Skokie, IL) — April 21, 2011. Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) today said that strengthened provisions in his proposed medical marijuana legislation and enhanced cooperation from Republican House leadership have created “excellent” chances for the bill’s passage in the next few weeks.
“The best prospects for passing this bill now now comes from the cooperation that we have from the other side of the aisle,” said Lang.
By Alex Hirsch
Just as Illinois residents, politicians and law enforcement officials begin to prepare for the implementation of medical marijuana; new reports have surfaced regarding the possibility of decriminalized recreational use of cannabis in the near future.
John Fritchey, Commissioner of Cook County – America’s second most populous county – has requested that his state take a deeper look into the realistic possibility of legalizing or at the least decriminalizing cannabis.
“The Illinois Legislature should follow the successful lead of other states and start taking meaningful steps toward a workable framework to allow the responsible sale and use of cannabis,” Fritchey said in a statement.
Commissioner Fritchey was joined by other Illinois lawmakers who see the current system as broken, archaic and racially biased. It’s a known fact that despite cannabis usage as fairly equal amongst different races, minorities have historically been the primary target of drug arrests and prosecution.
According to a 2011 story by the Chicago Reader, blacks were arrested 15 times more often than whites for possession of marijuana. Moreover, by the time those cases go through the justice system the rate of conviction is 40 times higher for blacks than whites.
But the apparent racial disparity may not be the true reason why Illinois is mulling legalization. According to a January 2014 report by the nonprofit organization group State Budget Solutions, Illinois had a state debt of over $321 billion. On top of that, the ACLU reports that Illinois spent nearly $221 million fighting cannabis in 2011 alone.
This spending doesn’t necessarily take into account the costs of corruption as well. Just last month five police officers from Chicago and the north suburban community of Glenview were accused of lying on the witness stand during the trial of a 23-year-old suspected of trafficking marijuana. His case has since been thrown out along with dozens of other pending cases by the officers.
Although full legalization may still be a few years away, three bills aimed at decriminalizing cannabis are currently in the Illinois House of Representatives waiting to move forward.
A second bill, sponsored by Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) is similar to Cassidy’s bill, but it also lowers the penalties for possessing marijuana plants. HB 4299 would make it a possession a petty offense with a fine of up to $100.
A third and final bill, HB 4091, proposed by Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Chicago) would result in a ticket for marijuana possession. Possession of marijuana would still be considered a criminal offense under his bill. Additionally, possessing a large amount of marijuana near a school would become a class X felony and would be punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $200,000.
It’s extremely unlikely any vote on legalization would come in 2014 so most progressive lawmakers and citizens can set their hopes on 2016 as the year marijuana prohibition will end in Illinois.
Is your state proposing decriminalization or legalization? Tell us in the comments below.
The answer came back loud and clear, it is time.
That was the message from a cohort of elected officials at a press conference Monday in downtown Chicago that called for the legalization of recreational Marijuana in Illinois.
“The main difference between the War on Drugs and Prohibition is that, after 40 yrs, this country still has not acknowledged that the War on Drugs is a failure,” said Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey.
In what’s perhaps the strongest show of support yet for legalizing recreational Marijuana in Illinois, Mr. Fritchey was joined by State Representatives Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) and Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) in calling for a task force to address all aspects of legalizing recreational Marijuana.
“We can find a way to do this and look at what other states have done, and cherry pick the good ideas, dismiss the bad ideas and find a workable policy that recognizes what we’re doing now simply is not right,” Mr. Fritchey said.
Facing an empty state treasury, and a losing War on Drugs, some elected officials are seeing Marijuana as a lucrative option to boost tax revenue. In Colorado, where recreational Marijuana was recently legalized, the state netted roughly $2-M in tax revenue from licensed dispensaries during the 1st month of sales alone.
Illinois is still in the midst of crafting rules for its medical Marijuana pilot program, set to become the strictest in the nation.
Mr. Fritchey and others acknowledged the statewide legalization of Marijuana for recreational use is a ways off, but believe decriminalization is the 1st step.
Beyond tax revenue, Mr. Fritchey said decriminalization could soothe other issues, like the racial disparity in drug enforcement efforts and arrests.
“You see people getting swept off the streets on a daily basis on the South Side and the West Side,” Mr. Fritchey said, referencing predominantly Black and Latino areas of Chicago. “You do not see kids getting arrested in Lincoln Park.”
The pro-legalization lawmakers are not without their opponents, including the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. At the conference, the group said legalizing recreational weed could be particularly dangerous for teens and motorists who may drive under the influence.
“The sky will not fall when Marijuana is decriminalized, and public opinion moves faster than legislators’. Look for Illinois to move immediately to decriminalize Marijuana as its 1st step toward legalizing recreational use of Marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
Michelle DiGiacomo of Chicago won’t be allowed to use medical marijuana under the new law in Illinois — because she used medical marijuana before the law passed.
When police stormed DiGiacomo’s North Side Chicago apartment last year, she had known the day could come, since marijuana was still illegal in Illinois even for medical reasons. But she was still unprepared.
