Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Widowed Cancer Survivor Could Lose Home to Marijuana Charges

September 29th, 2009 42 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The federal law barring medical use of marijuana has already cost Mara Lynn Williams her husband, and may now cost her her home as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana

CA Police Chief Attacks State Law, Warns Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

September 29th, 2009 33 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Here’s one for the “Cops Unclear On the Concept” file: The Record-Searchlight in Redding, California is reporting that the town’s police chief, Peter Hansen, has sent a warning letter to local medical marijuana dispensing collectives. Hansen’s letter warns dispensary operators that they are in violation of federal law, that “federal law takes precedence over State law,” and, “Violation of this law is a felony crime that carries with it a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.”

While the chief has every right to dislike California’s medical marijuana law, it is his job to enforce state law, not attack it. That’s something the courts have made unmistakably clear, most notably in a case known as Garden Grove v. Superior Court. In that case, city police had improperly seized medical marijuana from patient Felix Kha, and then insisted they couldn’t return his medicine to him because federal law takes precedence over state law. The state appellate court ordered the return of Kha’s marijuana, stating, “[I]t is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws as such.”

Memo to Chief Hansen: Is there something about the phrase, “it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws” that’s hard for you to comprehend? Is Redding so completely free of robberies, rapes, murders, auto thefts, and other actual crimes that you have nothing else better to do?

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Mexican Cartels Continue To Illustrate Our Point

September 24th, 2009 74 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several opportunities to attend Q & A sessions with the Obama administration’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske. Increasingly, the audiences are asking him about the cartels in Mexico.

A typical question goes something like this: “Wouldn’t ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S. wipe out the drug cartels like the 21st amendment wiped out the illegal liquor trade in the 1930s?” Read the rest of this entry »

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MPP Nevada’s $10,000 Challenge 09/23/2009

September 24th, 2009 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

MPPNV spokesperson Dave Schwartz appears at a press conference announcing a challenge to Nevada residents. MPP has offered a $10,000 prize to anyone who can disprove three scientifically supported statements that show marijuana is safer than alcohol. This segment was aired KLAS-CBS 8 Las Vegas. 09/23/2009

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Tax and Regulate

MPP’s Nevada Chapter Issues $10,000 Challenge

September 23rd, 2009 81 Comments Kate Zawidzki

At a Las Vegas news conference today, the Marijuana Policy Project of Nevada announced details of a $10,000 challenge to the people of Nevada. MPP-NV will pay $10,000 to anyone who can disprove three statements of fact that demonstrate that marijuana is objectively and unquestionably safer than alcohol.

The challenge, announced by MPP-NV manager Dave Schwartz with a large mock check for $10,000,  kicks off a long-term public education campaign regarding the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol, and the harm caused by marijuana prohibition. Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama Administration Officials Back Out of Drug Policy Conference

September 21st, 2009 81 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and border czar Alan Bersin have dropped out of this week’s Global Public Policy Forum on the U.S. War on Drugs, an event organized by the University of Texas at El Paso.

Organizers were surprised when the two officials backed out of the event. El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles was not:

“I don’t know why you’re all so surprised about the federal government’s unwillingness to address this because, quite frankly, they’ve ignored the problem for years, and that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in now.”

El Paso city Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s position on the conference might provide some insight into the administration officials’ decision to back out. He hopes, according to the Newspaper Tree, “for a meaningful public discussion at the conference about legalizing drugs in the face of a failed strategy that has had such a destructive impact on everyday life in Juarez.” Kerlikowske may have sought to avoid addressing this issue, one that’s becoming increasingly difficult for him as border violence and soaring prison populations continue to highlight his untenable position.

Read the full story at

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Read This Now. Really

September 18th, 2009 45 Comments Kate Zawidzki

From the Washington Post, an absolute must-read.

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Medical Marijuana

Patients in Pain Are Not a Joke

September 17th, 2009 43 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Just two days after the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review proclaimed that the mainstream media are “are acting less childish about pot,” along comes the New York Daily News to prove that childishness is alive and well.


On Wednesday, MPP began airing two new TV ads around New York state in support of medical marijuana legislation. The spots feature real patients talking about the severe pain they suffer every day and how medical marijuana helps them. Amazingly, these serious and sober ads were rejected by three New York City TV stations.

The Daily News found it all quite amusing: “Just say yes! That’s the message a national pro-pot group is taking to New York’s airwaves,” the paper wrote. After quoting me about why we did the campaign, the story concluded, “The city’s ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates harshed the group’s buzz by declining to run the ads, Mirken added.”

Uh, no, I actually didn’t say anything remotely like that. But what I really said wasn’t nearly as cute.

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Republican Congressman Fails to Punish Students With Drug Convictions

September 17th, 2009 24 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Today, Congressman Mark Souder (R-Ind.) attempted to pass an amendment that would continue to prevent students with even minor drug convictions from receiving financial aid. His amendment was withdrawn, paving the way for students with drug convictions to seek higher education and a better life.

Souder authored a provision in 1998 that for nearly 10 years has blocked students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid. This year, congressional Democrats added language to SAFRA (Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, HR 3221), which fixed the problem created by Souder’s provision. During discussion of the bill today, Souder offered an amendment that would have undone this fix.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), a close ally of MPP, convinced Souder to withdraw his amendment.

Eliminating financial aid for students with drug convictions is one of the most small-minded policies in America’s war on drugs. By preventing these students from seeking opportunities in higher education, the provision locked many students into a cycle of poverty and forced low-income students to bear the brunt of a misguided, prohibitionist mindset. The fix, which would allow students access to aid, will provide hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families.

SAFRA is still working its way through the legislative process. MPP will continue to update you on its progress.

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Medical Marijuana

San Diego patient to strike back for law enforcement mistreatment

September 16th, 2009 29 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Remember that gut-wrenching footage of the wheelchair-bound medical marijuana patient being pulled out of his chair and into the back of a squad car? The victim of this brutality was Rev. Paul Cody, operator of the Hillcrest Compassion Care medical marijuana collective in San Diego.

Paul has told the San Diego City Beat that he’s planning on filing a legal complaint for his treatment during the raid on Hillcrest. Paul is paralyzed from the waist down due to a motorcycle accident, and he repeatedly told the police officers that his condition required that he receive special treatment but sadly, the thugs carried on as if terrorizing a man in a wheelchair was just another day at the office. Read the rest of this entry »

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