NORML.ORG CN AB: Alberta Seeks New Use For Hemp

NORML.ORG CN AB: Alberta Seeks New Use For Hemp

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Daily Headlines

by Hanneke Brooymans, (Source:Edmonton Journal)
16 Nov 2007

Alberta
——-
$ 2.25-Million Research Project Hopes To Blend Plant Fibres With Plastics

For centuries, humans have found practical uses for hemp, weaving it into items such as rope and clothing.  Now the Alberta Research Council wants to tighten those bonds by determining more cutting-edge uses for this versatile plant. 

A new two-year, $ 2.25-million project hopes to find ways to blend Albertagrown hemp fibres with locally produced plastics to create more sustainable materials. 

[Remainder snipped]

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG CN ON: Pot Activists Hail Ruling

Daily Headlines

by Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press, (Source:Globe and Mail)
15 Nov 2007

Ontario
——-
Pot Activists Hail Ruling

OTTAWA — Marijuana activists are hailing a recent court ruling as the beginning of the end of Canada’s prohibition on pot, but the Crown dismisses the decision as non-binding. 

A trial judge in Oshawa, Ont., threw out charges of simple possession of marijuana against three young men on Oct.  19, relying on a previous court ruling that found Canada’s pot law unconstitutional.  In making his decision, Judge Norman Edmondson cited a decision last July by a fellow judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. 

In the earlier case, which is being appealed by the Crown, Judge Howard Borenstein accepted the defence lawyer’s argument that Ottawa must pass a law – rather than rely solely on government policy – to allow accredited medical marijuana users to possess pot. 

Health Canada has been forced by a series of court decisions to set up a medical marijuana program authorizing patients struggling with chronic conditions to use dope to alleviate their symptoms. 

And a court ruling in 2003 required Health Canada to provide government-certified marijuana to these patients so they don’t have to turn to the black market for their medicine. 

In the July 13 Borenstein decision, defence lawyer Bryan McAllister successfully argued that the law itself should have been changed, not just the program.  And because the law has not been rewritten to accommodate medical users, the prohibition on all use – including recreational use – collapses because the law is unconstitutional, the court ruled. 

A spokeswoman for the Crown said the October decision in Oshawa will not be appealed. 

“The decision of the trial judge is not binding upon any other trial judge and the [Borenstein] decision he relied upon …  was wrongly decided,” Stephane Marinier, of the Brampton, Ont., office of Public Prosecution Service of Canada, said in a e-mail. 

The Crown will make its counterarguments in an appeal of the Borenstein decision at Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, Ms.  Marinier said. 


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NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG US: Web: ‘Cannabis’ May Halt Breast Cancer

Daily Headlines

(Source:BBC News)
19 Nov 2007

United States
——-
USA — A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer spreading throughout the body, US scientists believe. 

The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute team are hopeful that cannabidiol or CBD could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy. 

Unlike cannabis, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties so its use would not violate laws, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics reports. 

The authors stressed that they were not suggesting patients smoke marijuana

They added that it would be highly unlikely that effective concentrations of CBD could be reached by smoking cannabis. 

CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumour site – a process called metastasis. 

Past work has shown CBD can block aggressive human brain cancers. 

The latest work found CBD appeared to have a similar effect on breast cancer cells in the lab. 

Future Hope

Lead researcher Dr Sean McAllister said: “Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer. 

“Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. 

“This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”

Dr Joanna Owens of Cancer Research UK said: “This research is at a very early stage. 

“The findings will need to be followed up with clinical trials in humans to see if the CBD is safe, and whether the beneficial effects can be replicated. 

“Several cancer drugs based on plant chemicals are already used widely, such as vincristine – which is derived from a type of flower called Madagascar Periwinkle and is used to treat breast and lung cancer.  It will be interesting to see whether CBD will join them.”

Maria Leadbeater of Breast Cancer Care said: “Many people experience side-effects while having chemotherapy, such as nausea and an increased risk of infection, which can take both a physical and emotional toll. 

“Any drug that has fewer side-effects will, of course, be of great interest.”

But she added: “It is clear that much more research needs to be carried out.”


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NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG US ID: Davis Not Pleased With Pot Initiatives

Daily Headlines

by Terry Smith, Express Staff Writer, (Source:Idaho Mountain Express)
16 Nov 2007

Idaho
——-
Mayor-Elect Cites Abuse of Medical Marijuana Use Elsewhere

The people have spoken, but mayor-elect Rick Davis thinks the passage earlier this month of marijuana reform initiatives will harm the city of Hailey. 

“We definitely got national attention, but is that the kind of attention that is going to draw new business here? I don’t think so,” said Davis, a 16-year City Council veteran elected Hailey’s mayor on Nov.  6. 

Hailey voters approved three marijuana reform initiatives on election day: one to legalize medical use of marijuana, another to legalize industrial use of hemp and a third that would make enforcement of marijuana laws the city’s lowest police priority. 

The electorate voted down a fourth initiative that would have required the city to tax and regulate sales and use of marijuana and that may have paved the way for full legalization of the drug. 

