Medical Marijuana

A Tale of Two Drugs

November 30th, 2008 10 Comments Kate Zawidzki

For the first time in my life, I’ve just been prescribed an opioid painkiller: hydrocodone/acetaminophen, commonly known by the brand name Vicodin. The occasion was a medical procedure known as brachytherapy. I’ll explain more about that below, but it’s pretty low on the fun meter. There can be lingering pain for a few days, hence my introduction into the fabulous world of narcotic pain drugs.

I can’t help but notice some odd contrasts with medical marijuana. Read the rest of this entry »

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Britain’s Big Step Backward

November 26th, 2008 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Update to Bruce’s post yesterday about the British government’s effort to increase penalties for small marijuana violations over the objections of its scientific advisors: In what was really an expected formality, the House of Lords approved the move.

As Bruce pointed out, with its relatively good track record of science-based marijuana policy, it’s difficult to imagine why Britain would suddenly want to ape our politically and ideologically driven approach. After all, superstition and zealotry are entrenched realities of failed U.S. marijuana policy making. But what’s Britain’s excuse?

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Medical Marijuana

Pardon me for caring

November 25th, 2008 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, George W. Bush began the time-honored tradition of granting pardons to convicted felons in the president’s final days in the White House. 14 pardons and two commuted sentences were announced late last night, and more are expected to be handed down before he leaves office on January 20.

Two former politicians who have been convicted of public corruption charges are looking to the president in hopes that he will shorten their prison sentences. Some pundits are even speculating that he may offer “preemptive” pardons to those involved in the unconstitutional torture of terrorism suspects after 9-11.

I wonder if President Bush has given any thought to pardoning some of the medical marijuana patients and caregivers his administration has helped to prosecute?

One such unfortunate person who comes to mind is Charles C. Lynch of Morro Bay, California.

When Charles opened a city-licensed medical marijuana collective on California’s Central Coast, the community welcomed him with open arms. The city’s mayor even helped cut the ribbon at the chamber of commerce welcoming ceremony. The collective provided a safe and legal supply of medical marijuana to seriously ill patients for nearly a year before federal agents raided the facility and arrested Charles on federal drug charges.

During the ensuing trial, federal prosecutors described Charles as a common drug dealer and blocked any mention of medical marijuana from being brought forth by his defense. As a result, a jury found Charles guilty on five counts of federal drug charges. His sentencing hearing is set for January 5 and he could face up to 100 years in prison for following his heart (and state law) by helping patients to get their medicine.

I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a presidential pardon than Charles C. Lynch and others like him whose only crime was helping to relive suffering.

For more on Charles’ plight, check out this video.


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Pleas for Sanity From Britain

November 25th, 2008 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Forces of common sense are making a last-ditch stand in Britain today. Earlier this year, the British government announced its intention to “upgrade” marijuana from “Class C,” the lowest category of illicit drugs, where it’s been since 2004, to “Class B”: drugs considered more dangerous and subject to stiffer penalties. The move directly contradicted the advice of the government’s official scientific advisers, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Today, a last-ditch effort to delay the change is being debated in the House of Lords, a proposal supported by a group of top scientists in a letter published this morning by the Guardian newspaper. Reclassification, they argue, “would be a sad departure from the welcome trend … of public policy following expert scientific advice unless there is new evidence.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Marijuana Two Minute Truths: Addiction

November 24th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Join MPP’s Nydia Swaby as she answers this week’s question about marijuana: Is marijuana addictive?

Do you have questions about marijuana? E-mail us at with the subject line “Ask Nydia,” and we’ll film a response as soon as we can.

Have you considered signing up for our free e-mails? It’s the easiest (and cheapest!) way to help out. We’ll keep you up to date on the latest breaking marijuana-related news nationwide.

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Tax and Regulate

Dutch Mayors Call for Licensed Marijuana Growers

November 24th, 2008 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Dutch have evolved a mostly workable but somewhat contradictory system for handling marijuana: While technically illegal, possession and sale of small amounts through regulated “coffee shops” have been tolerated since the mid-’70s. This has effectively separated the retail market for marijuana from more dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin, but because marijuana cultivation remains banned, coffee shops have no legitimate source for their product.

A group of 30 Dutch mayors has now proposed the logical solution: a system of government-licensed marijuana cultivation. While the present conservative government of the Netherlands has moved to reduce the number of coffee shops, the mayors argue that such a move is likely to be counterproductive.


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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Thank You, John Walters!

November 21st, 2008 11 Comments Kate Zawidzki

We’re actually going to miss John Walters when he finally leaves his post as drug czar. He and his minions keep making our points for us — and apparently don’t even know they’re doing it. Take, for example, this post from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s blog, reproduced here in full:

In Case You Missed It: Leno and O’Reilly on Medical Pot in San Francisco

Our recent post on the large and undocumented number of medical pot clubs in California gained a national audience last night, with Jay Leno referencing the phenomenon during his opening monologue:

“And in a stunning announcement, the Office of the National Drug Control Policy reports that San Francisco now has more medical marijuana dispensaries than it does Starbucks.  Well, yeah.  That’s because marijuana is a lot cheaper than Starbucks.”

Also, in case you missed it, Bill O’Reilly’s program discussed the problem as well.  Watch the video here

Oh dear. After a marijuana arrest every 36 seconds in 2007 — over 872,000 altogether — and record marijuana seizures in California this year, they think the idea that marijuana is cheaper than Starbucks coffee is a good talking point for prohibition?

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Medical Marijuana

Who Says Drug Warriors Can’t Be Funny?

November 20th, 2008 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Folks, it’s official: Opposition to safe, legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients has dwindled to the point where only the most obnoxious blowhards like Bill O’Reilly even bother stoking it.

Here he is spouting off on the latest lie from the White House drug czar’s office that medical marijuana dispensaries outnumber Starbucks coffee shops in San Francisco. My colleague Aaron Smith has already exposed this nonsense as a complete fabrication, and it’s already been reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, but apparently even imaginary dispensaries are enough to scare the crap out of guys like O’Reilly.

Funny, but O’Reilly and his staff didn’t bother to talk to anyone who might have set the record straight. Wouldn’t want to let the truth get in the way of a good story, after all.
Bill O'Reilly

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Medical Marijuana

More on ONDCP’s Nonsense About San Francisco Dispensaries

November 19th, 2008 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

This little brouhaha is generating a lot of attention. Now Wired News weighs in with an amusing item.

But it’s important to remember that this is serious stuff. While ONDCP continues to denounce medical marijuana as a “fraud,” here’s what the city of San Francisco’s health director, Dr. Mitchell Katz, had to say about federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in a letter to the U.S. Senate a few years ago:

“”Patients who use medical cannabis are persons with immune disorders, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and spinal cord injuries, to name a few. Patients who turn to medical cannabis are generally unable to find relief for their chronic pain and nausea through other treatment methods.

“[DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco] have resulted in nearly 4,000 persons with chronic illness left without access to critical treatment upon which they depend. Certainly in this post-September 11 environment, it seems that a DEA priority punishing organizations for distributing medical cannabis to chronically ill individuals is misplaced.”

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Medical Marijuana

Blog Wars Episode V: The Empire’s Hacks

November 18th, 2008 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle’s “City Insider” blog picked up my last post about ONDCP’s spurious claims that San Francisco houses more medical marijuana facilities than Starbucks shops. A senior health inspector for the city told The Chronicle that ONDCP’s claim that nearly 100 medical marijuana facilities are operating downtown was “extremely incorrect.” The city official confirmed that there are actually 24 medical marijuana facilities in the entire city.

The Chronicle further pointed out how absurd ONDCP’s claims were from the perspective of anyone who actually knows San Francisco, and noted that ONDCP couldn’t even get their numbers straight when it came to how many Starbucks are in the city.

It didn’t take long for the ONDCP to respond with a new blog post announcing the “good news” that their previous post received some “MSM (mainstream media) attention.” The fact that the drug czar’s office considers an article calling them liars to be “good news” should tell you all you need to know about George W. Bush’s drug policy hacks.

ONDCP also altered its original post by reducing its random figure of 98 dispensaries to 71 – an equally arbitrary number. They claim to have obtained their list of medical marijuana dispensaries from a Google search; however the I use doesn’t yield results approaching anywhere near 71. Of course, a link to ONDCP’s source is conspicuously missing from their post.

ONDCP also decided to take a swipe at MPP and other supporters of medical marijuana by calling us “Washington, D.C. based lobbying groups that, attempting to legalize marijuana outright, prey on the compassion of voters.” Apparently, then, the dozens of prestigious medical organizations that support medical marijuana are also nothing more than predators for legalization…?

It’s ONDCP that’s really the distant Washington, D.C.-based group preying on taxpayers – who are forced to pay for the outright lies broadcasted on their blog, regardless of what San Francisco city officials or its hometown newspaper have to say about reality.

The truth is that San Francisco’s leaders have worked hard to regulate the city’s medical marijuana facilities, and it’s the federal government’s war on marijuana users that has caused real harm to the city. 

The good news is that we don’t have to wait too long before these buffoons are out of a job. Let’s just hope the new guard will not only be able to count better than Bush’s folks but will make better policy too.

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