her pain. Let’s hope the State Legislature moves to close this loophole forthwith. And if she’s sentenced to even a day in prison, let’s make some noise.

I understand that local officials are still coming to terms with the reality of medical marijuana. I understand that federal officials have painted themselves into a corner and will not now admit that they've acted in bad faith. I understand that people who've had the fortune of good health are sometimes challenged by the notion that a popular recreational drug also has unique medicinal properties. But I do not understand why resources are still being used to bring criminal charges against sick people. I just don't get it.

Can anyone explain why this is still happening?

Location: 
United States

MI: Hearing on Medical Marijuana Bill Featuring Patient Testimony

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, the House Committee on Government Operations will hold a hearing on HB 5470, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, introduced by Rep. Lamar Lemmons III (D-Wayne County). The measure, similar to laws now in effect in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, would protect seriously ill patients using medical marijuana with their physician's recommendation from arrest and jail. WHAT: Hearing on HB 5470, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, in the House Committee on Government Operations. WHO: Scheduled speakers include: - Irvin Rosenfeld, one of five surviving patients still receiving medical marijuana from the U.S. government, in a program closed to new patients in 1992. Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbroker who suffers from a rare and painful condition called multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis, has been receiving government marijuana since 1982. - Rochelle Lampkin, multiple sclerosis patient and grandmother from Detroit, who uses medical marijuana for pain relief. - Martin Chilcutt, Navy veteran from Kalamazoo, who used medical marijuana to relieve pain and nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy. - Don Murphy, former Maryland state legislator; executive director, Republicans for Compassionate Access. - Rep. Penny Bacchiochi (R), Connecticut state legislator. WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 28, 10:30 a.m. WHERE: Room 326, House Office Building, corner of Ottawa Street and North Capitol Avenue. For more information, please visit www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.
Date: 
Tue, 11/28/2006 - 10:30am - 5:00pm
Location: 
United States

Merced Pot Grower Convicted; Jury Takes Just Two Hours to Return Verdict; Medical Marijuana Defense Fails

Location: 
Fresno, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Fresno Bee
URL: 
http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/14796.html

Video Offer: Waiting to Inhale

Dear Drug War Chronicle reader:

Many drug reform enthusiasts read on our blog this fall about a new video documentary, Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine and the Law, and an exciting debate here in Washington between two of my colleagues and a representative of the US drug czar's office that followed the movie's screening. I am pleased to announce that DRCNet is making this film available to you as our latest membership premium -- donate $30 or more to DRCNet and you can receive a copy of Waiting to Inhale as our thanks for your support.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/waitingtoinhale-small.jpg
I've known about Waiting to Inhale for a few years, and I am pretty psyched to see it out now and making waves. People featured in the movie -- medical marijuana providers Mike & Valerie Corral and Jeff Jones, patient spokesperson Yvonne Westbrook, scientist Don Abrams -- are heroes whose stories deserved to be told and whose interviews in this movie should be shown far and wide. You can help by ordering a copy and hosting a private screening in your home! Or you and your activist friends can simply watch it at home for inspiration. (Click here for more information including an online trailer.)

Your donation will help DRCNet as we pull together what we think will be an incredible two-year plan to substantially advance drug policy reform and the cause of ending prohibition globally and in the US. Please make a generous donation today to help the cause! I know you will feel the money was well spent after you see what DRCNet has in store. Our online donation form lets you donate by credit card, by PayPal, or to print out a form to send with your check or money order by mail. Please note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, our lobbying entity, are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible donations can be made to DRCNet Foundation, our educational wing. (Choosing a gift like Waiting to Inhale will reduce the portion of your donation that you can deduct by the retail cost of the item.) Both groups receive member mail at: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

Thank you for your support. If you haven't already checked out our new web site, I hope you'll take a moment to do so -- it really is looking pretty good, if I may say so myself. :) Take care, and hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,