Davis said he especially objects to the medical marijuana issue. 

“I guess what I think about it is what I have seen in other communities that have passed medical marijuana initiatives–that it is heavily, heavily abused by those who use if for other than medical purposes.  I think it’s dangerous.”

The approved initiatives are not the law yet in the Hailey.  In fact, the initiatives specify that a Community Oversight Committee be formed to hammer out the details of implementation. 

City officials are drafting a statement that will outline how the city will deal with the matter. 

City Clerk Heather Dawson said the statement is still being reviewed by City Attorney Ned Williamson and likely won’t be available until next week. 

“There are some options that are being investigated,” said Davis.  “I’m not an liberty to go into them now and we’ll just have to see how it works out.  It’s a very, very complex issue and there are a lot of issues that haven’t yet come to light that show the negative ramifications.”

Davis said he expects the initiatives to be costly for the city. 

“There’s going to be litigation and the citizens of Hailey are going to have to pay for it one way or another,” he said.  “It’s still illegal federally and statewide and I just don’t know how it’s going to shake out.”


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NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG Gallup: Record Percentage Of Americans Now Support Marijuana Legalization

Princeton, NJ: A record 50 percent of Americans now believe that marijuana ought to be legalized for adult use, according to a nationwide Gallup poll of 1,005 adults.

The percentage of Americans favoring legalization is up four percent from 2010. It is the highest percentage ever recorded by Gallup, which has tracked public opinion data regarding marijuana policy since 1969.

The 2011 survey results also mark the first time ever that Gallup has reported that more Americans support legalizing cannabis (50 percent) than oppose it (46 percent).

Gallup reported that support for legalizing cannabis was highest among self-described liberals (69 percent) and those between the ages of 18 to 29 (62 percent). Support was weakest among Republicans (35 percent), self-described conservatives (34 percent), and those over the age of 65 (31 percent).

Fifty-five percent of male respondents said they favored legalization versus only 46 percent of female respondents. Respondents’ support for legalization was greatest in the west and Midwest regions of the country and weakest in the south. Since 2005, support for legalization has increased in every demographic polled by Gallup.

“When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12 percent of Americans favored it. … Support remained in the mid-20s … from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2009 before reaching the 50 percent level in this year’s Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey,” the polling firm stated in a press release. “If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation’s laws into compliance with the people’s wishes.”

The Gallup poll results are based on telephone interviews conducted October 6-9, 2011. It has a 4 percent margin of error.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG CA: Editorial: Medical Marijuana Going Up In Smoke

NORML.ORG US CA: Editorial: Medical Marijuana Going Up In Smoke

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Daily Headlines

(Source:Modesto Bee)
18 Oct 2011

California
——-
Medical marijuana in California is an utter mess, a mockery of what most voters intended when they approved Proposition 215 in 1996. 

It was supposed to be a nonprofit enterprise, but has spawned a $ 1.5 billion industry in which networks of storefront dispensaries and large growing operations are reaping millions of dollars. 

The first-in-the-nation law was supposed to allow “compassionate use” to ease the pain and suffering of people with cancer or AIDS.  Instead, it’s so easy to get a recommendation for “medical” marijuana that, according to a statewide study, many patients are using pot to relieve headaches and anxiety, and to sleep and relax. 

[Remainder snipped]

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG New Zealand: Sending Out Marijuana Smoke Signals

Daily Headlines

by Carly Gibbs, (Source:Bay Of Plenty Times)
18 Oct 2011

New Zealand
——-
An estimated 400,000 Kiwis smoke cannabis despite it being illegal.  With the Act Party calling for it to be decriminalised, Carly Gibbs looks at the debate for and against marijuana. 

After taking a drag, holding it and exhaling, grey smoke builds and weaves its way into the lungs, and a feeling of relaxation takes over. 

For Tom Moss, a cannabis smoker, a feeling of creativity also sets in. 

From his blue and white bus, Moss creates art when he’s stoned. 

But there’s no thick pinch of pot packed into a bong today. 

The travelling Mount Maunganui artist is on probation for possessing and cultivating cannabis and says he’s upset at being deemed a criminal when he’s harming no one but himself. 

With a crown of untamed gold dreadlocks, and wearing skate shoes and jeans, he’s the first to admit he fits the stereotypical “stoner” image. 

But Moss is quick to point out he’s no fool and smoking cannabis is a lifestyle choice. 

Like thousands of New Zealand teenagers, the now 36-year-old stumbled across cannabis at an early age.  He was 15 when he first smoked dope, sparking up a joint with a mate. 

Twenty years on it’s as habitual as waking up to a morning cup of coffee, but he says he’s not addicted and can take it or leave it. 

Moss is supportive of Act Party leader Don Brash’s call to see cannabis decriminalised.  Dr Brash says too much valuable police time is spent enforcing a law that is flouted by about 400,000 people a year. 

It helps the creativity

Moss chooses to smoke pot because it helps fuel his “creative fires”. 

He smokes cannabis through a water bong, “billy”, or joints – and if finances allow will puff his way through $ 80 a week.  He says this equates to about two joints a day. 

“When I was inside [Waikeria Prison for three months] I didn’t miss it.  I choose to smoke it,” he says from inside his travelling home. 

“I’m constantly working at my own projects.  In jail I found I had all this time on my hands and I wanted to write scripts for my next production, but I found I couldn’t come up with funny lines or be spontaneous – it blew me backwards.  There was just nothing there, so it helps the creativity very much.”

Moss is a tattoo artist but also makes jewellery, plaster sculptures, is a carver, and does animation which he posts on YouTube.  He says he’s able to speak freely about his habit, because he’s not answerable to an employer. 

“I know a lot of professional people that have to look a certain way and they’re going through a lot of bottles of Clear Eyes …  It’s here and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

Health experts will tell you Moss is right.  Legal or not, cannabis is a big part of Kiwi culture. 

David Benton, who has 21 years’ experience in drug and alcohol rehabilitation in New Zealand and the United States, says marijuana is widely used in the Western Bay. 

Of 580 clients who went through Tauranga’s Hanmer Clinic, an outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, 82 per cent had alcohol dependence, 48 per cent had cannabis dependence, and 12.7 per cent had stimulant dependence. 

The figures, taken over a five to six-year period, overlap because many clients have “poly-addiction”. 

Clinic director Benton says that according to the 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey, 46 per cent of Kiwis have tried marijuana in their lifetime, and 15 per cent of adults aged 16 to 64 have used cannabis in the past 12 months. 

He says it’s about time cannabis hit the spotlight. 

“On one hand we’re making noises about eliminating cigarettes in New Zealand but on the other hand we’re talking about legalising a drug more harmful than nicotine.  It’s nonsensical,” he says. 

Benton says a study by Otago University showed marijuana to be more carcinogenic than nicotine.  Nicotine is the leading cause of drug-related death in New Zealand, with alcohol a close second.  New Zealand still has more people addicted to alcohol than marijuana. 

Why do they smoke?

Well, aside from enjoyment, a group of cannabis users told Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the drug was used for medical purposes. 

*

Reform supporter Billy McKee says tolerance of medicinal cannabis may well provide the message to young people that it is a medicine instead of the illusion of the blind rebellion it reaps. 

The 57-year-old says patients who are using cannabis medicinally at the moment are being put under more stress than their physical condition already creates. 

McKee, who is director of medicinal cannabis organisation GreenCross, was hit by a drink driver at age 20.  He lost his right leg and has suffered nerve damage and other significant physical pain since.  Emotionally, he also struggles. 

“I’m pretty much buggered and have contemplated suicide.  Cannabis helps me to sleep and helps me with [my] depression.  When I haven’t smoked it for a while, I get depressed and moody.”

He says his GP supports his choice. 

McKee “medicates” three times a day by smoking a pea-sized piece of cannabis in a pipe.  “The size of a small pea gives three inhalations.”

When he has a sufficient amount of cannabis he uses it as a poultice for his nerve damage.  He will tape four or five grams to his skin and says within 10 minutes the pain has settled right down.  Within 20 minutes, it works as a sleep aid. 

“Look at Canada, the USA, Europe – they’re all decriminalising it and regulating the market.  The harm is caused through prohibition laws, not the drug itself.”

In places such as Portland’s Cannabis Cafe, it is perfectly legal for medical marijuana patients to burn, eat, rub, filter and roll marijuana. 

McKee wants to see policies relax in New Zealand also. 

“A good policy should include education, certification, including a medical check-up, safe supply and support [counselling for problem users].”

He is supported by other medicinal users, including a 73-year-old grandmother of 10 who has used cannabis in the past for arthritis and in the lead-up to a hip operation. 

The woman, who asked not to be named, says any other drug she tried for pain relief was far less effective and far more addictive. 

“There are thousands of people like me, elderly people, using it for pain.  The decisions being made about the law are not based on science, they’re based on politics. 

“Cannabis also has been a medicine, and always will be.”

The founder of Cannabis Law Reform Waihi, Ann Vernon, 39, has smoked cannabis since being trampled by horses 12 years ago. 

When she can, she smokes the drug three to four times a day and just under a gram in total ( about a tablespoon worth ). 

In doing so, she has been able to cut out sleeping pills and prescribed pain relief. 

“I think if I had an ongoing source of cannabis I believe I could actually return to work.” Smoking dope softens the dull aches and sharp pangs of pain she still experiences. 

Realistic, or an excuse?

One Mount Maunganui GP says cannabis does have harms, but unlike alcohol, has medically proven benefits for neuropathic pain, muscle spasm in multiple sclerosis, and reducing tics in Tourette’s syndrome. 

The Law Commission recently stated New Zealand should view cannabis use as a health issue, not a criminal or justice issue. 

This is in line with recent global policy statements on drugs. 

Dr Tony Farrell says society’s judgment of cannabis smokers is unfair, because many cannabis users are highly functioning recreational users, similar to those who use alcohol. 

Low-risk cannabis consumption has not been formally determined, but it is generally thought that once-weekly consumption is relatively low risk for health concerns, which compares with less than 14 standard drinks per week of alcohol. 

“The legal status as a judgment causes problems.  For example, a study from Dunedin has shown Maori who are apprehended with cannabis are five to six times more likely to be convicted than non-Maori …  This is one of the harms of a prohibitionist stance on cannabis. 

Further, Dr Farrell says a 2010 study from Society for the Study of Addiction shows urine drug screening for cannabis in the workplace has not been shown to be an effective diagnostic tool in reducing workplace accidents, which means that pre-employment and random urine drug-testing in the workplace may discriminate against cannabis users. 

“It is important to keep the debate around drug harm, not whether a drug is good or bad, as prohibitionist policies for many drugs are now regarded as failed and expensive,” Dr Farrell says. 

When it comes to mental health, David Benton says there is a correlation between marijuana and the deterioration of mental health to those already predisposed.  Individuals who are susceptible to mental illness put themselves at greater risk of psychotic symptoms when using cannabis. 

However, psychosis can also occur in people who try it for the first time. 

It is also addictive to those who have a tendency to be addicted, whereas many others can take it or leave it. 

“The evidence is there is a lot of genetic predisposition that accounts for anywhere between 40 to 60 per cent of drug use.  If there is addiction in the family it can cause increased risk of being addicted yourself,” he says. 

“The genes for that are not specific to any particular drug – and increase vulnerability if you happen to try any drug in sufficient quantities.”

Marijuana tended to relax people and gave a mellow, sedative-type effect. 

“An effect that people like,” he says.  “It often reduces anxiety and stops racing thoughts.”

A New Zealand immigrant in Tauranga, who smokes two grams ( $ 40 ) of cannabis a week, says it enhances the senses.  “It can make the supermarket seem like an adventure; seeking out food like a hunter, where everything is prepared for me.  I love the supermarket.”

And, as a side note, 20-year-old William from Waihi, who hauls out a vaporiser, a smoking device that heats the cannabis rather than burns it, says that like a wine drinker he loves the flavours, tastes and aromas of cannabis. 

He sources locally grown pot from friends and says: “It’s not just about getting high.”

When asked if it was possible for marijuana to fuel “creative fire”, Benton says that he has heard this from some users. 

“I imagine you get the same kind of effect from meditation.  You get into the zone where your world opens up and I suspect it does happen. 

He jokes: “I’m sure people get that after a bottle of whisky at 3am when a lot of the world’s problems get solved.”

*

Someone smoking cannabis just now and then is George ( not his real name ) – a Western Bay secondary school teacher who holds a masters with first-class honours. 

The 43-year-old says he first tried dope as a teenager.  He didn’t smoke for 15-odd years and then three or four years ago he and a friend had a “session” one Christmas. 

He’s smoked it about once a week since. 

To smoke or not to smoke is an issue of choice and personal freedom, he reckons. 

“I see no difference between this and drinking.  In fact, I see it as so much better than getting drunk.  I haven’t been drunk in years,” he says. 

Until recently, he sourced his cannabis from New Zealand’s first cannabis club, The Dacktory, in West Auckland.  The building founder is now in prison after being found guilty on cannabis-related charges. 

George says in no way does he fit the bill of “a domesticated pot fiend”. 

He, his wife and friends have been known to share dinner, a bottle of wine and a joint. 

“If you have an evil law then the right response is to not co-operate with it.  A law has to be sensible, fair and just.  And this is none of them.”

As a professional, he says conversation around cannabis can be uncomfortable. 

“It’s a little bit like homosexuality in the ’80s – you could be thrown in prison. 

“Everyone knows someone that has smoked and everyone knows someone that does smoke, they may just not know they smoke.  We all rub shoulders daily with a smoker. 

“From politicians down to freezing workers, we should be allowed that choice.”

The police will fight for people not to be allowed that choice. 

In their opinion, cannabis is not only harmful, it’s responsible for almost one-third of the social costs of illicit drug use – that’s 32.9 per cent or $ 431 million. 

Western Bay of Plenty Inspector Mike Clement says the impacts of cannabis use and offending go beyond the individual user, often translating into other areas of crime as well as the value of life lost from premature mortality, homicide, or road deaths. 

Clement says the growing and selling of cannabis continues to be a focus for Bay of Plenty Police. 

“Our strategy includes targeting organised crime groups who are earning a living through the growing and distribution of cannabis, through to ‘tinnie’ houses and users.”

In addition, youth policing teams are involved in working with youth and in schools, providing information about the harm of drugs, he says. 

At Get Smart, Drug and Alcohol Services, Tauranga manager Stuart Caldwell says they see about 11,000 Tauranga people, aged up to 20, a year.  And anecdotally, those who stop using cannabis testify to a clearer head and better grades. 

“You don’t actually have to be a biochemist to work this out, it’s pretty self-evident.” Caldwell says decriminalising cannabis would send the wrong message to youth. 

