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Medical Marijuana: Bills Introduced in Michigan, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont and Soon in New Mexico

With state legislatures getting down to business around the country this month, the medical marijuana issue is showing up at the statehouse. So far, bills to okay the medicinal use of the herb have been introduced in Michigan and South Carolina, with one planned in New Mexico. Meanwhile, in Vermont, which approved medical marijuana in 2004, a bill has been introduced that would expand the range of conditions for which it could be used.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 11 states, beginning with a California initiative in 1996. Since then, seven more states (Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Maine and Washington) have approved medical marijuana through the initiative process, while in three states (Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont), it was approved by the legislature.

Arizona voters also approved medical marijuana at the polls, but the law there is effectively dead because it requires a doctor to prescribe it, which the DEA will not allow. Other states learned from Arizona's experience and require only a doctor's recommendation, thus getting around the DEA roadblock. In Maryland, the medicinal use of marijuana can be offered as an affirmative offense in the event a patient is arrested.

Whether this year will see additions to the list of medical marijuana states remains to be seen, of course, but some legislators have been quick off the mark. In Michigan, where medical marijuana obtained its first legislative hearing ever in November, Rep. Lamar Lemmons Jr. is set to introduce HB 4038, which is essentially the same bill as last year's. According to the Michigan legislature's web site, it will be formally introduced on Monday.

In South Carolina, state Sen. William Mescher (R-Pinopolis) last week introduced a bill, S 220, which would allow patients suffering from any open-ended list of medical ailments and their caregivers to possess up to six plants and one ounce of marijuana. Patients would have to register with the state, which would issue identification cards.

Mescher told the Florence Morning News his wife had died of lung cancer 24 years ago, and doctors at the time told him marijuana might alleviate some of her symptoms, but that she could become dependent. "There were concerns that she would become addicted," he said. "Here this woman had maybe two or three months to live -- and in extreme pain. It didn't make any difference if she became addicted."

A friend in similar circumstances now compelled him to act, he said. "To me, it's no different than morphine or any other painkiller that a doctor can prescribe. Some doctors say it doesn't help. But if the person thinks it's helping them, then it's helping them."

Mescher has a reputation as a determined crusader in South Carolina. He fought for a decade to legalize tattooing in the state so it could be regulated. "It took me 10 years to get tattooing regulated in South Carolina," Mescher said. "I've got a bulldog tenacity."

In New Mexico, the Drug Policy Alliance Network announced this week that it is again pushing the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (last year's version here). For the past two years, the measure has passed every legislative hurdle, but not received a House floor vote for reasons primarily unrelated to the issue.

The law requires a patient to receive a recommendation for medical marijuana from his or her medical provider, after which the patient must submit an application to the New Mexico Department of Health for approval. The department will then issue an ID card that permits the patient and a primary caregiver to possess medical marijuana. A licensed facility approved by the Department of Health will be responsible for producing, distributing, and dispensing medical cannabis to patients.

In Massachusetts, the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts reports that Rep. Frank Smizik has reintroduced a medical marijuana bill, with this year's version numbered H 2507. (Last year's version is here.) Modeled on the law adopted next store in Rhode Island, the bill would provide protection for patients with a written recommendation from their doctors.

Meanwhile in Vermont, which passed a medical marijuana bill in 2004, Sen. Richard Sears (D-Bennington), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill would expand the law to include additional diseases and conditions and allow patients to grow more marijuana for their own use. Under the current law, only cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis patients qualified, but under Sears' proposed S 007 that list would expand to include any "life threatening, progressive, and debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms such as: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; or seizures."

The bill increases the number of plants patients or caregivers can grow from one mature plant to six and from two immature plants to 18. The amount of usable marijuana they can possess would be increased from one ounce to four.

The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing January 11. Max Schlueter, head of the Vermont Crime Information Center, told the committee there were 29 people registered for the program. Patients like Steve Perry and Mark Tucci helped explain why the law needs to be changed.

Perry suffers from degenerative bone disease and would like to use marijuana to ease its symptoms, but it is not currently on the list of approved diseases. "Because the law doesn't allow me to legally use or obtain marijuana, I have to put myself at risk of being arrested and going to jail every time I need to ease the pain," Perry said.

Mark Tucci has multiple sclerosis, one of the currently approved trio of ailments, but he said the current law doesn't allow him to produce enough to supply his needs and forces him into the black market. "I'm getting sick of going out to try to find the stuff," said Tucci.