David Borden
Executive Director

California's Medical Marijuana Laws Get Nod from Court: Ruling Would Deny Counties' Attempt to Undermine Patient Protections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2006 CONTACT: Tamar Todd (510) 593-4908 OR Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 California’s Medical Marijuana Laws Get Nod from Court Ruling Would Deny Counties’ Attempt to Undermine Patient Protections SAN DIEGO – Medical marijuana patients around the country scored a major win today, as a California Superior Court judge issued a preliminary ruling that state medical marijuana laws can co-exist with the federal law that prohibits all use. Following oral arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Safe Access and the Drug Policy Alliance, as well as the California Attorney General’s office, a San Diego Superior Court judge appeared poised to reject the contention of three California counties – San Diego, San Bernardino and Merced – that the state’s medical marijuana laws are invalid because of a conflict with federal law. While no final opinion was issued, a tentative ruling released prior to the hearing dismissed the counties’ arguments in their entirety. "We are looking forward to a major win for the democratic process and the constitutional rights of all Californians," said Adam Wolf, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. "This ruling destroys the claim that medical marijuana laws are inherently invalid and confirms that states need not march in lockstep with the federal prohibition of medical marijuana." Enacted in 1996, the Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215, removes legal penalties for patients who use marijuana on a doctor’s recommendation. The Medical Marijuana Program Act, passed by the California legislature in 2003, mandates an identification card program that helps law enforcement properly identify qualified patients. Following the ruling, San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn indicated the counties’ willingness to abide by state law, telling the Associated Press, “All we wanted was guidance from the court telling us where we're at so we don't break any rules and lose any funding." Once the court finalizes its ruling, the ACLU, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) expect that the counties’ will move quickly to implement the state’s medical marijuana laws, as the group expressed during today’s hearing. “Medical cannabis patients everywhere should soon breathe easier,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA. “States can act to protect patients, and local officials are now on notice that they cannot hide behind the federal reluctance to acknowledge medical use of marijuana.” The California Attorney General’s office joined the ACLU, ASA and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) in arguing that state medical marijuana laws are not invalidated by conflicting federal statutes – an opinion previously voiced by the attorneys general of several other states, including Colorado, Hawaii and Oregon, which permit medical use of marijuana. The groups argued that while the federal government is free to enforce its ban on medical marijuana, even in states such as California that permit its use, all states remain free to adopt and implement medical marijuana policies of their own design. “The tentative ruling upholds the state of California's sovereign right to fashion common-sense, responsible and compassionate drug policies for its residents” said Tamar Todd, an attorney for DPA. “Today’s ruling makes clear that states need not wage the federal government’s failed drug war.” Eleven states have so far acted to fully and effectively protect the right of qualified individuals to use medical marijuana with the approval of a physician: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The case originated from a lawsuit initially brought against the State of California by San Diego County, which was later joined by San Bernardino and Merced counties. The ACLU, ASA and DPA intervened in the proceedings on behalf of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers and doctors in order to assure adequate representation of those most impacted by the case. The groups represent Wendy Christakes, the late Pamela Sakuda, William Britt and Yvonne Westbrook, all Californians who use physician-recommended marijuana to treat medical conditions and their side-effects, including chronic pain and sciatica, multiple sclerosis, rectal cancer, epilepsy and post-polio syndrome. The groups also represent Sakuda’s spouse and caregiver, Norbert Litzinger, as well as Dr. Stephen O’Brien, a physician who specializes in HIV/AIDS treatment in Oakland, California, and believes that many of his seriously ill patients benefit from the medical use of marijuana. “We just wish Pam had lived to see this,” said Sherer of ASA. Ms. Sakuda passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer. In addition to being co-counsel, ASA was also a party to the proceedings on behalf of its membership, which includes thousands of medical marijuana patients, caregivers and physicians residing in California. The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) is represented by the group as well. WAMM is a medical marijuana collective and hospice located in Santa Cruz, California, whose 250 members, the majority of whom are terminally ill, use marijuana to treat a range of conditions. The court’s tentative ruling, issued earlier today by Judge William R. Nevitt, and which will likely be finalized in the near future, is available at: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/27433lgl20061116.html The group’s most recent legal filing is online at: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/27396lgl20061103.html Additional information on the case is available at: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/26388prs20060804.html The case is # GIC 860665.
Location: 
United States

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