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Americans for Safe Access Introduces New Video Testimonials

Dear ASA Supporter,

As the National Field Coordinator for ASA I meet patients, medical professionals, caregivers, and people from all walks of life on a daily basis. When meeting people new to the movement I am regularly asked who supports medical cannabis and why should I get on board? In the past, I would then take several minutes to explain, but that is about to change today!

I am very excited to announce that ASA has developed a new type of outreach and education tool, which also happens to be rather entertaining! Today, we are releasing three video testimonials which at www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/VideoTestimonial to help spread the word about medical cannabis.

"I had to pack up all my belongings, sell the family home, and move across the country to California to be safe to be a patient."
- Steve from Oakland speaking about his move from Virginia to Oakland to become a legal medical cannabis patient. Watch Steve's whole story.

The video testimonial project has been designed to help educate people about medical cannabis by having patients and supporters share their stories. This project was also designed to help people like you educate your friends and family about medical cannabis by sharing these videos with your community.

"Even my 80-year-old mother approves of me being a patient. She says to people, 'If it helps her pain then it is okay.'"
- Carole from the Fremont talking about being out as a medical cannabis patient with her family. Watch Carole's whole story.

Over the next month, ASA will be releasing a new testimonial each week beginning next Monday. Be sure to visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/VideoTestimonial next Monday to view the next installment of ASA's video testimonials. We will be releasing a new video every Monday through the end of April. In the meantime, click here to view the first three videos today!

Thank you to Carson Higby-Flowers for volunteering to record, edit, and produce the testimonials. Also, thank you to all of the brave patients, supporters, and advocates who took the time to come in and participate in the video shoot.

Keep spreading the word about medical cannabis and forward this message on to your family, friends, and community members. Also, if you belong to an online social networking page like MySpace, Facebook, Tribe, and/or host your own personal blog, I strongly encourage you to link to the video testimonials.

Sincerely,

Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. Let us know if you are interested in participating in the next video testimonial shoot at the ASA headquarters (date and time have yet to be determined). E-mail Jocelyn@AmericansforSafeAccess.org if you are interested.

Location: 
United States

Drug Sense Focus ALERT: #362 Medical Marijuana In Michigan - Yea or Nay?