The legislative season in the states is young, but medical marijuana is off to a fast start in a handful of them.

Marijuana: Decriminalization Bills Filed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire

Twelve states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon) have enacted some form of marijuana decriminalization, all of them during the 1970s, but if legislators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have their way, that number will grow again this year for the first time in decades. In the former, friendly legislators are reintroducing a decrim bill, while in the latter, a local group is allying with legislators to push new legislation.

In Massachusetts, Senate Bill 881, sponsored by Sen. Pat Jehlen, with four cosponsors, is a refilling of a bill that was approved last year in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. It specifies a civil penalty for the possession of one ounce of less of marijuana of $250.

The Massachusetts effort builds on years of work by the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the Bay State NORML affiliate, MassCann. The two groups have brought ballot questions urging their representatives to support various marijuana reform measures before more than 400,000 Bay State voters, and won every one of them. It remains to be seen if the popular support for reform can be translated into a new decrim law.

In New Hampshire, a new grassroots group, the Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy is urging support for HB 92, which was set for a Wednesday hearing in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

"Despite the threat of severe penalties, many responsible, productive New Hampshire citizens continue to use marijuana. As long as these individuals do not harm others, we believe it is unwise and unjust to continue persecuting them as enemies of the state," the group declared.

Hopeful that the Granite State's "Live Free or Die" motto will resonate with their peers, Reps. Chuck Weed (D-Keene), Paul Ingbretson (R-Haverill), and Steve Vailancourt (R-Manchester) sponsored the bill. But even though Democrats took over both houses in the November elections, the measure's chances are uncertain. It will be opposed by the usual suspects in law enforcement and the Attorney General's office. The fate of a 2001 medical marijuana bill, which was overwhelmingly defeated, also signals potential problems.

Still, despite a decades-long hiatus since the decrim glories of the Carter years, legislators in at least two states will have the opportunity to renew a long dormant reform movement.

DPA Press Release: Democratic Majority Has Opportunity to Find Exit Strategy for Failed War on Drugs