“I was about to experience the worst 28 hours of my life,” said DiGiacomo, 53, who runs Direct Effect Charities, which serves needy Chicago Public Schools kids, reports Maudlyne Ihejirika at the Chicago Sun-Times. “We had discussed this possibility in the past; one I had hoped would never come to be.”
The widowed mother had used marijuana for the past five years to control the pain of fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis and rotator cuff disease. Pharmaceuticals had resulted in adverse reactions, or had failed to provide relief.
After he September 13, 2012 arrest, she pleaded guilty on March 5 to Class 4 felony possession of marijuana, just five months before Gov. Pat Quinn signed the state’s medical marijuana bill into law.
Now she’s not allowed to take part in the program, because under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, a felony conviction disqualifies her from accessing medical marijuana. Advocates say the story highlights the new law’s shortcomings.
DiGiacomo has “several chronically painful conditions,” according to Dr. Andrew Ruthberg, a Rush University Medical Center rheumatologist who has treated her for years. These include “rhematoid arthritis, a cervical spine disorder — which has required surgical repair — rotator cuff disease involving both shoulders, and a more recent lower back pain disorder.”
Dr. Ruthberg added that DiGiacomo has “had difficulty tolerating many traditional medications, and I fully believe that [her] use of marijuana has been solely for the purpose of trying to moderate chronic pain.”
“Pain is a daily issue living with these conditions,” said Dr. Howard An, Rush University Medical Center’s director of spine surgery, who has treated DiGiacomo since September 2010 and performed her spinal fusion surgery. “I know that [she has] tried numerous traditional medications without any relief. I fully believe that … use of marijuana has been for the use of controlling … chronic pain.”
“I made the difficult choice to use medical marijuana even though it was illegal, and I always felt like a criminal,” she said. “I did not want to get my medication in the street, so I made the hard decision to purchase it from a medical dispensary in California and receive it in the mail. It was terrifying. It was a horrible way to live.”
Minutes after she received 670 grams of marijuana from California in the mail, on September 13, 2012, police were at the door.
“I opened up to multiple guns pointed at me,” she said. “A police officer screamed, ‘Who’s in here?’ I told him, ‘Myself and my 14-year-old daughter.’ He asked where the guns were. I told him I had no guns. He asked where the drugs were. I told him where the small amount of medical marijuana I had in the house was, as well as what had just arrived.”
“Michelle DiGiacomo is not a criminal,” said Spencer Tweedy, whose father, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and mother, Susan Miller Tweedy, are longtime supporters of her charity work for school children. Spencer Tweedy helped raise $3,000 toward DiGiacomo’s legal fees.
This is a woman who despite her numerous and severe ailments has dedicated her life to charity work,” Tweedy said. “When [the poilice] impounded her car, it was filled with school supplies headed for impoverished students. The cost of defending herself against the law has crippled her more than her diseases ever have.”
Spending the night in Cook County Jail was “the most degrading experience of my life,” DiGiacomo said.
For six months, she fought to avoid a felony conviction that could severely impact her work as the CEO of a nonprofit. But the Cook County Attorney’s Office wouldn’t negotiate, refusing to lower the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, or to grant DiGiacomo 410 probation, which allows for expungement of first-time drug offenders.
“I was really surprised,” said her attorney, Michael Rediger. “The state’s attorney refused to even look at the fact that her doctors verified she was taking this as part of a medical treatment for pain, and that she did in fact have a California medical marijuana license; or to consider her longtime charitable work and the fact that she’d never been convicted of any other crime, not even a misdemeanor, nothing.”
Unable to afford trial, DiGiacomo pleaded guilty to Class 4 felony possession of marijuana. She got a year of probation, and went public, adding her story to the cacophony of stories used to exemplify the need for the law.
“Ms. DiGiacomo’s story … highlighted how not having a medical cannabis law hurts good, honest, hardworking people like her,” said Dan Linn, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“There’s a perception that we don’t need to pass medical marijuana legislation because police wouldn’t be cruel enough to arrest a sick person just trying to ease their suffering,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), based in Washington, D.C.
“Yet here’s a mother running a charity that helps thousands of kids, who was arrested at gunpoint … and will live the rest of her life as a felon, all because she is sick and marijuana helps her, as her doctors have attested,” Riffle said. “Stories like hers and other patients who were either arrested or lived in fear of arrest gave legislators reason to finally take action.”
But now that medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, it’s still illegal for DiGiacomo, because of her felony conviction — for using medical marijuana. This is despite the fact that she personally has no fewer than four of the 33 “debilitating medical conditions” specifically listed in the Illinois law.
“It Illinois, individuals with criminal histories are banned from the program, and it really makes no sense,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for MPP. “I have already been in discussions with the bill sponsor … about fixing some of the troubling areas of the law.
August 1 was bittersweet, DiGiacomo said, as she sat with other patients who stories helped the lobbying effort, watching Gov. Pat Quinn sign the bill into law.
“It was surreal to be with other patients who had worked for a very long time to make it happen,” she said. “While relief has finally arrived for them, it still has not for me, as my conviction will prevent me from getting the medicine that helps me the most.”
