How Accurate is Cannabis Testing? Ring Test Assesses the Labs
California NORML Release - Sep. 26, 2011
Mixed findings show strengths and problems among analytic testing services
In the winter of 2010/11, California NORML and Project CBD initiated a "Ring Test" to assess the accuracy of the numerous analytical cannabis testing laboratories that have recently emerged to serve medical marijuana collectives, breeders, growers and patients.
Results of the study, which was coauthored by California NORML director Dale Gieringer and Dutch scientist Dr. Arno Hazekamp, are reported in the Autumn 2011 issue of O'Shaughnessy's, the Journal of Cannabis in Clinical practice on pages 17-18, posted at:
"We embarked on a parallel study of cannabis testing labs to shed light on a significant, unresolved issue within the fledgling medical marijuana industry in California and other states," says Gieringer, "We wanted to know how reliable is the information provided by analytical cannabis labs? Are they adequately serving the needs of medical marijuana patients and providers?"
Ten cannabis labs in two states agreed to participate in an anonymous, side-by-side study to assess the accuracy and precision of their collective work. The participating labs employed a variety of analytical techniques and instrumentation to conduct their analysis.
Six samples drawn from the same sources were tested by each lab: four herbal samples, including one CBD-rich strain, and two tinctures (alcohol extracts).
Results of the Ring Test
- In most cases, lab results were consistent to within plus or minus 20% on replicate samples (and often within 10%). For example, a sample with 10% average THC content might range from 8% to 12% in different tests. This is similar to the accuracy of the government's potency testing program run by NIDA's lab in Mississippi, as well as comparable government-regulated industries such as environmental testing. Conclusion: The precision and proficiency of a majority of cannabis testing labs compared favorably to other analytical testing industries.
- While a majority of labs performed within acceptable limits, some reported results that deviated substantially from the average, with unacceptable deviations of more than 25% from the mean. Three of the ten labs performed unacceptably on half of the tests. Conclusion: Not all cannabis testing labs are performing up to par; consumers are well advised to check the reputations and professional experience of labs they work with, and to arrange backup tests from more than one lab where accuracy is essential.
- Both gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC) instrumentation yielded accurate results in testing of raw cannabis samples, with comparable and acceptable repeatability for identical samples. Conclusion: Both GC and LC instrumentation should be considered reliable for cannabis potency analysis.
- In the case of the tinctures (alcohol extracts), there were significant discrepancies in the results found by different labs, with GC generally reporting significantly higher potencies than LC. This made it impossible to reliably estimate the actual potency of the original samples. Conclusion: More work is required to assess the accuracy of current methods for testing cannabis tinctures, edibles and other extracts.
- No analytical testing lab demonstrated precision that supports reporting cannabinoid results to two decimal places. By unnecessarily reporting results to the one-hundredth percentile, some labs created an unrealistic illusion of precision that raises false expectations regarding the degree to which accuracy is possible, given the 20% variation observed. Conclusion: Labs should re-evaluate the precision level at which results are reported.
The Project CBD / CA NORML Ring Test report is accompanied by a list of ten questions that patients and providers might want to ask when choosing to work with an analytical testing lab.
"Analytical labs provide an important service for the medical marijuana community," says Sarah Russo, Project CBD's outreach coordinator. "We hope that cannabis labs, while competing for market share, will cooperate to improve their methods and maintain a high performance standard. Medical marijuana patients and providers would be well served by labs that share information and assist each other in a collegial manner."
MEDIA ALERT: Medical Marijuana Patient John Wilson Faces Bail Hearing Thursday, September 29, 2011
WHO: Multiple sclerosis (MS) Patient John Ray Wilson
WHAT: Faces bail hearing
WHEN: 1:30 PM, Thursday, September 29, 2011
WHERE: Somerset County Courthouse – Somerville, NJ—with Judge Marino
WHY: Pending appeal to New Jersey Supreme Court
Multiple sclerosis (MS) patient and medical marijuana user John Ray Wilson will appear in the Somerset County Courthouse before Judge Marino for a bail hearing tomorrow, Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM. Wilson is currently imprisoned at CRAF, the Central Reception and Assignment Facility for the New Jersey State Prison system, located in Trenton, NJ. Wilson had been free on bond pending an appeal of his conviction and sentence of five years, but an Appellate Court upheld his conviction of “manufacturing” marijuana in late July. He was incarcerated on August 24, 2011. Attorney William Buckman has filed a petition to the State Supreme Court. The bail hearing tomorrow will determine if Wilson can remain with his family as the Supreme Court appeal is considered. Mr. Buckman’s office reports that the State intends to vigorously oppose the release of Wilson.