[A press release from our friends at Drug Policy Alliance] Democratic Majority Has Opportunity to Find Exit Strategy for Failed War on Drugs Access to Treatment, Reduction of HIV and Drug Overdoses and Tackling Inhumane Mandatory Minimums Now Possible with “New Direction” Dems The Democratic takeover of Congress provides the best opportunity to reform our nation’s failed drug war policies in more than a decade, says the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. Moreover, the takeover sets the stage for a showdown between Congress and the Bush Administration over federal raids on medical marijuana patients, military aid to Colombia, and numerous other White House drug policies. “Republicans have incarcerated millions of nonviolent drug law offenders and wasted tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, yet drugs are readily available and the harms associated with them continue to mount,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Democrats need to step up to the plate and prove to Americans that they can do what Republicans couldn’t do: reduce the harms associated with both drug abuse and the war on drugs.” Over the last decade, Democrats in Congress supported efforts to reform punitive drug laws and expand opportunities for drug treatment at greater numbers than Republicans. For instance, 144 House Democrats voted earlier this year to prohibit the U.S. Justice Department from undermining state medical marijuana laws (73 percent of voting Democrats). Only 18 Republicans supported the measure (just 8 percent of voting Republicans). 169 Democrats voted last year to cut funding to the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (more commonly known as “Plan Colombia”). Only 19 Republicans voted to do so. While former Republican committee chairs, such as Rep. James Sensenbrenner (WI) and Rep. Mark Souder (IN), have been cheerleaders of draconian legislation, the new Democratic chairs in the new Congress are solid drug policy reformers. Many support reforming mandatory minimum drug sentences, legalizing medical marijuana, eliminating the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, diverting nonviolent drug law offenders to drug treatment, and lifting the ban on using federal money for syringe exchange programs. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars and incarcerating millions of Americans, illegal drugs remain cheap, potent, and widely available in every community. Meanwhile, the harms associated with drug abuse - addiction, overdose, the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, etc - continue to mount. The Drug Policy Alliance urges Democrats to set a “new bottom line” in the government’s approach to drugs and to not repeat the mistakes Republicans made. In a five-point agenda the Drug Policy Alliance offered Democrats advice on how to reduce the harm associated with both drug abuse and the war on drugs. Five-point agenda --Hold hearings on the Bush Administration’s failure to protect the American people. President Bush has diverted law enforcement resources away from fighting drug cartels and terrorist cells to arresting medical marijuana patients, doctors, and low-level drug law offenders. His administration’s Reefer-Madness-like obsession with marijuana is largely responsible for our country’s failure to deal adequately with methamphetamine. And the Bush Administration’s radical crop eradication plans in Afghanistan and Colombia are driving poor families into the arms of our enemies, destabilizing those countries and boosting the efforts of those who seek to harm America. --Reprioritize federal law enforcement resources. Democrats should change federal law to prevent the Bush Administration from squandering scarce resources. Most notably, Democrats should prohibit the Justice Department from undermining state medical marijuana laws. They also should raise the threshold amounts of drugs it takes to trigger mandatory minimum drug sentences, in order to encourage the Justice Department to target major drug traffickers. --Make treatment available to all who need it. The quickest, cheapest, and most effective way to undermine drug markets and reduce drug abuse is to make substance abuse treatment available to all who need it, whenever they need it, and as often as they need it. Democrats should increase federal funding for drug treatment (including the Bush Administration’s model voucher treatment program, Access to Recovery), establish policies that divert nonviolent drug law offenders to treatment instead of jail, and increase the number of people who can access substance abuse treatment through their health insurance. --Eliminate the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity. The 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine is responsible for immense racial disparities in the federal criminal justice system. Several Senate Republicans have already introduced a bill to reform the sentences —although the legislation does not go far enough. And President Bush indicated early in his Administration that he would be open to reducing the disparity. Democrats should work to pass bi-partisan legislation eliminating this disparity. --Enact legislation to reduce drug overdose deaths and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Annual drug overdoses have more than doubled under Republican rule, yet not a single federal dollar goes to overdose prevention. Similarly, the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases from the sharing of dirty needles continues to mount; but not a single federal dollar goes to syringe exchange programs. Democrats can save thousands of lives a year by creating a federal grant program to help cities establish overdose prevention programs and lifting the federal ban that prohibits using federal money for syringe exchange. Preventing America’s sons and daughters from dying is a winning issue. “For years Democrats have allowed Republicans to beat them up on drug-related issues. But now they have an opportunity to go on the offensive with a clear reform message that will really impress voters,” said Piper. “The Democrats can distinguish themselves from Republicans and show voters that they can solve complicated problems.” ### The New York Times January 9, 2007 Judges Look to New Congress for Changes in Mandatory Sentencing Laws BYLINE: By LYNETTE CLEMETSON; Sabrina Pacifici contributed reporting. SECTION: Section A; Column 1; National Desk; Pg. 12 LENGTH: 1361 words DATELINE: WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 Federal sentencing laws that require lengthy mandated prison terms for certain offenses are expected to come under fresh scrutiny as Democrats assume control of Congress. Among those eagerly awaiting signs of change are federal judges, including many conservatives appointed by Republican presidents. They say the automatic sentences, determined by Congress, strip judges of individual discretion and result in ineffective, excessive penalties, often for low-level offenders. Judges have long been critical of the automatic prison terms, referred to as mandatory minimum sentences, which were most recently enacted by Congress in 1986 in part to stem the drug trade. Now influential judges across the ideological spectrum say that the combination of Democratic leadership and growing Republican support for modest change may provide the best chance in years for a review of the system. ''With a changing of the guard, there should at least should be some discussion,'' said William W. Wilkins, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. The House Judiciary Committee, under the new leadership of Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, is planning hearings on the laws, starting later this month or in early February. One of the first issues planned for review is the sentencing disparity between offenses involving powder and crack cocaine. The possession or trafficking of crack brings much harsher penalties than those for similar amounts of the powder form of the drug. Mr. Conyers, a longtime critic of mandatory minimum sentences, favors treating both drugs equally. The Senate Judiciary Committee has no immediate plans for hearings. But Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, also supports some changes in the sentencing policy for crack cocaine convictions (though more modest than Mr. Conyers and some other Democrats favor), and Judiciary Committee staff members say a serious Senate review of the issue is likely in the current Congress. Many law enforcement officials support tough, automatic sentences and argue that weakening existing laws will cause an increase in drug trafficking and violent crime. Many judges say current laws have clogged jails and too often punish low-level offenders. Some judges also argue that automatic lengthy sentences give prosecutors an unfair bargaining tool that they can use to tailor charges and press defendants into plea bargains. ''These sentences can serve a purpose in certain types of cases involving certain types of offenders,'' said Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, who was appointed by President Bush, ''but when you apply them across the board you end up doing a disservice not just to individuals but to society at large.'' Several judges say that broad inclusion in the coming Congressional hearings on sentencing would mark a notable departure from Judiciary Committee activity under the former Republican chairman, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, who many judges say maintained an antagonistic stance toward judges. ''There was no question that judges were targeted under the Sensenbrenner committee for speaking out,'' said Judge Nancy Gertner, a Federal District Court judge appointed by President Bill Clinton who teaches a course on sentencing policy at Yale Law School. Judge Gertner and others point to the example of Judge James Rosenbaum, a Reagan appointee who, in 2003, faced a Congressional review of his sentencing decisions under a barrage of criticism that he and other federal judges were too lenient. Many in the judicial community argued that Judge Rosenbaum was singled out because he criticized a proposal to increase federal sentences in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Most judges shy away from direct formal involvement in legislative matters. But many say private interactions with legislators that do not focus on specific cases but on policy matters of concern to the judiciary are appropriate. Judge Wilkins, a former legislative assistant to Senator Strom Thurmond, said he believed private conversations on mandatory minimum sentences with his own congressman, Representative Bob Inglis, Republican of South Carolina, helped change the legislator's position. Mr. Inglis, once a supporter of tough automatic sentences, said during a 1995 House vote that he would never vote for them again and has since become a Republican leader on sentencing reform. ''I was delighted that he took a principled stand, and I would like to think I was of some benefit to him in getting there,'' said Judge Wilkins, who served as the first chairman of the Federal Sentencing Commission, the body charged by Congress with developing sentencing guidelines and collecting and analyzing statistics. Some judges have expressed displeasure with the system from the bench or in written opinions. At a sentencing last January Judge Walter S. Smith Jr., of the Western District of Texas, was required to add 10 years to the already mandated 10-year sentence in a crack distribution case because a gun was found under the defendant's bed. During the sentencing, the judge stated, ''This is one of those situations where I'd like to see a congressman sitting before me.'' In an impassioned written opinion in 2004, Judge Paul G. Cassell of the Federal District Court in Utah, who was appointed by President Bush, called the mandatory 55-year sentence he was forced to give a low-level marijuana dealer who possessed, but did not use or brandish, a firearm ''simply irrational.'' In the opinion, Judge Cassell recommended a commutation of the sentence by the president, noting that the sentence, with consecutive 25-year terms for firearm possession, was longer than those required for an airport hijacker, second-degree murderer or a rapist. The Supreme Court declined last fall to hear the case. But an amicus brief urging the court to take the case included signatures from legal figures like William Sessions, the former F.B.I. director; Janet Reno, attorney general during the Clinton administration; and Griffin Bell, attorney general under Jimmy Carter. Many opponents of mandatory minimum sentences would like to see a full repeal of the laws. ''After so many years of this, people have forgotten that we should be asking for the whole fix, not just little pieces,'' said Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. But most legal, legislative and judicial experts agree that repeal, or even broad-ranging overhaul of existing laws, is unlikely. More probable is serious review of crack cocaine sentencing laws. Currently, possessing five grams of crack brings an automatic five-year sentence. It takes 500 grams of powder cocaine to warrant the same sentence. Similarly disparate higher amounts of the drugs results in a 10-year sentence. The 100-to-1 disparity, opponents of the law say, unfairly singles out poor, largely black offenders, who are more likely than whites to be convicted of dealing crack cocaine. At a sentencing commission hearing in November, Judge Walton, associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under the first President George Bush and a onetime supporter of tough crack cocaine sentences, said it would be ''unconscionable to maintain the current sentencing structure'' on crack cocaine. Mr. Sessions is a co-sponsor of a bill that would change the ratio for the two drugs to 20 to 1, increasing the amount of crack that brings a five-year sentenceto 20 grams from 5, and lowering the powder cocaine trigger from 500 grams to 400 grams. If judges say they are hopeful for new debate on sentencing policy, they are quick to add that they are not naive. After all, many say, even politicians who are critical of current laws fear looking soft on crime. ''Candidly, the Democrats were never particularly courageous on this issue either,'' Judge Gertner said. ''But at least now it seems judges may be encouraged to be a part of the discussion. And if asked to speak up, I think many will.''
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Miami-Dade Green Party Drug War Forum

