News2020 News with Clearer Vision  
The drugs war under scrutiny



News2020.comNewsAbout UsNewsPartnersContact

Drugs Policy

Medical Debate

Global Justice

Drugs & Crime





UK Politics


Tobacco and Alcohol

UK Busts

World Policies




.: Medical Debate News


News2020 believes that the greatest harm associated with marijuana is prison. To this end, News2020 focuses on highlighting penalties for marijuana use, with a particular emphasis on making marijuana medically available to seriously ill people who have the approval of their doctors.“Speaking generally, the Commission are of the opinion that the moderate use of hemp drugs appears to cause no appreciable physical injury of any kind.” - Indian Hemp Drugs Commission


'resume planning of a medical marijuana program'
August 18th 2007

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the state Health Department today to resume planning of a medical marijuana program despite the department's worries about possible federal prosecution.
However, the governor stopped short of committing to implement a state-licensed production and distribution system for the drug if the potential for federal prosecution remains unchanged.
The department announced earlier this week that it would not implement the law's provisions for the department to oversee the production and distribution of marijuana to eligible patients. That decision came after Attorney General Gary King warned that the department and its employees could face federal prosecution for carrying out the law, which took effect in July.
The distribution and use of marijuana are illegal under federal law.
Today, Richardson directed the department to plan for full implementation of the program, such as preparing the regulations that will permanently govern how it operates.
Under the law, the department is to issue the rules by October, including for licensing marijuana producers and developing a system to distribute the drug to qualified patients.
However, Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the governor, said a decision would be made later whether to implement the production and distribution system if federal prosecution remained possible. Gallegos said the administration was pursuing possible "legal options" to allow the state to provide patients with, Full Tale....


FROM: Nathan Miller, MPP legislative analyst      

The 2007 session was the very first time that a medical marijuana bill was voted on in the Illinois General Assembly. Although the 22 "yes" votes in the Senate is a great start, it is time to move onward and start preparing for even more success in 2008.

Next session, we plan to introduce bills in both the House and Senate. The work to move these bills forward has already begun. The nature of legislative lobbying requires us to be ready THIS YEAR with bill drafts, consultation with stakeholders (such as legislators, law enforcement, and the medical community), and building a coalition to convince legislators to sign on to our bill. Please act TODAY to help us be ready for battle as soon as possible. The campaign for compassionate medical marijuana legislation is now in full swing.

One of our most crucial projects at this time involves reaching out to legislators. We desperately need volunteers in each legislative district to write a simple letter or e-mail to their legislator. This will only take a moment but is tremendously important to our effort. Please contact or (202) 462-5747, ext. 118, immediately if you can help us with this effort. We need to talk to you specifically about the contact and follow up. This is one of the most important things you can do for sick and dying patients and will only take a moment, so please contact us today.

Another way for you to help is to write letters to the editor of your local newspapers. Please  visit to get started. While we have supplied plenty of talking points to get you started, please be sure to customize your letters as much as possible -- newspapers will not print submissions that are obviously form letters.

If you are or were formerly a member of the law enforcement community, medical profession, bench, or bar who supports patient access to medical marijuana, please contact to see how you can be of special help. If you are a patient or a family member of a loved one who might benefit from medical marijuana, we would love to hear your story.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested in helping pass a medical marijuana law in Illinois.


Dear News2020:
FROM: Karen O'Keefe, MPP assistant director of state policies    

On Thursday, June 21, the New York Legislature adjourned after coming to the brink of becoming the 13th state to enact a modern medical marijuana law. We are grateful to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. Eliot Spizer, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno for all indicating their support for protecting seriously ill patients from arrest, and to the 92 members of the Assembly who approved an effective medical marijuana bill.

In the coming weeks or months, advocates and patients will be encouraging the Senate to negotiate with the Assembly and governor and to pass an effective medical marijuana law. The legislature will probably reconvene for one or more special sessions later this year. If it does not, patients would have to wait until at least January for relief. It is crucial that we do not stop our grassroots effort to inform legislators that this issue is important to their constituents.

Please do three things to stop New York's senseless criminalization of seriously ill patients whose doctors recommend medical marijuana:

1) Please visit to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can draw from our talking points to draft a letter encouraging the Senate to pass an effective law, but please do not simply copy all of them. Newspapers generally do not print form letters.

2) If you haven't done so lately, visit to write to your senators. It is vital that senators hear that their constituents want the Senate to pass an effective medical marijuana law without delay.

3) Thank Gov. Spitzer for listening to the evidence and being open to signing a medical marijuana bill. You can send a letter to the governor by visiting today.

After a year with no real progress on medical marijuana legislation, this year brought New York as close as it has ever been to enacting an effective medical marijuana bill. Last week, the Assembly passed Assemblyman Richard Gottfried's bill allowing patients with life-threatening conditions possess and cultivate medical marijuana. That same week, Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) announced that he was open to signing the right medical marijuana bill, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R) reaffirmed his support for allowing medical marijuana. Yet, despite the shared goal of providing relief for the seriously ill, the Senate didn't vote on the medical marijuana legislation.

Furthermore, legislation introduced by the Senate Rules Committee on June 17 -- S6303 ( ) -- has provisions that would make it ineffective: It would require the state to control the area where marijuana is grown, putting the department of health at risk of federal prosecution.

In addition, the obligation of doctors in S.6303 goes well beyond what the law should provide. Contrary to a federal court decision -- which only allows physicians to make a simple recommendation to patients related to the use of marijuana for medical purposes - S6303 would require doctors to determine the amount of marijuana each patient can use. Doing so would likely subject physicians to federal sanctions.

Please contact your senator by visiting today. Urge the Senate to work with the Assembly and Governor Spitzer to achieve the vital goal of allowing patients to legally access marijuana for medical purposes.

Thank you for your support, and please pass this message along to your friends and family, so that even more voices for compassion can be heard.


Dear News2020:
FROM: Zane Hurst, MPP legislative analyst      

On Tuesday, June 19, Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) vetoed HB 6715, the medical marijuana bill. Gov. Rell's veto shows her incredible lack of compassion for sick and dying patients.

Unfortunately, the support from more than 60% of Connecticut's legislators is not enough to override Gov. Rell's veto -- it takes two-thirds of each chamber to override the veto. At this point, it is unlikely that a veto-override vote will even occur. This means that we have to make it clear to Gov. Rell that her veto will have negative political effects.

Please take a moment to visit and write a letter to the editor of your local paper. We have provided you with some talking points to get you started, but please do not simply copy all of them. Newspapers generally do not print form letters. If you would like some help with your letter, you can contact me by e-mailing .

Then, call or e-mail Gov. Rell and let her know how disappointed you are that she decided to continue the cruel practice of arresting seriously ill patients. You can contact Gov. Rell's office by e-mailing or calling (800) 406-1527. Although Gov. Rell has shown that she's not compassionate, please be polite and professional when speaking to the governor or her staff.

Gov. Rell's reasoning for continuing Connecticut's cruel practice of arresting seriously ill patients was convoluted. One the reasons she stated for her veto was that "the bill also requires that patients or primary caregivers engage in illegal activity to use marijuana." While she's correct that marijuana use would remain a crime under federal law, 99% of all marijuana arrests occur by state and local police, meaning that passing this law would have effectively eliminated the threat of arrest for these patients trying to relieve their suffering.

Also in her veto statement, Gov. Rell concluded: "I am also concerned that this bill would send the wrong message to our youth." This is remarkable because an MPP analysis of government data shows that state medical marijuana laws do not increase teen use of marijuana. In fact, teen use of marijuana has generally declined in medical marijuana states -- in some cases dramatically. Overall teen marijuana use in these states has decreased at greater rates than the national average.

As we've mentioned previously, A Better Way Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance lead the effort to enact this sensible bill this year, and they were able to move the bill further than before. For the first time ever, an effective medical marijuana bill passed both chambers in the same session. MPP would like to thank them for their tireless work to help protect Connecticut's medical marijuana patients.

Please visit and take action now to let Gov. Rell know that her lack of compassion will cost her votes next election. And don't forget to forward this to your friends, family, and e-mail lists. Thank you for supporting MPP and our allies.


Dear News2020:

Would you please take a few minutes to write your member of Congress and ask him or her to vote in favor of the medical marijuana amendment that the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on in the next couple of weeks?

If you're going to send only one e-mail this year to stop the federal government's war on medical marijuana patients, now is the time -- and it couldn't be easier. Just visit to go to MPP's action center. You can send one of our pre-drafted letters, or you can personalize the letter.

It's crucial that you take action now, because Congress will soon be voting on an amendment that would prohibit the DEA from spending taxpayer money to target seriously ill medical marijuana patients and their caregivers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

If you agree that sick and suffering patients should not have to live in fear of armed federal agents breaking down their doors, this is your chance to do something about it. Please visit to send your message to Congress now.

Last week, MPP's five-year campaign to pass the medical marijuana amendment got a big boost when we distributed decks of cards -- with the title, "The Deal on Medical Marijuana: 52 Reasons Why You Should Support Medical Marijuana Access" -- to every House lawmaker. The cards were extremely popular and garnered positive media attention. (See for an example.) We're hopeful that the cards -- combined with your e-mails and faxes -- will help us reach the 218 votes needed to pass our medical marijuana amendment on the House floor in the next couple of weeks.

This is an important chance to speak out before Congress votes on the amendment, so if you've read this far and still haven't clicked through to MPP's action center at , please do so now.

Thank you,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.



This evening, the New York Assembly passed MPP's medical marijuana bill by a 92-52 vote. This exciting victory marks the first time a chamber of the New York Legislature has ever passed an effective medical marijuana bill, and it caps more than five years of work by MPP, and more than 10 years of work by the bill sponsor, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D).

We've spent tens of thousands of dollars each year since 2003 on this project, and we're getting close to victory. Please donate to MPP today at so that we can continue to push hard in Albany for the purpose of making New York the 13th state to legalize medical marijuana.

The New York Senate is expected to take up the measure next week. With the support of the Republican majority leader there, as well as that of Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) -- who for the first time just indicated he is open to signing such a bill (visit{8503E87C-50C4-4DEF-9003-6D71238F3385}&notoc=1 to read a news story about his statement) -- New York has a real shot this month of joining the 12 other states that allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with their doctors' approval.

MPP will be doing everything we can to ensure that the bill becomes law. We'll be pushing hard -- but we need your help to do so. Please donate now at to support this last-chance barrage of lobbying and grassroots activities.

Passing a medical marijuana law in the country's third-most populous state would be absolutely huge: The bill's passage would mean that more than one-fourth of our nation's residents would live in medical marijuana states.

Medical marijuana enjoys tremendous support in New York. A 2005 Siena Research Institute poll found that 76% of New Yorkers support allowing the medical use of marijuana, including 72% of Republicans. And medical organizations representing the state's medical schools, the state's nurses, and the state's county health officials have voiced their support for the issue. So our job is simply to convince legislators that voting in favor of medical marijuana access is a compassionate and politically savvy -- not controversial -- move. Visit{0D640776-71FD-407A-B9C1-A9F4586C12CB}&notoc=1 to read some of the positive news coverage that our bill has already generated.

Please donate at now. With your help, we can bring compassion to New York.


Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2007. This means that your donation today at will be doubled.

P.P.S. You can opt out of receiving fundraising mentions in the e-mail alerts I send you in 2007 by visiting at your convenience.


Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Bill, Override Expected
June 9th 2007

As expected, Gov. Donald Carcieri Monday vetoed a bill that would make Rhode Island's medical marijuana law permanent. Now, supporters of the bill are urging the legislature to act swiftly to override that veto, and legislative leaders have signaled they will do just that. The measure passed both chambers with margins sufficient for an override if no members change their minds.

"As I said in my veto message in 2005," Carcieri reminded the legislative leaders in his latest veto mesage, "I support efforts to provide effective pain management to persons suffering from debilitating conditions, but not in a way that violates federal law and ignores the drug approval process as established by the Food and Drug Administration." Allowing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in criminal activity and drug use, he worried, and patients could still be arrested by the feds.

The "bottom line," Carcieri said, is that "this legislation would give vulnerable Rhode Island citizens a false sense of security regarding the legality and safety of producing, distributing and using marijuana, a substance which is neither legal under federal law nor regulated in any way by any government agency."

Legislative leaders are ready to attempt an override. House Majority Leader Gordon Fox issued a statement Monday saying, "I fully expect that we will place a vote to override the Governor's medical marijuana veto on the floor calendar before the end of our session. The vote on Rep. (Thomas) Slater's bill made it clear that there is an overwhelming majority in the House willing to remove the sunset clause on this compassionate legislation."

Senate leader Joseph Montalbano issued a statement saying: "The Senate will consider a veto override of Senator Perry's compassionate medical marijuana legislation prior to final adjournment of the 2007 session. The state has not experienced any problems during the law's trial period, and medical marijuana is in some cases the only treatment option that effectively alleviates chronic pain and nausea in terminally ill patients, which is why the measure is supported by health organizations such as the Rhode Island Medical Society, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association."

That's exactly what patients and activists want. Michael Oliver of Barrington, who uses medical marijuana to relieve the devastating symptoms of Crohn's disease, said, "I don't understand why the governor wants to put me in jail for using the medicine that has given me back a normal life. I can only hope the legislature will override this cruel, pointless veto."

"We are disappointed and hope that the legislature will move quickly to override this veto," said Al Wroblewski, interim executive director of AIDS Project Rhode Island. "There is clear scientific data showing that medical marijuana can help people with AIDS, and the clients we serve shouldn't be forced to become criminals to get effective treatment. The medical marijuana law has worked well, and there is no reason to go back to the dark days of threatening sick people with jail."

"The governor is out of step not only with Rhode Island voters, but with the state's medical community, including the medical society and nurses' association, which support this legislation," said Ray Warren, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project , which has been working closely with local activists in support of the bill. "We are confident that legislators will continue to listen to science rather than superstition and override this ill-considered veto."