“New Jersey already has some of the most draconian laws in the nation with respect to marijuana, costing taxpayers outrageous sums to incarcerate nonviolent, otherwise responsible individuals-- as well as in this case -- the sick and infirm,” said Buckman. “As it stands, the case now allows a person who grows marijuana to be exposed to up to 20 years in jail, even if that marijuana is strictly for his or her own medical use. No fair reading of the law would ever sanction this result.”
Wilson’s conviction in January 2010 came just as New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act passed into law. The state now recognizes MS as a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy; however, the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is not operational yet.
Depending on the outcome of the hearing, Wilson may be freed pending his appeal or must continue serving his sentence. Wilson’s father, Ray, reports that John is scheduled to be transferred from CRAF to maximum security Northern State Prison in Newark, NJ to serve the rest of his sentence.
For Immediate Release:
Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access Kicks Off Petition on White House "We The People" Site
The national Veterans service organization, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access (VMCA), veteransformedicalcannabis.org on behalf of the Veterans across the United States has drawn up a petition to ask President Obama's administration to "Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD."
The petition may be viewed at the White House website:
Medicinal cannabis is recognized in DC and 16 states such as MD, OR and NM as having medical value including treatment for PTS(d) and TBI. Allies of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan - Canada, Czechoslovakia and Israel allow the use of cannabis to treat these injuries sustained in military service alongside US troops.
Co-founder of VMCA, Al Byrne, Lcdr. USN, ret. said, "I am a Virginia Veteran who uses cannabis for PTS. If I seek treatment in a VHA facility in Virginia the MD's and RN's can not even discuss this treatment option BECAUSE VIRGINIA LAW STILL DOESN'T ALLOW USE OF THIS IMPORTANT MEDICINE FOR PTS(d) . If I seek the same treatment say, as a Veteran resident of Maine (where cannabis is legal medicine) they say welcome and thank you for your service."
VHA Directive 2010-035 of July 2010 states clearly that if a Veteran gets a recommendation for cannabis from a civilian health care provider in a state that allows the medicinal use of cannabis, then the VA health care providers must treat cannabis as a medicine and the Vet as a valued patient. In Virginia the Vet is not so valued and the medicine for their needs is banned.
Veteran care based on geography is wrong. It is illogical. It is not the practice of medicine it is the practice of politics on the wounded and it is shameful.
Disabled United States Air Force Sergeant
Executive Director Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access
COO and Co-founder
Patients Out of Time
Press Release: Elected Officials and Advocates Applaud Change to Marijuana Arrest Policy, Pledge Further Reform
For Immediate Release:
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, And Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumanne D. Williams Joined by Advocates in Front of Police Headquarters to Applaud Change in Policy for Marijuana Arrests
Policy Shift by NYPD Could End Tens of Thousands of Arrests in NYC, Save Tens of Millions of Dollars and Reduce the Funneling of Young Men of Color into the Criminal Justice System
Elected Officials and Advocates Affirm Support for Legislation in Albany that Standardizes Penalties for Marijuana Possession Offenses to Permanently Curb These Arrests Statewide
New York, NY– Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, joined by advocates from the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, VOCAL NY, and the Drug Policy Alliance, gathered in front of One Police Plaza today to celebrate an internal order issued by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to all precinct commanding officers to stop arresting New Yorkers for small quantities of marijuana if the marijuana was not in plain view.
In 2010, over 54,000 people – mostly black or Latino – were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana in New York State. Over 50,000 of those arrests occurred in New York City, making it the most frequent arrest citywide. On Monday, September 19th, responding to mounting public pressure from elected officials and advocates, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an operations order that clarified existing marijuana possession laws, instructing officers not to arrest people for marijuana in public view when complying with an officer's demand to "empty their pockets". This change could lead to the reduction of tens of thousands of arrests in New York City.
