Posts Tagged ‘medical cannabis’
by Carly Schwarz, Huffington Post
SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of medical marijuana activists gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to support California’s multi-million dollar cannabis industry, under siege since the federal government launched an aggressive crackdown last fall.
A handful of local legislators and cannabis patients addressed the heated crowd before marching down the street to the federal courthouse to address U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who has championed anti-marijuana actions in the Bay Area.
“We’re patients, not criminals!” the protesters chanted, along with cries of “DEA, go away!” and “Fire Haag!”
“Today, we are all green,” said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu in a fiery speech. Chiu and fellow city supervisors who attended the event pledged to expedite the permitting process for local pot shops that have been forced to close and wish to reopen elsewhere.
California’s medical marijuana industry has been struggling since federal prosecutors began targeting dispensaries in October. More than 100 California busineses have been forced to shut down, and hundreds more have received threatening letters claiming their landlords could be jailed if they continue to operate.
Five cannabis clubs in San Francisco have shuttered, leaving employees without work and patients without access to their medicine. Haag sent the same threatening letters to roughly a dozen more (some dispensaries won’t go on the record as to whether they had received a warning). On Monday, federal authorities raidedOakland’s world-famous Oaksterdam University and the home of its founder, Richard Lee, one of the state’s most outspoken medical marijuana activists.
The U.S. attorneys’ actions mark a sharp departure from the Obama administration’s 2009 Ogden Memo, which declared that prosecutions in states that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes would not be a priority. Advocates argue the federal government should direct its energy elsewhere.
“It’s a total waste of federal resources,” Stephanie Tucker, spokesperson for theSan Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force, told The Huffington Post. “They’re attacking a peaceful, regulated community and it’s wasting money. Shame on them.”
Though the drug remains illegal under federal law, California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes when voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996. Studies have shown that California’s medical marijuana industry generatesupwards of $100 million in annual tax revenue.
Haag has remained relatively mum on the issue, repeatedly citing dispensaries’ proximities to schools and parks as justification for the crackdown. “I hope that those who believe marijuana stores should be left to operate without restriction can step back for a moment and understand that not everyone shares their point of view,” she told HuffPost in a statement. “People are deeply troubled by the tremendous growth of the marijuana industry and its influence on their communities.”
But advocates said they believe Haag’s argument thin. Cathy Smith, co-founder and manager of HopeNet, a dispensary in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, told HuffPost that the neighborhood has become dramatically safer in the nine years since her business opened its doors. Crime has dropped significantly, largely due to the increased presence of lighting and surveillance cameras her store installed in order to adhere to the city’s strict regulations surrounding cannabis clubs.
“Nine years ago I wouldn’t be open past 5 p.m. because I was worried about our female customers,” Smith said. “Now we’re open until 9. The neighborhood has improved that much.”
So much, in fact, that a few years ago, a private school opened around the corner. And now HopeNet’s landlords have received their own threatening letter from Haag because of the shop’s proximity to that school.
“Haag says she can’t tell the difference between a good club and a bad club,” Smith said. “I’m here to show her the difference. We are the club that is different; there’s no question about it.”
In addition to selling medical marijuana and related supplies, HopeNet offers a series of weekly community events, including a veterans’ support group, a ladies’ afternoon tea and various life skills workshops. “We like to think of ourselves as a family,” Smith said. “We don’t just sell pot here — we help people.”
And the family is willing to fight. Supporters of Smith’s business have sent hundreds of handwritten letters to Haag’s office demanding she back off, and others have tried (unsuccessfully) to schedule in-person meetings.
Similar to the HopeNet’s community’s outpouring of support, he actions of Haag and her counterparts have served to strengthen the ties of pot proponents across the Bay Area. “It’s only emboldening us and bringing us together,” said Tom Angell, spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a coalition of active and retired police officers, prosecutors and judges who actively speak out against the drug war. “People who used to compete in the marketplace are now standing shoulder to shoulder.”
Advocates have drawn the endorsements of a fair share of legislators, as well. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-S.F.) recently introduced a measurethat would establish uniform regulations for pot shops throughout the state based on San Francisco’s strict and successful standards for operating dispensaries. On Monday, a coalition of lawmakers from five states penned an open letter to the Obama administration demanding an end to the crackdown.
Meanwhile, as some San Francisco cannabis clubs close down, others plan to open. Last month, the planning commission approved three new dispensaries for the city’s Excelsior district, and another opened in the Mission last week.
Those targeted by federal authorities vow to defend their businesses and the industry until the end. “They can indict me any day. They can arrest me at any time,” Lee said during Tuesday’s rally. “One way or another, Oaksterdam will fight on.”
So will San Francisco.
¼ cup hemp seeds soaked in water overnight and strained off.
½ cup cashews soaked in water overnight and strained off.
¼ cup dried coconut soaked in water overnight and strained off.
1 basket of strawberries sliced and macerated in ¼ cup medicated glycerin, then placed in freezer to get
10 dates soaked in water overnight and strained off.
1 coconut, pulp and water
Place nuts, seeds, and coconut in a high-powered blender covered with the Coconut water and ¼ cup of
water. Blend on high till foamy, strain into a nut bag (hash bag will work) and squeeze liquid out.
Once you have the nut milk, place back into the clean blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend
until smooth and frothy. You can add more or less medicated Glycerin to your liking and potency.
Eat Well, Detoxify Regularly, and Ingest Cannabis!!
Photos and story by Angela Bacca
APRIL 2, 2012- At 8am the DEA took Richard Lee, the iconic wheelchair-bound founder of Oaksterdam University and the man behind California’s failed 2010 legalization initiative into custody and raided two of the buildings affiliated with his college. It is also being rumored that Todd McCormick, the man behind the first THC Expo in Los Angeles, also had his Oakland home raided and is in custody.
By 8:15 Oakland Americans for Safe Access (ASA) sent out messages to thousands in the Bay Area through their local raid alert system encouraging them to come down to the main campus at 1600 Broadway to protest and show support.
Officers gave the press conflicting messages about whether would be a press conference and who would be making comment to the press. All public officers from the IRS and DEA are refusing to comment, saying the investigation is sealed. It is unclear if Oakland Police were notified about the raid, however it is clear that they were not participants.
“If the Federal Government has extra resources to spend in Oakland they should be using them to get illegal guns off our streets,” said Jason Overman the Communications Director for Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. Kaplan was a mayoral candidate in the last election cycle and an outspoken supporter of Oakland’s cannabis industry.
Supporters from the community and other cannabusinesses in Oakland quickly came to support Oaksterdam and show their disapproval.
“In ten years the public has become more educated but the federal government hasn’t,” said Jane Klein co-owner of Quick Trading Company, an Oakland-based company that has been publishing marijuana books since the 70s. in 2002, Klein’s Oakland home was raided in a similar show of force by the DEA and her husband, cannabis-writer Ed Rosenthal, was arrested and put on trial. He was famously sentenced to a day in jail with credit for time served.
by 9:30am the crowd had more than tripled. Attempts by officers to exit the adjacent parking lot were met with crowds of angry protestors surrounding them, their vehicles and preventing their exit. As the crowd slung insults at the officers, rumors spread throughout the crowd. It is being assumed that no employees of Oaksterdam University were in the building at the time of the raid and there is fear among alumni that student records may be a DEA target as well as cash and marijuana.
Local business owners were confused and amazed by the strong show of force on the local campus. “There are so many adverse factors, like crime, here in Oakland. We should not be disposing of good businesses [like Oaksterdam], we should be encouraging them,” said Rosanna, an employee at the pizza shop on the corner, which has a good relationship with the school and its students.
Around 1pm, the crowd, which had grown to a few hundred, followed officers to 17th and Webster where they were raiding Coffee Shop Blue Sky, the former home of the Oaksterdam Dispensary. Blue Sky has been closed since the move but still under Oaksterdam ownership.
The crowd surrounded the door, which had been blocked off from the inside by sheets to prevent the public from seeing the action inside. Bella Eiko, a media promoter from Occupy Oakland was able to move her iPad up to a break in the sheets and display to the crowd the officers inside. The officers all wore medical masks covering their mouths and noses.
“Since you aren’t smoking in there you can take your masks off!” someone in the crowd yelled. A group of about 5 US Marshalls pushed their way into the crowd amid loud boos to get to the door. “Get the fuck out of Oakland!” another crowd member yelled. As the situation heated up, glass from the storefront exterior shattered. Many in the crowd believe the police smashed it from inside, as the glass fell out to the street on a few protestors.
“This system has got to die, HELLA HELLA OCCUPY!” many in the crowd chanted, a direct reference to the riots in the same part of Oakland in late 2011 surrounding the eviction of the Occupy Oakland camp.
The situation quickly devolved into chaos as officers gathered on street corners were swarmed by the mob. A van pulled up and parked in the intersection of Franklin and 17th and officers exited brandishing batons. Another officer moved through the crowd with a rifle strapped to his chest and his hand on the trigger.
Protestors followed DEA agents as they tried to flee the scene in cars. Four protestors were arrested and others were rumored to have been run over by DEA vehicles. Officers walked three blocks away with protestors behind them and jumped in the back of two pickup trucks to get away from the crowd.
Protestors then moved to City Hall, a block away, the site of the Oakland Occupation. An impromptu press conference was held by marijuana supporters in anticipation of the formal conference, to be held at 6pm at the Oakland Police Headquarters.
The conference, led by local cannabis union leader Dan Rush of the UFCW featured Steve D’Angelo of Harborside Health Center and Weed Wars fame, Dale Skye Jones, chancellor of Oaksterdam University and husband of activist Jeff Jones, California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, Mickey Martin, ASA Director Steph Sherer, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris of the West Coast Leaf, Jane Klein, wife of Ed Rosenthal who was raided in a similar fashion exactly 10 years ago in Oakland and Rob Raich, ex-husband of famous patient Angel Raich.
“This is the new Jim Crow… revolutions do not happen in reverse, we will win,” said Dale Skye Jones, infant son Jackson Jones in tow.
“This attack was not just on Richard Lee, it was on us all,” said Steve D’Angelo “at the same time Federal agents were twiddling their thumbs here at Oaksterdam, five others lost their lives here at an Oakland University.” D’Angelo is referring to the shooting that happened simultaneous with the raid at Oikos University in Oakland, where seven are now confirmed dead.
“This whole thing is backwards, at Oaksterdam University we pride ourselves in teaching our students to follow the law,” said Chris Conrad, instructor at Oaksterdam and cannabis expert witness on criminal cases, “Nixon couldn’t stop us, Reagan couldn’t stop us, Bush Senior couldn’t stop us, Clinton couldn’t stop us, Bush Junior couldn’t stop us and I’ll be damned if–”
“Obama’s gonna stop us!” the crowd finished for him.
A press conference scheduled for 6pm at Oakland Police Headquarters was diverted to instead discuss the shootings at Oikos academy. Oakland Police say they have no plans to discuss the raid and that it did not involve their department.
San Francisco ASA had previously planned a protest tomorrow in front of San Francisco City Hall, protestors from today’s events in Oakland plan on joining the protest.
by Irma Widjojo, The Times-Herald
For the second time in 30 days, a Bay Area marijuana dispensary was raided Friday afternoon.
At about 4:25 p.m., Vallejo police officers served search and arrest warrants at Better Health Group, 3611 Sonoma Blvd., police said.
During the raid, owner Jorge Espinoza, 25, and three other workers at the dispensary were arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana, police said.
They were identified as Jeffrey Hughson, 38, of Novato; Aaron Castillo 21, of Daly City; and Jonathan Linares, 22, of Vallejo.
It was not immediately disclosed if any marijuana or other products were seized Friday, which marks the fourth marijuana dispensary raid since Feb. 21. There may be as many as 20 other dispensaries operating in Vallejo.
Better Health Group, located inside a former Chinese restaurant, was first raided on Feb. 29. At that time, police said they seized about 400 plants from the dispensary, and booked into evidence about 340 marijuana food products, an ounce of hash and 30 pounds of “processed” marijuana, during that raid. Espinoza was also arrested then.
However, the dispensary recently opened its doors again to its members.
In an interview earlier this week with the Times-Herald, Better Health Group’s attorney said no cease and desist order was ever issued, and that the collective believes it is doing nothing wrong, at least under state law. Federal law prohibits marijuana possession and sales.
On March 20, Vallejo City Manager Dan Keen released a memo addressing concerns about what he viewed as the mixed message the city was sending by passing measures to tax dispensaries, while at the same time raiding them. Keen also cited a number of conflicting court cases dealing with medical marijuana.
At the same time, Keen also suspended the city’s plan to begin issuing business certificates to those dispensaries that have paid a $500 city business fee. The fee was authorized under a ballot measure voters overwhelmingly approved in the November election. The measure’s passage has also led to the city approving a 10 percent tax on medical marijuana sales.
Times-Herald staff writers Jessica A. York and Tony Burchyns contributed to this article.
by Shannon Young, Norwich Bulletin
A bill that would allow Connecticut adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if the drug is prescribed by their doctor, has cleared its first legislative hurdle. Members of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee voted 35-to-8 in support of the bill Wednesday, after an hour-long discussion of the measure.
This year’s bill proposes a system for licensing medical marijuana producers, dispensing the drug, and registering qualified patients with debilitating conditions. Under the proposed bill doctors could prescribe marijuana to patients who suffer from certain specified illnesses. Additionally, the bill would limit medical marijuana prescriptions to a one year supply and require all drug manufacturing and distribution to be done in Connecticut. Many Connecticut lawmakers have said the bill is the best that has been presented before the committee, and even the legislature, as it addresses many concerns that opponents have raised in previous years.
Bill supporters said marijuana should be legalized for medical purpose to help state residents who are suffering from debilitating diseases. Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, a ranking member of the committee, said the issue comes down to a matter of human compassion. “When you sit here year-in and year-out and you listen to these individuals facing these really horrific circumstances in their lives, who are we to not allow them to access this if it gives them some comfort?” he said. Despite this, some committee members voiced concerns on how the potential state law legalizing medical marijuana could be affected by the federal intervention.
Rep. John Shaban, R-Redding, said because the issue is in violation of the federal law, it would create a dual policy where the drug is not illegal under state law, but federal law. Other opponents raised concerns that federal intervention under the law could result in arrests of state employees and doctors who prescribe or distribute the drug. Committee co-chair,
Rep. Gerald Fox III, D-Stamford, said he is not concerned on with federal intervention, however, as the legislation is careful to operate within state law. “We have crafted a bill that is very controlled and it’s our hope that it will alleviate a lot of the concerns people have had in the past,” he said. The bill’s passage comes shortly after a new poll shows a sizeable majority of Connecticut voters support allowing legalizing the drug for medical purposes. According to the poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, 68 percent of registered voters said legalizing medical marijuana for adults is a good idea while 27 percent said it’s a bad idea.
The survey of 1,622 registered voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Mike Lawlor, the undersecretary of Criminal Justice Policy for the Office of Policy and Management, said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy supports the concept of the legislation. He said he is confident the governor will sign the bill if it reaches his desk this session. A bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana in Connecticut failed during last year’s legislative session.
Courtesy of the Huffington Post
Marijuana-like drugs can do more for AIDS patients than simply help them with their nausea or loss of appetite, according to a new study.
Researchers told Doctor Tipster that they already know “cannabinoid drugs” like marijuana can have a therapeutic effect in AIDS patients. But they wanted to further understand how they “influence the spread of the virus itself.”
The study found that “cannabinoid receptors” are triggered by marijuana-like compounds and can actually block the spread of the HIV virus throughout the body.
Now, the researchers who conducted the study are planning to test a marijuana-like drug in mice infected with late-stage AIDS, according to Zee News.
Americans For Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana organization, cites various studies which suggest medical marijuana also helps HIV and AIDS patients who suffer from pain and weight loss.
Courtesy of My Record Journal – Connecticut
Connecticut lawmakers are revisiting legislation that would fully legalize the medical use of marijuana.
The General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday on the latest version of the proposal.
Under the bill, a person could qualify to use marijuana for medical purposes if they’ve been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. Qualified users and their primary caregiver would then have to register with the state Department of Consumer Protection.
The legislation requires the consumer protection commissioner to determine the number of dispensaries needed in Connecticut and to adopt regulations.
The bill says those regulations must limit dispensary licenses to only licensed pharmacists.
A bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana in Connecticut failed during last year’s legislative session.
by Heather Hadden, The Wall Street Journal
TRENTON—Marijuana for medicinal purposes won’t be available in New Jersey until the end of the year at the earliest, officials predicted to The Wall Street Journal, nearly three years after the state legalized the substance for the severely ill.
New Jersey—one of 16 states plus Washington, D.C., that allow medical marijuana—has taken longer than expected to launch its program because opposition to dispensaries in towns and villages was more vigorous than anticipated, and setting up a highly regulated system with safeguards against theft and fraud has proved challenging, said state Department of Health and Senior Services officials.
The officials said they didn’t want to make the same mistakes as Colorado and California, where recreational users have found ways to buy marijuana through the state system.
“It’s a frustrating program in many ways,” said Mary O’Dowd, commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services. “We’re talking about building a whole new program, from the ground up, for an illegal product.”
Now, after years of slow progress, Ms. O’Dowd said the program is finally picking up steam.
The first dispensary to open is expected to be the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, but it is still awaiting approval from the state. Meanwhile, a dispensary in Egg Harbor was given approval recently at the local level and is also awaiting state approval. Four others are looking for sites and are “moving along,” said John O’Brien Jr., the new director of the state’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana program.
Next month, the state intends to announce a registry of physicians who can prescribe pot to those with a “debilitating medical condition,” including HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis, officials said. About 100 physicians have expressed interest. Officials said the number of potential patients is in the hundreds.
Still, the delays in a program signed into law back in January 2010 have made patients anxious. Joseph Stevens, president of the Greenleaf Compassion Center, said his agency gets up to 30 calls a day from those seeking marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.
Medical marijuana is used by those suffering from chronic illnesses to soothe symptoms pain and loss of appetite. Until marijuana sales are legalized, Marta Portuguez, a 50-year-old Roselle Park resident who suffers from fibromyalgia and gastroparesis, said she is relying for marijuana on a friend who obtains it illegally. “You don’t know what it is to suffer the way we suffer,” Ms. Portuguez said. About the drug still being unavailable to patients, she said: “It’s just wrong.”
Ms. O’Dowd said she “empathizes” with that sentiment but said she doesn’t want to rush the program forward and risk compromising security.
Under the New Jersey law, patients would be allowed two ounces of marijuana a month. The price for a dose hasn’t been set, but patients in the program would pay $200 for an identification card that must be renewed every two years. Medical insurance doesn’t cover the drug.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, was initially opposed after taking office in 2010 and added restrictions, such as limiting the strength of the marijuana. But Mr. Christie has since said he supports moving forward and appointed Mr. O’Brien, a former New Jersey State Police chief, to lead the program’s implementation.
Mr. O’Brien said the program would account for pot production and distribution down to the tenth of a gram by measuring what is harvested and disposed of—from seeds to stems.
“It has to be well-monitored so it doesn’t become the Wild, Wild West,” said Mr. O’Brien in his first interview since his appointment in November.
Mr. O’Brien, a 26-year State Police veteran who oversaw FBI and state criminal record systems, said he is at peace with his transition from policing to enabling people to buy the illegal substance. He has learned marijuana lingo like “mother plant” and “cuttings” and knows several people personally who will benefit from the program.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating,” he said. “But I genuinely feel as though I’m doing something worthwhile for the people of the state.”
State medical marijuana programs have expanded steadily nationwide since a California referendum passed in 1996. That trend slowed in 2011, when the Obama administration took a harder line on state-sanctioned pot-growing, saying its policy of not going after users didn’t apply to large commercial enterprises distributing the drug. Federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana.
Washington and Rhode Island have since backed off from efforts to allow dispensaries to open there. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice didn’t respond to a request for comment on New Jersey’s program.
Last July, after the federal government’s decree, Mr. Christie said he wanted the program “to happen as soon as possible,” and the six nonprofit dispensaries were instructed to open by January, according to Mr. Stevens. But then the state encountered a new problem—towns that didn’t want the dispensaries. Centers must get local approval for their dispensary and growing facilities, which can be housed separately.
Upper Freehold, a rural township in Monmouth County, rejected the Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center’s attempt to build a pot-growing facility. It passed an ordinance banning township permits to future applicants distributing a federally banned substance, as have at least two other municipalities.
“We’re saying not in our town,” said LoriSue Mount, mayor of Upper Freehold,
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican champion of the law, said the centers have had to lobby for local support. “The folks that embrace these facilities will be lauded as forward-thinking heroes,” he said.
The program is operating on a budget of less than $200,000 and has required the coordination of a litany of state bureaucracies, including the health, agriculture and banking departments along with the Attorney General’s office, Ms. O’Dowd said. Ensuring the dispensaries don’t become criminal enterprises has been a focus.
Each employee, officer, director and owner of a center must pass background checks. Once open, the dispensaries would be subject to random monitoring, Mr. O’Brien said. State police will dispose of waste products from the growing process, as with drugs taken off the street.
LONG BEACH – The Long Beach City Council on Tuesday voted 8-1 to ban medical marijuana collectives but to exempt 18 city-approved operators for six months.
City Attorney Robert Shannon had sought an outright ban after an appeals court in October ruled in Pack v. Long Beach that the city’s 2010 permit process for the collectives violated federal law prohibiting the sale and distribution of marijuana.
The ban motion, proposed by Councilman Robert Garcia, protects collectives who participated in the city’s process “in good faith” while the California Supreme Court considers Long Beach’s appeal of the Pack decision. The city is seeking clarification on its powers to regulate medical marijuana, the use of which is allowedunder state law.
In the meantime, Garcia said his legislation allows police to use “the full extent of the law” to shut down about 35 unlicensed dispensaries.
Closing dispensaries operating illegally under state law can take about 12 months, said City Prosecutor Doug Haubert.
Councilwoman Rae Gabelich cast a no vote after making a substitute motion to extend an exemption for collectives that are in good standing to 12 months.
She withdrew her request after Garcia agreed to add language to his proposal calling for a review of the exemption in four months so the council can consider a six-month extension.
The council didn’t vote on another substitute motion, advanced by Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal,that would have enacted a temporary moratorium on issuing permits until the state Supreme Court rules on the Pack case, which could take 14 months. The motion also would have allowed licensed collectives to continue operating.
Lowenthal`s proposal was detailed in a pre-meeting memorandum sent out by lobbyist Carl Kemp, an advocate for the Long Beach Collectives Association, a loosely knit group of 10 collectives that had organized to fight the ban.
Greg Lefian, president of the
group, said after the decision that the council’s action was “sweet and sour” since pro-marijuana advocates were against a ban.
But, he said, “I think it gives us a chance to at least prove ourselves in the community.”
“Hopefully they go after the rogue collectives,” Lefian added.
The ban is the latest in Long Beach’s medical marijuana saga.
Long Beach took months to craft the pot regulations, such as restricting collectives from operating near schools, and the council needed several hours-long meetings before finalizing them.
Following the court ruling, the council twice delayed a vote on the ban before Tuesday’s decision.
If you do not see the writing on the wall then it is because you are not paying attention. There is a cleansing of the industry happening and you can believe that it is far from over. There is a concerted effort to limit who can produce and provide cannabis, and my suspicion is that it is not just the Feds who are in on it. A story today in the SF Examiner by Chris Roberts that tells of the DEA filing public information requests to get the files of almost all San Francisco dispensaries, and very little opposition from what was once a very supportive and understanding local government. Where is the outrage, SF Board of Supervisors? But SF is far from alone…we see decimation of the industry all over California, and there is a thinning of the herd happening. The question is simple…”If all medical cannabis dispensing and production are illegal then why are only select groups being targeted?”
It makes little sense, except when you look at it more from a conspiracy theory angle. Is it possible that there is a dialogue happening between the Feds and local governments that have regulations in place? Could there be an underlying message, either directly, or through indirect channels, saying “Clean up your act or we will do it for you”…and to boot, like we have seen elsewhere, are there threats of charging public officials who do not comply?
It is not hard to see that there is a widespread panic in almost EVERY city with regulated dispensaries and distribution systems in place. Mendocino shut down its 99 plant program. Sonoma County just capped their permits, and spoke out strongly against deliveries. San Francisco, in addition to having files requested by the Feds, has begun telling dispensaries they cannot carry certain products (like Bhang chocolates) because State law does not allow for it, but they do not show where. SF has begun making dispensaries sign a letter under the penalty of perjury that their production is all done locally by single member patients who are only members of that collective. WTF?
But it does not stop there….there is also rumor that Sacramento has had similar requests made, and halted their licensing program altogether. Mysteriously, there have also been new rounds of landlord letters sent out after the City sent out inspectors to several locations. Add to this phenomena LA moving to outright ban collectives, Lake County moving to shut down their dispensaries, Redding shutting down their program, San Diego on the warpath, and other seemingly calculated steps by cities to “reel in” the local cannabis industry, and what you have is a hell of a lot of questions.
Where am I trying to connect the dots? I am not sure any more, but what I do see are clear patterns happening at the local level, and a call for reform at the state level. It almost feels as if there is an effort to cut many of the masses out of the picture, so that a new purified industry can emerge. I have wrapped my head around the issue for many days now, and I continue to see the fall out and wonder what the hell is going on?
But it is easy to see how the Feds could bully and threaten local and state governments into limiting and better controlling those who provide cannabis in their town. It is easy to see how a coordinated call from DAs, Sheriffs, City Council persons opposed, and concerned citizens would spark this type of action, and how the Feds could use their supreme authority to implement their desire to see a much less flamboyant and noticeable cannabis industry. What is hard to see is that there may be some of those who walk among us also in on the game….
This is where the “who” and “why” questions really become big. This is where the real question of selective enforcement comes into play. I will be honest…since about 2005 I have felt a large presence of Federal undercover and opportunists IN the cannabis industry. That is right, I said it. There are a number of folks who walk hand in hand with us, but also have loyalties to the Feds or whoever the larger puppet master may be. There is a lot of value in having a medical cannabis industry that is both illegal to make it easy to shut down folks who may be directly competing with the folks who are on the inside looking out, and working with rogue, or not so rogue, enforcement agencies. I have no evidence of this at all, so admittedly, it is nothing more than a gut feeling based on research into other social change movements of the past and strange shit I have seen in my decade standing around the water cooler; but none-the-less, I am sure that all is not right and all is not what it may seem.
So then one may wonder how the forces driving the current crackdown work. Here is my “theory.” What we have seen over the years is a grand experiment in allowing for the industry to flourish. What drives our government and defunct policies on cannabis are big business lobbyists, some of the biggest obviously being drug companies. By allowing for the industry to evolve seemingly in an organic fashion, it is easy for these companies to explore a market, its trends, and if there is viability through allowing it to build naturally. They have allowed for the fledgling industry to do the work, see what does and does not work, and have likely collected innumerable data on patients, purchasing behaviors, and the core of who is who and what is what. Data collected over time from places raided, including patient conditions, purchasing histories, and market patterns, are invaluable to a drug company that may be trying to figure out just how to make money of a plant that most anyone can grow….and I think we are coming to that fork in the road where a cool decade plus of hard data has allowed them to develop their strategies, and now it is time to clear the path for the big dogs.
But they will not be shutting down everyone….they need some of us. We are the ones who have direct connections with the patients and we have already built brands that nearly a million patients in CA alone are familiar with. That is something that will be necessary to transition into an industry where a few organizations control the majority of the market. There will need to be a certain level of cooperation with the existing infrastructure to allow for the takeover to happen smoothly.
But do not take my word for it…I am a nobody. Take Montel’s word for it. “I have been involved in every state passing medical laws since 2002……I HAVE NEVER BEEN, or will I ever be, in favor of full 100% legalization of marijuana.”
So Montel is no stranger to big pharma, as he was the spokesperson for Partnership for Prescription Assistance, an organization reaping the rewards of the Bush Administration’s revamping of the Medicare drug program. He lead the charge on selling America on what has now been called a huge give away to drug companies. So in addition to slinging juicers and payday loans, Montel has also developed many relationships in big pharma, no doubt. His financial support team is comprised of people involved in packaging drug and health products, and he has many connections at the state and federal levels.
Why do I single out Montel? Just as an example of how the industry may be working its way towards something none of us would recognize. Montel has recently partnered with Americans for Safe Access’ Co-Founder Don Duncan to help “consult” on his dispensary in West Hollywood. In addition, an email thread between the City of Oakland, where Montel is applying for a permit, shows a communication stating Don Duncan is indeed a “member of the management team” and took the exam required for Montel’s Abatin Wellness Center Oakland (AWCO). Here is a look at that communication:
Stay with me…..
So now it is clear that ASA’s leadership is in bed with a person whose goal is to have a strict medical only market, and is connected with 4 dispensaries in CA, at least, and has an application in for another one in Oakland and another two in DC. ASA’s mission has always been one of advocacy for the medical uses of cannabis, but there has never been an influence from a force that I know of who clearly has stated they will “NEVER be for legalization of cannabis.” So that, in my opinion, is a paradigm shift in thinking, and coupled with the crackdown happening, and ASA’s efforts to pass a regulatory initiative that appoints a Bureau of folks to decide our fate, I am straight worried.
UPDATE: ASA sent out their round up showing where patients can get free gifts for doing ASA stuff. Guess what? 3 out of 5 (that I know of) are dispensaries directly associated with Montel…Imagine that.
I am worried that we are seeing the death of an industry and the beginning of the end. My thoughts are that slowly over the year there will be more surgical strikes in removing people from the landscape and after Obama is re-elected, rescheduling will happen and there will be a transition, or handing over of, the entire industry to big business drug companies and investors.
I am not saying that ASA is evil and trying to shut down the industry, by any means. I still got mad love for what they have done for me and cannabis users all over. IMO, I think their hands are tied. I think there is a dialogue happening under the surface in the back rooms that says, “Either get on board or get out.” That is a powerful message when delivered by the right source. I think there is a lesser of two evils happening that may be what some see as the only path to preserving any resemblance of the current industry. I think there may be a major move to truly “close the loop” as I am hearing some very strange chatter from growers and providers about sweeping new programs being put in from some of the larger dispensing organizations. (More to come on that).
CALL ME CRAZY because that is how I feel, and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring in the Godforsaken movement. Maybe my tin foil hat is on way too tight, or maybe years of being followed by Feds, lied to by friends, and infiltrated by undercover agents has just gotten to me. Who knows? What I do know is something is afoot and something is not right. In my gut, I am worried about the future of cannabis and our movement in general. I have no idea what to do or who to trust, so just know I am skeptical of everyone.
Luckily, I have nothing to hide and everyone pretty clearly knows where I stand. While there is an ongoing coordinated effort to silence me, I will not go quietly into the night. We have come too far to lose now. I will never concede anything less than the right for any human on earth to use cannabis however they please as a safe, enjoyable and helpful plant. Anything less is just bullshit and I will fight to the death until cannabis freedom is real and meaningful. If we have to crack some eggs to make that omelet, then let’s do that. I am game…
ASA sent out their round up showing where patients can get free gifts for doing ASA stuff. Guess what? 3 out of 5 (that I know of) are dispensaries directly associated with Montel…Imagine that.
by Crissy Clutter, WOWK-TV Charleston, WV
It’s been a called a gateway drug by some. Others claim it’s the only treatment that works.
The debate over legalizing medical marijuana has come to West Virginia. Monday, Del. Mike ManyPenny (D-Grafton) presented House Bill 4498.
The bill would allow patients with a wide variety of serious, debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and severe pain, to use medical marijuana with prescription from a doctor.
Supporters of the bill said it is a great weapon against fighting these painful diseases.
Critics of the medical marijuana initiatives say weakening the prohibition against the drug could send the message to young people that smoking pot ‘ok.’
13News spoke with a number of people who said they don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s regulated.
“I understand the importance of medication and people being treated properly for disease…and if this can help make someone with cancer feel better I’m for it,” said David Wisz of Charleston.
Del. ManyPenny said he would like other lawmakers to consider legislation which would allow patients with a wide variety of conditions use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
“It’s the most severe ailments people could have that would use the drug…there are fewer side effects from medical cannabis than there are from most prescription drugs,” said ManyPenny.
He said the natural plant could be used in place of heavy narcotics, drugs like oxycontin, prescription drugs already posing problems across the mountain state.
“I have been a strong supporter to curb substance abuse, but this is a completely different animal,” said ManyPenny.
He said 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation similar to this bill which can be very cost effective.
“We have the highest rating of disabled people per capita and those people are paying between $700 and $1,000 dollars a month for prescriptions.
The bill will be discussed now by the House Health and Human Resources committee.
Courtesy of TheBayNet.com
A pair of bills were introduced yesterday in the Maryland House and Senate that would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with doctors’ recommendations. The bills, HB 1024 and HB 1148, are based on the recommendations of a study panel created by the legislature in 2011 and were introduced in the House by Del. Dan Morhaim. Senator Jamie Raskin is expected to sponsor similar legislation in the Senate. One version of the legislation, championed by state legislators on the work group, allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients who could then purchase it from licensed dispensaries, all of which would be overseen by an independent commission. The second version, put forward by Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua Sharfstein, tasks academic institutions with distribution of marijuana. Both bills would protect licensed patients from arrest and prosecution. Currently, patients are only afforded an affirmative defense in court, but are still subject to arrest even if they’re subsequently able to demonstrate medical necessity.
Del. Cheryl Glenn has already introduced another medical marijuana bill that would allow patients to cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, in addition to establishing a dispensary system. Both work group models would restrict cultivation to state-registered growers.
“There are some differences in these two plans when it comes to how medical marijuana is cultivated and distributed, but the bottom line is that both reports support changes to the status quo,” said Del. Morhaim, the only physician in the Maryland House. “Physicians, law enforcement officials, academics, and DHMH officials – we all agree that something needs to be done. Remember that the charge of the work group from the Governor and the Legislature was to “facilitate patient access to marijuana for medical purposes.” It’s now our job as legislators to look at these proposals and enact workable solutions that for many patients can dramatically improve their quality of life.”
Senate sponsor Jamie Raskin echoed Morhaim’s stance. “Last session the General Assembly decided that it is not a crime for very ill people in the State of Maryland to use marijuana for palliative purposes in accordance with medical advice,” Raskin said. “What we left open was how such people can safely and legally access the drug. I’m determined that this session we come up with an effective mechanism for making medical marijuana available for the sick and suffering Marylanders who need it.”
If any of the bills pass, Maryland would become the 17th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow seriously ill people to treat their conditions with medical marijuana. There are 17 other states considering similar legislation this year. A recent Gonzales Research poll showed that 64% of Marylanders support allowing medical marijuana in their state.
The Marijuana Policy Project, the largest marijuana-policy-reform organization in the United States, is responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.
by Andrew Douglas, WMC-TV
(WMC-TV) – One Mississippi lawmaker wants to make medical marijuana legal and some say it’s an idea that makes sense, because growing marijuana is already big business for the state.
Mississippi may not be known for its progressive legislation, but it doesn’t mean it’s off the table, especially when the state is a big player with the legal production of marijuana.
“This is not a black or a white issue, this is a gray issue,” said Senator Deborah Dawkins.
“I think most people want their doctors to help them make these decisions,” she said.
The bill would allow marijuana use only for seriously or terminally ill patients under the supervision of a doctor.
Dawkins says those type of patients are often left in pain which was the case for her father who passed away from lung cancer.
She’s introduced this bill before and each time there’s more support.
If it passes, Mississippi won’t have to look far to find marijuana.
Ole Miss has been legally growing marijuana for the federal government for more than a decade. The drug is shipped to patients in other states where its use is legal.
“It’s something that seems very unfair that we in Mississippi provide this medicine, that’s what it is, it’s medicine, for people in other states and not in our very own,” Dawkins said.
Sixteen states as well as Washington, D.C., already allow the drug for medical use and more than a dozen other states, including Mississippi have pending legislation.
Critics of the bill, including law enforcement agencies, worry about the drug falling into the wrong hands, but Dawkins hopes with proper safeguards in place, those who need the drug will have access.
by Ted Levin, The Vermont Cynic
The wait’s not over yet, and the demand is high.
For medical marijuana, that is.
A law passed last year will allow up to four privately operated medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Vermont as early as this summer.
Although the program is designed to be non-profit, it costs $2,500 just to apply for a medical marijuana certificate that allows citizens to own a dispensary, according to an article on WCAX.com. Additionally, $150,000 is needed to offset the cost of running the dispensary.
Burlington resident Shayne Lynn told WCAX he still plans to be an applicant as soon as technicalities in the legislation are settled.
“We’re going to have to balance offering affordable cannabis with running a non-profit business,” he said.
According to the most recent legislation, patients are only allowed in the dispensaries one at a time, by appointment and after they present a state-issued card, according to the Marijuana Policy Project’s website.
Vermont law prohibits dispensaries from opening within 1,000 feet of schools or daycare centers and requires stringent background checks on all employees, the law stated.
State representative Jim Masland introduced a new bill that would add Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifications for patients seeking medical marijuana.
Masland said he hopes his revisions to the current legislation can aid those suffering from PTSD.
“There are some people who are helped from medical marijuana,” he said. “But some people get their marijuana from back channels and I think we should add PTSD to the list of things people can get it for.”
Masland told the Associated Press he introduced the bill after many marijuana users suggested that their stress was brought on after serving in the military.
If the bill is passed, Masland said that it would not only apply to veterans, but to anyone who suffers from PTSD, the WCAX article stated.
Vermont’s current guidelines concerning medical cannabis are comparatively stricter than other states where medical marijuana is legal by limiting eligible patients to those with debilitating diseases or conditions, the 2004 law stated.
For example, states such as California, Colorado and Hawaii have a wider variety of approved conditions that include glaucoma, severe nausea and chronic pain, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
Sophomore Becca Domingue said that because Vermont is so liberal, people in this state are more accepting of marijuana usage.
According to a list recently released by the Princeton Review, UVMranks among the ten most marijuana friendly colleges in the country.
“We definitely deserve it,” sophomore Domingue said. “Unfortunately being a marijuana friendly school is why a lot of people come to UVM.”
Sophomore Christina Bednarek said she agrees with Domingue that the ranking was well earned.
“We’re hippies here,” she said.
I have been helping treat patients for the past few years. I have seen cases that I thought were more emotional than physical. Sickness is a state of mind just as much as a diagnosed disease. If you don’t believe you will get better you never will. Cannabis as a medicine is a wonderful tool to break down those barriers in the mind. We get a euphoric feeling and we can forget our issues.
Now that I am learning the Art of Living cuisine, I can truly see what the man made drugs do to the body. They are a constant source of unnatural poison; blocking your body’s natural impulses. Would you do that to your Mother Plant of your favorite strain? If your leaves turn yellow, you heal your plant with the right nutrients or PH level, you don’t just color them green and tell the plant everything’s ok, just color as needed. We have become so used to a convenient life that we forget to care about ourselves.
Isn’t life hard enough? Why do we choose to poison ourselves? With normal day to day function as a human we are exposed to a tremendous amount of toxins. It’s no wonder that there is so much disease. So what happens when you get sick? Are you eating right? Are you going to take handfuls of pills to just curb the symptoms? Are you going to allow yourself to get depressed and just wither away? If you are a Cannabis user; you already know your answer. You can choose to be conscious of your world. Create your own food and grow your own supplies. We need to move forward with the reverence from the past. Stop ingesting unnatural medicine and foods and your mind will be re-centered. Your mind controls everything. A sound mind will allow for your body to function at optimal efficiency. Once you start loving yourself, then you can start to love others. You have to let go of the past and move forward to heal. I give you a living “Tuna Pate”. The more time and love you put into your food, the better the energy will be. Same reason mom’s chicken soup always healed you when you were sick, love is the ultimate healer, please allow Cannabis to show you the way. Eat well, detoxify regularly, and ingest cannabis daily!
1 gallon glycerin
2oz – 4 oz Cannabis ground (Depending on potency you require.)
In a large crock pot on the warm setting, cover your cannabis completely. Steep the mixture for 5 to 7 days until glycerin has reach a dark amber or brown consistency. Stir twice daily.
Strain while hot through cheesecloth. Let cool and it’s ready to use.
Living Seed Tuna Pate
Sunflower seeds (soaked for 24hrs to germinate) 3 C
Lemon Juice 1 C
Red Onion ½
Braggs Liquid Aminos ¼ C
Parsley ½ cup
Ginger Juice 2tsp
Red Dulse Flakes 1T
Bubble Hash Powdered 2 grams
Strain seeds and let dry. Place seeds in a larger food processor with hash and pulse to break up the seeds and blend together. Add remaining ingredients and blend until Pate consistency.
Keep chilled and eat within a few days as the seeds are living and you will get the most nutrients and energy from them.
Sushi Dipping Sauce
Glycerin ½ C
Rice Vinegar ½ C
Soy ½ C
Garlic Minced 2 cloves
Sriracha Hot Sauce 2 tablespoons
Sesame seeds 1tablespoon
Hemp Seeds 1 tablespoon
Combine all in a bowl and whisk to combine. It will keep in fridge for 2 weeks. Mix before serving.
Vegan Sushi Roll
Dried Nori 1 package
Carrot 2 julienned
Celery 2 stalks julienned
Zucchini 1 large julienned
Yellow Squash 1 large julienned
Avocado 1 sliced
Cucumber 1 seeded and julienned
Sriracha to taste
Tuna Pate* 1 T per roll
Sprouts 1 bunch pea sprouts
Red Dulse Flakes to taste per roll (Salty seaweed taste)
Mango 1 julienned
Cilantro 1 bunch chopped
Step one: Using your roasted dried seaweed (NORI) shiny side down.
First, just like rolling a joint, place your Tuna pate in a thin line from one end of the nori to the other horizontally. Then if you are adding the Sriracha sauce, make a thin line of sauce right next to your tuna.
Then add your julienned mango right on top of your hot sauce. Then start adding your vegetables layering, the different colors. You can place the sprouts facing the outside of the roll for added flare. Be sure to not make it to large. Then start to roll it like a fatty, tuck the roll with your fingers and make sure it’s even, and gentle roll over on your cutting board. Once you got the roll started and it is taking shape you will need to wet the lip of the nori just like on a blunt to make it stick together. Do have some water handy.
Once you got it rolled, cut into 6 pieces with a sharp knife and serve with dipping sauce.
One of these rolls will give you energy and love. Two will get you to a happy place! Enjoy!
By Wilson Ring, Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – A Vermont lawmaker wants to amend the state’s medical marijuana law so that anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could use it to help alleviate their symptoms.
State Rep. Jim Masland said he introduced the bill earlier this month at the request of a number of his constituents who were using marijuana to alleviate stress symptoms they felt were caused by their military service.
“I understand that these unnamed individuals, at least a couple, haven’t been able to find relief any other way or at least this is the best way for relief,” Masland, D-Thetford, said Thursday. “So I would say they are quietly, surreptitiously using marijuana, but they would much rather do it legally.”
Masland said the veterans who asked him to introduce the legislation had served in the Vietnam War as well as the wars the United States has fought over the last decade.
Vermont’s medical marijuana law took effect in 2004. Under it, people who suffer from a number of debilitating diseases or conditions can get permission from the state to use medical marijuana if it is recommended by their health care provider.
Vermont currently has 411 patients and 68 caregivers on the medical marijuana registry. The state is in the process of setting up rules that would allow the creation of up to four dispensaries where people could get medical marijuana legally. Currently, users or their caregivers are allowed to grow their own marijuana.
Michael Krawitz, of Elliston, Va., the executive director of the group Veterans for Medical Marijuana Use, said the use of marijuana to help veterans treat PTSD is gaining acceptance across the country.
“The bottom line is we just don’t have a lot of treatments for post-traumatic stress that are that effective,” Krawitz said.
Vermont is among a handful of states considering adding PTSD to the list of conditions that qualify patients to use medical marijuana, he said.
In a policy implemented a year ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs allows its patients to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, although not at VA facilities, and VA health care providers can’t provide the documentation vets need to get it.
Expanding access to Vermont’s medical marijuana registry is up to the Legislature, said Francis “Paco” Aumand, the director of the Vermont Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Justice Services, which oversees the marijuana registry.
“Nobody makes any judgments relative to the medical purposes” of using medical marijuana, Aumand said. “If you meet the requirements of the law you are entitled to receive the registration card. From that perspective it’s a smoothly regulated process.”
Vermont Deputy Health Commissioner Barbara Cimaglio said the department would be reviewing Masland’s proposal, which was introduced and referred to committee last week.
In 2007 New Mexico legalized medical marijuana. Its program differs from most in that the state oversees the production and distribution of marijuana. PTSD was added to the list of conditions in 2009. Since PTSD and a number of other conditions were added to the list of qualifying illnesses applications have soared.
If Masland’s bill is passed in Vermont it wouldn’t be restricted to military veterans suffering from PTSD.
Masland said his proposal has been sent to committee to discuss. He doesn’t know if it will be acted upon this year, but he is happy the issue is being discussed.
“No one has approached me in the building and said this is a terrible idea,” he said from the Statehouse in Montpelier. “But given the breath of the issues that we have before us, it’s not the top of a lot of peoples list. And that’s just reality.”
by Larry McShane, New York Daily News
This was a bust and buy operation.
Officials in Albuquerque, N.M., were forced to pay a medical marijuana patient $3,100 after police destroyed her pot crop.
The woman said she was considering further legal action against the town over the weed-whacking officers.
The incident occurred in August 2010, when a neighbor of Armijo — concerned that the woman was suicidal — asked police to check on her.
Cops arrived to find the woman was gone. But her marijuana plants were front and center inside the house, sprouting beneath a grow light.
The officers pulled the pot from her pots and held the weed as evidence. By the time Armijo convinced police that she was licensed to grow medical marijuana, her crop — stuffed inside a paper bag — was ruined.
“Everything was gone,” she told the television station. “It was complete destruction.”
Albuquerque city Risk Manager Peter Ennen said it was a routine settlement distinguished only by the drug element.
“It’s something out of the ordinary that it’s a claim for medical marijuana plants,” Ennen told KOAT-TV.
by Chris Roberts, SF Weekly
San Francisco has begun issuing medical marijuana dispensary licenses again, following a recent state Supreme court decision that will allow local pot dispensaries to do business — for now.
The city’s Medical Cannabis Act permitting process had been on hold for several months, following a state appeals court ruling in Pack vs. Long Beach. The ruling said that city or county laws regulating medical marijuana violated federal law; the decision led cities and counties throughout the state to suspend, reconsider, or repeal their regulatory schemes.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal, and while that’s being considered, the lower court’s ruling has become invalidated, a spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Friday. That means the Department of Public Health’s medical marijuana permits can continue as normal, and several proposed San Francisco dispensaries waiting in the wings can finally receive city approval to do business.
But there’s rumors that the Justice Department is considering suing cities that regulate state-legal marijuana. If that happens, it could be game over — again.
But this state court decision hasn’t had nearly the impact of the United States Attorneys’ coordinated crackdown, which has forced hundreds of dispensaries in San Diego, Sacramento, and the Bay Area to close. Not every city or county in California halted permitting pot clubs as a result of the court decision — Oakland, for example, charged ahead with reviewing applications for up to four new permits in the city.
Nonetheless, San Francisco will “continue processing permits under the City ordinance, pending a decision by the Supreme Court,” City Attorney spokesman Jack Song wrote in an e-mail. “Department of Public Health has resumed its processing of permits.”
At least four new proposed medical marijuana dispensaries had hearings before the Planning Commission — one of the last hurdles to clear before a new storefront pot club can begin business — delayed because of the Pack decision, including three on Mission Street in the Excelsior District. The Green Cross — which is currently delivery only — has its permit hearing on Feb. 16, but has asked city planners to move it to an earlier date. The dispensary’s hearing was originaly scheduled for October.
The outlier at this point is the Justice Department. Letters from U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag have led five San Francisco dispensaries to shut their doors. An anonymous source told California Watch’s Michael Montgomery that Haag was considering suing Mendocino County, which issues licenses and collects permit inspection fees for growers of up to 99 plants under county law. There was fear that the Pack decision would suspend that program — but the feds could end it entirely.
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider its 9.31 program — so named for the section of civil code which allows it — at its meeting Tuesday.
by Anne Meyer, KWCH News CBS 12
(WICHITA, Kan.) — Medical marijuana, some patients say it’s their best medicine for pain. But opponents feel legalizing a drug will only lead to more drug abuse. Kansas lawmakers may get to decide the issue this year.
A house committee will hear testimony from patients Tuesday in Topeka about a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas.
There are times when I hurt so bad, I can’t leave the house for days at a time,” said Hutchinson resident David Mulford.
He’s lived with chronic pain from hernias and debilitating muscle spasms for more than 20 years.
“They thought I had a heart attack,” Mulford said. “It was what they called Cardio Vascular Spasmic Angina, its a muscle spasm in your aorta”
Mulford has tried numerous medications, but says marijuana oil is really the only thing that gives him relief. That is why he and other patients are testifying before lawmakers, in hopes of legalizing the drug for medical purposes.
by Matt Volz, Great Falls Tribune
HELENA — A judge has ruled that Montana’s medical marijuana law doesn’t shield providers of the drug from federal prosecution, delivering a new blow to an industry reeling from a state and federal crackdown.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Friday dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by 14 individuals and businesses that were among more than two dozen medical marijuana providers raided by federal agents last year across Montana.
The providers claimed the raids violated their constitutional rights in part because state law passed by voter initiative in 2004 allows them to grow and produce the drug for medical consumption.
Molloy wrote in his order that the providers can be prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act even if they are following state law. He cited a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause applies in medical marijuana cases.
The supremacy clause says that federal law prevails if there is any conflict between state and federal statutes.
“Whether the plaintiffs’ conduct was legal under Montana law is of little significance here, since the alleged conduct clearly violates federal law,” Molloy wrote. “We are all bound by federal law, like it or not.”
The medical marijuana providers also argued that the Justice Department had said it would not prosecute them, citing a 2009 agency memo called the Ogden Memo after its author, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden.
In that memo, Ogden wrote that federal prosecutors would not pursue “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”
Molloy wrote that Ogden’s memo was not a free pass to produce and consume marijuana, and the memo itself says complying with state law does not create a legal defense to violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
“A reasonable person, having read the entirety of the Ogden Memo, could not conclude that the federal government was somehow authorizing the production and consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” he wrote.
Carl Jensen, the Great Falls attorney representing the medical marijuana providers, said Molloy’s ruling should serve as a warning to other providers still operating in the state.
“The supremacy clause has been used by the federal government to hammer anything they want to,” Jensen said. “Absolutely, they should be concerned. If the federal government ever decides it wants to go after them, it can.”
Jensen said a decision has not been made on whether to appeal.
U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Jessica Fehr said federal prosecutors had no comment on the ruling.
The federal raids in March 2010 placed a chill over Montana’s booming medical marijuana industry, causing several providers to close down because their inventories had been seized or out from fear that their businesses would be next. Several raided providers have pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.
Lawmakers struggled last year to come up with a solution for what many people perceived to be an industry that at that time was growing too quickly and with too few rules. The final bill repealed the original voter-approved law in favor of one that aimed to dramatically curtail the for-profit medical marijuana industry.
That legislative action is currently under legal review, and will also appear on the November ballot for voters to endorse or reject.
Portions of the new law have been temporarily blocked by a state judge, but the result has been a dramatic decline in the number of medical marijuana patients and providers. There were 18,012 registered marijuana users at the end of December, compared to 31,522 at the end of May, according to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.
There were 395 registered marijuana providers at the end of December, compared to 4,650 at the end of May.
A group of lawmakers meeting Monday in Helena received an update on the ongoing developments. Many believe it will again require some sort of legislative action when lawmakers convene in 2013.
Sen. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, said the federal crackdown could mean the state has to revisit how it allows distribution of the drug under its medical marijuana law.
“Is there any value in looking at this question of how you get this medical marijuana to the patient who is legitimately sick?” Wittich said. “How do we ensure the product is available for people who are sick?”
Associated Press writer Matt Gouras contributed to this report.
With all that is happening in the world of cannabis, and California medical cannabis law and regulation I almost feel as if I am hallucinating, as the landscape continues to morph in front of my eyes. To be honest, at this very moment, I have no fucking idea what is and what it not legal for medical cannabis patients in California; and I am not sure any of us ever have.
Cities and Counties continue to alter, or even worse, suspend/ban their dispensary programs altogether because of the Pack case for the most part, citing the uncertainty of the legality of any regulation that allows, or assumes to approve, the breaking of Federal law. That is Pack in a nutshell…..Can a municipality take money for and instruct a person/organization on how they can sell medical cannabis, as it is in direct conflict with Federal law. The Pack decision decided that all a municipality could do was limit the operations and zoning, and in no way could permit or license. The Pack decision alone has sent the entire industry into a tailspin, add to that an increased and uncalled for crackdown by the Feds trying to do local zoning, and you get what we have here now; a clusterfuck of nothing meaningful and a bunch of know-it-alls attempting to wrangle in suckers who will do anything for some direction and answers.
The real truth is that at this very moment in time NOBODY HAS THE ANSWER. There is not one to be had. Medical cannabis in CA, and across the nation is in a completely different, yet sometimes paralleled, Universe. It is like a vortex of real information that is being filled with random bits of chaotic and misconstrued information from every different sector of the government, the community, and from patients and provider organizations. Not a day goes by that I do not get a bizarre phone call, tweet, message, or other form of communication about some new found way to fuck up the reality that there simply IS NO RIGHT ANSWER. That is what some refuse to admit. There is nothing more than myth, hypothesis, theory, and philosophies about what is medical cannabis laws anywhere.
The confusion and call for clarity has come to such a fevered pitch that the CA Supreme Court decided not to just review the Pack case, but also three other pending cases that deal with medical cannabis, and patients and municipalities rights vs. responsibilities. This is welcome news for medical cannabis activists because if nothing else it depublishes the Pack and Riverside cases for the time being, and like this movement/industry, or whatever it is, has always done- we have lived to fight another day. This is where the work of groups like ASA are paramount to the future of this community and medical cannabis. The other three cases deal with similar issues including the Riverside case, which seems to contradict Pack and is a bad decision for medical cannabis advocates.
So the good news is that it looks like the CA Supreme Court is going to help clarify how dispensaries/collectives/cooperatives and other medical cannabis organizations fit into the CA legal landscape…hopefully. The bad news is it could be a while, up to two years according to some; and generally pending cases at the Supreme Court will freeze a lot of decision making. This is good, since a lot of the current decision making is not going our way and we are seeing knee-jerk reactions across the state in municipalities suspending programs or banning medical cannabis altogether. So hopefully, for us, this will stop the bleeding in some areas, including the some of the State’s largest cities. It also means very little real progress is likely to take place, as many municipalities will use the waiting for this decision as reasoning to hold off on allowing for access. That is the unfortunate part. So it cuts both ways, but is most definitely a net win for the medical cannabis community IMO.
Below is ASA’s Press Release on the decision for the highest court in CA (pun intended) to hear these cases:
For Immediate Release: January 18th, 2012
California Supreme Court Grants Review of Controversial Medical Marijuana Cases
Advocates applaud decision to review Long Beach & Riverside dispensary regulation cases
Sacramento, CA — The California Supreme Court issued an order today indicating its intent to review two controversial medical marijuana cases that have resulted in the suspension of several local dispensary ordinances across the state. As a result of today’s order, Pack v. City of Long Beach and City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Ctr., Inc. have both been vacated in anticipation of the High Court’s ruling. ThePack decision held that some dispensary regulations may be preempted by federal law and the Riverside decision held that localities could legally ban distribution altogether.
“These cases were very problematic for patients and their ability to safely and legally access a medication that works for them,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “We’re very pleased that local governments will now be without the means to deny access to medical marijuana for patients in their communities, at least until or unless the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise.”
Arguing that Pack was erroneously decided, ASA along with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the County of Santa Cruz filed a brief on December 12th requesting that the California Supreme Court review the case.
Although the Pack decision, issued in October of last year, contradicted other appellate court rulings, several cities and counties across California have used it as a reason to suspend regulatory ordinances or completely ban local distribution. In its latest crackdown on medical marijuana in California, the U.S. Justice Department has even cited the Packdecision as a reason why localities should not adopt distribution licensing ordinances.
One of the cases that contradicted Pack was the Riverside ruling issued in November, which held that medical marijuana distribution was not preempted by federal law, but cities could lawfully ban it. However, now that both decisions are out of play, local governments will now have less cover with which to implement or continue such bans. “The Packdecision is a dead letter and can no longer be used to defy the implementation of state law,” continued Elford.
It will likely be at least a couple of years before the Supreme Court rules on the cases. In the meantime, advocates will be urging their local governments to adopt regulatory ordinances that establish the means by which California’s hundreds of thousands of patients can obtain a medicine that is legal under state law.
Another two medical marijuana dispensary cases, Traudt v. City of Dana Point andPeople v. G3 Holisticwere also granted review by the Supreme Court today.
Ruling in Pack v. City of Long Beach:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Pack_v_Long_Beach.pdf
Ruling in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Ctr.:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Riverside_Decision.pdf
Amicus brief urging review by the California Supreme Court:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Pack_Amicus_CSC_Review.pdf
by Paul Elias, Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — The state’s high court will attempt to clarify marijuana’s hazy legal status in California.
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday voted unanimously to review how cities and counties regulate marijuana dispensaries.
The court will address whether local governments can bar the pot shops despite voter passage of Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana use with a doctor’s recommendation.
The court also will consider the continued conflict between state and federal authorities, who don’t recognize Proposition 215. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal in all forms.
An appellate court last year struck down Long Beach’s attempt to license pot stores, ruling that the local ordinance conflicted with federal law. Another appellate court upheld Riverside’s right to close and prohibit dispensaries.
The Supreme Court has not yet scheduled oral arguments for the cases.
by Matthew Sturdevant, The Hartford Courant
States that legalized the medical use of marijuana have had a drop in deadly automobile crashes, suggesting that some people who would otherwise drive drunk and kill someone are smoking weed instead, according to research by three economists.
It’s not clear if the would-be drunken drivers are high behind the wheel with less deadly results, or if they’re simply not driving.
The research by professors at the University of Colorado-Denver, Montana State University and the University of Oregon looked at traffic deaths from 1990 to 2009 in all 50 states, including the 16 that passed medical marijuana laws.
“Legalization is associated with nearly a 9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely as a result of its impact on alcohol consumption by young adults,” the researchers said in the report, published in November.
Advocates of a medical-marijuana law could tout the study’s findings as a societal benefit of legalization. Opponents, however, could say that the study shows what they’ve argued all along — that a medical-marijuana law makes marijuana more available for recreational use.
This year is a short legislative session in Connecticut, which means that individual lawmakers may only introduce bills that have to do with budgetary matters. Other bills have to be introduced by the legislature’s judiciary committee.
“My sense is that they will raise a bill because I know there’s interest from the governor’s office in doing a medical-marijuana bill this year,” said state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, who has been a longtime supporter of allowing people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, such as relieving pain.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is a supporter of the concept of medical marijuana, said Malloy spokesman David Bednarz.
“The administration is still reviewing the legislation that he intends on introducing this year,” Bednarz said.
Substitute For Alcohol
Traffic deaths are declining, on average, throughout the nation.
The drop in fatalities after a medical-marijuana law passed was greater than the drop in the other states.
“You get a much bigger effect on accidents involving alcohol, fatal accidents involving alcohol,” said Daniel I. Rees, a co-author and an economics professor at the University of Colorado-Denver.
The study asserts that states that have medical-marijuana laws are allowing some people to access marijuana for recreational purposes, either through the system as would-be patients or illegally because of a bolstered supply of marijuana in the state after the law passes.
Some of those recreational users are drinking less.
Rees and the other researchers looked at surveys by state health departments and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that asked people about their drinking behavior.
“The legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 9 percent reduction in the mean number of drinks consumed per month by males, [and] a 12 percent reduction in the mean number of drinks consumed by females,” the researchers wrote.
The study looked at alcohol sales, too.
“What we see is beer sales go down by about 5 percent,” Rees said. “That’s just an average effect.”
“The reason we think this is really interesting is there’s no effect on the sale of spirits and there’s no effect on the sale of wine,” Rees said. “And beer, of course, is the most popular drink among young adults. So, it sort of fits in with this whole substitution story among young adults.”
It’s possible that the states that passed medical-marijuana laws have a drop in traffic deaths because law enforcement is freed up to spend more time patroling for drunken drivers. But that’s a stretch, Rees said. For one thing, a change in law enforcement’s behavior wouldn’t explain an actual drop in alcohol sales or drinking behavior.
California was the first state to pass a medical marijuana law in 1996. Since then, laws have been passed by Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state.
Arizona, Delaware, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., aren’t part of the study because those governments passed laws since 2009, the end of the 20-year period examined in the study. Additionally, Maryland passed a law in 2003 that doesn’t allow medical marijuana, but permits a person charged with a marijuana-related crime to claim medicinal use for a more lenient penalty.
In Connecticut, Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a medical-marijuana bill in 2007.
Last year, a bill had Malloy’s support. The medical-marijuana bill failed, but the legislature passed a bill that decriminalized possession of up to a half-ounce of marijuana. The decriminalization took effect July 1, 2011. Before that, possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana was punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The medical-marijuana bill that was considered last year would have allowed people with a “debilitating medical condition” to ask their doctor for certification allowing use of marijuana. People with certification could own up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to four plants no more than 4 feet tall. The certification would be good for one year, and the bill would prohibit use of medicinal marijuana in public.
“I believe medical marijuana is a compassionate and useful law for the state of Connecticut,” Bacchiochi said. “But all these studies are never what change legislators’ minds. What changes somebody’s mind on this issue is a personal experience.”
by Allen St. Pierre, Courtesy of CelebStoner.com
Defending the “medical” cannabis industry is so yesterday. Why not acknowledge the political and legal farce it is and focus on the real problem at hand: ending cannabis prohibition?
The law and court precedents are fairly clear here. Self-preservation (yes), large-scale cultivation and sales (no). It’s just this simple. The numerous actions by the Feds and state governments over the last few months make this abundantly clear:
• ATF memo (no Second Amendment rights for patients)
• Feds crackdown on banks doing business with CBCs (cannabis buyers’ clubs)
• Feds send forfeiture notices to CBC landlords
• Feds send warnings to local CBCs that they must move or shut because they’re within 1,000 feet of a federally subsidized school
• IRS 280E decision against Harborside Health Center
• Feds send shutdown notices to 25% of the CBCs in San Diego
And what more re-assertion of primacy will we get from the Feds today?
If this were the 1920s, advocacy of today’s “medical” cannabis industry would sound like a lawyer back then fronting for the legal sellers of “prescription” alcohol during Prohibition. The med-pot industry, of course, opposes actual legalization, such as last year’s Prop 19, which was also opposed by the profiteering communities in the state’s northern “grow” counties.
Prescriptive alcohol was a sham then, and the “medical” cannabis industry (not medical cannabis itself) is largely a sham now. Is this news? NORML, and lawyers like Bill Panzer, have been warning ganjapreneurs and their legal counsel at our seminars and conferences about this political and legal box canyon since at least 2002.
Cannabis consumers, who NORML represents, want good, affordable cannabis products without having to go through the insult and expense of “qualifying” as a “medical” patient by paying physicians and/or the state for some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. How intellectually honest is all of this?
NORML prefers to take a more transparent approach, advocating that cannabis should be legal for all adult consumers, including healthy ones.
Allen St. Pierre is the executive director of NORML
by Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles city attorney is calling on the City Council to implement a “gentle ban” on marijuana dispensaries that would forbid businesses from selling the drug –- but still allow patients who are seriously ill and their caregivers to cultivate it.
At a council committee meeting on Friday, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and several of his top lawyers recommended that officials revoke the current ordinance regulating marijuana dispensaries, which calls for a lottery to choose which dispensaries to allow.
In October, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled that Long Beach, which carried out a lottery similar to the one proposed in L.A., violated federal law on the grounds that the city was, in essence, sanctioning the distribution of an illegal drug.
Jane Usher, a special assistant city attorney, told the Public Safety Committee that the decision, which Long Beach has appealed to the state Supreme Court, limits what municipalities can do to control dispensaries
“They left very, very little for cities to lawfully do,” she said.Usher said L.A.’s ordinance has been challenged in more than 60 lawsuits filed by marijuana dispensaries and patients, and has cost the city millions of dollars to fight. She warned that if the city does not revoke the ordinance “it is simply a manner of time, from a risk management point of view, before we have a ruling against the city of Los Angeles on the same grounds.”
Under Trutanich’s proposal, the city would not prosecute ill patients or their caregivers who were growing marijuana, as long as there was no third party involved and no money was changing hands. The proposal will come before the full council eventually, but not before it is first heard in the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
One medical marijuana dispensary worker decried the proposal and said she and others have been trying for years to get the city to adopt a workable ordinance.
Sarah Armstrong, a medical marijuana advocate who helps run a dispensary in Reseda, said hundreds of “rogue” dispensaries that have opened up in recent years have given a bad rap to older, more responsible operations that want to follow the law and cooperate with the city. At the meeting on Friday, police officers and other city officials gave testimony about crime surrounding some dispensaries.
“We’re tired of being tarred with the same brush,” she said.
She dismissed the proposed prohibition as politically motivated — Trutanich is considering a run for Los Angeles County district attorney — and said medical marijuana activists were prepared to resort to a voter referendum to reaffirm the right to use dispensaries.
Armstrong said “there’s no such thing as a gentle ban,” since many primary caregivers don’t have the time to grow marijuana.
Greg Campbell, Yellow Scene Magazine
Ever since the Great Green Rush of 2009, which saw an unprecedented surge of medical marijuana ganjapreneurialism in Colorado, dispensary owners and commercial cannabis growers have only had to contend with state and local officials to remain in business. But now there is a far more daunting opponent on the horizon—the federal government.
While Drug Enforcement Administration raids of MMJ businesses have made headlines in Colorado from time to time, the state hasn’t seen the sort of militaristic crackdown that’s been more common in California. But, with letters of warning having been issued to 23 dispensaries across the state operating within 1,000 feet of schools, it’s on the way.
“Those 23 are just our first wave,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner is quoted as saying in the Daily Camera. “There are many more, and after we complete the first wave, there will be a second wave and then possibly a third and a fourth.”
It’s unlikely that many medical marijuana business owners are surprised at the threat. It’s well-known that even though medical marijuana is sanctioned by the state constitution—and heavily regulated by state and local ordinances—any use, distribution or possession of pot is just as illegal under federal laws as ever. Defendants in federal drug cases are rarely (if ever) allowed to invoke a medical defense when fighting marijuana cultivation and distribution charges, meaning the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence and the loss of personal property to federal asset seizure laws is a real possibility no matter how closely one hews to the state rules.
Dispensaries near schools likely represent the lowest-hanging fruit for federal agents. Sentencing enhancements for distributing or manufacturing controlled substances within 1,000 feet of schools call for twice the maximum penalty and fine upon conviction. The letter from the U.S. Attorney gives the 23 business- and property owners 45 days to move or face the music. Some dispensary owners are taking the threat seriously; the Camera reports that the Headquarters Emporium and Dispensary in Lyons is moving to a new location farther from Lyons Elementary School.
But even those that manage to get out of the crosshairs have no guarantee that they’ll be left alone. In fact, if California is any example, they can simply expect further harassment in the months and years to come. DEA raids have been a part of the cannabis culture in California since it became the first state to allow for the medical use of marijuana in 1996, capped most recently by a crackdown that began with letters of warning, just as in Colorado. Such raids don’t always result in arrests. One trend that has emerged over the years is that federal agents will simply loot medical marijuana businesses, confiscating or destroying marijuana, and seizing the cash and other assets. That leaves the owners at the bottom of a steep financial hill if they want to start over, and their patients without a legitimate source of medicine.
Even without interference from the feds, dispensary owners in Colorado have their hands full on the local level. One of the more onerous aspects of a state law adopted to regulate the industry in 2010 is a provision that allows local municipalities to ban the businesses entirely. That happened recently in Fort Collins, where citizens petitioned a measure onto November’s ballot to close down that city’s 20-some dispensaries, which had already navigated a complex framework of compliance put into place by the City Council. The measure passed and the businesses have until Feb. 14 to close shop, although there may be a legal challenge in the works. Forty-four cities and 30 counties in Colorado have banned such businesses, either through vote or ordinance.
Still, there are more than 700 dispensaries in Colorado and more than 30 in Boulder alone. Erie, Superior and Longmont have all prohibited such businesses.
Courtesy of the Associated Press
Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn’t harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn’t do the kind of damage tobacco does.
The results, from one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, are hazier for heavy users – those who smoke two or more joints daily for several years. The data suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there weren’t enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.
Still, the authors recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”
Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law although some states allow its use for medical purposes.
The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings echo results in some smaller studies that showed while marijuana contains some of the same toxic chemicals as tobacco, it does not carry the same risks for lung disease.
It’s not clear why that is so, but it’s possible that the main active ingredient in marijuana, a chemical known as THC, makes the difference. THC causes the “high” that users feel. It also helps fight inflammation and may counteract the effects of more irritating chemicals in the drug, said Dr. Donald Tashkin, a marijuana researcher and an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tashkin was not involved in the new study.
Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said there are other aspects of marijuana that may help explain the results.
Unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana users tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. But the common lung function tests used in the study require the same kind of deep breathing that marijuana smokers are used to, so their good test results might partly reflect lots of practice, said Kertesz, a drug abuse researcher and preventive medicine specialist at the Alabama university.
The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. Their analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, Calif., and Minneapolis. Roughly equal numbers of blacks and whites took part, but no other minorities. Participants were periodically asked about recent marijuana or cigarette use and had several lung function tests during the study.
Overall, about 37 percent reported at least occasional marijuana use, and most users also reported having smoked cigarettes; 17 percent of participants said they’d smoked cigarettes but not marijuana. Those results are similar to national estimates.
On average, cigarette users smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month – typical for U.S. marijuana users, Kertesz said.
The authors calculated the effects of tobacco and marijuana separately, both in people who used only one or the other, and in people who used both. They also considered other factors that could influence lung function, including air pollution in cities studied.
The analyses showed pot didn’t appear to harm lung function, but cigarettes did. Cigarette smokers’ test scores worsened steadily during the study. Smoking marijuana as often as one joint daily for seven years, or one joint weekly for 20 years was not linked with worse scores. Very few study participants smoked more often than that.
Like cigarette smokers, marijuana users can develop throat irritation and coughs, but the study didn’t focus on those. It also didn’t examine lung cancer, but other studies haven’t found any definitive link between marijuana use and cancer.
by Geoff Mulvill, The Associated Press
More and more states are saying yes to medical marijuana. But local governments are increasingly using their laws to keep dispensaries out.
In California, nearly 200 city and county governments have banned marijuana dispensaries over the past eight years.
And in New Jersey, half of the six groups selected by the state to cultivate and sell pot to patients have been rejected by the towns where they’ve tried to set up shop. Only one has announced zoning approvals so far.
Some medical-marijuana advocates say locking dispensaries out of communities is going to hurt desperately ill patients.
Seventeen states allow sick people to obtain marijuana to treat symptoms such as nausea and pain.
by Nigel Duara, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Getting to where he is now required Paul Stanford to step on some toes and edge out some competitors. This is where Stanford is distinguished from others in the medical marijuana game.
He regards it as a business.
Other medical marijuana providers are competitors.
Marijuana cards are his supply, and he is operating in a nearly free market system.
But the people behind the medical marijuana movement don’t see it as a business. It’s medicine, they say, and Stanford is abusing the product.
Sandee Burbank, executive director of the pro-medical marijuana group Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse and one of the original supporters of the medical marijuana law, says Stanford’s business defies the medicinal intent of the law and is concerned less with getting sick people their medicine than getting people who want weed their drug.
“This guy’s been operating (as a commercial enterprise) for two or three decades,” said Burbank. “I do know from patients that have come to us, they were delighted to have the extra information we gave them, which they obviously had not learned at (Stanford’s foundation).”
Stanford dismisses Burbank as a scorned competitor who couldn’t keep up —Stanford’s organization grew quickly, a startup business in a field of untapped resources, while Burbank’s patient-focused practice has remained more akin to a clinic.
Stanford also says she owes him a debt of less than $1,000 that he said he’s tried to collect from her for years. Stanford said Burbank demanded money for a media campaign and then was unwilling to repay it; Burbank denies it.
Stanford expanded his marijuana-certification empire beyond Oregon’s borders, to Michigan, Montana, Colorado. Each time a state Legislature approves medical marijuana, it’s a safe bet that Stanford will be there.
Bruce McKinney, an investor and former Microsoft programmer, would warn them to be wary. McKinney made millions in the Seattle tech market and began to donate some of it to marijuana activists. One of them was a bright upstart named Paul Stanford.
Based on a friend’s referral and an article in a Seattle newspaper, McKinney gave Stanford a loan in 1999.
Then, he gave him another one.
By 2000, McKinney realized Stanford wasn’t planning to pay him back.
What followed was a series of suits for more than $38,000. McKinney tried to seize Stanford’s house, his car — anything — to no avail. He has now resigned to the fact that he’ll likely never see the money.
“Paul doesn’t cheat his enemies,” McKinney said in an email. “He cheats his friends.”
Stanford replies that McKinney, and indeed almost anyone who has challenged him in court, is envious of his success and bitter about missing the chance to join him. He says he couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer to contest the suits and still can’t afford to pay McKinney back.
The IRS has no fewer than three judgments against Stanford, the largest of which was for $200,751 on Feb. 23, 2009. Stanford refused to comment on the judgment other than to say that he’s on a payment plan.
The state of Oregon, meanwhile, has filed more than $33,000 in tax liens against him, which Stanford said he’s close to paying back.
That does not mean he is repentant. In fact, he blames what he says is a campaign against him that originates in the state’s highest offices.
Let him riff, and he’ll explain: The governor thinks he’s a threat to force the legalization of marijuana in the state. Aided by the Oregon attorney general and the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, the state is trying to put him out of business and in prison.
None of this can be substantiated, of course. But the persecution narrative plays well with the medical marijuana crowd and gives his celebrity a veneer of martyrdom.
Stanford thinks the measure of celebrity he enjoys in the Portland area is a major reason behind his prosecution. He’s been featured weekly on a marijuana-friendly cable access show since 1996, he’s got his famous pothead friends and he’s a go-to quote for newspapers writing about medical marijuana.
Stanford says medicinal use isn’t his only interest in marijuana and hemp cultivation. Stanford thinks hemp seed oil can power our cars and hemp paper can save whole forests.
For now, most of his publicity comes from his push for legalization. On July 13, an $11,000 donation was delivered to the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 coffers.
The source? Stanford himself, from a separate campaign account.
Unfortunately, the check bounced.
“Cash-flow difficulty,” he said.
“So far, I have made over 98 percent of money raised and spent” in support of the initiative, he said. “I’m a believer. I am trying to get others to donate, too.”
It would seem that the legalization of marijuana in Oregon would kill Stanford’s business.
But a grow house in southeast Portland, providing for many patients and owned by Stanford, tells a different story.
Inside are rows upon rows of towering marijuana plants, organized by strain, standing stock-still at attention like a well-trained rifle brigade. There’s White Widow, AK-47 and Strawberry Cough, all cultivated by Stanford’s expert hand, all ready for the possibility that marijuana is legalized in Oregon.
It’s all legal now, each set of plants dedicated to a person who is entitled to get it. And if Stanford, medical-marijuana activist, gets legal weed to pass at the ballot box, this grow house could be one of the epicenters of marijuana production in the city, and perhaps the state.
And Paul Stanford, as always, would stand at the head of the pack.
DA Matt Abel
by Bill Laitner, The Detroit Free Press
Narrowing access to medical marijuana is leading Michigan’s registered patients, supporters and lawyers to a new strategy: a campaign to gain limited legalization of marijuana in Michigan for all uses.
Access to the drug has tightened as doctors increasingly refuse to sign the state forms to approve the drug, patients said. In addition, dozens of communities — including Birmingham and Livonia — are enforcing total bans on the drug, and dispensaries that once openly sold it have been raided and shut down by police.
Detroit attorney Matt Abel, a state-registered user, is a chief organizer of the petition campaign that is to start Wednesday — the first day when signatures can be gathered within the 180-day period allowed before the July 9 filing deadline, Abel said. The goal is to be on the statewide November ballot with a proposal allowing Michiganders 21 and older to possess small amounts of marijuana, he said.
“It would be for religious, medical and personal use, industrial use and agricultural use — we’re putting all that right in the wording,” said Abel, 53, of Detroit.
In 2008, Michigan voters passed the state act to allow medical marijuana use with 63% yes votes. Law enforcement authorities, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, said the state’s medical marijuana act has been widely abused and used as cover for drug dealers. If a ballot proposal passes for limited legalization of marijuana, prosecutors and police said the drug would still be illegal in Michigan under federal laws.
Still, proponents of the ballot proposal said state and local courts could not prosecute small-time marijuana users if their proposal passes. The state act allowing medical marijuana “doesn’t legalize marijuana, it creates an exception to illegality — but a constitutional amendment would be a stronger protection for the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise,” attorney and Royal Oak City Commissioner Jim Rasor said.
The campaign for legalization “is a direct result of … Schuette and his obsession with destroying the medical marijuana act,” said marijuana activist Tim Beck, owner of a Detroit-based health care benefits firm.
“People are getting desperate and saying, ‘We have to push ahead and get public opinion on our side,’ ” said Beck, 60, of Detroit, who in 2006 helped draft Michigan’s medical marijuana act.
Access to medical marijuana has been squeezed as the number of doctors who approve the drug dwindle, patients said.
In a Nov. 29 letter to patients, infectious disease specialist Dr. Charles Craig at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti wrote:
“The Michigan Attorney General has declared the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act to be illegal (and) instructed law enforcement officials in Michigan to arrest anyone possessing marijuana, even if they have a card.
“If I prescribed medical marijuana for you … I might be construed as being complicit in encouraging criminal behavior for prescribing what the AG has declared to be an illegal substance.”
Craig declined to be interviewed. One of his patients — Steven Greene, 46, of Lyon Township — said he must find another doctor before his state registry card expires May 1.
“I’ve been seeing Dr. Craig for 10 years, and he’s been signing my certificate (for medical marijuana approval) for three years now” for a chronic infectious condition, Greene said.
The concerns of Michigan doctors were triggered in June, when Schuette issued an opinion in which he said:
“The possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even if it is possessed for medicinal purposes in accordance with the state law.” Schuette declined repeated requests in the last two months for interviews on marijuana.
Other Michigan doctors also are retreating from signing medical marijuana forms, leading to more demand for approvals by doctors working in offices that do nothing but approve medical marijuana users, said Michael Komorn, a Southfield lawyer who handles medical marijuana cases.
“We’re hearing this from a number of patients, but their doctors don’t want to talk about it,” Komorn said.
Access to the drug further narrowed in December, when an Oakland County circuit judge ruled against a lawsuit by a Birmingham couple.
The couple — she has multiple sclerosis, he has other ailments — hoped to overturn bans on medical marijuana in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Livonia. More than 60 communities, counties and other government entities in Michigan have passed zoning ordinances that restrict or ban medical marijuana, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Access also tightened after a state Appeals Court decision in 2010 ruled as illegal some sales of medical marijuana at dispensaries, which supplied the drug to state-registered users.
The ruling prompted Schuette to declare that all dispensaries were illegal, and it unleashed a fresh round of police raids to close dispensaries.
The shrinking pool of cooperating doctors is one of many reasons that Michigan voters should support limited legalization of the drug, said Rick Thompson, editor of the Chesterfield Township-based Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine.
“We’re seeing all kinds of ways that the authorities want to confuse the voters and contradict the intent of the state law, which was to provide safe use of this drug that has proven medicinal purposes,” Thompson said.
Contact Bill Laitner: 586-826-7264 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More Details: Marijuana symposium at Wayne State University
The “National and State Marijuana Reform — Social, Economic, Health and Legal Implications” symposium is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 27 at Wayne State University Law School’s Spencer Partrich Auditorium.
The keynote speaker is former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. Other speakers include WSU professors of law and pharmacy, prominent Detroit-area attorneys involved with legalization efforts and speakers from nonprofit groups that favor legalization.
The event is open to the public. To register, call 313-577-8032.