Marijuana Policy

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Charities Slam George Michael Over Smoking Cannabis On TV

United Kingdom
National News (UK)

Medical Marijuana Policy Signed by CHP, Attorney General, Governor; ASA Lawsuit Settlement Yields Binding "Consent Decree" and $75,000 in

For Immediate Release-October 19, 2006 Contact: William Dolphin 510-919-1498 Medical Marijuana Policy Signed by CHP, Attorney General, Governor ASA Lawsuit Settlement Yields Binding "Consent Decree" and $75,000 in Legal Fees California's medical marijuana patients are now protected from arrest and seizure of their marijuana, thanks to a binding agreement between an advocacy group and state officials. The signed agreement settles a lawsuit filed last February against the California Highway Patrol by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on behalf of qualified medical cannabis patients who had lost their medicine in CHP traffic stops. CHP had a policy of seizing any cannabis found, regardless of whether the officer was shown patient documentation or not. On August 22, 2005, as a result of the lawsuit, CHP adopted a new policy that respects the rights of qualified patients to possess and transport medical cannabis. The new settlement agreement - signed by CHP officials and counsel for Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Governor Schwarzenegger - makes binding the policy adopted last year. Qualified patients, whether they have a state ID card or not, are allowed to have either the quantities specified by SB420 or the local county guideline amounts, whichever is greater. "We're urging local officials around the state to adopt similar law enforcement policies," said Kris Hermes, ASA legal campaign director. "Medical cannabis patients have rights under the law that must be respected, and this consent decree acknowledges that." As part of the settlement, ASA received reimbursement of $75,000 in legal fees for prosecuting the case. ASA received the money yesterday. "California's private attorney general statute encourages concerned citizens to fix flawed policy through litigation and allows for the award of attorney fees where appropriate," said Joe Elford, ASA Chief Counsel. "This case corrects an egregious policy that completely ignored the right of sick and dying Californians to possess marijuana for medical use." The new consent decree is at A photo of ASA staff members with an enlargement of the $75,000 check can be seen at Settlement.jpg. The CHP policy that went in to effect in August 2005 is at # # # With more than 30,000 members, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research. _______________________ _______________________ Caren Woodson Americans for Safe Access
United States

Europe: Italian Government Gives Approval for Marijuana Derivatives for Pain Control

The Italian cabinet gave its approval Thursday for the use of marijuana derivatives, such as the sublingual spray Sativex, in pain relief, the German agency Deutsche Presse Agentur reported. The move reverses the anti-drug policy enforced by the previous government of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was defeated by current Prime Minister Romano Prodi earlier this year.

"We are talking about pain relief therapy. This has nothing to do with smoking joints," Health Minister Livia Turco told reporters after the cabinet meeting where the decision was made. "These drugs are already in use in Canada, Switzerland, and Holland," she added.

Although the Prodi government has vowed to relax stiffened drug penalties enacted by the Berlusconi government, this move has nothing to do with that, said Turco. "If someone mentions cannabis then the whole world is in uproar. We're talking about therapies against pain."

DRCNet Video Review: "Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine, and the Law," Produced and Directed by Jed Riffe

From a handful of federally-approved patients in the late 1970s and 1980s, the American medical marijuana movement has grown by leaps and bounds, with tens of thousands of people in a dozen states now officially registered as medical marijuana users. God alone knows how many people in the remaining 38 states where it is still illegal are smoking pot for the relief of pain, to induce appetite, to reduce the nausea associated with chemotherapy, to help with glaucoma, to reduce the tremors and spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, or an ever-increasing list of medical conditions helped by a puff on a joint or a bite of a marijuana-laced brownie.
As academic and scientific research into the medicinal uses of marijuana gains momentum, the list of its applications seems to grow ever wider. Within the last couple of weeks, researchers reported that marijuana may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's.

But resistance to medical marijuana remains strong. The federal government -- especially its anti-drug bureaucracies, the DEA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy -- is unalterably opposed to its use, while parent anti-drug groups fear that allowing the medicinal use of marijuana will "send the wrong message" to their children. For other foes, medical marijuana is simply one more front in the culture war against hippies and liberals that has been raging for nearly four decades now.

In just over one hour, "Waiting to Inhale," the recently released video by documentary filmmaker Jed Riffe tells the story of the battle over the healing herb. While decidedly sympathetic to medical marijuana, the video also takes pains to present the other side of the story.

We hear ONDCP spokesman David Murray painting a portrait of a dark conspiracy to legalize drugs. "Who is pushing this and why is it being pushed?" he asks. "The agenda is well-funded and being driven to remove the barriers between themselves and the drug they like or are addicted to." Later in the video, Murray calls medical marijuana "a fraud."

Similarly, and more realistically, DEA San Francisco office spokesman Richard Meyer warns that "some traffickers are using [the California medical marijuana law] Prop. 215 as a smoke screen."

Riffe also makes a place for the anti-drug parents' movement, featuring interviews with legendary drug war zealot Sue Rusche, who explains that a trip years ago to a record store with her children where the kids were exposed to a display case of bongs, pipes, and other pot paraphernalia set her on a course of activism. Riffe shows a parents' anti-drug movement that, while still appearing hideously regressive to drug reformers, shows signs of moderation and sophistication. In one scene, Rusche brings out the old canard about "gateway drugs," but says they include "tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana." In another scene, members of a parents' group talk about providing honest information -- not just trying to scare the kids.

While the parents' anti-drug movement -- a key bastion of support for the renewed drug war of the Reagan era and ever since -- may be adapting to adversity, it is also being changed from within. Riffe interviews New Mexico youth counselor Miguel Santesteban, who is working with the anti-drug group Parents United, and Santesteban has some surprising things to say. "Perhaps when it comes to marijuana," he said, "the better message for them to hear is that there is a responsible context for use." Santesteban didn't seem too impressed with federal anti-drug efforts, saying, "If I was the drug czar, I'd give half my budget to the public schools" and "This sending a wrong message thing is a crock."

But despite the time given to the anti-side, it is clear that Riffe's interest and heart is with medical marijuana patients and their fight for safe access to their medicine. The video begins with Mike and Valerie Corral, the founders of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) co-op outside Santa Cruz, recounting how the DEA raided them at gunpoint in 2002, then cuts to Irv Rosenfeld, "Patient #1," in the federal government's compassionate access program, which allowed a tiny number of patients to smoke federally-produced weed until President Bush the Elder ended it in 1992. Rosenfeld and seven others were grandfathered in, and Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbroker, smokes 10 joints of fed weed a day in a largely successful effort to fend off the pain of a chronic bone disease.

Riffe also brings into the mix the doctors and researchers who have renewed the science of medical marijuana after the half-century-long lacunae created by marijuana prohibition. Riffe interviews Raphael Mechoulam, the Israeli researcher who isolated THC, who explains that marijuana has a medicinal history thousands of years long, and he interviews Dr. Lester Grinspoon, one of the earliest American academic advocates of medical marijuana.

After marijuana prohibition, Grinspoon explains, "physicians became ignorant about cannabis" because of Federal Bureau of Narcotics head Harry Anslinger's Reefer Madness propaganda campaign against it. With unknowing doctors regurgitating drug warrior claims about the evil weed, "physicians became not only the victims, but also effective agents of that propaganda campaign."

While Irv Rosenfeld and Robert Randall ("Patient #0") in the federal compassionate access program were puffing their fed weed in the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic was beginning to rear its ugly head, especially in San Francisco, and Riffe very deftly shows how what had been a movement for gay rights morphed into a movement for the rights of AIDS patients and then became one more stream in the rapidly emerging medical marijuana movement.

Riffe talks to a lot more people -- patients, doctors, researchers, politicians -- than I have space to mention, and "Waiting to Inhale" excels at drawing together the disparate strands that make up the medical marijuana story. As much as it is a paean to the wonders of medical marijuana, "Waiting to Inhale" manages to tell the complex, complicated story of a mass movement, a scientific journey, and an ongoing political battle, and it does so in an engaging, moving fashion. For anyone who is curious about the contours of the medical marijuana issue, "Waiting to Inhale" is a valuable -- and eminently watchable -- resource.

"Waiting to Inhale" is DRCNet's latest membership premium -- click here to order it!

Click here for the film's official web site, including an online trailer and list of upcoming screenings.

Video Offer: Waiting to Inhale

Dear Drug War Chronicle reader:

Many drug reform enthusiasts read on our blog last month about a new video documentary, Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine and the Law, and an exciting debate here in Washington between two of my colleagues and a representative of the US drug czar's office that followed the movie's screening. I am pleased to announce that DRCNet is making this film available to you as our latest membership premium -- donate $30 or more to DRCNet and you can receive a copy of Waiting to Inhale as our thanks for your support.
I've known about Waiting to Inhale for a few years, and I am pretty psyched to see it out now and making waves. People featured in the movie -- medical marijuana providers Mike & Valerie Corral and Jeff Jones, patient spokesperson Yvonne Westbrook, scientist Don Abrams -- are heroes whose stories deserved to be told and whose interviews in this movie should be shown far and wide. You can help by ordering a copy and hosting a private screening in your home! Or you and your activist friends can simply watch it at home for inspiration. (Click here for more information including an online trailer.)

Your donation will help DRCNet as we pull together what we think will be an incredible two-year plan to substantially advance drug policy reform and the cause of ending prohibition globally and in the US. Please make a generous donation today to help the cause! I know you will feel the money was well spent after you see what DRCNet has in store. Our online donation form lets you donate by credit card, by PayPal, or to print out a form to send with your check or money order by mail. Please note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, our lobbying entity, are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible donations can be made to DRCNet Foundation, our educational wing. (Choosing a gift like Waiting to Inhale will reduce the portion of your donation that you can deduct by the retail cost of the item.) Both groups receive member mail at: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

Thank you for your support. If you haven't already checked out our new web site, I hope you'll take a moment to do so -- it really is looking pretty good, if I may say so myself. :) Take care, and hope to hear from you.


David Borden
Executive Director

Europe: Dutch Appeals Court Rules Medical Marijuana Patient Can Grow His Own

Up until now, it has been illegal to grow marijuana in the Netherlands, but a case decided Tuesday has opened a crack in the dike for patients. Although Holland's famous coffee shops provide retail cannabis sales with the acquiescence of the Dutch state, the country has never made any provision to bring the growers who supply the shops out of the black market. Similarly, although Holland allows for medical marijuana to be purchased at pharmacies, it did not allow patients to grow their own.

Until Tuesday, when, according to Agence France Presse, an appeals court in Leeuwarden in the northern Netherlands ruled that multiple sclerosis patient Wim Moorlag and his wife should not have been prosecuted for growing a crop that would provide him with 20 grams of marijuana a week. Although a lower court had found the Moorlags guilty of illegal cultivation (and fined them $314), the appeals court held that Moorlag's right to try to alleviate pain connected with his disease overrode the state's interest in banning marijuana cultivation.

Moorlag had argued that he could not buy marijuana from coffee shops because it could contain fungi and bacteria especially dangerous for MS sufferers.

Moorlag's attorney, Wim Anker, told the Dutch ANP news agency the decision would have broad ramifications. "This means that other patients can also legally grow their own cannabis, not just MS patients but also people with AIDS," he said.

Dutch prosecutors, however, are not yet throwing in the towel. On Wednesday, they announced they had asked the Dutch Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court decision. "We introduced an appeals motion on Tuesday before the Supreme Court," said Marina Weel, spokesperson for the prosecutor's office in Leeuwaarden.

Paul Armentano: A Billion Dollars a Year for Pot?

United States
Washington Examiner

Potheads, Puritans, and Pragmatists: Two Marijuana Initiatives Put Drug Warriors on the Defensive

United States

South Dakotans for Medical Marijuana TV Ad Running with Election Coming Up

Click here for the new South Dakota medical marijuana campaign ad, featuring patient/activist Valerie Hannah.

United States

Media Advisory: Medical marijuana protest to return to Green campaign (Wisconsin)

Media Advisory: Medical marijuana protest to return to Green campaign office Wednesday WHAT? Protest at Mark Green's Campaign Office WHERE? Mark Green's campaign office 1915 S. Webster, Allouez, Wi. WHEN? Wednesday, October 18 @ 10:00am Background: (WHO? and WHY?) Jacki Rickert, founder of Is My Medicine Legal Yet?, ( suffers from two incurable medical conditions, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Advanced Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Jacki has found that marijuana helps treat these painful and debilitating illnesses, and with assistance from her physician, now deceased, she was approved to receive medical marijuana from the federal government's Compassionate IND program. However, the program was closed to new patients, and the 8 medical marijuana patients already in the program were grandfathered in. The program's 5 surviving patients continue to receive marijuana from the government to this day. Congressman Mark Green has been asked about his stance on medical marijuana, and he has written, "I believe current medical options are superior to legalizing an addictive and dangerous illegal drug". Jacki wants to know what medical options he's speaking of to treat her incurable conditions, since she has yet to find these superior medical options that he speaks of. Jacki Rickert went to Mark Green's office on October 10 with a letter, ( asking him to tell her about these "superior medical options". He has yet to respond. The staffer in Mark Green's office said they would give this issue some thought, but when WGBA NBC 26 television asked for their stance, Mark Green's Campaign manager Mark Graul laughed and said that he didn't believe "the majority of Wisconsinites would want to legalize drugs". Mark Green's office figured they could just ignore Jacki since she came from far away, and is in a wheelchair. However, Jacki's supporters, including other medical marijuana patients, are coming back to his office to find out what these "superior medical options" are. For more information contact: Eric Tatera (920) 713-0230 (event coordinator in Green Bay) Jacki Rickert (715) 926-4950 (Mondovi) Gary Storck (608) 241-8922 (Madison) - 30 - (This blog post was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
Allouez, WI
United States

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