“It’s time to stop the rot, not further perpetrate it.”

Those who smoke, though, will continue to fight on. 

J’nette Saxby, a former primary school teacher who is studying for her masters in health science, says not all people who smoke cannabis are “pot-heads or losers” but few professionals will go public because they have too much to lose. 

Saxby, 45, has been smoking cannabis since she was 17 and even now smokes it on a daily basis. 

She believes it’s a myth that smoking marijuana leads to harder drugs. 

“It’s like saying does milk lead to beer? And does beer lead to whisky?”

She wants to see the cannabis issue become like the prostitution law reform in that it becomes decriminalised, regulated, and discrete. 

That there is an R18 policy, it’s sold by weight, and only good-quality cannabis is sold. 

Completely legalising and regulating the drug takes it out of the hands of the gangs, enabling rules and safe access.  At the moment, people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens are in hiding for fear of being rapped over the knuckles, she says. 

A Tauranga man who asked not to be identified, for fear of losing his job, says the reality is that smoking pot is as much a normal part of life as having a beer after work for many Kiwis. 

“I earn good money …  I am a motivated, physical kind of person …  I certainly don’t see myself as a criminal,” he says. 

“It’s not going anywhere, it’s just making people’s lives harder by persecuting against it. 

“The Government is losing out on a multimillion-dollar New Zealand-based industry.”


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NORML.ORG US CA: Going Backward in Drug War

NORML.ORG US CA: Column: Going Backward in Drug War

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Daily Headlines

by James P. Gray, (Source:Orange County Register)
15 Oct 2011

California
——-
New Federal Effort Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Will Fail As Have All Other Efforts at Prohibition. 

The four U.S.  attorneys in California announced last week yet another federal marijuana program, with this one aimed at closing down medical marijuana dispensaries.  Not only will this program be as hopeless as its predecessors, it is yet another continuing example of the arrogance, hypocrisy and bullying of the federal government in this area. 

There is no question that some medical marijuana dispensaries are acting outside of California law, as established by Proposition 215 and its progeny.  But the answer is for those involved to be prosecuted by the state of California, not the feds. 

[Remainder snipped]

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NORML.ORG US CO: Three Operators Of Denver Medical-Pot Operation Charged

NORML.ORG US CO: Three Operators Of Denver Medical-Pot Operation Charged

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Daily Headlines

by John Ingold, (Source:Denver Post)
15 Oct 2011

Colorado
——-
The charging of three medical-marijuana entrepreneurs with federal drug crimes sowed chaos in the state’s cannabis community Friday and raised questions about why the owners’ dispensary was allowed to stay open after a previous police raid. 

Father-and-son Ha and Nathan Do were in federal lockup on drug-distribution charges Friday night, held without bail, after agents raided an unlicensed marijuana-growing warehouse in Denver and seized more than 1,000 cannabis plants.  Along with Ha Do’s brother, Hai Do, the three run the Earth’s Medicine dispensary in Denver and operate three cultivation facilities that have applied for licenses, according to state records. 

Hai Do and Richard Crosse, the owner of the raided warehouse, were also charged with drug distribution but have not yet been arrested. 

[Read More]

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NORML.ORG US: Fed Crackdown On California Medical Marijuana

Daily Headlines

(Source:Christian Science Monitor)
12 Oct 2011

United States
——-
The four US attorneys in California announced they would enforce federal drug laws by reining in a pot industry that the state had set up to be strictly nonprofit and medicinal but since has spread like a Mexican drug cartel. 

The number of pot shops ( “clinics” ) in the Golden State has exploded into a $ 1.5 billion business that even ships “medical” marijuana to other states, the Feds charge, and that “has been hijacked by profiteers.”

“That is not what the California voters intended or authorized, and it is illegal under federal law,” said US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. 

The Obama administration – after appearing soft on marijuana two years ago – is doing what state law enforcement refuses to do.  And the Justice Department is being smart about it by going after large-scale growers, landlords who rent to large pot dispensaries, or banks that finance growers.  People using pot for medicinal therapy – which much of the medical community disputes – are not being targeted. 

The real message to California and 15 other states that have some type of legal medical marijuana is this: You can’t try to legalize pot through a back door, such as exploiting its medicinal use to anyone who claims to have a headache or anxiety attack. 

Keeping a lid on marijuana isn’t like Prohibition, as PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns points out.  Alcohol has long been too widely consumed to ban completely.  Pot smokers are a small minority.  They are containable, especially given the well-documented adverse side effects of pot, notably on teens. 

California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, needs to take this problem seriously by getting tough on doctors who make big money handing out authorization for pot use and by ensuring that the medical marijuana industry remains nonprofit.  “We have yet to find a single instance in which a marijuana store was able to prove that it was a not-for-profit organization,” said US Attorney Birotte.  He added that six people in a North Hollywood dispensary were indicted for selling hundreds of pounds of marijuana a month in New York and Pennsylvania.  “California’s marijuana industry supplies the nation,” said US Attorney Benjamin Wagner. 