On Saturday, January 27, the Miami-Dade Green Party and The Wallflower Gallery is going to be hosting a Forum on the Drug War. This educational event is going to gather various proponents for drug law reform and work to enhance some communication between various organizations and individuals. As part of this Forum, there will be panel discussion, information tables and question & answer sessions. In addition, there will be musical and spoken word performances by a selection of independent artists including Sweetbone. The Miami-Dade Green Party Forum on the Drug War will cover various topics including medical marijuana, mandatory minimums, treatment vs incarceration, privatized prisons, reform strategies, public outreach techniques, current reform legislature and other related issues. Feature are Elvy Musikka (legal medical marijuana patient), Toni Latino and Kurt Donley from Florida NORML as well as members from the Miami-Dade Green Party. Other speakers and presenters will be listed as they continue to be confirmed. The Miami-Dade Green Party Forum on the Drug War is still open for other organizations to be included in this presentation. For any speakers or organizations who wish to be included, please contact Flash at The Wallflower Gallery - 305-579-0069. The Miami-Dade Green Party is working to reach out to people in the community who wish to participate in progressive change and reforms on social issues. The event starts at 4:00 p.m. There is a $5 admission. This is an all ages event. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thank you for your interest and your effort. Flash Funk Finder, The Wallflower Gallery
Sat, 01/27/2007 - 4:00pm - 8:00pm
10 N.E. 3rd Street
Miami, FL 33132
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ASA's Summary of Medical Marijuana Media - Week of 1/12/07

