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Judge Rejects Counties' Medical Marijuana Suit

San Diego, CA
United States
Los Angeles Times

Medical Marijuana: County Lawsuit Challenging California Law Thrown Out

San Diego Superior Court Judge William Nevitt, Jr. on Wednesday threw out a challenge to California's medical marijuana law, saying there was "no positive conflict" between state and federal law. The ruling came against a lawsuit filed by San Diego County in February and later joined by San Bernardino and Merced counties. County officials in all three jurisdictions were hostile to Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act) and SB 420, which set up a state Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) with a system of county-administered ID cards.

The medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, and the Drug Policy Alliance jointly intervened to block the lawsuit. It was a September 1 motion argued by ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford that resulted in the favorable ruling.

In his ruling, Judge Nevitt concluded that "neither the Compassionate Use Act nor the MMP is preempted by the Supremacy Clause, by the CSA (Controlled Substances Act), or by the Single Convention." Nevitt also found that, contrary to the arguments by the recalcitrant counties, the voluntary ID card program "does not interfere" with the stated purpose of the Compassionate Use Act, which is to "ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes."

ASA executive director Steph Sherer declared the decision a victory for California's medical marijuana patients. "For the tens of thousands of seriously ill Californians who depend on medical marijuana, this victory could not be more significant," she said. "San Diego Supervisors sought clarification from the courts and now, with this ruling, we encourage San Diego and counties across California to move forward with implementing state law."

Marijuana: Yet Another Scientific Study Debunks "Gateway Theory"

Marijuana is not a "gateway" drug that predicts or leads to drug abuse, a 12-year University of Pittsburgh study has found. The study is only the latest -- see here and here -- to undermine the argument that trying marijuana makes young people more susceptible to using other drugs.

That argument, that marijuana is a "gateway" drug, remains a favorite argument of prohibitionists despite its continual refutation. The "gateway theory" is also a perennial favorite of the press, as journalist Ryan Grim noted in his "Gateway to Nowhere?" earlier this year at

The Pittsburgh researchers tracked 214 boys beginning at ages 10-12, all of who eventually used either legal or illegal drugs. They were tracked to age 22, then categorized into three groups: those who used only alcohol or tobacco, those who started with alcohol and tobacco and then used marijuana (gateway sequence) and those who used marijuana prior to alcohol or tobacco (reverse sequence).

The researchers found that 22% of the boys who used both legal and illegal drugs at some point started with marijuana, then moved on to tobacco and alcohol -- the reverse of the gateway sequence. Those youths who began with marijuana were no more likely to develop a substance use disorder than those who followed the traditional succession of alcohol and tobacco before illegal drugs, according to the study.

"The gateway progression may be the most common pattern, but it's certainly not the only order of drug use," said Ralph Tarter, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and lead author of the study. "In fact, the reverse pattern is just as accurate for predicting who might be at risk for developing a drug dependence disorder."

The best predictors of future drug use were not the order in which someone began using a set of drugs, but having grown up in a tougher neighborhood, having more exposure to drugs in the neighborhood, and having lesser parental involvement. But most important, the study said, was "a general inclination for deviance from sanctioned behaviors."

Trying to portray marijuana as a "gateway" to harder drug use is an error with serious consequences, said Dr. Tarter. "The emphasis on the drugs themselves, rather than other, more important factors that shape a person's behavior, has been detrimental to drug policy and prevention programs. To become more effective in our efforts to fight drug abuse, we should devote more attention to interventions that address these issues, particularly to parenting skills that shape the child's behavior as well as peer and neighborhood environments."

Hemp: North Dakota Becomes First State to Legalize Industrial Production

Industrial hemp production becomes legal under North Dakota state law as of January 1, making it the first US state to do so. But while the state Agriculture Department is ready to start handing out licenses next month, it cautions potential farmers that they can't actually begin growing hemp until they are licensed by the state and are approved by the federal government.

Given that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) remains opposed to legalizing the production of the marijuana relative -- the two plants are different cultivars of the cannabis plant, one grown for its oils, seeds, and fibers and the other to get you high -- North Dakota wheat, beet, and soybean farmers probably shouldn't be thinking about switching over anytime soon. That despite the fact that their cousins on the other side of that line in the trackless prairie that marks the US-Canada border in the area are growing it like crazy, sending it across the border, where it can be processed and sold as hemp products, and taking their US dollar profits back home.

In several bills passed since 1999, the North Dakota legislature has approved industrial hemp cultivation. Last month, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem gave his approval to implementing rules crafted by the Agriculture Department, whose head, Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, has been a leading proponent of the potential new cash crop. On Monday, the rules won final approval in the legislature.

"The administrative rules committee of the Legislative Council has reviewed the rules and has not recommended any changes," Commissioner Johnson said in a press release Monday. "After Jan. 1, 2007, North Dakotans will be able to apply for licenses to grow industrial hemp."

But he also warned that the feds remain an obstacle. "Our rules clearly state that persons who hold licenses to grow industrial hemp must also obtain permission from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It will be up to the DEA to allow producers to compete with other countries for the profits from this potentially valuable crop."

Under the North Dakota rules, producers must consent to a criminal background check and document the amount of harvested hemp sold. Their fields must be provided with geopositioning instruments to track their location, and planted hemp seed must contain less than 0.03% THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Johnson told the Associated Press he had no illusions of hempen hills in North Dakota anytime soon, but that he hoped to pressure the DEA to act. "We'll see where it goes," he said. "Hopefully, North Dakota will be the first state where producers can grow hemp for legitimate uses. Nobody has ever put something like this in front of the DEA," he said. "We want to make industrial hemp happen. We have put these rules together in such an airtight fashion that we know we are not going to have illicit drugs being grown in North Dakota," Johnson said.

The DEA doesn't care. Hemp contains traces of THC and thus falls under the purview of the Controlled Substances Act, DEA Washington spokesman Steve Robertson told the AP. "There is no differentiation between hemp and marijuana," Robertson said. "The regulations for hemp are the same as they are for marijuana." [Ed: Robertson of course is lying -- yes, lying -- the CSA clearly gives DEA the authority to grant hemp growing licenses.]

But perhaps some frustrated North Dakota farmer with a hemp license will take the agency to court. And then perhaps the US can join the list of civilized countries that allow hemp production, with North Dakota in the vanguard.

NORML's Daily Podcast Celebrates 6 Months; Over 100 Episodes Online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 5, 2006 Contact: Chris Goldstein or Allen St. Pierre, tel: 202-483-5500, e-mail: [email protected] NORML's Daily Podcast Celebrates 6 Months; Over 100 Episodes Online NORML's weekday audio podcast, NORML's Daily Audio Stash , celebrates 6 months online today. Currently ranked #9 in the Government & Organizations Category on iTunes, the Audio Stash is the most popular Marijuana Reform podcast on Apples iTunes Music Store. Serving over 775, 000 downloads with just over 100 individual programs, NORML's podcasts are one of the most visible contributions to NORML's online presence. NORML¹s podcast is the only program online designed specifically for the responsible, American cannabis consumer. The programs are co-produced by NORML's Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and hosted by Chris Goldstein, a public radio broadcaster. NORML's podcast are competing with, and in some cases out-ranking, Senator Hillary Clinton, The President of the United States' Official podcasts, The Council on Foreign Relations, The Carnegie Council, The Pentagon podcasts, The US Navy podcasts, The National Association of Realtors and The Peace Corp. While many non-profits release a weekly or twice-weekly podcast, NORML has taken on the challenge of producing five 30-minute programs each week. The response has been exceptionally strong, demonstrating the growing demand for truthful and verfiable information regarding marijuana outside of main-stream media. The programs feature daily news, interviews with the activists, politicians, doctors, scientists, patients and regular cannabis consumers working towards cannabis prohibition law reform along music and comedy content from the Hempilation Albums, and the Independent Online Distribution Alliance. This balance of news, information and entertainment content create a program for all ages and any level of involvement in marijuana law reform. Just some of the guests who have appeared on NORML's Daily Audio Stash: Tommy Chong, Ann Druyan, Dr. Mitch Earleywine, Dr. John Morgan, Grant Krieger, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Mikki Norris, Dale Gieringer, Allen. St. Pierre, Paul Armentano, Keith Stroup, Dan Viets, Rick Steves, Steve Kubby, Mason Tvert, Steve Fox, Neal Levine, Dr. Robert Melamead, Santa Barbara Councilman Das Williams, Rudy Reyes, Patrick Goggin, Philippe Lucas, William Dolphin, Julie Falco, Kris Krane, Lynn Paltrow, Vivian McPeak, Dominic Holden, Norm Stamper, Jack Cole, Irvin Rosenfled, Rick Doblin, Ryan Grim and Michael MacCleod-Ball Listeners can hear NORML's Daily Audio Stash three ways: - On the website - On iTunes - Or through direct MP3 downloads at the Audio Stash archvive Serving over 40,000 downloads per week, listenership to NORML's Audio Stash continues to grow each day and the podcast now enjoys an entrenched place in online media, serving the message of Marijuana Prohibition Reform. ### NORML's podcasts are now open to business and non-profit sponsorship. Please contact Chris Goldstein or Allen St. Pierre, 202-483-5500 or [email protected]
United States

Americans for Safe Access (ASA): Summary of Medical Marijuana Media

ASA's Summary of Medical Marijuana Media MICHIGAN: Legislature Considers Bill; Initiative Likely WASHINGTON: Out-of-State Recommendation Disqualified CALIFORNIA: Court Clarifies Medical Cannabis Law CALIFORNIA: Community Champion Remembered CALIFORNIA: ID Cards Moving Forward CALIFORNIA: Local Dispensary Ordinances Considered FEDERAL: DEA Faces Suit by Cannabis Specialist ____________________________________________ MICHIGAN: Legislature Considers Bill; Initiative Likely State lawmakers failed to act on a pending bill, despite the compelling testimony of patients and the voter initiatives passed by several Michigan cities over the past several years. Federal officials continue to insist that states maintain criminal penalties for patients. Voters may soon get to have their say. Hearing set on medical pot use by Art Aisner, Ann Arbor News (MI) Proponents of medical marijuana in Michigan are gearing up for their cause's most significant initiative in the state in decades. Marijuana bill snuffed out by Chris Andrews, Lansing State Journal Irvin Rosenfeld is a willing poster child for medical marijuana. The Florida stockbroker suffers from a rare and painful disease called multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis. He has received medical marijuana from the U.S. government since 1982, although the program was closed to new patients 10 years later. Medical marijuana bill dies by Charlie Cain , Detroit News A bill to allow people with "debilitating medical conditions" to legally use marijuana to ease their symptoms died in the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday, and backers say the issue will likely be left up to voters to decide. Lawmakers hear debate over medical marijuana by Tim Martin, Associated Press, Kalamazoo Gazette (MI) A proposal to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons in Michigan received a rare legislative hearing Tuesday. Michigan tackles medical, recreational marijuana by Associated Press, WOOD TV8 (MI) Charles Snyder III says his rare disorder, nail patella syndrome, sometimes leaves him in so much pain he'd nearly be bedridden without pain medication -- such as marijuana. Snyder supports a bill discussed Tuesday in the state House that would make it legal for patients with "debilitating medical conditions" who grow or use marijuana for treatment purposes. Federal official urges state to keep pot use illegal by Dawson Bell, Detroit Free Press A top federal anti-drug official, testifying about legislation to approve the use of marijuana in Michigan for medical purposes, told lawmakers Tuesday the move would be bad both for patients and society. ____________________________________________ WASHINGTON: Out-of-State Recommendation Disqualified Conflicts between the intent of the law and officials’ interpretations can crop up as state’s implement medical cannabis laws. Washington’s law is clearly intended to protect patients, yet a woman’s recommendation was invalidated by the state Supreme Court because her doctor was from California. As an editorial notes, “Where the cops and courts failed, lawmakers can succeed, by rewriting the law to recognize medical marijuana prescriptions from any licensed physician.” Medical Marijuana: Dopey decision EDITORIAL, Seattle Post-Intelligencer The Washington Supreme Court, for hardly the first time in judicial history, has rendered a ruling that is at the same time legally correct and morally wrong. Woman may be jailed for medical pot use by Rachel La Corte, Associated Press Her California medical marijuana card will not protect a Hayward woman from going to jail for a marijuana charge in Washington state, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. ____________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Court Clarifies Medical Cannabis Law The state Supreme Court has ruled that legislative action to clarify the voter initiative that made medical cannabis legal ten years ago were intended to aid implementation of the law. Specifically, the court found that patients may transport cannabis as needed. Man's Conviction Upheld In Medical Marijuana Case by CBS News, KCAL CBS-2 An Orange County man's felony conviction for transporting marijuana was upheld Monday by the California Supreme Court despite its ruling that later law allowing a medical marijuana defense for transportation applies retroactively. ____________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Community Champion Remembered The life of a prominent doctor who served as medical director of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative was remembered this week. Mike Alcalay contributed tireless of his time and energy to patients throughout the Bay Area; we will miss him greatly. Mike Alcalay (1941-2006) Remembered on World AIDS Day by Judith Scherr, Berkeley Daily Planet Countless lives have been touched by Dr. Mike Alcalay who died Nov. 18 in Oakland from a rare and aggressive leukemia, after surviving AIDS for more than 20 years. ____________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: ID Cards Moving Forward ASA’s legal arguments have helped persuade a Superior Court judge that counties must implement the state’s ID card system. That has helped prompt county officials to move forward. Board to discuss medical marijuana ID card after tentative ruling supports Prop by Shayla Ashmore, Lassen News (CA) The medical marijuana identification card program will be back before the Lassen County Board of Supervisors sometime after Jan. 1 due to a San Diego County Superior Court ruling that counties must follow the state’s medical-marijuana laws regardless of federal drug statutes. BOS to consider ID cards for medical marijuana patients by Tiffany Revelle, Record-Bee (CA) Those using marijuana for medicinal purposes in Lake County may soon join almost 3,000 of their counterparts statewide who have access to county-issued identification cards to protect their legal rights under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and the more recent Senate Bill 420. ____________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Local Dispensary Ordinances Considered ASA has compiled information from officials around the state with experience in regulating dispensaries that shows ordinances are working well. Tulare Co. wants more data on marijuana dispensaries by Sarah Jimenez, Fresno Bee Tulare County planning commissioners said Wednesday they needed more expert information and a review of similar ordinances in Visalia and Tulare before they would consider an ordinance regulating where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located. Coachella council to vote on dispensary moratorium by K. Kaufmann, Desert Sun (CA) The Coachella City Council is expected to vote at its meeting tonight on an emergency moratorium on the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Tracy orders marijuana club closed by Mike Martinez, Tri-Valley Herald (CA) It wasn't exactly what Tracy City Manager Dan Hobbs had in mind for his "greening of Tracy" plan. The medical marijuana dispensary, which opened under the nose of city late last month on the outskirts of downtown Tracy, has been ordered to close. ____________________________________________ FEDERAL: DEA Faces Suit by Cannabis Specialist A leading physician who specializes in cannabis therapies has filed suit against the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, alleging that they have been targeting him because of the nature of his practice. Redding doctor sues DEA by Tim Hearden, Record Searchlight (CA) A Redding doctor who specializes in medical marijuana is suing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies for sending informants and undercover agents to his office posing as patients. ______________________________________________ For more news summaries or information about Americans for Safe Access, see our website at
United States

ASA STATE CONFERENCE 2007: Implementation = Victory: Preparing for the Next Ten Years

Americans for Safe Access is pleased to announce the 2nd State Conference will take place January 13th and 14th at the Pickwick Gardens Conference Center, 1001 Riverside Drive in Burbank, California. As the momentum grows around medical cannabis law implementation throughout the state, open communication amongst the players, both regionally and statewide, has become crucial. For this reason, ASA staff will bring its key assets to the table in a series of workshops and seminars designed to give activists the skills they need to achieve effective statewide campaigns while providing a vehicle for local campaigns to flourish. This is a participatory, not panel based, conference. Every aspect of the agenda is intended to make the most of the skills and resources you already have, while providing you the direct, one-on-one support of some of the brightest minds in medical marijuana advocacy from ASA chapters, allies and friends. You will have opportunities to interact directly with presenters who are forming the state and national strategy for medical marijuana, network with other activists like yourself from around the state, and work on local strategies with activists from your region using the ASA toolbox. ASA State Campaign Staff will be presenting the California Campaign for Safe Access Strategy, covering issues from regulations and protecting safe access, implementation of the ID card program, sales tax and the Board of Equalization, and regional participation in the implementation of SB420, Proposition 215 and precedent setting case law. Action PhotoDetails will be available soon, including conference agenda, keynote speakers, possible group bus travel, discounted lodging, and more! For more information, please contact Alex at [email protected] or (510) 251-1856 x 321. Please be part of the solution. Register now for the ASA Conference and use this space to expedite full implementation of our state medical marijuana laws in every city and county in California. For more info and to register, visit
Sat, 01/13/2007 - 9:00am - Sun, 01/14/2007 - 7:00pm
1001 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA
United States

What Will a Democratic Congress Mean for Drug Reform?

One of the articles I'm working on this week will be called "Drug Reform and the Democratic Congress: What's Really Going to Happen?" I've already talked to a number of inside the beltway drug reform types--the folks who actually work the halls of Congress--and I've got feelers out to more, as well as to the offices of several of the congressional Democrats who will be chairing key committees. There are quite a few drug policy-related issues that could come before the Congress next year. You can find my initial list of them a couple of paragraphs below. Here's how the article is likely to begin: To hear the buzz in drug reform circles, Christmas came early this year. To be precise, it arrived on election day, when the Democrats took back control of the Congress after 12 long years out in the cold. There is a whole long list of drug reform-related issues that the Democratically-controlled Congress can address, and hopes are high that after a dozen years of Republican rule on Capitol Hill, progress will come on at least some of them. But will the Democratic Congress really turn out to be Santa Claus, bestowing gifts on a movement long out in the cold, or will it turn out more like the Grinch, offering up goodies only to snatch them away? The Drug War Chronicle is trying to find out what's likely to happen, so we talked to a number of drug reform organizations, especially those with a strong federal lobbying presence and agenda, as well as with the offices of some of the representatives who will be playing key roles on Capitol Hill in the next Congress. The list of drug war issues where Congress could act next year is indeed lengthy: • Sentencing reform, whether addressing the crack-powder cocaine disparity or mandatory minimums or both; • Medical marijuana, either through the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment barring federal funds to raid patients and providers in states where it is legal or Barney Frank's states' rights to medical marijuana bill; • The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP—the drug czar's office) is up for reauthorization; • The Higher Education Act (HEA) and its drug provision is up for reauthorization; • Removing drug offender restrictions from food stamp, public housing, and other social services; • The Washington, DC, appropriations bill, where Congress has barred the District from enacting needle exchange programs or a voter-approved medical marijuana law. • Plan Colombia; • The war in Afghanistan and US anti-opium policy; • The pain crisis and the war on pain doctors; • Police raids. While there is optimism in drug reform circles, it is tempered by a healthy dose of realism. The Congress is a place where it is notoriously difficult to make (or unmake) a law, and while some of the new Democratic leadership has made sympathetic noises on certain issues, drug reform is not exactly a high-profile issue. Whether congressional Democratic decision-makers will decide to use their political resources advancing an agenda that could be attacked as "soft on drugs" or "soft on crime" remains to be seen. But according to one of the movement's most astute Hill-watchers, some "low-hanging fruit" might be within reach next year. "Some of the easiest things to achieve in the new Congress will be the HEA ban on aid to students with drug violations, because the Democrats will have to deal with HEA reauthorization, and the ban on access to the TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) to public housing, because they will have to deal with welfare reform," said Bill Piper, director of government relations *** for the Drug Policy Alliance. "There is also a chance of repealing provisions in the DC appropriations bill that bar needle exchanges and medical marijuana. These are the low-hanging fruit." For Piper, there is also a chance to see movement on a second tier of issues, including medical marijuana, sentencing reform and Latin America policy. "Can we get the votes to pass Hinchey-Rohrabacher in the House and get it to the Senate?" he asked. "There is also a good chance of completely changing how we deal with Latin America. We could see a shift in funding from military to civil society-type programs and from eradication to crop substitution," he said. "Also, there is a good chance on sentencing reform. Can the Democrats strike a deal with Sen. Sessions (R-AL) and other Republicans on the crack-powder disparity, or will they try to play politics and paint the Democrats as soft on crime? Would Bush veto it if it passed?" Clearly, at this point, there are more questions than answers, and time will tell. But the political ground has shifted, Piper noted. "We are no longer playing defense," he argued. "Now we don't have to deal with folks like Souder and Sensenbrenner and all their stupid bills. This puts us in a really good position. For the first time in 12 years, we get to go on offense. And unlike a dozen years ago, the Democrats who will control the key committees are really, really good. This is probably the first time since the 1980s that drug policy reform has been in a position to go on the offensive." There will be much more on Friday...
United States

Tracy orders marijuana club closed

Tracy, CA
United States
Inside Bay Area (CA)

Marijuana: Lowest Priority Initiatives Coming to Maine

Maine is set to become the latest state to try passing local initiatives to make adult marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority. A state group with affiliations with the Marijuana Policy Project, the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative (MMPI), has submitted petitions to officials in five western Maine towns, and is already set to go to the polls in Sumner. Town meetings in Farmington, Paris, West Paris and Athens, where petitions have been delivered to local officials, may also consider the initiatives next year.
Maine campaign ad
Maine activists are starting small, but thinking big, MMPI executive director Jonathan Leavitt told the Associated Press. "The purpose of the ordinance is to let the county, state and federal government know that many people believe the marijuana laws are not working," Leavitt said.

Lowest priority initiatives have proven extremely successful since first pioneered in Seattle in 2003. Cities that have passed such initiatives now include Oakland, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica, California; as well as Columbia, Missouri; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Missoula, Montana.

But Farmington, Maine, Police Chief Richard Caton didn't think much of the idea. Who knows what kind of people might be attracted to town, he warned the AP. Also, the chief said, police would be caught between local and state and federal law. "A better way, if this is the sentiment of the people, is to change the state and federal laws," he said.

The Maine lowest priority ordinances would prohibit communities from accepting federal funds that would be used to enforce the marijuana laws and would require police to submit reports on the number and type of marijuana arrests to each municipality that adopts the ordinance, he said. Municipal officials would be required to notify state and federal officials they want to see marijuana taxed and regulated, not prohibited.

Lt. Hart Daley of the Oxford County Sheriff's Department didn't like the sound of that. "We still consider drug offenses on the top of the list of our priorities," Daley said.

Attitudes like Daley's are why local initiatives are only the beginning.

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