In a crucial win for patients in Michigan, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state’s zero tolerance driving under the influence law does not apply to medical marijuana patients when it is based on the mere presence of THC in a patient’s blood stream. Because THC can remain in a person’s system for days after it is consumed, the only other result would have meant that thousands of medical marijuana patients would be driving illegally simply for having used their medicine hours or days earlier.
Rodney Koon — a medical marijuana patient — was stopped while driving and later accused of a DUI because he had THC in his system. He said he had not used his medicine in six hours. The state Supreme Court found that under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act — which was drafted by MPP — a registered patient cannot be penalized or arrested for the “internal possession” of marijuana, so long as the patient complies with the requirements of the law. The initiative’s protections trump the state’s zero tolerance law for registered patients. The court noted the law does not allow patients to drive when they are under the influence of marijuana.
The 400-page study concluded that if the United States was sincere in its desire to reduce drug violence in the western hemisphere, then it would have to seriously rethink its stance on marijuana and look into more rational drug policies:
“It would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale, and use of marijuana. Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken.”
Jose Miguel Insulza
The discussion is long overdue, according to OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza, and most Latin American leaders – “whose countries suffer the bloody brunt of the largely failed U.S.-led drug war” – agree. Continue reading →
The Mayor of San Diego is encouraging jurors of an upcoming medical marijuana case to reject the prosecution’s argument, which rests on the fact that marijuana is banned at the federal level.
The feds arrested Ronnie Chang of San Marcos in 2009 for operating a medical marijuana dispensary. He is just one of the many Californians who have faced legal consequences for their state-sanctioned efforts to bring relief to patients.
Mayor Bob Filner
Mayor Bob Filner is outraged at Chang’s situation. “Someone should not be going through this stage of prosecution for trying to help people to have access to medical marijuana,” he told reporters.
A champion for civil rights and a former Freedom Rider, Mayor Filner wants jurors to send a message to the federal government this fall, when Chang’s trial is expected to begin.
“[I]t’s time, like with Prohibition, to step back and say this was a stupid thing to do…and juries ought to take the lead in saying that to the federal government.”
In a process known as “jury nullification,” Mayor Filner hopes that those selected to listen to Chang’s case will place their consciences above the evidence and acquit him of any wrong doing.
Let’s hope the jury heeds Mayor Filner’s bold cry for action.
After “only” 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, MPP has finally succeeded at persuading the Illinois Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate approved the measure 35-21 Friday, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 on April 17.
If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. (New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing MPP’s medical marijuana legislation, so it’s a race to see which state will be first!)
If the Illinois bill becomes law, as many as 60 retail establishments will be licensed to sell medical marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.
Gov. Quinn has made some positive comments about our bill, but we still don’t know whether he’ll sign it. Over the next few months, we must focus on ensuring that the governor sides with the forces of compassion and fiscal prudence, rather than the forces of fear and fiscal waste.
Politicians are slowly coming around to the idea that states and localities should be able to determine their own marijuana policies, and that the federal government should stay out of the way. Is your mayor one of these?