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Feature: Medical Marijuana at the Statehouse -- Stalled in St. Paul, Progress in Providence, Coming Out in Columbus

State legislatures are once again proving a formidable hurdle for the medical marijuana movement. In the last two weeks, legislation died for lack of action in the Minnesota Senate, and while the Rhode Island Senate passed a dispensary bill, it is unclear whether it will make it to the House floor. But hope springs eternal, as evidenced this week in Ohio, where the first medical marijuana bill in years was introduced.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/risenate.jpg
Rhode Island Senate chamber
In Minnesota, a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state, SF 345, died this week because of inaction on the House floor. The bill had passed the state Senate last year, the first year of the state's biannual legislative session, and passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee on a 13-4 vote earlier this month.

But it never got to a floor vote in the House before the session ran out. Supporters blamed the House leadership and the opposition of some sectors of law enforcement, which could not be pleased no matter how many changes to the bill -- 19 -- supporters made to assuage their fears. The bill also faced a likely veto from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"We're disappointed that the Minnesota legislature failed to enact a medical marijuana bill this year," said Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, the parent group for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, which led the lobbying fight to pass the bill. "But we've seen in other states that the legislative process often takes several years, and we picked up incredible support this year, including the endorsements of the state's two largest newspapers. The dozens of brave patients who came forward to tell their stories in recent months aren't giving up, and neither are we."

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, the state Senate approved legislation May 15 that would create "compassion centers" or dispensaries where patients enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program could legally obtain their medicine. Under the bill, S. 2693,the dispensaries could legally grow and sell marijuana to the 359 patients in the state medical marijuana registry. The dispensaries would be regulated by the state Department of Health.

The legislation would create licensed marijuana dispensaries, or "compassion centers," that would legally grow and sell the drug at affordable prices to the 359 patients in the state's program. The centers would be regulated by the state Health Department.

But despite strong popular support and a 29-6 vote in the Senate, the bill is not expected to get through the House this year, the Providence Journal reported. It cited opposition in the House.

"I would really have to have a sock over my head if I didn't know that," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Rhoda E. Perry (D-Providence). "What I think is important is to show movement," Perry said of the Senate vote. "I think getting it out of a chamber is movement. It's showing that there is a level of understanding and a level of acceptance," she told the Journal.

How patients would get their medicine was "the unasked question" when the state's medical marijuana law was passed, House Majority Leader Gordon Fox told the Journal. "Do you send someone that may be suffering from cancer or whatnot out into the streets to procure it? I don't know if that's necessarily a good solution. I think the natural extension of that is that we provide some sort of safe place to obtain it for those who are legally authorized."

But Fox declined to support the bill just yet. "I'm not saying that the leadership's going to support it," he said. "I'd like to read the bill. I haven't looked at what the bill does."

While the Journal has pronounced the bill dead, that's a bit premature, said Jesse Stout, spokesman for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC). "The House leadership hasn't said they're not going to vote on it, so we're working with them to try to schedule it," he said. "We still have another month left in the session."

Stout was confident the measure would pass if it got to a floor vote. "We have a lot of rank and file support from House members who favor this common sense expansion of the law, and we have a new poll that shows popular support for this measure at 69%. We have lots of support, so this is by no means over," he said.

While the legislative process has been long and torturous in Minnesota and Rhode Island, it is just getting underway in Ohio. On Wednesday, state Sen. Tom Roberts (D-Trotwood) announced details of his proposed Ohio Medical Compassion Act during a press conference at the state capitol in Columbus. Under Roberts' bill, the state Health and Agriculture Departments would be authorized to set up an advisory board to:

  • Consider granting medicinal use of cannabis in cases of debilitated medical conditions.
  • Consider applications for and renewals of registry identification cards for qualified patients and primary caregivers.
  • Provide recommendations for the safe use and efficient growing of medicinal cannabis.

"Our laws should reflect the latest in medical research, which has shown that medical cannabis has a variety of benefits for treating pain, nausea and other symptoms related to a wide range of disease," Roberts said in a prepared statement. "In an era of scientific breakthroughs and medical advances, patients should not be put in the position of choosing between living a normal life and living a healthy life," Roberts said.

"We took what we thought was the best of other medical marijuana laws and created this bill," said Tonya Davis, director of advocacy for the Ohio Patient Network. Davis, a chronic pain sufferer who is unable to walk, was optimistic about the bill's prospects. "This time around we have a cosponsor and more support in the Senate than ever before," she said.

For Davis, access to medical marijuana is a quality of life issue. With medical marijuana, she can reduce her reliance on other medications, she told the Wednesday press conference. "I require medical marijuana to maintain a lifestyle with dignity," Davis said.

The Ohio bill will likely face the same long and twisting legislative path that medical marijuana has followed in any number of statehouses. Whether it becomes law this year seems unlikely, but experience has shown that getting bills through is typically a multi-year process.

And that's something to remember in Minnesota and Rhode Island, too, not to mention other states, such as Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, where bills are active this year, said MPP's Mirken. "I understand the frustration, but we've seen before that it typically takes several years to get medical marijuana passed. Elected officials by and large still think medical marijuana is more controversial than it is. It's never easy," he said.

Still, said Mirken, time and the angels are on the side of the movement. "There is no question the historical tide is with us. It's just that sometimes it moves more slowly than we would like."

Feature: New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Law Is Working, But There Is a Hang-Up Over Production and Distribution

After an exhausting seven-year struggle, New Mexico joined the ranks of the medical marijuana states last year. As of July 1, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program will be a year old, but while parts of the program are well underway -- patients are registering and obtaining ID cards -- the state law's innovative system of state-licensed production and distribution of medical marijuana is stalled in the regulatory process, with no end in sight anytime soon.

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New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signing a bill into law
Under the New Mexico law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, patients suffering from a narrowly circumscribed set of illnesses -- cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, spinal cord damage with intractable plasticity, and HIV/AIDS -- can, with a doctor's recommendation and upon registration with the program, legally possess and use up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants, and three seedlings. The law also calls for a medical advisory board to determine whether other conditions should be added to the list.

Some 147 patients have registered with the state as of Wednesday, said Melissa Milam, head of the Medical Cannabis Program. "We're the little program that could," she said. "We just keep plugging along."

"The patients are really excited to get their ID cards and have some legal protections," agreed Reena Szczepanski, head for the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico office, who has been intimately involved in the passage and implementation of the law. "The Department of Health and the Medical Cannabis Program are doing a great job of working with the patients, and it's been very thoughtfully implemented in terms of registration and the medical advisory board," she said.

But the law also provides for designated caregivers to be able to grow for patients and for a system of state licensing of production and distribution. Although the law called for the Department of Health to promulgate regulations for production and distribution by last October 1, that hasn't happened yet. As a result, the provisions for caregivers and licensed production and distribution have not gone into effect. That means patients must either grow their own medicine or procure it on the black market.

The Department of Health finally promulgated draft regulations in December and held a public hearing on them on January 14. Those draft rules provided for "five different kinds of licensed producers: a qualified patient, a caregiver, an association of persons, a private entity, or a state owned and/or operated facility."

Based on the input it got in the hearing process, the department has been crafting a revised draft of the regulations ever since. "We're still working on that rule," said Deb Busemeyer, spokesperson for the Department of Health. "We held a public hearing and received written and oral comments, and we made some revisions, and it looks like we'll probably hold another public hearing to let people comment on our revisions."

Busemeyer was vague on a timeline, offering only that she expects a hearing "some time this year" and resolutely declining to predict when the regulations on production and distribution would actually be implemented.

But he department is committed to crafting the production and distribution regulations, Busemeyer said. "The governor was really clear -- this is an important program, and he wants us to figure out how to implement the law. We've been working on hard on this, we believe in this program, we're not dropping it by any means, but we want a good strong law with the right kind of rules, so we're taking our time," she said.

Still, Busemeyer conceded that the delay was hard on patients. "They still have to get it the same way patients do in those other medical marijuana states," she said.

"The biggest source of dissatisfaction among patients is where do you get it?" said Szczepanski. "It's the same situation as in so many other medical marijuana states. That's why the legislature was keen on the state-licensed distribution system; the intention was that New Mexico would be different."

It may well turn out to be different, but the question is when. "I'm concerned that we don't have a date for when the rest of the regulations are coming out," said Szczepanski. "I don't have any reason to believe they won't implement it, but I'd like to know the time frame."