(Photo of Michelle DiGiacomo with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn: Direct Effect Charities)
Richard James Rawlings with Gatewood Galbraith in Glasgow, Kentucky 2011
The U.S. Marijuana Party, did, on February 24, 2013, loose one of its first and most influential Presidents,
Second only to Loretta Nall, who preceded him as the first President of the USMJParty in 2002.
Richard James Rawlings took the head of the table in 2005 after Ms. Nall’s resignation.
He actively ran for Congress in Peoria Illinois several times. He promoted many legalization activities in the Peoria area of Illinois and attended many more events in various states until he began to become ill in 2009-10.
It was not until July of 2012 that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Throat, Lung and Adrenal Cancer.
At the age of 51, he died peacefully at his mother’s home where we had resided since shortly after his hospitalization in Glasgow Kentucky for two weeks in July 2012 where he received the diagnosis and the surgery for the trach which he would continue to wear until the night of his death when I removed it.
All of his family were with him almost constantly during the last two weeks. And I am forever grateful to them for all their support to me during this most difficult time.
His death broke my Heart. We were not only coworkers, friends and companions – we were lovers and partners.
He will never be forgotten by me and I know the same sentiment holds true with all of his family, friends and followers.
May what he stood for never be forgotten: Repeal of Hemp/Marijuana/Cannabis Laws at best or Legalization at least.
May He Rest In Peace
IMMEDIATELY STOP FEDERAL FUNDING for a pharmaceutical drug to treat "MARIJUANA ADDICTION". THIS IS PREPOSTEROUS!
The Washington Times reported on 6/26/15 that the Federal Government is “fast tracking” Pharma research for a Marijuana addiction drug. The research gets $3 million grant as Obama encourages legalization of Cannabis.
This is just too much! We do not need a “drug” to detoxify us from Cannabis! We need more Hemp and Cannabis Oil for Medical use,
Stop the funding effective immediately and give that $3 Million to a better cause.
Fact: GW Pharma has concluded that “Cannabis is not addictive” according to their ad for SATIVEX (which has not been approved for marketing in the U.S. as of yet — And SHOULD BE!). It additionally states that it does not appear to have withdrawal effects when stopped suddenly”…
Stop the INSANITY NOW! Stop the funding for an addiction drug for Cannabis!
Published Date: Jun 26, 2015
PLEASE SIGN PETITION ABOVE!!!
By Kelly Riddell – The Washington Times – Thursday, June 25, 2015
The National Institutes of Health is dedicating $3 million to fast-track the development of drugs to treat marijuana addiction — an estimated 4.2 million Americans are hooked on cannabis — even as the president encourages its legalization and more states look to enact laws for its recreational use.
“Cannabis use is an increasing public health concern in the United States that requires immediate attention,” reads the government’s grant proposal, issued in May. “Given the high prevalence of marijuana use and its associated disorders and the large number of people who seek treatment, there is a critical need to discover and develop safe and effective treatments for [cannabis use disorders].”
The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse plan to award $3 million to fund three projects aimed at fast-tracking research on drugs to help curb marijuana abuse, and the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medications to treat pot addiction.
In its proposal, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, with an estimated 2.4 million people trying it for the first time last year, and has the highest number of Americans dependent on or abusing it.
In March, President Obama said he was “encouraged” by efforts at the state level to allow greater access to marijuana. In an interview with The New Yorker last year, he said, “I don’t think [marijuana] is more dangerous than alcohol.”
During Mr. Obama’s tenure, the Department of Justice said it would not prosecute or enforce laws against the production and sale of marijuana at the state level. To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws allowing pot to be used for a variety of medical conditions. Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia have permitted recreational use of pot.
The administration’s most recent move loosening the federal restrictions on weed was made Monday, when it lifted a bureaucratic requirement for those wishing to conduct scientific research on the drug.
For committing $3 million in taxpayer money to find a treatment to a drug that the administration is looking to make more accessible, the National Institute on Drug Abuse gets this week’s Golden Hammer, The Washington Times’ weekly distinction highlighting waste, fraud and abuse — or in this case hypocrisy — in the federal government.
“The public discourse has shifted in recent years to only want to talk about the benefits of marijuana. But addiction is the huge elephant in the room that many lawmakers want to sweep under the carpet,” said Kevin Sabet, who served in the Obama administration as senior adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The problem is huge and, as marijuana becomes more legal, we’re going to be seeing it more often.”
According to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the number of heavy marijuana users has increased sevenfold in the U.S. since its lowest point in 1992. Although the heavy marijuana users represent only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, daily and near-daily marijuana users consume 80 percent of the marijuana in the country.
“The entire medical community is aware of marijuana addiction and how big a problem it is,” said Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a former president at the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “If we go back to the time of Prohibition — from a public health standpoint it was an enormous success, there was a per capita drop in the consumption of alcohol, in accidents related to alcohol, and liver disease was reduced by two-thirds. After it ended, all of these stats went back to where they were before.”
He predicted similar results as marijuana prohibition eases.
“Ending the prohibition of marijuana, what we’ll see is a dramatic increase in its use and the total number of people affected by issues like intoxication and addiction,” he said.
Mr. Gitlow estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of youths and 10 percent of adults who try marijuana will become addicted to it. Qualities commonly associated with pot addiction are apathy, loss of concentration, paranoia and increased likelihood of psychosis, which leads to increased psychiatric admissions, he said.
By John Schroyer
Scores of dispensaries are hoping to open in Illinois later this year, but they might face an immense challenge right out of the gate: a lack of customers.
Illinois has approved just 2,500 patients for MMJ cards since opening the registry nearly nine months ago, which one attorney with ties to the medical marijuana industry called “embarrassingly low.” That’s a far cry from the state’s initial estimate of 75,000 potential patients and much less than many entrepreneurs had expected at this point.
To be sure, Illinois likely will see a surge in patient numbers as dispensaries launch, as has happened in other states. And officials appear close to approving new qualifying medical conditions, which will certainly boost the patient base.
But the numbers to date are so low that several insiders are worried about the future of the state’s entire MMJ industry.
“It’s a huge, huge problem,” said Michael Mayes, CEO of Chicago-based MMJ consultancy Quantum 9. “With the lack of patients into the registry, businesses will suffer greatly… and may even go out of business due to the lack of a market. If all the cultivation centers have all this product, the supply goes way up, and if demand is so low, there’ll be pricing wars.”
Under Illinois law, the medical cannabis program will ultimately license 60 dispensaries and 21 cultivators, so the patient count will have to be in the tens of thousands in order to support all those businesses.
Furthermore, Mayes said he’s “incredibly worried” that the low patient count could actually jeopardize the future of the entire industry because Illinois’ MMJ system is set up as a pilot program that will expire at the end of 2017. If the state doesn’t get enough in tax revenue, or if the program isn’t as widespread and successful as many originally expected it to be, then longstanding opposition to the program (from Gov. Bruce Rauner, for instance) could torpedo an extension.
The low patient count has already led at least one company to turn a cultivation license it won back over to the state, and if the customer base doesn’t expand, other licensees could follow suit.
Factors at Play
There are several issues in Illinois that are likely combining to drive down the current patient count. For one thing, since no dispensaries are yet open and no MMJ available to patients, many potential recipients probably haven’t bothered to undertake the mountain of paperwork necessary to qualify for the state registry.
“The patient needs to complete an application, they need to pay a fee, they have to get fingerprinted, and they need to get a doctor to certify them,” said Brad Zerman, owner of Seven Point, a dispensary that’s slated to open in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park sometime this fall. “It’s quite a process.”
Also, similar to what’s happening in Minnesota, a reluctance on the part of many physicians to recommend cannabis for their patients may also be playing a role in the low turnout, said Julie Stone, co-founder of the Cannabis Association of Illinois.
“It’s all so new that the physicians don’t feel there’s enough concrete information,” Stone said. “Physicians aren’t on board, and without them, it makes it even more challenging for a patient to feel comfortable talking about it… It’s all kind of a big Catch-22.”
Mayes said another big obstacle is a lack of accessibility for a lot of patients with ailments that don’t qualify them for MMJ.
He noted that the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board last month recommended adding 11 more medical conditions to the state’s list for those who can receive MMJ, but that recommendation hasn’t been approved by the director of the department of health yet. A spokeswoman for the agency said she expects the list will get the green light by the end of July.
“The program will fail if a lot of these conditions aren’t added, and if the patient registry requirements aren’t loosened up a little bit,” Mayes said.
What Can be Done
Zerman, Stone and others are concentrating on public outreach and educational campaigns for both patients and physicians as to the medical benefits of cannabis, and are hoping that will help bolster patient numbers as the months wear on.
“We’re doing a lot of outreach in the area where our dispensary is going to be. We’re contacting doctors to educate them as to how cannabis can be used effectively as part of a treatment program,” said Zerman. “We’re also providing seminars for patients and prospective patients to learn more about the same subject.”
For example, Zerman said, his team is coordinating a free monthly informational seminar on MMJ in the Oak Park Library, which is open to all. One was held Wednesday evening this week, he said.
Stone said more dispensaries probably need to take similar steps to what Zerman’s working on.
“I know that some dispensaries are working on facilitating patients signing up, and what I hope is that they all will start putting energy into that,” Stone said. “It’s ultimately going to be their clients, so it’s in their benefit. They may have more time than cultivators right now.”
Possibly even a larger problem, however, is that the required fingerprinting and federal background check for the patient registry is a major disincentive for potential MMJ recipients.
“The fingerprinting and felony background checks are just killing the program,” Mayes said. That will have to be fixed by the state Legislature, Mayes said, and it’s unclear if any such attempt will be undertaken next year.
Stone, Zerman and Mayes also all agreed that once dispensaries begin to actually open their doors and start serving the public, more patients will flock to the program.
“Nobody really believes it until the first dispensary opens. At that point, patients will come. The patients are here, it’s a matter of getting them registered,” Stone said.
When that may be, however, is still very much up in the air. The general consensus is that dispensaries will likely start opening either in the fall or early winter this year.
John Schroyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Mom Faces Prison For Medical Marijuana. Now Her Attorney Has Declared War On The Drug War Itself.
A 38-year-old Kansas woman who lost custody of her 11-year-old son and faces charges that could send her to prison for 30 years over her use of medical marijuana was released on bail last week.
Shona Banda, who has a severely debilitating case of Crohn’s disease, now prepares for the fight of her life — one that her attorney is hoping will not just keep her client out of prison and restore custody of her child, but one that she hopes will cripple “absurd, archaic and outdated marijuana laws that should have been changed decades ago” in Kansas and the rest of the United States.
Here’s how a mother of two using a plant to self-medicate found herself, and her family, being targeted by authorities in her home state. And just how she’s planning to fight back.
‘She Was Barely Functioning, Barely Living.’
Banda had been suffering from what she calls a “terminal case” of Crohn’s disease for nearly a decade.
Crohn’s is a chronic bowel disease that causes inflammation of the intestinal tract and produces an intestine that can no longer adequately absorb food and water. This can result in mild to severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping, blood loss and anemia, as well as joint pain and swelling, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Its exact cause remains unknown, and while death from Crohn’s is rare, a multitude of complications that can arise when living with the disease can be fatal.
Banda says she was “bedridden” and “walking with a cane for help” due to the severity of the joint pain she was experiencing.
“With Crohn’s disease, it’s like having a stomach flu that won’t go away, and my body’s recognizing that something’s wrong and it’s attacking itself so it’s in overdrive,” Banda said in a 2010 YouTube video interview.
She said she frequently was so weak and in so much pain that she raised her kids “from a couch.”
To combat the disease, Banda had numerous surgeries, long hospital stays, difficult recoveries and dozens of prescription medications that she was forced to take daily — and even with all of that, she was “barely functioning, barely living,” Banda’s attorney Sarah Swain told The Huffington Post in an interview.
“If we were to place her disease on a spectrum, I would place it on the far end as something that could have killed her and I believe, very strongly, still could,” Swain said. “If the end result of this case is that she gets sent to prison, I believe there is a real chance that this is the equivalent of a death sentence.”
Shona’s ‘Miraculous’ Recovery
Desperate for an effective treatment, Banda began looking outside of traditional medicine. After watching a documentary about the benefits of cannabis oil, Banda said she started to make her own oil in her kitchen and would consume it around meals.
“Literally within days her Crohn’s was in full remission,” Swain said. And after several months of continued treatment, her health had improved so dramatically that “she considered herself cured from Crohn’s disease.”
“I’m not in my deathbed, I’m working for the first time in four years, I’m hiking, I’m swimming, I’m able to play with my kids, I’m able to do things — I love it,” Banda said in the YouTube video.
Banda was public about her health crisis, as well as her use of medical marijuana, and detailed it all in a 2010 memoir, Live Free Or Die, which recounts her brutal battle with Crohn’s disease for years.
She also recorded a YouTube video the same year her book was published to help further spread her message about the medical benefits of cannabis.
“When you decide to take your life into your own hands and realize that you can do this with a $50 machine, a $5 spatula and a plant that you can grow for free in your backyard, you can do this — and it’s awesome,” Banda says in the YouTube video. “This stuff is amazing, it’s miraculous.”
A ‘Drug Education’ Discussion Sparks An Investigation
Banda made no secret about her cannabis oil use around her two children, 11 and 18, and they watched firsthand for years as their mother’s strength, and health, returned as she continued to self-medicate.
That’s why during a March 24 “drug and alcohol education” presentation at Banda’s 11-year-old son’s school in Garden City, Kansas, her son pushed back against some of the information he was being told about marijuana’s dangers — it didn’t ring true to his personal experience.
“So he raised his hand and essentially said, ‘No, that’s not accurate,’” Swain said.
But his nuanced understanding of the plant inadvertently set in motion a series of events that would turn his family’s life upside down. Banda’s son was quickly called into the principal’s office, where the fifth-grader was questioned at length about his mother’s marijuana use, Swain said. That meeting triggered a call to Child Protective Services. The agency notified local law enforcement, which obtained a warrant and then searched Banda’s home shortly thereafter.
Inside Banda’s home, police found a little more than 1 pound of marijuana, along with equipment Banda had been using to manufacture her cannabis oil in the kitchen. They also found various items related to ingesting marijuana throughout the house that tested positive for THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana associated with the “high” sensation and well-known for its medicinal properties. The police also said that the items taken from the house were “within easy reach of the child.”
Banda’s son was immediately removed from her custody and placed into state custody, where he remains. He has been temporarily placed with Banda’s husband, from whom she is separated.
Kansas, A State Of Prohibition
To date, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, 20 have decriminalized possession of small amounts of the plant and four have legalized recreational marijuana.
However, marijuana, be it medical or recreational, remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Within the CSA, the U.S. has five categories for drugs and drug ingredients, with a Schedule 1 categorization reserved for what the Drug Enforcement Administration considers to have the highest potential for abuse and no medical value. Marijuana has been classified as such for decades, alongside other substances like heroin and LSD.
The states that have legalized marijuana or softened penalties for possession have only been able to do so because of federal guidance urging prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations.
