Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hawaii Medical Marijuana News

Medical Marijuana Users Look For Changes

Group Hopes To Create New Legislation To Improve Distribution

POSTED: 10:39 am HST October 28, 2009
UPDATED: 11:07 am HST October 28, 2009
HONOLULU -- Medical marijuana users say Hawaii badly needs a marijuana
distribution center.

A group looking at problems with the current medical marijuana program
gathered for community input on Tuesday night as it prepares to make
recommendations to the state Legislature.

In 2000, Hawaii became the first state in the country to legislatively
approve a medical marijuana program. Many say the 9-year-old law is
unclear and outdated.

Paul Minar is certified to use medicinal marijuana for his chronic back

"It relieves the pain without putting me in a fog," Minar said.

Minar is among about 5,000 patients in Hawaii legally using marijuana
who are having a difficult time acquiring the drug.

"The only place to buy your medicine is at 3 o'clock in the morning in
some scary part of town," Minar said.

"The way we have our system currently set up, we just push them to the
black market," medical marijuana user Brian Murphy said.

Murphy uses medicinal marijuana to calm his migraine seizures.

"It made me totally get off of narcotics," he said.

Murphy said he also wants distribution centers. However, he said he
wants to see the government support small farmers who cultivate medical

"We have quite a bit of agriculture here in the state that cannot afford
to stay on the land," Murphy said.

The Medical Cannabis Working Group for the medical marijuana program is
gathering community input on the 9 year old medical marijuana bill.

Its legislative recommendation could be greatly influenced by the U.S.
Justice Department, which recently ordered that people who use or
distribute medical marijuana should not be federally prosecuted so long
as they act within state laws.

Some complain Hawaii's medical marijuana laws are vague. They say the
laws do not address the purchase or sale of medical marijuana. Some
patients said they are uncomfortable registering with the Public Safety
Department's Narcotics Enforcement Division.

"A lot of folks feel it should be with the Department of Health, as it
is in most other states that have a registration system," said Pam
Lichty, of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.

Minar and Murphy said they are grateful Hawaii's current law allows
growing, transporting and possession of medical marijuana and
paraphernalia. They said they will push for more support next
legislation session.

http://www.kitv. com/health/ 21455538/ detail.html

Jack Herer's Wife Can't See Him Hospital

Jack Herer Update: Wife Unable To Get Condition Updates, Visit Him


This is Jack's wife, Jeannie. Jack had a heart attack in Portland,
Oregon on September 12. I was in California waiting for him to come
home. I flew to Portland, went to the hospital and was told that a woman
named Joy Graves had come to the hospital with a Medical Power of
Attorney that Jack had allegedly signed, naming her and Chuck Jacobs as
the people in charge of Jack's medical care. It wasn't complete and
looks like someone forged his signature. The hospital's legal team
determined it was no good.

Jack is now in a skilled nursing facililty in Eugene. Joy Graves has
taken the paper to them and they have accepted it until their legal team
decides what to do. In the meantime, I am not allowed to see Jack or
even get news about his condition over the phone. Jack has already been
neglected in the nursing home. He fell out of bed there and hit his head
shortly after being admitted. He had lumps on his head from it and
bruises on his upper eyelids.

I've had to hire an attorney to deal with this. I don't have much money
but I'll do what I can. I love Jack very much and can't believe this is
happening to him now, when he needs me the most.

http://jackherer. com/

Lake Forrest Clinic Has Great Neighbor Policy With Pastor

Pot vendor promises peace with pastor

Earth Cann Wellness Center says it won't tolerate rule-breakers.

The Orange County Register

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

LAKE FOREST – On Wednesday morning, George Covarrubias patrolled the
parking lot around Earth Cann Wellness Center.

The 40-year-old former boxer, restaurant-owner and construction worker
is the newest line of defense the medical marijuana collective has taken
to comply with allegations from nearby Chapel Calvary that its patrons
are purchasing pot and partying in the adjacent church lot.

Covarrubias' presence paid off. By noon he'd told a handful of people
not to hang out in the parking lot in their cars. He made sure that if
they were legitimate dispensary patrons, they weren't loitering.

The owners of Earth Cann say they have a zero tolerance to any illegal
activities and are doing everything the can to be good neighbors.

"We had no idea members of the collective were parking in their cars and
partying in the church lot," said Shannon Saccullo, 43, who with her
husband founded the collective as a way to provide an alternative for
people with chronic health issues. "We want to get away from the
riff-raff of kids that smoke pot."

Since learning of Calvary Chapel's allegations last week, Earth Cann has
stepped up enforcement by hiring two security guards who patrol the
premises during the collective's hours of operations. They also have
revoked 12 memberships of people who have broken the rules of the
membership-only club.

David Saccullo, 48, a developer, has also talked with Pastor Jim Misiuk
and apologized for any problems. He also asked Misiuk to inform him
first of anything that might pose a future problem rather than going to
the city first.

"I'm just concerned with results and my main concern is still young
people having availability to purchase the drugs," said Misiuk. "If that
is stopped that's great. We have to wait and see what the results are.
How this stuff is regulated so it gets into the right hands — that's
what important."

All club members must show verification from their doctor that they are
entitled to use medical marijuana. They must also show personal
identification. A call is also put in from Earth Cann to the doctor's
office before any product is given out. Once the product is dispensed it
must remain sealed until the person has gotten home. It must also be
transported in the trunk of a car.

David Welch, a Los Angeles-based attorney who helped set the collective
up in July when it opened, said that the membership club is operating
completely within state law.

"The collective is allowed by state law to cultivate, possess and
facilitate transactions among members," he said. "We obtained sellers
permits for the sale of marijuana and the landlord was apprised of the
facility. Zoning in this business park allows this organization. The
city is trying to enforce federal law despite the fact that the federal
government has chosen not to enforce the law themselves."

Lake Forest is currently seeking to close at least 21 medical marijuana
dispensaries in the city, including Earth Cann. On Sept. 1, the city
filed complaints against 35 people associated with 14 dispensaries –
and now the number of dispensaries being pursued is about 21.

Jeff Dunn, a partner with Best, Best & Krieger representing the city in
the medical marijuana cases, said that since the complaints have been
filed six dispensaries have closed but one to three new ones have sprung
up. In some cases, landlords of the locations where the dispensaries
operate are pursuing legal efforts themselves, Dunn said.

"We are not challenging state law, we're just saying within our city
this is not an allowable use whether they are in compliance or not,"
said Dunn. "State law does not require the city to allow medical
marijuana dispensaries. "

Welch acknowledged that the city filed papers against Earth Cann on Oct.
22. but said the dispensary has not yet been served. He also planning to
sue the city Thursday, contending it is trying to enforce an ordinance
that violates the state constitution.

"The city has threatened that landlords will be prosecuted if they do
not enforce the ordinance," said Welch. "They are creating animosity
toward Earth Cann, telling other businesses that they cannot get
conditional use permits to move into the business park because of Earth

Dunn said the dispensary cannot sue a city for enforcing its own city
code. He added that before it sued the dispensaries, it notified their
landlords that medical marijuana dispensaries wouldn't be allowed in the
city. Earth Cann's landlord has begun eviction proceedings against it,
Dunn said.

The Sacullos decided to form the collective after Shannon Sacullo was
prescribed Prozac following postpartum depression with her second child.

"I was feeling depressed and anxious and I couldn't sleep," said the
stay-at-home mother of two. "I didn't feel that yummy feeling with my
baby. I was put on Prozac and felt numb. Three years later I'm at 80 mg
per day – that's super high. I started researching alternative
medicines. I found marijuana and it was natural. I did that for a little
bit and it helped me get off the chemicals. I haven't used Prozac in
four years."

But when the Sacullos looked for dispensaries to get the cannabis they
felt uncomfortable.

"They were shady, it made you feel like you were going to glorified drug
dealers," said David Sacullo. "We decided to make it what it should be.
A place where you don't feel ashamed and you get help."

Earth Cann is a nonprofit funded entirely by its membership. The
collective grows its own crop in Northern California on family land in
green houses and indoors. Some of the products available at Earth Cann
are pure THC oil, fine grade edibles, a soda line, salad dressings and

There are about 2,000 members, including patients with cancer, cerebral
palsy, terminal liver disease as well as veterans from the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kim Byers, from Costa Mesa, has found a haven at Earth Cann.

"I've stopped going to other places once I found this," said Byers, 58,
who suffers from nerve damage. "It's been distinguished and
professional. When I went to other places it felt shady and under-the
counter — like the stuff comes from who-knows-where. "

What bothers the Sacullos and Welch most is that the city seems to have
lumped their collective in with others.

"Unlike others we are functioning legally, Welsh said. "The city has
grouped us with others that may be illegal."

Contact the writer: 949-454-7307 or eritchie@ocregister .com

http://www.ocregist city-earth- cann-2627667- dispensaries- \

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LA Medical Marijuana News

Marijuana moratorium would be invalidated under ordinance

By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer
Updated: 10/20/2009 08:14:39 PM PDT

A day after a judge invalidated the city's ban on new medical marijuana collectives, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich released a new ordinance that would better spell out how the facilities can operate and create safety standards for their product.

Trutanich also vowed to continue a crackdown on illegal operators of dispensaries.

"If you are illegally selling marijuana or supplying it in the city of Los Angeles, you should get out of business," Trutanich warned. "I don't need a new ordinance to go after you."

On Monday, Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled that the city's decision to extend a temporary ban on new collectives violated state law.

Trutanich said the decision will not affect enforcement of existing city laws dealing with the clinics, but City Council members said they felt a need to get a new ordinance on the books quickly. The moratorium overturned by the judge had been intended as a temporary measure while city officials spent two years debating and drafting a permanent ordinance.

The new draft ordinance, the fourth considered by the City Council since 2008, is the toughest version brought before the body and seeks to strictly control the dispensaries.

Under the measure, the shops will be open only from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be allowed to have only five pounds of marijuana on hand and no more than 100 plants. Also, all the marijuana provided must have been grown by the collective.

It also requires any dispensary not meeting the city guidelines to shut down immediately.

Kris Hermes, spokesman for the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access, said he hasn't seen the ordinance yet but hopes it will resolve the issue.

"Los Angeles has been grappling with this isue for a long time and we hope they aren't trying to use land use laws to ban the dispensaries all together," Hermes said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New York Medical Marijuana News

Support to legalize medical marijuana in New York

October 19, 2009 by CAROL POLSKY / carol.polsky@

Proponents of legislation to legalize medical use of marijuana in New
York were encouraged Monday by the announcement of a shift in federal
policy first promised by President Barack Obama in his presidential

The U.S. Department of Justice Monday advised U.S. attorneys not to
target medical marijuana use and distribution in the 13 states where it
is legal. The Drug Enforcement Administration has previously raided such

The new federal policy "greatly helps, and certainly it puts state
medical marijuana laws on a much firmer footing legally," said Assemb.
Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) , who sponsored legislation that passed
the Assembly in 2007 and 2008 but failed in the Senate.

He and state Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan) are now sponsoring
identical bills that would legalize production and distribution of
medical marijuana through tightly regulated licensed health care
facilities and providers.

"Our standard in New York is even stricter than what the federal
government is appearing to allow the states to do," said Duane.

The two said they're hoping the measures could see action before the end
of the year if the legislature is called into special session to deal
with the state budget.

Marijuana helps control nausea, vomiting, wasting and anxiety from AIDs,
cancer and chemotherapy treatments, and can also help with pain and
other symptoms of debilitating diseases such as diabetes, multiple
sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical associations including the Medical Society of the state of New
York and the New York State Nurses Association support legalizing the
drug for medical use.

Marijuana "certainly has its place and should be among the drugs we're
allowed to use," said Dr. Reed Phillips of Glen Cove, who recently
retired as a practicing oncologist and palliative care specialist. He
said other drugs also help control nausea and anxiety, but marijuana has
the advantage because "it's probably a heck of a lot cheaper than the
best anti-nausea medications that can cost $20 to $50 a pill."

Catherine Hart, chief operating officer of the Long Island Association
for AIDS Care, Inc., said she'd support legal physician-prescribe d
marijuana use, but cautioned that many patients have substance abuse
issues that would need to be fully disclosed.

A pill with marijuana's active ingredient is available legally now, but
it can take an hour to take effect compared to five to 15 minutes for
inhaled or vaporized marijuana.

Bruce Mirkin, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project,
the nation's largest marijuana reform organization, applauded the
federal policy shift and said it should remove fears cited by state
legislative opponents that constituents would be put at legal risk.

http://www.newsday. com/long- island/nassau/ support-to- legalize- medical-ma\
rijuana-in-new- york-1.1533550

LA Times on Medical Marijuana

Judge rules L.A.'s ban on new medical marijuana dispensaries is invalid

The Superior Court judge's decision undermines the city's 4-month-old
drive to shut down hundreds of the stores.

By John Hoeffel

10:02 PM PDT, October 19, 2009

Los Angeles' ban on new medical marijuana dispensaries is invalid, a
Superior Court judge said Monday in a decision that undermines the
city's 4-month-old drive to shut down hundreds of the stores.

The judge issued an injunction banning enforcement of the moratorium
against Green Oasis, a dispensary in Playa Vista that had challenged the
ban. But city officials acknowledged the ruling would effectively block
current efforts to enforce the ban against other dispensaries.

The decision came on the day the Obama administration issued guidelines
that limit federal prosecution of medical marijuana users and
dispensaries. A Justice Department memo makes official a policy change
that the president adopted earlier this year -- one that inadvertently
contributed to the city's dizzying dispensary boom.

Those actions cheered supporters of medical marijuana, but Los Angeles
officials insisted they were committed to closing down and prosecuting
dispensaries. The city attorney and the district attorney maintain that
most are selling marijuana for profit in violation of state law.

Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley did not back off that position Monday. "A
collaboration of numerous agencies, including federal, state and local
police agencies, county and city prosecutors, will combat the
proliferation of illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles
City and County," he said.

Several City Council members said the ruling will force them to take
quick action to pass an ordinance that could lead to law enforcement
raids to close dispensaries that opened after the moratorium was adopted
in August 2007.

"Anyone who doesn't comply is going to be taken down," warned Councilman
Dennis Zine, who initiated the council's consideration of dispensaries
more than four years ago. "Once we take a few down and some publicity
comes about, those who are in it for the cash business will say it's too
hot, let's get out of it."

David Berger, a special assistant to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, said a
new draft of the ordinance would be submitted to the council today.

Berger also acknowledged the moratorium had been extended improperly and
said the city would not appeal.

At Monday's hearing, Judge James C. Chalfant said he had hoped to learn
that the council had adopted a permanent ordinance. "I thought you would
come in and tell me this was all moot," he said.

"This is the city of Los Angeles," replied Assistant City Atty. Jeri
Burge. "Sometimes it goes slowly."

City Councilman Greig Smith, who heads the Public Safety Committee, said
he may send the proposed ordinance to the full council for emergency
consideration so it could be approved immediately. The measure has been
debated for more than two years in the planning committee and was
recently sent to Smith's panel.

Chalfant's decision dismayed community activists, who have pleaded with
the council to crack down on dispensaries that have opened up throughout
the city but are heavily concentrated in some neighborhoods.

"It looks like not only will the ones that are open continue to operate,
but there will be more that open also, and the whole business will start
expanding exponentially, I think, knowing that L.A. city is completely
inept at handling control on these," said Michael Larsen, the public
safety director for the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.

In his decision, Chalfant concluded that the city had failed to follow
state requirements when it extended its initial moratorium. "The city
cannot rely on an expired ordinance," he said.

Burge warned, "You're going to open the floodgates."

In a court filing, the city said an injunction would cause "grave
irreparable harm."

"This lawsuit is not just about one 'bad apple.' It is about illegally
dealing marijuana," the city argued. "Hundreds of unlawful marijuana
stores have cropped up throughout the city and will likely attempt to
bootstrap their illegal operation on the outcome of this action."

Chalfant dismissed that claim, saying the city had other means to shut
down dispensaries. "That's so clearly in your hands," he said, noting
that some cities have adopted outright bans.

Robert A. Kahn, the attorney for Green Oasis, said the city was trying
to punish dispensaries for a situation that arose from the council's own

"They clearly blew it, they blew the way they are supposed to be
handling these ordinances," he said. "The Compassionate Use Act was
passed in 1996. What have they been doing for the last 13 years?"

The council started to look at the issue in 2005, when Zine asked the
Police Department for a report on dispensaries. The moratorium took
effect Sept. 14, 2007, and allowed 186 dispensaries to remain in
business. The City Council extended the moratorium to last for two
years. It adopted a second moratorium to last through mid-March.

In court Monday, the city argued that the council did not need to comply
with a state law that requires certain steps to extend a zoning
moratorium. Burge argued that it was a public safety, rather than a
zoning, moratorium. Zoning moratoriums cannot be extended beyond 24
months. Chalfant quickly dispensed with that theory.

"Although there may be overtones of public safety," he said, "this is a
zoning issue."

Besides failing to adhere to state law when it extended the ban, the
city also failed to enforce it.

Hundreds of dispensaries filed applications for hardship exemptions from
the moratorium, and many opened without permission. The City Council
began to deny those requests this summer, which allowed city officials
to file civil or criminal charges. None have been filed, however, and
Berger said the city attorney's office now will not file charges until
there is a permanent ordinance.

Green Oasis, which is on Jefferson Boulevard just west of the 405
Freeway, sought a hardship exemption in April and opened in May, without
waiting for the City Council to act on the request. In July, the City
Council denied the exemption. The city attorney's office notified Green
Oasis that its operators faced civil and criminal violations, including
a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. The dispensary sued last month.

Dan Lutz, a co-owner of Green Oasis, said he was relieved by the
decision but wished he was not in an adversarial stance with the city.
"A lot of the collectives out there are wanting to do a good job and
provide a valuable service for the community, and we're actually
surprised that we're in this position in L.A.," he said.

Lutz's dispensary was in the city's sights even before he filed suit.

An undercover narcotics officer visited at least twice, according to a
declaration Officer Brent Olsen filed with the court. On Sept. 2, he
said he handed over his identification and doctor's recommendation and
filled out a form. Buzzed into an interior room, he said he was told
there were 60 strains available. He paid $58 for one-eighth of an ounce
of marijuana. On Sept. 10, he paid $55 for another eighth.

"It is my opinion that the dispensary is being used to sell marijuana,"
Olsen said in the declaration. He noted that he had not participated as
a member of a collective or in any collective cultivation.

Lutz could also be in jeopardy on other grounds. The city attorney's
office says the dispensary failed to obtain a building permit or a
certificate of occupancy.

"They could come after us for many things," Lutz said. "What can we do?"


http://www.latimes. com/news/ local/la- me-pot-moratoriu m20-2009oct20, 0,228\

LA City Attorney Wrong About Pesticide Proving Links Between Medical Marijuana & Mexican Drug Cartels

LA City Attorney Dead Wrong

Marijuana Testing

By Michael Backes

Vol 7 Issue 86
Pub: Oct 20, 2009

LA City Attorney, Mr. Carmen Trutanich, has been all over the media
trying to convince Los Angeles that a pesticide used to kill Mexican
fire ants is evidence that medical cannabis provided by dispensaries is
poisonous and supporting Mexican drug cartels.

According to Mr. Trutanich, three samples of medical marijuana from
"controlled buys" by undercover LAPD were tested by an FDA laboratory.
On these samples, Mr Trutanich said the lab found high concentrations of
an insecticide uncommon in California that is used to kill fire ants in
Mexico. Trutanich claims this Mexican fire ant insecticide is evidence
that LA medical cannabis is being supplied by the Mexican drug cartels.

Except... There are no Mexican fire ants. There is the notorious red
imported fire ant - solenopsis invicta - but that's from Brazil, not
Mexico. Those fire ants were accidentally imported into the US in the
1930's then spread across the southern United States. Fire ants were
never found in Mexico, until they crossed the Texas border into northern
Mexico a few years back. The range of fire ants has not extended deeply
into Mexico.

Pesticide testing is not a trivial exercise. It requires very sensitive
machines that are capable of detecting just a few molecules. The FDA
certainly has these machines, but were the samples provided by Mr.
Trutanich sufficient?

Pesticide testing requires a large plant sample to produce precise
results. EMA, one of the largest testing labs in California, requires a
minimum 200 gram sample. No marijuana dispensary in LA sells cannabis
in 200 gram lots. It's more likely that Mr Trutanich would have had
much smaller samples tested, with a much higher risk of error in the

There are no pesticide residue tolerances established for cannabis by
the EPA, the FDA or The California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
It takes careful research to establish these tolerances on a
pesticide-by- pesticide basis, but that work has not been done. This
research is important, because the acceptable ranges vary by plant

The insecticide that Mr Trutanich claims was found on his samples of
cannabis was bifenthrin. Bifenthrin belongs to a common class of
insecticides called pyrethroids.

Mr Trutanich claims that California restricts the use of bifenthrin
because of its toxicity to humans. Mr. Trutanich is incorrect.

California restricts the use of bifenthrin because of its high toxicity
to fish, not mammals or humans. And, according to the California
Department of Pesticide Regulation, California farmers used 107,000
pounds of bifenthrin on their crops in 2007. They used it on corn,
almonds, strawberries, even wine grapes. Fifty tons of it.

Mr. Trutanich stated to FOX NEWS, "it's not enough to say conclusively
that this dope is coming from here (Mexico), okay. but? but, you know,
if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, you know, chances are that
if you look a little closer, you may be dealing with a duck."

Well... if it makes scientific claims like a duck, it might just be the
LA City Attorney.

California cannabis patients should be protected from contaminants in
their medicine.

That protection comes from intelligent regulations, something that the
City Attorney's office has been stalling for two years.

Perhaps it's time we stopped wasting tax money planning to raid medical
marijuana facilities and start regulating them.

(Michael Backes - board member, Cornerstone Research Collective, a
California nonprofit corporation, Eagle Rock.)

http://www.citywatc view/2816/

Bloomberg Article on Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Relieves Patient's Pain, Obama Ends Worries

By Elizabeth Lopatto
Last Updated: October 20, 2009 00:00 EDT

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Madeline Martinez is in constant pain from a
disease that is destroying her joints and the discs in her back.
Marijuana relieves her discomfort, she said, and the Obama
administration has ended her worries that she may someday be jailed for
using the drug.

Martinez, 58, of Portland, Oregon, had previously been given Abbott
Laboratories' Vicodin and codeine for her pain. Use of those drugs
led to stomach problems, and now she takes marijuana prescribed for her
by a doctor. Medicinal marijuana is legal in Oregon, one of 14 states to
allow so-called compassionate- care use.

The U.S. Department of Justice yesterday advised federal prosecutors not
to seek criminal charges against those who use medical marijuana in
accordance with state laws, reversing a Bush administration approach.
Along with chronic pain, the American College of Physicians, the
second-largest U.S. doctors group, has said marijuana can be used to
treat glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and nausea.

"Having disabled people jailed for no reason, that's
terrifying," said Martinez, who mostly uses a tincture of the drug
rather than smoking it. "As a medical marijuana patient, it's
always good to have some stress and anxiety alleviated."

Of 23,873 people in Oregon who hold cards allowing them to use marijuana
legally, 21,087 are approved because of severe pain, according to the
state's public health division. Another 7,550 Oregonians take
marijuana to relieve muscle spasms from conditions such as multiple
sclerosis, and 3,997 use it for nausea. Patients may be approved for
more than one condition.

6,000 Applications

Over 6,000 applications for the program are under review, either for
initial treatment or renewal, according to the division's Web site.

Marijuana, produced from the cannabis plant, is classified by the U.S.
government as a Schedule I drug, which declares it has no accepted
medical use. Possessing and using marijuana are crimes in most states.

"Our old Drug Enforcement Agency people thought it was a Cheech and
Chong thing," said Donald Abrams, the chief of oncology at San
Francisco General Hospital, referring to the comedy team of Cheech Marin
and Tommy Chong that made drug use a central part of their act in the
late 1970s. "I see patients who have loss of appetite, nausea from
chemotherapy, pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and I know I have one
medicine I can recommend that takes care of all these symptoms.

"I hope this makes more patients ask their providers about
marijuana," said Abrams, who added that today he will be leading
grand rounds entitled "Marijuana: Is it Medicine Yet?"

Waive Penalties

The Philadelphia- based College of Physicians, with 124,000 members, said
in February 2008 that criminal penalties should be waived for doctors
who prescribe marijuana and their patients.

Marijuana has been used for centuries as a medicine, and was marketed by
companies such as Eli Lilly & Co. before the drug became illegal,
according to the physician group.

Marijuana wasn't sold as a prescription medicine. Rather, it was
sold as an herbal extract, said Judy K. Moore, a Lilly spokeswoman. The
Indianapolis, Indiana-based company deleted it from their price list in
1915, she said.

The drug is thought to work by attaching to areas in the brain called
cannabinoid receptors. The active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabino l or
THC, has been proven to be a pain reliever in animal studies. In humans,
it has been shown in studies to reduce pain from nerve damage in AIDS

A non-smoked form of THC called Marinol, marketed by Solvay
Pharmaceuticals, of Brussels, is used to curb nausea.

Research Source

The science is difficult to define in part because the only legal source
of marijuana for research in the U.S. is the Bethesda, Marilyn-based
National Institute on Drug Abuse, said Abrams, who is also a professor
of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

"It's been difficult to generate evidence because NIDA only
wants to provide it as a subject of research for abuse, not for
treatment," Abrams said. "There isn't evidence because we
don't have the resources to generate it."

Chronic use of marijuana may lead to lung damage, pneumonia, and poor
pregnancy outcomes, according to the 2008 College of Physicians report.
Smoking is generally unsafe, and the group doesn't support the
long-term use of smoked marijuana, the ACP said.

The National Drug Control Policy office in 1997 asked the Institute of
Medicine, an independent scientific research group, to review evidence
on the risks and benefits of marijuana. The drug has therapeutic
properties for many ailments, the study concluded.

`Not a Priority'

Yesterday's Obama administration guidelines don't legalize
marijuana, said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

"It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute
patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying
with state laws," he said. "But we will not tolerate drug
traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask
activities that are clearly illegal."

The Justice Department will continue to focus resources on "serious
drug traffickers, while taking into account state and local laws,"
Holder said.

The Bush administration didn't target patients and instead went
after larger operations that were selling marijuana for recreational
use, said Tom Riley, who was the spokesman for the Bush Office of
National Drug Control Policy, in a telephone interview yesterday. The
Obama Justice Department announcement will make it easier for criminal
operations that claim to be medical marijuana producers, he said.

`A Green Light'

"By announcing it this way, I'm almost positive it's going
to be sending a green light to people that medical pot is legal,"
Riley said. "A very significant portion of the medical pot business
is a fraud."

California is among the states that has established medicinal marijuana
dispensaries through a permitting process in a manner similar to other
businesses. The clinics provide easier access to the drug for those with
a prescription. Patients such as Martinez who live elsewhere must grow
the drug on their own or find other suppliers.

"The impact of the Department of Justice decision is really
interesting, " said Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard University
in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who has studied drug law. "This
effectively legalizes marijuana not just for medicinal purposes but for
all purposes."

Many prescriptions for marijuana are for "vague" conditions such
as back pain and anxiety, he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

`Willy-Nilly' Prescriptions

"It just takes a few doctors to write prescriptions willy- nilly,
and marijuana's legal," Miron said.

Legalizing marijuana would result in savings of $12.9 billion per year,
according to a December 2008 report from Miron. Taxing marijuana at a
rate comparable to alcohol and tobacco would add $6.7 billion in annual

The city of Oakland has begun taxing marijuana at a higher rate than
other local businesses, said Barbara Killey, an assistant to the city

Businesses classified in the "cannabis" sector are taxed $18 for
each $1,000 of gross receipts. Previously, they had been taxed like
other businesses, at a rate of $1.20 per $1,000 of gross receipts.
Almost 80 percent of Oakland voters voted in favor of the proposition.

"This was a way for them to be more accepted by the community, and
the city has experienced dramatic tax shortfalls with the
recession," Killey said in a telephone interview. "They were
trying to help us resolve the shortfall."

Grows Her Own

Martinez, who struggles with chronic pain from degenerative disc and
joint disease, grows her own marijuana because Oregon doesn't have
official dispensaries, she said. She also participates in a collective
to give away cuttings and medicine.

"We struggle with access," Martinez said. "The black market
mostly controls the marijuana in the country, and we need to grab it
away from him and use it for our own economy, and to make it a priority
for patients."

contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Lopatto in New York at
elopatto@bloomberg. net.

http://www.bloomber news?pid= 20601203& sid=agjC2C1A8LGU

Medical Marijuana Could Come to Illinois

Could Medical Marijuana Become Legal In Illinois?

By Charles Jaco
October 19, 2009

Watch story video (2:36) -
http://www.fox2now. com/videobeta/ watch/?watch= 3c4f5236- e643-4da0- 88ad-ab\
f887fb1da5&src= front

ALTON, IL (KTVI-FOX2now. com)

Federal prosecutors and drug agents will no longer go after medical
marijuana clinics or their patients. The announcement, which came Monday
from the Obama White House, reverses the hard-line policy of the Bush
Administration toward medical marijuana which is now legal in 14 states.
Reports are that Illinois could become the 15th state to make it legal.
A bill allowing medical marijuana has passed the Illinois Senate. It's
just waiting action from the Illinois House of Representatives. And
helping lead the medical marijuana drive in Illinois is a most unlikely
lawmaker: State Senator Bill Haine (D) from Alton.

Haine is a former prosecutor and a law-and-order kind of guy.

"I have a reputation as pro-law enforcement. Two years ago the Illinois
police chiefs gave me their public official of the year award," says St.
Sen. Hain.

So it came as a big surprise that Haine is sponsoring a bill that would
legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois.

"Among the cops, it was a Nixon going to China moment. Bill Haine
sponsoring a medical marijuana bill."

Senator Haine's bill would allow the state to license medical marijuana
dispensaries. A patient with a doctor's prescription and a special
license from the state culd buy weed legally.

'Marijuana has been established to be of medical use for these purposes
for many years," says Haine.

By these purposes Haine's bill means conditions like nausea from
chemotherapy, cancer, epilepsy, or AIDS.

That's sometimes not the case in a few states where medical marijuana's
legal, especially California. There suspicious street corner clinics
have dispensed marijuana for vague conditions like anxiety. That's led
to raids in places like Los Angeles County.

Ron Brooks with the National Narcotics Officer Association says, "You
can ask any ER doctor, or ER nurse, EMS worker, fire fighter, cop,
teacher and say, 'do you think this is a good idea to legalize
marijuana?' And they will tell you that is the dumbest idea they have
heard. Absolutely not."

But the argument Bill Haine makes to law enforcement is that the Feds
considering marijuana a Schedule One drug--the most dangerous kind--is

"No one has shown me yet anyone who ever overdosed on marijuana. And yet
marijuana is a Schedule One drug, which I thought was an unreasonable
application by the feds," says Haine.

Senator Haine meets with Illinois House leaders next week trying to get
final approval of the proposal. As to the chance of medical marijuana
becoming law in Illinois, Bill Haine admits that with Illinois facing
financial meltdown medical marijuana may not be at the top of any
lawmakers agenda right now.

http://www.fox2now. com/ktvi- medical-marijuan a-illinois- haine-101909, 0,41\


Senator: Federal shift on medical marijuana 'refreshing'

October 19, 2009 5:19 PM

While seriously ill patients in Illinois with cancer, glaucoma and other
ailments aren't allowed to smoke a joint for pain relief, an Illinois
senator who hopes to change the law says the Obama administration' s new
take on medicinal marijuana enforcement "indicates a refreshing respect
at the federal level" for state autonomy.

The Obama administration said Monday that the federal government will
stop cracking down on users and suppliers of medical marijuana who
conform to state laws.

"It certainly removes an argument that state action could result in
exposing people to a federal charge," said state Sen. William Haine

Haine is sponsoring a bill to make medicinal marijuana legal. State
senators narrowly approved the legislation in May and it's awaiting
action in the House, which could take up the bill next month or early
next year.

The proposed law calls for a three-year program in which patients with
qualifying ailments, such as glaucoma, cancer or Alzheimer's disease,
would be issued registry identification cards by the Illinois Department
of Public Health. They could have up to six cannabis plants during a
30-day period, of which no more than three could be mature.

--Kristen Schorsch

http://www.chicagob reakingnews. com/2009/ 10/senator- federal-shift- on-medi\
cal-marijuana- refreshing. html

America Supports Marijuana Policy Change

All Time High Support For Legal Pot In U.S.

By Dennis Romero
Tue., Oct. 20 2009 @ 12:02AM

This must be green week. On Monday President Obama called off
Bush-fearing federal agents who had their guns trained on medical
marijuana dispensaries in California and 13 other states where medicinal
pot is legal. A county superior court judge ruled the city's moratorium
on new dispensaries is illegal. And now a Gallup poll has found more
Americans since the 1970s -- when it first started asking respondents
for their opinions on the matter -- support the all-out legalization of

The organization' s research found that 44 percent of Americans support
legalizing and taxing the drug, while 54 percent want to keep it as an
outlaw substance. In 2003 Gallup found that 75 percent of Americans
support allowing doctors to prescribe the drug to relieve pain and
suffering in patients.

See chart: http://blogs. laweekly. com/ladaily/ gallup-pot. jpg

Support for national legalization keeps getting higher.
The latest Gallup poll found that support for legalization was highest
among self-proclaimed liberals (78 percent were in favor); conservatives
were almost opposite (72 percent were opposed). If the Western United
States were a country, pot would be fully legal here: 53 percent of
residents here favor it. Fifty percent of those under 50 support
legitimizing marijuana, and 45 percent of those aged 50 to 64 are in
favor too. Those over 64 are Reefer Madness holdouts, lending only 28
percent support for legalization.

Interestingly, in the arch-liberal year of 1970, after reactionary
forces, smarting from hippies in the streets and drug-use gone wild, had
put Richard Nixon in the White House, support for legal marijuana was at
its lowest: 12 percent. It's gone up each year since then. Even in 1979,
when drug use, particularly weed smoking, was at its peak among
Spicoli-era high schoolers, support for legalization (around 25 percent)
didn't touch this week's numbers.

In the evolution of American mores, particularly since the 1970s, the
nation, in fact, has grown more strict in many ways. Times Square is no
longer a center of sin, it's not acceptable to molest 13-year-olds (see
the Roman Polanski saga), spanking children is out, child-safety seats
are in, drunk-driving enforcement and penalties are more stringent than
ever, and science has often called bullshit on the '60s-era,
pie-in-the-sky promise of psychedelics and other drugs. And yet the idea
of marijuana as harmless at worst and healthy at best has gained
unprecedented ground, at least in blue state America.

Gallup's report states, "Most of the expansion in support for legalizing
marijuana since Gallup last measured this in 2005 is seen among women,
younger Americans, Democrats, moderates, and liberals. By comparison,
there has been little change in the views of men, seniors, Republicans,
independents, and conservatives. "

http://blogs. laweekly. com/ladaily/ city-news/ all-time- high-for- medical-ma\

Monday, October 19, 2009

San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force News

Medical marijuana task force, controversy are the buzz

By Adriane Tillman, Peninsula Beacon
Saturday, October 17, 2009

San Diego: Medical marijuana has come under fire in San Diego as law
enforcement and patients clash over how to regulate the drug. Clearing
the smoke to get a look at the issue is the new 11-member Medical
Marijuana Task Force appointed by San Diego City Council.

In 2003, the state attorney general issued an 11-page document to
provide guidelines for medical marijuana collectives, which noted
federal laws, addressed the location of collectives, defined physician
requirements and provided vague guidelines for the running of

In 2006, Los Angeles County amended its municipal code to help regulate
the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries. Last May, Oceanside
placed an emergency moratorium on medical marijuana storefronts.

The Medical Marijuana Task Force's first order of business is to
provide land use and zoning recommendations for the collectives by
January 2010. At its first meeting on Oct. 9, the task force reviewed
ordinances enacted by other cities.

Task force member Steven Whitburn believes there is a lack of clarity in
the attorney general's guidelines. Whitburn, 45, is vice-chair of
the North Park Planning Committee and a North Park resident.

"I think that it falls upon the cities to try to develop guidelines
that work for medical marijuana users, for law enforcement and that work
for neighborhoods, " Whitburn said. "People that I respect a
great deal have told me that they have benefited from medical marijuana,
and I would like to see them and others have safe access to it."

Task force member John Minto, 51, would like to see the task force form
its own ideas instead of relying too much on other city ordinances.
Minto doesn't believe the ordinances passed by other cities are
significantly different than the attorney general's guidelines.
Minto served as a police officer for the City of San Diego for 29 years,
specializing in youth violence and prevention. He resides in Santee.

"I want to hear what the experts have to say to form our own
opinions," Minto said.

As far as the discrepancy between federal law and state Prop 215 that
legalized the use of medical marijuana in California, Minto doesn't
believe federal law holds any weight because the U.S. Supreme Court
refused to hear lawsuits regarding the issue.

"The federal law trumps state law… but the U.S. Supreme Court
says it doesn't really care what the state does," Minto said.
"The state has spoken; the people have spoken. I don't agree
with the majority of the people who voted, but that's OK because I
live in a republic where people have the right to have a majority

Minto said he voted against Prop 215 because he believes other
medications can achieve the same medical result as marijuana, but he
added that the task force members have agreed to set their personal
opinions aside.

"Everyone agreed that personal opinions don't have a play,"
Minto said. "Our job is to craft the right guidelines and policies
for land use and regulatory permits."

Task force member Mark Robert Bluemel hopes the task force will be able
to provide clear guidelines for city council. He said the district
attorney's interpretation of the law has cruelly criminalized
innocent medical marijuana users who not only suffer maladies but now
face arrest, detention and federal charges.

"If I can prevent that, that's why I'm there," Bluemel

Bluemel, of San Carlos, is an attorney who has represented medical
marijuana users.

City Council charged the task force to come up with guidelines within a
year that address: medical marijuana patients and caregivers; the
structure and operation of marijuana cooperatives/ collectives; police
enforcement; and, the first order of business, land use and zoning
recommendations. Other members of the task force include David Martin, a
business owner in Ocean Beach; Larry Sweet, a medical marijuana patient
from Ocean Beach; and medical doctor Tom Cummings of La Jolla.

The Medical Marijuana Task Force is scheduled to meet Friday, Oct. 16;
Thursday, Oct. 22; Friday, Oct. 30; and Friday, Nov. 6. All meetings
will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the closed session room, 12th floor,
at City Hall, 202 C St. For more information, e-mail Kim Nguyen at
klnguyen@sandiego. gov.

Adriane Tillman writes for the Peninsula Beacon, where this story was
first published.

http://www.sdnn. com/sandiego/ 2009-10-17/ politics- city-county- government/ \
medical-marijuana- task-force- controversy- are-the-buzz

Medical Marijuana & How it Helps Cancer

Marijuana proven effective in treating different types of cancers

Dave Stancliff
For the Times-Standard
Posted: 10/18/2009 01:27:25 AM PDT

Marijuana opponents in the federal government are up against the wall
and the wall is crumbling. The feds have fought marijuana use for
decades, disregarding its medicinal applications, in a senseless war
against the herb.

The demonized killer weed is turning out to be anything but that. As
myths about this ancient herb are dispelled, scientists are using it to
treat everything from chemotherapy- induced nausea to different cancers.

In August, The British Journal of Cancer published the results of a
study that found THC (the main active component in marijuana) is
effective in fighting prostate cancer.

Reportedly, pot attacks prostate cancer cell types that do not respond
to the usual hormone treatments.

A recent study by a team of Spanish researchers discovered THC kills
various brain cancer cells by a process known as autophagy. Michigan's
new law regarding marijuana use went into effect in April. Patients,
with doctor's prescriptions, get a state-issued ID Card (a lot like
California's) which allows them to grow and use marijuana to treat pain
and other symptoms of cancer and multiple sclerosis.

In October 2003, the University of California, San Francisco, released
the results of a study that said pot was effective when used in
combination with opiate pain medications. Dr. Donald Abrams, MD, UCSF
professor of Clinical Medicine and chief of the Hematology-Oncology
Division at SF General Hospital Medical Center, told the press,
"Marijuana uses a different mechanism than opiates and could augment
the pain relief of opiate analgesics."

The Marijuana Policy Project recently reported on a study that suggests
moderate amounts of marijuana use reduces risk of head and neck squamous
cell carcinoma (HNSCC). This study suggests cannabinoids have potential
anti-tumor properties.

A study released in July, "White matter in adolescents with history
of marijuana use and binge drinking," says marijuana use actually
protects brain cells. The study involved adolescents with alcohol use

One group had just alcohol-drinking teens. The other group drank alcohol
and used marijuana. The report said that binge drinkers who used
marijuana retained more white matter than the other group. In other
words, alcohol destroyed more brain cells when a person didn't use

How many times have you heard someone say, "Pot destroys your brain
cells"? If that's true, what about this study? Why do doctors use
marijuana to fight brain cancer if it destroys brain cells? Remember the
Spanish study?

In April of 2007, Harvard University researchers released the results of
a study that concluded THC cuts tumor growth in common lung cancers and
reduces the ability of the cancer to spread.

A study conducted by UCLA's medical school in June 2005 concluded
smoking marijuana did not cause lung cancer. That impressive piece of
news, along with the Harvard study, seems to have been ignored by most
mass media outlets.

Fred Gardner, editor of the medical marijuana research journal,
O'Shaughnessy' s, recently wrote an article, "Smoking Marijuana Does
Not Cause Cancer," about this groundbreaking UCLA study that barely
made headlines.

Gardner reported that an investigative team was contracted with the
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2002 "to conduct a large,
population-based, case-controlled study that would prove definitively
that heavy, long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung and
upper-airway cancers."

Guess what? This study backfired! It turned out that increased marijuana
use did not result in higher rates of lung and pharyngeal cancer. The
study also concluded that tobacco smokers who also puffed on pot were at
a slightly lower risk of getting lung cancer than those who didn't!

Perhaps the icing on the cake is the fact that UCLA Medical professor
Donald Tashkin led the investigation. Tashkin has led government studies
on marijuana since the 1970s and is well known for his belief that heavy
marijuana use causes lung and upper-airway cancers. To his credit as a
professional, he ended up disproving his own original hypothesis.

Despite the government's efforts to keep it illegal, it's apparent that
marijuana does offer help in the battle to treat cancer. The facts about
marijuana's medical potentials are finally causing cracks in the
government's wall of lies built up over the years.

As It Stands, it's time to bring down that wall.

Dave Stancliff is a columnist for The Times-Standard. He is a former
newspaper editor and publisher. Comments can be sent to
richstan1@suddenlin or www.davesblogcentra

http://www.times- standard. com/othervoices/ ci_13588713

Medical Marijuana Patients Can Fly Out of Oakland With Their Medicine

Got pot? Fly from Oakland

By Josh Richman
Oakland Tribune
Posted: 10/16/2009 04:28:07 PM PDT
Updated: 10/16/2009 04:28:07 PM PDT

Oakland International Airport may be the nation's only airport with a
specific policy letting users of medical marijuana travel with the drug.

The policy is spelled out in a three-page document quietly enacted last
year by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. It states that if deputies
determine someone is a qualified patient or primary caregiver as defined
by California law and has eight ounces or less of the drug, he or she
can keep it and board the plane.

Deputies warn the pot-carrying passengers that they may be committing a
felony upon arrival when they set foot in a jurisdiction where medical
marijuana is not recognized. But they say they don't call ahead to alert
authorities on the other end.

"We never have. We're certainly within our right to, but we never have,"
said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. "Our
notification of the passengers is for their own safety and well-being."

California voters approved medical marijuana use in 1996, while federal
law still bans all possession and use.

But Oakland attorney Robert Raich notes the Code of Federal Regulations
says a prohibition on operating a civil aircraft with knowledge that
there is marijuana aboard doesn't apply to carrying marijuana that's
"authorized by or under any Federal or State statute."

The federal Transportation Security Administration does the screening
and when marijuana — or any suspected contraband — is found, the
sheriff's deputies are summoned.

Low profile

Oakland's airport policy was enacted in February 2008, but Raich said he
didn't want to publicize it until recently lest the Bush administration
change federal regulations, or lest it become an issue in Obama
administration drug officials' confirmation hearings.

"All other airports in medical cannabis states should have similar
policies but they don't," he said, adding that he hears San Francisco
International and Los Angeles International airports are relatively kind
to medical marijuana users while airports in Burbank, Ontario and San
Diego are not.

Raich, who has seen two of his medical marijuana cases argued before the
U.S. Supreme Court and has taught Oakland Police cadets about medical
marijuana issues, said medical marijuana users generally didn't have
much trouble when Oakland Police used to patrol inside the airport
terminals. But that changed when the Alameda County Sheriff's Office
took over in mid-2007. That summer TSA screeners referred to deputies a
traveling medical-marijuana user from Washington state.

"The sheriff's deputies so harassed this person, it was
heart-wrenching, " Raich said. "They took his medicine, they broke his
bong, they took his edibles. They were threatening him."

'Pinball machine'

Raich said he found that the sheriff's office was unwilling to change
its policy. So he consulted various officials including those at the
Port of Oakland, which owns and operates the airport.

"I felt like a ball in a pinball machine," he said. "I felt like I'd
talked to every single employee at the port and they all seemed
sympathetic but they all told me the same thing: 'That's not our policy
... that's the sheriff doing that on his own.' "

Raich eventually went to the Alameda County counsel's office.

That office "finally told (Sheriff Greg Ahern) he had to comply with
California law whether he liked it or not, and only then did he adopt a
policy," Raich said.

"Greg Ahern is out of touch with the people of California who voted for
Prop. 215 and medical cannabis in 1996 and have continued to support it
by wide margins ever since," Raich said. Sheriff's spokesman Nelson said
the sheriff "neither supports nor opposes the medical marijuana law.

"He's had no position on that," Nelson said. "He's just trying to do the
best he can when a state law conflicts with a federal law."

http://www.insideba oaklandtribune/ localnews/ ci_13579137

Federal Goverment to Announce New Policy Towards Medical Marijuana States

AP Newsbreak: New medical marijuana policy issued

October 18, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will not seek to arrest
medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state
laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The
Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use
of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in
strict compliance with state laws.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration,
which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws
regardless of state codes.

Fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes:
Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan,
Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and

California is unique among those for the presence of dispensaries —
businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in March that he wanted federal law
enforcement officials to pursue those who violate both federal and state
law, but it has not been clear how that goal would be put into practice.

A 3-page memo spelling out the policy is expected to be sent Monday to
federal prosecutors in the 14 states, and also to top officials at the
FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The memo, the officials said, emphasizes that prosecutors have wide
discretion in choosing which cases to pursue, and says it is not a good
use of federal manpower to prosecute those who are without a doubt in
compliance with state law.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to discuss the legal guidance before it is issued.

At the same time, the officials said, the government will still
prosecute those who use medical marijuana as a cover for other illegal
activity. The memo particularly warns that some suspects may hide
old-fashioned drug dealing or other crimes behind a medical marijuana

In particular, the memo urges prosecutors to pursue marijuana cases
which involve violence, the illegal use of firearms, selling pot to
minors, money laundering or other crimes.

And while the policy memo describes a change in priorities away from
prosecuting medical marijuana cases, it does not rule out the
possibility that the federal government could still prosecute someone
whose activities are allowed under state law.

The memo, officials said, is designed to give a sense of prosecutorial
priorities to U.S. Attorneys in the states that allow medical marijuana.
It notes that pot sales in the United States are the largest source of
money for violent Mexican drug cartels, but adds that federal law
enforcement agencies have limited resources.

Medical marijuana advocates have been anxious to see exactly how the
administration would implement candidate Barack Obama's repeated
promises to change the policy in situations in which state laws allow
the use of medical marijuana.

Shortly after Obama took office, DEA agents raided four dispensaries in
Los Angeles, prompting confusion about the government's plans. com/hostednews/ ap/article/ ALeqM5i9mnrkJu2S 7Mly9xuWs4p9\

Inland Empire Medical Marijuana News

Medical pot war shifts to battle over dispensaries

10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

Inland cities are embracing a recent court decision that they believe
gives them authority to ban medical marijuana dispensaries -- often
storefront operations where the drug is sold to patients with a doctor's

Officials across the region have struggled to decide whether to allow
the businesses.

In the last month alone, at least three cities -- San Bernardino,
Yucaipa and Loma Linda -- have approved bans or moratoriums and more are
set do so in the coming weeks. Calimesa is set to debate the issue

A state appellate court decision, stemming from a Claremont case,
published late last month concludes that California's medical marijuana
law does not supersede the authority of a local city or county to use
zoning laws to regulate dispensaries.

"The key thing about this case is it is up to the city and counties,"
said Jeffrey Dunn, the attorney who represented the city of Claremont in
the case.

"Cities now have this guidance," he said.

Voters approved the Compassionate Use Act in 1996 allowing medical
marijuana. Patients can obtain identification cards that prove they have
a valid recommendation and help them avoid criminal prosecution. Federal
drug laws prohibit the possession and use of marijuana, and users could
still face charges.

Debate has grown across the state on whether to allow dispensaries,
collectives and co-ops that provide patients with the drug. A 2003 state
law allows collective cultivation for medical marijuana but not for a

Medical marijuana advocates argue that patients need easy access to the
drug to help treat pain and other chronic illnesses such as glaucoma and

But local officials have feared that dispensaries could pose a nuisance,
increase crime and raise other public safety concerns.

Authorities in Los Angeles, for instance, have announced a crackdown on
dispensaries they say are illegally operating, selling marijuana for a
profit and to healthy residents.

Guidance given

The Claremont case stemmed from a dispensary opening without proper city

The city imposed a moratorium while officials studied whether to allow
dispensaries. The city's laws did not specifically allow a dispensary
and the owner, Darrell Kruse, argued the state's medical marijuana law
requires cities to allow the businesses.

The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles concluded that cities
can ban dispensaries through zoning laws. The court published its
Claremont decision late last month. The case was closely watched by
local governments.

Dunn, of the Riverside-based law firm Best, Best & Krieger, said the
decision already is being cited by other courts.

It was of particular interest to the city of Riverside, which sent a
letter to the court in September specifically asking that it publish the
opinion. A published opinion can be cited as precedent by courts
throughout the state.

On Friday, a medical marijuana collective had planned to open in
Riverside. The collective planned to grow marijuana and distribute it to
the group's members.

Organizers postponed the opening, fearing its members would face arrest
or the collective would be shut down by local authorities.

Lanny Swerdlow, an activist and registered nurse, is heading the

He said organizers believed Riverside police, in connection with the
district attorney's office and the city, would arrest members on
suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale or close the collective
through a city municipal code that prohibits medical marijuana

Riverside police declined to comment and referred calls to City Attorney
Greg Priamos. Priamos did not return repeated telephone calls Thursday
and Friday. Officials with the district attorney's office referred to a
10-page document on the office's Web site calling cooperatives illegal.

Swerdlow said he hopes to work with local authorities and open the
collective Friday.

Calimesa Mayor Jim Hyatt said last week the recent Claremont court case
makes for an easier decision. Council members will have the legal
authority should they decide to vote for a moratorium today.

"We have to address this issue," said Hyatt, who is surveying other
Riverside County cities with dispensaries to see if problems have
arisen. "We will listen to all the sides."

Loma Linda extended the city's moratorium until at least next year to
give officials time to craft a law. City Attorney Richard Holdaway said
the court cases help put him at ease with whatever decision the City
Council ultimately makes.

Loma Linda does not have any dispensaries, but has had people express
interest in establishing them in the city, Holdaway said.

Medical marijuana advocates expect the Claremont case to be appealed to
the state Supreme Court.

Ryan Michaels is director of the Inland Empire Patients Group's
Bloomington co-op where patients can receive medical marijuana.

Michaels said the court's decisions were political. Moratoriums are
stalling tactics by local officials who do not want to address the
issue, he said. "A lot of cities aren't sure how to deal with this, and
that is understandable, " he said.

But Michaels said he is worried about cities not moving quickly to
decide whether to allow the businesses.

Claremont fight

In the Claremont case, Kruse argued the dispensary could have been
categorized in a number of city zones that allow uses such as cigar and
smoke shops, food/drug and kindred products, health and herbal stores,
pharmacies, counseling and even philanthropic organizations.

Writing for the court, Justice Victoria Chavez said the state's medical
marijuana initiative does not pre-empt local land-use laws.

"The CUA (Compassionate Use Act) does not authorize the operation of a
medical marijuana dispensary, nor does it prohibit local governments
from regulating such dispensaries, " she wrote. "Rather, the CUA
expressly states that it does not supersede laws that protect individual
and public safety."

The court further ruled that Claremont could legally impose a moratorium
until it could complete studies on the issue.

Dunn said he did not argue the validity of the state's medical marijuana
program, which conflicts with federal drug laws. San Bernardino and San
Diego counties challenged the state measure on those grounds but lost.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year declined to hear the counties'

"We are not going to get into that argument. As cities and counties, we
have the ability to zone and decide where businesses can be located,"
Dunn said. "Unless we provide for them in our zoning, they are not an
allowed use."

Staff writer Leslie Parrilla contributed to this report.

Reach Duane W. Gang at 951-368-9547 or com/localnews/ inland/stories/ PE_News_Local_ S_medpot19. 407c\

Friday, October 16, 2009

Boulder DA Drops Case Against Medical Marijuana Patient

Boulder DA dismisses charges against medical marijuana patient

Erica Meltzer
Posted: 10/15/2009 04:34:28 PM MDT

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett dropped charges against a
Nederland woman who faced felony drug charges stemming from her
possession of marijuana for medical purposes.

Sherri Versfelt was arrested in July 2008 after police raided her home
and found 50 marijuana plants. She had an expired medical marijuana
registry card belonging to another patient and a previous diagnosis of a
"severe debilitating medical condition" related to surgery as a teenager
to remove a massive growth from her abdomen.

Versfelt spent 27 days in jail because she did not have the money to
post bond. She was set to go to trial next week on felony charges of
cultivation of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute,
possession of 8 ounces or more of marijuana, and possession of
oxycodone. The charges carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

Amendment 20, approved by Colorado voters in 2000, allows patients and
caregivers to have 2 ounces of marijuana or six plants for medical use,
but the law also allows an "affirmative defense" that a defendant felt a
larger amount was necessary to treat his or her medical condition.

That was the defense used successfully by Jason Lauve, a Louisville man
who was acquitted of felony drug possession charges this summer.

Robert J. Corry Jr., the Denver attorney who represented Lauve and
Versfelt, wrote a guest commentary that appeared in Thursday's Camera
asking why Garnett was taking the case to trial when Garnett had said
medical marijuana prosecution was his lowest priority.

Prosecutors filed a motion Thursday asking that all charges be

Garnett said he was not responding to the publicity around the case but
to a judge's decision Wednesday that Versfelt could present a medical
marijuana defense -- even though she obtained her own medical marijuana
card after she was arrested, not before.

Garnett said he inherited the case, along with thousands of other felony
cases, from his predecessor, Mary Lacy, and that in each case,
prosecutors need to assess the particulars before making a decision
about whether to proceed.

After reviewing it, Garnett said he felt the courts should rule on
whether a medical marijuana card could be obtained after the fact.

"I had told the deputy (district attorney) that if the judge ruled she
could present the medical marijuana defense, we should drop the
charges," he said Thursday evening. "So that's what we did."

Corry said he was happy the charges were dropped.

"This is a victory for the taxpayers of Boulder County, for the voters
of Colorado and for medical marijuana," he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or

http://www.dailycam county-news/ ci_13569738

Canadians Call for Taxation & Legalization of Marijuana

Report on weed use prompts call for legalization

By Tiffany Crawford, Canwest News Service
October 14, 2009

The foundation is urging the Canadian government to legalize and
regulate marijuana, by allowing people to grow their own and taxing
sales the way it regulates alcohol or tobacco

The foundation is urging the Canadian government to legalize and
regulate marijuana, by allowing people to grow their own and taxing
sales the way it regulates alcohol or tobacco
Photograph by: Mark Blinch, Reuters

A report released Thursday that shows the number of pot smokers in the
world has grown to more than 160 million people has Canadian advocates
renewing calls for legalization of the drug.

An Australian study, citing United Nations data from 2006 and published
Thursday in the journal Lancet, found that about 166 million people aged
15-64 — or an estimated one in 25 in that age range — reported
using cannabis. That's up from about 159 million people in 2005.

"It's not going away. So should one in 25 people be criminalized for
smoking pot?" asked Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa professor and spokesman
for the Canadian Foundation For Drug Policy. "What this number says to
me is the world is not drug free. Some people prefer alcohol over
cannabis and some people prefer cannabis."

The foundation is urging the Canadian government to legalize and
regulate marijuana, by allowing people to grow their own and taxing
sales the way it regulates alcohol or tobacco.

While the Australian study found pot use was greatest in the U.S.,
Australia and New Zealand, followed by Europe, another report — from
the United Nations — shows marijuana use in this country is actually
the highest in the industrialized world.

That 2007 report, by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, found 16.8 per
cent of Canadians aged 15 to 64 smoked marijuana or used other cannabis
products in 2004. That's the most recent year for which statistics were

"I'd say 70 or 80 per cent of my university students smoke pot and they
are perfectly normal people," said Oscapella. "If you've ever tried it
you know its no big deal. So why are we using criminal law to deal with
this behaviour? That's the real issue."


Other figures — from Statistics Canada — show the number of
Canadians using cannabis is on the rise, from 6.5 per cent of Canadians
in 1989, to 7.4 per cent in 1994 and then to 12.2 per cent in 2002.

The largest concentration of marijuana use in Canada is in British
Columbia, while residents of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island,
Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan had lower-than-average rates.

B.C. also leads the country in marijuana production with 40 per cent of
Canadian cannabis produced there. That's followed by Ontario at 25 per
cent and another 25 per cent in Quebec, the UN report said.

Unlike Canada, in Australia and New Zealand — where eight per cent
of the population use cannabis — the numbers there are declining,
the Australian study says. It says a similar trend is also happening in
western Europe.

The full report, which analyzes the adverse effects of cannabis use, can
be viewed at http://press. thelancet. com/cannabis. pdf

http://www.canada. com/news/ Report+weed+ prompts+call+ legalization/ 2107236\

Spokane Medical Marijuana Patients Have a Hard Time Finding Medicine

Medical marijuana patients say they're in a tough spot

02:01 PM PDT on Thursday, October 15, 2009


SPOKANE-- Many medical marijuana patients in Spokane are having a
difficult time getting the drug because of dispensaries around town
shutting down.

Police raided a dispensary, the Change Shop, for allegedly selling
marijuana illegally last month. And, all other dispensaries were warned
to shut down as well.

We're told several have, but it's not clear exactly how many. The
prosecutor's office says since there is no regulation of these
establishments it's difficult to get a firm grasp on how many
dispensaries there actually are in the area. Still, prosecutors say
anyone operating a dispensary could face criminal charges if they
continue doing business.

In the meantime some customers are going without the drug, or are
resorting to the streets to get it. Others say they'll try to find other
ways to get what they say they need.

"99% of us got our medical marijuana license to prevent breaking the
law, we wear seat belts, don't speed," says Nathan Graham, a Medicinal
Marijuana Patient. "And we don't want to buy pot from some kid."

Graham wants the dispensaries back, but in the meantime says he is able
to get medicinal marijuana for free from a friend who grows it. That
friend is also a medical marijuana patient. Police say that is legal.

The prosecutor's office says the law allows patients to grow or possess
marijuana. But it was never intended for people to make a business out
of it. They say there is no mention of dispensaries being permitted in
the law, and even a proposed amendment to the law in 2007 to allow
collective growing was rejected.

Police say there is an FDA approved THC pill that can be prescribed by a
physician for these patients as an alternative to smoking marijuana.

http://www.krem. com/news/ local/stories/ krem2-101509- med-marij. 21d0f099a. \

Oakland Marijuana Opinion Editorial

Welcome to Potopia

A nine-block section of downtown Oakland, Calif., has become a modern
marijuana mecca—and a model for what a legalized-drug America could
look like. Why the stars are aligning for the pro-weed movement.

By Jessica Bennett
Newsweek Web Exclusive

Oct 15, 2009

Watch video story (6:49) -
http://link. brightcove. com/services/ player/bcpid3073 3852001?bctid= 449921\

PHOTOS: Pot Propaganda: A look at decades of pro- and anti-marijuana
media: http://www.newsweek .com/id/217859

Marijuana Mecca

How Oakland, Calif., became a model for the pro-pot movement

On the corner of Broadway and 17th Street in downtown Oakland, nudged
between a Chinese restaurant and a hat shop, Oaksterdam University
greets passersby with a life-sized cutout of Barack Obama and the sweet
smell of fresh marijuana drifting from a back room. Inside, dutiful
students flip through thick plastic binders of the day's lessons, which,
on a recent Saturday began with "Pot Politics 101," taught by a
ponytailed legal consultant who has authored a number of books on hemp.
The class breaks for lunch around noon, and resumes an hour later, with
classes on "budtending, " horticulture and cooking, which includes a
recipe for "a beautiful pot pesto." There are 50 students in this class,
the majority of them Californians, but some have come all the way from
Kansas. In between lectures, the university's founder, Richard Lee, 47,
rolls in and out on his wheelchair greeting students, looking the part
of a pot school dean in Converse sneaker, aviator glasses, and a green
"Oaksterdam" T-shirt.

Locals refer to the nine-block area surrounding the university as
Oaksterdam—a hybrid of "Oakland" and the drug-friendly "Amsterdam,"
where marijuana has been effectively legal since 1976. Nestled among
what was once a rash of vacant storefronts, Lee has created a kind of
urban pot utopia, where everything moves just a little bit more slowly
than the outside world. Among the businesses he owns are the Blue Sky
Coffeeshop, a coffee house and pot dispensary where getting an actual
cup of Joe takes 20 minutes but picking up a sack of Purple Kush wrapped
neatly in a brown lunch bag takes about five. There's Lee's Bulldog
Café, a student lounge with a not-so-secret back room where the
haze-induced sounds of "Dark Side of the Moon" seep through thick smoke,
and a glass blowing shop where bongs are the art of choice. Around the
corner is a taco stand (Lee doesn't own this one) that has benefitted
mightily from the university's hungry students.

An education at Oaksterdam means learning how to grow, sell, market, and
consume weed—all of which has been legal in California, for
medicinal use only, since 1996. For the price of an ounce of pot and a
couple of batches of brownies (about $250), pot lovers can enroll in a
variety of weekend cannabis seminars all focused on medicinal use. But
"medicinal" is something of an open joke in the state, where anyone over
age 18 with a doctor's note—easy to get for ailments like anxiety or
cramps, if you're willing to pay—can obtain an ID card allowing
access to any of the state's hundreds of dispensaries, or pot shops.
("You can basically get a doctor's recommendation for anything," said
one dispensary worker.) Not all of those dispensaries are legally
recognized, however: there's a growing discrepancy over how California's
laws mesh (or don't mesh) with local and federal regulations. But
Oakland is unique in that it has four licensed and regulated
dispensaries, each taxed directly by the city government. This past
summer, Oakland voters became the first in the nation to enact a special
cannabis excise tax—$18 for every $1,000 grossed—that the city
believes will generate up to $1 million in the first year. Approved by
80 percent of voters, and unopposed by any organization, including law
enforcement, the tax was pushed by the dispensary owners themselves, who
hope the model will prove to the rest of California that a regulated
marijuana industry can be both profitable and responsible. "The reality
is we're creating jobs, improving the city, filling empty store spaces,
and when people come down here to Oakland they can see that," says Lee,
who smokes both recreationally and for his health, to ease muscle spasms
caused by a spinal chord injury.

The arguments against this kind of operation are easy to tick off: that
it glamourizes marijuana, promotes a gateway drug, leads to abuse.
Compared to more serious drugs like heroine, cocaine or even alcohol,
studies have shown the health effects of marijuana are fairly mild. But
there are still risks to its consumption: heavy pot users are more
likely to be in car accidents; there have been some reports of it
causing problems in respiration and fetal development. And, as the
director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, put
it recently, there are a number of medical professionals, and many
parents, who worry that the drug's increased potency over the years has
heightened the risk of addiction. "It's certainly true that this is not
your grandfather' s pot," says Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at the
Univerisity of California at Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, like much of the country, Oakland is suffering
economically. The city faced an $83 million budget deficit this year,
and California, of course, is billions in the red. So from a public
coffers perspective, if ever there were a time to rethink pot policy,
that time is now. Already in Sacramento, there is a legalization measure
before the state assembly that the author claims could generate $1.3
billion in tax revenue. And while analysts say it has little hope of
passing (it faces strong opposition from law enforcement) , the figures
prompted even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger— who's vetoed every
marijuana-related bill to come across his desk—to proclaimed that
"It's time for a debate." On a federal level, marijuana is still
illegal—it was outlawed, over the objections of the American Medical
Association, in 1937. But in February, Attorney General Eric Holder
stunned critics when he announced that the feds would cease raiding
medical marijuana dispensaries that are authorized under state law.
"People are no longer outraged by the idea of legalization, " wrote
former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown in a recent op-ed. "And truth be
told, there is just too much money to be made both by the people who
grow marijuana and the cities and counties that would be able to tax

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron has estimated that the cost of cannabis
prohibition is $13 billion annually, with an additional $7 billion lost
in potential tax revenue. Even the students at Lee's Oaksterdam cite the
job market as a reason for showing up: one man, there with his
21-year-old son, told NEWSWEEK he'd lost his business in the housing
bust; another was looking for a way to supplement his income as a
contractor. "Alcohol prohibition, the result of a century-long
anti-alcohol crusade, was fairly quickly repealed in part because of the
onset of the Great Depression," says Craig Reinarman, a sociologist at
UC Santa Cruz and the coauthor of Crack in America. "I think we're in a
similar situation now, where states are so strapped for money that any
source of new revenue is going to be welcomed."

Oakland has become a kind of test lab for what legalized marijuana might
look like. City Council member Rebecca Kaplan tells NEWSWEEK that the
new tax revenue will help save libraries, parks, and other public
services, and that the once-destitute area where Oaksterdam now thrives
has seen a clear boost. Over the past six years, 160 new businesses have
moved into downtown Oakland, and the area's vacancy rate has dropped
from 25 percent to less than 5, according to Oakland's Community and
Economic Development Agency. And while that can't be attributed to
Oaksterdam directly, some local business owners believe it's played a
key role—particularly as it relates to local tourism. Lee hosts 500
students at Oaksterdam University each month—about 20 percent of
them from out of state—and has graduated nearly 4,000 since he
opened the school in late 2007, inspired by a "cannabis college" he
discovered on a trip to Amsterdam. The Blue Sky Coffeeshop serves about
1,000 visitors a day, half of them from out of town, and neighboring
stores say the traffic has helped drive business their way. Regulation,
say advocates, has also made consumption safer. They say it gets rid of
hazardous strains of the drug, and eliminates the crime that can
accompany underground dealing.

Presently, 13 states allow medical marijuana, with similar legalization
campaigns underway in more than a dozen others. And a number of cities,
such as Oakland and Seattle, have passed measures making prosecution of
adult pot use the lowest law enforcement priority. Now Lee, along with
an army of volunteers, has begun collecting signatures for a statewide
legalization measure (for Californians 21 and over) that he plans to
place on the November 2010 ballot. Backed by former state Senate
president Don Perata, he's already collected a fourth of the needed
434,000 signatures, and pledged to spend $1 million of his own funds to
support the effort.

In California, where voters rule, getting an amendment on the ballot
doesn't take much more than a fat wallet, but the amount of attention
Lee's campaign has received has drawn attention to just how far American
attitudes have changed over the past decade. In April, an ABC/Washington
Post survey showed that 46 percent of Americans support legalization
measures, up from 22 percent in 1997. And in California, a recent Field
Poll showed that 56 percent are already on board to legalize and tax the
drug. "This is a new world," says Robert MacCoun, a professor of law and
public policy at UC Berkeley and the coauthor of Drug War Heresies. "If
you'd have asked me four years ago whether we'd be having this debate
today, I can't say I would have predicted it."

The fact that we now are debating it—at least in some parts of the
country—is the result of a number of forces that, as MacCoun puts
it, have created the perfect pot storm: the failure of the War on Drugs;
the growing death toll of murderous drug cartels; pop culture; the
economy; and a generation of voters that have simply grown up around the
stuff. Today there are pot television shows and frequent references to
the drug in film, music, and books. And everyone from the president to
the most successful athlete in modern history has talked about smoking
it at one point or another. "Whether it's the economy or Obama or
Michael Phelps, I think all of these things have really worked to
galvanize the public," says Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the coauthor
of a new book, Marijuana Is Safer; So Why Are We Driving People to
Drink?"At the very least, it's started a national conversation. "

That conversation, in some sense, has always existed. In 1972—a year
after President Nixon declared his "War on Drugs"—the National
Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse urged Congress to decriminalize
possession of marijuana for personal use. That never happened, in part
because marijuana regulation has always been more about politics than
actual science, say advocates. But these days, the masses, at least in
California, seem to be heading toward greener, shall we say, pastures.
"This is sort of the trendy thing to do right now, but I also think
there's an expectation that the time has come to simply acknowledge the
reality," says Armentano. "Hundreds of thousands of Californians use
marijuana, and we should regulate this commodity like we do others."
It's a fight that's heating up. And the pro-pot crowd in Oakland is
ready to light the way.

With Jennifer Molina

http://www.newsweek .com/id/217942

A Open Editorial For Marijuana Use

A Case for Medical Marijuana

By Diana L. Chapman

Vol 7 Issue 85
Pub: Oct 16, 2009

I was really praying that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and his comrade
in arms, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steven Cooley – had a
lot better things to do than to focus on closing down medical marijuana
dispensaries in the city and the county of Los Angeles.

After all, we have much more pressing issues:

â—� Gangs killing kids in our streets or forcing them to become

â—� True drug dealers selling much worse and more dangerous venom
than "pot."

â—� Good business owners murdered by robbers who lust for money.

â—� Kids who are under the county system dying or getting murdered.

So why then are Cooley and Trutanich so settled on going after marijuana
medical dispensaries so sharply? I'll stoutly put this into
perspective for you.

I have multiple sclerosis, a disease that short circuits the central
nervous system and can lead to anything from blindness and paralysis
– to less severe symptoms, like nausea and extreme fatigue, making
it difficult to crawl out of bed.

I have not once used marijuana for medicinal purposes, nor do I plan to.
But should the symptoms of intense nausea reappear, I want to maintain
the right to do so.

Living under the spell of this mysterious diseases "painful"
symptoms, which come and go randomly – or for some people --
never go away at all – makes life miserable, not just for its
victim, but for the entire family.

Many with this condition have tremendous amounts of pain, depression and
severe nausea … so horrific they can barely stand.

While I'm not having these nausea bouts currently, they have taken
me down in the past and can return at any time.

The disease remains as unpredictable as a wild tiger and still the exact
causes are not known.

We must face the truth about marijuana: while it's been a
recreational drug used by many for centuries, and absurdly misused, it
is in fact an herb with powers to ease a variety of symptoms.

Believe me, if you have a chronic illness like I do, you want the
ability to try whatever works.

Marijuana works for many things – especially dulling pain, nausea
and anxiety. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy find great relief
using it.

I understand that there are some dispensaries and many druggies out
there who take complete advantage of the state's voters who in 1996
agreed it should be available legally for medical conditions.

Abusers will always exist – and that should be the true target of
the Trutanich-Cooley pact. Their job should be to ensure that it's
regulated carefully – and not abused. Instead, they claim that the
Supreme Court ruling last year made marijuana sales as a medicine

While President Barack Obama has publicly stated that he will overturn
the former Bush administration' s decision in the matter as far as a
medicinal remedy– Trutanich and Cooley are going out of their way to
start shutting down the dispensaries.

Together, they are moving toward charging a Culver City Dispensary and
are readying to prosecute the some 800 dispensaries in Los Angeles and
others throughout the county.

My question is why? Of all the many issues that face us, why go after
this issue when it's truly in a state of limbo and has been
repeatedly had the backing of voters.

What we need to do is come together and accept that once – yes, --
marijuana – was used mostly as a hallucinogenic by thousands of
people across the world. And it's been around since ancient times,
being used as food and fiber in China starting from 6000 B.C., according
to the website, Marijuana Info.

There's no question it was used to alter the brain's chemicals
and to get "high," but as far as a medicine, it can be as
powerful as an anti-septic for those of us in crises with life-altering

When I first was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I had gone blind in
my right eye, believed I was the laziest person in the world, had
chronic headaches and exhaustion and was struck by waves of nausea that
could take a heavy weight wrestler down.

Having no idea what was going on, I went from one doctor who told me I
needed a psychiatrist and to another who told me I had optic neuritis,
which caused the blinding in the eye.

After an endless rotation of doctors and a roller-coaster of unforgiving
emotions, it was oddly my chiropractor who told me flat out what I had.
My physician was too scared to tell me, he admitted later. He wanted me
to figure it out myself.

At the time, marijuana was not an option to calm a queasy stomach, but I
had it daily like the flu and fought to control it myself while going to

I was trying desperately to keep up as a daily news reporter flooded
with a batch of bizarre symptoms and an array of endless deadlines,
phone calls, emails and editors who rightly so, demanded and needed

What I want people to understand is that waves of nausea can be so
intense, that a person undergoing chemotherapy and other medical issues
can barely move. Imagine, walking around every day of your life,
feeling seasick.

So, we are now at a crossroads. Instead of looking at cannabis like an
evil, it's time to look at the health benefits it offers – for
those only who have a doctor dictating they need it.

Why would we deny that to those in pain and ailing?

Why is Canada the most progressive country that initially offered it as
a medical drug to help patients in 2003?

While I don't believe that people should use marijuana for
recreational reasons, I can't stress the necessity of it as a
powerful tool for those of us in pain and physical distress.

I also understand why law enforcement wouldn't be thrilled with
making this legal as it blurs the boundaries and makes enforcement more

However, if you have a medical condition, the use of marijuana as a
potential relief factor, can be a life-saver – just to ease

In reality, it's probably much safer than the many legal drugs out
there used for nausea and pain.

In California –at least right now -- all we need is a doctor's
recommendation to help those ailing from such symptoms. I'm making
a powerful argument for this: please don't take this remedy away.
Find other strategies for abusers. Don't punish those who truly need

(Diana L. Chapman was a journalist for 15 years with the Daily Breeze
and the San Diego Union. She can be reached at hartchap@cox. net or visit
her blog www.theunderdogfork ids.blogspot. com )

http://www.citywatc view/2795/