Although Szczepanski bemoaned delays in drafting the regulations, she said she is glad the department is holding another public hearing. "My understanding is that they are working on significant changes to the regs, and we are pleased to have a formal opportunity to have input," she said. "If there are drastic changes from the first draft, it's better to have another hearing."

While each of the five sorts of licensed producers and distributors envisioned in the first draft of the regulations has its advantages, there is a strong argument to be made for including a state-owned or -operated component, said Szczepanski. "We are a largely rural state and we have to be concerned about equality of access," she noted. "New Mexico has public health offices scattered around the state, and we have a Department of Agriculture at our state university that knows how to grow things. The possible downside to a single supplier is that if it's producing poor quality medicine or not delivering a range of products, what do you do?"

The best solution would be to have a mix of licensees as envisioned in the first draft regulations, Szczepanski agued. "Having a variety of options is important for patients. If you're in a small town with a public health office and only using for a short time, that might work for you. But if you live in Albuquerque and have a chronic condition with specific health needs, you might want other options. We have to do what's best for the patients," she said.

While Szczepanski chafed at the delays, she saw no sinister forces at work. "The feds pushed back against us when we were in the legislature, but I haven't heard any rumblings at all about any pressure from Washington," she said. "Our local opponents have also been very quiet. There's nothing for them to glom onto to; there have been no scandals or abuses or outrages. The program is working and the patients have their cards and are protected," she said.

But they still need help growing their medicine while the Department of Health ponders the regulations. The department could take interim steps to ease their plight, said Szczepanski. "If the department is going to wait much longer to produce the production and distribution regulations, they need to start certifying caregivers immediately," she said. "The department says it doesn't have the authority to do that until the regs are published, and we're not looking for hasty action, but the caregiver regulations could be done now. There are already applications pending."

The Pain Relief Network: Update 5-19-08 -- Schneider Defense Calls DOJ Prosecution Unconstitutional

Schneider Defense Calls DOJ Prosecution Unconstitutional: Read the Briefs



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As always, we ask that you help PRN fight to protect the rights of patients and the doctors who treat them. Please click the link below.

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Schneider defense calls DOJ prosecution Unconstitutional

This case is an effort by the federal government to define and regulate the practice of medicine masquarading as a criminal prosecution. This case should not be about whether Dr. Schneider fell short of the standard of care for certain patients, but whether he engaged in the legitimate practice of medicine [...]

Memorandum of points and authorities in support of the defendants' joint motion for absention

The federal government has usurped the authority of the State of Kansas to regulate medicine within the State by bringing a halt to its regulatory process, and assuming that authority, impermissibly, through the federal criminal process. If any part of the Indictment is not dismissed as unconstitutional or otherwise defective, this Court should abstain, allowing the State process to run its course [...]

Competetive Enterprise Institute Joins Pain Relief Network in the battle against untreated pain

May 16, 2008
Cei.orgToday, millions of Americans live in chronic pain, without adequate access to prescription pain medications, because their doctors are too afraid of being harassed or even arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe sufficient doses. Everyone agrees that doctors should not be using their positions to supply addicts with narcotics or feed the illicit drug market. Many doctors, however, have been arrested or threatened with loss of their medical licenses simply for prescribing opiate-based pain medications in doses that federal drug authorities believe are too high [...]



www.painreliefnetwork.org

Minnesota medical marijuana bill dies one step from governor

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

Dear friends:

Although we made unprecedented progress this year, yesterday the Minnesota House of Representatives adjourned for the year without bringing MPP's medical marijuana bill up for a vote.

The bill had passed the Senate at the beginning of Minnesota's biennial session and was endorsed by the Minnesota Nurses Association, the Minnesota Public Health Association, the Minnesota AIDS Project, the Minnesota Senior Federation, and hundreds of doctors and thousands of nurses who signed statements of support. Recent polling showed more than 2-to-1 support among Minnesotans.

However, a small but vocal group of law enforcement officials spread mistruths, exaggerations, and outright lies about the bill in an attempt to kill it — such as claiming that medical marijuana lacks support from the medical community and that medical marijuana laws increase teen use. We fought back hard, blanketing the airwaves with these TV ads, generating thousands of phone calls from constituents to their state representatives, and releasing a series of Web videos documenting our opponents' lies. But in the end, the opposition's false claims swayed legislators enough to keep us from getting the vote.