ASA's Summary of Medical Marijuana Media - Week of 1/12/07 VERMONT: Law’s Revision to Help More Patients COLORADO: Caregiver Couple Challenge Law IMPLEMENTATION: States Face Challenges Providing Access FEDERAL: More on Imprisonment of Elderly Patient DISPENSARIES: Debates Continue Around California CALIFORNIA: Law Enforcement Struggles with Access Issues CALIFORNIA: ID Card Program Needs Money ___________________________________________ VERMONT: Law’s Revision to Help More Patients Recognizing that while the state law protecting patients has worked well in Vermont, it still unnecessarily excludes many medical cannabis patients, legislators are working to expand it to cover more Vermonters. Unlike California, which leaves the decision about cannabis therapy in the hands of board-certified doctors, Vermont’s lawmakers have proscribed the medical conditions for which cannabis may be legally used. Senate committee considering expanding marijuana law by Associated Press, WCAX TV (Burlington, VT) The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would expand the state's medical marijuana law to include additional diseases and allow people entitled to use marijuana to grow more for their own use. Patients argue for expansion of medical marijuana law by Nancy Remsen, Burlington Free Press Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard Sears, D-Bennington, has introduced a bill that would expand the list of diseases and conditions that would qualify someone for the state's legal protection for therapeutic use of marijuana, allow registered participants to grow more plants, and decrease by half the current $100 registration fee. Medical Marijuana bill aims to change conditions by Brandon Canevari, Editor, Manchester Journal Vermont State Senators Richard Sears (D - Bennington), John F. Campbell (D - Windsor), Ed Flanagan (D - Chittenden) and Jeanette K. White (D - Windham) have introduced a bill, which if passed, will not only alter the conditions under which people may use medicinal marijuana, but also the amount they may possess. ___________________________________________________ COLORADO: Caregiver Couple Challenge Law The attorney leading ASA’s Colorado campaign is assisting in the legal defense of a couple whose caregiver status has not yet been recognized by the courts. The case has the potential to help better define the state law and resolve tricky issues of how patients in Colorado are to access the medicine to which they have a legal right. Couple who claim use of medical pot to face trial by Laura Bailey, The Coloradoan A Fort Collins couple who say they were growing marijuana for medical use pleaded not guilty Friday to felony cultivation and distribution charges. _______________________________________________________ IMPLEMENTATION: States Face Challenges Providing Access With a consensus among voters and action from the legislature in many states to protect medical cannabis patients, attention is turning to how best to implement access. It is one thing to say no one should be imprisoned for following their doctors’ advice, it is another to establish ways for those patients to get their medicine in a safe, convenient and reliable manner. Change in federal law would do much to resolve the problem. Medical pot laws don't blow smoke by Bill Zimmerman and Dave Fratello, Guest Columnists, Daily News (LA) Ten years ago, California voters were first in the nation to legalize the medical use of marijuana. We managed the Proposition 215 campaign, and later had similar success in six other states. Medical marijuana advocates win one, lose one in court by Amy Lynn Sorrel, American Medical News Courts in Washington and California late last year handed medical marijuana users and their prescribing doctors a defeat and a victory, respectively. Much in store for Lakeport City Council by Tiffany Revelle, Lake County Record Bee The city council meeting is chock-full of issues of interest to local residents. Some of these issues include a look at an ordinance regarding the cultivation of medical marijuana within Lakeport city limits and an update regarding a golf course planned for Lakeport. ___________________________________________ FEDERAL: More on Imprisonment of Elderly Patient Interest in the case of a 60-year-old woman who started a 41-month sentence a week ago for growing cannabis continues to generate stories. Prosecutors used the threat of harsh mandatory sentencing as leverage to get the plea deal; subsequent changes in sentencing rules are the basis for her pending appeal. Sanctuary city? by Laura McCaul, San Francisco Bay Guardian Four years after she was first arrested, Stephanie Landa turned herself in to authorities last week to begin serving her three-year sentence for maintaining a warehouse for growing medical marijuana. A raid by law enforcement swept up Landa and friends Kevin Gage and Tom Kikuchi in 2002. Pot-growing woman, 60, reports to prison by Adam Martin, The Examiner Amid a shower of tossed daisies, a flurry of hugs and lots of tears, a 60-year-old woman who was investigated by San Francisco police for growing medical marijuana in 2002 turned herself in to federal marshals this week. ___________________________________________ DISPENSARIES: Debates Continue Around California Communities that have enacted regulatory ordinances have found that cannabis dispensaries serve a critical need for patients, while good regulations allow officials to make sure that the concerns of the larger community are also met. ASA’s study of cannabis dispensary regulations around the state found that local officials report regulations eliminated whatever complaints or problems they might have previously had. Cities struggle with medical marijuana by Alison Hewitt, San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA) It's been 10 years since voters made medical marijuana legal in California, but in many San Gabriel Valley cities it has been a matter of months since officials began to consider how to regulate marijuana dispensaries. Local cities' attention to the issue puts them ahead of the bulk of California cities, according to the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. Feds Consider Pot Illegal, Medical or Not by Josh Premako, The Signal (Santa Clarita) The federal government still essentially looks at marijuana use in America the same way it has for some time - it's illegal. But illegal doesn't necessarily mean illegal. For the last 10 years, the drug has been legal for medical use in California, creating a quandary for communities when it comes to the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries. Cotati Considers Benefits of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Associated Press Cotati could soon become home to a medical marijuana dispensary. Watsonville Upholds Ban On Pot Clubs, Tattoo Parlors KSBW TV8 The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to keep medical marijuana clubs and tattoo parlors out of the city for the time being. Claremont pot dispensary operator guilty of not having license by Associated Press, North County Times The operator of Claremont's medical marijuana dispensary was convicted of operating without a license. City to seek injunction on pot outlet by Will Bigham, Daily Bulletin (CA) The Claremont City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to seek a court injunction to force the operator of a medical marijuana dispensary to shut down. ___________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: Law Enforcement Struggles with Access Issues Like the vast majority of the state’s citizens, most California law enforcement officers support patients’ right to use medical cannabis. But coming to a consensus on how to provide that cannabis is challenging. Too many law enforcement agencies and officers have not yet recognized that what they were trained to see as criminal is now protected by state law. Gone to pot by Shredder, columnist, New Times SLO (CA) At least two houses on the same street are robbed. Pot is reportedly taken from both. Police believe that the marijuana from one house was possessed illegally and the marijuana from the other house was being held by someone with paperwork confirming that it's okay to do so. Police make a big deal about the caregiver and virtually clam up about the other incident. 3 from pot store facing charges by Steve Fetbrandt, Press-Enterprise (CA) The Riverside County district attorney's office has filed felony drug charges against the owner and two employees of an embattled Palm Desert medical marijuana dispensary. CannaHelp operator: I'll stay open by Keith Matheny, The Desert Sun The operator of the CannaHelp medical marijuana dispensary vowed to continue operations after drug-related arrest warrants were issued for him and two dispensary managers Friday. ___________________________________________ CALIFORNIA: ID Card Program Needs Money While only a fraction of the state’s qualified medical cannabis patients have opted for California’s voluntary ID card system, officials say they have to raise the fee to pay for the program. Patients on Medi-Cal will continue to be eligible for reduced fees, but advocates are concerned that increasing the cost will only further discourage patients from availing themselves of the additional protections the cards afford. State Raises Fees For Pot Cards KCBS radio (San Francisco) Card-carrying medical marijuana patients will soon pay ten times as much for the privilege of having their pot use registered with the state. ___________________________________________ MORE NEWS: See ASA's Website News stories and archives of the weekly news summaries are available at ASA's website, See the Press Room area for links. Note: This summary, for the week ending 1/12, was delayed due to ASA's California state conference, held last weekend in Burbank. Thanks to all who made the conference such a success!
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The Drug War's "Unacceptable Losses"

