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Medical marijuana use initiative launches in Mich.

Location: 
MI
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Detroit News (MI)
URL: 
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070524/LIFESTYLE03/705240333/1040

Medical marijuana patient charged with DUI

Location: 
NV
United States
Publication/Source: 
KVBC-TV3 (NV)
URL: 
http://www.kvbc.com/Global/story.asp?S=6564484&nav=15MV

Feature: With UMass Researcher One Decision Away From Approval to Grow Marijuana, Supporters Turn Up the Heat on the DEA

Six years after he first filed a petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seeking to grow marijuana to supply researchers, University of Massachusetts agronomy professor Lyle Craker is now one decision away from winning DEA approval of his project. Last week, a DEA administrative law judge issued a final recommendation that the project be allowed to move forward.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/lylecraker.jpg
Lyle Craker (courtesy aclu.org/drugpolicy/)
Currently, the only marijuana available for scientific and medical research is grown at a US government facility at the University of Mississippi and distributed through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). But NIDA has proven extremely reluctant to approve scientists' requests for access to marijuana when the research they are planning to conduct is on its medical uses.

"Respondent's registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest," wrote Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner in her decision. "There is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes," she concluded, noting also that the risk of diversion was minimal and that Craker had complied with all applicable laws.

But the judge's decision is not binding. The final decision on Craker's petition will be made by the DEA's deputy administrator, and it is by no means certain that the functionary will heed the judge's recommendations. The agency has historically opposed any efforts to end the government monopoly on growing marijuana for research purposes and it has already stated that it disagrees with the judge's conclusions.

Backed by the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which will finance the research, and represented by the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project, Craker has persevered for more than half a decade as his request languished in the bowels of the DEA. Now, only one obstacle remains.

In an effort to press the DEA to respond favorably to the petition, Dr. Craker and his backers and supporters held a press conference Wednesday at the agency's Northern Virginia headquarters to turn up the heat. "Working with medical marijuana seems so similar to the work we're doing with other medicinal plants that I've never understood the DEA's big problem with it," said Craker.

"The DEA has an opportunity here to live up to its rhetoric, which has been that marijuana advocates should work on conducting research rather than filing lawsuits," said MAPS president Dr. Rick Doblin "It's become more and more obvious that the DEA has been obstructing potentially beneficial medical research, and now is the time for them to change," he said.

"For almost 20 years, MAPS has been trying to conduct the research," Doblin noted. "We've had two protocols approved by the FDA, one to look at AIDS wasting and the other looking at medical marijuana for migraines. Both were blocked by NIDA, which refused to provide the marijuana we needed to do the studies. We've been struggling for four years to purchase 10 grams for vaporizer research for a non-smoking delivery system. Currently, the government has a monopoly, and our ability to do research is fundamentally compromised," he noted.

"We've won the latest round in the perennial litigation, with the DEA judge recommending that Dr. Craker get the license," said Doblin. "Unfortunately, we have to unleash a major lobbying campaign to get the DEA to live up to its rhetoric. The government is too trapped into the drug war to be comfortable funding studies that might contradict the propaganda and 'send the wrong message.' We have a situation where the government is focused on suppressing research, not facilitating it."

Also at the press conference was medical marijuana patient Angel Raich, whose challenge to federal marijuana laws went all the way to the US Supreme Court before being denied in 2005. "It is extremely frustrating that the federal government has made a really large effort to block research that could help patients like me," said the California woman, who uses marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of seizure disorders, wasting syndrome, and an inoperable brain tumor, among other conditions. "It is time for the government and the DEA to stop playing games with patients' lives," she said.

"The ACLU is involved because we believe patients like Angel should be able to get their medicine from a pharmacy, like everyone else," said the ACLU's Drug Law Reform Project's Allen Hopper. "Judge Bittner reached the only decision she could under the law," he argued, noting that Bittner acknowledged that NIDA had a stockpile of research marijuana, but that researchers were routinely denied access to it.

"We are here today," Hopper continued, "because we are now one step away from entering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. We are confident the administration will do the right thing, but we are also prepared to go to the federal court of appeals to force the DEA to do the right thing if necessary."

An impressive array of politicians and groups is prepared to push the DEA in the right direction. Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry (D) and Edward Kennedy (D) and 38 members of the House of Representatives have joined a broad range of scientific, medical and public health organizations in challenging the federal government's policy of blocking administrative channels and obstructing research that could lead to the development of marijuana as a prescription medicine. These organizations include the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, as well as several state medical and nurses' associations.

Now it is up to the DEA to render a final decision. The DEA administrator who will make the call is not bound by Judge Bittner's recommendation, nor is she required to make her decision within any timeline. It will be up to public pressure to produce the desired results. Wednesday's press conference was only the beginning.

AL: House panel hears case for medical marijuana

Location: 
Montgomery, AL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Mobile Register (AL)
URL: 
http://www.al.com/news/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/news/1179998521164330.xml&coll=3

RI: House approves medical marijuana law

Location: 
Providence, RI
United States
Publication/Source: 
WPRI-TV (RI)
URL: 
http://www.eyewitnessnewstv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6562446

CT: House votes to legalize medical use of marijuana; Wilton's Rep. Boucher tries in vain to change the bill, files 50 amendments

Location: 
Hartford, CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Wilton Villager (CT)
URL: 
http://www.wiltonvillager.com/wilton_templates/wilton_story/288959901209870.php

Goodbye, Dr. Tod

I am sad to report the passing of Dr. Tod Mikuriya, a leading and long-time advocate for medical marijuana, scientific and historical marijuana researcher, physician and drug policy reformer. Tod was a member of DRCNet's advisory board and a long-time friend. Phil has written a memorial to Tod for this week's Chronicle, and I am also posting it here. Click the "read full post" link below, if you don't already see it, or read it online here. Tod Mikuriya addressing a NORML conference Dr. Tod Hiro Mikuriya, MD, a psychiatrist, prominent researcher, and medical marijuana advocate, died Sunday night at his Berkeley, California, home. He was 73 years of age. Mikuriya, who was a member of DRCNet's Board of Advisors, earned a medical degree at Temple University, then completed a psychiatric residency at Southern Pacific General Hospital in San Francisco before joining the US Army Medical Corps. After military service and serving at state hospitals in California and Oregon, he directed marijuana research at the National Institutes of Mental Health in 1967, but quickly quit, citing political interference with research results. He turned to a private practice in psychiatry, but his clinical interest in marijuana never waned. In 1973, he published the pioneering "Medical Marijuana Papers," an anthology of journal articles on cannabis therapeutics, and he later founded the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. Mikuriya was deeply involved in the campaign for Proposition 215, the groundbreaking 1996 initiative that made California the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. After Prop 215 passed, Mikuriya served as Medical Coordinator of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, the Hayward Hempery, and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club -- organizations established to provide access to medical marijuana for patients. In 2000, Mikuriya founded the California Cannabis Research Medical Group, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to conducting quality medical marijuana research, to ensuring the safety and confidentiality of all research subjects, and to maintaining the highest quality of standards and risk management." In 2003, Mikuriya was placed on probation by the Medical Board of California after an investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct in 16 cases since 1998. Mikuriya and his supporters said he was being targeted for his medical marijuana advocacy. He appealed the board ruling, and continued to practice up until his death. Dr. Mikuriya remained an ardent and animated advocate of medical marijuana, and more broadly, social justice, up until the end. His vision, principles, and perseverance are to be emulated. They will certainly be missed. Mikuriya contributed a collection of papers that are available in DRCNet's Drug Library, Schaffer Library section, online here.
Location: 
United States

In Memoriam: Medical Marijuana Researcher, Advocate Dr. Tod Mikuriya Dead at 73

Dr. Tod Hiro Mikuriya, MD, a psychiatrist, prominent researcher, and medical marijuana advocate, died Sunday night at his Berkeley, California, home. He was 73 years of age.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/todmikuriya.jpg
Tod Mikuriya
Mikuriya, who was a member of DRCNet's Board of Advisors, earned a medical degree at Temple University, then completed a psychiatric residency at Southern Pacific General Hospital in San Francisco before joining the US Army Medical Corps. After military service and serving at state hospitals in California and Oregon, he directed marijuana research at the National Institutes of Mental Health in 1967, but quickly quit, citing political interference with research results.

He turned to a private practice in psychiatry, but his clinical interest in marijuana never waned. In 1973, he published the pioneering "Medical Marijuana Papers," an anthology of journal articles on cannabis therapeutics, and he later founded the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.

Mikuriya was deeply involved in the campaign for Proposition 215, the groundbreaking 1996 initiative that made California the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. After Prop 215 passed, Mikuriya served as Medical Coordinator of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, the Hayward Hempery, and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club -- organizations established to provide access to medical marijuana for patients.

In 2000, Mikuriya founded the California Cannabis Research Medical Group, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to conducting quality medical marijuana research, to ensuring the safety and confidentiality of all research subjects, and to maintaining the highest quality of standards and risk management."

In 2003, Mikuriya was placed on probation by the Medical Board of California after an investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct in 16 cases since 1998. Mikuriya and his supporters said he was being targeted for his medical marijuana advocacy. He appealed the board ruling, and continued to practice up until his death.

Dr. Mikuriya remained an ardent and animated advocate of medical marijuana, and more broadly, social justice, up until the end. His vision, principles, and perseverance are to be emulated. They will certainly be missed.

Mikuriya contributed a collection of papers that are available in DRCNet's Drug Library, Schaffer Library section, online here.

Listen to the DrugTruth Network's half hour tribute, including interviews with Mikuriya and remembrances of friends and family, here.

Medical Marijuana: Connecticut Bill Passes House, Heads for Senate

A bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for some patients has passed out of the Connecticut House of Representatives on a vote of 89-58. It now heads for the state Senate, which approved a similar measure in 2005. That bill was defeated in the House. The vote came after six hours of debate in the House, where lawmakers cited their own experiences with debilitating illness.

"The message is simple: We have compassion for people who are suffering in this state," said Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) during the debate.

"Today, we have the opportunity to give relief to Connecticut residents who are sick, who are dying, who are wasting away, who are losing their quality of life," she said. "And we can tell those Connecticut residents that the state of Connecticut no longer will prosecute you," said Rep. Penny Bacchiochi (R-Somers), who led the fight for the bill.

The bill, HB 6715, would allow physicians to certify an adult patient's use of marijuana after determining he or she has a debilitating condition and could potentially benefit from marijuana. Patients and their primary caregivers would then register with the state's Department of Consumer Protection. Patients and caregivers could grow up to four plants four feet high in an indoor facility.

The bill was supported by a broad coalition including The Alliance Connecticut, United Methodist Church of Connecticut, Connecticut Nurses Association, Dr. Andrew Salner -- Director of the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital, A Better Way Foundation, the Drug Policy Alliance Network, and the Drug Policy Alliance.

It was opposed by law enforcement and by Rep. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), who led a virtual legislative crusade against it. Boucher filed 50 hostile amendments to the bill before Thursday's vote, but gave up after the first eight got shot down. Her proposals included informing police departments of the names of registered medical marijuana users and requiring the state Agriculture Department to set up a pilot program.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero put on his best street hustler accent as he opposed the bill. "How do you get it?" he asked, referring to the seeds for starting the four plants allowed under the bill "You've got to buy it. How do you buy it? As Rep.(Michael) Lawlor said, you've got to hit the streets folks -- nickel bag, dime bag. You gotta make a drug deal, baby."

Cafero's Scarface imitation notwithstanding, the bill has passed and now heads to the Senate, where it faces committee votes.

Medical Marijuana: Minnesota Bill Dies Without House Vote as Legislature Adjourns

A bill that would have made Minnesota the 13th medical marijuana state died for lack of a House floor vote before the state legislature adjourned Tuesday. A companion bill had passed the Senate earlier in the session, but even if the House had passed it, it faced a veto threat from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The bill, HF 655, would have allowed patients with specified chronic debilitating conditions to possess up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Patients would have been able to designate caregivers to grow for them. The bill also called for patients to register with the state after obtaining a written recommendation from a physician, registered nurse, or physician's assistant.

Although the Minnesota medical marijuana bill could not clear the final legislative hurdle this year, supporters said their success this year left them well-positioned for next year. Under the state's two-year session, next year's drive will begin with the legislation having already passed the Senate, and with the momentum of an unbroken string of committee wins.

"We are in a very strong position to pass this sensible, compassionate bill into law next year, and making sure that happens will be a top priority," said Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth) in a press release from Minnesotans for Compassionate Care (MCC), a coalition of citizens, patients, medical professionals and others working to pass the bill.

"Passage of the medical marijuana bill in the Senate this year gave the effort incredible momentum, and I look forward to passing the House in 2008," added Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing).

Another legislative supporter, bill cosponsor and former House speaker Rep. Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon) vowed to work on bringing Gov. Pawlenty around in the mean time. "I look forward to having a continuing dialogue with the governor about the need to protect seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana, and about the safeguards built into this legislation," he said. "I'm confident we will pass it when we return next year because it's the right thing to do."

Last month, New Mexico became the latest state to enact a medical marijuana law when Gov. Bill Richardson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, signed a bill into law there. That gave some hope to MCC director Neal Levine. "As states like New Mexico continue to step forward and new research continues to document the relief that medical marijuana can provide for suffering patients, the momentum is overwhelming," said Levine. "No Minnesotan should fear arrest and jail simply for trying to stay alive, and I have no doubt that 2008 will be the year that protection for patients becomes law."

If that is indeed the case, Minnesota will join Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington as medical marijuana states.

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