But those protections don’t extend to states like Kansas that have continued to prohibit marijuana, similarly to the federal government.
Banda was aware of the risks of using medical marijuana in her home state. Twice she had tried to relocate to Colorado, where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal, as so many people have done — becoming “marijuana refugees” — but for financial reasons, she was forced to return to Kansas.
“Shona Banda is not a rich woman, she is a lower-middle-class woman who does not have a lot of money or financial support in the world,” Swain said. “And at multiple times while she was attempting to live in Colorado and use cannabis legally, she found herself homeless, her and her family. It was very difficult.”
Swain said Banda was forced to choose between a state that was too expensive for her to live in but provided legal access to the medicine she so desperately needed, or move back to Kansas, where she could afford to pay her bills and provide a more stable living environment for her children, knowing that the medicine that was keeping her alive and well could land her in prison.
The state of Kansas has charged Banda with five felonies: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacturing THC, child endangerment and two counts of drug paraphernalia possession.
She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, an extreme sentence that has outraged advocates for reforming the prohibition policies in states like Kansas.
“Punishing someone for using marijuana to treat a medical condition is ridiculous,” Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told HuffPost. “Taking away their child for it is legitimately evil. Kansas’ draconian marijuana laws have caused far more harm to this woman and to her child than marijuana ever could.”
Banda turned herself in Monday. She immediately posted the $50,000 bond the state had set and was released from jail just a few hours later. She was only able to do so thanks to a GoFundMe account in her support that has garnered tens of thousands of dollars more than the $15,000 it was initially set up to raise.
Next: A War On The War On Drugs
“Law enforcement messed with the wrong person,” Swain said with ferocity.
Of course, first and foremost, Swain wants to see all charges dropped against her client and for custody of her son to return.
But she has a secondary goal. It’s lofty, but it’s one she says is long overdue and one that doesn’t end with changing just Kansas’ marijuana laws.
“The goal is to change the law for everyone, to make sure that this drug is classified as something less than a Schedule 1 drug, something that, if changed, would benefit millions of people,” Swain said. “We are filling our prisons with poor people and minorities, because, let’s be honest, the war on drugs is a war on poor people and minorities, it’s a pipeline for mass incarceration — and it needs to end.”
Swain says that she is prepared to take Banda’s case every step of the way to achieve those goals — including before the Supreme Court, if that’s what it takes.
“Too many people are being forced to choose between dying or violating a law and facing going to prison — it’s totally unacceptable,” Swain said. “It’s time to end these absurd, archaic and outdated marijuana laws that should have been changed decades ago.”
Further hearings in Banda’s case are set to be scheduled on Aug. 24.
In this photo taken Tuesday, May 5, 2015, marijuana plants grows at a Minnesota Medical Solutions greenhouse in Otsego, Minn. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)
A long-standing bureaucratic obstacle to privately-funded medical marijuana research has just been removed, effective immediately.
Until today if you wanted to conduct marijuana research, you’d need to do the following:
- Submit your study proposal to the Food and Drug Administration for a thorough review of its “scientific validity and ethical soundness.”
- Submit your proposal to a separate Public Health Service (PHS) board, which performs pretty much the exact same review as the FDA.
- Get a marijuana permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
- Finally, obtain a quantity of medical marijuana via the Drug Supply Program run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which maintains a monopoly on medical marijuana grown for research in the U.S.
As you might imagine, this can be a complicated, time-consuming process. Step 2, the PHS review, has been a subject of particular consternation among researchers and advocates. That step is not required for research into any other drug, including cocaine and heroin. The PHS review is nearly identical to the one performed by the FDA. Sometimes, it can take months to complete.
In recent years, advocates of overhauling marijuana laws, researchers, members of Congress, and even marijuana legalization opponents have called for the PHS review to be eliminated in the name of streamlining research. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services agreed, determining that the PHS review process is redundant with the FDA review, and that it is “no longer necessary to support the conduct of scientifically-sound studies into the potential therapeutic uses of marijuana.”
“The president has often said that drug policy should be dictated by unimpeded science instead of ideology, and it’s great to see the Obama administration finally starting to take some real action to back that up,” said Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group.
Even those who oppose legalization agreed.
“I think it’s a sensible change; but people are being delusional if they think this will result in a flood of research on the drug,” said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group. “But it’s a step in the right direction as the development of a non smoked cannabis medication goes forward.”
I’ve reached out to some researchers for reaction too, and will update when I hear from them.
There are still more bureaucratic hurdles to marijuana research than to research in any other drug. NIDA’s monopoly on legal marijuana production doesn’t exist for any other drug, meaning that heroin and cocaine remain easier for researchers to work with.
“The next step should be moving marijuana out of Schedule I to a more appropriate category, which the administration can do without any further Congressional action,” said Angell. “Given what the president and surgeon general have already said publicly about marijuana’s relative harms and medical uses, it’s completely inappropriate for it to remain in a schedule that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value.”
Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.
Originally posted on U.S. Marijuana Party of Kentucky:
Updated: Jun 19, 2015 10:22 AM CST
CHICAGO (Associated Press) – The state of Illinois is having trouble finding a bank or financial company to process the large amounts of cash it anticipates receiving for taxes and fees from its new medical marijuana industry.
The state received no response to a solicitation published last fall. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs has started a formal process to find out why.
The legal marijuana industry tends to operate with cash only. Experts say banks and credit card companies are wary because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug.
The Illinois treasurer is asking the financial industry for input by June 29. An armored car services requirement has been deleted from the new draft because it was “believed to be a deterrent to proposals.”
The following was copied from a Google news search for “Marijuana” on 6.16.15 at 11:48pm CST. The link to the story has been “deleted”.
Wisconsin Ag Connection
– 17 hours ago
Monsanto has announced it has patented the first genetically modified strain of marijuana. Global Ag Investing reports that the news has been welcomed by scientists and leaders of the agriculture business alike as a move forward towards the industrial …
DEA Wants the Feds to Grow More Marijuana (Again)Marijuana.com
I also found this information, dated June 7, 2014 which states the following:
U.S. corporation Monsanto plans to launch production of genetically modified marijuana, and companies such as Drug Policy Alliance y Open Society Foundation are going to create our own brand, which will be produced under cannabis, information portal La Red 21.
Organization of Open Society Foundation is under the control of the shareholder Monsanto, billionaire George Soros. Company Drug Policy Alliance y Open Society Foundation, funded by Monsanto will be responsible for market development of transgenic seeds of marijuana, particularly in Uruguay.
Oddly enough, the “Link” above goes to another “Page not found (404)” error…
When I searched Google for “Monsanto Develops First Genetically Modified Strain of Marijuana” I found the following:
A “BOT” picked up the story on the DPA site rendering this screen shot:
My question is this: Who is trying to hide what from whom and why? The story has been picked up by numerous blog sites:
Whatever the reason for the secrecy or attempt thereof, this is a story that should be closely watched as the “Billionaire Cannabis Club” is “Now Open”….
Originally posted on pundit from another planet:
Danielle Allen is a political theorist at the Institute of Advanced Study and a contributing columnist for The Post. Her research will be the focus of a free conference on the Declaration of Independence titled “Punctuating Happiness,” on June 23 at National Archives in Washington.
Danielle Allen writes: For all that we talk about “original” founding documents, when it comes to the Declaration of Independence at least, we’ve had multiple versions since the earliest days of the revolution. The most important difference among these versions appears in the sentence about self-evident truths.
The manuscripts written out by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; the version voted on by Congress, as attested to in the official minutes recorded by Charles Thomson; and the official poster printed up by John Dunlap at Congress’s request, on July 4 and 5, 1776, record a very long second sentence, reading as follows:
“We hold these…
View original 647 more words
By Sanjay Talwani – MTN News
The widow of a former medical marijuana provider who died while serving time is suing the operator of Montana’s only private prison.
A federal lawsuit says Corrections Corporations of America failed to give the inmate (Flor) needed medical care while at its Crossroads Correctional Center outside Shelby.
Flor died in August 2012 in a Las Vegas hospital on the way to a federal prison medical facility.
Before that, according to the lawsuit, he endured extreme pain while he awaited an assignment to a federal facility.
His lawyer, Brad Arndorfer, had tried to have him released from prison pending his appeal because of health reasons. And in prison, the lawsuit says, Flor and his family made multiple requests for medical care but did not receive any.
Flor was unable to adequately care for himself or feed himself, and his care was left to other inmates, the lawsuit claims.
Flor was 68 and a co-founder of Montana Cannabis, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana providers. It was shut down in 2011 by federal authorities along with similar operations around the state.
An inquiry to the attorney representing CCA in the case was returned with an email from a CCA spokesman.
Steven Owen, CCA’s managing director of communications, said in the email that CCA could not comment in a particular inmate’s case. But he said staff are firmly committed to the inmates’ health and safety.
He also said CCA meets or exceeds all of the standards of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Montana Department of Corrections, and the American Correctional Association.
“The facility and staff are subject to strong oversight by on-site monitors who regularly inspect and audit our processes for delivering care,” he said in the email.
The suit was first filed on May 6 in state District Court in Yellowstone County. It has moved to U.S. District Court in Billings and was re-filed there Monday. CCA, based in Tennessee, has not yet filed a response.
Arndorfer filed the suit on behalf of Flor’s widow, Sherry Flor, and did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.
Land of the Unfree – Police and Prosecutors Fight Aggressively to Retain Barbaric Right of “Civil Asset Forfeiture”
Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working
Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.
Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn’t accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.
– From the Wall Street Journal article: Efforts to Curb Asset Seizures by Law Enforcement Hit Headwinds
In a nutshell, civil forfeiture is the practice of confiscating items from people, ranging from cash, cars, even homes based on no criminal conviction or charges, merely suspicion. This practice first became widespread for use against pirates, as a way to take possession of contraband goods despite the fact that the ships’ owners in many cases were located thousands of miles away and couldn’t easily be prosecuted. As is often the case, what starts out reasonable becomes a gigantic organized crime ring of criminality, particularly in a society where the rule of law no longer exists for the “elite,” yet anything goes when it comes to pillaging the average citizen.
