Tag Archives: Medical cannabis

New Research: CBC Cannabinoid Sparks Brain Cell Growth

This is just another in a long line of studies that invalidate the arguments that the mind control propagandists have used to put fear in people about drugs in general and Cannabis in particular.
They’re going down hard. (E)

Advertisements

Federal: Bipartisan Coalition of Lawmakers Introduce ‘Respect State Marijuana Laws Act’

The Less Federal interference the better (E)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Federal: Bipartisan Coalition of Lawmakers Introduce 'Respect State Marijuana Laws Act'United States Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with a bipartisan coalition of three Republicans (Reps. Rohrabacher, Rep. Justin Amash [R-MI], and Don Young [R-AK]) and three Democrats (Reps. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR], Steve Cohen [D-TN] and Jared Polis [D-CO]) are sponsoring House Bill 1523: the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act.

This measure seeks to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to exempt from federal prosecution individuals and businesses, including marijuana dispensaries and/or retail outlets, who comply with state marijuana laws.

“This bipartisan bill represents a common-sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws,” Rohrabacher said in a prepared statement, “It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”

You can write to Congress in support of HR 1523 using a pre-written letter when you visit NORML‘s ‘Take Action Center’ here:

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10475

Sincerely,
The NORML Team.

 

 


Cannabis Heals-And The Government Knows It!

Jack Herer

Jack Herer

The Truth About Hemp

(regardless of what this lying government says) 

In 1974, Virginia Medical College in Richmond, Virginia did research on tumors of the lung, brain, liver and kidney using mice and rats. Incredible things were done. The cancer stopped growing and in most cases even reversed itself 100 percent. Some of the mice who were given cancer and treated with cannabis actually lived longer than some of the control mice who were not even given cancer! It was found that marijuana is the best thing to treat cancer of the lungs, brain, etc. After that they were stopped from doing any more research at all, by first Nixon and then Ford. No research with positive results could be done, only research with negative results. That’s the way it’s been since 1975 until now, even though a 1999 marijuana study turned out to be positive also.

Jack Herer, Ah-ha Publishing, Austin, Texas, June 2011, pp. 71

Thanks to my friend Henry Garcia who writes a regular heath newsletter called “Divine Life”. Let me know if you are interested and I will give you contact info.

E

`
`
`
`

~

~


Patient advocates appeal federal decision to deny medical cannabis to millions of Americans

Friday, August 12, 2011 by: Kris Hermes

(NaturalNews) Last month, after patient advocates had filed a lawsuit to compel the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify cannabis (medical marijuana), it begrudgingly complied. The government’s answer to the petition filed in 2002 by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) was, of course, “denied.” The Obama Administration has made its position clear, however wrongheaded, that cannabis is a dangerous drug with no medical value. While disappointing, the decision to ignore the science and keep a worn-out, decades-old position merely maintains the status quo.

The opportunity in the CRC petition denial, however, is that patient advocates have stymied the federal government’s strategy of delay. With this official denial, patients, doctors, scientists, advocates, and elected officials can now appeal to correct a harmful public health policy that would deny medical cannabis to millions of Americans who could benefit from it. Less than two weeks after the denial was posted to the Federal Register ,Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s largest medical cannabis advocacy group and one of the original petitioners (as part of the CRC), did just that. ASA filed a notice of appeal in the D.C. Circuit on July 21st and will file its opening brief within the next couple of months.

Now the issue heats up in federal court. The D.C. Circuit will be asked to review the evidence and make a determination on whether cannabis should remain in Schedule I, the highest category of controlled substances. Because this issue is so political and because so much money rides on the aggressive enforcement of federal marijuana laws, the Obama Administration has been put in the difficult position of defending an indefensible policy. The evidence behind the therapeutic value of cannabis, whether clinical or anecdotal, is overwhelming. It was overwhelming in 2002, when the CRC petition was filed, and it’s more overwhelming today.

“By ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence that shows the medical efficacy of cannabis, the Obama Administration is playing politics at the expense of sick and dying Americans,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed appeal. “For the first time in more than 15 years we will be able to present evidence in court to challenge the government’s flawed position on cannabis.”

Patient advocates argue that by failing to reclassify cannabis, the federal government has stifled meaningful research into a wide array of therapeutic uses, such as pain relief, appetite stimulation, nausea suppression, and spasticity control among many others. In 1988, the DEA ignored the ruling of its own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young who said that, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Since the CRC petition was filed, an even greater number of studies have been published showing the medical benefits of cannabis for illnesses such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Recent studies even show that cannabis may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Earlier this year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Servicesadded cannabis to its list of Complementary Alternative Medicines, pointing out that it’s been used therapeutically for millennia.

Ironically, less than a year ago, in December 2010 the Obama Administration issued a memorandumon “the preservation and promotion of scientific integrity” of the executive branch. Yet, the application of such integrity appears to be applied selectively and not with regard to cannabis. “With science on our side, we will put an end to the government’s political posturing,” continued Elford, “and force the Obama Administration to adhere to its own stated policy of emphasizing science over politics.”

When the latest petition was filed by the CRC in 2002, eight states had adopted laws recognizing and decriminalizing the medical use of cannabis. Today, sixteen states and the nation’s capitol have passed medical cannabis laws with many more states considering similar legislative proposals.

About the author:
Kris Hermes
Media Specialist
Americans for Safe Access
www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org
Original Article:
http://www.naturalnews.com/033302_medical_cannabis_DEA.html#ixzz1UunnqX8X


Cannabis Saves Baby’s Life

Medical Marijuana Saves Baby’s Life

PHOTO: Mike Hyde and his son.
ABC News reported:
Doctors said two-year-old Cash Hyde would likely die after they found a stage 4 brain tumor surrounding his optic nerve just a year ago this week. And he nearly did. After being subjected to seven different chemotherapy drugs, the little boy from Missoula, Montana suffered septic shock, a stroke and pulmonary hemorrhaging.
Cash was so sick he went 40 days without eating. His organs were threatening to shut down. His father, Mike Hyde, intervened, slipping cannabis oil into his son’s feeding tube. Cash, now three, made a miraculous recovery at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, but his father’s bold action—taken behind the doctors’ backs—has raised serious questions about a parent’s role in medical treatment.
He was given the highest possible doses of chemotherapy for two months. He lost his appetite and threw up eight to 10 times a day. “When he started the chemo, he was so sick,” said Hyde. “For the first six weeks, he was blind. But his tumor was shrinking… It’s the nastiest thing to see someone you love go through this.”
By September, Cash had not been eating for 40 days. “He was suffering terribly, and the doctors said it was the best they could do for him,” said Hyde, who asked doctors to stop the chemotherapy drugs. Instead, Hyde boiled up marijuana he had purchased in Montana with olive oil and measured 3 mm doses that he poured into his son’s G-tube twice a day. “Not only was it helpful, it was a godsend. In two weeks he was weaned of all the nausea drugs, and he was eating again and sitting up in and laughing,” according to Hyde, who said doctors called his son’s recovery “a miracle.”
There is no surprise in the above clinical picture. Doctors, medical officials and the American federal government have got to be kidding themselves and everyone else with their negative and closed-minded attitudes toward medical marijuana. Though medical marijuana laws are being passed in state after state, oncologists prefer to remain stupid about how it can be used for cancer patients.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active
component of marijuana, induces human glioma
cell death through stimulation of autophagy.
[1],[2]
On the federal level the government and even the president prefer to remain cruel and hateful about marijuana—so much so that they would rather see the entire country destroyed by the war against drugs than show any consideration or empathy toward the plight of cancer sufferers and their need for safe, low-cost and effective cancer treatments. The violence in Mexico is an example of how such a war can destroy a country from within.
Cannabis (THC) can be found in
the prescription drug Marinol.
Combining the two most common cannabinoid compounds in cannabis boosts the effectiveness of treatments to inhibit the growth of brain cancer cells and increase the number of those cells that die off. Researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) combined the non-psychoactive cannabis compound, cannabidiol (CBD), with Δ9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the primary psychoactive active ingredient in cannabis. They found the combination boosts the inhibitory effects of Δ9-THC on glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor and the cancer that claimed the life of Sen. Ted Kennedy last year.[3]
Is it really wise to treat children and adults with chemical poisons (chemotherapy) or radiation? Aren’t we already getting enough radiation exposure today thanks to the nuclear power industry (Fukushima)? Radiological departments need to dramatically reduce their use of radiation for diagnostic purposes and preferably eliminate its use for the treatment of cancer.
Today more than ever before we need a new paradigm for allopathic medicine! Since we cannot get rid of the field of contemporary medicine it needs to be reformed from the inside out and the only way to do that is to get into the underlying structure of its principles and practices and change them on a foundational level.
To be honest we know that this is as impossible as bringing Fukushima under control. It really is too much to expect doctors, especially pediatric oncologists, to understand that in an age of toxicity where patients are being heavily exposed to heavy metals, chemicals and radioactive particles, the last thing they need is exposure to more of the same via medical treatments and diagnostic procedures.
Dr. Linda Granowetter, a professor of pediatrics at New York University and chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, told ABC News that Hyde’s intervention was “fascinating” but “somewhat bothersome. I think that the fact that he didn’t have the rapport and ability to be honest with the doctor is very troubling. Care is impeded when there is not complete trust.”
That this doctor actually believes what she is saying shows how impossible the situation is. How any doctor today could possibly believe that they merit such trust is beyond comprehension. Today doctors, especially pediatricians, are highly skilled in taking advantage of or abusing parents’ vulnerabilities and their fears about the medical treatment their children receive.
Thankfully the laws of natural selection are going to work their magic against such doctors and their treatments, for no one, including the government, is going to be able to afford them. Like big fat dangerous dinosaurs they will be crushed under the weight of the coming economic collapse.
Any doctor today who cannot grasp the reality that we are living in an age of toxicity full of poisonous chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive particles is a charlatan and a danger to society. It is a very bad situation that has just recently, and in the space of a very short period of time, gotten much worse.
Oncologists would rather have little kids like Cash
die then have them take THC for their cancer.
Contemporary medicine is committing a form of mass suicide by not responding to the need to reduce people’s exposure to chemicals, radiation and heavy metals rather than adding to that exposure. Hopefully, a new medicine and a new field of dentistry will embrace as its most fundamental principle a reduction of exposure to poisons as a holy medical principle.
Dr. Granowetter was quoted as saying, “We know from research that 30 to 60 percent of parents with children are giving them alternative meds like vitamins, shark tooth and herbs from Chinatown. That’s why we spend a lot of time asking parents what else they are giving kids and trying to be non-judgmental and work with them and guide them.” She said most pediatric oncologists are “open-minded” about alternative treatments.
I wonder who Granowetter thinks she is kidding with the mention of shark teeth and herbs from Chinatown. Did she mean shark cartilage? I have never heard of an open-minded pediatrician, have you? If you want to test them try speaking about your reasons to not vaccinate or try refusing chemo or radiation therapy once it has been indicated.
A boy with 11 tumors, who was sent home to die, survives
after his grandparents’ alternative therapy treatments.
I get sick every time I hear a story of how oncologists have called in the police to force parents to treat their children with chemo and radiation therapy. It really is too bad that there is no one we can call to get rid of such doctors and institutions that support them with fascist fervor. Instead of Ghostbusters we need a group to bust up the field of pediatric oncology. The arrogance of pediatricians will continue to reverberate through our race consciousness as children are killed and families are ruined because of their brainless beliefs and practices.
Special Note: Please note in the story on ABC News that Mike Hyde made his own hemp oil. Rick Simpson, who continues to be a rock of integrity about the use of hemp oil for the cure of cancer, warns people to make it themselves because the quality of purchased oil is highly questionable. Simpson said:
“That’s the reason I tell the public it’s best to produce your own oil at this time, until we have some standards in place. If you produce the oil yourself, at least then you know you have the real thing and to a dying patient, the proper oil can mean the difference between life and death.
“The public must realize that all hemp is not created equal, the medicinal qualities from strain to strain can vary a great deal so the proper strains must be used. Also low-grade strains and clippings may produce a decent treatment for some skin conditions. But if you are trying to treat someone with a serious condition like cancer, low-grade oils just don’t cut it, only the best will do.
“These are trying times for us all, but soon things will settle down and the public will have their medicine. It’s just a matter of time now, for there is no way for the system to stop the truth from spreading. Properly produced hemp oil is the greatest medicine on this earth, and soon hemp will again take its rightful place in mainstream medicinal use.”
Dr. Mark Allan Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P)
Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine
http://publications.imva.info
http://blog.imva.info

Recent Research on Medical Marijuana

Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids
A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 — 2011

 

Despite the ongoing political debate regarding the legality of medicinal marijuana, clinical investigations of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids are now more prevalent than at any time in history.

For example, in February 2010 investigators at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research publicly announced thefindings of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials on the medical utility of inhaled cannabis. The studies, which utilized the so-called ‘gold standard’ FDA clinical trail design, concluded that marijuana ought to be a “first line treatment” for patients with neuropathy and other serious illnesses.

Among the studies conducted by the Center, four assessed smoked marijuana’s ability to alleviate neuropathic pain, a notoriously difficult to treat type of nerve-pain associated with cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injury, and many other debilitating conditions. Each of the trials found that cannabis consistently reduced patients’ pain levels to a degree that was as good or better than currently available medications.

Another study conducted by the Center’s investigators assessed the use of marijuana as a treatment for patients suffering frommultiple sclerosis. That study determined that “smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing spasticity and pain in patients with MS, and provided some benefit beyond currently prescribed treatments.”

Around the globe similarly controlled trials are also taking place. A 2010 review by researchers in Germany reports that since 2005 there have been 37 controlled studies assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana and its naturally occurring compounds, involved a total of 2,563 subjects. By contrast, most FDA-approved drugs go through far fewer trials involving far fewer subjects.

While much of the renewed interest in cannabinoid therapeutics is a result of the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system (which we describe in detail later in this booklet), some of this increased attention is also due to the growing body of testimonials from medicinal cannabis patients and their physicians. Nevertheless, despite this influx of anecdotal reports, much of the modern investigation of medicinal cannabis remains limited to preclinical (animal) studies of individual cannabinoids (e.g. THC or cannabidiol) and/or synthetic cannabinoid agonists (e.g., dronabinol or WIN 55,212-2) rather than clinical trial investigations involving whole plant material. Predictably, because of the US government’s strong public policy stance against any use of cannabis, the bulk of this modern cannabinoid research is taking place outside the United States.

As clinical research into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids has proliferated – there are now an estimated 20,000 published papers in the scientific literature analyzing marijuana and its constituents — so too has investigators’ understanding of cannabis’ remarkable capability to combat disease. Whereas researchers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s primarily assessed cannabis’ ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms — such as the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy — scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids tomodify disease.

Of particular interest, scientists are investigating cannabinoids’ capacity to moderate autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis,rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as their role in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease.) In fact, in 2009 the American Medical Association (AMA) resolved for the first time in the organization’s history “that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.”

Investigators are also studying the anti-cancer activities of cannabis, as a growing body of preclinical and clinical data concludes that cannabinoids can reduce the spread of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (programmed cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Arguably, these latter trends represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago.

THE SAFETY PROFILE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS

Cannabinoids have a remarkable safety record, particularly when compared to other therapeutically active substances. Most significantly, the consumption of marijuana – regardless of quantity or potency — cannot induce a fatal overdose. According to a 1995 review prepared for the World Health Organization, “There are no recorded cases of overdose fatalities attributed to cannabis, and the estimated lethal dose for humans extrapolated from animal studies is so high that it cannot be achieved by … users.”

In 2008, investigators at McGill University Health Centre and McGill University in Montreal and the University of British Columbia in Vancouverreviewed 23 clinical investigations of medicinal cannabinoid drugs (typically oral THC or liquid cannabis extracts) and eight observational studies conducted between 1966 and 2007. Investigators “did not find a higher incidence rate of serious adverse events associated with medical cannabinoid use” compared to non-using controls over these four decades.

That said, cannabis should not necessarily be viewed as a ‘harmless’ substance. Its active constituents may produce a variety of physiological and euphoric effects. As a result, there may be some populations that are susceptible to increased risks from the use of cannabis, such asadolescentspregnant or nursing mothers, and patients who have a family history of mental illness. Patients with Hepatitis C, decreased lung function (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or who have a history of heart disease or stroke may also be at a greater risk of experiencing adverse side effects from marijuana. As with any medication, patients should consult thoroughly with their physician before deciding whether the medicinal use of cannabis is safe and appropriate.

HOW TO USE THIS REPORT

As states continue to approve legislation enabling the physician-supervised use of medicinal marijuana, more patients with varying disease types are exploring the use of therapeutic cannabis. Many of these patients and their physicians are now discussing this issue for the first time, and are seeking guidance on whether the therapeutic use of cannabis may or may not be advisable. This report seeks to provide this guidance by summarizing the most recently published scientific research (2000-2010) on the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids for 19 clinical indications:

Alzheimer’s disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Chronic Pain
Diabetes mellitus
Dystonia
Fibromyalgia
Gastrointestinal disorders
Gliomas
Hepatitis C
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Hypertension
Incontinence
Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA)
Multiple sclerosis
Osteoporosis
Pruritus
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sleep apnea
Tourette’s syndrome

In some of these cases, modern science is now affirming longtime anecdotal reports of medicinal cannabis users (e.g., the use of cannabis to alleviate GI disorders). In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids (e.g., the use of cannabinoids to modify the progression of diabetes.)

The conditions profiled in this report were chosen because patients frequently inquire about the therapeutic use of cannabis to treat these disorders. In addition, many of the indications included in this report may be moderated by cannabis therapy. In several cases, preclinical data and clinical data indicate that cannabinoids may halt the progression of these diseases in a more efficacious manner than available pharmaceuticals.

For patients and their physicians, let this report serve as a primer for those who are considering using or recommending medicinal cannabis. For others, let this report serve as an introduction to the broad range of emerging clinical applications for cannabis and its various compounds.

Paul Armentano
Deputy Director
NORML | NORML Foundation
Washington, DC
January 7, 2011

* The author would like to acknowledge Drs. Dale Gieringer, Dustin Sulak, Gregory Carter, Steven Karch, and Mitch Earleywine, as well as Bernard Ellis, MPH, former NORML interns John Lucy, Christopher Rasmussen, and Rita Bowles, for providing research assistance for this report. The NORML Foundation would also like to acknowledge Dale Gieringer, Paul Kuhn, and Richard Wolfe for their financial contributions toward the publication of this report.

** Important and timely publications such as this are only made possible when concerned citizens become involved with NORML. For more information on joining NORML or making a donation, please visit: http://www.norml.org/join. Tax-deductible donations in support of NORML’s public education campaigns should be made payable to the NORML Foundation.


‘Gold Standard’ Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective

State-Funded Clinical Trials Show Cannabis Eases Neuropathic Pain And Spasticity, Landmark Report Says

February 18, 2010 – Sacramento, CA, USA

Sacramento, CA: The results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled marijuana consistently show that cannabis holds therapeutic value comparable to conventional medications, according to the findings of a 24-page report issued Wednesday to the California state legislature by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).

Four of the five placebo-controlled trials demonstrated that marijuana significantly alleviated neuropathy, a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage.

“There is good evidence now that cannabinoids (the active compounds in the marijuana plant) may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment for … neuropathy,” said Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the CMCR, at a news conference at the state Capitol. He added that the efficacy of smoked marijuana was “very consistent,” and that its pain-relieving effects were “comparable to the better existing treatments” presently available by prescription.

A fifth study showed that smoked cannabis reduced the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. A separate study conducted by the CMCR established that the vaporization of cannabis – a process that heats the substance to a temperature where active cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – is a “safe and effective” delivery mode for patients who desire the rapid onset of action associated with inhalation while avoiding the respiratory risks of smoking.

Two additional clinical trials remain ongoing.

The CMCR program was founded in 2000 following an $8.7 million appropriation from the California state legislature. The studies are some of the first placebo-controlled clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis as a medicine to take place in over two decades.

Placebo-controlled clinical crossover trials are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ method for assessing the efficacy of drugs under the US FDA-approval process.

“These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs,” said former California Senator John Vasconcellos, who sponsored the legislation in 1999 to launch the CMCR. Vasconcellos called the studies’ design “state of art,” and suggested that the CMCR’s findings “ought to settle the issue” of whether or not medical marijuana is a safe and effective medical treatment for patients.

“This (report) confirms all of the anecdotal evidence – how lives have been saved and pain has been eased,” said California Democrat Sen. Mark Leno at the press conference. “Now we have the science to prove it.”

Full text of the CMCR’s report to the California legislature is available at online at: http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/CMCR_REPORT_FEB17.pdf.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org, or Dale Gieringer, California NORML Coordinator, at:http://www.canorml.org or (415) 563-5858.

updated: Feb 18, 2010



NORML: Give Thanks And Praises!

We do not celebrate Dec. 25th as any kind of special day for reasons I would be glad to elaborate upon for anyone who cares to ask. That said I wanted to include this letter since Allen St. Pierre speaks to a number of things that will offer hope and encouragement to those who were disappointed by the loss of Prop 19 in California in the November elections. (Ed)

December 24, 2010

Dear NORML Members and Supporters,

Social change doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen. This is the message we took away from the November 2010 election, an election that will influence NORML’s work in 2011 and beyond.

California Legalization Initiative: Prop. 19
I’m sure that by now you know the news. Forty-seven percent of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 19, which made the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis lawful for adults. No legalization initiative in any state has ever received so much voter support, nor has any effort generated such positive national discourse. In fact, by the end of the campaign even our staunchest opponents had to concede that America’s present criminal prohibition is an unequivocal failure. They recognize that the question is no longer, ‘Should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’ but, ‘How should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’ This marks a monumental shift in the public and political debate over marijuana policy.

But that’s not all. Let us remember one of the tangible and significant victories of the campaign: The signing into law of Senate Bill 1449 reducing the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a noncriminal infraction, punishable by a $100 fine—no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record. Passage of this law, which arguably would not have happened if it were not for advocates’ stepped up lobbying efforts regarding Prop. 19, will spare tens of thousands of Californians from criminal prosecution in 2011 and beyond.

Am I disappointed we failed to gain the support of 50 percent of California’s electorate?

Of course.

But I am proud of the progress we made, and of the broad coalition of political and civil rights organizations who endorsed our efforts, including the California NAACP, The Latino Voters League, the SEIU (one of America’s largest unions), and the Black Police Officers Association. That is why I remain confident that we can – and will – bring about the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults in California in 2012, and that is why I believe that we can extend these same freedoms to the citizens of other states in the years to follow.

Elections Matter; Threats Ahead
Yet when I view the ever-changing political landscape nationwide, I recognize there are many significant hurdles before us. This fall’s resurgence of Republican-elected officials in both Washington, DC, and throughout the nation threatens to undermine many of our recent gains. As I write to you today, U.S. Senators are in the process of confirming Michele Leonhart – who has ordered more than thirty raids of state-sanctioned medical marijuana providers – to head the Drug Enforcement Administration, and House members are likely to promote Texas Republican Lamar Smith – arguably the most reefer-mad member of the U.S. Congress – to head the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

At the statewide level, New Mexico’s newly elected Gov. Susan Martinez has threatened to repeal the state’s three-year-old medical cannabis law, which so far has licensed 17 dispensaries to produce and provide marijuana to nearly 3,000 authorized patients. In Michigan, incoming Attorney General Bill Schuette has also pledged to roll back the state’s popular medical cannabis law, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2008. And in Montana, lawmakers are planning an all assault upon the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law, despite its passage with over 60 percent of the vote.

Drug warriors are emboldened by the statewide initiative defeats of medical cannabis proposals in Oregon (regarding the regulation of state-licensed dispensaries) and South Dakota (regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes), and advocates’ razor thin margin of victory in Arizona (which became the fifteenth state to authorize the medical use of marijuana since 1996), but NORML remains unbowed. We will continue to forge ahead with our push for full legalization in states like Colorado, Washington, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Rest assured, we have not lost our momentum, and we do not intend to let our opponents roll back even one of the many statewide victories that we – and all of you – have worked so hard to achieve.

“What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger”
In fact, according to the most recent Gallup national public opinion poll, momentum in favor of adult legalization and regulation has never been stronger. According to the October survey, a record 46 percent of voters nationwide now support making marijuana legal, and only 50 percent support prohibition (an all-time low.) To put these percentages in proper perspective, consider this. A decade ago, fewer than 30 percent of Americans said that they backed ending cannabis prohibition and a whopping 70 percent supported it.

This is why our opponents are running scared, and it is why they have targeted 2011 as the year they strike back. They have no other choice. They are aware, just as we are, that public opinion is moving exponentially in favor of marijuana law reform, and that this trend shows no signs of abating. We may have lost a battle in November, but we are clearly winning the war – and the drug warriors know it.

NORML: Putting The ‘Grass’ Into Grassroots Since 1970
As we approach 2011, our prohibitionist opponents are keenly aware that they have lost the hearts and minds of the electorate, and they are preparing to wage one final stand. We plan to meet them head on – and defeat them. Will you support our efforts? Your continued financial support will assure that we hold the line in 2011, and it will allow us to continue the national dialogue that is turning a record number of Americans toward cannabis liberation. Victory is at a hand, but only if we keep the pressure on – and only if we have the resources to fight back when necessary.

Supporting NORML and NORML Foundation is both simple and rewarding. If you want your donation to be employed for political purposes, such as for lobbying state and federal policy makers, please direct your donation to NORML. If you’d prefer a tax-deductible donation, which will be used for education, litigation, advertising and social organizing, please direct any cash or stock donations to the NORML Foundation.

Many of NORML’s members and supporters generously donate to both!

Social change doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen, and it is happening. That is why NORML needs your support now more than ever. 2011 promises to be a battle, but with your continued financial contributions I know that we will emerge victorious.

NORML @ 40-Years-Young
Lastly, as the collective calendar is turned, NORML—a remarkably enduring and resilient hub for a now sprawling social justice movement and medical cannabis industry—embarks upon it’s 40th year of representing the interests of cannabis consumers by, among other services, providing legal assistance and moral support to the many tens of thousands of consumers, growers and sellers (our brothers and sisters) arrested and incarcerated annually because of our nation’s antiquated Cannabis Prohibition laws.

NORML provides both in-office and 24/7 online support services formedical cannabis patients; citizens facing drug testing concerns; the victims of civil forfeiture; studentsresearching papers; also, NORML’s staff provides over 3,000 local, State, national and internationalmedia interviews annually. On thetightest budget in the drug policy reform movement, NORML produces the most popular cannabis-centric conferences, as well as the most popular cannabis-related webpageand daily podcast on the Internet.

None of this is possible without thesupport of thoughtful and engaged citizens like you!

Again, your end-of-the-year donations to either NORML or NORML Foundation is proof positive of your stakeholdership in a really important 40-year-old Washington, D.C. institution among public interest organizations.

Here’s to a safe and hemp-filled holiday and New Year to all! Thanks, as always, for caring and sharing!

Cannabem liberemus,

Allen St. Pierre
Executive Director
NORMLNORML Foundation

*Have you seen some of the unique ‘thank you’ gifts for members and donors?

 

 


ARIZONA BECOMES 15TH STATE TO APPROVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PHOENIX (AP) — By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have approved medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases.

The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to have approved a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states and the District of Columbia followed.

The ballot measure on the issue, Proposition 203, won by just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted, according to final tallies announced on Saturday.

The approval came as something of a surprise. At one point on Election Day, the measure trailed by about 7,200 votes. The gap gradually narrowed until it edged ahead during counting on Friday. The final tally was 841,346 in favor and 837,005 opposed.

“We really believe that we have an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like,” said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project.

The Arizona measure will allow patients with diseases including cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C and any other “chronic or debilitating” disease that meets guidelines to grow plants or to buy two and a half ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

The patients must obtain a recommendation from their doctor and register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The law allows for no more than 124 marijuana dispensaries in the state.

Backers of Proposition 203 argued that thousands of patients faced “a terrible choice” of suffering with a serious or even terminal illness or going to the criminal market for marijuana. They collected more than 252,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, nearly 100,000 more than required.

The measure was opposed by all of Arizona’s sheriffs and county prosecutors, the governor, the state attorney general and many other politicians.

Carolyn Short, chairwoman of Keep AZ Drug Free, the group that organized opposition to the initiative, said her group believed that the law would increase crime around dispensary locations, lead to more people driving while impaired and eventually lead to legalized marijuana for everyone.

She said that the major financial backer of the new measure, the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, makes its ultimate goal clear: national legalization.

“All of the political leaders came out and warned Arizonans that this was going to have very dire effects on a number of levels,” Ms. Short said after votes for the measure pulled into the lead late Friday. “I don’t think that all Arizonans have heard those dire predictions.”

— MAP Posted-by: Richard Lake
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10.n935.a04.html


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dedicated Pot Crusaders Already Licking Their Chops for the Next Opportunity to Legalize

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


AlterNet / By Steven Wishnia

California’s pot-legalization initiative went down to defeat last night, but 46 percent of the vote tells advocates like Richard Lee that the future is bright.
November 3, 2010 |

OAKLAND—California’s pot-legalization initiative went down to defeat last night, but supporters say it came close enough to try again.

The Proposition 19 ballot initiative won 46 percent of the vote. It would have regulated and taxed marijuana under rules similar to those for alcohol, albeit with a lot more dry counties and odd blue laws.

Ironically, the proposal failed to carry the “Emerald Triangle” of Humboldt and Mendocino counties, the state’s most fabled ganja-growing region. Prop 19 got only 47 percent there, according to “semi-official” returns posted on-line by California’s Secretary of State.

Supporters claimed a moral victory and a tactical advance. The vote, they said, was close enough to put marijuana legalization on the national map as an issue to be taken seriously.

“It’s not a debate about if or when. It’s a debate about how,” said Prop 19 “coproponent” Jeff Jones, a longtime medical-marijuana activist. Jones’ Oakland cannabis dispensary was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s first medical-marijuana case.

“It hurts, but no matter what, it’s a victory,” said Danielle Schumacher, 28, a volunteer from Berkeley. “”We got a big percentage of the vote, and that’s something to build on.”

“The more we talk about it, we win,” said Aaron Houston of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, which organized scores of volunteers for the initiative. “We’ve had 40 years of Reefer Madness propaganda that’s said it’s not OK to talk about it. That’s what changed this fall.”

The proposal won almost two-thirds of the vote in San Francisco, and also carried Oakland and most of the Bay Area. It lost badly in the Central Valley, getting only 37 percent in Fresno, and it did only a few points better in the “Inland Empire” east of Los Angeles.

“It was an uphill battle in an off-year election; with an older, smaller, and more conservative electorate, it’s a hostile environment for marijuana-law reform,” said Stephen Gutwillig of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles office.

If the initiative had passed, cannabis users, growers, and dealers would still have been vulnerable under federal law. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in late October that the federal government would continue to enforce laws against sale, cultivation, and possession. The measure began to slip in the polls after that, and some activists call Holder’s announcement a turning point.

The Leaders

Seeded by a $1.4 million contribution from Oakland medical-marijuana magnate Richard Lee, the initiative was opposed by most of the state’s political establishment, but it drew a dedicated volunteer force and a coalition that activists called “unprecedented.” On Election Day, volunteers at Yes on 19’s Oakland office made more than 50,000 get-out-the-vote calls.

Prohibition endorsers included governor-elect Jerry Brown and his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman; the state Chamber of Commerce; the state associations of prosecutors, police chiefs, sheriffs, and narcotics officers; and both candidates for California attorney general.

People in the cannabis world say a victory for the Republican attorney-general candidate, Los Angeles prosecutor Steve Cooley, would do more damage than Prop 19’s loss. Cooley has argued that the state’s medical-marijuana law does not permit sale, and threatened to close every medical-pot dispensary in the state. He narrowly trailed Democrat Kamala Harris as of noon Wednesday.

Prop 19 also “forged an unprecedented coalition for marijuana-law reform,” says Stephen Gutwilliger. It won endorsements from groups outside the cannabis-culture and drug-policy worlds. It was backed by the state branches of the NAACP, the Latino Voters League, the Service Employees International Union, the Northern California district of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.

“We’ve never been in rooms with union leaders, with minorities, with Democrats,” said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “In 1996, we were trying to convince the country that medical marijuana wasn’t a farce.”

The UFCW began backing the initiative in earnest after workers at Oakland’s medical-marijuana dispensaries joined the union earlier this year. Legal marijuana might bring “60,000, 70,000, 80,000 sustainable, single-earner jobs to California,” says Dan Rush, Local 5’s special-operations director. “It’s a growth industry for my union for the next ten years.”

The jobs pay well, he says—up to $35 an hour with benefits—-so legalization is also about “bringing dignity to the industry,” he adds, treating cannabis retail or agricultural workers like they’re meatcutters or grocery-store workers instead of like drug dealers.


Opposition Within the Ranks

A surprising amount of opposition came from pot-smokers themselves—-its significance conceivably shown by the results in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, where cannabis farming is a mainstay of the economy. Many growers fear that legalization would make prices drop so low that it would slash their income, or that big corporations would squeeze them out.

“It’ll exclude us little guys,” said an East Bay grower. He said the semi-legal status of medical marijuana has stabilized the market, and he doesn’t want to mess things up.

“There are mixed feelings within the industry,” said one of his companions, another grower. Indoor growers might be able to find a market for high-quality herb similar to that for microbrewery beer, but he also feared a “green rush” of new growers who would flood the market with mediocre herb and bring prices down too low for farmers to make a living.

Other stoner opponents said that anyone who really needs cannabis can get a medical-use certificate.

Still, voting against legalizing marijuana because you yourself are relatively safe might seem to be an extraordinarily hypocritical act for a pot-smoker—-or conceivably racist, as recently released studies by the Drug Policy Alliance have found dramatically higher arrest rates for pot possession among black and Latino people in California, especially young men.

“The growers (mostly all white) never talk about the War on Drugs and all the youth of color rotting behind bars in California and everywhere for small amounts of marijuana!” said a disgruntled hippie-era Mendocino County grower before the election.

Others objected to the age restrictions in the proposal. It would have set a smoking age of 21, and increased penalties for a person over 21 providing non-medical pot to someone under 18.

There were also plenty of conspiracy theories floating around California’s cannabis world. Philip Morris and/or R.J. Reynolds had bought 200,000 acres of foreclosed property up north, waiting for the day they could bulldoze into the marijuana market. Monsanto was waiting in the wings with ganja genetically engineered to be ultra-potent. Billionaire George Soros, who contributed $1 million to the initiative, was using Richard Lee to corner the market.

“If you can have it, why are you fighting so hard for other people to have it?” shouted Bill Benjamin, 28, of Oakland, one of a knot of men loudly picketing Oaksterdam University, Lee’s “cultivation college,” on Election Day. Most wore crudely printed “No on 19” T-shirts and claimed to be irate medical users.

“I have nephews in high school, and they don’t need to be smoking that shit,” said another protester.

Benjamin, who said he uses marijuana medically for insomnia, said he opposes changing the law because “recreational users already go to jail” and risking that is their choice. He also argued that if pot were legal, billionaires would buy out everyone else in the business.

“Marlboro’s not going to grow medical marijuana or marijuana, because it’s still federally illegal,” responded Jeff Jones when they confronted him. He dismissed the protesters as “ignorant, like Tea Partiers.”

Others see a more sinister hand at work. Enraged monologues about impractically omnipotent corporate conspiracies aren’t rare in the weed world, a persecuted subculture that can be somewhere between isolated and secretive and has plenty of urban legends. But belligerent rants in the phraseology of prohibitionist talking points, instant-scruff two-week beards, and crudely trying to pick fights with activists by calling them “faggots” remarkably resemble the tactics used by Vietnam-era agent provocateurs.

The Future

“We’re gonna be back in 2012,” Jeff Jones said at Yes on 19’s closing-night gathering in Oakland, speaking on video to the press and lower-level volunteers out in the parking lot.

Was the off-year campaign premature? Maybe, said Dale Gieringer of California NORML two days before the vote, but “we’re finally looking at the only thing that solves the problem of marijuana prohibition.”

The odds are good for a 2012 campaign that has more resources and has learned from this year’s mistakes. Some groups may try California again. Others are looking at Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and Alaska, which have all voted for initiatives to legalize medical marijuana. Revised versions might try to mollify intra-movement critics by including protections for small farmers and establishing a clear statewide regulatory system instead of a patchwork of local options.

It was “absolutely” better to have the vote now rather than wait, Aaron Houston said after the returns came in. “We have to have this conversation. Thirty thousand people have died south of the border.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


From NORML

This Week’s News from NORML

Voters Nationwide To Decide On Marijuana Legalization Measures Tuesday
Share This Article Share This Page on digg Share This Page on Reddit Share This Page on del.icio.us Share This Page on Stumble Upon Share This Page on Facebook Share This Page on Twitter

In California, voters will decide Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which legalizes the adult possession of limited quantities of marijuana for adults in private, and allows local governments to regulate its commercial production and retail distribution. If passed, the measure would be the most expansive modern law ever enacted regarding the adult use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

Learn more about Prop. 19 here: http://yeson19.com.

In Arizona, voters will decide Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which permits state-registered patients to obtain cannabis legally from licensed facilities. Authorized patients who do not have a state-licensed dispensary in their local area (defined as within 25 miles of their residence) would be permitted under the law to cultivate their own cannabis for medicinal purposes. Other patients would not be allowed to grow their own marijuana.

Learn more about Proposition 203 here: http://stoparrestingpatients.org/home/.

In South Dakota, voters will decide Measure 13, the South Dakota Safe Access Act, which exempts state criminal penalties for state-authorized patients who possess up to one ounce of marijuana or six cannabis plants. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws since 1996; ten have done so by voter initiative.

Learn more about Measure 13 here: http://sdcompassion.org/.

In Oregon, voters will decide Measure 74, The Oregon Regulate Medical Marijuana Supply System Act of 2010, which creates state-licensed not-for-profit facilities to assist in the production and distribution of marijuana to qualified patients. Oregon voters initially authorized the physician-authorized use of marijuana in 1998. Several states, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Maine, have enacted statewide regulations licensing the production and dispensing of medical cannabis.

Learn more about Measure 74 here: http://coalitionforpatientsrights2010.com/.

In Massachusetts, voters in 73 cities and towns will decide November 2 on non-binding public policy questions regarding the taxation of the adult use of marijuana and the legalization of the physician-supervised use of medical cannabis. Approximately 13 percent of the state’s registered voters will be weighing in on the questions. The results will likely influence the language of a proposed statewide, binding ballot measure in 2012.

Learn more about this campaign here: http://www.masscann.org/.  

NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1600 K Street NW, Suite 501, Washington DC, 20006-2832
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

Marijuana Two Minute Truths

Gateway Myth

The Addiction Question

Did you hear that? Marijuana is about as addictive as COFFEE. Scary!

 

Marijuana and the Brain

Doesn’t Cause Lung Cancer

Marijuana “Overdose”

Thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project

 

 


This Needs To Be Talked About

Cannabis for ADD-One More Reason to Legalize

This physician discusses how society has lied to adolescents about the “dangers” of Cannabis use and how the kids’ experiences differ from the “mantra”. (E)


Debunking false fears about Prop. 19

Published: Oct. 18, 2010
Updated: 10:19 p.m.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER Editorial

Given that it was written partially in response to opinion polls, rather than as an exercise in pure theory, Proposition 19, which would legalize the possession and use of up an ounce of marijuana (cannabis) for adult Californians, contains provisions that an advocate of pure devotion to liberty might not have included. Some of these provisions have raised questions, some justified and some exaggerated out of any relation to reality. We thought it appropriate to deal with some of these issues, chiefly the reasons for having a “local option” for sales and cultivation and the possible implication this proposal would have on the ability of employers to discipline people who are impaired at work due to cannabis use, and of police to handle drivers similarly impaired.

Prop. 19 would establish a statewide policy, to wit: adults may possess up to an ounce of cannabis and may cultivate a patch of plants amounting to 25 square feet. But it contemplates that there will be a demand to purchase cannabis, as well, so it allows localities to develop their own policies for regulating cultivation and sales (and collecting taxes on them) or to prohibit any sales or cultivation beyond the 25-square-foot limit.

Article Tab : image1-
Critics argue that it may be too much to ask of city councils to develop sensible regulations in an unfamiliar area. There is also a fear that there will be so much variance from city to city that it will be just too confusing for law enforcement officials, and some marijuana users might get caught in compromising situations as they travel from city to city.

The local option plan grew out of the experience of so many cities at implementing (or not implementing) medical marijuana policies in response to Prop. 215 in 1996. It became obvious that some city governments would prefer to have no medical marijuana dispensaries, while others seemed to welcome them, or at least to accommodate their regulations to the policies endorsed by voters. Prop. 19 allows local jurisdictions to make that choice.

“It’s funny,” Joseph McNamara, a Hoover Institution research fellow and former police chief of San Jose, told us. “When I was a police chief, local officials complained constantly about mandates, most of them unfunded, from Sacramento. Now many of these same people object to a proposition without a mandate on local government. If it had included a mandate the outcry would have been louder. I suspect it’s a matter of stretching to find a reason to oppose Prop. 19.”

In fact, different cities have different policies toward the sale of liquor (within the framework of state laws), different zoning regulations, and different policies on a wide range of issues. Developing regulations that respond to local concerns within the framework of state and federal laws is what city councils and other arms of government are supposed to do. The beauty of local option is that the experience of different cities will serve as a laboratory of policy alternatives from which policy students and other city councils can learn what works and what doesn’t.

As for employment policies, Prop. 19 specifically states that “the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance shall not be affected.” However, that clause is preceded by one that says “No person shall be punished, fined or discriminated against, or be denied any right or privilege for lawfully engaging in any conduct permitted by this Act.” Critics have contended that this creates a “protected class” of marijuana smokers who are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.

This is an incorrect inference. Prop. 19 reinforces laws against driving while impaired, makes it illegal to smoke in front of minors, and makes it illegal to smoke in public places. Cannabis users under Prop. 19 will be subject to all the constraints imposed on other citizens and some unique to them.

The reason for prohibiting discrimination against cannabis users is simple. Existing testing methods can detect metabolites of cannabinoids for up to a month after cannabis use – long after any intoxication or impairment has disappeared. Employers can’t fire an employee for getting drunk on Saturday night so long as he or she shows up Monday able to perform satisfactorily. A similar policy should apply to marijuana and will apply if Prop. 19 passes.

A similar policy will apply to driving while impaired. A complication is that there is no simple roadside test for marijuana use. The responsibility of police will be to look for signs of impairment, as is the case now.

Legalizing marijuana use for adults is a significant step away from nanny-state policies and all the crime, corruption and violence that accompany marijuana prohibition, so some caution about such an important move is understandable. But the impact on employment polices, driving laws and the responsibilities of local government are not sufficient to justify rejection of this proposal.


No Law? No Warrant? No Problem!


William N. Grigg Tuesday, September 21, 2010



“Do you expect to see any violence here today?”

“I certainly hope so.” —


Narcotics officer Sgt. Stedenko, aka “Hardhat,” answers a reporter’s question at a drug checkpoint on the U.S.- Mexican border, from the film
Up In Smoke.

Sal Agro, a 67-year-old man from Lake Orion, Michigan, died of a heart attack on September 2 . Although those responsible for Agro’s untimely death will never admit as much, he was the victim of an act of state terrorism carried out a week earlier by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office

Agro, along with his son, helped operate a treatment center in nearby Ferndale called Clinical Relief that provided medical marijuana to physician-approved clients under a 2008 Michigan state law. Sal, who had recently undergone hip surgery, was authorized to grow and use marijuana himself. His wife was authorized both to use marijuana and provide it to others as a caregiver. They had invited local officials to inspect the Clinical Relief facility.

He obeyed the rules, and they killed him anyway: Sal Agro, RIP.

Last June, with at least eight applications pending to open facilities like Clinical Relief, the Ferndale City Council imposed a temporary moratorium on dispensing medical marijuana while it explored new ways to harass the facilities through zoning restrictions. This prompted an objection from Mayor Craig Covey, who pointed out that the medical marijuana clinics would already be covered by existing ordinances. Nor were they likely to be profitable, given the detailed and often self-contradictory regulations inflicted on them under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), which voters approved by referendum in 2008.

On August 25, the Ferndale City Council lifted the moratorium. On the very next day, the local counter-narcotics Gestapo staged a paramilitary raid against several locations in Oakland County, arresting 15 people, confiscating cash and crops, illegally seizing medical records, and terrorizing unarmed, helpless people who suffer from cancer and other painful afflictions. Most importantly, of course, the raiders got a potent fix of their preferred narcotic — the depraved thrill that comes from making powerless people submit to their whims.


It’s hardly an exaggeration to characterize the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) as the local “Gestapo.” Agro  used that term to describe the ski mask-clad marauders who laid waste to his home, ripping apart furniture, throwing potting soil into the carpets and — of course — helping themselves to whatever cash they could find.A similar home invasion robbery was carried out at the Lake Orion home of Agro’s daughter-in-law. “She’s approximately five-foot, weighs about eighty-nine pounds, and the masked officers put a shotgun in her face and told her to freeze,” a wearily disgusted Agro recalled to a local reporter.

After learning about the raid, Agro went back to his house, which was swarming with armed tax-feeders.

“I asked what was going on, and they said, `Your house is being searched,'” Agro related. “I said, `Do you have a search warrant?’ They said, `Yes.’ I said, `Can I see it?’ They said, `When we get ready to show it to you.'” Despite the fact that the invaders had a note from a judge supposedly authorizing them to trash Agro’s home, the raid was, as the victim pointed out, an act of “illegal search and seizure,” since the money and property that were stolen had nothing to do with a criminal act.

The same lawless behavior was on display at another facility called Everyone’s Café, where police threw cancer patients to the ground and held them at gunpoint.

“What took place in Oakland is nothing short of armed robbery,” protests Gersh Avery, a local medical marijuana activist. “Patients in those locations had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations, yet their medicine was forcibly taken from them.” The NET, Avery concludes, “deliberately targeted sick innocent people.”

The official sadism continued after the case was split into two groups of defendants. Judge Richard Kuhn of Michigan’s 51st District Court in Waterford refused to waive a bond condition permitting the use of medical marijuana by defendants who had received medical authorization to do so. Astoundingly, 43rd District Judge Joe Longo, who is presiding over the case in Ferndale, permitted defendants with medical marijuana cards to continue using the palliative while out on bail. This, of course, begs the question of why those people are criminal defendants in the first place.

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard claims that the raid followed “undercover”  investigations of Clinical Relief and Everyone’s Cafe. William Joseph Teichman, co-owner of Everyone’s Cafe, insists that “We check the identification of every patient we deal with, and those undercover cops had either proper ID and paperwork or forgeries so good we couldn’t tell the difference.”

“I said `Hardhat’!”

In a post-raid press conference, Sheriff Bouchard — grasping for a suitable soundbite — described the local medical marijuana market as “something out of a bad Cheech and Chong Movie,” without elaborating as to whether he considers “Up in Smoke” or “Nice Dreams” to be the gold standard of the stoner duo’s cinematic output.

Bouchard himself essays a pretty decent impression of Sgt. Stedenko, the bullying, authoritarian narcotics officer who was a recurring nemesis in the comedy team’s films.

Ryan Richmond, co-owner of Clinical Relief and one of the defendants in the Ferndale case, asserts that Bouchard “simply doesn’t like the [Michigan state medical marijuana] law because it’s too broad. If Bouchard has his way, we, you, have no rights even within the law.”

Bouchard’s critics are not limited to those he has arrested on marijuana-related charges.

“I personally don’t understand why the county would use such a large amount of precious law enforcement resources on something like this,” objects Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey. “This was obviously a political move by the sheriff to flex his muscles and send a message that he does not want medical marijuana clinics in Oakland County.”

Covey also criticized “the use of SWAT teams with masked and armed officers ordering sick, elderly patients to the ground…. Now it’s going to cost the taxpayers and the business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees to sort through this mess.”

Bouchard’s admitted purpose in staging the raids was not to enforce the existing law, but rather to create a “test case” intended to change it, either in substance or in application.  By strict definition, this was an exercise of violence against the helpless intended to bring about political change — that is, an act of official terrorism.

Although Bouchard accuses medical marijuana advocates and providers of engaging in “organized crime,” that description makes a much better fit when applied to the NET, which is a federally designated multi-agency task force.  Thanks to an indulgence granted by the so-called Department of Justice, the NET has a license to steal in the name of “asset forfeiture.”

According to the Madison Heights Police Department’s 2009 Annual Report, last year the NET seized a little more than a ton of marijuana and pilfered nearly $2 million through asset forfeiture. The August 26 raids pulled down tens of thousands of dollars in cash, including money the late Sal Agro and his wife Barbara had put aside toward the purchase of a new car.

Bouchard and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper insist that the MMMA is dangerously ambiguous because it supposedly encourages people to flout the state’s existing laws criminalizing the use and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. They are correct in saying that the law is a masterpiece of self-contradiction, but emphatically wrong about the nature of the resulting danger: The risk of smoking weed without government permission is much less acute than that posed by power-intoxicated armed bureaucrats willing to carry out illegal paramilitary raids that target non-violent, chronically ill “offenders.”

A concurring opinion by Judge P.J. O’Connell in a recent Michigan Court of Appeals case points out that “The MMMA does not codify a right to use marijuana; it merely provides a procedure through which seriously ill individuals using marijuana for its palliative effects can be identified and protected from prosecution under state law.” It creates a narrow “affirmative defense to prosecutions under the Public Health Code, allowing an individual to use marijuana by freeing him or her from the threat of arrest and prosecution if that user meets all the requirements of the MMMA, while permitting prosecution under the Public Health Code if the individual fails to meet any of the requirements set forth under the MMMA.”

The MMMA, furthermore, does not change the status of marijuana under state law, which lists the demonstrably harmless cannabinoid as a “Schedule 1″ controlled substance” that has “no accepted medical use.” What this means, in practice, is that anyone who uses or provides medical marijuana in strict fidelity of the terms and conditions dictated by the MMMA is still presumptively a criminal suspect.

Because of the incurable self-contradictions of the MMMA, Judge O’Connell warns, conscientious people who obey its provisions and seek marijuana for palliative care could still “lose both their property and their liberty” — or even as the needless, government-inflicted death of Sal Agro demonstrates, their lives.

Be sure to join William N. Grigg each Saturday
evening from 8:00-11:00 Mountain Time for
Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio
Network. 


Related Articles


%d bloggers like this: