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Update on Pain Physician Dr. William Mangino

In July and September I wrote here about the plight of Bill Mangino, a Pennsylvania physician who was decent enough to treat patients with the pain medications (opiates) that they needed, and was punished for these good deeds with a prosecution and now imprisonment -- all over a crime that never happened and for which no evidence exists happened. Yesterday I heard from Dr. James Stacks, a Mangino supporter and board member of the Pain Relief Network, with the news that Dr. Mangino had asked we post correspondence he sent to a judge prior to a hearing today that he hopes will get him a new trial and freedom in the meantime. The briefs were put together by Mangino himself, written by hand, but has been scanned for our edification online as well. Interested parties can read some commentary on it by Alex DeLuca here, or go straight to the briefs online here or here. A cutting quote that Dr. Mangino used as his signature line in the documents:
Statutes must mean what they say... and say what they mean.
United States

The DEA is waging war on California

[Courtesy of MPP] 

The DEA is continuing to terrorize medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. On November 20, DEA agents raided the Long Beach Compassionate Cooperative (L.B.C.C.), a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles County. In addition to seizing assets, federal agents arrested the owner and warned that other area dispensaries could face the same fate. Read the news coverage here.

In recent months, MPP has raised $150,000 of the $180,000 that’s needed to launch our new project in California to fend off these raids. Please donate now to help close the $30,000 gap.

Since the beginning of the year, the DEA has executed dozens of raids in California, including:

• January 11: 11 dispensaries in West Hollywood
• March 29: Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay
• May 1 and July 16: Nature's Medicinal Cooperative in Bakersfield
• June 13: Farm Assist Caregivers in Pomona
• July 17: Healing Nations Collective in Inland Valley
• July 25: 10 dispensaries in Los Angeles County
• August 29: 3 dispensaries in San Mateo
• October 11: Arts District Healing Center in Los Angeles
• October 30: Compassionate Caregivers of Alameda County
• November 1: C-3 Collective in Garden Grove
• November 2: 105/405 in North Hills

The DEA has also instituted a chilling new form of interference in California’s medical marijuana law: In July, the DEA began threatening landlords who lease space to medical marijuana dispensaries with prison time and forfeiture of their property — a move that was condemned in a Los Angeles Times editorial as a “deplorable new bullying tactic.” The L.B.C.C.’s landlord was a recipient of one of these letters.

Please fight for the will of California voters and for safe access to medical marijuana by donating to MPP’s California plan today.

In the coming year, MPP will be working with a coalition of reform organizations, dispensary owners, health care professionals, patients, activists, and state legislators to protect patients and dispensaries operating legally under state law, but we need your help. Would you please help fund a lobbyist in Sacramento to represent the medical marijuana community against the DEA’s reign of terror?

The situation in California is critical, and what happens in California matters to all of us: Just as California launched the modern era of the medical marijuana movement with the passage of Prop. 215 in November 1996, so, too, will it pave the way for state-recognized dispensaries with the legislation we will help pass next year. And, with your help, MPP and our allies will end state and local cooperation with federal law enforcement — which regularly utilizes local police for assistance during the DEA’s raids. Please join us in making sure that California resources will no longer be used to subvert the state’s own laws. This is important not only to Californians but to residents of every state seeking to enact compassionate medical marijuana laws.

We’re going to make medical marijuana access safe for seriously ill patients. Can I count on your help by making a donation to our California efforts today?

Thank you for your generosity during this critical time.


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

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

United States

Ron Paul on Medical Marijuana

Ron Paul shows Giuliani, McCain, and Romney how to talk about medical marijuana without sounding like a monster. Hint: tell everyone you care about sick people. Voters love that stuff.

Ron Paul, supposedly a fringe candidate, seems to understand formerly cherished conservative principles like "states rights" better than any other republican running.

The success of Paul's campaign is yet another demonstration that smart and compassionate positions on drug policy are neither exclusively liberal nor politically suicidal.

United States

Medical Marijuana: Michigan Initiative Organizers Hand in Half a Million Signatures

Backers of a proposed 2008 medical marijuana initiative in Michigan delivered some 496,000 signatures of registered voters to state election officials Tuesday, far in excess of the 304,000 required by Michigan law to put the issue to a vote. Provided that signature-gatherers have in fact come up with enough valid signatures -- anywhere over 450,000 would normally be considered a comfortable margin -- the issue will then go before the legislature. If the legislature fails to act, the issue would go to the voters in the November 2008 election.

Organized by the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, with the backing of the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative would set up a system of patient and caregiver registries that would allow qualifying patients or caregivers to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 12 plants. Caregivers could possess those amounts for each patient with whom they are listed on the state registry. Medical marijuana would be approved for "chronic debilitating disease or medical conditions" including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's agitation, wasting, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, or "any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department."

While under Michigan law, the legislature will get first crack at approving the initiative, that appears unlikely. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) told the Detroit Free Press the legislature could have taken up the issue at any time. That it has not suggests "there may not be much interest in it," the spokesman said. A spokesman for House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Township) had no comment.

But the lackadaisical legislature notwithstanding, Michigan has already proven friendly ground for medical marijuana, with voters in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Traverse City, and Flint all passing local initiatives since 2004. An August 2003 poll found 59% for medical marijuana statewide.

Twelve states currently have viable medical marijuana laws, mainly in the West and the Northeast. No state in the Midwest has yet embraced medical marijuana, although legislative efforts are underway in several, including Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Press Release: New Study Finds Marijuana Compound Inhibits Breast Cancer Growth

MEDIA RELEASE from Americans for Safe Access For Immediate Release: November 19, 2007 Contact: ASA Director of Government Affairs Caren Woodson (510) 388-0546 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes (510) 681-6361 New Study Finds Marijuana Compound Inhibits Breast Cancer Growth Mounting evidence should compel federal government to stop obstructing research San Francisco, CA -- A new study announced today by the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) found that a non-psychoactive, naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant (marijuana) called cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits the activity of breast cancer cells “in vitro” and in animals. While previous studies have found that tetrahydrocannabinol, another cannabis compound known as THC, has properties found to inhibit cancer growth, the CPMCRI study is the first time that CBD has been shown to have a similar effect. According to CPMCRI, the study was accepted for publication in October. “This pre-clinical research clearly demonstrates the therapeutic potential of marijuana’s active compounds,” said CPMCRI cannabinoid researcher Jahan Marcu, who is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “The availability of a non-toxic substance that has the potential to fight breast cancer and likely other forms of cancer is of tremendous importance.” Despite mounting evidence verifying the medical efficacy of smoked marijuana and it’s isolated compounds, the federal government continues to obstruct scientific research in this field. In the last 20 years, the FDA has approved only three studies using plant-derived marijuana or its constituent compounds, forcing researchers such as CPMCRI to use synthetic versions. One reason for a lack of U.S. research using naturally derived marijuana is that scientists must obtain it from the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a stated disinterest in the investigation of marijuana’s therapeutic qualities. “It’s time for NIDA and the federal government to end the monopoly on research cannabis,” said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs for ASA. “This study should compel our government to do everything in its power to conduct the long-overdue research recommended by the 1999 Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine report.” The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which works with NIDA to restrict the availability of research cannabis, is currently refusing to license University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, despite a ruling earlier this year from Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner that stated such research was “in the public interest.” The CBD compound used by CPMCRI for the study was synthetic due to the complications of obtaining research cannabis. However, compounds extracted from the marijuana plant are far cheaper and would be easier to acquire for the purpose of research if a competitive source of research grade marijuana were available. Coincidentally, the DEA is recommending that the natural form of THC be rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that the plant derived compound may be naturally extracted in order to facilitate the research and development of generic, natural THC-based therapeutic drugs. “This study provides clear evidence which suggests that DEA ought to further consider rescheduling other cannabinoids with clear medical benefit in order to jump-start the research and development of cannabis-based drugs so patients have access to these drugs sooner as opposed to later,” continued Woodson. Further information: CPMCRI Study and Researcher Dr. Sean McAllister – Additional cannabis research – 2007 Ruling by ALJ Bittner, claiming marijuana research is “in the public interest” –
San Francisco, CA
United States

Awesome: Marijuana Compound Might Cure Breast Cancer

While police and cement-skulled Washington bureaucrats are busy trying to eradicate this infinitely useful plant, scientists around the world are constantly uncovering new evidence of marijuana's medical potential. The latest news is that the marijuana-derived compound CBD may stop the spread of breast cancer:
A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer from spreading throughout the body, according to a new study by scientists at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. The researchers are hopeful that the compound called CBD, which is found in cannabis sativa, could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy.

"Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Sean D. McAllister, a cancer researcher at CPMCRI, in a news release. "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." [FOX News]
Ok, how cool is that? Breast cancer is one of the most loathsome diseases known to humankind, and the cure just might be contained within the world's easiest-to-grow plant.

It is just delightfully ironic that while the drug war political machine continues to turn out anti-pot propaganda at alarming rates, scientists are touting it as a potential "non-toxic" alternative to various common medical procedures. I really can't think of anything more ridiculous than the fact that we are still debating the relative toxicity of marijuana in a nation that prescribes adderall to 8-year-olds and imports GHB laced children's toys from China.

I have a feeling that marijuana could cure every disease on earth and there would still be idiots passionately demanding that we banish it from the planet:
Drug Czar: Marijuana is more dangerous than ever.

Marijuana: I can cure cancer.

Drug Czar: I'd like to see some conclusive research on that.

Marijuana: I doubt that you really would.

Drug Czar: This is just propaganda from the well-funded pro-drug lobby.

Marijuana: FOX News?

Drug Czar (exasperated): Oh, yeah? Well today's marijuana is worse than cancer.

Marijuana (gazing upwards): Forgive him, Father…

It was put here for a reason. Several reasons, it seems. Let's start figuring out what they are and stop looking for evil where there is none.
United States

Sensible Colorado Press Release: Historic Lawsuit Overturns State's Medical Marijuana Policy

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2007 Contact: Brian Vicente, Sensible Colorado, 720-280-4067 Historic Lawsuit Overturns State's Medical Marijuana Policy Denver Judge slaps state health department; rules medical marijuana patients can appoint provider of their choice. DENVER -- Sensible Colorado will hold a press conference on Monday, Nov. 19, in front of the Denver City and County Building, to announce the issuance of an order by Chief Denver District Court Judge Larry J. Naves permanently overturning the Colorado Health Department's "Five Patient Policy." Adopted by the Health Department in a closed meeting in 2004, this policy limited the number of patients to which a caregiver can provide marijuana for medical purposes. Chief Judge Naves's decision stems from a lawsuit filed in June 2007 by Sensible Colorado on behalf of state-licensed medical marijuana patient Damien LaGoy. LaGoy, who uses medical marijuana to cope with nausea related to AIDS wasting-syndrome and Hepatitis C, sued the agency after his caregiver request was denied by the Health Department in May 2007 based on the "Five Patient Policy." In a July hearing Judge Naves temporarily suspended the policy accusing the agency of acting inappropriately in establishing the policy in a closed-door meeting which was not open to public or scientific input. Naves further alluded to the harmful nature of the policy in stating, "There is no reason this plaintiff should suffer." In a decision released late last week, Naves permanently overturned the policy citing violations of both the Colorado Open Meetings Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. This decision will allow the plaintiff Damien LaGoy, and the rest of Colorado's 1700 licensed medical marijuana patients, to appoint the medical marijuana provider of their choice. "I feel safer already," said LaGoy. "Now I can get my medicine from a safe and responsible caregiver instead of taking my chances on the streets." "This policy had the real effect of harming seriously-ill Coloradans," said Brian Vicente, lead attorney and head of Sensible Colorado. "Hopefully the Health Department will now begin acting to help medical marijuana patients, not harm them." WHAT: Press conference to announce an order protecting medical marijuana patient rights **copies of Judge Naves's decision will be made available at the press conference** WHEN: Monday, November 19, 12 p.m. (noon) WHERE: In front of the Denver City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street WHO: Damien LaGoy, plaintiff and medical marijuana patient Daniel J. Pope, medical marijuana caregiver for LaGoy Brian Vicente, attorney and Sensible Colorado executive director Sean McAllister, co-counsel and criminal defense attorney # # #
Denver, CO
United States

ASA’s Media Summary for the Week Ending 11/16/07

DOCTORS: Leading Psychiatrists’ Group Endorses Medical Marijuana

The preeminent association of psychiatrists has come out in favor of legal access to medical marijuana. The significance of yet another organization of health professionals endorsing medical use is heightened by a recent report that alleged a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. Experts have noted that the science behind the study is shaky, and if there were any correlation, the rate of schizophrenia would have increased dramatically with the increased prevalence of cannabis use, which it has not.

Psychiatrists for Medical Marijuana
by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine
The Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association, a legislative body composed of representatives from APA districts throughout the country, has unanimously approved an action paper that urges the federal government to stop interfering with the medical use of marijuana in states where it's legal.

WISCONSIN: Lawmakers Hold Hearings on Medical Marijuana

One of the leading physicians specializing in cannabis therapeutics, Dr. David Bearman, who serves on ASA's Board of Directors, testified before a committee of Wisconsin lawmakers this week. The state legislature is again considering enacting a measure that would remove criminal penalties for patients who use marijuana on the advice of their doctors. Dr. Bearman, a Wisconsin native, also gave an educational talk on “Cannabis and Cannabinoids in the 21st Century” to the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

Experts explain health benefits of marijuana
by Jackie Johnson, Wisconsin Radio Network
Dr. David Bearman is one of thousands of medical doctors who supports legalizing pot for patients. Dr. Bearman testified at an informational Health Committee hearing at the state capitol in support of the controversial drug.

Senate hearing on medical marijuana turns emotional
by Ken Harris, Badger Herald (WI)
A state Senate committee heard heated testimony Wednesday morning at the Capitol both for and against medicinal marijuana.

TENNESSEE: Prosecuted Patient Educates Lawmakers on Medical Marijuana

Lawmakers in the Volunteer State also held hearings this week on medical marijuana. Among those testifying career public health officer Bernie Ellis, who is also a medical marijuana patient. Ellis was convicted in federal court after local law enforcement declined to press charges over the cannabis he grew for himself and a few terminally ill neighbors. His battle to save his family farm from federal seizure has been the subject of recent media attention. Ellis is one of the patients featured in ASA’s "Patients in the Crossfire;" download it at

Medical Marijuana Lights Up Debate Again
by Tom Randles, WSMV TV (Nashville)
On Tuesday, Health and Human Resources Committee members got an ear full from those pitching pot as a way to heal and others who would like to see House Bill 486 go up in smoke. "It is both an effective therapeutic agent (and) extremely useful with many fewer side effects,” said Bernie Ellis of Americans for Safe Access.

Medical Marijuana Proposal Debated in TN Legislative Committee
by Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press
November 13th, 2007
Tennessee lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, although the idea has failed in the General Assembly before and its future is uncertain.

Medical Marijuana Debates Goes Before State Committee
WKRN TV (Nashville)
November 13th, 2007
Whether medical marijuana is beneficial for chronically ill patients and should be allowed in Tennessee was focus of a study Tuesday at Legislative Plaza.

Fowler Witnesses Testify Against Marijuana For Medicinal Purposes
The Chattanoogan
November 13th, 2007
Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday heard testimony opposed to the legalization of marijuana for “medicinal” purposes from Dr. David Murray, chief scientist for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President, and Dr. Kent Shih, an oncologist currently practicing in the Nashville area.

ILLINOIS: Documentary Details Medical Marijuana Benefits, Patient Hardships

The airing of a film that chronicles the medical benefits of marijuana has generated significant debate in the Chicago area. Bills that would remove criminal penalties for patients have been before the state legislature repeatedly in recent years, but lawmakers have yet to act, despite overwhelming public opinion in favor of legal access there. The screenings for the documentary have been organized by IDEAL Reform, an ASA affiliate.

Medical Marijuana
by Rachel Aissen, WMBD/WYZZ TV (IL)
Making marijuana legal for medicinal purposes is a heated debate across the U.S. The Illinois Congress recently took on the issue and now a film maker is asking Illinoisans to take a second look through his documentary "Waiting to Inhale."

Medical marijuana documentary sparks bigger debate
by Deborah J. Siegelbaum, Medill Reports (IL)
Grass, pot, weed, bud, dope, cannabis - it’s a drug with many names. In some cultures it is considered a portal to another realm of consciousness, and vilified in others as a gateway drug to a life of addiction. But treatment for symptoms of diseases like AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological disorders? Can it be that this illegal party drug is…a cure?

CALIFORNIA: Implementation Around the State

As communities around the state grapple with how best to implement the 1996 law that makes safe access to medical marijuana a right, local officials are looking to successful models in other communities and activists are providing additional services. One aspect is the disparity in access in California, an issue the legislature tried to address with the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act. New clinics such as the one being opened in Riverside help serve patients locally.

Councilwoman visits marijuana facilities
by Will Bigham, Daily Bulletin (CA)
Claremont Councilwoman Ellen Taylor took a trip to San Francisco last weekend to research that city's medical marijuana dispensary program.

Riverside clinic will offer doctors' notes for medical marijuana
by Gregor McGavin , The Press-Enterprise
Riverside residents could soon have a much shorter drive to get a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana.

New medical marijuana clinic coming
by K. Kaufmann, Desert Sun (CA)
Riverside County is about to get a new clinic for medical marijuana patients. And Lanny Swerdlow, president of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, is going to be running it.

Pot ordinance stirs passions
by Mike A'Dair, Willits News (CA)
Supervisors will consider a new, more restrictive medical marijuana ordinance at their December 5 meeting. The measure was returned to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel for review following the board's November 6 meeting after Supervisor John Pinches, father of the main concept behind the ordinance, said he would not support it, and Nadel said she needed to take a second look before the proposed ordinance came to a vote.

OREGON: Expansion of State Law Proposed

At the same time as state health officials are working on redefining rules for medical marijuana patients in Oregon, an initiative has been proposed that would expand the rights of patients and expand methods of access.

Changes to state marijuana law could expand drug growth, possession rights
by Carly Nairn, Daily Vanguard (Portland State, OR)
A drafter of Oregon's marijuana law visited Portland State yesterday, advocating law changes, including increased rights to possess the drug as well as its limited legalization, which could be presented to the state legislature this session. The initiative would give legal rights as well as cost reimbursements to patients who privately grow the drug for medical use. The initiative also calls for the creation of a regulated and licensed dispensary system.

RESEARCH: Cannabis Extract Works when Other Painkillers Don’t

While pain management is one of the oldest and best-documented medical uses for cannabis, with a history stretching back hundreds of years, new clinical research using a dosage-controlled cannabis extract confirms that it can help control pain when conventional drugs fail.

If Sativex Works, So Does Pot
by Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine
A new study reported in the journal Pain finds that Sativex, an orally administered cannabis extract spray, is effective at treating neuropathic pain in patients for whom standard painkillers do not provide adequate relief. Every study that demonstrates Sativex's medical utility also demonstrates marijuana's medical utility, belying the U.S. government's claim that it has none.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

ASA's blog is helping keep activists informed on the issues and events affecting medical marijuana patients and providers.

California Weekly Round Up
by Rebecca Saltzman
ASA Fights in the California Supreme Court to Protect Patients’ Rights to Work; Federal Defendant Bryan Epis Remains Free

A Medical Marijuana Patient’s Long Road to Victory
By Nate R.
I wanted to write this post to let others who are qualified patients know that the law is here to work for us.

Advocacy in a Hurry
by Don Duncan
Sometimes, medical cannabis advocates have plenty of time to prepare in advance for an important vote at their City Council or County Board of Supervisors. In other cases, however, you may have to jump and run when you learn about a challenge or opportunity in your community. That is exactly what happened last week in Orange County.


Find out about ASA at More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at

United States

Medical Marijuana: Invited By "Pro-Family Group," Drug Czar's Chief Scientist Testifies at Tennessee House Hearing

A Tennessee House committee considering a medical marijuana bill heard from a number of witnesses, many of them hostile, including Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) chief scientist Dr. David Murray, at a hearing this week. Much of the opposition was organized by a "pro-family" Christian organization normally worried about issues such as gay adoption and subtle anti-Christian messages in movies. Reformers were present too, among them Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Nathan Miller and Maury County epidemiologist and substance abuse researcher Bernie Ellis, himself a medical marijuana patient.

The hearing came Tuesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee on House Bill 486, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville). The bill would create a state identity card and registry system for terminally ill patients only. But even that was too much for drug war bureaucrats and moral crusaders.