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #362 - Monday, 24 March 2008 Earlier this month, the voters of Michigan succeeded in qualifying an initiative for the November election ballot. When passed by the voters on November 4th Michigan law will allow patients to use, possess, and grow their own marijuana for medical purposes with their doctors' approval. This will likely make Michigan the first medical marijuana state in the heartland, although there are bills pending in some other midwest states. Michigan is home to more than 10 million people. Of the states with current effective medical marijuana laws only California has a larger population. Three articles were written for the Sunday editions of the Kalamazoo Gazette this month, a newspaper in the heartland of Michigan. They illustrate the battle Michigan folks will have in the media in the months ahead. The author of the articles, Chris Killian, went to some length to find both pro and con arguments. Please read the articles at http://www.mapinc.org/author/Chris+Killian Note that for the two oldest articles Michigan letter writers have responded as shown at the 'Letters' link at the top of each MAP archived article. We are not suggesting that out of state letter writers respond to Michigan press articles about the initiative. This is a battle best fought by in state letter writers. Folks outside Michigan may find other ways to support the initiative by going to the initiative website at http://stoparrestingpatients.org/ But the three articles do illustrate the type of arguments made in the press both for and against medicinal marijuana initiatives, bills and laws in every state. As letter writers improve their arguments in letters sent to their state papers they advance the issue. ********************************************************************** Excerpts from 'Nuclear-Blast Survivor Heads Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access' published on March 9th: The atomic explosions off remote islands in the South Pacific seemed to turn night into day. They also turned Martin Chilcutt into a marijuana user. Chilcutt said the drug has helped him to ease the pain he says dates back to his exposure to radiation during a 1956 U.S. government project testing nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. A state ballot proposal could allow voters in November to decide whether Chilcutt's measures to self-medicate should be legal in Michigan. The 74-year-old former intelligence officer with the U.S. Naval Air Force has used other medications to help him with his physical and psychological problems, but marijuana helps "so much better," he said. [snip] Although there are different ways to use the drug, such as ingesting or inhaling it, there is no difference in the drug's effect based on consumption, according to the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, which is spearheading the state marijuana initiative. "It just makes life so much easier," he said. "It allows you to be comfortable." Chilcutt, a retired psychotherapist, said he first learned of marijuana's medical benefits in the late 1970s while counseling Vietnam War veterans in California. They told him the drug could help allay his pain, he said. He said he takes eight other medications for ailments the marijuana doesn't help, including a thyroid condition. Advocates for the medical use of marijuana say it's also effective in easing symptoms from other serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. Critics cite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report in 2006 that said "no sound scientific studies" support the medical use of the drug. If the marijuana-use proposal is approved by state voters, Michigan would become the 15th state -- and the first in the Midwest -- with a law that permits marijuana use for seriously ill people. Michigan law currently prohibits marijuana use for any reason. It's estimated between 40,000 and 50,000 people -- about one-half of 1 percent of Michigan residents -- would be eligible to use marijuana for medical purposes. In states where the law is now in place, it's estimated the same percentage of residents would qualify to use the drug, according to the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care. [snip] ********************************************************************** The article 'Most Area Lawmakers Oppose Marijuana As Medical Treatment' published March 16th: For five years, state Sen. Tom George worked for Hospice of Greater Kalamazoo, sometimes prescribing a synthetic form of marijuana called Marinol to help ease a person's pain or discomfort. But George, an anesthesiologist, opposes a ballot proposal that seeks to legalize marijuana use in Michigan for those seriously ill. State Rep. Fulton Sheen, a conservative Republican, opposed medical-marijuana use until he heard testimony from people who said they got relief from debilitating conditions by using the drug. He now supports the initiative, which could appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. Of southwestern Michigan's 10 state lawmakers, seven said they oppose legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Joining George, R-Texas Township, were state Sens. Patricia Birkholz, R-Saugatuck; Cameron Brown, R-Sturgis; and Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks; and state Reps. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Texas Township; Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; and Rick Shaffer, R-Three Rivers. Such an initiative, they think, could lead to more crime and abuse among nonmedical marijuana users and could be the first step to complete legalization of marijuana. "Marijuana is illegal for a reason," Jelinek said. "Its legalization, even for medical reasons, would denigrate our society eventually. (Using marijuana) is akin to a self-induced mental illness." State Reps. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo, and Sheen, R-Plainwell, support the initiative. They said those seriously ill should have marijuana as a treatment option if it helps and is properly regulated. "The right story needs to be told by the right people," Jones said. "We can't be afraid of this as a society. Marijuana is a legitimate treatment for those suffering from serious diseases." State Rep. Lorence Wenke, R-Galesburg, said he is undecided on the medical-marijuana initiative. "These are the types of proposals that politicians run from," Wenke said. "It's a very intense issue." Bill Ballenger, a Lansing-based political analyst and editor of Inside Michigan Politics, said it's easier for the Legislature to choose to not act on the initiative and allow voters to decide its fate. Leaders from the Senate and House have said they don't expect legislative action on the proposal. Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposes it. "Finding a legislator who forms a gutsy position on issues like medical marijuana, like supporting it, is difficult," said Ballenger, adding he expects voters to pass the ballot initiative. Change of Heart Sheen said he was skeptical about supporting marijuana use for medical needs until he heard testimony from people who said it helped ease their suffering. The 2006 hearing was held on a bill that was similar to the current ballot initiative. The measure never got out of a House committee. "As I listened to their testimony and heard how (marijuana) had helped them, my mind began to change," Sheen said. "Now I look at (marijuana) as a kind of prescription drug for those who are very sick. And if it alleviates symptoms, isn't that what a prescription drug is supposed to do?" In the 1990s Sheen's brother, who had contracted AIDS, was dying. In the final months of his life he smoked marijuana, which helped him to breathe and swallow easier, Sheen said. "Although I didn't agree with what he was doing at the time, it helped him," Sheen said. "But now my mind has been changed." But George, who worked from 1996 to 2001 at Hospice of Greater Kalamazoo, said the active ingredient in marijuana -- tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC -- is already available in pill form. Although George admits many patients to whom he prescribed Marinol responded favorably, marijuana -- even in synthetic form -- should not be "a front-line treatment," he said. "What is the additional benefit of legalizing marijuana?" George said. "And even with the Marinol, it should play a small role in any treatment." Potential for Abuse It's estimated about one-half of 1 percent of Michigan residents, between 40,000 and 50,000 people, would be eligible for medical-marijuana use. "There is such widespread use of marijuana that having a very few patients use it legally isn't that big of a problem," Jones said. Other area legislators disagree. "Everybody's going to have a backache," Jelinek said of the potential for people faking chronic pain or other serious health problems. Schuitmaker said she "sympathizes with suffering individuals," but still can't support the initiative. "This would be legalizing a drug that has had a detrimental effect on society and be the first step to the legalization of marijuana for nonmedical uses," she said. "It's a slippery slope." The proposal calls for registered medical users to keep the marijuana in a secure, locked location. Users who give or sell their marijuana to those who are not authorized to have it could be subject to stiff fines and possible jail time. Users also would have to register themselves with the state and carry a state-issued ID card indicating they are a registered medical user. Even with such controls, some lawmakers question how effective enforcement and regulation will be, especially if the number of medical marijuana users increases. "There are other options out there for very sick people (besides marijuana). By not supporting this, it's not like we're denying a dying patient relief," said Hoogendyk, who recently announced he will challenge Democratic Sen. Carl Levin in the U.S. Senate. ********************************************************************** Excerpt from 'Debate Continues Whether Risks of Medical Marijuana Outweigh the Benefits' published March 23rd: The chief medical officer of Kalamazoo County might use marijuana to alleviate the pain of his glaucoma -- if it were legal. In 2000, Richard Tooker, 54, was diagnosed with pigmentary glaucoma, a rare eye disease where fluid buildup inside the eye can lead to intense pain. Blindness is also possible. "I would consider taking it, if it were legal, for medical use," he said. "I want to keep my vision." Studies have shown marijuana can lessen pressure in the eyes of those with glaucoma. Tooker said he would have to consult with legal counsel before he used the drug. That's because, even if Michigan voters in November decide to allow medical marijuana use by seriously ill patients, it still would be illegal under federal law. Users of medical marijuana, as well as others who support its use, say the drug offers relief to those suffering debilitating conditions. They also say it would be cheaper than buying the drug off the street and that use and production can be controlled if properly regulated. But questions remain. How would the appropriate dose be established for those who are deemed eligible users? Are there possible negative health effects from using the drug for medical reasons? Do alternatives to medical marijuana already exist? "On the balance, it's a good thing," Tooker said of medical marijuana. "And if we're going to legalize marijuana for medical use in Michigan, let's legalize it across the country. It's a dicey, difficult issue." State Sen. Tom George, R-Texas Township, worked for Hospice of Greater Kalamazoo and sometimes prescribed a synthetic -- and legal -- form of marijuana called Marinol. But the drug is not cheap. [snip] George, an anesthesiologist, opposes the ballot initiative because of the availability of Marinol and the possible health risks of medical marijuana. "Marinol is better than smokeable marijuana because Marinol does not contain the additional chemicals, impurities and hazards associated with smoke," George said in a statement this month to the Senate. "Also, the resulting THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) blood levels and hence, the effects, are more predictable with Marinol than smokeable marijuana." George said other drugs being developed would include THC, the main active component of marijuana. One drug is called Sativex, which if approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, could be used as a treatment for patients with advanced cancers. Approved in November by the FDA for clinical testing, the drug would be administered as an oral spray. "I'm telling you, as a former hospice physician, it is of no benefit to legalize smokeable marijuana," George said. The FDA agrees. "There are alternative FDA-approved medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana," the agency said in a statement in 2006. But Marinol, available since 1986, has its problems, said Ruth Hoppe, head of the Michigan chapter of the American College of Physicians, the nation's second largest physicians group. Marinol is absorbed slowly into the body, she said, and a patient experiencing extreme nausea might not be able to use it because the pill must be swallowed to be effective. "We need to look at other routes of delivery," Hoppe said. Potential for Abuse? Smoking anything is harmful to one's health, Hoppe said. But that doesn't mean marijuana doesn't have its place as a legitimate medical treatment or supplement to other medications. The American College of Physicians recently released a position paper on medical marijuana. It concluded that, although more research needs to be done, "reports suggest numerous potential medical uses for marijuana." "For patients with AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy, who suffer severe pain, nausea and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs may provide symptom relief not found in any other medication," the position paper said. The federal government, however, puts marijuana in the same class as LSD, heroin, mescaline, psychedelic mushrooms and ecstasy. "Marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision," the 2006 FDA report said. The government's classification of marijuana hinders study of the drug for medical use, Hoppe said. The American College of Physicians is recommending reclassifying the drug to allow for more study. "I can see a day when marijuana is seen as a legitimate medical treatment, especially in conjunction with other medications," Hoppe said. "There is value in this drug." 'Trial and Error' Doses Marinol comes in doses of 2.5 milligrams, 5 milligrams and 10 milligrams. Determining the proper dose of marijuana from plants is less scientific because it can be smoked, drunk, eaten or inhaled through a vaporizer. Tooker, who is open to the medical uses for marijuana, said he opposes smoking it. He said "trial and error" would be the only way to determine what the appropriate dose of marijuana would be for a patient. Dianne Byrum, a former state legislator and spokeswoman for the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, said the dose level would depend on the patient's needs and symptoms. "This would be a recommendation, not a prescription," she said. She also said smoking marijuana would not be harmful, especially for patients with terminal conditions. [snip] ********************************************************************** Style guides for writing effective letters to the editor are available at MAP's Media Activism Center: http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides ********************************************************************** Prepared by: The MAP Media Activism Team www.mapinc.org/resource === . DrugSense provides many services at no charge, but they are not free to produce. Your contributions make DrugSense and its Media Awareness Project (MAP) happen. Please donate today. Our secure Web server at http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm accepts credit cards. Or, mail your check or money order to: . DrugSense 14252 Culver Drive #328 Irvine, CA 92604-0326. (800) 266 5759 . DrugSense is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the expensive, ineffective, and destructive "War on Drugs." Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.
Location: 
MI
United States

Medical Marijuana Training

Currently, Maryland law protects seriously ill patients from being sentenced to prison for possessing marijuana if they can prove a "medical necessity" for using it. The maximum penalty for patients who prove a medical necessity is a $100 fine. However, the law does not protect them from arrest, and it does not provide them a way to safely access their medicine. Even patients who prove a medical necessity still end up with a criminal record! This training is sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access and the Marijuana Policy Project -- these organizations are building support for a truly effective medical marijuana bill, which will protect patients from arrest and allow them safe access to their medicine. For more information, contact Naomi Long at nlong@drugpolicy.org.
Date: 
Tue, 03/25/2008 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 
13208 Fountainhead Plaza
Hagerstown, MD
United States

Fry & Schafer Released on Bail Pending Appeal

[Courtesy of California NORML] SACRAMENTO, Mar. 19th - Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer walked out of US Court free on bail pending appeal after being sentenced to a five-year mandatory minimum by a US District Judge Frank Damrell, who deplored the sentence as a "tragedy" that should "never have happened." Supporters were elated by Damrell's decision to grant release on bail, which capped a tense and dramatic day that began with a succession of adverse rulings for the defense. Defense attorney Tony Serra called it "one of the saddest days I've confronted in a long career" after Damrell turned down all the defense's motions to avoid the mandatory minimums. Mollie Fry stirred the courtroom to tears as she related the story of her cancer and subsequent desire to help people with medical marijuana. "We caused no harm to anyone," she said, "There were no victims." Judge Damrell acknowledged the legitimacy of Fry's medical use of marijuana, but said that the couple had "spiraled out of control.' He concluded that he had "no choice" but to impose the mandatory minimum of 5 years, a sentence dictated by the jury's finding that the couple had grown a total of slightly more than 100 plants over a period of three years. On the final and crucial issue of the day, however, Damrell agreed that the couple had "substantial" grounds for appeal so as to justify their release on bail. Following expert testimony by attorneys J David Nick and Ephraim Margolin, Damrell found substantial appeals issues relating to entrapment, the defendants' state of mind, and the conflict between state and federal laws. He added that the couple's precarious state of health was further extraordinary grounds for keeping them out of prison. He reprimanded Dr.Fry for her loose standards in recommending marijuana, and stipulated as a strict condition for her release that she desist from further recommendations, to which she assented. To this observer, today's events felt like a momentous step forward towards the inevitable changing of federal marijuana laws. Judge Damrell effectively declared the bankruptcy of US laws regarding mandatory sentencing and medical marijuana, and rightly referred the matter to higher authorities to decide. There are good grounds to hope that Dale and Mollie will be vindicated by the Ninth Circuit and/or a change in administration. More later.... Dale Gieringer, Cal NORML -- California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 - www.canorml.org
Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States

Meeting of Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates

The purpose of the meeting is to help build support for an effective medical marijuana bill in Maryland, which will protect patients from arrest and allow them safe access to their medicine, as well as to educate patients and others on the current law.If you would like more information about this meeting, please e-mail Zane Hurst at Zane@mpp.org.

If you are a medical professional, a patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, or know somebody who might benefit from medical marijuana, we would like to hear from you. Additionally, if you are a law enforcement official or a clergy member, please e-mail Zane@mpp.org to see how you can be of special help with our efforts to pass an effective medical marijuana law in Maryland.

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and our allies. Please pass this message on to your friends and family who live near Silver Spring, so that they too can attend.

Date: 
Thu, 03/20/2008 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 
8401 Colesville Road, Suite 750
Silver Spring, MD 20910
United States

MMJ Advocates Call on California Board of Equlization for Representation

[Courtesy of CA NORML] SACRAMENTO, March 18th: Medical marijuana advocates appealed to the state Board of Equalization to recognize their contribution to California's sales taxes revenues and stand up for their right to "taxation with representation." The Board heard testimony from ASA, CA NORML, and half a dozen dispensary owners concerned about harassment by DEA despite paying sales taxes to the BOE. Speaking for ASA, Rebecca Saltzman reminded the Board that California's dispensaries are generating some $100 million in sales tax revenues, but are nonetheless being threatened with raids, arrest and asset seizure by the DEA. She asked the Board to stand up for the dispensaries and urge the Governor to do likewise. Cal NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer testified that the total retail market for medical cannabis is around $870 million to $2 billion per year in California, enough to generate $70 to $160 million in sales taxes, according to a report by Oakland's Measure Z marijuana oversight committee: http://www.canorml.org/background/OakFinancialReportRelse.htm. He noted that DEA raids have robbed the state of millions in dollars of sales tax revenues, and that the DEA had even gone so far as to confiscate sales tax payment checks in the process of their transfer to the BOE. http://www.canorml.org/news/DEASeizesStateTax$$_relse.htm Lisa Sawoya, director of Hollywood Compassionate Care in LA, testified that she had begun paying sales taxes in 2006 and had voluntarily sent the board six months' back taxes, but was nonetheless subsequently raided and shut down by the DEA. Dona Frank of Organic Cannabis Foundation in Sonoma Co. testified that her group had paid $500K in sales taxes in 2007, and would continue to do so, but had nonetheless been forced to move on account of DEA landlord letters. She called on the board to "stand up" against the DEA's actions. Lisa Molyneux of Greenway Compassionate Relief in Santa Cruz said she was providing workers with employment, benefits and health insurance, in addition to paying taxes, but that DEA raids were putting these revenues at risks. Rebeccca De Keuster of Berkeley Patients' Group said that dispensaries were caught in a "Catch-22" situation. She testified that the DEA had seized $100K that BPG had saved up to pay taxes, and that their raids appeared to be timed to the last week of the month, just before bills are paid. Bill Pearce, director of the River City Patients' Dispensary in Sacramento, testified that he had paid $700K in sales taxes to the BOE plus $250K more to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board, before being shut down and having assets seized by the DEA. Tariq Alazraie, manager of Purple Heart Caregivers and the former Mason St dispensary in S.F., said the board had an obligation to stand up for dispensaries, given that it was recognizing them by accepting their tax payments. State BOE member Betty Yee urged her colleagues to heed advocates' testimony, saying she felt a "tremendous sense of responsibility on this issue," and it would "not be a pretty picture" if dispensaries were driven back underground. BOE member Bill Leonard, one of the Board's Republicans, said he was concerned about allegations that the board might have shared confidential information with federal investigators, noting that confidentiality laws strictly forbid any such cooperation except by subpoena. Medical cannabis activists left the hearings with the impression that the Board had given them serious attention, and hopeful that their objections to " taxation without representation" will be heard by other public officials, including the Governor. -- California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 - www.canorml.org
Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States

Sacramento supervisors reject state's medical marijuana ID program

Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Sacramento Bee (CA)
URL: 
http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/796247.html

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Testify TODAY at Taxpayers' Hearing in Sacramento

[Courtesy of ASA] For Immediate Release: March 18, 2008 Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes (510) 681-6361 or, in Sacramento, ASA California Director Don Duncan (323) 326-6347 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Testify Today at Taxpayers' Hearing in Sacramento Patients and their providers pay more than $100 million in sales tax annually Sacramento, CA -- More than a half-dozen medical marijuana dispensary operators from across the state will testify today at 1:30pm before the State Board of Equalization (BOE) at its Taxpayers' Bill of Rights Hearing. Dispensary operators from southern and northern California, joined by medical marijuana advocates, will be in Sacramento to discuss their significant contribution of $100 million in annual sales tax revenue to an ailing state budget. While sales tax on medical marijuana clearly benefits the fiscal health of the state, that funding is threatened by increased interference from the federal government. What: Medical marijuana dispensary operators and advocates testify at the Board of Equalization's Taxpayers' Bill of Rights Hearing When: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 1:30pm Where: Hearing Room 121 at the BOE, 450 N Street in Sacramento Why: Medical marijuana annual sales tax revenue of $100 million is threatened by continued federal interference Who: Testimony will be heard from dispensary operators in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz "Medical marijuana dispensaries are doing their best to comply with state law," said Kris Hermes, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), one of the advocacy groups testifying today. "One hundred million dollars annually in sales tax revenue is not small change," continued Hermes. "However, by continuing to shut these facilities down, the federal government deprives the state of this money at a time of fiscal crisis." According to recent estimations by multiple advocacy groups, California's hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries contribute to the state budget at least $100 million annually in sales tax revenue. The State of California began collecting sales tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries in October 2005, after a policy decision that year by the BOE. However, the same facilities that are expected to comply with this policy are currently under attack by the federal government. Enforcement tactics by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have had a devastating impact on dispensaries in California. In 2007 alone, the DEA raided more than 50 medical marijuana dispensaries in at least 10 different counties across the state. Also, in 2007, the DEA launched a new tactic in its attempts to undermine state law by disseminating more than 300 letters to landlords of dispensaries, threatening the property owners with criminal prosecution and asset seizure if they continued to lease to dispensaries. "The sales tax collected by medical marijuana dispensaries in one year could fund the construction of two large schools or 2,000 elementary and high school teachers," said ASA Chief of Staff Rebecca Saltzman. "By robbing California of this much needed revenue, the federal government is not only harming thousands of patients that rely on this medicine, it is also impeding the state's ability to fund critical aspects of its infrastructure." The federal government's efforts to undermine California's medical marijuana law have not gone unnoticed by local and state lawmakers. Letters from concerned local officials in 2007 prompted U.S. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers to issue a statement in December expressing his deep concern and calling for DEA oversight hearings. Since then, Mayors from Oakland and Santa Cruz, as well as the Berkeley City Council and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, have all registered their opposition to federal enforcement against medical marijuana. In addition, State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) introduced SJR 20 earlier this year, calling for an end to federal interference and urging Congress and the President to establish policy consistent with the compassionate use laws of California. Most recently, in February, former BOE Chair Betty Yee co-authored an opinion piece with Senator Migden harshly criticizing DEA tactics in California, emphasizing the harm to both patients and the state. Further information: ASA Fact Sheet on Sales Tax: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/sales_tax_fact_sheet.pdf Copy of State Senate Joint Resolution 20, calling for an end to DEA interference: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/SJR_20.pdf BOE notice sent to dispensaries in 2007 alerting them to the new sales tax policy: http://www.boe.ca.gov/news/pdf/medseller2007.pdf Opinion piece by Betty Yee & Carole Migden: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/15/ED0UV1RNP.DTL
Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States

March 19, 2008: Dr. Mollie Fry to be Sentenced for Medical Marijuana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2008 CONTACT: Bobby Eisenberg, FRY/SCHAFER Defense Committee at Bobby@docfry.com or 530-823-9963 California Dr. Mollie Fry to be Sentenced for Medical Marijuana Sentencing scheduled for Wednesday, March 19th at 2pm in Sacramento Federal Court. The federal sentencing of medical marijuana defendants Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband, Attorney Dale Schafer will take place on Wednesday, March 19th at the US courthouse in Sacramento (5th and I St.). The sentencing is at 2 PM. There will be a press conference before the hearing at 1PM in front of the Court House. The couple was denied the right to defend their actions that were protected under the Laws of the State of California. WHO: Sentencing in Federal Court of Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband, Attorney Dale Schafer for cultivation and dispensing medical marijuana under the Laws of California. WHAT: Press Conference prior to sentencing at 1 PM WHEN: Sentencing is Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 2 PM WHERE: Federal Court House, 501 "I " St., Sacramento, CA "We never would have grown marijuana had it not been sanctioned by the Laws of the State of California, the Attorney General of California and the District Attorney and Sheriffs’ of El Dorado County. Why aren’t they being charged with conspiracy to violate Federal Law?" asks Dr. Fry. Dr. Fry and her husband face a likely 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for conspiracy to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana for a small number of Dr. Fry’s patients. They ran (and continue to run) a popular medical marijuana clinic in El Dorado County that provides recommendations for many needy patients in the Sierra Foothills: http://www.docfry.com. Go to articles link for background. Like other federal defendants, they were denied the right to mention medical marijuana or Prop 215 in their trial. Both are in fragile health - Dale has hemophilia and suffers from chronic back pain, and Mollie is a breast cancer survivor. They are currently caring for three beautiful children and two grandchildren in their home. They were among the first medical marijuana providers raided by the Bush Administration, just a couple of weeks after 9/11 (9/28/01), but were not successfully indicted until June 22nd, 2005 after the Raich decision was overturned by the Supreme Court. Dale Schafer had also run for District Attorney in 2001. The sentence they face is particularly egregious compared to other defendants who have grown far more marijuana. They are liable to a five-year mandatory minimum because they were convicted of growing 100 plants over a period of three years, a number far smaller than is usually prosecuted by federal authorities. The jury was forced to add three different years worth of gardens to come up with the 100-plant count. They were not allowed to mention at their trial that local law enforcement had (deliberately) entrapped them by telling them it was OK to grow their relatively modest garden or that they had received advice of counsel supporting their right to grow and care for others under the Law in California. The Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, the District Attorney and the Sheriff in El Dorado County were all aware of and supportive of Dr. Fry and Schafer’s activities, but the jury was also denied these truths. Fry and Schafer’s case aptly exemplifies the kind of DEA enforcement abuses bill SJR 20 condemns. Patients and medical marijuana rights supporters are welcome to attend.
Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States

Marijuana Policy Project: Are you planning to visit New York this spring?

[Courtesy of MPP]

You’re invited to an exciting evening with the Marijuana Policy Project at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan on May 14.

MPP Medical Marijuana Benefit
Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th Street, New York City
Wednesday, May 14, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Please consider joining us for a night of comedy and music to celebrate MPP’s recent successes on the path to passing medical marijuana legislation in New York state (and other parts of the country).

The event will feature a performance by folk-rock band Nicole Atkins & The Sea, as well as special appearances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Michelle Phillips and medical marijuana advocate Montel Williams. We’ll also honor Joel Peacock, a patient advocate from Buffalo who suffers from chronic pain resulting from a 2001 car accident.

Proceeds from the event will be used to change the law to remove criminal penalties for medical marijuana. If the New York bill passes in the next few months, New York would become the 13th medical marijuana state in the country.

Last year, the New York Assembly passed the bill by a 95-52 vote, marking the first time that such a bill has received a vote on the floor of either chamber of the New York Legislature. Plus, more than 1,000 doctors in New York have spoken out in support of medical marijuana, in addition to the Albany, Buffalo, and New York city councils and most medical organizations in the state.

The New York legislation is at the brink of victory — and the prospects for some of MPP’s other bills look good in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Please join us and be a part of the tipping point that brings about these momentous changes!

Please don’t wait long to buy your tickets, since space is limited.

I look forward to seeing you on May 14 in New York City.

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 ticket purchase today will be doubled.

Location: 
New York, NY
United States

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