However, the battle to protect Minnesota patients is far from over. The work we've done this year leaves us in a stronger position than ever: Prior to this session, no medical marijuana bill had passed a single House committee, while our bill passed out of five this time around. And polling clearly indicates that our public-relations and grassroots-organizing efforts have increased Minnesota voters' support for medical marijuana.

Despite the failure of the House to bring this popular bill up for a vote on the floor, the momentum is on our side in Minnesota, and we'll be back to finish the job next session.

Sincerely,
Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

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 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Location: 
MN
United States

Act Now to Protect Medical Cannabis Patients

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] Dear ASA Supporter,

Last month, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and a small bi-partisan coalition of Members of Congress introduced H.R. 5842, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. The legislation will help protect individuals who use or provide medical cannabis in accordance with their state law.

Visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/PatientProtectionAct to take action now!

If passed, this important legislation would, among other things, reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug according the Controlled Substances Act and provide clearer protections for qualified patients, their caregivers, and safe-access sites authorized by state or local law. Take action now to protect patients and their caregivers!

Visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/PatientProtectionAct to write Congress now! Urge your U.S. Representative to support the Patient Protection Act!

Thanks you for supporting ASA and our efforts to secure safe access for medical cannabis patients. Please forward this message to friends, co-workers, and family members to encourage them to join you in this statewide movement to protect safe access!

Sincerely,

Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. The only way we can continue to work on legislation like the Patient Protection Act is with your continued support. Become a member of ASA today!

Medical Marijuana: GOP Attacks Obama for Suggesting He Would End Raids

With Sen. Barack Obama now the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, the Republican Party is looking for potential weaknesses and thinks it has found one in his relatively progressive stance on medical marijuana. On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee issued a press release saying Obama's position on medical marijuana and the DEA raids on patients and providers "raises serious doubts" about an Obama candidacy.

The attack came after the San Francisco Chronicle published an article Monday detailing Obama's position on medical marijuana, from comments he made in November to a response he more recently provided to the paper's candidate questionnaire. In responding to the Chronicle's medical marijuana question, the Obama campaign said he endorsed a hands-off federal policy:

"Voters and legislators in the states -- from California to Nevada to Maine -- have decided to provide their residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious illnesses like AIDS and cancer with medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering," said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. "Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice -- though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (US Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs," LaBolt said. He added that Obama would end DEA raids on medical marijuana providers.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has also suggested she would end the raids, according to Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, a New Hampshire-based activist group that specializes in trying to get candidates on the record on medical marijuana. Republican nominee Sen. John McCain has waffled on the issue, according to Granite Staters, which has him saying he would end the raids at one point, but saying he would not end them a few weeks later.

But in was Obama who was in the GOP bull's-eye over medical marijuana this week. "Barack Obama's pledge to stop Executive agencies from implementing laws passed by Congress raises serious doubts about his understanding of what the job of the President of the United States actually is," said RNC communications director Danny Diaz in the press release. "His refusal to enforce the law reveals that Barack Obama doesn't have the experience necessary to do the job of president, or that he fundamentally lacks the judgment to carry out the most basic functions of the executive Branch. What other laws would Barack Obama direct federal agents not to enforce?" Diaz asked.

Obama's refusal to countenance continued DEA raids would mean he would violate his oath of office by not protecting and defending the Constitution, the RNC charged. The Supreme Court has upheld the authority of Congress to regulate the use of marijuana, it noted.

Whether the Republican Party can gain advantage by attacking Obama on the medical marijuana issue remains to be seen. In poll after poll, American voters have said they support access to medical marijuana for sick people. It is currently legal in 12 states and under serious consideration in several more this year.

Attacking Obama for Supporting Medical Marijuana Isn't Going to Work

As I'm constantly pointing out, political strategists always have the hardest time coming to terms with widespread public support for reforming marijuana policies. Maybe their hearts are in the wrong place, or they only read each other's books, or, more likely, they're all stuck in 1988 and they think if someone yells "Drugs! Crime!" loud enough, all the voters are gonna jump out of their socks and vote for whoever promises the most ass kickings.

That's why today's frantic press release from the RNC lambasting Obama over medical marijuana is as predictable as it is foolish. Just look at the remarks from Obama that RNC highlights in an attempt to make people afraid of him:

Obama Pledged To Stop DEA Raids On Oregon Medical Marijuana:

Obama Pledged To Stop The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Raids On Oregon Medical Marijuana Growers. Willamette Week: “Would you stop the Drug Enforcement Administration’s raids on Oregon medical marijuana grows?” Obama: “I would because I think our federal agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing terrorism. The way I want to approach the issue of medical marijuana is to base it on science. And if there is sound science that supports the use of medical marijuana and if it is controlled and prescribed in a way that other medicine is prescribed, then it’s something we should consider.” (James Pitkin, “Six Minutes With Barack,” Willamette Week, 5/14/08)
That's what we're supposed to be worried about? Americans overwhelmingly support medical marijuana and will greet all of this with a gigantic yawn, if not a backlash against McCain. But that won't stop the RNC from trying:
WASHINGTON – RNC Communications Director Danny Diaz released the following statement today:

“Barack Obama’s pledge to stop Executive agencies from implementing laws passed by Congress raises serious doubts about his understanding of what the job of the President of the United States actually is. His refusal to enforce the law reveals that Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience necessary to do the job of President, or that he fundamentally lacks the judgment to carry out the most basic functions of the Executive Branch. What other laws would Barack Obama direct federal agents not to enforce?”

So conducting violent raids on medical dispensaries, while ignoring the will of voters, the advice of doctors, and the medical needs of sick Americans is one of "the most basic functions of the Executive Branch"?

I wish the RNC the best of luck calling attention to Barack Obama's statements on medical marijuana. I really do, and I will gleefully post every press release they dare to send out about it because their candidate's views on this issue are deeply unpopular with Americans.

Few things I've written have generated more web traffic than this post revealing how John McCain literally turned his back towards a wheelchair bound medical marijuana patient who asked him for help. So if the clever strategists in the republican party want to play hardball over medical marijuana, they'd better put their helmets on.

[Thanks, Bruce Mirken]

 

(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Press Release: Religious Leaders Urge Minnesota House, Governor to Pass Medical Marijuana Bill

Gretchen Steele 

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2008

Religious Leaders Urge Minnesota House, Governor to Pass Medical Marijuana BillFifty Clergypersons from Nine Denominations Take Action for Compassion


Contact:  Charles Thomas, IDPI executive director, 301-938-1577

    Fifty religious leaders throughout the state are urging the Minnesota House to pass a bill to allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

    Denominations with official positions supporting medical marijuana include the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Union for Reform Judaism, Episcopal Church, and United Church of Christ.  In addition to clergy from these denominations, medical marijuana supporters in Minnesota include clergy from Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Baptist congregations.

    Clergy from these nine denominations endorsed the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative’s statement of principle reading, “Licensed medical doctors should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill patients, and seriously ill patients should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if the patient’s physician has told the patient that such use is likely to be beneficial.”

    This is precisely what S.F. 345, Minnesota’s medical marijuana bill, would accomplish.  Similar laws have been enacted in 12 other states.  Patients in Minnesota suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses who find marijuana to be helpful currently face a terrible choice: Either continue to suffer needlessly or risk arrest and jail. Although the Senate has already passed the bill, and polls show an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans in favor of it, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has threatened to veto is as long as members of the law enforcement community oppose it.

    “Medical marijuana is an issue of mercy and compassion,” said the Rev. Mark Stenberg from Mercy Seat Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.  “It's immoral to punish people for making an earnest attempt at healing.  As people of faith, we are called to stand up for humans who are suffering needlessly.”

    A letter featuring the statement signed by fifty Minnesota religious leaders was sent to all members of the state House.  Many of the clergypersons followed up by making phone calls to their representatives.

    “The moral choice on this issue is clear,” said Charles Thomas, executive director of IDPI, which is coordinating the religious lobbying efforts in Minnesota.  “We pray that the House, the law enforcement community, and Governor Pawlenty will heed this call for compassion.”

-------------------------------

Location: 
MN
United States

Stop Saying Medical Marijuana is Politically Risky and Just Look at the Polls

Karen Brooks at the Dallas Morning News blog badly misses the point in regards to Barack Obama's support for medical marijuana:

Just got a notice from the happy folks over at the Marijuana Policy Project that Sen. Barack Obama "stands with us" on access to medical marijuana.

I'm not sure this helps his campaign, although the growing number of states (a dozen, at least) that have approved the use and prescription of medical marijuana may mean that he'll get support on the issue. Here in Texas, the decriminalization legislation - way stronger stuff than what the Medical Pot People are pushing - comes from both sides of the aisle.

So I guess what I'm saying here is, uhm, who knows if this will help or hurt him.

Well, allow me to relieve you of your uncertainty. Polling consistently shows overwhelming public support for medical marijuana. Do you know what medical marijuana's record is with voters? It's 10-1 at the state level, losing only in South Dakota, which ain't really Obama territory anyway. Supporting medical marijuana is among the safest policy positions one can take in 2008, and there's not a shred of evidence to the contrary. I look forward to a point when it's no longer necessary to illustrate this.

Secondly, Brooks buy into the myth that federal interference somehow makes medical marijuana laws ineffective:

Anyway, these laws and ordinances quickly go up in smoke when the feds - who just can't stand the idea of anyone smoking pot and getting away with it - decide to bust down doors and haul away the cancer patients and their docs anyway.

While I appreciate the implied sympathy for patients and doctors, this hyperbolic assessment of the force of federal law vastly overstates the impact of the DEA's campaign against medical marijuana. Despite federal interference, medical marijuana is more available to patients than ever before. The number of dispensaries that have been raided is dwarfed by the number that are open right now, at this exact moment. The idea that medical marijuana laws have been crippled by federal law enforcement is just as fictitious as can be.

My point here is not to excuse the ongoing raids and other atrocities that do still occur. Rather, it must be understood that the Drug Czar badly wants the public to believe that these laws don’t work because he knows we're going to keep passing them in new states and we're 10-1 so far. The only reason DEA even bothers to keep conducting these ugly and unpopular medical marijuana raids is so that the media will falsely report that these laws just "go up in smoke" as Brooks now suggests. That argument is then used against new medical marijuana initiatives to imply that there's no point in passing them, even though existing laws protecting patients have generally been very effective at preventing sick people from getting arrested.

Both of the above points are common misconceptions, and I don’t fault Brooks for indulging them. Still, it is vital that the discussion of medical marijuana continue on a sound factual basis as we proceed towards a showdown between Obama and McCain on this issue.

So, to recap, I submit the following two propositions:

1. Medical marijuana is overwhelmingly supported by the American public.

2. Federal efforts to shut down medical marijuana distribution in states were it is legal have failed utterly.

(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Obama speaks out on medical marijuana

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

Dear friends:

On the verge of becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) has renewed his commitment to protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail.

Here is a quote from Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt from an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

"Voters and legislators in the states — from California to Nevada to Maine — have decided to provide their residents suffering from chronic diseases and serious illnesses like AIDS and cancer with medical marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering. Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice — though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs.”

With Sen. Obama now widely expected to win the Democratic nomination and in a year when Democrats are favored to win the White House, this means we might be only eight months away from having a White House that stands with us on medical marijuana access.

You can also watch a video of Sen. Obama talking about medical marijuana here.

In the months leading up to the New Hampshire Democratic primary election, MPP helped persuade all of the Democratic presidential candidates and three of the Republican candidates to pledge to end the arrest of patients in states with medical marijuana laws.

In response to questions from MPP on the campaign trail, Sen. Obama stated that arresting medical marijuana patients is not a good use of resources and promised to end the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has also promised MPP that she would end the raids.

Unfortunately, the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), earned a grade of “F” from MPP for his inhumane stance on medical marijuana. In response to repeated questions from MPP on the campaign trail, Sen. McCain incorrectly stated that a majority of medical experts oppose medical marijuana, and he also gave a patient who was politely questioning him a glimpse of McCain's famous temper.

Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), who also remains in the Republican race, has been an outspoken opponent of marijuana prohibition and has consistently voted in favor of legislation to end the DEA's raids on patients.

Please visit MPP's campaign site, www.GraniteStaters.com/candidates, for statements from each of the candidates.

MPP is the only drug policy reform organization that's systematically influencing the presidential candidates to take positive positions on medical marijuana — and punishing those who don't. Would you please consider making a donation to support our work today?

Sincerely,
Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

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 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School