[This post comes courtesy of Ken Wolski, RN, MPA. He is the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey,, [email protected]] "Unacceptable Losses" opened Friday, 1/12/07, at the Woodrow Wilson School's Bernstein Gallery on the Princeton University Campus. This photo-documentary by photgrapher and med student Arthur Robinson Williams examines U.S. drug policy and victims of it. At the exhibit, there are large color and black and white prints that accompany text of interviews that Mr. Williams conducted. The photos Mr. Williams took seemed designed to capture the essential humanity of the subject. (Some of this photographic detail is missing in the web site.) The web site is divided into sections on Treatment on Demand, Sentencing Reform, Syringe Access, Harm Reduction and Medical Marijuana. The stories are very compelling. Though the web site is still a work-in-progess, I highly recommend a look. I was reminded of CMM-NJ member Roberta M., when I read the story of the man with RSD whose pain was so severe he contemplated suicide until he tried marijuana. I consider the War on Drugs the worst policy this country imagined. It combines the worst features of Prohibition and the Vietnam War, in its domestic and foreign components. Lack of medical access to marijuana for legitimate patients is an atrocity in this war. I was one of the first people who was photographed and interviewed by Mr. Williams during his one-year project, though he eventually found more compelling stories for the exhibit and the website. Mr. Williams is looking for additional stories to tell, and he invites submissions via his web site. His web site states: "Although law enforcement is an integral part of the War on Drugs, it is unnecessarily taking resources from effective and complimentary public health strategies. Your stories will form the foundation for that argument." The "Unacceptable Losses" exhibit hopes to tour the country's major universities the way the photo-journalist toured the country collecting subjects for the exhibit. For more, see
Princeton, NJ
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S.C. lawmaker proposes legalizing medical marijuana use

Columbia, SC
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The Times and Democrat (SC)

LA puts hold on permits for new medical marijuana dispensaries

Los Angeles, CA
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The Mercury News (CA)

Hemp: A Coming Epidemic

MSNBC reports on the alarming surge of hemp-laced foods being sold openly in our neighborhoods. Hemp products flow freely across our border from source countries such as Canada, where liberal policies have facilitated a booming industry targeting American snackers south of the border. While a ban on domestic hemp production provides some protection, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep these products out of the hands of children.

According to MSNBC, hemp cultivation has been a problem for quite some time:

Hemp has been grown for at least the last 12,000 years for fiber and food. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp and in fact Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.

In recent years, hemp users have adopted increasingly diverse and discreet methods of administration:

Since the early 1990s, shelled hempseeds have been used as a food ingredient in a wide variety of foodstuffs, including baked goods, snacks, breakfast cereals, beverages, frozen desserts, tofu, and milk substitute.

The DEA has invested millions combating the dangers of hemp, both in court and in open fields around the country where the plant has learned to reproduce itself without human assistance. Still, there remains a well-funded campaign to legalize hemp in several states. Hemp advocates seek to deceive the public with misleading claims that it is a healthy food and that it isn't drugs.

To its credit, MSNBC refutes the dangerous myth that hemp foods are non-psychoactive:

If 20 percent of a food's ingredients are shelled hempseeds, and assuming a 2 ppm THC level, a human being would have to eat 50 pounds of the food in question to become intoxicated.

The prospect of hemp addicts consuming 50 pounds a day to get their fix is frightening indeed, and stands in stark contrast to the hemp advocates' repeated claims that it is "good for you."

Needless to say, this is not your daddy's granola bar.

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Ferry Plans to Fight Pot Dispensary

Santa Clarita, CA
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The Signal (CA)

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School