The big question now is whether President Obama will buckle to political pressure from pro-pot forces and ease up the federal pressure on California’s pot industry.  A short-term clampdown won’t dampen the momentum of the pro-legalization crowd that uses almost any ruse on the public. 

Last year, Californians saw what an unofficial legalization was doing to their state and voted against the official kind.  Mr.  Obama finally got the message.  And he should stay on message. 


Powered by MAPMAP posted-by: Matt

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG US CA: Federal Prosecutors Rattle California’s Medical

NORML.ORG US CA: Federal Prosecutors Rattle California’s Medical

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NORML

Daily Headlines

by Peter Hecht, (Source:Sacramento Bee)
14 Oct 2011

California
——-
Venture capitalist Steve Berg figured he had an unassailable business model. 

Berg’s San Francisco firm, the ArcView Group, was pledging to find “angel investors” for startups offering products and services for California’s $ 1.5 billion medical marijuana industry. 

But last week, U.S.  prosecutors in California announced criminal prosecutions against targeted marijuana dispensaries and threatened landlords with property seizures. 

[Remainder snipped]

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG US WA: State Bans Bath Salts And Other Formerly Legal Highs

Daily Headlines

by Greg Allmain, (Source:Federal Way Mirror)
03 Oct 2011

Washington
——-
The Washington State Department of Health announced that the sale and possession of pseudo-drugs such as “bath salts,” “Spice,” “K-2,” “plant food,” “Ivory Wave” and “White Lightning” is now illegal. 

The chemicals, which recently saw a rise in popularity and sales in tobacco stores and head shops, mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and/or methamphetamine.  An Oct.  3 news release from the DOH indicates that “products containing synthetic marijuana ( cannabinoids ) or synthetic stimulants ( substituted cathinones ) are illegal under a ban by the state Board of Pharmacy.”

The DOH notes that these substances are now classified as Schedule I controlled substances, which represents the strictest level of control and enforcement.  According to the DOH, the Board of Pharmacy enacted two emergency bans starting in April to figure out how to combat the rising use of these chemicals.  The ban will go into effect no later than Nov.  3, and “gives clear authority to law enforcement to prosecute for the manufacture, distribution, sale and possession of these substances.”

Bath salts can cause increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, chest pains and other harmful effects, according to the board. 

In Federal Way, police officers have had two contacts with people under the influence of bath salts in the past year, according to police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock. 

The first case, which happened in April, involved a man and a woman who were outside their apartment, naked and yelling.  According to the information provided by Schrock, the male believed he was being possessed by the devil.  Police investigated further, and discovered eight to nine empty packets of bath salts in the couple’s apartment. 

In July, police responded to a call of a young man who said he was being threatened by “shadowy figures with guns.” The young man admitted to police that he had used bath salts. 

According to the Board of Pharmacy, bath salts are sold in smoke shops, head shops and over the Internet as legal alternatives to illegal drugs.  The products contain cathinone chemicals that behave like methamphetamine or cocaine.  The Board’s website also shares that, like the real drugs of cocaine and meth, users often snort bath salts to get high. 

Spice and K-2, according to the website, “are a type of synthetic marijuana.” Manufacturers of the substance spray the chemical onto incense, according to the Board of Pharmacy. 

The bans come in the wake of “reports of car crashes, self- mutilations, suicides and homicides linked to the use of these drugs,” according to the DOH.  The potency and duration of these chemicals can vary greatly, according to the Board of Pharmacy, and “affect behavior, judgment and health and can cause serious harm when used.”


Powered by MAPMAP posted-by: Matt

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG US CA: It’s Time For Feds To Legalize Marijuana

Daily Headlines

by Joseph Michelson, M.D., Pasadena resident, (Source:Register)
30 Sep 2011

California
——-
Karen R., a victim of ovarian cancer, age 35, is aware of her prognosis.  Dying, like birth, and every other stage of living, is difficult, she often ponders.  Her chemotherapy, which offers a partial or perhaps full redemption, is arduous at best: she suffers violent nausea and vomiting during her very necessary phases of chemo: connected ( “chained” ) to an IV, her repose on the gurney is interrupted, quite quickly, by her urgent anxiety, pulling her IV alongside, to the rest room to vomit her guts out. 

Lately, however, Karen avails herself of a candy bar, in between the “bag” changes on her IV pole.  Her nausea interruptions are much less frequent and urgent, and she is calmer, and happier with herself…  .the necessary torments of scheduled chemotherapy are so much easier to take now.  “What has made the difference?” asks her anxious, but very curious fellow chemo.  victim on the next gurney. 

“My candy bar…  …would you like to try one?”

“Why? What is it?”

“Medical marijuana, ” Karen smiles.  “It makes the whole ordeal easier…”

She hands her chemo-bed-fellow her bar.  “Here, take a bite.  It’s chocolate …”

We live in the enlightened times of approval of medical marijuana.  California, and 16 other states have approved the use of Cannabis ( marijuana ) for chronic disease, authorized by a physician, and it is especially of help to cancer patients and chemotherapy recipients.  It cannot be “smoked” in the atmosphere of the chemotherapy clinics, since the ambient smoke might prove offensive to those with asthma and C.O.P.D.  ( emphysema ).  But it can be ingested in a variety of forms: pills, soda-pop, brownies, cookies, candy, etc. 