"The internal directive issued by Commissioner Kelly is a positive step toward a more equitable criminal justice system that treats everyone the same, regardless of race or socioeconomic status,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. “The NYPD's aggressive stop and frisk practices that have lead to the explosion of improper marijuana arrests in communities of color have helped poison the relationship between the community and police. We will continue to push for the passage of state legislation that changes public view possession of small quantities of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation.”
Commissioner Kelly’s operations order can be made permanent, and apply to all of New York State, by passing A.7620 (Jeffries) and S.5187 (Grisanti, R-Buffalo). This legislation would standardize penalties for marijuana possession offences, protect New Yorkers from illegal searches, save taxpayer dollars, and bring down the disproportionately high number of arrests among black and Latino men for marijuana-related crimes by eliminating the misdemeanor charge.
"The New York City Police Commissioner did the right thing when he issued his directive not to arrest people who produce small amounts of marijuana in public view when compelled by police," said New York State Senator Mark Grisanti (R- Buffalo). "Unfortunately, this order does not impact people in Buffalo who experience these same situations every day. We can make this order permanent and have it apply statewide by passing legislation in Albany that will help put an end to these racially biased, fiscally wasteful, and unlawful arrests for small amounts of marijuana."
Council Member Mark-Viverito introduced a City Council resolution that Council Member Williams is sponsoring that supports the passage of this legislation.
“The directive issued by Commissioner Kelly is a huge victory for communities of color in the city of New York, who for years have been disproportionately targeted for small-time marijuana arrests” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Finally, the NYPD will be respecting the intent of the State law that de-criminalized small amounts of marijuana decades ago, and our youth will no longer face arrest for this small-time offense. I personally raised this issue with Commissioner Kelly at two different Council hearings earlier this year as a major concern for my district and communities like mine across the city. I applaud the Commissioner for acting on the concerns that so many of us in the Council and beyond have been expressing about this policy. We will continue to closely monitor how stop and frisk policies are carried out in our city and to advocate for the passage of the State legislation introduced by Senator Grisanti and Assemblyman Jeffries.”
Marijuana has been decriminalized since 1977, making possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation, punishable by a $100 fine, not arrest and jail. However, possessing or burning marijuana in public view is a criminal offense punishable by arrest and jail.
"Commissioner Kelly has finally answered the alarm sounded by advocates and our communities,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “However, it will take continued vigilance on all of our parts to make sure that officers are patrol are heeding the message and bringing an end to the racial inequality and fiscal waste of this disturbing trend of illegal arrests. We also must continue to push for the bipartisan state legislation that will ensure this order is made permanent for all New Yorkers.”
Since 1996, the New York City Police Department has made over 535,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Although the “public view” provision was meant to criminalize public display and smoking of marijuana, most of these arrests were not for that offense, but instead the result of complying with an officer's demand to disclose contraband or from a police search and being improperly charged for "marijuana in public view" instead of the non-criminal violation offense. Although marijuana use is higher among whites, 86% of those arrested for marijuana possession were young Black and Latino youth.
Advocates who have worked for years to address the out of control marijuana arrests by NYPD weighed in on the significance of the recent directive.
“It must be noted that these spurious arrests are largely a result of a racially biased and improper stop and frisk practice that often result in illegal searches, and this order does not address this injustice,” said Kyung Ji Rhee, director of Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives. “We will continue to hold NYPD accountable on this front.”
“It’s about time!,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I just want to give a belated thanks to Ray Kelly for agreeing at last to comply with both the spirit and letter of the marijuana decriminalization law that New York enacted back in 1977.”
"We can't talk about marijuana arrests without bringing up why they happen in the first place - stop and frisks and illegal searches that are targeted in communities of color," said Alfredo Carrasquillo, a community organizer for VOCAL-NY who has been arrested in the past for marijuana possession. "That won't necessarily change as a result of this new policy, but it should. Mayor Bloomberg must also seal the records of people who have been convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana in the past given that he knows how difficult it can make finding a job or housing."
# # #
MEDIA ADVISORY June 22, 2011
Thursday: Members of Congress to Introduce Historic Legislation Ending Marijuana Prohibition
The Legislation, Modeled after the Repeal of Alcohol Prohibition, Comes on the 40th Anniversary of the Failed War on Drugs and on the Heels of a Global Commission Report Recommending Marijuana Legalization
Teleconference: Rep. Barney Frank and Leading Organizations Working to End the Failed War on Marijuana Explain the Significance of the Legislation
CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………......(202) 905-2031 or email@example.com
WASHINGTON, DC - Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) will introduce bi-partisan legislation tomorrow, June 23, ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states legalize, regulate, tax, and control marijuana without federal interference. Other co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Leading critics of the war on marijuana will explain its significance for state and national marijuana policy at a national tele-press conference on Thursday.
What: Tele-Press Conference on the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011
When:Thursday, June 23. 2:00pm EST / 11am PST
Call-in Info: 1-800-311-9404; Passcode: Marijuana
· Representative Barney Frank (D-4th/MA)
· Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
· Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
· Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
· Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
Last week marked the 40th Anniversary of President Nixon declaring a war on marijuana and other drugs. In an oped in the New York Times last week, timed for the 40th Anniversary, former President Jimmy Carter called for reforming marijuana laws.
The legislation also comes on the heels of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which released a report on June 2 calling for a major paradigm shift in how our society deals with drugs, including calling for legal regulation of marijuana. The report sent a jolt around the world, generating thousands of international media stories. The commission is comprised of international dignitaries including Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations; Richard Branson, entrepreneur, founder of the Virgin Group; and the former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland. Representing the U.S. on the commission are George P. Shultz, Paul Volcker, and John Whitehead.
46.5% of Californians voted last year to legalize marijuana in their state, and voters in Colorado, Washington and possibly other states are expected to vote on the issue next year. In the past year at least five state legislatures have considered legalizing marijuana, including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington. 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, but the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to arrest people under federal law and U.S. Attorneys have in recent months sent threatening letters to state policymakers in an apparent attempt to meddle in state decision-making.
Rep. Frank’s legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.
With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.
85% of Grandparent Respondents Favor Marijuana Legalization, According to GRAND Magazine Reader Poll (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2011
CONTACT: Rosa Mangiardi at (415) 728-2113
85% of Grandparent Respondents Favor Marijuana Legalization, According to GRAND Magazine Reader Poll
Online Magazine for Grandparents Releases Response Results to Op-Ed Question Posed in its March/April Issue
St. Petersburg, FL. (PRWEB) Attitudes about the criminalization of marijuana may be changing among the elders of our society, as the more than 70 million of the baby boomer generation, one to widely experiment with recreational drug use, have and will become grandparents.
GRAND Magazine, the online magazine for today's grandparents, released today results from their poll question which appeared in the March/April issue. It asked readers if it was time to legalize marijuana. 85% responded that they agreed it was.
The reader respondents who are pot proponents argued in their responses that it is hypocritical to outlaw pot when cigarettes, alcohol and fat-laden foods are legal but account for so many health issues among our population. They point out that marijuana is used to treat medical symptoms such as pain and nausea, and that in some states it is legal for shops to dispense medical marijuana. The billions that are spent in the U.S. on policing and courts related to this issue could be spent on better schools or infrastructure.
Grandparents who are part of the baby boomer generation (those born from 1946 to 1964)(1) have a unique perspective on marijuana, having come of age during a time when pot use became mainstream. 21st century grandparents are a group with a significant influence on the country’s youth as they are the primary caregivers for more than 6 million children(2). In fact, approximately 75 percent of all non-parental care of children is provided by a grandparent(3), representing a large shift in family dynamics. Now it seems that as they guide and influence new generations, they view marijuana use increasingly as a harmless indulgence rather than a gateway to a lifetime of drug abuse.
Among the reader response comments were:
“I am a grandparent strongly in favor of decriminalization. I would much rather my grandkids smoke pot than use cigarettes or alcohol. I expect I will need cannabis for my health soon and don’t want (it) to be illegal. The whole charade needs to stop; we are blowing far too much money on the drug war and have no positive results to show for it. The whole approach is counterproductive,” said D.W., Guysville, OH.
“I am a grandparent of a 17 year-old granddaughter who has been struggling with drug addiction since she was 14 years old. I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug and it has always been her reluctance to give up pot that has brought her back again and again to more dangerous drugs. I understand that the same arguments that have been used for years with the responsible adult consumption of alcohol apply to responsible adult use of pot. … I would vote against legal sale of marijuana…,” said A.C.
To read additional reader responses, click here
The link to the page in the GRAND magazine March/April online edition op-ed reader poll that asks, ‘Is it time to legalize marijuana?’ is: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/grand/20110304_v3/index.php#/51/OnePage
GRAND magazine is an online bi-monthly magazine that serves the more than 70 million U.S. grandparent market. It is delivered exclusively in digital format. It is published by GRAND Media, LLC, which was established in 2004. For more information about GRAND magazine visit: http://www.GRANDmagazine.com.
1. U.S. Census Bureau
2. American Community Survey, 2007, U.S. Census Bureau
3. State Fact Sheet for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children, 2007, AARP Foundation, Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, and Generations United
Bills to Ensure Fair Treatment of Medical Cannabis Industry Members Are Introduced in U.S. House (Press Release)
National Cannabis Industry Association
For Immediate Release -- WEDNESDAY, MAY 25
Bills to Ensure Fair Treatment of Medical Cannabis Industry Members Are Introduced in U.S. House
The logic behind the introduction of the “Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011” and the “Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011” stands in sharp contrast to the actions of U.S. Attorneys who hope to keep medical cannabis sales underground, untaxed and unregulated
CONTACT: Steve Fox, NCIA dir. of public affairs at 202-379-4861 ext. 2 or Steve@TheCannabisIndustry.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, for the first time in history, two bills that would benefit members of the medical cannabis industry were introduced in Congress. The introduction of the bills, which address banking and tax issues faced by medical cannabis providers, follow months of advocacy by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). The bills were part of a coordinated introduction of three bills to protect and support medical marijuana patients and providers in states where the use of medical marijuana is legal. The third bill, the “States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act,” would modify federal law so that individuals acting in compliance with state law are immune from federal prosecution.
The industry bills were introduced with bipartisan lead sponsors. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are the lead sponsors of the “Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011,” which would amend Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code so that medical marijuana providers can take standard business deductions like any other business. The “Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011,” sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), would allow financial institutions to work with medical marijuana businesses without the fear of running afoul of federal banking regulations.
These bills have been introduced at a time when the nation is witnessing a strange reaction by U.S. Attorneys to the development of state-regulated systems of medical marijuana distribution. In October 2009, the Department of Justice issued a memo to federal prosecutors, instructing them to de-prioritize the prosecution of individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. This has given states like New Mexico, Colorado and Maine the ability to establish tightly regulated system. Yet some U.S. Attorneys, faced with the prospect of sensible regulations being established in other states, have issued misleading and threatening letters to sidetrack legislative and administrative progress.
“There are hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in this country who benefit when they are able to purchase their medicine from safe, reliable and regulated establishments,” said Steve Fox, NCIA’s director of public affairs. “It is time for the federal government to acknowledge that these businesses are providing a service to their communities, not causing them harm. Without these regulated, tax-paying businesses, all medical marijuana sales would occur underground. The profits would bolster the criminal market and local, state and federal governments would receive no tax revenue. These medical marijuana providers are not looking for special treatment. They just want to be able to function in a manner similar to any other legal business. That is what these tax and banking bills would allow.”
* * * * *
The mission of the National Cannabis Industry Association is to defend, promote and advance the interests of the cannabis industry and its members. NCIA publicly advocates for the unique needs of the emerging cannabis industry and defends against those aiming to eliminate the legal market for cannabis and cannabis-related products. For more information, please visit www.TheCannabisIndustry.org.
For Immediate Release: May 25, 2011
Patient Advocates Back Three Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced Today in Congress
Advocacy Group Unveils New Program to Build More Skilled, Responsive Grassroots Force
Washington, DC -- Three medical marijuana bills were introduced today in Congress with support from patient advocates. The most significant of the three bills is one introduced by Congressman Frank (D-MA), which reclassifies marijuana from its current status as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Another bill, introduced by Congressman Polis (D-CO), will allow banks and other financial institutions to provide services to medical marijuana businesses without being subject to "suspicious activity" reporting requirements. The third bill, introduced by Congressman Stark (D-CA), changes the federal tax code "to allow a deduction for expenses in connection with the trade or business of selling marijuana intended for patients for medical purposes pursuant to State law."
"All of these bills will have a positive effect on hundreds of thousands of Americans and only a negligible impact to the rest of the country," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "This kind of policy shift is a no-brainer and should garner the bipartisan support of Congress."
To shore up support for these and other local and state medical marijuana bills, ASA is launching a new advocacy program.
The introduction of Congressional legislation today comes as ASA is equipping patient advocates with new tools to lobby local, state and federal governments. ASA unveiled a new program today that establishes a "Medical Cannabis Think Tank "to provide activists the support they need to analyze pending or proposed legislation and to lobby for the best laws possible. To support the lobbying effort, ASA also unveiled its new "Online Training Center," with more than 4 hours of educational streaming video and over 400 pages of instruction manuals and worksheets. ASA's program also includes an improved "Raid Response Center" to better prepare for aggressive federal interference.
As part of its "Sick and Tired" campaign, ASA and others filed a writ Monday in the DC Circuit to compel the federal government to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify cannabis. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) argued in the writ that the government has unreasonably delayed an answer to the petition in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. "The Drug Enforcement Administration has the opportunity right now to address the needs of patients across the country by reclassifying cannabis," continued Sherer. "However, since Congress can also reclassify cannabis, we are urging passage of the Frank bill in order to take advantage of all points of leverage."
If passed, the Frank bill would not only recognize marijuana's medical value, but also provide a medical necessity defense in federal court, a right not currently afforded to patients and caregivers who are in compliance with their local and state laws. The Frank bill would also usher forth greater research into the therapeutic properties of cannabis and create incentives for the development of new cannabis-based medication.
Advocates hope the Polis bill, if passed, will end the current ban on services for medical marijuana businesses by institutions like Wells Fargo, CitiCorp and Bank of America. The Stark bill has the potential to end dozens of audits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently taking place, and settle once and for all whether the IRS can demand tax on gross or just net proceeds.
Rescheduling bill (Frank):
Banking bill (Polis):
IRS bill (Stark):
ASA Think Tank: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/section.php?id=384
ASA Online Training Center:
ASA Raid Response Center:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/25/2011
CONTACT: Ken Wolski at 609-394-2137 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Goldstein at 267-702-3731
New Jersey Attorney General Meets With Medical Marijuana Advocates
[Trenton - New Jersey] Attorney General Paula Dow sat down with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ (CMMNJ) on May 24th at her office in Trenton. The AG and her staff held the meeting to hear concerns from local advocates about the compassionate use marijuana program that has now been suspended by Governor Christie.
Ken Wolski RN, the executive director of CMMNJ, was grateful for the interaction.
“Attorney General Paula Dow and First Assistant Phillip Kwon took time out their demanding schedules to listen to some very serious issues for New Jersey's medical marijuana law," said Wolski, "Qualifying patients continue to wait for this program and we hope that some of their concerns were heard. The Office of the Attorney General plays a key role in the implementation and administration of the compassionate use law.”
On April 22, 2011 Dow sent a letter to the Department of Justice in Washington DC requesting clarification about the medical marijuana law. Several US Attorneys have recently issued letters in other states with a clear description of how federal authorities will prosecute medical marijuana facilities, even if they are permitted under state law. In Washington, Montana and other states the letters were accompanied by DEA raids of local medical cannabis dispensaries.
NJ Attorney General Paula Dow stated in the meeting that she sent a follow-up letter to the US Department of Justice, addressed to US Attorney General Eric Holder, on May 23, 2011.
Paul Fishman, the US Attorney for New Jersey, has not sent any communication regarding the NJ medical marijuana law before or after Dow’s requests. A spokesperson at the US DOJ said the April 22nd letter from New Jersey had been received and was under review.
Chris Goldstein, the media coordinator at CMMNJ also attended the meeting.
“Not a single person in New Jersey has been able to register for medical cannabis, despite many promises from Governor Christie,” said Goldstein, “But I think that we had a meaningful exchange of new ideas with Attorney General Dow. The intent of The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to grant legal access to seriously ill residents. There are some methods that the AG's office can explore to actively protect New Jersey’s medical cannabis patients today."
New Jersey passed the first compassionate use law in the country that forces patients into a centralized system of just six Alternative Treatment Centers to access all of their state-legal cannabis. There are no provisions in the NJ law to allow patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis on their own. The law was supposed to have been fully implemented in the summer of 2010 but has suffered numerous delays.
CMMNJ’s Ken Wolski is looking forward to meeting with the one state official who has exercised the most influence over the medical marijuana law: Governor Chris Christie.
“It is long past time for Governor Christie to actually meet with patients and advocates in our state to discuss the compassionate use law.”
For Immediate Release: May 23, 2011
Medical Marijuana Advocates Sue Federal Government Over Rescheduling Delay/Writ filed today in DC Circuit Court for unreasonable delay in answering 9-year-old petition
*Washington, DC* -- A Coalition of advocacy groups and patients filed suit in the DC Circuit Court today to compel the Obama administration to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify medical marijuana. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has never received an answer to its 2002 petition, despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the final arbiter in the rescheduling process. As recently as July 2010, the DEA issued a 54-page "Position on Marijuana," but failed to even mention the pending CRC petition. Plaintiffs in the case include the CRC, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out of Time, as well as individually named patients, one of whom is listed on the CRC petition but died in 2005.
"The federal government's strategy has been delay, delay, delay," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of ASA and lead counsel on the writ. "It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we've been forced to go to court in order to get resolution." The writ of mandamus filed today accuses the government of unreasonable delay in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. A previous cannabis (marijuana) rescheduling petition filed in 1972 went unanswered for 22 years before being denied.
The writ argues that cannabis is not a dangerous drug and that ample evidence of its therapeutic value exists based on scientific studies in the US and around the world. "Despite numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies establishing that marijuana is effective" in treating numerous medical conditions, the government "continues to deprive seriously ill persons of this needed, and often life-saving therapy by maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance." The writ calls out the government for unlawfully failing to answer the petition despite an Inter-Agency Advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and "almost five years after receiving a 41-page memorandum from HHS stating its scientific evaluation and recommendations."
The two largest physician groups in the country -- the American Medical Association <http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report.pdf> and the American College of Physicians <http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf> -- have both called on the federal government to review marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, added cannabis to its website earlier this year as a Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and recognized that, "/Cannabis/ has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance."
Medical marijuana has now been decriminalized in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and has an 80% approval rating among Americans according to several polls. In a 1988 ruling on a prior rescheduling petition, the DEA's own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young recommended in favor of reclassification stating that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."
A formal rejection of the CRC petition would enable the group to challenge in court the government's assertion that marijuana has no medical value. "Adhering to outdated public policy that ignores science has created a war zone for doctors and their patients who are seeking use cannabis therapeutics," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA and a plaintiff in the writ. Jon Gettman, who filed the rescheduling petition on behalf of the CRC added that, "The Obama Administration's refusal to act on this petition is an irresponsible stalling tactic."
A synthetic form of THC, the main chemical ingredient in the cannabis plant, is currently classified Schedule III for its use in a prescribed pill trademarked as Marinol®. The pill goes off-patent this year and companies vying to sell generic versions are petitioning the government to also reclassify the more economical, naturally-derived THC (from the plant) to Schedule III. The rescheduling process involves federal agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, HHS, and DEA. On average, it takes 6 months from HHS review to final action, whereas it's been nearly 5 years since HHS issued its recommendation on the CRC petition, more than twice as long as any other rescheduling petition reviewed since 2002.
Writ filed today: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Writ.pdf
ASA backgrounder on rescheduling:
CRC rescheduling petition:
2006 HHS recommendation:
2010 DEA Position on Marijuana: