Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fed's Say Medical Marijuana Patients Can't Own Guns!

According to a recent memo from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, it is illegal for any of Montana's 26,492 registered medical marijuana patients — to own or possess firearms or ammunition.

That information was included in a letter written last week by ATF Assistant Director for Enforcement Programs and Services Arthur Herbert to all federal firearms licensees, giving them guidance on what to do if a firearm customer reveals that he or she is a medical marijuana patient.

According to the letter, "any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."

The letter goes on to state that federal firearms licensees may not transfer firearms or ammunition to such a customer.

Jon Svaren is a 15-year Navy veteran who was honorably discharged in 2009. Svaren also is a medical marijuana patient who said he still is recovering from surgery last November to repair a severe back injury. Svaren, who lives and works on a farm north of Hardin, also is a gun owner who hunts birds and uses firearms to control varmints on the farm.

Svaren said he was "blown away" but the language of the memo.

"To take away my Second Amendment rights is contrary to everything I've ever fought for, and contrary to every oath of enlistment I've taken," Svaren said.

Pro-gun rights and medical marijuana advocates also were outraged by the letter, which they say singles out a specific group of citizens and attempts to strip them of their Second Amendment rights.

"The cannabis issue has become representative of nation-wide concerns," said Kate Cholewa, a board member of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association. "Citizens are increasingly concerned that the government, rather than expressing the will of the citizens, now sees itself as separate from the citizens and is imposing their will upon the people."


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Federal Medical Marijuana Program Going to "Pot"

For the past three decades, Uncle Sam has been providing a handful of patients with some of the highest grade medical marijuana around. The program grew out of a 1976 court settlement that created the country's first legal pot smoker.

Advocates for legalizing marijuana or treating it as a medicine say the program is a glaring contradiction in the nation's 40-year war on drugs — maintaining the federal ban on pot while at the same time supplying it.

Government officials say there is no contradiction. The program is no longer accepting new patients, and public health authorities have concluded that there was no scientific value to medical marijuana, Steven Gust of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse told The Associated Press.

At one point, 14 people were getting government grow medical cannabis. Now, there are four left.

The government has only continued to supply the marijuana "for compassionate reasons," Gust said.

One of the recipients is Elvy Musikka, the chatty Oregon woman. A vocal marijuana advocate, Musikka relies on the pot to keep her glaucoma under control. She entered the program in 1988, and said that her experience with marijuana is proof that it works as a medicine.

They "won't acknowledge the fact that I do not have even one aspirin in this house," she said, leaning back on her couch, glass bong cradled in her hand. "I have no pain."

Marijuana is getting a look from states around the country considering calls to repeal decades-old marijuana prohibition laws. There are 16 states that have medical marijuana programs. In the three West Coast states, advocates are readying tax-and-sell or other legalization programs.

Marijuana was legal for much of U.S. history and was recognized as a medicine in 1850. Opposition to it began to gather and, by 1936, 48 states had passed laws regulating pot, fearing it could lead to addiction.

Anti-marijuana literature and films, like the infamous "Reefer Madness," helped fan those fears. Eventually, pot was classified among the most harmful of drugs, meaning it had no usefulness and a high potential for addiction.

In 1976, a federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration must provide Robert Randall of Washington, D.C. with marijuana because of his glaucoma — no other drug could effectively combat his condition. Randall became the nation's first legal pot smoker since the drug's prohibition.

Eventually, the government created its program as part of a compromise over Randall's care in 1978, long before a single state passed a medical marijuana law. What followed were a series of petitions from people like Musikka (seen at left) to join the program.

President George H.W. Bush's administration, getting tough on crime and drugs, stopped accepting new patients in 1992. Many of the patients who had qualified had AIDS, and they were dying.

The AP asked the agency that administers the program, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, for documents showing how much marijuana has been sent to patients since the first patient in 1976.

The agency supplied full data for 2005-2011, which showed that during that period the federal government distributed more than 100 pounds of high-grade marijuana to patients.

Agency officials said records related to the program before 2005 had been destroyed, but were able to provide scattered records for a couple of years in the early 2000s.

The four patients remaining in the program estimate they have received a total of 584 pounds from the federal government over the years. On the street, that would be worth more than $500,000.

All of the marijuana comes from the University of Mississippi, where it is grown, harvested and stored.

Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, who directs the operation, said the marijuana was a small part of the crop the university has been growing since 1968 for all cannabis research in the U.S. Among the studies are the pharmaceutical uses for synthetic mimics of pot's psychoactive ingredient, THC.

ElSohly said the four patients are getting pot with about 3 percent THC. He said 3 percent is about the range patients have preferred in blind tests.

The marijuana is then sent from Mississippi to a tightly controlled North Carolina lab, where they are rolled into cigarettes. And every month, steel tins with white labels are sent to Florida and Iowa. Packed inside each is a half-pound of marijuana rolled into 300 perfectly-wrapped joints.

With Musikka living in Oregon, she is entitled to more legal pot than anyone in the nation because she's also enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program. Neither Iowa nor Florida has approved marijuana as a medicine, so the federal pot is the only legal access to the drug for the other three patients.

The three other people in the program range in ages and doses of marijuana provided to them, but all consider themselves an endangered species that, once extinct, can be brushed aside by a federal government that pretends they don't exist.

All four have become crusaders for the marijuana-legalization movement. They're rock stars at pro-marijuana conferences, sought-after speakers and recognizable celebrities in the movement.

Irv Rosenfeld, a financial adviser in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been in the program since November 1982. His condition produces painful bone tumors, but he said marijuana has replaced prescription painkillers.

Rosenfeld likes to tell this story: In the mid-1980s, the federal government asked his doctor for an update on how Rosenfeld was doing. It was an update the doctor didn't believe the government was truly interested in. He had earlier tried to get a copy of the previous update, and was told the government couldn't find it, Rosenfeld said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Jersey O.K. -- N.Y. 50,000 + Aressted in 2010

In 2010, more than 50,000 people were arrested for possession of marijuana; a vast majority of them were racial minorities and male. Civil rights lawyers say that many of them were stopped as part of the Police Department’s broad stop-and-frisk practice and were arrested after officers told them to empty their pockets, which brought the drugs into open view.

Commissioner Kelly’s memo now makes clear that displaying the drug must be an “activity undertaken of the subject’s own volition” and that individuals may not be charged with violating the law if the marijuana “was disclosed to public view at an officer’s direction.”

While the memo, reported by WNYC last week, is an important step, it does not by itself end the problem. The United States Justice Department and New York lawmakers should investigate the legality of practices that led to the arrests of hundreds of thousands of people since the mid-1990s.

Under New York law, possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana is a violation subject to a $100 fine for the first offense. Possession of any amount that is in public view, however, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

This statute was supported by district attorneys in the 1970s because they believed it would free the police to fight serious crimes. That changed in the mid-1990s when the city began emphasizing street stops as an important part of its policing approach. Since 1996, the city has taken more than 536,000 people into custody for the lowest-level marijuana charge, according to Harry Levine, a sociologist at Queens College who has tracked the data closely. From 1981 through 1995, that number was 33,700.

Police have characterized marijuana arrests as important for keeping criminals off the street. But, in testimony submitted to the Legislature this summer, Professor Levine estimated that a significant majority of those arrested in 2010 had never been convicted of any crime, based on an analysis of data reported to the state.

Young African-Americans and Hispanics, who are disproportionately singled-out in street stops, make up a high percentage of people arrested for marijuana possession — despite federal data showing that whites are more likely to consume marijuana. This policing practice has damaged young lives and deserves deeper scrutiny by federal and state monitors.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Congressman Pleads with Federal Government to Reschedule Marijuana

A member of Congress is urging the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to reschedule marijuana's status as a Controlled Substance Schedule I drug.

Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee states in his letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske that, "There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as these harder drugs and it should not be treated as such." He goes on to explain how drug convictions for non-violent possession "crimes" have high costs - almost $7.6 billion per year is estimated to be spent on marijuana arrests and prosecutions. He also states that the damage to ruining someone's life with an unnecessary conviction is an unreasonable cost to our society, dooming these people to "second-class citizenship". He mentions the "disastrous racial disparities" in the criminal justice system, reporting that African-Americans and Latinos are much more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.

Congressman Cohen also addresses states' rights to make their own medical marijuana laws, stating, "We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely on the benefits that marijuana provides. I strongly recommend that this administration allow states that have chosen to legalize medical marijuana to enact strong regulations without fear of prosecution.

You can read the Congressman's letter here

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sacramento's Delta Allied Growers ... Is D.O.A.

Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully announced Thursday that she will not file charges in Isleton's aborted plans for a large medical marijuana farm, but she made it clear that she believes the whole matter was bungled from the start.

"Had the marijuana cultivation farm project become operational it would have been illegal under state and federal laws and not in compliance with attorney general guidelines," Scully's office wrote in a scathing 21-page report.

The report is the latest swipe at the Delta town's failed efforts to generate revenues by approving a 15,000-square-foot medical marijuana farm on the northern edge of town.

Michael Brubeck, the would-be medical cannabis impresario who offered the city up to $25,000 a month from medical marijuana revenues, will not face charges, Scully said, and neither will any city officials.

However, she left no doubt that she believes City Manager Bruce Pope and City Attorney Dave Larsen acted improperly as they pursued a way to get the project under way.

She singled out Larsen as having a conflict of interest, saying the matter would be sent to the California State Bar Association for review.

At issue was the fact that Larsen, who is paid $150 an hour by the city for his services, also was being paid $250 an hour by the developer of the medical marijuana farm to help draft documents for the project, Scully's office said.

That issue was previously raised by a critical grand jury report, and Larsen on Thursday once again defended his conduct and said everything had been done properly and in the open.

He added that Isleton officials knew dealing with marijuana was "tricky business" but that they were rebuffed in their efforts to get advice from Scully's office on how best to proceed.

"We never got to first base," Larsen said. "There was just no willingness to talk to us in any fashion along those lines."

Scully's report said the city was uncooperative, delayed providing documents and provided misleading information as she investigated what was going on in the community of 840 residents.

"Rather than choose to cooperate, the city manager and the city attorney chose to fight the investigation by withholding some public records, disclosing some uncompleted and unsigned documents, and keeping the city council in the dark about letters from the DA and the United States attorney," her report concluded.

The medical marijuana farm idea never got far. After initial construction of frames for some grow houses, Brubeck and his Delta Allied Growers operation pulled out of the plan when threatened with prosecution by U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner.

A grand jury report issued in June indicated that 1,000 marijuana plants that had been brought onto the site were buried using a bulldozer and the plan was abandoned.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

San Jose Council Votes to Limit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to 10

San Jose City Council voted Tuesday to approve rules allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, San Jose Mercury News reports.

The council voted 8-3 to allow only 10 clubs out of the nearly 12 dozen pot dispensaries that spread across the city over the last two years to survive.

Pot club activists, however, were not happy about the decision and called the new regulations unworkable and threatened to fight them in court or at the voting booth. "If we don't get our due process, we'll find somewhere else to get it, whether it's the court or the ballot box," Lauren Vasquez, an attorney and medical marijuana patient, told Mercury News.In April, the council moved toward limiting the number of dispensaries to 10, but marijuana activists lobbied against the decision, arguing that the cap would result in Costco-sized marijuana superstores that would invite federal drug raids.

The clubs, which city officials say have all been operating illegally, will also be restricted to certain commercial and industrial areas and required to grow all their medical marijuana on site. "We'll have something in place that will make it impossible for us to operate," Dave Hodges, founder of the All American Cannabis Club, one of the first marijuana dispensaries in the city, told Mercury News.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NIXON Charged with Marijuana Possession!

According to the television station, 21-year-old Willson (aka "Will") Nixon was at the Brookside Apartments on South 10th Street when police responded to complaints of a loud party around 1:23 a.m. September 10.

When arriving at the scene, the officers noted an "overwhelming smell of in the hallway." Through an open door, the officers say they saw Nixon seated at a table with marijuana. When Nixon saw the officers, he attempted to conceal the drug, and the police stepped into the apartment and made an arrest under the "plain view doctrine" that allows law authority to enter a residence when a visible crime is taking place.

Nixon was cited for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana, which in Columbia is a municipal violation that could result in community service and a fine. Nixon reportedly did not tell officers of his relationship to the governor, though one of his friends on the scene did.

Yesterday the governor released a statement saying: "This is a private matter that will be handled through the municipal process. My son is a fine young man, and we will be working through this issue as a family."


Get your Medical Marijuana Recommendation Today... be protected tomorrow

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Depraved Reporter + Fake Medical Issues = Sensationalism

State health-care regulators have opened a preliminary investigation into two medical professionals who were issuing medical-marijuana authorizations at Hempfest.

The investigation was initiated by the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday based on an Aug. 21 story in The Seattle Times, which described a reporter's ability to get a medical-marijuana authorization based on complaints of back pain.

Tim Church, a DOH spokesman, declined to name the two health-care professionals but said the state's naturopathic-advisory committee had opened a complaint. "It was opened as a result of media reports," he said.

After an initial investigation into the two individuals, DOH will decide whether to close the case or proceed with a fuller probe and possibly to a disciplinary hearing, Church said. "Anytime we see something that could be outside the scope of a medical professional's license, we take a look at it," he said.