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Press Release: Medical Marijuana Documentary "Waiting to Inhale" Screening in Clovis July 7

 

MEDIA ADVISORY   
JUNE 25, 2008

Medical Marijuana Documentary "Waiting to Inhale" Screening in Clovis July 7

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California organizer, 707-575-9870

FRESNO, Calif. — A free screening of the award-winning medical marijuana documentary, "Waiting to Inhale," takes place July 7, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno in Clovis, followed by a panel discussion with local medical marijuana patients, advocates and medical experts.

    The film is a gripping examination of all angles of the medical marijuana controversy, including interviews with leading researchers, patients, advocates and government officials. This summer, the U.S. Congress is expected to vote for the sixth time on an amendment that would forbid the Department of Justice – including the Drug Enforcement Administration – from using its resources to attack patients and providers who are obeying state medical marijuana laws. Last year, the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment was defeated, 165-262, but drew more "yes" votes than ever.

    Additionally, the Fresno Board of Supervisors is expected to hold hearings soon about implementing a state-mandated medical marijuana identification card program.

    Winner of several awards, including the Worldfest Houston 2005 Goldfest Special Jury Award, Best Documentary 2005 New Jersey International Film Festival and winner of the Eureka! International Film Festival, "Waiting to Inhale" examines the debate over marijuana's use as medicine in the United States.

        -    WHAT: Free screening of the medical marijuana documentary "Waiting to Inhale," presented by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, followed by panel discussion

        -    WHO: Scheduled panelists include:
                        o    Dr. Terrill E. Brown, a Fresno emergency medicine specialist

                        o    Diana Kirby, a Fresno medical marijuana patient with severe back pain and neuropathy after an automobile accident that resulted in having a leg amputated

                        o    Aaron Smith, California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project

        -    WHEN: Monday, July 7, 7 p.m.

        -    WHERE: The Unitarian Church of Fresno, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., Clovis, CA 93611

    With more than 23,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
Clovis, CA
United States

