Even if Obama doesn't support it, WE as the PEOPLE have the power and the right to vote, be heard! - ILLA
The movement to legalize marijuana has arrived at Congress' back door.
Later this month the first medical cannabis dispensaries are expected to open in the nation's capital, including one just eight blocks from the Capitol dome.
The milestone is lifting the spirits of pot enthusiasts who believe a safe and profitable in D.C. could help nudge along the drug nationwide.
ABC News recently toured the Metropolitan Wellness Center, one of the district's three soon-to-open shops, located on Capitol Hill.
While pot products have yet to hit shelves – the shop is still awaiting a license from the district – general manager Vanessa West said they will soon offer multiple varieties of cannabis, paraphernalia and a mix of pot-infused products, including brownies, cookies and drinks.
West, a veteran operator of dispensaries in California who admits she "smoked a little grass in college," said the sleek, modern set-up of her "product selection and payment room" underscores a serious focus on patients and treating their pain.
"When we find out what a patient's symptoms are, we can make a recommendation about what the best strain is for them and what the best possible route for ingesting that strain is," she said.
"Forget about the recreational part for a second," she says to skeptics. "Listen to how cannabis has changed patients' lives for the better."
Only employees and patients registered with the District of Columbia Department of Health will be allowed inside the dispensary once weed sales officially commence. The shop will effectively go on lockdown, protected by a high-tech security system of a dozen cameras and motion sensors keeping watch.
"This is sort of a delicate business," West said. "It's like a bank or a high end jewelry store. We want to protect the product and the people that are inside this building."
Under district law, no one is allowed to consume pot on the premises, West said. Approved users are required to head directly home after making their purchases.
The rules for obtaining legal access to the drug are equally stringent. A prospective patient must be a district resident with one of the few qualifying diseases, such as AIDS, glaucoma or multiple sclerosis. A doctor must formally recommend the drug, and that recommendation must be certified by the Department of Health. Each patient must also submit an application and pay a license fee.
"It's a pretty difficult process, but it sort of needs to be," said West. "You don't want to create a free for all."
The dispensaries in D.C. will remain illegal under federal law, which still bans the cultivation and sale of marijuana as a dangerous and addictive "Schedule I" drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Officially, marijuana is classified has having "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S."
The headquarters for the Justice Department, the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal law, is located just four miles from the Metropolitan Wellness Center.
West says she's not worried about a raid.
"History has shown that if you are a dispensary operating in a state that is transparent and heavily regulated, the federal government is not interested in intervening," she said.
Medical marijuana is now allowed in 18 states plus the District of Columbia. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington took the movement further, endorsing the sale of marijuana without a prescription for recreational purposes. Both states are establishing regulatory regimens for pot similar to alcohol.
A poll released last month by the Pew Research Center found for the first time a majority of Americans now favor full legalization of marijuana. Fifty-two percent favor decriminalization, with 45 percent opposed.
The level of support is a landmark shift from 40 years ago when just 12 percent backed legalized pot, according to Gallup.
In light of the trend, President Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters in December that he's re-thinking federal prosecution of some marijuana users.
"It does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state laws that's legal," Obama said.
"We've got bigger fish to fry," he added.
The big question now for pro-pot states: Will the Justice Department spoil plans for dozens of new dispensaries, and a potential bonanza of millions in taxes and fees?
The Department, which is reviewing the new Colorado and Washington marijuana laws, has yet to formally decide whether or not they will be challenged in court.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from those states have re-invigorated legislative efforts to repeal or weaken the federal ban on pot. So far this year, seven bills dealing with marijuana have been introduced in the U.S. House, including one that would entirely decriminalize the drug.
All of the bills face an uphill climb, which means for now at least, the new D.C. dispensaries will remain at odds with the law.
Proposed MA DPH regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Posted by MikeCann via MikeCann.net
To: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
From: Andy Gaus
Re: Proposed regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Thank you for providing this forum to comment on the proposed DPH regulations on medical marijuana.
Two provisions in particular appear to make it virtually impossible for caregivers to provide the marijuana patients need while dispensaries are slowly organizing themselves:
1) Each caregiver must provide marijuana for only one patient.
2) The caregiver is not supposed to receive any compensation whatever from the patient for providing the marijuana.
Put these two provisions together, and very few people can practically step forward and become caregivers.
Bear in mind that growing marijuana indoors requires investing several hundred dollars in equipment to get started, paying high electrical bills in the ensuing months as well as ongoing costs for soil and fertilizer, and putting in hours of very real physical labor. If a patient grows for herself, these costs are repaid by the marijuana harvested and the relief it brings. But if a patient cannot grow for herself, the very considerable costs and burdens of producing the marijuana fall totally on the caregiver, with all compensation prohibited. This isn't just unfair: it has the practical effect of making it virtually impossible to be a caregiver, which means no one can help the person who cannot grow for herself. If you wish to limit the ability of a caregiver to profit from their cottage industry, you could set a maximum number of patients (but not a maximum of one), or a maximum price per ouince, or both. A limit of, say, 20 patients per caregiver and $100 per ounce would keep caregivers and their homes from turning into for-profit dispensaries but would not leave patients with no one to turn to during a long period when cities and towns are enacting moratoriums and potential dispensary operators are clearing numerous legal hurdles.
The provision that a patient must have no more than two total sources of marijuana is also unnecessarily onerous. If all providers are supposed to use a common state database, any user of the database should be able to verify that the same patient isn't filling the same prescription multiple times at different locations. If a further check is needed, patients could be issued something like a ration book.
One senses in all these regulations the underlying assumption that a set of air-tight regulations is both necessary and sufficient to prevent medical marijuana from being diverted to healthy recreational users, and that without such air-tight regulations, large-scale diversion is inevitable, with disastrous social consequences, particularly the increased availability to minors.
Let's be realistic: recreational users, including minors, already have total access to marijuana if they want it. Kids themselves, when surveyed, report that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol. Those who get their dope from dealers needn't fear being rejected as too young, and most of them get it, not from dealers, but from each other, in a vast informal network where everyone is both a user and a distributor. Likewise, almost all Massachusetts adults who wish to consume marijuana recreationally have found or could find a connection: marijuana prices have actually come down in recent years due to market saturation.
As officials responsible for public health, your first priority must be to make sure that patients who need marijuana for relief of painful and debilitating conditions can get it.
Minimizing diversion cannot be the main goal: it will never be effective for its stated purpose and is certain to cause unnecessary stress and pain for patients who need relief now and for the caregivers who would like to provide it .
Raid Of The Day: Florida Cops Raid Cathy Jordan, Medical Marijuana Activist Who Suffers From Lou Gehrig's Disease
On Monday, the Miami Herald posted an article about rising support for legalized medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The article mentioned an pro-pot activist named Cathy Jordan, who uses the drug to mitigate the symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease. The article mentioned Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake worth), who is sponsoring a bill to legalize the drug. That bill is named after Jordan.
The Bradeton Herald now reports that just hours after that article ran, a team of ski-mask-clad deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Department staged a guns-drawn raid on Robert and Cathy Jordan's home. According to Robert Jordan, the cops seized 23 marijuana plants, including the two mature plants his wife uses to treat her illness. They made no arrests.
The raid is a stark example of the troubling trend of using paramilitary police tactics to send a political message. Set aside for a moment the sheer cruelty of sending government agents to separate a suffering, terminally ill woman from the medication that gives her some relief. (And yes, that's a major thing to set aside.) Why ski masks? Why come in with guns drawn? Did the Manatee County Sheriff's Department really think that wheelchair-bound Cathy Jordan and her 64-year-old husband were a threat?
No, of course they didn't. This was about making an example of someone. Cathy Jordan's name is on a bill to legalize medical pot in Florida. So it was up to Florida law enforcement to bring the boot down upon Cathy Jordan's neck.
The police will say they were merely enforcing the law. Nonsense. First, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube has discretion about which laws he enforces, and to what degree. He doesn't have the resources to enforce every law, all the time. He has to prioritize. And how he prioritizes -- how he uses the resources available to him -- is certainly something the public should consider when evaluating how well he's doing his job. Cathy Jordan's pot plants weren't harming anyone. I suppose it's now up to Manatee County residents to decide if sending a team of cops to take pot plants away from a sick woman was an appropriate use of public resources.
Second, even if we were to concede that Jordan was breaking the law, and that the Manatee County Sheriff's Department has an obligation to enforce that law, how it's enforced is also a matter of policy -- and something for which Manatee County residents can hold Sheriff Steube accountable.
In the end, it's a pretty safe bet that these deputies won't be disciplined or reprimanded, and that Sheriff Steube won't suffer any political consequence for the way this action was carried out.
And that's where all of this begins to get scary. It's one thing for a few bad cops or a power-tripping sheriff to use excessive force to make an example of someone because of a disagreement over politics or public policy. There will always be bad actors. It's how we react that matters. Whether or not the public supports medical marijuana itself isn't really the point, here. You can shut down a pot shop or take plants away from a sick person without pointing guns and donning a ski mask.
Here is the point: If we've reached the point where we're okay with -- or at best complacent about -- the government using violence to make an example of someone because of their political activism, then we've lost our grip on the principles that make free societies free. That these excessive, militarized raids on medical marijuana grows, clinics, and activists have been going on since the 1990s is a strong -- and sad -- indication that we let go of those values a long time ago.
Marijuana convention in Glendale likely snuffed out
City seeks to block event via courts, but venue owner says he'll cancel it anyway.
By Veronica Rocha, firstname.lastname@example.org
City officials are asking a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order against the organizers of a two-day marijuana convention set to start Saturday at a sound and film production studio in South Glendale.
City Council members held an emergency closed session Tuesday night to stop organizers from hosting the Medical Cannabis Cup — an event organized by High Times magazine — contending the use of the space does not comply with municipal codes.
“We are hoping to get voluntary compliance,” City Atty. Michael Garcia said.
City officials are concerned that organizers plan to use Glendale Studios in the 1200 block of South Glendale Avenue for live performances, which would include rappers The Game and Redman.
Glendale Studios, Garcia said, is zoned for broadcast and recording, not for concerts.
Another issue is that the event doesn't comply with the city's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, which are prohibited in all zoning districts.
“Obviously, our ordinance defines dispensaries broadly,” he said.
Steve Makhanian, who runs Glendale Studios, said Wednesday that regardless of any court injunction, he planned to cancel the event because the city was “not happy” organizers had not pulled the proper permits.
“As a studio owner, we can't jeopardize having this event here,” he said.
Local dispensaries, clothing companies, hydroponic businesses and marijuana paraphernalia retailers were slated to the showcase their products at the event, said Rick Cusick, associate publisher of High Times. Actor Tommy Chong — costar of stoner comedies “Up in Smoke” and “Still Smokin'” — was also expected to be honored with a lifetime achievement award.
Cusick said the event is “unusual all over the place.”
Organizers had created restrictions to limit access to marijuana, which would be available for sharing only by medicinal-marijuana-license holders in a cordoned-off tent area, Cusick said.
Panel discussions on marijuana laws, cultivation and culture were also scheduled.
Michigan Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Illegal, State Supreme Court Rules 4-1
Medical marijuana users in Michigan aren't allowed to buy pot from shops or other patients, according to a 4-1 ruling by the state Supreme Court Friday.
Michigan had over 124,000 registered medical marijuana users as of December. Legally, they will only be able to grow their own marijuana or have it grown for them by one of the nearly 26,000 caregivers licensed by the state.
The Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals after hearing arguments in October. The case involving Mt. Pleasant dispensary Compassionate Apothecary considered the legality of commercial transfers of medical marijuana between patients, and the tribunal of three judges determined those transfers were illegal under the Medical Marijuana Act.
The ruling allowed prosecutors to shut down dispensaries found selling marijuana, though some communities had chosen to wait for the Supreme Court decision before taking action, according to the Associated Press. Compassionate Apothecary was shut down as a public nuisance.
Back in 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical marijuana use. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act gave patients suffering from diseases like HIV, glaucoma and cancer the ability to use marijuana for medical relief if they received a prescription from a doctor.
Even though voters approved the use of medical marijuana for ailing residents, users and activists faced several legal challenges. Several cities across Michigan denied pot dispensaries from opening up shop -- by denying the businesses certificates of occupancy, changing zoning laws or by simply banning dispensaries altogether. A few cities crafted ordinances outlawing medical marijuana use altogether, which were later struck down.
A state statute that took effect in April 2009 called for a review board to consider conditions that weren't included under the original act, like Parkinson's disease, anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder. The board convened for the first time in December.
Robbery victim wants marijuana back
The victim of an armed robbery that led to a high-speed chase which ended in a crash on an Interstate 15 onramp says medical marijuana gathered by police from his vehicle after the incident has yet to be returned.
John Szwec -- who operates a medical marijuana cooperative, Diamond Star Remedies -- said he was making a delivery on Monday night when he was robbed outside the Denny's restaurant in Temecula. Szwec said the two men got away with an ounce of marijuana and approximately $400.
But Szwec said the Riverside County sheriff's deputies who responded after the crash confiscated the medical marijuana he had in his vehicle that night, and will not return it.
"They have all my supply," Szwec said. "That's pretty much illegal."
Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Albert Martinez, a spokesman for the department, said Wednesday that "the marijuana has been entered as evidence." He said it was considered the "fruit of the crime."
Police said that a large quantity of marijuana as well as hash and hash oil were taken from Szwec's vehicle.
Initially, Szwec said police were "ecstatic" that he had helped lead them to the two robbery suspects -- Eduardo Torres, 20, and Jonny Nie, 20. Torres, the driver, was arrested at the scene. Nie was arrested a few hours later at his house in Murrieta, according to a news release.
Both men were booked into Southwest Detention Center in French Valley on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy, according to jail records. Torres also was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and was released after posting bail Tuesday, jail records show.
When the men drove away from the Denny's on Rancho California Road after the robbery, Szwec gave chase in his pickup.
The pursuit continued through a neighborhood off Lincoln Avenue near Shivela Middle School, and ended when Torres lost control of the car and crashed on the southbound I-15 onramp at California Oaks Road. Riverside County sheriffs deputies arrived quickly, Swec said.
He said the officers ultimately confiscated the medical marijuana he had in his car that was intended for members of the collective, even though he showed them his papers of incorporation, seller's permit and tax ID number.
And when he went to the station in French Valley to claim the marijuana the next day, he said he was told they were going to hold on to it, and that they considered it evidence of a crime.
Szwec said he could understand why the ounce that was stolen would be retained as evidence, but not the rest of the marijuana that deputies took from his vehicle after the chase ended.
Late last year, Szwec opened a medical marijuana dispensary on Los Alamos Road in Murrieta, but quickly closed it. The city of Murrieta has instituted a temporary moratorium on store-front dispensaries as the courts sort through numerous lawsuits dealing with the issue in California, where the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
Szwec now operates the business as a delivery service.
In Temecula, the city sought to close a medical marijuana operation and received an injunction in 2011 prohibiting the operation from selling, making available or providing marijuana to its members within the city limits. In response, the operation coordinated deliveries outside the city limits to avoid violating the injunction.
US court rejects bid to reclassify marijuana
What kind of reason is that?! WTF?! -UA
WASHINGTON (AP) —ajc.com
A U.S. appeals court has rejected a petition to reclassify marijuana from its current status as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use.
The appeals court panel Tuesday turned away the bid from a medical marijuana group, Americans for Safe Access.
In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition by medical marijuana advocates to change the classification.
The court said that the question wasn't whether marijuana could have some medical benefits, but rather whether the DEA's decision was "arbitrary and capricious." The court concluded that the DEA action survives review under that standard.
Marijuana is classified as a controlled substance, categorized as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use, together with drugs like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
Aaron Sandusky Sentenced: Marijuana Dispensary Operator Gets 10 Years In Federal Prison
A Southern California man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison for operating medical marijuana dispensaries, even though they are legal in the state.
Rancho Cucamonga resident Aaron Sandusky, 42, ran three Inland Empire dispensaries known as G3 Holistics. “I want to apologize to those with me and their families who have been victimized by the federal government who has not recognized the voters of this state," Sandusky said in court Monday. His G3 dispensaries served 17,000 medical marijuana patients, according to marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.
"It's really sad that Justice Department is able to find the resources to repeatedly undermine President Obama's campaign pledges not to interfere with state medical marijuana laws," Tom Angell, chairman of marijuana advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told The Huffington Post.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Sandusky was abusing the state system on a large scale -- with at least 1,000 marijuana plants -- and making a large profit. In a memo, prosecutors said Sandusky is an "unrepentant manipulator who used the perceived ambiguity surrounding 'medical' marijuana to exploit a business opportunity for himself."
Sandusky "used G3 as a means to replace the vast income he lost from the collapse of his real estate business," the prosecution memo continued. "Defendant built a veneer of legitimacy around his criminal enterprise using his customers' good-faith search for pain relief. There is absolutely no altruistic component to defendant's continued and sustained criminality."
Kevin A. Sabet, former senior White House official in charge of drug policy, told HuffPost that the sentencing was appropriate because Sandusky was "exploitative." "People aren't supposed to parade around with a green cross slapped onto their storefront when they're really just about distributing marijuana to anyone who can pay $100 to get a card," Sabet said. "Even advocates admit that it's a ruse."
But Sandusky "still feels really strongly … that what he was doing was right," said his girlfriend, Darlene Buenrostro. "He's very passionate and very caring and generous, and everybody that is here to support him has been witness to that," she said in the video above, referring to about a dozen supporters who came to the courthouse Monday.
The U.S. Attorney's office had sent Sandusky letters in October 2011 warning that the stores violated federal law, and, in response, Sandusky closed two of them. The next month, federal agents raided the remaining store, in Upland, twice. They seized marijuana plants and $11,500 in cash, effectively wiping out Sandusky's business.
With medical marijuana legal in California since 1996, but illegal under federal law, Sandusky's case came down to the ruling of U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson. Because of the amount of marijuana involved, Sandusky received the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Anderson said in court Monday that Sandusky had "kind of lost his way about what's right and what's wrong -- his moral compass."
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, told HuffPost that a federal judge must consider federal law, not state law. "Under federal law, marijuana is illegal. When there is a conflict with state law, federal law takes precedent," he said.
California's four U.S. attorneys launched a crackdown on the state's marijuana dispensaries in 2011, and hundreds of retail stores have shut down. In September 2012, the feds began to focus on shutting down pot shops in LA, where more than 700 dispensaries operate.
"We have had more than 90 percent compliance with owners shutting down when warned, and we'll continue to shut down more," Mrozek told HuffPost. "Sandusky refused to come into compliance with the law."
Mrozek said that the retail stores are also in violation of California law because they are operating as for-profit enterprises and because they are not operating as the primary caregiver to patients, as the state law requires.
Judge Anderson did not allow Sandusky to claim entrapment based on the public statements of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder about medical marijuana.
Throughout his first campaign, Obama had said he wouldn't use federal resources to circumvent state laws about medical marijuana. During a 2009 press conference, Holder followed up on that promise, saying that federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries would end unless the shops violated both state and federal law.
Sabet defended Obama to HuffPost, saying the administration is "not going after the 2 percent with cancer or the so-called 90 percent with back pain. They're going after the large distributors only."
But Angell said that is still inconsistent with Obama's promise to stay away from states where pot is legal.
"President Obama is not only sitting by and letting this happen, but is able to keep generating great headlines by saying things like how his administration has 'bigger fish to fry' than marijuana users in states where it's legal," Angell said. "All we need is for the president to match his administration's actions with his great rhetoric. Is that too much to ask?"
Sandusky has started a petition at whitehouse.gov to request a presidential pardon. His petition has 5,878 signatures and needs 19,122 more by Jan. 16 to reach the goal of 25,000. Sandusky's lawyer said he will take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Doctor says marijuana reduced infant's brain tumor, should be used for children
According to the Huffington Post on Dec. 1, a formerly skeptical doctor says medical marijuana should be a part of a pediatrician's arsenal to help children after he witnessed a remarkable reduction in a baby's brain tumor.
Dr. William Courtney, a former skeptic, has drastically changed his tune after he witnessed the effects of marijuana treatment on an 8-month-old patient. Dr. Courtney said that the baby had a "very massive centrally located inoperable brain tumor." The child's father wanted non-traditional treatment.
"They were putting cannabinoid oil on the baby's pacifier twice a day, increasing the dose... And within two months there was a dramatic reduction, enough that the pediatric oncologist allowed them to go ahead with not pursuing traditional therapy."
After eight months of treatment, the tumor was greatly reduced in size. Dr. Courtney says that because of the cannabis treatment and the excellent results, "This child is not going to have the long-term side effects that would come from a very high dose of chemotherapy or radiation."
The child is being called a miracle baby. Dr. Courtney further stated, "I would have to agree that this is the perfect response that we should be insisting is front line therapy for all children before they launch off on all medications that have horrific long term side effects."
Nineteen states now have medical marijuana rules on the books. Each state has its own specific rules of use, amounts, reciprocity, et cetera. Those laws, however, are for adults.
So what do you think? Obviously, for this child it worked. Still, treating a child with marijuana is more than a little controversial. Should there be studies done? Should it be allowed as a treatment of last resort? If you had a young child with inoperable cancer, would you consent to trying this route?
Admittedly, it's a hard question to answer when you're not in the situation. But if medical marijuana works this well with cancers, do we have the right to withhold it, especially from children with their entire life in front of them? Please leave a comment and wade into this somewhat sticky issue.