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ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: Week of March 30, 2007

ASA IN THE NEWS: Implementation a Thorny Issue RHODE ISLAND: Legislators Look to Extend Law CONNECTICUT: State Protections Urged ILLINOIS: Public Waiting on Lawmakers WASHINGTON: Changes to Law May Not Improve Matters NEW HAMPSHIRE: Close Vote Goes Against Public Opinion CALIFORNIA: Another Federal Raid on a Dispensary CALIFORNIA: Dispensaries Remain a Hot Issue CALIFORNIA: ID Card Fees Debated FEDERAL: Medical Marijuana Foe Now Ally _________________________________________ ASA IN THE NEWS: Implementation a Thorny Issue The efforts of ASA staff and members are having an impact on safe access in California and around the country. Alan Bock, a longtime editor of the Orange County Register, gives ASA credit for much of the headway made with California implementation. ASA spokespersons are helping educate the media, lawmakers and the public. Still waiting to inhale by Alan Bock, Columnist, Orange County Register (CA) California voters in 1996 passed Proposition 215, which exempted bona fide patients with a recommendation from a licensed physician from certain aspects of state prohibition against the possession, use or transportation of marijuana, or cannabis. More than 10 years later, however, implementation of the law is spotty and still controversial.... The organization that has perhaps done the most to push compliance with California's medical marijuana law is Americans for Safe Access, headquartered in Oakland. Medical pot's hazy future by K. Kaufmann, Desert Sun A series of federal and county actions have targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Today, reverberations are being felt throughout the state as counties and cities wrestle with their obligations under state laws that allow medical marijuana and possible liability under federal laws that ban it. "I think the Legislature needs to get involved," said Kris Hermes, legal campaign director for Americans for Safe Access. _________________________________________ RHODE ISLAND: Legislators Look to Extend Law When state lawmakers passed the medical marijuana law in Rhode Island they added a "sunset provision" that causes the law to expire this year. With near-universal agreement that the law has worked well, patients are looking forward to seeing the protections become permanent. R.I. lawmakers urged to permanently legalize medical marijuana by Associated Press, Boston Herald Medical marijuana patients urged legislators on Wednesday to permanently legalize the drug for medicinal uses in Rhode Island, saying it is one of the few things that provide relief for crippling pain often caused by chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Senate committee to consider expanding medical marijuana law by Associated Press, WPRI Fox News (RI) A Senate committee is set to consider a proposal today that would permanently legalize medical marijuana in Rhode Island. _________________________________________ CONNECTICUT: State Protections Urged Public support for safe access to medical marijuana in Connecticut is being voiced by celebrities and opinion makers. Among those speaking out is Emmy-award winning talkshow host Montel Williams, who has been telling lawmakers how marijuana has helped him fight the symptoms of MS. Montel urges legalizing medical marijuana United Press International Talk show host Montel Williams told Connecticut lawmakers he uses marijuana every day to stave off the pain associated with his multiple sclerosis. OPINION State Should Legalize Medical Marijuana EDITORIAL, UConn Daily Campus Connecticut should join the 11 (sic) other states that have signed into law bills that would legalize the possession and use of medical marijuana. There has been much heated debate over whether or not Connecticut should join the ranks of Rhode Island and Vermont in allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes. _________________________________________ ILLINOIS: Public Waiting on Lawmakers Year after year, Illinois state legislators take up the question of whether their constituents should be considered criminals if they follow a doctor's advice to use medical cannabis. Public opinion there, as everywhere else in the country, is overwhelmingly in favor of shielding the sick and suffering from criminal liability. Medical marijuana debate pains homemaker by Kendrick Marshall, Lake County News-Sun Lisa Van Camp has spent the majority of her adult life in excruciating pain Research indicates possible benefits of marijuana, possible penalty by Eric Mills, Daily Vidette (IL) With certain research indicating possible benefits of marijuana, many believe Illinois should be one of the next states to legalize it for medicinal purposes. _________________________________________ WASHINGTON: Changes to Law May Not Improve Matters In Washington, as elsewhere, the broad agreement about allowing medical access does not always extend to the details of how to provide it. State lawmakers there are considering a bill intended to help clarify Washington's medical marijuana law, but key provisions patients and doctors have advocated have been altered or abandoned. Rally amplifies voices on medical marijuana by Kurt Ackerson , The Olympian (WA) Supporters of medical marijuana gathered at the Washington state Capitol on Monday before a House Health Care and Wellness Committee hearing for a bill dealing with the topic. _________________________________________ NEW HAMPSHIRE: Close Vote Goes Against Public Opinion A 2003 Zogby poll showed 84% of Granite Staters support safe access to medical marijuana, yet lawmakers there are still just shy of the majority they need to enact statewide protections. N.H. House rejects medical marijuana Associated Press The House voted narrowly Wednesday to reject legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes. _________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Another Federal Raid on a Dispensary The federal interference in California's community-based efforts to tend to the health and welfare of its citizens continued this week with a raid on another medical marijuana dispensary. ASA spokesman Kris Hermes pointed out that the local sheriff is obliged to enforce state law, not federal. Allegations of Misconduct After Federal Drug Raid at Morro Bay Marijuana Dispensary by Amy Andrews, KSBY - NBC TV 6 Allegations of mistreatment surface after a federal drug raid at the Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary. Morro Bay pot raid triggered by alleged violations of state and federal laws by Leslie Parrilla, San Luis Obispo Tribune (CA) Sheriff's Department officials said they were investigating both state and federal violations when they raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay this week. Kris Hermes, the legal campaign director of Americans For Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy organization, said, "If officials were concerned about state violations, they should have used state-issued search warrants instead of federal warrants." U.S. drug agents raid Morro Bay pot dispensary by Leslie Parrilla, San Luis Obispo Tribune (CA) The owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay said he is unsure whether he'll reopen after federal and local authorities raided his business and his Arroyo Grande home Thursday. Kris Hermes, the legal campaign director for Americans For Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy organization, said there has been an increase in such raids by federal agents. Morro Bay Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bust by Amy Andrews, Kelly Bush, Andrew Masuda, KSBY TV 6 Federal agents raid the only medical marijuana dispensary between Buellton and Oakland and Action News has the exclusive video. Feds raid Morro Bay pot clinic by Associated Press , Orange County Register (CA) Federal and local authorities raided a Morro Bay medical marijuana clinic Thursday and arrested an employee. _________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Dispensaries Remain a Hot Issue Medical marijuana dispensaries are becoming increasingly popular in California because they are a compassionate, community-based solution for providing safe access for patients. Local officials who have established regulations for dispensary operations report great success. In communities considering moratoria or bans, ASA is working to educate officials on the benefits of sound regulations. ASA's report on the issue is at Grand Terrace to vote on medical marijuana ban by Julie Farren, Press Enterprise The Grand Terrace City Council tonight will consider prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. _________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: ID Card Fees Debated The voluntary state ID card system relies on the actions of county officials to implement it. Many local officials have joined with patients in protesting the fee increases the state has tried to impose, while others are considering how to handle the cost of a program that ultimately saves law enforcement resources. Alameda County supes lower medical pot card fee by Chris Metinko, Contra Costa Times The Alameda County Board of Supervisors this afternoon unanimously approved a fee decrease for medical marijuana identification cards in the county. Medical pot fee could nearly double by Rob Rogers, Marin Independent Journal The fee for Marin County medical marijuana identification cards could nearly double next month. _________________________________________ FEDERAL: Medical Marijuana Foe Now Ally In a move that shows medicine can transcend political definitions of conservative and liberal, a Congressman who overturned the District of Columbia's medical marijuana initiative will now be lobbying to undo his handiwork and establish federal exemptions for medical use. Former Georgia Rep. Barr lobbies for marijuana group by Associated Press, Fox News As a Republican, former Georgia congressman Bob Barr spent years fighting efforts to soften the nation's drug laws, including blocking a 1998 referendum in which nearly 70 percent of Washington, D-C, voters approved medical marijuana use. Now, as a Libertarian and a lobbyist, he's changing sides. Barr shifts in support of medical marijuana by Gerry Smith, Cox News Service Bob Barr, a former Georgia Republican congressman and anti-drug crusader is in the unusual position of lobbying to overturn a law he sponsored.
United States

Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Patients Rally

Please join us in supporting patients' rights to access medical marijuana! If you need a ride or can offer one from the Eugene area, call please call our Ride Line (541) 226-3761. A social hour will follow the event. Thanks, Dan Koozer Willamette Valley NORML Cannabis Liberation Front P.O. Box 10957 Eugene, Oregon 97440-2957
Mon, 04/02/2007 - 11:00am - 5:00pm
Salem, OR
United States

New York City Is Hell for Pot Smokers

New York, NY
United States
AlterNet (CA)

Barr shifts in support of medical marijuana

Washington, DC
United States
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thanks Bob Barr, Now Can I Have My Faith in Democracy Back?

Christmas came nine months early with news that former drug-warring Congressman Bob Barr has repented and agreed to work with MPP on medical marijuana. One of our worst enemies has become one of our most promising allies in just a few years time. For me, this is perhaps the single greatest validation I've experienced since joining the drug policy reform movement (even though I had nothing to do with it).

It was November of '98 and I was finally 18. Lacking any significant interest in D.C. politics at the time, I deliberately registered to vote for the sole purpose of helping to pass Initiative 59 to protect Washington D.C.'s medical marijuana patients.

This was my first exposure to drug policy reform in my own community, and my first opportunity to participate in the democratic process. I spent the afternoon hanging out with friends and arrived at the polling site late afternoon in high spirits, eager to do my civic duty. I recall bumping into my dad, who assured me that he'd voted the right way on 59. Go, Dad!

Initiative 59 passed with 69%, making our city the cherry on top of MMJ victories in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State.

I don't recall fully understanding the issue, but I knew it was the beginning of something important. Proposition 215 in California two years earlier had proven that compassion could triumph over tyranny in a democratic society, even beneath the shadow of the drug war's towering ramparts. I was inspired.

But then came the Barr Amendment to the D.C. Appropriations Bill:

An amendment to prohibit any funds to be used to conduct a ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or reduce the penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act or any tetrahydrocannabinois derivative.
The first time I'd participated in the democratic process, the U.S. Congress intervened and overruled me. They also overruled my dad, and pretty much everyone I knew. A lot of people just shrugged it off, as D.C. residents had become accustomed to being marginalized politically. But I'd had my first taste of the hypocrisy of the drug war and the anti-democratic principles in which it is founded.

Many criminal justice courses, conferences, protests, and late paychecks later, the man who took away my voice has admitted he was wrong. Today I feel the righteousness of our cause in my heart. It is a feeling most drug warriors will never know.

Marijuana: Cincinnati City Council Votes to Extend Tough Ordinance

The Cincinnati City Council voted Tuesday to renew a tough municipal marijuana ordinance it approved last year despite charges that it had not done what supporters said it would do: reduce violent crime. Thanks to strong local opposition to the ordinance when originally passed, it included a sunset provision and would have expired Friday if the council had not acted.

Under Ohio law, possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana is no more than a ticketable offense with a maximum $100 fine. That was too lenient for the city fathers in Cincinnati, who last year passed a municipal ordinance allowing police to arrest and jail people for up to 30 days for simple pot possession. The measure would reduce crime by removing guns from the streets, allowing police to target dealers, and scaring residents of nearby Kentucky and Indiana away from coming to the city to buy drugs, supporters said at the time.

Cincinnati police testified that marijuana arrests had removed 62 guns from city streets, but opponents, led by a coalition of groups organized as Citizens for a Safer Cincinnati, argued that crime rates had increased since the ordinance was passed. They have the numbers on their side.

As Safer Cincinnati member and Hamilton County Libertarian Party head Paul Green noted in an analysis of crime figures since the ordinance was passed, the ordinance has not succeeded in any of its three goals. There were fewer arrests of out-of-staters, but their total number was small in both years, and the reduction is a measly 0.7%. And while police bragged that they had seized 62 weapons, the number of guns reported to have been used in crimes was up 27%. The number of handguns -- the weapon most commonly carried by drug dealers -- reported to have been used in crimes was up 17%.

Violent crime has also increased since the ordinance has been in place. Murders were up 16% in 2006 compared to 2005, and armed robbery was up a whopping 44%. Overall, the serious crime index showed a 4.4% increase in 2006.

But despite the ordinance's failure to achieve its stated goals, the council reapproved it. That will make the ordinance a campaign issue, Safer Cincinnati warned.

Middle East: Marijuana Not Kosher for Passover, Says Green Leaf Party

Israel's Green Leaf Party, the country's leading marijuana reform advocacy organization, warned Wednesday that marijuana is not kosher for Passover. Jews who observe the week-long holiday's dietary laws should lay off the weed, the group said.

According to Green Leaf, rabbis have grouped marijuana products along with a family of foods including peas, beans, and lentils that are forbidden to observant Jews during Passover according to the European tradition of rabbinic interpretation. Passover begins on Monday.
Passover ritual 'seder plate' (courtesy Wikimedia)
"We are warning our people not to eat anything with hemp products if they follow the practice of kitniyot on Pesach," said party spokesperson Michelle Levine. "We are considering announcing a ban on everything containing hemp just to be on the safe side. We are going with the rabbis on this. People should remove all cannabis and hemp from their homes."

The Orthodox Anarchist blog disagreed, calling the rulings relating to separation of grains outdated and urging Ale Yarok to instead focus on highlighting halakhic (Jewish religious statutory interpretation) moral arguments such as those supporting medical marijuana or the Orthodox Union's support for religious ayahuasca use rights.

There is an upside to the rabbinical ban during Passover, said Levine. "Logic dictates that if the rabbis say cannabis is non-kosher for Passover, it is apparently kosher during the rest of the year."

NH: Medical marijuana measure rejected

United States
Concord Monitor (NH)

Reefer Madness: A Modest Proposal

United States
The Austin Chronicle

Marijuana: Bob Barr to Lobby for Marijuana Policy Project

My, how times have changed. Less than a decade ago, former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr was the bete noire of the marijuana reform movement. Now, he works for it. That's right, Bob Barr, the man who single-handedly derailed medical marijuana in Washington, DC, has been hired as a lobbyist by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
Jim and the late Cheryl Miller, with Gary Storck and Jacki Rickert, outside Bob Barr's office (
Ironically, Barr will now lobby for the rights of states to set their own medical marijuana policies without interference from the federal government. It was his 1998 "Barr Amendment" to the annual DC appropriations vote that blocked DC officials from counting the votes in that year's medical marijuana initiative, which won with 69% of the vote.

A former prosecutor in the Atlanta suburbs, Barr was always "tough on drugs," but otherwise showed civil libertarian tendencies. After being defeated in 2002 in a campaign that featured attack ads using medical marijuana patients, Barr parted ways with the Republican Party, joining the Libertarians in 2006. He also became a lobbyist for his former arch-rival, the American Civil Liberties Union.

In an interview this week with The Politico, the former arch-drug warrior explained that times have changed. "I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people's lives," Barr said.

Barr brings a "great deal of credibility, particularly among people on the Republican side of the aisle," MPP government relations director Aaron Houston told The Politico. "He certainly would not have been the first person I would have expected to sign off to us, but I'm very pleased that he has," Houston said. "I'm very pleased that he has come around, and I hope he serves as an example to his former colleagues."

As a newly christened MPP lobbyist, Barr is already talking the talk. There might be "legitimate medical uses of marijuana and we ought not have this knee-jerk reaction against it, and people ought to be allowed to explore," he said.

He will also lobby to kill the Office of National Drug Control Policy's youth anti-drug media campaign, which repeated studies have shown to be ineffective. "A lot of conservatives have expressed great concern over the taxpayer money that is being wasted on this poorly run advertising campaign," said Barr, who left Congress in 2003.

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