Medical Marijuana

NH Republicans Pass Medical Marijuana in Spite of Democrat Governor’s Veto Threat

April 25th, 2012 25 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Republican legislators nationwide should perk up their ears and take notice of what is happening in New Hampshire, where a Republican-sponsored medical marijuana bill has blazed a trail of surprising successes.

SB 409 had already passed the Republican-dominated Senate March 28, and today the 400-member House, which is about 75% Republican, voted 236-96 in favor, with strong bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, announced in advance of the House vote that he intends to veto the bill as he did a similar bill in 2009.

How can this be possible, some might ask? According to the bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), support for allowing medical marijuana is perfectly consistent with Republican principles. “I’ve never used marijuana in my life,” the former Air Force pilot has often explained, “but as a matter of principle, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for government to interfere with choices that should be made between a doctor and a patient.”

Forsythe and his Senate cosponsors, Senator Ray White (R-Bedford) and Senator John Gallus (R-Berlin), began with support from the Senate’s five Democrats, but they had a tough hill to climb with their Republican colleagues. Previous bills had never received more than one vote from a Republican senator, but after a compelling public hearing in which patients shared their stories face-to-face with legislators, the bill quickly gained momentum.

The paradigm shift began to materialize in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee March 22, when two former opponents announced they would be supporting the bill. The committee chairman, Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), represented New Hampshire in Congress from 2003-2007, and Senator Gary Lambert (R-Nashua) is a retired Marine and a former prosecutor, so these were two very significant conversions.

The bill passed the committee that day in a 5-0 vote that sent shockwaves around the State House, and then, the following Wednesday, strong speeches on the floor by Senators Bradley and Lambert carried the bill to victory in a Senate comprised of nineteen Republicans and only five Democrats.

Has the world gone topsy-turvy? Or are Republicans in New Hampshire just getting on the right side of history in advance of some of their colleagues in other states?

Following today’s historic House vote and Governor Lynch’s heartless veto threat, all eyes will be on the eleven Republican senators who have not yet crossed the line from “undecided” to “supportive.” Three additional votes will be necessary to override the veto, but with the momentum SB 409 has shown so far, it would be tough to bet against the patients who are asking for this sensible, compassionate reform!

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Uncategorized

MPP’s “Money Bomb” Generates $694,383 for Colorado Campaign!

April 24th, 2012 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last week, during the five days leading up to and including 4/20, MPP promoted a 10-to-1 matching challenge for the Colorado campaign.

Thanks to the generosity of one donor, we pledged to give $100 to Colorado for every $10 donated to our general fund last week. And, more importantly, we pledged to give $1,200 for every $10 monthly donation we received (because monthly credit card donations are 12 times as potent as singular donations).

The results from last week are in the box below. A few observations:

– This was MPP’s first-ever money bomb, and I’d have to say it was a success. The power of monthly credit card donations massively increases MPP’s revenues, which is why we promote the monthly pledge program so consistently

– As of March 31, we had 582 monthly pledgers nationwide.  But now, because of last week’s “money bomb,” we have 712 monthly pledgers!

– Unfortunately, raising money via Facebook continues to be a challenge. If you have any ideas for how to do better on this front, please leave a comment below.

Thanks to the generosity of the 381 folks who participated in the bomb, we will now be sending a minimum of $694,383 to the Colorado campaign! We plan to send $500,000 in the near future, which will allow the campaign to invest in television advertising for the fall. Additional checks, totaling $194,383, will be sent periodically to help the campaign cover other important expenses  (such as billboards).

Onward!

Two National Email Alerts:

One-Time Gifts: 145 donations, $10,884.48 total

Monthly Pledges: 115 pledges, $3,846 total

Social Media Fundraising:

One-Time Gifts: 21 donations, $470 total

Monthly Pledges: 10 pledges, $77.50 total

One Colorado Email Alert:

One-Time Gifts: 85 donations, $9,201.96 total

Monthly Pledges: 5 pledges, $149.99 total

Total Donations:

One-Time + (Monthly Pledges x 12): $69,438.32

Total Donation to Colorado from 10-to-1 Promotion: $694,383.20

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Prohibition, Video

Education is the Best Celebration

April 20th, 2012 5 Comments Morgan Fox

Many of you will no doubt be enjoying this day by taking advantage of the relatively lax enforcement of marijuana laws in certain parts of the country. Some of you, particularly folks in California whose fame may or may not protect them from the long arm of the law, may be partying like this:

But during your celebrations today, please take a minute to remember that people still get arrested for simple marijuana possession all over the country. People still do time for this relatively harmless plant.

The majority of Americans realize how idiotic it is to arrest people for marijuana, but our elected leaders refuse to listen and instead keep telling us that they know what is best for us.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition

Drug Czar Says Something Stupid — Again

April 18th, 2012 32 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Every White House drug czar who has reigned since the office was created in 1989 makes numerous incorrect and deceitful statements.

But, I only like to rebut the czars’ nonsense when it really catches my attention, like the following statement today from Director Gil Kerlikowske …

“The people that are involved in hoping to legalize drugs are very well funded,” he said. “They’re very organized, they have offices, they’re well supported, and with the push of a button, they can get as many signatures as they want, and we see that with a number of other special interest groups, so it’s not surprising.”

The drug czar’s office is formally known as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Let’s do a quick comparison between MPP and ONDCP …

Of course, MPP has allies whose annual budgets — combined — are about $15 million.

ONDCP has allies, such as the DEA, whose annual budget is $2 billion. And, unlike our team, the DEA has badges, guns, and jail cells to quash its political opponents.

I’d trade our resources for the DEA’s and ONDCP’s resources any day of the week. Deal?

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Prohibition

Obama Administration Increases Drug War Spending

April 17th, 2012 13 Comments Morgan Fox

Earlier today, the Obama administration released its annual National Drug Control Strategy, detailing the methods and budgets planned to combat drug use for fiscal year 2013. The report stresses that more resources need to be spent on addiction treatment and prevention, and that an enforcement-centric “war on drugs” is unworkable. The report shows, however, that budget allocations for traditional law enforcement methods could increase by hundreds of millions of dollars, including domestic military operations. Government data from previous years have shown no connection between drug-arrest rates and drug-use rates.

While significant portions of the budget are dedicated to harm reduction and abuse prevention programs, many of the “drug war” methods that have proven ineffective over the last 40 years — particularly those used to enforce marijuana prohibition — will likely see funding increases this year. Domestic law enforcement is slated to receive $9.4 billion, a $61.4 million increase from last year. The Department of Defense Domestic Counterdrug support program will get nearly $150 million this year. Over $4.5 billion will be spent on federal incarceration of drug users and distributors. In addition, the Obama administration has requested the revival of the Youth Drug Prevention Media Program with a $20 million budget. Studies have shown that this program had the opposite of the intended effect on teens, and Congress allocated no money for the program last year.

“This budget is appalling. The drug czar is trying to resurrect those stupid TV ads, like the one where a teenager gets his fist stuck in his mouth,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “The budget intentionally undercounts the federal government’s expenditures on incarcerating drug offenders, who comprise more than half of the federal prison population. And the budget dangerously proposes a massive escalation in using the military to fight drugs domestically. Congress should just ignore this budget and start from scratch. Specifically, Congress should not provide the Obama administration with any money to go after nonviolent marijuana users, growers, or distributors.”

The drug czar’s strategy would keep control of the marijuana trade in the hands of drug cartels and illegal operators, endangering communities, and creating massive death tolls throughout Latin America. In the past year, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, current and former Latin American leaders whose countries are being ravaged by drug cartels, and tens of millions of Americans have called for a more rational approach to marijuana policy. The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that making marijuana legal is not an option.

Check back for further analysis in the coming days.

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Medical Marijuana

Tom Daubert Is Not a Criminal

April 13th, 2012 10 Comments Kate Zawidzki

A dedicated marijuana policy reform advocate who was instrumental to enacting Montana’s medical marijuana law has become the latest victim of Pres. Obama’s heartless war on medical marijuana. Tom Daubert, a friend and colleague, will plead guilty to maintaining a drug-involved premises — a medical marijuana dispensary called Montana Cannabis.

Tom has seen what can happen to people who don’t have access to the only medicine that gives them relief. In 2004, he worked hand-in-hand with patients to educate voters and editorial boards to make medical marijuana legal under state law. One of the most vocal patients, Robin Prosser, had an excruciating lupus-like illness and was allergic to prescription medications. She went on a 60-day hunger strike for medical marijuana in 2002. Months before Election Day, she attempted suicide because she didn’t have access to the one medicine that worked for her.

After the initiative passed, Robin found a caregiver who shipped her the strain of medical marijuana she needed from another part of the state. The DEA intercepted a package, and the caregiver became too afraid to send more marijuana. No other strain worked for Robin, and she couldn’t take the pain any more. In 2007, she took her own life. Tom led a memorial and started the Robin Prosser Memorial Patients’ Legal Defense Fund.

In 2008, it looked like there was finally hope for patients and those who helped them. During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said federal resources wouldn’t be used to circumvent state medical marijuana laws. His Department of Justice advised federal agents not to target those in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state medical marijuana laws. Attorney General Eric Holder testified to Congress that threatening dispensaries in Colorado that complied with state law would not be consistent with that advice.

So Tom and hundreds of other people across the country took the president at his word and set about providing patients with safe access to medical marijuana. Tom’s dispensary did all it could to be transparent, responsible, and above board. It invited legislators and local law enforcement in for tours, including while being filmed for the documentary Code of the West. Never in any of these tours did state and local law enforcement leaders express anything but admiration and support for the ways Tom’s approach surpassed both the spirit and letter of the state law and was in full and clear compliance and conformance with Montana community standards. Tom also advocated for the state legislature to regulate and register dispensaries.

Then, without warning, the federal government raided Montana Cannabis and more than 20 other medical marijuana-related sites the same day a state Senate committee voted down a bill to repeal the voter-enacted medical marijuana law Tom helped enact. Some other Montana providers have pled guilty or are fighting charges. Others have been raided, prosecuted, and/or threatened by the federal government in California, Washington, and Michigan for the crime of providing a medicine to sick people … a medicine that unlike Tylenol and Vicodin has never caused a fatal overdose. Meanwhile, in July, the DEA rejected a petition to reschedule marijuana, maintaining the offensive fiction that marijuana has no “currently accepted medical use” in the United States despite numerous studies to the contrary and thousands of physicians recommending medical marijuana to more than half a million patients.

If you would like the federal government stop to burying its head in the sand, driving desperate patients to suicide, and making criminals out of those who dare to help them, please write Pres. Obama and your members of Congress. If his offensive against medical marijuana patients and providers will affect your willingness to donate to, vote for, or volunteer for the president, please let his campaign know.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Two Marijuana Policy Reform Bills Pass in Maryland

April 10th, 2012 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The clock ran out on Maryland legislators last night. A bill to give medical marijuana caregivers an affirmative defense against charges of possession was collateral damage as legislators spent the evening trying and failing to reach a budget compromise. It wasn’t a total loss though — two good bills did pass. Here’s MPP’s summary of marijuana policy reform developments in the 2012 session of Maryland’s General Assembly.

The two bills that passed are SB 422 and SB 350. The former requires charging certain minor offenses, including marijuana possession, by citation, meaning marijuana users can be arrested (though it’s not required) but won’t be spending the night or the weekend in jail. The latter reduces the maximum penalty for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana from one year in jail to 90 days and the maximum fine from $1,000 to $500. Here again is the full summary.

 It is unfortunate that Gov. O’Malley essentially put a stop to the original medical marijuana bill we were working toward this year, which would have  protected patients and caregivers from arrest and established a system to ensure safe access. Still, this is certainly a step in the right direction, and it is only a matter of time before we pass a truly effective medical marijuana bill in Maryland.

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Medical Marijuana

Six National Drug Policy Organizations Call on President Obama to End Unnecessary Assault on Medical Marijuana Providers

April 4th, 2012 34 Comments Morgan Fox

In the wake of recent attacks on medical marijuana providers and patients by multiple branches of the federal government, including Monday’s raids on Oaksterdam University in Oakland, CA, a coalition of six national drug policy reform organizations is appealing to President Obama and his administration to follow its own previously stated policies respecting state medical marijuana laws. In the letter, posted in full below, the organizations call on the Obama administration to bring an end to the federal government’s ongoing campaign to undermine state efforts to regulate safe and legal access to medical marijuana for those patients who rely on it.

The Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy Report 2012, reportedly being released in the coming days, is expected to cling to failed and outdated marijuana policies which further cement the control of the marijuana trade in the hands of drug cartels and illegal operators, endangering both patients in medical marijuana states and citizens everywhere. The members of this coalition stand together with members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, current and former Latin American leaders whose countries are being ravaged by drug cartels, state officials from five medical marijuana states, and tens of millions of Americans in their call for a more rational approach to marijuana policy.

THE LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:

April 4, 2012

President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington D.C. 20500

Via Fax: 2024562461

Dear Mr. President:

Our coalition represents the views of tens of millions of Americans who believe the war on medical marijuana patients and providers you are fighting is misguided and counterproductive. As your administration prepares to release its annual National Drug Control Strategy, we want to speak with one voice and convey our deep sense of anger and disappointment in your lack of leadership on this issue.

Voters and elected officials in sixteen states and the District of Columbia have determined that the medical use of marijuana should be legal. In many of these states, the laws also include means for providing medical marijuana patients safe access to this medicine. These laws allowing for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana actually shift control of marijuana sales from the criminal underground to state-licensed, taxed, and regulated producers and distributors.

Instead of celebrating – or even tolerating – this state experimentation, which has benefited patients and taken profits away from drug cartels, you have turned your back as career law enforcement officials have run roughshod over some of the most professional and well-regulated medical marijuana providers. We simply cannot understand why you have reneged on your administration’s earlier policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws.

Our frustration and confusion over your administration’s uncalled-for attacks on state-authorized medical marijuana providers was best summed up by John McCowen, the chair of the Mendocino County (CA) board of supervisors, who said, “It’s almost as if there was a conscious effort to drive [medical marijuana cultivation and distribution] back underground. My opinion is that’s going to further endanger public safety and the environment – the federal government doesn’t seem to care about that.”

The National Drug Control Strategy you are about to release will no doubt call for a continuation of policies that have as a primary goal the ongoing and permanent control of the marijuana trade by drug cartels and organized crime. We cannot and do not endorse the continued embrace of this utterly failed policy. We stand instead with Latin American leaders, members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the vast majority of people who voted you into office in recognizing that it is time for a new approach on marijuana policy.

With approximately 50,000 people dead in Mexico over the past five years as the result of drug war-related violence, we hope that you will immediately reconsider your drug control strategy and will work with, not against, states and organizations that are attempting to shift control of marijuana cultivation and sales, at least as it applies to medical marijuana, to a controlled and regulated market.

Sincerely,

Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

cc:  Eric Holder, Attorney General, Department of Justice

James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice

Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Oaksterdam University Raided

April 2nd, 2012 11 Comments Morgan Fox

UPDATE: Not many more details have emerged regarding the purpose of yesterday’s raids. From the Oakland Tribune:

Authorities refused to provide details about the raids carried out by U.S. Marshals and agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency and Internal Revenue Service. Lee was briefly detained in his home, but not arrested, supporters said. Two protesters were arrested as agents seized marijuana plants and other materials from Oaksterdam’s downtown Oakland locations, all of which remained closed Monday.

Thankfully, the gunman at Oikos University in Oakland that murdered seven people and wounded several others while this was happening turned himself in to authorities. With law enforcement wasting time and resources on targeting state-legal educational businesses and legal medical marijuana patients, who knows how long he could have been at large? No one else was hurt by this person, but things could have gone very differently.

The political nature of the targets chosen by the feds has not escaped lawmakers or the marijuana reform community, either. While protestors turned out in large numbers to decry the attacks, legislators from five medical marijuana states were sending a letter to the federal government, asking it to end its interference with state medical marijuana programs.

Americans for Safe Access and other supporters of medical marijuana rights will be holding a press conference today, Tuesday, April 3 at 11:00 a.m. on the steps of City Hall located at 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Place in San Francisco. If you are in the Bay Area, let the federal government feel your presence.

 

ORIGINAL (4/2/12 AT 12:47pm EST): For the last several hours, agents from the U.S. Marshals, DEA, and IRS have been conducting a raid on Oaksterdam University and other businesses associated with Proposition 19 proponent Richard Lee. Lee was the primary financial supporter of the attempt to make marijuana legal in California in 2010, and his marijuana businesses in Oakland helped revitalize that area of the city.

Reports are still coming in, but it seems that several people have been arrested in the raids and more are being detained at the scenes.

Supporters of medical marijuana patients and the marijuana reform community were quick to respond in defense of Oaksterdam, which is an industry leader in cannabis science education. Protesters have flooded the area, and there are unconfirmed reports that several have been arrested as well.

While law enforcement has been busy knocking over a pillar of the community, a shooting was taking place at the exact same time at a nearby Christian university. At least eight people have been injured, and as of a few minutes ago, the suspect is still at large.

This is a tragic day for the residents of Oakland. Their public servants need to be using every resource at hand to deal with real problems, not persecuting legitimate, peaceful businesses and medical marijuana patients.

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