'I had chemo four days before my home was raided'
May 10th 2007

Why did District Attorney Everett Fowle take my medical marijuana when he was called by Officer Gettardi, who was told to disregard any medical status, to check on me? Fowle knew I had cancer and was under going chemotherapy, and he treated me worse than a dog, denying me my medicine for nausea, vomiting and pain.
I had chemo four days before my home was raided. I was vomiting and asked them to leave my medicine. I was told my name was not on the marijuana so they took it. They didn't arrest me, they arrested my husband for mine and another legal medical marijuana patient whose doctor, if needed, could testify as to whether or not he signed the paperwork. Forgeries they are not, they seemed acceptable. Fowle states current law is poorly drafted and confusing. He said my husband should make changes through the Legislature. Fowle knows that Don has been at the Statehouse for any legislation to do with marijuana -- thumbing his nose at the law? No.
If the legislators would come out of their coma and wake up, lawmakers would make the needed changes in this "poorly drafted and confusing" legislation, administering The Will of the People/Voter Intent of 1998. Legislators have failed to do their jobs in the last eight years and that is not very caring or compassionate.
Pam Christen


FROM: Karen O'Keefe, MPP assistant director of state policies  

In a resounding 28-5 vote, the Rhode Island Senate voted to keep protecting seriously ill patients from being arrested for the medical use of marijuana. This follows yesterday's equally impressive House vote. Hearty congratulations to all of you who spoke out in favor of this sensible bill!

With the continued combined efforts of patients, doctors, medical organizations, and compassionate citizens and legislators, we can make this bill law! But we must remember, it's not going to happen on its own ...

Please call Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) and ask him not to make seriously ill patients criminals for using a safe and effective treatment with their doctors' approval. You can reach him at (401) 222-2080.

Gov. Carcieri has indicated he will veto the medical marijuana bill, claiming he does not want patients to get their medicine on the streets. But that argument doesn't make any sense. Before the law, all medical marijuana patients had to obtain their medicine on the street -- or they'd face 30 years in prison for growing it on their own. The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act gives patients the option of growing their medicine or having a caregiver do so for them.

The bill will not go to Gov. Carcieri immediately. The bills that passed the House and Senate were identical, but they were separate bills. Now, the House bill has to be passed in the Senate, and the Senate bill must be passed the in House. But it will take time to convince Gov. Carceri not to throw terribly ill patients in jail. So, please make use of the procedural time delay to make your call today.

After that, you can read some of the great coverage the bill has gotten. You can read an in-depth article in the Providence Phoenix by visiting ; and visit to read the Providence Journal article and editorial.

Thank you for your support and compassion! Please visit and pass this alert on to your neighbors, friends, and family so that we can become an even larger force for compassion.


FROM: Zane Hurst, MPP legislative analyst      

Yesterday, the Senate voted 33-31 in favor of S.F. 345, the compassionate bill to protect seriously ill Minnesota residents from arrest and prison. This marks the first time that either chamber in Minnesota has passed a medical marijuana bill. Meanwhile, the House Finance Committee approved H.F. 655, the House companion bill to S.F. 345, in a 20-14 vote. It now heads to the House Ways and Means Committee. Minnesota is now two huge steps closer to becoming the 13th medical marijuana state.

Although these are major victories for medical marijuana patients in Minnesota, we still have a long way to go before this legislation becomes law. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has indicated that he will veto the bill. Please contact him by e-mailing or by calling his office at (651) 296-3391. Please urge him to do the compassionate thing and pledge to protect patients from arrest. Remember to be polite when speaking to the governor or his staff.

Then, if you have not already done so, visit to e-mail your member in the House and urge him or her to vote in favor of H.F. 655. After the Ways and Means Committee approves the House bill, it will go to the House floor. Please follow up your e-mail by calling your representative. If you do not know who your representative is, you can visit to find out, along with his or her contact information.

It is imperative that Gov. Pawlenty and the representatives see examples of the level of support that exists across the state for this sensible and compassionate legislation. An excellent way to do this is by visiting and writing a letter to the editor of your paper, urging Gov. Pawlenty and the House to follow the lead of the Senate and pass the legislation quickly. Please visit to read the Star Tribune article on the vote and debate yesterday and visit to read the Pioneer Press article on it. Other papers across the state will cover it as well, so please respond to these articles with positive letters to the editor.

We are getting very close to passing a law, but we cannot let up yet. Please tell your friends, family, neighbors, and e-mail lists to take action, so that this will be the last year that Minnesota's gravely ill have to live in fear of arrest. Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project.

FROM: Stuart Cooper, campaign manager      

The Marijuana Policy Project recently kicked off a yearlong effort to influence the presidential candidates to take strong, public, positive positions on medical marijuana during the presidential primary campaign in New Hampshire, which is the first state to hold a primary (on January 22, 2008).

Because this campaign, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, is based in your state of New Hampshire, we want to make sure you stay up-to-date about the campaign's activities and ways you can help.

As a subscriber to MPP's New Hampshire action alerts, you will now begin receiving our New Hampshire campaign's alerts as well. These e-mails will come from Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) and will give you the inside track on what GSMM is doing and how you can help out. If you do not want to receive information from GSMM, please click the opt-out link at the bottom of this e-mail.

We expect the campaign to send out its first e-mail alert in about a week. Meanwhile, for more information on GSMM and the presidential candidates, please visit today. Thank you once again for your support!


Stuart Cooper
Campaign Manager
Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana
(a project of the Marijuana Policy Project)


From: Karen O'Keefe, MPP assistant director of state policies, April 25th 2007  

Tomorrow afternoon, the Rhode Island House will vote on whether to renew the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act. This compassionate law is currently protecting 257 seriously ill patients from being thrown in jail for treating their symptoms with medical marijuana. But if the legislature doesn't act, the law will expire on June 30, and all of these patients would face arrest if they continued using their medicine.

The Rhode Island General Assembly has shown its compassion before, when it enacted the bill over the governor's veto. It can do so again, but legislators must see that their constituents care about this issue. So, please do these three things:

1. Send an e-mail to your representative and senator by visiting and urging them to approve this compassionate bill.

Our automated system will make it quick and easy for you to urge your legislators to support seriously ill patients. For added effect, please consider modifying the letter.

2. Call your state representative.

You can visit to look up your state representative and his or her number. When you call, you can keep your message simple. After saying your name and town, you can urge the representative to vote for H. 6005, the medical marijuana act.

3. Visit and pass this on to your friends and family.

Our e-mail list in Rhode Island is small: only 19 of you have written your representatives so far. But, if you send this message on to your friends and family, we can reach many more people.

The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act allows patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana. Qualified patients submit their doctors' written recommendations to the Department of Health. Then they receive a registry ID card that allows them to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for their medical use. So that patients will not have to go to drug dealers to get their medicine, they (or their caregivers) can grow up to 12 plants in a locked, indoor facility.

Please don't forget to do your part to make this compassionate law permanent: If you have not done so already, visit to write your state legislators and follow up with a call. Then, visit and ask your friends and family to do the same. Thank you for your support and compassion.


Feds to Retry Ed Rosenthal in Futile Prosecution
April 21st 2007

Federal prosecutors in the Ed Rosenthal medical marijuana cultivation case announced last Friday they will retry the guru of ganja, even though they cannot send him to prison and even though the presiding judge urged them to drop the case and admonished them for vindictively prosecuting him. US District Court Judge Charles Breyer, who has overseen the case from the beginning, demanded that prosecutors tell him who in the Justice Department had authorized this new prosecution. Ed Rosenthal at courthouse, with supporters, September 2006 (courtesy Rosenthal was convicted in federal court in San Francisco in 2003 on marijuana cultivation charges after Breyer ruled he could not present evidence showing he was cultivating medicinal marijuana legally under California law and with the approval of local authorities. When jury members heard the rest of the story after they convicted him, they held a news conference to denounce their own verdict. In the wake of the juror rebellion, Judge Breyer sentenced Rosenthal to one day in jail, which he had already served. While his original conviction was overturned because of juror misconduct, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the one-day sentence, which prosecutors had appealed.

But that same ruling affirmed the federal government's right to prosecute medical marijuana violators, and the prosecutors, led by US Attorney Scott Schools, apparently irked by Rosenthal's high profile criticisms of them, decided to retry him on the cultivation charges and throw in four counts of money laundering and five counts of filing a false federal income tax return as well. Breyer threw out the new charges last month, saying they were solely to punish Rosenthal for winning his appeal.

"This isn't a criminal case, this is a political case," Rosenthal told reporters as he arrived at the courthouse dressed in a blue wizard's robe with a golden marijuana leaf emblazoned over the breast. "I may as well get my money's worth and have a trial."


FROM: Zane Hurst, MPP legislative analyst  

The Vermont House Committee on Human Services voted 10-1 yesterday in favor of S.7. The bill now goes to the House Committee on Judiciary, which will schedule hearings shortly. The Senate already overwhelmingly passed S.7 on March 1.

If you have not already done so, please take action now and visit to write a letter to the editor of your local paper. The opinion page is one of the most read parts of the newspaper, and legislators often look to the opinion pages to see where their constituents stand on an issue. It's imperative that they see supportive letters.

If you are a medical marijuana patient who does not currently qualify under the medical marijuana law or who finds the plant limits insufficient, and you are interested in helping to expand the law, please contact me by e-mailing . If you are a medical professional, a law enforcement official, or a clergy member, you can also be of special help.

Then, if you have not already done so, please send a letter to your representatives by visiting and urging them to support the medical marijuana bills. We have several pre-written letters available for you, but a personally crafted letter is much more effective. Please take a moment to personalize your letter before sending it. If you need additional information about medical marijuana, you can visit and use some material from our library.

Vermont's law is currently very restrictive, both in terms of qualifying conditions and amount of medical marijuana plants patients can cultivate. Currently, only patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, or multiple sclerosis qualify for Vermont's medical marijuana program. S.7 will add serious conditions that cause nausea, wasting, chronic pain, or seizures to the law. Additionally, this compassionate legislation will increase the number of plants that a patient in the program may possess, because the current limits are not adequate for patients. It also reduces the program registration fee from $100 to $50.

Please take action now to enact this compassionate bill: If you have not done so already, please visit to write your state legislators and visit to submit a letter to the editor of one or more local newspapers. Then, ask your friends and family to do the same. Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project.


From: Nathan Miller, MPP legislative analyst

This session, one bill stands out as a major roadblock in the effort to reform marijuana laws in Nevada -- SB6.

SB6, introduced by Sen. Joe Heck (R-Las Vegas), would subject those who grow any amount of marijuana in the vicinity of a child to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. This absurd legislation includes in the same category as methamphetamine manufacturers those who grow small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Visit to view this bill.

Forty-four percent of the state voted to opt out of marijuana prohibition entirely -- does anyone really believe that Nevadans feel someone who is growing one marijuana plant should be facing 15 years in jail?

Action taken by our members has resulted in Amendment 44, which inserts language in SB6 that makes it clearer medical marijuana patients are not affected by the bill, as long as they are in compliance with current law. Visit to view this amendment.

While this is a victory for medical marijuana patients, responsible marijuana users who have children are still subjected to the penalties of a law originally intended to punish methamphetamine manufacturers. We have until April 24 to persuade legislators to kill this bill entirely. After April 24, if SB6 has not passed out of the Senate, it will not be heard in the House and will die.

Please send your legislators an e-mail today by visiting and urging them to oppose SB6. Let your legislators know that bills like SB6 are a step back, not forward. Remind them that millions of dollars are being wasted arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating otherwise law-abiding citizens while murder and rape cases go unsolved.

SB6 seeks to amend NRS 453.3325, which was enacted by lawmakers in 2005 to penalize methamphetamine manufacturers who endangered children. SB6 now seeks to bootstrap marijuana onto a very harsh law originally intended to combat the growing methamphetamine epidemic. SB6 tries to connect marijuana to the same dangers that are associated with methamphetamine. This flies in the face of reason and is repugnant to anyone who can see the backdoor nature of this bill.

Why are our lawmakers treating a marijuana plant grown in a closet like a meth lab?

Marijuana and methamphetamine are nowhere close to the same drug. Likewise, marijuana does not pose the same dangers to children as methamphetamine. First, marijuana does not cause fatal overdoses. Second, the chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are very volatile and often explode. Marijuana is organic and is not known to blow up in people's faces. Third, many people who grow marijuana do so only for their personal use. Not all people who grow marijuana are criminal masterminds looking to cheat the IRS. SB6 assumes the worst and delivers just that as an answer -- which is just another obvious example of how dangerous prohibition can be.

Please send your legislators an e-mail today by visiting and asking them to do whatever they can to stop SB6 in its tracks.

You can also visit to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and show your support for marijuana reform.

Before contacting your lawmakers or writing letters to your local newspaper, you can familiarize yourself with the most up-to-date information on marijuana reform by going to and reviewing our extensive resources, which include briefing papers, model bills, and scientific studies.

If you are interested in helping out in other ways, please visit to learn more.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. For questions about marijuana reform in Nevada, please e-mail Nathan at .


“Medicinal users have been pushed into a corner,” he says. “It is now
time to fight that corner!”
March 26th 2007

Following the conviction of three medicinal cannabis campaigners,
hundreds of disabled people have found their supplies have dried up.

Since the guilty verdict dished out earlier this year to Lezley and Mark
Gibson and an associate, Marcus Davies, for conspiring to supply
cannabis, hundreds of people with multiple sclerosis (ms) have also
become victims of the criminal justice system.

Since their trial at Carlisle Crown Court, the three have vowed not to
resume production of the chocolate bars containing cannabis, which
people with ms say eased their pain and made their lives easier. The
trio had sent out more than 20,000 of the bars.

But since they stopped producing the chocolate, the Gibsons have been
inundated with letters, emails and phone calls from people with ms whose
symptoms have subsequently “returned with a vengeance”.

Lezley Gibson, who revealed in DN last month that she was driven to the
brink of suicide by the trial, says: “If I [didn't] take cannabis I
would be in a wheelchair and I would be incontinent.”

So how are their former customers coping without the chocolate? And what
are their other options?

Wayne Miller is experiencing difficulties with bladder control and
muscle spasms since his chocolate supply dried up. He is a biker, but
his symptoms now prevent him from riding. He consumed the Gibsons'
chocolate over an 18-month period, but has not had any cannabis since
before Christmas. He says he is “really struggling without it”.

He began eating the chocolate because he can't stand smoking and didn't
know of any other way of taking cannabis. But now his speech is slurred
and he has difficulty swallowing.

Miller's discomfort is having a knock-on effect on his family, too. He
is often “moody” and “short-tempered”, which can be hard for his
13-year-old daughter, and he is unable to help his wife with day-to-day
chores such as shopping.

He has approached his doctor for a prescription for the cannabis-based
drug, Sativex, but he will not know for several months whether or not he
will be able to get it.

In the meantime, Miller is reluctant to walk the streets in search of a
dealer, but concedes that, as a last resort, he would. “The only thing I
could try and do is try and get hold of cannabis, but it's just knowing
where to get it and whether it's going to be a decent quality.”

Niamh Eastwood, legal adviser at the drugs charity Release, says such
stories show that campaigners need to lobby the government to change the

She says the Gibson case “highlights how necessary [a change in the law]
is for people who are in pain and who find that cannabis is the best
form of pain relief for them, but they shouldn't have to go through this”.

Helen Wallage began eating the chocolate in the hope that it would “help
me get around better”. She says she is “really missing my chocolate”,
because it eased her muscle spasms and cramps.

She is now “back at square one” and has not managed to find an
alternative. But she is adamant that she will not be venturing onto the
streets to find one. “You don't want to go onto the streets and buy the
stuff because you don't know what you are getting,” she says.

Since her supply of the chocolate dried up, Wallage has been unable to
walk far and is in constant pain. She says the return of the symptoms is
“frustrating” and “infuriating”. “I hate being like this,” she says.

She has tried to obtain Sativex but has failed. She has also been
prescribed other pain relievers but they cause side-effects she didn't
have with the chocolate.

Wallage says that, when the weather improves, she may have a stab at
growing her own cannabis and making her own chocolate.

Helen Yates, managing executive of the MS Resource Centre, says her
staff have heard from “a number of people” who have been using the
chocolate and are now having to cope with a return of all kinds of
symptoms that they were previously managing. Now, she says, they have
nowhere else to go.

“The problem now for these people is what they do about it because their
only alternative is an illegal street supply, and most of them would not
have the first idea about how to go about doing that.

“The biggest area of concern is that people will be buying street
cannabis that may well be cut and mixed with all manner of other
substances that will do them harm.”

One person facing these issues is Helen Elliott. Although the Gibsons'
chocolate was not a “cure”, it did make life “more livable”. Not having
the chocolate has drastically affected her quality of life.

“My balance is all over the place, I haven't any stamina, I'm not
sleeping and the incontinence is worse,” she says. “The neuropathy in my
hands and feet is constant. The cannabis chocolate certainly reduced
this discomfort, which is so utterly wearing.”

She struggles to do the shopping and is “exhausted” after walking around
the supermarket for an hour. Her doctor has told her there is no
medication that will modify the symptoms of her ms.

‘If I [didn't] take cannabis I would be in a wheelchair and I would be

Elliott “does not have a clue” where to start looking for cannabis, and
is not prepared to put herself “into the hands of the dealers”. Besides,
in her area, “trying to get hold of herbal cannabis is like looking for
a needle in a haystack”.

Stuart Wyatt (main picture and far right) does not have ms and did not
use the Gibsons' chocolate. But he has been using cannabis for a number
of years to alleviate his “crippling” pain, stop him shaking and
maintain his balance. He faces a “constant battle” to find
uncontaminated cannabis.

After loan payments, he has to survive on £72 a week income support, of
which he spends £30-£40 on cannabis. “The necessity of food is always
secondary to medication,” he says.

Wyatt is concerned that many other disabled people could be endangering
themselves to get hold of cannabis. “There have been times where I have
given money to a stranger in a pub, only for him to say, ‘I have to go
and see a friend to get it for you.' Needless to say, the person does
not return with said medication. Other times, I have been given far less
than the 3.5g that I paid for. When you are sick and unable to defend
yourself, how can you confront a lowlife in a pub to ask for your money

Wyatt says the “injustice” of the Gibsons' case has inspired him to set
up his own free network to distribute cannabis to medicinal users. But
even if operations such as Wyatt's eliminate the need to look for
cannabis on the streets, any users still face being prosecuted if caught
breaking the law.

Eastwood says: “Until the law changes, these people are going to be
treated like criminals – which is completely unacceptable.

“What we would like to see is that they can do it either free in the
knowledge that they can do this without being prosecuted, or that they
are actually doing it legally.”

A Home Office spokesman confirmed the government's current position.
“Cannabis is a Class C drug and is harmful,” he says. “Its cultivation,
supply and possession are illegal and will remain illegal.

“We have sympathy for those with severe pain and serious illnesses such
as multiple sclerosis. Any cannabis-based medicine would have to be
approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
(MHRA). If that body approved any products we would then have to
consider seeking Parliament's agreement to make necessary changes in the

There are also issues, of course, around the availability of the
cannabis-based drug Sativex, which is still awaiting licensing, although
some disabled people have been able to obtain the spray individually.

‘The necessity of food is always secondary to medication'

Yates says disabled people should be pressurizing MPs and the MHRA to
ensure Sativex is licensed and widely available at the earliest opportunity.

“Fundamentally, there is a pharmaceutical version of this drug that is
ready to be available,” she says. “Sativex is a clean product, it's
pharmaceutically produced, you know precisely what you're getting.”

But because of the potential cost of prescribing Sativex, she says the
“cheaper and better option” is to make it legal for disabled people to
grow their own cannabis for their own use.

“As long as you are not in any way in a position of supplying, I think
that most people would find that morally acceptable.”

But cannabis users cannot expect any leniency from the police. A
spokeswoman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) told DN:
“It is not for us to comment on whether the use of cannabis should be
legal or illegal - that is a matter for government acting on the advice
of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs.”

But Stuart Wyatt says he is undeterred by the threat of arrest or prison.

“Medicinal users have been pushed into a corner,” he says. “It is now
time to fight that corner!”

posted by The Legalise Cannabis Alliance
From Zane Hurst, MPP legislative analyst

March 26th 2007

Last year the Cincinnati City Council passed an ordinance that re-criminalized minor marijuana possession in the city. The ordinance made possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana a criminal offense, punishable by up to one month in jail. Ohio state law -- and what used to be Cincinnati law -- treats the same offense as a civil citation with a maximum $100 fine. This ordinance will expire on March 29 unless the council renews it.

If you live in Cincinnati and want to help ensure that the measure is not renewed, please contact me by e-mailing .

Please also call the council members and urge them not to renew this ordinance. The call will only take a moment, so you can easily call all of the council members in 10 minutes.

Mayor Mark Mallory -- (513) 352-3250
Vice Mayor James Tarbell -- (513) 352-3604
Y. Laketa Cole -- (513) 352-3466
John Cranley -- (513) 352-4657
David Crowley -- (513) 352-2453
Cecil Thomas -- (513) 352-3499
Chris Monzel -- (513) 352-3640
Leslie Ghiz -- (513) 352-3352
Jeff Berding -- (513) 352-3283
Chris Bortz -- (513) 352-3249

Your message to the council members can be simple: "I strongly oppose the ordinance that increased penalties for marijuana possession. There are more important priorities for law enforcement in our city. I hope that you will allow the ordinance to expire. Thank you."

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please forward this message to all of your friends and family in Cincinnati, and post it to discussion lists so that even more voices for reform can be heard.

The Marijuana Policy Project hopes that each of the 100,000 
subscribers on our national e-mail list will make at least one 
financial donation to MPP's work in 2007. Please visit http:// to donate now.

MPP will be able to tackle all of the projects in its 2007 strategic 
plan -- -- if you and other allies are 
generous enough to fund our work.

We are required by federal law to tell you that any donations you 
make to MPP may be used for political purposes, such as supporting or 
opposing candidates for federal office.


Zane Hurst, MPP legislative analyst
March 22nd 2007

Last November, Missoula County residents sent a clear message to their government officials: Police should not waste their time investigating adult marijuana offenses. However, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg insists that voters didn't understand what they were voting for and wants to amend the initiative so that only misdemeanor marijuana offenses are de-prioritized.

It is important to remember that under Montana law cultivation of any amount of marijuana (even one plant) and a second offense for possession of even a small amount are both felonies. So the lowest law enforcement initiative would be gutted by the county attorney's proposal.

The Missoula County Board of Commissioners will consider the county attorney's amendment at a public meeting on Wednesday, March 21 at 4:30 p.m. in County Courthouse, room 201. Everyone who is able to attend needs to come out in support of the initiative and tell the county commissioners to respect the will of the voters.

If you are unable to attend the meeting on Wednesday, please take a moment to contact the county commissioners and urge them to oppose the county attorney's amendment. You can also reach the commissioners by calling (406) 258-4877. The three commissioners are:

Jean Curtiss --
Bill Carey --
Barbara Evans --

As part of the initiative, a citizen oversight committee was created. This committee is responsible for ensuring that Missoula County law enforcement officials appropriately implement the initiative. At its meeting on March 9, the oversight committee passed a resolution recommending that the county commissioners do not amend the initiative for at least two years. Visit to read a Missoula Independent article on the implementation of the initiative.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please pass this alert on so that even more Montanans can participate in reform.

TO: New2020
FROM: Zane Hurst, MPP legislative analyst  

Supporters of New Hampshire's medical marijuana bill will hold a press conference tomorrow, March 20, at 10:00 a.m., in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord, just before a crucial vote takes place on the legislation. Thank you to everyone who has already contacted the committee members. If you haven't done so, please take a moment now to visit and send a brief letter to the members of the committee. It will only take a moment with our automated system. It's imperative that they hear from average citizens in support of HB 774 right away.

If you are able to come to Concord tomorrow morning, your support at the press conference would be very beneficial.

What: A press conference urging the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee to pass HB 774, the medical marijuana bill

Who: Scheduled speakers at the press conference include:

*Reps. Tim Robertson (D-Keene) and Paul Ingbretson (R-Haverhill), two of HB 774's five sponsors
*Stuart Cooper, executive director of the New Hampshire Marijuana Policy Initiative
*Two patients suffering from severe and chronic pain, including a Vietnam veteran who is currently prescribed morphine.

When: 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, March 20

Where: Lobby of the Legislative Office Building, Concord, NH

A recent poll by the Becker Institute shows that 68% of Granite Staters support this compassionate and sensible legislation. With overwhelming public support like this, there is no excuse for New Hampshire legislators not to approve HB 774, but legislators need to hear from you. Please visit and take action today. This may be the most important vote of the entire legislative session for sick and dying citizens of New Hampshire.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please pass this message along to friends, family, neighbors, and e-mail lists so that others can stand up for New Hampshire's most vulnerable residents as well.


TO: News2020
FROM: Nathan Miller, MPP legislative analyst    

The Senate Public Health Committee recently voted 6-4 in favor of SB 650, Sen. Cullerton's (D-Chicago) medical marijuana bill. The bill is now primed for debate on the Senate floor, with a vote expected very soon.

One of the most important things that you can do to help SB 650 is to submit letters to your local newspapers. It is imperative that lawmakers see examples of the statewide support this sensible legislation enjoys. Please take a few minutes to visit and compose a letter to the editor or an op-ed by using the talking points we have provided for you. Please try to personalize your letter as much as possible -- a personally crafted note is always more likely to be printed than a form letter. Most newspapers require that letters to the editor be less than 150 words and full op-ed columns be less than 700 words. A short letter is far more likely to be published. If your letter or column is published, please let us know by e-mailing . This information will help us gauge the campaign's progress and react accordingly.

You might want to read the recent articles in the News-Gazette by visiting and Chicago Tribune by visiting{295C8ECD-7E49-4D59-8BA8-A8DAFEFD4149}&notoc=1 and reading about SB 650 and its recent committee victory. These articles will be very helpful in composing any letters you write. You can also visit to check out MPP's online library, which is a great resource for someone composing a scientifically driven letter. If you are unable to find what you need, please contact for information or ideas regarding your letter.

It is critical to the success of SB 650 that newspapers print letters from citizens like you who support medical marijuana. However, newspapers cannot print what they don't have, so visit to write a letter today and send it to your local paper today by clicking here. Most newspapers allow letters and columns to be submitted electronically via e-mail, so you need not take time to mail a hard copy of the letter. Check the editorial page or Web site of your local paper to determine your paper's policies regarding electronic submissions. If you have any questions about which paper to submit your letter to or how to submit it, please e-mail ( ), or call Nathan at (202) 462-5747, ext. 118.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please pass this message along to your friends and family in Illinois so that others might write their newspapers in support of SB 650.


Minnesota Bill Approved by House Committee
March 16th 2007

The Minnesota medical marijuana bill, HF 655 is on the move. In the bill's first House committee test, the Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday passed the bill on an 8-6 vote. It now heads for the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee.

A companion bill is the Senate is also moving. That legislation passed the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee on February 19 and is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), lead sponsor of the House bill, hailed the vote as a victory for humane, common-sense legislation. "Politicians in St. Paul should trust physicians to know what's best for their patients," he said.

Among those who testified in support of the bill was Shannon Pakonen, whose son was pulled out of class and interrogated about his medical marijuana use by schoolteachers earlier this week. Pakonen went public with his medical marijuana use by testifying about it before a Senate committee about how he uses it to treat involuntary tics related to his Tourette's Syndrome.

"My son should not have to be treated like a criminal on the basis that he is my son," Pakonen testified, adding that this incident is precisely why Minnesota needs a medical marijuana law to protect patients and their families from harassment.

With both the House and Senate versions of the medical marijuana bill moving, and a new bill in New Mexico on the way to the desk of a governor who pushed to get it there, Minnesota could be on the way to becoming the 13th state to recognize medical marijuana. It's already the law in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.


TO: News2020
FROM: Karen O'Keefe, MPP assistant director of state policies  
Facing mutiny from counties and complaints from hundreds of advocates, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) decided to raise the state portion of the medical marijuana ID card fee to $66 ($33 for Medi-Cal recipients) rather than to $142 ($71 for Medi-Cal patients). Thank you to the more than 360 of you who took the time to write Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the CDHS to urge them to abandon the counterproductive increase. Well done!

Although a major crisis in the program has been averted, the medical marijuana ID card program budget is still strained. S.B. 420 -- which instituted the ID cards -- requires that the ID card fees cover the program's operating budget. The program will also have to pay back a $1.5 million loan. But the ID card program is running a substantial deficit: Although CDHS anticipated issuing 150,000 ID cards, it has only issued about 10,000 as of this month. One of the major reasons for the shortfall is that more than half of all counties -- including several major ones -- have yet to implement the program (seven more have approved it but are not yet issuing cards). While participation in the ID card program is voluntary for patients, counties are required to offer them.

If your county hasn't implemented the ID card program yet, please contact your county board of supervisors or department of health to ask them to do so without further delay. Visit to see what stage your county is at in implementing ID cards, and to find out who you should contact if they haven't yet been implemented. Please visit for talking points to use with your county health departments and supervisors.

This partial victory resulted from pressure from counties, state legislators, and advocates. County supervisors in San Francisco and Lake Counties considered abandoning the state ID card program completely, realizing that with the full fee increase, most patients would not have been able to afford the cards. Given that about one-third of all of the ID cards that have been issued are to San Francisco patients, it quickly became apparent that the fee increase could spell the demise of the entire ID program.

At the same time, the Marijuana Policy Project joined Safe Access Now, Americans for Safe Access, and the Drug Policy Alliance in mobilizing supporters to oppose the fee increase, which was scheduled to take effect on March 1. In all, more than 1,000 emails from patients and advocates protesting the increase were sent to the CDHS and Gov. Schwarzenegger. Additionally we were able to generate several letters from county supervisors throughout the state, expressing their concern over CDHS's proposed increase. Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) worked to persuade the Department of Health Services to find a solution. In addition to being lower than was initially announced, the fee increase will take effect a month later -- on April 1.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please pass this on to other compassionate Californians. For more information on how you can bring this important program to your county, contact Safe Access Now at .


Dear News2020.

A medical marijuana patient whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive does not have a constitutional right to stay alive, a federal appeals court ruled today.

Angel Raich, a California mother of two, uses marijuana to treat life-threatening wasting syndrome, seizures, an inoperable brain tumor, and severe chronic pain. "The court has just sentenced me to death," she said after the ruling. "My doctors agree that medical cannabis is essential to my very survival, and the government did not even contest the medical evidence ... If we don't have a right to live, what do we have left?"

Raich's lawyers argued that because her doctors believe medical marijuana is essential to her survival, prosecuting her would violate the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person may be "deprived of life ... without due process of law."

In its decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there is not yet a constitutional right "to make a life-shaping decision on a physician's advice to use medical marijuana to preserve bodily integrity, avoid intolerable pain, and preserve life, when all other prescribed medications and remedies have failed."

But -- significantly -- the court suggested that a right to medical marijuana could eventually be recognized as fundamental. The ruling says: "For now, federal law is blind to the wisdom of a future day when the right to use medical marijuana to alleviate excruciating pain may be deemed fundamental. Although that day has not yet dawned, considering that during the last ten years eleven states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, that day may be upon us sooner than expected."

MPP's grants program has paid for much of Raich's litigation. Visit to read some of the news coverage of the decision.

Because the federal courts have refused to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest, it's all the more imperative that Congress act to change federal law. MPP has led the fight in Congress over the last four years, with a record 163 House members voting for a medical marijuana amendment last summer. And, since the Democratic takeover of Congress in November, the congressional outlook for medical marijuana is now better than it has been since I co-founded MPP 12 years ago.

In fact, we have a real chance of passing federal legislation to protect medical marijuana patients this year, but we need you to stand with us. If you agree that seriously ill people should not have to live in fear of armed federal agents breaking down their doors to take away their medicine, would you please visit to make a financial contribution to our lobbying work today?

Our track record of success (see ) is growing every year, and we can get the job done. But we're 100% dependent on supporters like you to fund our work.

This is literally a matter of life and death for Angel Raich and thousands of other patients. Would you please visit to help us to continue fighting this battle in Congress?

Thank you,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. Today also brought happier legal news, when a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed charges against marijuana policy activist Ed Rosenthal on grounds of "vindictive prosecution." Rosenthal was sentenced in 2003 to a single day in prison after a jury found him guilty of violating federal law by growing marijuana for patients. That conviction was overturned last year, and the government filed new charges, including four counts of tax evasion and one count of money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer today dismissed those charges, ruling that the prosecutors appeared to be retaliating against Rosenthal for publicly criticizing the government.

P.P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2007. This means that your donation today at will be doubled.

ASA Files Challenge to Misinformation On Medical Cannabis
March 13th 2007

The federal government's continuing denials of the medical efficacy of cannabis may soon come to an end, thanks to action by Americans for Safe Access. On February 21,ASA staff and one of the named patients in front of the federal courthouse in Oakland after filing the HHS lawsuit ASA filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding that the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services stop spreading misinformation on medical cannabis and correct the information they have published.

"The FDA position on medical cannabis is incorrect, dishonest and a flagrant violation of laws requiring the government to base policy on sound science," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel for ASA. ASA staff and one of the named patients in front of the federal courthouse in Oakland after filing the HHS lawsuit. L-R Rebecca Saltzman, William Dolphin, Joe Elford, Delisa Jones, Steph Sherer, Jacqueline Patterson, Kris Hermes, Noah Mamber.
The ASA lawsuit charges the federal agencies with a violation of the little-known Data Quality Act (DQA). That law requires federal agencies to rely on sound science in the information they disseminate and the policies they make. The DQA also allows citizens to challenge government information believed to be inaccurate or based on faulty, unreliable data. The ASA case specifically challenges the government position that "marijuana has no accepted medical value."

"The science to support medical cannabis is overwhelming, yet the government continues to play politics with the lives of patients desperately in need of pain relief," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Americans for Safe Access is filing this lawsuit on medical cannabis to demand that the FDA stop holding science hostage to politics."

The court filing is the outcome of a more than two-year petition process and comes on the heels of a Named patient Jacqueline Patterson and her children.recent University of California, San Francisco study demonstrating the effectiveness of medical cannabis in treating pain in people living with HIV/AIDS. ASA first filed a petition to force HHS - the FDA's parent agency - to correct statements about the medical value of cannabis in October 2004. Under the DQA, agencies must respond or file for an extension 60 days from the date of the first petition filing. The government response was a statement saying that it would not act on the petition, a position it has maintained despite ASA's May 2005 appeal. Using the DQA's judicial review provisions, the Oakland-based organization is now taking its cause to the courts.

Named patient Jacqueline Patterson and her children.
"Citizens have a right to expect the government to use the best available information for policy decisions. This innovative case turns the Data Quality Act into a tool for the public interest," said case co-counsel Alan Morrison, a preeminent legal scholar who founded Public Citizen's Litigation Group and currently serves as a senior lecturer at Stanford Law School. "I had side effects from morphine patches, oxycontin, and oxycodone before starting a medical cannabis regime that has allowed me to get off prescription drugs and live virtually pain-free," said Blackfoot, Idaho resident Victoria Lansford, a named patient in the lawsuit who suffers from fibromyalgia. "The government's refusal to face up to the science is irresponsible and harms citizens like me for whom this treatment is a lifeline."

DEA Crack Down On Medical Marijuana Clinics
March 11th 2007

Federal agents trailed Sparky Rose as he drove a Porsche Carrera convertible to his medical marijuana clinic.
For the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration the sports car was a sign Rose might be pocketing big money from the purportedly nonprofit clinic, New Remedies Cooperative.
An investigation turned up records showing $2.3 million was deposited in a New Remedies bank account in eight months starting in December 2005. Rose also wrote himself weekly checks of $9,600, according to court papers.
When Rose was arrested in October and accused of illegal drug trafficking -- charges he denies -- authorities seized $125,000 in cash, thousands of pot plants and the Porsche from his San Francisco-area clinic.
Under California law, clinics are supposed to dispense marijuana just to seriously ill people and owners are to get only "reasonable compensation" for their services. But oversight is lax and there are few specific guidelines for buyers and sellers of a drug still illegal under federal law, Full System Abuse....


I think the worst gateway drug is milk..
March 10th 2007

A proposal to legalize the medical use of marijuana failed Thursday in the House, dashing hopes of advocates who had picked up the support of Gov. Bill Richardson for the measure.
The Senate previously had approved the proposal, and it would have gone to the governor had it cleared the House. Richardson had said he would sign the proposal into law. But the House narrowly rejected the bill, with 36 voting against it and 33 supporting it. Opponents disputed that marijuana was an effective medicine. "Medically it just really has no value. For us to approve a drug like this tells our children and tells the rest of the people in this state that we, somehow as leaders, give tacit approval to the use of this drug," said Rep. John Heaton, D-Carlsbad and a pharmacist. "That is absolutely wrong for us to do." He described marijuana as "the No. 1 gateway drug to abusing other drugs in our society."
The proposal would have allowed the use of marijuana for pain or other symptoms of debilitating illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS and certain spinal-cord injuries.
Supporters said marijuana could help patients who don't respond to other treatment, such as an individual who suffers from nausea because of treatments for cancer. I think the worst gateway drug is milk. I never met an addict who didn't start on milk, or at least baby formula, Full Tale...

"I am old and I am tired"
Carlise Crown Court
March 8th 2007

A 68-year-old British woman faces jail after being found guilty on Wednesday of growing and possessing cannabis which she said was for medicinal purposes.
A jury at Carlisle Crown Court in northwest England took just 15 minutes to return their verdict on grey-haired Patricia Tabram, who claims she uses the drug to ease her took just 15 minutes to return their verdict on grey-haired Patricia Tabramdepression and aches and pains from two car crashes.
Judge Barbara Forrester postponed sentencing so psychiatric reports could be prepared on the unlikely-looking dealer, who since her first conviction has become a focus for campaigners seeking to legalise the drug.
Tabram was arrested and charged after police acting on a tip-off found four cannabis plants growing in a wardrobe at her bungalow in the town of Humshaugh in Northumberland, northeast England.
Powdered cannabis was found in a jar next to her cooker in the kitchen. She also confessed to police that her freezer was packed with dope-laced curries, casseroles and ice cream.
Officers declined to seize it because they did not want to deprive her of food. Tabram, who defended herself in court, said: "I am old and I am tired and I am disappointed, not in the result by the jury.
"I am disappointed in the attitude of the court regarding someone my age with my health problems and the way I deal with it. I just want to go home and get some rest."
Tabram was given a six-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, in April 2005 after she was found with cannabis and plants.
The twice-married former chef and teacher - who likens herself to the Suffragettes, who campaigned for British women's right to vote - said she used the drug to make curries, casseroles, biscuits and soups for local people. The judge then said he would not make her a "martyr" by jailing her. The terms of her sentence means she is liable to serve six months in prison if she commits a further offence in a two-year period.
Judge Forrester said on Wednesday: "I cannot exclude a custodial sentence because you are in breach of a suspended sentence."
Speaking before Wednesday's proceedings, Tabram said she was not afraid to go to prison, telling reporters: "I will be with all women in there and they will treat me like a queen. "I will be everyone's granny in there." Tabram wrote a book after her first conviction, "Grandma Eats Cannabis", appeared on chat shows and even stood in the 2005 general election on a pro-cannabis ticket.

'Dispensaries' boom..
March 8th 2007

Hollywood California: A decade ago, the Rev. Scott Imler co-wrote and organized the ballot initiative that made California the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use. Now Imler shakes his head with dismay over what his law has wrought: scores of storefront marijuana shops across Southern California with menus of pot varieties for sale to anyone with a doctor's note.
"What we set out to do was put something in the statutes that said medicine was a defense in case they got arrested using marijuana for medical reasons," Imler says. "What we got was a whole different thing, a big new industry." 'Dispensaries' boom
Los Angeles has become a boomtown for pot stores. The number of "dispensaries" as they are known has gone from four in late 2005 to 98 one year later, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
It all started in 1996 when California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized the growing and possession of marijuana for medical use. Supporters such as the marijuana-legalization group NORML pushed for the law, saying smoking pot lessens pain and alleviates nausea of serious illnesses. Cooperatives sprung up, permitted under the law to receive "reasonable compensation" for the distribution of their product. Then stores opened, which in Los Angeles can sell up to a half-pound of pot to an individual, Full Story....


I want that cockfighting bill, I want medical marijuana."
March 7th 2007

SANTA FE — The Legislature wraps up work in 11 days. So how much of building a budget, cutting taxes, raising the minimum wage and banning cockfighting is done? Not as much as Gov. Bill Richardson would like. Committee hearings are hopping at the Roundhouse and halls are bustling, but as of Monday, Richardson had signed just four bills - only two of which were part of a package he wanted done at the 60-day session's halfway point. A compromise remains to be made on a minimum wage bill. A $5.7 billion budget has yet to reach his desk.Some Senate leaders are questioning a $250 million road construction package the governor has asked for two years in a row.
Ethics reform is stuck in the Senate. And the running-for-president Richardson is starting to get itchy. "I'm a little concerned because we've only got a few days to go," he said at a renewable-energy bill-signing ceremony Monday.
"I'm urging very quick action on the ethics package, predatory lending. I want that cockfighting bill, I want medical marijuana." Full CockFIGTHING... for the latest sceptical slant on the 'Drugs War' lunacy. Bringing together the most relevant third party news feeds, we hope you choose to bookmark now.

.: The News from Drug Policy Central