ALERT: #368 California Patient Caught In The War On Medical Marijuana

[Courtesy of DrugSense] FOCUS Alert #368 - Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008 Orange County is considered to be among the most conservative in California. The Orange County Register is the county's major newspaper. Over the years the newspaper has supported in editorials and columns California's Proposition 215. Last Saturday the newspaper printed the article below. In addition to the article, the newspaper's website is currently conducting an opinion poll titled "Should marijuana be legal?" and providing a discussion forum about the article. If you wish to vote in the poll and/or place a comment in the forum please go to: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/monson-says-marijuana-2072170-police-... Please also consider sending a Letter to the Editor to The Orange County Register expressing your reaction to the article. Thanks for your effort and support. It's not what others do it's what YOU do. ********************************************************************* Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jun 2008 Source: Orange County Register, The (CA) Copyright: 2008 The Orange County Register Contact: letters@ocregister.com Author: Eugene W. Fields, The Orange County Register DISABLED MAN FIGHTS FOR HIS MARIJUANA Charles Monson, a Quadriplegic, Had His Home Raided and His Medicinal Marijuana Seized at Gunpoint. A swimming accident three decades ago at Newport Beach left Charles Monson paralyzed. A drug raid at his home about a year ago left Monson without the marijuana he says he needs. The raid has left him depending on a medical marijuana dispensary in Orange that was also raided. Fighting to stay in business, the small store-front dispensary has helped Monson deal with his pain. Monson, 45, was paralyzed in 1979 when he and a friend decided to go for a swim. "I dove under a wave, hit a shallow spot and broke my neck," Monson recalls. "I was paralyzed instantly and was floating face-down." Monson, who is confined to a wheelchair and has lost most of the use of his hands, tried to remain active. He's an avid skydiver, despite breaking his legs twice Nevertheless, he says he lives in constant pain and discomfort. "My brain isn't able to constantly able to monitor the muscles in my legs," he says. "Any little stimulus like being touched or moving my wheelchair or sitting still for a while and then moving will trigger a muscle spasm, big ones, that will yank my body to the side." As a result, Monson was chronically sleep-deprived to the point of falling asleep behind the wheel of his specially equipped van. Doctors prescribed muscle relaxants and various other seizure medications, but Monson says he didn't like the side effects. Finds Relief "I had tried Valium, Baclofen, Gabapentin. That gave me a sense of not being sharp in my mind and just feeling kind of woozy," Monson says. "I tried Marinol, which is synthetic marijuana. It's very hard to dose. It's either not very effective, or when it gets to the point of being effective, you're loopy." Monson says a friend recommended marijuana in the 1980s and after trying it, he said he found relief: "I smoked it in bed and I slept better than I ever had. The other thing that makes cannabis so much more effective than any other of the spasticity drugs is that it allows me rather than just treating my spasticity to manage it." When California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, which allowed marijuana usage for medicinal purposes, Monson says he started to grow marijuana. Monson says his life changed dramatically on the morning of October 30, 2007. "I wake up to a horrendously loud pounding on the front door at 7 a.m. in the morning," Monson says. "My friend said it was the police and I told him to let them in." Monson says a dozen Orange police officers armed with assault rifles and bullet-proof vests swarmed into his modest home and handcuffed both his house guest and care provider before coming into Monson's bedroom, demanding he get out of bed. "I told them I couldn't so they uncuffed my care provider," Monson says. "He got me dressed and into the chair and then they (police) went about ransacking my house." Monson says he used a spare bedroom to cultivate his marijuana plants, where a sign posted on the door read that the plants were for medicinal purposes. The police entered the room and, according to Monson, confiscated 16 plants and roughly 2-1/2 ounces of marijuana. "I told them I was growing it legally and they said it's against federal law," Monson says. "They came down on me like I was some drug kingpin." Sgt. Dan Adams of the Orange Police Department says 19 plants were seized and Monson was arrested for felony cultivation of marijuana, theft of utilities, sales of marijuana and conspiracy. "When you get 19 plants and you get a full-blown irrigation system and a light system, it was obviously a substantial operation he had running there," Adams said. "It's a good amount, but anything is a good amount because it's illegal as far as law enforcement is concerned." The District Attorney's office declined to prosecute the case. "The first month after the raid, I couldn't sleep well," Monson said. "Finally, it occurred to me that I was having a post-traumatic effect because I didn't know when they were going to bang down my door again." Searching for Marijuana Fearful of growing marijuana, Monson turned to other sources. "I had to go to people a buy it. None of them have ever been touched by the police," he says. "I don't know why they came after me. Somebody thought I was a king-pin." In December, Monson hired an attorney and decided to file a civil suit against the city. Four months later he read about Nature's Wellness, a dispensary on Lincoln Avenue in Orange that had been raided. Monson said he visited with Bob Adams, the dispensary owner, to share information about his case. Monson said he worked out a deal to receive half of the two ounces of marijuana he needs a month to manage his condition. Adams, who was detained by the Drug Enforcement Agency after his shop was raided in March, says he was just providing a service to another patient with a doctor's recommendation. "This man needs medicine and I've got it," Adams says. "That's what I'm here for." Adams says hearing about Monson's arrest upset him. "We've got a quadriplegic here. It's amazing that he wakes up every morning," Adams says. "Don't we have better things to do as far as our local authorities are concerned than chase around a quadriplegic that's in pain?" Monson says he was grateful for the aid from the dispensary and is waiting for his court case to move ahead. "I probably won't (grow) until that whole thing is settled with the police," he says. "I don't want a decent garden going again, just to have it taken away." ********************************************************************* Additional suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center: http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides, or contact MAP's Media Activism Facilitator for tips on how to write LTEs that are printed at heath@mapinc.org. ********************************************************************* PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to heath@mapinc.org if you are not subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others can learn from your efforts. Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing efforts.
Location: 
CA
United States

Press Release: Medical Student Section of AMA Unanimously Endorses Medical Marijuana

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] For Immediate Release: June 14, 2008 Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes at (510) 681-6361 or AMA-MSS member Sunil Aggarwal at (206) 375-3785 Medical Student Section of AMA Unanimously Endorses Medical Marijuana Resolution proceeds to AMA House of Delegates for a vote in November Chicago, IL -- The Medical Student Section (MSS) of the American Medical Association (AMA) unanimously approved a resolution yesterday urging the AMA to support the reclassification of marijuana for medical use. The AMA is currently holding its annual conference in Chicago and is making a number of policy decisions over the next few days. The MSS will send the resolution to the AMA House of Delegates for a final vote at its interim meeting in November. With nearly 50,000 members, the MSS is the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the United States. "While it is an historic occasion for any section of the AMA to endorse medical marijuana, the MSS is merely affirming existing science and urging the adoption of a sensible medical marijuana policy," said medical student and AMA-MSS member Sunil Aggarwal, who is leading the effort to seek AMA endorsement. "As a future medical doctor, I look forward to exploring and utilizing the many medical benefits of cannabinoid medicines in patient care." Aggarwal is also supported by many of his colleagues in the AMA already in the field of medicine. "This is a positive and necessary step in the right direction," said Dr. David Ostrow, a member of the AMA and Chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. "We are hopeful that the full house of delegates will follow the example set by the American College of Physicians earlier this year and vote to support this resolution, thereby placing the needs and safety of our patients above politics." The American College of Physicians (ACP) adopted a resolution in February, on which the AMA-MSS resolution is based. Like the AMA-MSS resolution, the ACP called for rescheduling of marijuana and an expansion of research into its medical efficacy. The ACP, at 124,000 members, is ranked as the country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine. Since 1996, twelve U.S. states have adopted medical marijuana laws, and in 2002 a Times/CNN poll showed that 80% of Americans support access to physician-recommended medical marijuana.
Location: 
Chicago, IL
United States

Medical Marijuana: Massachusetts Entrepreneur Gets Monopoly Distribution Initiative on Michigan Town Ballot -- Officials Surprised and Confused

Thanks to the efforts of a Massachusetts man, voters in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, Michigan, will have a chance to vote November 4 on an initiative that would allow only one outfit to distribute medical marijuana. The initiative would allow something called the National Organization for Positive Medicine to seek a court order to distribute and sell medical marijuana to qualified patients.

Medical marijuana is not currently recognized by the state of Michigan, although voters in several cities, including Detroit and Ferndale, have already voted to approve it at the municipal level. An initiative that would legalize medical marijuana statewide is on the November ballot.

The Ferndale distribution initiative is not linked to the statewide initiative, nor is it linked to local activists. According to the Detroit Free Press, the National Organization for Positive Medicine is headed by a Carl Swanson of South Boston, Massachusetts. Swanson's attorney told the Free Press Swanson was not available for comment.

"Swanson is looking ahead to when it's decriminalized statewide and he can distribute legally," Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey told the Free Press. "But it's just for him. We are just scratching our heads here."

The text of the initiative is not yet available on the City of Ferndale web site, but Covey said it allows only the National Organization for Positive Medicine to seek a court order to sell medical marijuana.

Councilman Scott Galloway told the Free Press the initiative was a publicity stunt by marijuana legalizers, but conceded that it could pass. "Like any movement, it has to start somewhere. My guess is that it passes, but has no real effect. You have to get a court order. That's never going to happen," he said.

But on the face of it, the initiative appears more likely to be an effort by an entrepreneurial spirit to position himself to profit from medical marijuana sales in the event that the statewide initiative passes. The profit motive is a powerful force, for medical marijuana distribution as for any other product that people want.

Medical Marijuana: Bill Passes New York Assembly, Senate Must Act By Monday

For the second year in a row, the New York Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill. But the state Senate must act by Monday, when the legislature recesses, or the effort to enact a medical marijuana law in the Empire State will be dead for this year.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), would allow patients to use marijuana for specified life-threatening or debilitating conditions upon their doctors' certification that it is the most effective treatment. Patients and caregivers would register with the state and receive ID cards. They would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants and possess 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, although the bill foresees a state-regulated distribution system upon approval of the federal government.

After the state Senate balked at the last minute last year, supporters of the medical marijuana bill attempted to assuage the worries of foes, some of whom felt that last year's version did not provide adequate regulation. The state-regulated distribution system attempts to address those concerns.

"Every day that goes by without this sensible, compassionate law is a day in which our most vulnerable citizens must choose between suffering debilitating pain or risking arrest in order to find relief," said bill sponsor and Assembly Health Committee Chair Gottfried in a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the bill. "These patients don't have the luxury of waiting another year for their elected representatives to act -- they need the Senate to stand up for them now."

No word yet on what the Senate Republicans will do. Last year, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said he supported medical marijuana, but changed his mind at the last minute. This year one of his staffers delivered a statement for Bruno at an event organized by the Marijuana Policy Project to support the New York state lobbying effort to pass the bill, so maybe this will be the year.

Press Release: New Report Finds Teen Marijuana Use Down in States With Medical Marijuana Laws

A newly updated analysis released June 16, coauthored by Dr. Mitch Earleywine, associate professor of psychology at the Albany campus of the State University of New York, shows that state medical marijuana laws have not increased teen marijuana use, despite fears that have been raised when such measures are considered. Teen marijuana use has consistently declined in states with medical marijuana laws, and generally more markedly than national averages.

The report, based entirely on data from federal and state government-funded drug use surveys, is available at http://www.mpp.org/teens/.

In New York, medical marijuana legislation passed the state Assembly last year, and the issue awaits Senate action.

"Opponents of medical use of marijuana regularly argue that such laws 'send the wrong message to children,' but there is just no sign of that effect in the data," said Dr. Earleywine, a substance abuse researcher and author of the acclaimed book, "Understanding Marijuana" (Oxford University Press, 2002). "In every state for which there's data, teen marijuana use has gone down since the medical marijuana law was passed, often a much larger decline than nationally."

In California, which passed the first effective medical marijuana law in 1996, marijuana use has declined sharply among all age groups. Among ninth-graders, marijuana use in the past 30 days ("current use" as defined in the surveys) declined by 47 percent from 1995-96 to 2005-06, the latest survey results available.

A similar pattern is emerging in the states with newer medical marijuana laws. Vermont and Montana, whose medical marijuana laws were enacted in 2004, have seen declines in current marijuana use of 15 percent and 9 percent, respectively. In Rhode Island, whose medical marijuana law took effect in January 2006, current use declined 7 percent from 2005 to 2007. There are no before-and-after data available yet from New Mexico, whose medical marijuana law was passed last year. Overall, declines in teen marijuana use in the 11 medical marijuana states for which data are available have slightly exceeded the national trends.

With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

Press Release: New York Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 18, 2008

New York Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill Bill Sponsor, Patients Urge Senate to Pass Bill Before June 23 Recess

CONTACT: Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747 ex. 115

ALBANY, NEW YORK — The New York Assembly passed a bill today that would protect New Yorkers with life threatening or debilitating conditions from arrest for using medical marijuana when their doctors believe it would be the best treatment option, 79-48.

The bill is similar to the medical marijuana bill the Assembly passed last year. The version passed today was modified to address concerns voiced by members of the Senate, who have until June 23 to pass the bill before the legislature recesses.

"Every day that goes by without this sensible, compassionate law is a day in which our most vulnerable citizens must choose between suffering debilitating pain or risking arrest in order to find relief," said bill sponsor and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. "These patients don't have the luxury of waiting another year for their elected representatives to act – they need the Senate to stand up for them now."

Dr. Kevin Smith, a Saugerties psychiatrist who has been recognized by the state legislature for his work with police forensics, said the bill would change the lives of people like him who have no better pain relief options.

"Unless you or a loved one has experienced it, it's difficult to understand the frustration and helplessness that comes from knowing that relief is readily available but forbidden by law," said Smith, who suffers from a painful genetic defect that causes his immune system to attack his spine and hips as though they were foreign bodies; the debilitating pain forced him to quit practicing medicine. "Medical marijuana can give me my life back, but right now I am barred by law from using it. This is crazy."

Glenn Amandola, a medically retired New York City police officer from Northport who suffers from chronic pain and a seizure disorder after being injured on the job in 1987, said it makes no sense for the law to prevent him from using medical marijuana when his doctor says it could help.

"As an officer with the New York City Police Department, I swore to uphold state law, and I'll never break that oath," he said. "The flip side to that, however, is that our lawmakers owe it to people like me who live in constant pain to make sure the law doesn't penalize us for seeking relief. I should have the right to decide for myself – with my doctor – what my best treatment options are."

With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
Albany, NY
United States

U.S. Government Stopped Research After Finding That Marijuana Slowed Cancer Growth

NORML's Paul Armentano has a disturbing account of the history of government research regarding the benefits of THC as a potential cancer treatment:

Not familiar with this scientific research? Your government is.

In fact, the first experiment documenting pot's potent anti-cancer effects
took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest federal
bureaucrats. The results of that study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974,
Washington Post newspaper feature, were that marijuana's primary
psychoactive component, THC, "slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast
cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their
lives by as much as 36 percent."

Despite these favorable preliminary findings (eventually published the
following year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute), U.S.
government officials refused to authorize any follow-up research until
conducting a similar - though secret - clinical trial in the mid-1990s. That
study, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program to the tune of $2
million, concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over
long periods had greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated
controls.

However, rather than publicize their findings, government researchers
shelved the results, which only became public after a draft copy of its
findings were leaked to the medical journal AIDS Treatment News, which in
turn forwarded the story to the national media. [timesheraldonline.com]

They haven't studied the issue since. And because the U.S. government holds a monopoly on "legal" marijuana that could be used for research purposes, they've been able to prevent independent researchers from further investigating marijuana's promising anti-cancer properties. Armentano notes that research overseas continues to produce very encouraging results.

Unfortunately, our government's blockade against marijuana/cancer research is so mindless and vindictive that it's almost impossible to convince anyone that they do things like this. It's a terrible and frequent conundrum for reformers that if we accurately describe the behavior of our opposition, we end up sounding crazy.

Congress to vote on medical marijuana - take action now

Dear friends:

If you take only one action to help reform our nation's marijuana laws this year, it should be this one.

Please take one minute to ask your U.S. House member to vote for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would stop the federal government from arresting patients who are using medical marijuana legally under state law.

The full U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the amendment in just a few weeks — and there will probably be earlier committee action on medical marijuana legislation any day now — so it's crucial that your U.S. representative hear from constituents like you.

MPP's online action system makes it easy. Just fill in your name and address and we'll do the rest.

Take action here.

Twelve states have passed laws protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail. However, the federal government continues to ignore those state laws. For instance, just last month, DEA agents conducted a series of raids on California medical marijuana dispensaries that were operating legally under state law.

It's outrageous that the federal government is overturning the will of the people in these 12 states.

It's outrageous that the federal government is kicking in the doors and breaking the windows of medical marijuana dispensaries, stealing cash and marijuana from the proprietors of these establishments, and racing off in their black SUVs before TV news cameras arrive to document these governmental assaults.

I know you feel strongly that this is wrong. Would you please use your voice to deliver that message to Congress?

If we stand together, we will persuade Congress to change federal law.

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: 
Washington, DC
United States

Feature: Mendocino Marijuana Battle Waits for Election Results, Restrictive Initiative Draws Strong Opposition

Eight years ago, voters in Northern California's Mendocino County passed the groundbreaking Measure G, which allowed people to grow up to 25 marijuana plants for medical or personal use and directed local law enforcement authorities to make marijuana offenses their lowest enforcement priority. Since then, the already well-established Mendocino cultivation community has exploded, and with the size of the crop estimated to be somewhere between $500 million and $1.6 billion a year, marijuana is now the backbone of the local economy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/marijuana-harvest.jpg
outdoor marijuana harvest in California (from NDIC via usdoj.gov)
But with the boom have come problems, and now the backlash. Some of it is purely ingrained cultural opposition to marijuana, but other Mendocino residents have complained of environmental damage from commercial grows, diversion of water supplies, trash in the forests, neighboring backyards with valuable crops that attract thieves and armed robbers, the smell of growing marijuana wafting into schools and homes, and the disturbing of rural tranquility by pot-enriched ne'er-do-wells roaring around back roads in their high-dollar SUVs.

Last week, Mendocino residents went to the polls to vote on a measure that would undo Measure G and set cultivation limits at six plants, as mandated by state law. (That portion of the law was recently declared unconstitutional by a state appeals court; see our coverage here.) Known as Measure B, the initiative had the support of most of the county Board of Supervisors and the rest of the political establishment and prominent local media, and polling suggested it would easily pass.

But despite media reports on election night that the measure had passed by a margin of 52% to 48%, the election is by no means over. Nearly 11,000 hand-delivered absentee ballots, or about 38% of the total vote, have not yet been counted. The county has until the end of the month to count them and certify the election, although the final results could be announced any day.

Opponents of Measure B think that they will prevail when all the votes are counted. Supporters of Measure B say the same.

"The margin right now is only 710 votes, and we think we will win in the end," said Laura Hamburg, spokesperson for the insurgent movement to defeat the initiative known as the No on Measure B Coalition.

"One reason for optimism is that those last minute ballots are coming from people who were very concerned about making sure the registrar got their votes, and we have been stirring those people to get out and vote. The second reason is geography. The county seat of Ukiah is more conservative, but the outlying areas of the county have been much more liberal and sympathetic to mom and pop personal and medical use. These rural areas are where the hand-delivered absentee ballots are coming from."

"There are a lot of conservative voters who take voting seriously and don't trust the Post Office and want to hand deliver their votes," argued Ross Liberty, spokesman for Yes on Mendocino County Measure B Coalition. "And our strongest district is District 1, which is where most of the uncounted votes are coming from. This is still doable," he said, while conceding that some of his allies consider his prediction of a 60%-40% win "overly optimistic." Still, said Liberty, his team all agrees they are odds on favorites to win.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dalegieringer.jpg
Dale Gieringer (courtesy pot-tv.net)
"No matter what the final outcome, this is a moral victory for us," said Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML, which opposes Measure B. "We were opposed by the board of supervisors, city councils, the sheriff, the DA, the monied civic groups, and the leading local media. We had the deck stacked against us, we were supposed to lose, but this has turned into a really close contest," he said.

Liberty said he was not opposed to medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana use, but that the situation in Mendocino County was intolerable. "I'm a libertarian," he said. "I would think I'd died and gone to heaven if federal marijuana prohibition were lifted, but I don't want Mendocino to be the only place doing it. These people aren't growing despite it being illegal, but because it's illegal. They're growing and dealing because its illegal and has a federal price support program."

Liberty said he was not personally impacted by marijuana growing -- although he complained about "the trained helplessness that dependence on federal marijuana prohibition brings to our community" -- but that other supporters of repeal were. "People who live near me grow, and it doesn't bother me, but there are quite a few people who can't stand the smell of it -- it really reeks in the summer -- and it can make their lives miserable," he said.

"It's also dangerous because it's worth so much money," Liberty continued. "One lady I know, within a hundred yards of her house, there's collectively a million-dollar marijuana crop in her neighbors' back yards. You have people with guns going through yards just following their noses looking for marijuana to steal. How do you let you kids out to play when that's going on?"

Liberty mentioned yet another problem, too. "I've had people grow on my property without my permission," he said. "It's not medical marijuana, it's just dope growers and outlaws." But, Liberty said, that incident predated Prop. 215.

Measure B doesn't address the real problems created by commercial growing, said opponents. "This initiative isn't aimed at the problems created by the large commercial grows -- the growing on public land, the environmental damage -- but at the people growing fewer than 25 plants," said Gieringer. "They're cracking down on the small growers, not the commercial growers. With even our opponents conceding it shouldn't be illegal, we should be about dealing with the problems associated with those big grows, and Measure B doesn't do that," he said.

"We've seen an increase in criminal profiteering with commercial grows and growing on federal land, so there was a backlash from that," Hamburg acknowledged. "People started feeling like the energy was different, they saw all this profiteering. We're in our fourth decade of marijuana farming here, and we do it well, it is one of the glues that holds this county together, but there had never been any public venting of tensions about these changes," she said. "People wanted to DO SOMETHING, and many of them initially supported Measure B, but that has been changing as they really think about what it means," she said.

"This measure targets the wrong people," argued Hamburg. "If you want to address marijuana, why turn on the community? Why don't we see instead how we can thwart those big commercial grows? Mom and pop growers are community-minded people; if they are compensated by the dispensaries, they report their income. They're proud of being organic gardeners. We think we should put resources and energy into fighting crime, not backyard grows, and that's what's been happening."

Indeed, with the election of a new sheriff and district attorney in late 2006, marijuana law enforcement has come down harder, and asset forfeiture numbers are rising through the roof -- up from $100,000 in 2005 to $1.6 million last year -- but it's not the illegal large national forest grows being targeted, said Hamburg.

"When the sheriff goes after those big commercial grows, all they typically find is some guys living in tents in the woods -- there are no assets to seize," she noted. "We're very concerned that they are targeting smaller growers. Don't turn on law-abiding citizens who are part of the fabric of this community," she pleaded. "Don't turn us into criminals. We don't want to be felons for growing one plant for personal use or seven for medical."

It wouldn't just be mass criminalization that Mendocino would have to worry about if Measure B passes, it could be economic recession. Marijuana is by far the most important economic activity in the county, and Liberty freely admits that victory could lead to hard times, or, as he put it, "a period of adjustment."

"To the extent that we move the needle, we will have to adjust from an economy dependent on federal prohibition to one that is driven by the free market," he said. "Now, you don't see regular jobs coexisting with this marijuana economy. Basic industry jobs that must be globally competitive cannot compete with the wages driven by the price support program we know as federal prohibition."

Whatever the final election result, the Mendocino marijuana wars are far from over. And proponents of a more open system of regulated growth and sales are feeling emboldened. "After we came back in this campaign, we have a lot of bargaining strength," said Gieringer. "We expect to make some really forward-looking proposals for regulating the industry in Mendocino and moving closer to a legally regulated market that makes money for the county and keeps the criminals and fringe element at bay."

Stay tuned.

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