According to a report in The Chattanoogan, Murray, New York anti-drug crusader Steven Steiner, and Nashville oncologist Dr. Kent Shih, who all testified against the bill, all appeared thanks to the efforts of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. Headed by former state Sen. David Fowler, the council says it promotes "the culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good" and is generally concerned with opposing reproductive rights, restricting adult-oriented businesses, and fighting homosexuality.

"We appreciate the willingness of these individuals to come, at their own expense, to educate the committee members about what is really at stake in the debate over 'medical marijuana,'" said Fowler. "Having seen my own mother suffer and die from cancer, I know how much we all desire to see relief for those we love. But we cannot allow the compassion of the average American to overcome good science and good medicine. Nor can we allow that compassion to be manipulated by those who have, as their ultimate agenda, the legalization of marijuana and even other drugs."

Worse yet, Fowler said, the bill "would inevitably lead to increased public consumption of marijuana and make a mockery of our criminal drug laws. What has been observed in other states is that marijuana distribution becomes uncontrollable in society at large even when it is restricted to 'medicinal uses.' With an individual able to produce up to 13,000 joints per year under this bill, it is naïve to think that those joints won't wind up in the wrong hands."

Fowler also cited California's wide-open medical marijuana scene to suggest the Tennessee bill would make enforcement of the criminal law regarding marijuana impracticable. "In North Hollywood, there are now more medical pot clubs than there are Starbucks. In fact, the co-founder of the California medical pot referendum has now said that most of the medical pot dispensaries in California are 'little more than dope dealers with storefronts,'" he added, citing the infamous words of Scott Imler.

Miller told committee members 12 states have medical marijuana laws and there was no evidence they "send the wrong message" to young people. In 11 of those states, Miller pointed out, teen marijuana use had declined.

Ellis, who suffers from degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia, and who was convicted on federal drug charges for growing medical marijuana for himself and providing it for free to four terminal patients, said that marijuana was once a significant medicine before it was banned 70 years ago. He read testimonials from cancer and AIDS patients who said marijuana helped eased their suffering. "We would not be here urging you to make medical marijuana legal again in the state if it were not safe and effective," Ellis said.

ONDCP's Murray told lawmakers they should not do an end run around the Food & Drug Administration. "My concern is we're doing more harm than good with these measures," he said.

Dr. Shih, who practices in Nashville, told the committee that marijuana is "impractical" and that other legal medications are as effective. "I believe there are safer drugs," he said.

William Benson, assistant director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, also testified. He said the bill could present complications for law enforcement because Tennessee is a leading producer of marijuana.

Rep. Jones, for her part, went after Fowler's characterization of her bill as a stalking horse for legalization. "This is not about making marijuana legal across the state. This is strictly for medical reasons, only to help people feel better," Jones said. "Any suggestion that there might be something hidden in the legislation is absurd."

Former Sen. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), now a member of the US House of Representatives, tried with no luck to get a medical marijuana bill through in years past. Jones' bill is unlikely to go anywhere this year, although she said she was open to changes that could make it more politically palatable next year. Given the mobilization of the "pro-family" groups and the participation of the drug czar's office, it will be an uphill battle in the Volunteer State. The drug czar has lost before, though, so stay tuned.

ASA's Medical Marijuana in the News: Week Ending 11/9/07

ASA ACTION: Defending Patients’ Right to Work

The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week from ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford on behalf of patients’ right to use medical marijuana without fear of termination. ASA contends that the voters intended for a patient using medical marijuana should be accorded the same workplace protections as those using other prescription drugs. This case is being closely watched, as it will affect how the state’s employers handle employee drug testing. For a video of the hearing, see

Calif high court considers whether medical pot users can be fired
by Paul Elias, Associated Press
When his new boss at Ragingwire Inc. ordered Gary Ross to take a drug test, the recently hired computer tech had no doubt the results would come back positive for marijuana. But along with his urine sample, Ross submitted a doctor's recommendation that he smoke pot to alleviate back pain—a document he figured would save him from being fired.

Calif. Supreme Court May Need Tiebreaker for Pot Dispute
by Mike McKee, The Recorder (CA)
Pity Justice Carol Corrigan. Not only was she sick with the flu on Tuesday, but she might turn out to be the deciding vote in a major case that could determine whether employers have the right to fire employees who use marijuana as medicine.

Local Man's Firing for Medical Pot Goes to State's High Court
by George Warren, KXTV News 10
California's medical marijuana law is facing a critical test Tuesday morning. The state Supreme Court will decide if an employee can be fired for off-duty marijuana use.

The Clash Between Federal Drug Law and California's "Medical Marijuana" Law
by Vikram David Amar, FindLaw
Two news items during the past couple of weeks in California highlight the complicated legal and political tangle that is American federalism - the relationship between federal and state governments -- today. Both incidents involve the interplay between, on one hand, California's (now decade-old) decision to decriminalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and, on the other hand, the continuing illegality under federal law of all marijuana cultivation, possession, distribution and use, for any purpose.

NETHERLANDS: Health Minister Defends Medical Marijuana

Cannabis is available by prescription from Dutch pharmacies, but the Health Ministry would like to see more progress on research into targeted cannabis derivatives. A five-year extension to the government-funded program will ensure patient needs are met while drug development process goes forward.

More research into medical marijuana
Research into the medicinal effects of cannabis should be continued for a further five years, health minister Ab Klink said on Wednesday. The extension means there is a serious chance a medicine with cannabis as a raw material can be developed, a ministry spokesman said.

Dutch health minister extends medical marijuana program for five years
Associated Press
The Dutch Health Ministry announced plans Wednesday to extend its experimental medical marijuana program for five years, despite setbacks. Under the program, launched in 2003, standardized marijuana is grown by government-licensed growers under controlled conditions and sold by prescription in pharmacies.

Dutch want cannabis registered as regular medicine
by Emma Thomasson, Reuters UK
The Dutch government said on Wednesday it wants to promote the development of cannabis-based medicine and will extend the drug's availability in pharmacies by five years to allow more scientific research.

OREGON: Grand Jury OK with Medical Hash-Making

Claims that hash processed from legal medical marijuana is no longer a protected substance were rejected by a grand jury in Oregon. While many patients use the whole plant, separating the active ingredients from the fibrous material reduces the amount of other chemicals ingested, without altering the therapeutic efficacy.

Grand jury says no to prosecuting medical pot user on hash charge
Associated Press
A grand jury has refused to indict a man police suspected was making hashish or hash oil from his medical marijuana.

CALIFORNIA: Not All State and Local Officials Adhere to Law

Since voters removed criminal penalties for medical use and the legislature expanded protections, many California law enforcement officers have diligently applied the law. But others have hidden behind federal prohibition, despite a constitutional obligation to uphold state law first. Some have even actively undermined state law by turning medical marijuana patients and providers over to federal prosecution, where they face harsh sentences and no opportunity to present a defense.

The War on Medical Marijuana
by Patrick McCartney and Martin A. Lee , Consortium News
Eleven years ago, California voters passed Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act, permitting the use of marijuana to treat medical conditions. But state and local officials are still collaborating with federal law enforcement in a war on medical marijuana.

CALIFORNIA: Northern Town Debates Growing Rules

A tradition of self-sufficiency and alternative choices may have contributed to the acceptance the medical use of marijuana has received in some communities. Northern California has historically been an area that appreciated the potential of cannabis, and the proliferation of personal and collective gardens reflects that. Officials are currently working to ensure that safety measures are being observed.

Gold From Green In A Gray Area
by Bob Doran, North Coast Journal (CA)
A billowing cloud of controversy surrounding medical marijuana has made it the hot topic du jour in Arcata. Last month, after an indoor medical marijuana growing operation burned in a rental house, the subject jumped from the front pages of local newspapers to the City Council chambers. City staff from the planning, fire and police departments had been chewing on the perceived problem at weekly confabs for over a year, but the house fire moved the issue to the forefront of public debate.

ID CARDS: Voluntary State Program Expands to Glenn Co.

When the state legislature told California’s county health departments that they are required to provide ID cards to qualified medical marijuana patients who want them, they neglected to say when. As a result, four years later the cards are still not available in all counties. Chief among the benefits of the card program is that it provides verification of patient status for law enforcement, protecting the patient from arrest and freeing up public safety resources.

Glenn Health Services to issue medical-marijuana IDs
by Barbara Arrigoni, Chico Enterprise-Record
Glenn County joined 35 other California counties Tuesday with a decision by the Board of Supervisors to approve a fee for dispersing medical-marijuana identification cards to people who have prescriptions.

CELEBRITY: Drew Carey Medical Marijuana Video Gets Attention

The media buzz about Drew Carey’s medical marijuana video continued this week. The veteran comedian, actor and now game-show-host includes many perspectives, but comes down strongly on the side of safe access. Among the interviewees is ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, who tells how federal raids on patients led to the founding of Americans for Safe Access. To view this episode of the Drew Carey Project, please visit

Carey Supports Prescription Pot
by The Early Show, CBS News
Bob Barker had his cause. He signed off every "Price is Right" by saying: "help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered." Now the new host of "The Price is Right," Drew Carey, has found a cause to call his own and it's a little more controversial than fixing your pets.

Drew Carey Shares His Pipe Dreams
by Natalie Finn, E! Online
Drew Carey has his issues—with the federal government, that is. The latest of which is Congress' refusal to legalize medical marijuana across the board, an issue near and dear to Carey's heart according to his latest video for the nonprofit Reason Foundation.

DOCUMENTARY: Getting the Patient Perspective Out

One of the barriers to safe access has been a lack of concrete information. Many patients have been afraid to speak about their experiences with the relief they’ve gotten from cannabis for fear of criminal prosecution or loss of their jobs or community standing. Documentaries such as “Waiting to Inhale” help show the human cost of the federal government’s rejection of medical marijuana.

Local screening of film on medical marijuana
WJBC AM 1230 (IL)
There will be a screening of a documentary on medical marijuana at Illinois State University this weekend. The film called "Waiting to Inhale" examines the debate over the use of pot for medical reasons. It includes interviews with researchers and patients like Jamie Clayton. He's an AIDS patient from Grafton, Illinois who participated in a study at the University of California.

DISPENSARIES: Threatening Letter Leads to Closing

One of the DEA’s latest tactics in California is to threaten the law-abiding landlords who rent building space to patient collectives. Hundreds of landlords throughout the state have received letters “explaining” that their buildings could be subject to federal asset forfeiture because of the criminal drug enterprises (i.e. state-legal patient collectives) operating in them. Because the rules for asset forfeiture are much easier for the government than a criminal trial, it has become a favorite intimidation tactic.

Marijuana dispensary to close
by Mike Sprague, Whittier Daily News (CA)
There will be no more medical marijuana dispensed from the city's only clinic after Dec. 31, the planning commission ruled Monday night. Additionally, the Whittier Collective has reached agreement with its landlord to vacate the site by that date.

TENNESSEE: Patient Loses Child on Paraphernalia Charge

Among the hardships faced by patients in states without medical marijuana protections is the threat to their families. Despite the compelling medical need of this mother – she has a rare but well-documented form of glaucoma – the possession of just a marijuana pipe led to the loss of her son.

Mother vows to fight abuse, drug charges
by Brad Williams, Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)
If Suzette Evans lived in North Carolina, where marijuana possession is decriminalized, it's unlikely she'd have gotten more than a $50 citation when police found a pipe in her home. In Grainger County, however, like most of Tennessee, possession of a marijuana pipe can cost nearly $1,000 - and your children. Evans' 15-year-old son was taken away from her the night of Aug. 10, to remain in protective custody for 34 days. Evans uses marijuana to treat a rare form of glaucoma.

ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

ASA's blog is helping keep activists informed on the issues and events affecting medical marijuana patients and providers.

California Weekly Round Up
by Rebecca Saltzman
ASA Fights in the California Supreme Court to Protect Patients’ Rights to Work; Federal Defendant Bryan Epis Remains Free

A Medical Marijuana Patient’s Long Road to Victory
By Nate R.
I wanted to write this post to let others who are qualified patients know that the law is here to work for us.

Advocacy in a Hurry
by Don Duncan
Sometimes, medical cannabis advocates have plenty of time to prepare in advance for an important vote at their City Council or County Board of Supervisors. In other cases, however, you may have to jump and run when you learn about a challenge or opportunity in your community. That is exactly what happened last week in Orange County.


Find out about ASA at More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at

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