Marijuana has a long history of use as a drug or agent of euphoria.  It is documented in Chinese medical compendia from as early as 2730 B.C.E., from where it spread to India, then North Africa, which stimulated its travel by traders to Europe by 500 A.D.  It was listed in various pamphlets and books of the U.S.  pharmacopeia from 1840-1972 for use in “labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism.” It was then considered unlawful by the government.  In the 1930s the U.S.Federal Bureau of Narcotics considered marijuana dangerous and addictive.  By the 1970s, the U.S.  Government classified marijuana, along with heroin and LSD as class 1 drugs: having the relatively highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use. 

This judgment follows on the hundreds of years acceptance and use of marijuana, peyote, and other plants of medicinal and ritual ( religious ) use by Native Americans. 

In spite of this confused and confusing history, marijuana is currently made into a drug: marinol ( dronabinol ).  It is legal in the Netherlands, Canada, Spain and Austria as a medicine for the amelioration of nausea and vomiting in various medical conditions, the stimulation of hunger in patients on chemotherapy regimens and with A.I.D.s who suffer “wasting” syndromes, it lowers eye pressure in patients who suffer glaucoma, and it works wonders as an analgesic — pain reliever — in many situations.  It has also been shown to be of benefit in neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Tourette’s Syndrome.  Unfortunately, marinol does not demonstrate as much effectiveness as other medications ( with more major side effects ) as “unrefined” marijuana.  So the unorthodox means of administration of marijuana–smoking, eating, drinking: appear to be more effective than the accepted medicinal form of a simple pill.  Perhaps there are elements in marijuana, over and above the simple tetra hydro cannabinol ( THC ) that contribute to its medicinal effects. 

Whatever, there should be no resistance to the use of marijuana as a medication — especially for cancer patients.  An argument arises that physicians would be making these patients marijuana addicts.  But they are already addicted to narcotics, and use of marijuana is also used to reduce patients’ dependence on narcotics.  We needn’t discuss and weigh the alternatives of cocaine addiction, narcotic addiction, even alcohol addiction in terms of society costs ( altercations, deaths, DUI’s, etc.  ) vs.  whatever minimal “costs” are attributed to marijuana. 

What is needed now is for the government to recognize what our medical care-givers already recognize: the powerful, medical use of marijuana. 

What is needed more is for the government to sanction and oversee the medical distribution of marijuana so that its dosage and administration is uniform.  What do I mean? If I tell a patient to take an aspirin, say 300 mg.  of salisylic acid, they are able to obtain 300 mg.  How do we administer marijuana? Please smoke a reefer after chemo, or enjoy a candy bar during chemo?

It is time for the federal government to step up to the plate. 


Powered by MAPMAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

NORML.ORG US CA: Where Are They Now?

Daily Headlines

by Meredith J. Graham, (Source:Chico News & Review)
22 Sep 2011

California
——-
Almost 15 Months After Raids on Medical-Marijuana Collectives, Few Have Been Charged and More Have Suffered

More than a year ago, law-enforcement officers raided eight medical-marijuana collectives in Butte County, and the lives of those targeted haven’t been the same since.  One man nearly lost his trucking business.  Another had trouble making his house payment.  Several up and left Butte County in the dust ( except for occasional appearances in court to try to reclaim seized property ). 

In the meantime, prosecutors have filed criminal charges in just one case.  For everyone else caught up in the raids, it feels like being judged and punished before being brought to the courtroom. 

Richard Tognoli is a prime example.  As owner of Tognoli Trucking and Grading, he’d done pretty well for himself.  Profits from when the economy was healthy were keeping business rolling during recent hard times.  He had four trucks and several employees.  Then law enforcement raided his collective-Scripts Only Service ( SOS )-and, among other things, seized all his bank accounts, including those related to his trucking company and his personal finances. 

As of September 2010, Tognoli estimated he’d lost more than $ 100,000 because of the bank seizures.  Now, a year later, he runs just one truck because he wasn’t able to afford fuel and payroll for the other three. 

“It’s like I’m back to being a one-truck owner-operator,” he said recently by phone.  “It really takes a lot to build a company.  It took me years to get where I was.  They crippled us.”

As for SOS, Tognoli shut the doors about three months ago. 

“What they did to the cannabis club, wiping out the garden and hitting us with zoning-violation fines, there’s no way a small organization working to try to help the disabled community in Butte County is going to be able to stick around,” he said.  “We were so completely upside down it wasn’t even funny.  We couldn’t pay the phone bill, let alone electric bills and the rest.”

Tognoli has been working all this time, having gone to court on countless occasions to get the physical property seized in the raid returned to him-“We got enough paperwork back so we could file taxes,” he said-and the money has been the toughest nut to crack.  A year after the raid and seizure of his bank accounts, Tognoli and his lawyer, Robert MacKenzie, are still fighting to get it all back. 

“The judge returned the money but overstepped his authority, in my opinion, by saying that my lawyer had to keep it in his trust account just in case there’s a conviction later on,” Tognoli said.  So, the $ 10,000-plus that could be used to keep his trucking business thriving is instead sitting in a bank account “just in case.”

MacKenzie represents several clients who are trying to get their assets returned to them from the raids-including Tognoli and Paul Fink, who ran Northern California Herbal Collective.  Like Tognoli, Fink also runs his own business, an adult bookstore called PlayTime4You.  And, also like Tognoli, Fink’s bank accounts were seized ( in most other cases bank accounts were frozen but not seized ).  He also was told he’d get his money back, but it would have to be held in trust by his attorney. 

Fink views his decision to open a medical-marijuana collective in Butte County as one of the worst he’s ever made. 

“I’ve struggled, big time,” he said during a recent interview in his north Chico home. 

The raid and seizure of his bank accounts marked the first in a string of negative incidents for Fink, a 30-something Hispanic man.  Shortly afterward, one of his partners at the collective, Trevor McBride, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.  Not long after that, a fire ravaged PlayTime4You’s Esplanade location.  As if that wasn’t enough, a few months ago his other partner, William Burney, was charged with murder in the 2008 killing of a Paradise man. 

But, to date, despite being raided not once but three times, Fink still has not been charged with a crime.  In the meantime, he believes his good name has been caked with mud.  When his house was raided last June, officers spoke about Fink to his neighbors as if he was a convicted drug dealer. 

“I’ve busted my ass, working two jobs most of my life.  It’s not like I’m living the life-I’m scraping by just like everyone else,” he said, adding that he had trouble making his house payment after his accounts were seized.  “Right now, I’m trying to survive.  I’ve spent so much money on attorneys.  I’m paying to prove my innocence when I am innocent.”

MacKenzie agreed.  Despite having requested that assets and property be returned to his clients-he’s currently working seven cases related to last year’s raids-he doubts all of it will be returned until the three-year statute of limitations has expired.  And that’s even if charges are never filed against his clients. 

“The game that’s played here [on the part of the prosecutors] is, ‘How much are you going to pay to get these assets backUKP'” he said.  “Just about anybody would say that drug dealers shouldn’t be able to profit from their illicit gains.  Unfortunately that’s created grossly unfair and draconian exceptions to our constitutional rights [of due process].”

This past June, almost a year to the day after the raids, Butte County Deputy District Attorney Helen Harberts filed charges against three individuals involved with one collective, Mountainside Patients Collective.  A press release from the DA’s Office promised more charges against people involved with other collectives were forthcoming, but none has yet been filed. 

Brothers Jason and Michael Anderson face six charges each, and Kaitlyn Sanchez faces four, related to the cultivation, possession and sale of marijuana.  A preliminary hearing has been set for Monday ( Sept.  26 ), the same day Jason Anderson was hoping to have surgery to remove cancer from his ribs and spine. 

“A large part of recovering from cancer is remaining positive,” Jason Anderson wrote in an email.  He was feeling too ill after an August surgery that removed one rib to meet with a reporter in person.  “I would be lying if I told you that the legal charges against me were not weighing heavily on me and that the stress of it all was not interfering with my ability to heal.”

When doctors found on an X-ray what appeared to be a tumor in his chest cavity, Anderson, who was already a medical-marijuana patient and grew his own plants, decided the timing was right to start a collective.  Within two months of opening, however, his health began to decline rapidly.  When June came along, “We lost everything in the raids and did not re-open,” Anderson explained.  None of their property or assets have been returned. 

Others involved in last year’s raids continue to fight-Robert Galia, who runs North Valley Holistic Health, is the only one whose doors have remained open despite the odds-and others have thrown in the towel.  Doctor’s Orders, which won last year’s Best of Chico category for Best Medical Marijuana Dispensary, shut down and left Butte County altogether.  So did some of the others. 

The reality is, whether they’re fighting the seizure of their property in civil court or not, they’re all sitting around waiting, wondering if they’ll be charged with criminal crimes, like those involved with Mountainside Patients Collective. 

“They’ll hit rather quickly after the first preliminary hearing, after I see how the court’s going to rule,” Harberts said of future charges related to the raids. 

So, this holiday season could be very bleak indeed.  Or it could yield nothing, as previous threats have been unfruitful. 

“I just want all this behind me,” said Fink.  “I want to be able to move on with my life.”

Anderson echoed his thoughts. 

“My first hope is to live.  That is the reality I currently face,” he wrote.  “Beyond that I hope to not go to prison for providing cannabis medicines to qualified patients.  …  I hope to continue to fight for patient rights until we see the day when the senseless prohibition of this plant is a distant memory and people do not have to go through the pain and suffering I am [going through] due to insane laws and archaic policy.”


Powered by MAPMAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom

NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws