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Medical Marijuana Advocates Threaten to Sue If San Diego Fails to Amend Flawed Ordinance (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: April 28, 2011

Medical Marijuana Advocates Threaten to Sue if San Diego Fails to Amend Flawed Ordinance

New law shuts down more than 100 operating facilities & leaves virtually no options for relocation

San Diego, CA -- Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) threatened to file suit against the City of San Diego today if it doesn't amend a recent ordinance that patient advocates are calling a de facto ban on local distribution facilities. ASA argued in a letter sent to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith that the ordinance violates due process rights of medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives by forcing them to shut down in 30 days, leaving virtually no options for relocation.

Unless the city can "ease the restrictions on medical marijuana collectives, so that qualified patients can obtain the medicine they need," the letter authored by ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford said that the organization and its patient base would be compelled to seek such remedies in court. The letter suggested that the San Diego City Council amend its ordinance to allow "medical marijuana collectives to operate in most commercial and all industrial zones" and increase "the period to obtain a conditional use permit to one year."

The city council passed its ordinance on April 12th after months of feedback from hundreds of patients and experts. Virtually all of the requests for changes, including many from its own city-commissioned medical marijuana task force, were ignored. Advocates launched one of the largest letter-writing campaigns in the city's history, resulting in thousands of letters being sent to city council members and the mayor. The ordinance recently became law without the signature of Mayor Jerry Sanders.

San Diego has a long history of hostility toward medical marijuana. In 2006, the county sued the state over having to implement the ID Card program, mandatory under the Medical Marijuana Program Act passed in 2003. The county, which took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost, now provides ID cards to thousands of qualified patients. Each year since 2005, San Diego medical marijuana providers have endured numerous aggressive federal raids carried out in conjunction with local law enforcement.

After a series of DEA-led raids in September 2009, one month prior to the now-famous Justice Department memo, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis prosecuted two patients, both of whom were acquitted by juries. One of those patients, Jovan Jackson, was tried a second time and convicted as a result of being denied a medical defense. ASA, which argued against the denial of Jackson's defense at trial, is currently appealing his conviction.

Further information:
ASA threatens to sue City of San Diego: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/San_Diego_Demand_Letter.pdf
San Diego medical marijuana ordinance: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/City_of_San_Diego_Ordinance.pdf

Location: 
San Diego, CA
United States

Medical Marijuana Bill Re-Introduced in Pennsylvania (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4/27/2011
CONTACT: Chris Goldstein at 267-702-3731 or [email protected]

Medical Marijuana Bill Re-Introduced in Pennsylvania


A bill to legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualifying patients and to create a statewide system of “Compassion Centers” has been introduced in the Keystone State. Senator Daylin Leach brought SB 1003 forward on April 25th with Senators Larry Farnese, James Ferlo and Wayne Fontana as the initial co-sponsors. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. READ SB 1003

The language is essentially a re-introduction of a bill that was active in 2009-10 in both houses of the General Assembly. The bill includes provisions for home cultivation and collects the state sales tax on medical cannabis. Last year the issue saw impressive public hearings in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh before the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Dr. Harry Swidler, an Emergency Medicine physician, said at the hearings: “Marijuana is non-addicting. There is no physical dependence or physical withdrawal associated with its use. It is, from a practical standpoint, non-toxic. Marijuana is safer by some measures than any other drug. There is simply no known quantity of marijuana capable of killing a person.”

Renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht testified before the HHS Committee in August 2010:  "I have personally performed 17,000 autopsies and reviewed 36,000 other postmortem protocols signed out by pathologists throughout the United States. I have never attributed a death to marijuana overdose, nor have I ever seen such a death certificate issued by any coroner or medical examiner."

WATCH VIDEO OF TESTIMONY HERE: http://www.youtube.com/pa4mmj

Advocates at Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana PA4MMJ are pushing for several changes to the bill when it gets to committee this session. These include re-naming the bill to The Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.

Just after stepping down as governor of Pennsylvania in 1970 Shafer, a Republican, chaired a blue-ribbon commission for President Nixon that recommended two main points: 1) Marijuana should not be placed in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act 2) Marijuana possession should be decriminalized at the federal level.

Nixon ignored those suggestions and ever since the federal government has aggressively enforced the Schedule I classification that describes cannabis as having “…no currently accepted medical use in treatment …” This is the reason that 15 states and the District of Columbia have independently legalized marijuana for medical uses.

Derek Rosenzweig at PA4MMJ in Philadelphia made this statement today, “The best person to help a patient decide what medicine works best is their physician. Marijuana should be available as an option for the thousands of residents in PA dealing with terrible medical conditions that we know cannabis can help treat.”

Patrick Nightengale of PA4MMJ in Pittsburgh added this statement; “ We have spoken with older citizens undergoing chemotherapy to our young warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have all implored us to get a medical marijuana law passed in PA. Routinely prescribed pain medications cause abuse, addiction and deaths everyday.  We should not criminalize the possession of a plant that has never resulted in a single lethal overdose.”

Polling conducted by Franklin&Marshall in 2010 showed that a striking 80 percent of residents support passing a medical marijuana law in Pennsylvania.

More information on the statewide effort in support of safe access to cannabis at www.pa4mmj.org

To speak with advocates, medical experts or cannabis patients in Pennsylvania please contact Chris Goldstein, media coordinator at PA4MMJ, at [email protected] or 267-702-3731.

Additional contacts: Derek Rosenzweig at
[email protected] and Patrick Nightengale at [email protected]

Location: 
PA
United States

Attorney General Paula Dow Wrong to Seek Federal Advice on Medical Marijuana (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 21, 2011

CONTACT: Ken Wolski at (609) 394-2137

Attorney General Paula Dow Wrong to Seek Federal Advice on Medical Marijuana

WHO:       Attorney General Paula Dow

WHAT:     Asked federal officials their plans to punish NJ’s Medicinal Marijuana Program participants  

WHEN:     April 19, 2011

WHERE: Trenton, NJ

WHY:        The federal government insists marijuana has no accepted medical uses in the U.S.

Attorney General Paula Dow sent letters to federal officials on April 19th asking them if they intend to punish anyone associated with New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program.  The attorney general even suggested ways that New Jerseyans might be punished—“civil suit or criminal prosecution,” the letters said.

A more appropriate approach would have been for the attorney general to tell the federal officials that if they dare to interfere with New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, she will sue them and fight them all the way to the Supreme Court, where she will win.  The U.S. Supreme Court has already acknowledged (in the Garden Grove decision) that states have the right to determine the proper practice of medicine within each state.  In the Garden Grove case the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s decision that said: "Congress enacted the Controlled Substances Act to combat recreational drug abuse and curb drug trafficking.  Its goal was not to regulate the practice of medicine, a task that falls within the traditional powers of the states.”

Ken Wolski, executive director of CMMNJ said, “There can be no doubt that every aspect of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program concerns access to physician-recommended medicine by desperately ill patients.  The 110 pages of regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to enact the Medicinal Marijuana Program is a monument to overly-cautious bureaucratic detail.  No one could possibly confuse it with drug abuse and drug trafficking.  The attorney general should instead be insisting that the federal government reschedule marijuana from its absurd Schedule I status.”

Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical uses in the U.S.  New Jersey—along with 14 other states and the District of Columbia—acknowledged medical uses for marijuana through legislation.  Another dozen states are considering similar legislation.  “It is the federal government that is wrong in this, not New Jersey.  State officials should not look to the feds for guidance on medical marijuana,” Wolski added.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ  08618
609.394.2137 www.cmmnj.org   [email protected]

Location: 
NJ
United States

Maryland Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Defense Bill (Press Release)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                 April 11, 2011

Maryland Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Defense Bill

Senate approval sends measure to desk of Governor Martin O’Malley

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………….202-905-2031 or [email protected]

ANNAPOLIS – In all likelihood, Maryland will soon become the 16th state to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Maryland Senate passed an affirmative defense bill last month removing criminal penalties from patients who use marijuana to relieve the effects of debilitating medical conditions. After the House of Delegates approved an amended version of the bill over the weekend, the Senate today approved those amendments, sending the bill to Governor Martin O’Malley. Aides to the governor have indicated publicly he would sign a medical marijuana defense bill. 

“With the passage of this bill, the General Assembly has let seriously ill patients know they are not criminals for seeking relief from their pain and suffering,” said Senator David Brinkley, the primary sponsor of the Senate bill.” It will also establish a framework to build on in moving forward with more comprehensive solutions so that some day soon patients will be able to obtain their medicine in dignity and not on street corners. I thank my colleagues in both chambers for today’s compassionate vote.”

In its current form, the bill, SB 308, allows individuals diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, to avoid conviction if charged with the non-public use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. An existing sentencing mitigation would remain part of the law, meaning patients who don’t qualify for the full affirmative defense would still have the opportunity to present evidence of medical necessity and have their sentence reduced to a $100 fine. In addition, a work group consisting of medical, legal, and law enforcement experts would be convened to recommend more comprehensive legislation next year. The bill represents a compromise after the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene objected to a more robust proposal calling for state-regulated dispensaries due to the cost of implementation.

“Today’s vote is a move toward compassion for those who might benefit from this drug,” said Delegate Dan Morhaim, the bill’s House sponsor and the General Assembly’s only licensed physician. “A growing body of evidence suggests marijuana is helpful in treating certain conditions, and seriously ill people who use marijuana to treat such conditions on the advice of their physician should not be considered criminals.”

“Under current law, patients using medical marijuana in Maryland face criminal arrest, prosecution and conviction,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin, one of the sponsors in the Senate. “Although judges can reduce the penalty to $100 in these cases, we heard testimony from patients who said they have lost their jobs and were haunted for life by being branded as criminals. This legislation declares that severely ill people using medical marijuana are not criminals and will have the opportunity to establish medical necessity as a defense to a possession charge.  The removal of this threat and the creation of a work group to develop a Maryland model for a comprehensive medical marijuana regime moves us closer to the broader goal of giving patients in Maryland a legal way to obtain doctor-recommended medicine.” 

Advocates were also encouraged by the compromise. “This isn’t a permanent solution, and it’s not everything that patients need, but it allows people suffering from debilitating conditions to sleep a little easier tonight while they wait for full protections,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project.

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest

marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
MD
United States

Medical Marijuana Defense Bill Passes Maryland House Judiciary Committee (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                 April 8, 2011

Medical Marijuana Defense Bill Passes Maryland House Judiciary Committee

Floor Vote Likely for Bill to Remove Criminal Penalties for Medical Marijuana

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………….202-905-2031 or [email protected]

ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee approved a bill yesterday, SB 308, which would allow patients who use marijuana to treat a medical condition to use a medical necessity defense in court. The bill would also create a panel to advise the legislature on best practices for creating a medical marijuana program in 2012. The Senate passed the bill by a 41-6 vote on March 24, and will need to approve the bill again because of amendments made by the Judiciary Committee. Yesterday’s committee vote was the biggest obstacle advocates faced in their quest to remove criminal penalties from medical marijuana users.

Sponsors of the measure had originally hoped to pass comprehensive medical marijuana legislation that would have established dispensaries throughout the state and protected patients from arrest, but that plan was derailed when the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene voiced concerns over cost of implementation. In its current form, SB 308 allows patients with certain qualifying medical conditions to use an affirmative defense when charged with marijuana possession if they used marijuana due to a medical necessity. The defense would not apply if the person possessed more than one ounce of marijuana or used marijuana in a public place. While the compromise bill is not as robust as the original legislation, it is the first time since 2003 that a bill to add protections for medical marijuana patients will receive a floor vote in the House of Delegates.

"While we had hoped to see a full medical marijuana law on par with those in 15 other states, it’s encouraging that the legislature is moving toward the goal of protecting patients from arrest and providing legal access to doctor-recommended medicine,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “I congratulate the sponsors and committee leaders for their ability to compromise swiftly and shepherd this bill to the House floor. This vote is a major victory and paves a clear path to the Governor’s desk."

Medical marijuana is permitted in 15 states and the District of Columbia, and many more are currently considering legislation to allow its use under tightly controlled conditions, including Delaware and Connecticut. Such laws already exist in Rhode Island and New Jersey, where medical marijuana distribution centers were recently awarded licenses and should be up and running later this year.

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
MD
United States

Medical Marijuana Study Bill Passes Maryland House (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                 March 28, 2011

Medical Marijuana Study Bill Passes Maryland House

Panel of Experts to Advise Legislature on State Medical Marijuana Policy

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………….202-905-2031 or [email protected]

ANNAPOLIS – By a vote of 105-29, the Maryland House of Delegates passed HB 291 today, a bill that would create an 18-member panel to advise the legislature on the best way to create a medical marijuana program in 2012. HB 291was amended from an earlier version of the bill, which would have set up a comprehensive medical marijuana program, protecting state-registered patients from arrest and allowing pharmacies and state-regulated dispensing centers to provide patients with medical marijuana. The bill, sponsored by the only physician in the General Assembly, Del. Dan Morhaim, was amended after Health Secretary Josh Sharfstein advocated a “yellow light” approach to medical marijuana.

The panel would be comprised of doctors, patients, law enforcement officials, and experts on medical marijuana policy. They will make recommendations to the legislature on how to safely and effectively implement a well-regulated medical marijuana program. Last Thursday, the Maryland Senate passed SB 308, which included the study language, as well as immediate protections for patients. SB 308 would allow patients who use marijuana to treat medical conditions to use a medical necessity defense in court. The Senate approved the bill by a 41-6 vote, which included a majority of both Democrat and Republican senators.

"While we had hoped to see a comprehensive medical marijuana law on par with those in 15 other states, it’s encouraging that the legislature will at least make measured but real progress toward the goal of protecting patients from arrest and providing legal access to doctor-recommended medicine,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We're also relieved to see that the Senate has decided to remove criminal penalties from patients who are currently using medical marijuana while they wait for a comprehensive program to be put in place. It’s imperative that the House do the same."

Medical marijuana is permitted in 15 states and the District of Columbia, and many more are currently considering legislation to allow its use under tightly controlled conditions, including Delaware and Connecticut. Such laws already exist in Rhode Island and New Jersey, where medical marijuana distribution centers were recently licensed by the states and should be up and running later this year.

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
MD
United States

New Hampshire House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                March 16, 2011

New Hampshire House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, MPP communications manager…………………….202-905-2031 or [email protected]

CONCORD — The New Hampshire House of Representatives, which has a nearly 3:1 Republican supermajority, overwhelmingly passed a bill today that would allow residents to use marijuana for medical purposes. H.B. 442, which would create a narrow exception in New Hampshire law for people with certain qualifying conditions to use marijuana to treat their ailments with doctors’ recommendations, will now move on to the Senate. Medical marijuana treatment is currently permitted in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, and is being considered in more than a dozen state legislatures this year.

The bill passed 221-96, or by 69.7%, doing better than similar medical marijuana bills have done in previous Democrat-controlled sessions, proving conclusively that this is an issue that both parties can support. The bill was introduced by Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-Coos), a cancer survivor, and is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford).

“This vote shows that compassion is not a partisan issue,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Lawmakers can come together despite their political differences when it comes to allowing sick people to use medical marijuana. They owe it to their constituents to do so.”

H.B. 442 enjoys strong support among voters. A 2008 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 71% of New Hampshire voters are in favor of allowing the use of medical marijuana, with only 21% opposed. The bill now goes to the Senate.

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
NH
United States

Marijuana Reform Hearings at Rhode Island State House Tomorrow (Press Release)

MEDIA ADVISORY: March 15, 2011

Marijuana Reform Hearings at State House Tomorrow

Bills Would Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession and Save Money for Rhode Island

CONTACT: Robert Capecchi, MPP legislative analyst……………………202-905-2007 or [email protected]

PROVIDENCE – Hearings are taking place at the State House tomorrow on bills that would reform the state’s marijuana laws. H 5031 would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil penalty of $150. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Tiverton) and others, and would make marijuana possession similar to a traffic violation, allowing people who are convicted of simple, non-violent marijuana possession charges to avoid the life-long stigma of a criminal record. This measure would also save the state millions of dollars on police and court time.

            What:    Hearing on RI H 5031, Decriminalization of Marijuana Possession

            When:  “Rise of the House” (~4:30 p.m.), Wednesday, March 16

            Where:  Room 313, Rhode Island State House

Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Robert Capecchi will be present and available for comment. Mr. Capecchi will also be presenting testimony to the House Finance Committee at an earlier hearing to discuss the benefits of H5591, which would remove criminal penalties for adults who use marijuana and establish a taxed and regulated system for its distribution. This is the second year in a row that Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Providence) has introduced this bill. This hearing will take place in the Trainor Hearing Room (Room 35) at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.

The bill would create a system for the regulation and distribution of marijuana to responsible adults in Rhode Island. It would remove the lucrative marijuana market from criminal organizations and allow the state to regulate the sale of marijuana. Taxing and regulating marijuana sales would take away profits from the criminal market, while creating jobs and producing tens of millions of dollars in savings and revenue, according to a report by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
82 Smith Street Rhode Island State House, Room 313
Providence, RI 02903
United States

Marijuana Reform Advocates Call for a Safer Alternative to Alcohol for St. Patrick's Day (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2011

CONTACTS: Rev. Jay Goldstein - Executive Director - Empire State NORML at (212) 473-2486 or [email protected]; Doug Greene - Legislative Director - Empire State NORML at (516) 242-4666 or [email protected]

MARIJUANA REFORM ADVOCATES CALL FOR A SAFER ALTERNATIVE TO ALCOHOL FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

WHEN: St. Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at high noon
WHERE: City Hall Park - Broadway between Park Place and Barclay (east side)
WHO: Empire State NORML and numerous speakers (see list below):
WHAT: Rally and Press Conference

On March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) at high noon, Empire State NORML (the New York State chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)) will remind New Yorkers that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“While scores of New Yorkers are out getting hammered, we want to remind the Big Apple that there is a safer, greener and cleaner choice for adults: marijuana,” said Doug Greene, Legislative Director of Empire State NORML, who organized the event for the first time in 2010.

“In an era of budget cuts and worsening public health, why is the Bloomberg administration driving New Yorkers to drink while spending tens of millions of dollars per year arresting peaceful, healthy cannabis consumers? New York City made over 50,000 marijuana possession arrests last year alone, and over 500,000 since 1996,” said Greene.

Marijuana arrests are 15% of all arrests in New York City. The NYPD is now jailing people for marijuana possession at the rate of nearly 1,000 arrests a week. With 2.7% of the U.S. population, New York City represents 6% of nationwide marijuana arrests.

Greene was first inspired to organize “Marijuana is SAFER” events after reading the book of the same name (subtitled “So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?), co-authored by Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML, by Mason Tvert, Executive Director of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) and by Steve Fox, Director of State Campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Speakers include:

· Dr. Julie Holland, a nationally recognized authority on drugs and drug safety, who has appeared multiple times on Today. She is the author of “Weekends at Bellevue” (which may be coming to TV on Fox this fall ) and editor of “The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis” and “Ecstasy: The Complete Guide.”

· Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at CUNY Queens College, the co–author of the NYCLU report “Marijuana Arrest Crusade: Racial Bias and Police Policy in New York City, 1997-2007.” He is also the co–author of a new report on the costs of New York City’s marijuana arrests, which will be released on March 15 by the Drug Policy Alliance.

· Tony Newman, Director of Media Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s leading organization calling for alternatives to the drug war and policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights.

· Daniel Jabbour, New York State Coordinator for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society.

· Chris Goldstein, Board Member, NORML-NJ/Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ (CMM-NJ). Chris is a radio broadcaster and marijuana advocate. Chris is considered an expert on the topic of marijuana and can comment on New Jersey and national issues regarding cannabis.

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Location: 
Broadway between Park Place and Barclay (east side) City Hall Park
New York, NY 10007
United States

Bill Threatening to End NM Medical Marijuana Program Will Not Advance (Press Release)

Drug Policy Alliance

www.drugpolicy.org

For Immediate Release: March 9, 2011                       

Contact: Emily Kaltenbach at 505-920-5256 or Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 

House Bill Threatening to End New Mexico’s Medical Marijuana Program will Not Advance

 Bill’s Sponsor Pulls Legislation in Lieu of a Memorial to Study Program’s Effectiveness

Santa Fe - Today, freshman Representative Jim Smith confirmed he will be pulling his legislation to end New Mexico’s Medical Marijuana Program.  House Bill 593 was scheduled for debate in the House of Representative’s Consumer and Public Affairs Committee this Saturday.  Instead, he has introduced a memorial to study the effectiveness of the program.

“Seriously ill and vulnerable New Mexicans can breathe a sigh of relief today,” said Emily Kaltenbach, State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico. “We will continue to fight to protect thousands of sick New Mexican’s legal right to the most appropriate medication to relieve their symptoms and suffering.”

The Drug Policy Alliance mobilized over 500 supporters who contacted House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee members asking them to vote no on House Bill 593.

New Mexico’s vital Medical Marijuana Program is serving close to 4,000 patients diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and epilepsy.

Representative Smith has stated that he believes there are alternative medications to medical marijuana.  However, Marinol, an alternative medication, is not a viable solution for many patients.  Research has shown that Marinol is often poorly absorbed and the dosage is hard to monitor and control.  For most patients, medical marijuana has fewer side effects than other heavy pain and nausea medications.  Thousands of studies have proven that medical marijuana is safe and effective.

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is one of the most tightly run programs in the country and has helped thousands.  Repealing the New Mexico Medical Cannabis legislation would have had a devastating impact on New Mexico’s patients, economy and state budget.  If passed, House Bill 593 would have negatively impacted New Mexico by eliminating access to appropriate medication by 3,779 patients, eliminating approximately 100 jobs in the small business/non-profit producing sector, and decreasing Department of Health’s budget by $300,000 as a result of decreased revenue collected from renewal fees of licensed producers.

A New Mexico Drug Policy Reform study found 81% of New Mexico voters support making medical marijuana available to seriously or terminally ill patients in order to reduce their pain and suffering.

New Mexico was the first state to establish a state-licensed medical marijuana distribution system. New Mexico passed its medical cannabis bill in early 2007 with overwhelming bi-partisan legislative support, including a Senate vote of 32 – 3. The program is a model for the rest of the country.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights. 

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Location: 
NM
United States

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