Marijuana Policy

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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

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.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/mainead.jpg
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.

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."

Marijuana: Michigan Legalization Initiative Gets State Okay to Gather Signatures for 2008

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers this week approved a petition from an Eaton Rapids group for an initiative that would allow adults to use and grow marijuana on private property. The action means that the group, Medical and Recreational Peace, can now begin gathering signatures to put the measure on the 2008 ballot.

It will be an uphill battle for the all-volunteer group. Under Michigan law, initiative organizers must garner more than 300,000 valid signatures of registered voters to make the ballot. Similar efforts have failed in 2000, 2002, and this year.

Michigan is more likely to see a 2008 medical marijuana initiative. While a hearing in the legislature this week is unlikely to lead to action this year, the legislature will have 2007 to pass a medical marijuana bill. If that doesn’t happen, there are already murmurings about going the initiative route. Indeed, one state senator has already suggested as much.

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

Oregon NORML Associate Director and Webmaster Wins National Air America Progressive Talk Radio New Host Star Search Contest

Oregon NORML is proud to announce that our own Associate Director and Webmaster, Radical Russ Belville has competed in the finals in Washington, DC for the National Air America Progressive Talk Radio New Host Star Search contest and WON! This means that he will be hosting his own two-hour progressive talk radio show for Clear Channel and Jones Radio Network. He will be on nationwide (don't know how many stations, but certainly on Portland KPOJ and probably their website online) probably around late March or April. He included a major rant on the War on Marijuana in my third segment during the finals. You could tell they were uncomfortable with the subject at first, but he won them over with facts and logic. Ed "Big Eddie" Schultz was one of the judges (the tiebreaker who decided the 3-2 vote that won for me) and even commented how he gave a lot of good information about marijuana...even after his skepticism for Russ hitting on the topics of "God, guns, gays, and grass" that are so touchy in the heartland. Russ wrote: You can bet that I will be talking about the War on Drugs and spreading the truth about marijuana, but the show will be a whole lot more than that. This is really about personal privacy, states rights, liberty, and civil rights. From the War in Iraq to health care to the working poor to police abuse to gay rights to racism and so much more, I'll be covering it all. You may even be able to call me live. I can't believe this is all happening, and thanks everyone from Oregon NORML, the THC Foundation, and the drug policy reform movement in general who took me in and gave me focus for my energies and talents. Thanks to everyone who believed in me and encouraged me even when my self-doubts raise their ugly heads. We're all in this together and I will be leveraging the resources and expertise from all of you to help make our case. Great things are happening - momentum is with us... Just think, in Nevada and Colorado you could grab any random five voters and two would be for legalization of marijuana and three against. If two of us can just convince one of them... http://talkprogress.org/contestants/ Madeline Martinez Executive Director Oregon NORML
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

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