One of the major reasons these programs have become so abused is that the police departments themselves are able to keep much of the confiscated money. So they actually have a perverse incentive to steal. As might be expected, a program that is often touted as being effective against going after major drug kingpins, actually targets the poor and disenfranchised more than anything else.
Civil asset forfeiture is state-sanctioned theft. There is no other way around it. The entire concept violates the spirit of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments to the Constitution. In case you have any doubt:
The 4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The 5th Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The 6th Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Civil asset forfeiture is a civil rights issue, and it should be seen as such by everyone. Just because it targets the entire population as opposed to a specific race, gender or sexual orientation doesn’t make it less important.
The problem with opposition in America today is that people aren’t seeing modern battle lines clearly. The greatest friction and abuse occurring in these United States today comes from the corporate-fascist state’s attack against average citizens. It doesn’t matter what color or gender you are. If you are weak, poor and vulnerable you are ripe for the picking. Until people see the battle lines clearly, it will be very difficult to achieve real change. Most people are divided and conquered along their superficial little tribal affiliations, and they completely miss the bigger picture to the peril of society. Which is why women will support Hillary just because she’s a woman, not caring in the least that she is a compromised, corrupt oligarch stooge.
In case you have any doubt about how little your opinion matters when it comes to the rights of police to rob you blind, read the following excerpts from the Wall Street Journal:
Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.
Read that sentence over and over again until you get it. This is a free country?
Critics have taken aim at the confiscatory powers over concerns that authorities have too much latitude and often too strong a financial incentive when deciding whether to seize property suspected of being tied to criminal activity.
But after New Mexico passed a law this spring hailed by civil-liberties groups as a breakthrough in their effort to rein in states’ forfeiture programs, prosecutor and police associations stepped up their own lobbying campaign, warning legislators that passing such laws would deprive them of a potent crime-fighting tool and rip a hole in law-enforcement budgets.
Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn’t accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.
“What happened in those states is a testament to the power of the law-enforcement lobby,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning advocacy group that has led a push for laws giving property owners more protections.
It seems the only people in America without a powerful lobby group are actual American citizens. See: Charting the American Oligarchy – How 0.01% of the Population Contributes 42% of All Campaign Cash
Prosecutors say forfeiture laws help ensure that drug traffickers, white-collar thieves and other wrongdoers can’t enjoy the fruits of their misdeeds and help curb crime by depriving criminals of the “tools” of their trade. Under federal law and in many states, a conviction isn’t required.
“White-collar thieves,” they say. Yet I haven’t seen a single bank executive’s assets confiscated. Rather, they received taxpayer bailout funds with which to pay themselves record bonuses after wrecking the global economy. Don’t forget:
In Texas, lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills addressing forfeiture during this year’s legislative session, which ended Monday. Some would either force the government to meet a higher burden of proof or subject forfeiture programs to more stringent financial disclosure rules and audits.
But only one bill, which law-enforcement officials didn’t object to, ultimately passed. It requires the state attorney general to publish an annual report of forfeited funds based on data submitted by local authorities. That information, at the moment, is only accessible through freedom-of-information requests.
This is what a corporate-statist oligarchy looks like.
Shannon Edmonds, a lobbyist for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said local enforcement officers and prosecutors “educated their legislators about how asset forfeiture really works in Texas.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan last month vetoed a bill that would, among other things, prohibit the state from turning over seized property to the federal government unless the owner has been charged with a federal crime or gives consent.
Remember, the terrorists hate us for our freedom.
Prosecutors said the Tenaha episode was an isolated breakdown in the system. “Everybody knows there are bad eggs out there,” Karen Morris, who supervises the Harris County district attorney’s forfeiture unit, told Texas lawmakers at a hearing this spring. “But we don’t stop prosecuting people for murder just because some district attorneys have made mistakes.”
When police aren’t out there stealing your hard earned assets without a trial or charges, they can often be found pounding on citizens for kicks. I came across the following three headlines this morning alone as I was the scanning news.
This is not what freedom looks like.
For related articles, see:
Executive Director, Americans for Safe Access
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take part in a “marijuana vote-a-rama” of sorts, with several amendments to dealing with marijuana to be offered on the floor during the FY2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill. The amendments offered will cover topics from hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) to protection of state adult-use laws. Not to be lost in the shuffle is the vote to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which stipulates that the Department of Justice is not to spend any funds inferring with lawful state medical marijuana conduct. Patients, such as 15-year old Crohn’s patient/Colorado refugee Coltyn Turner, need the protection that a reauthorized Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment would continue to offer.
The amendment was originally passed the House in May 2014, 219-189, with a strong bipartisan showing of 49 Republicans joining 170 Democrats. Later in December, Senator Mikulski helped ensure the bill remained in the final CRomnibus bill that President Obama signed into law. While its passage marked the first time since Congress approved a medical marijuana reform since designating marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, momentum for additional medical marijuana reforms grown substantially in the past 12 months with introduction of the CARERS Act in both chambers and the passage of the Veterans Equal Access Amendment offered by Senators Daines (R-MT) and Merkley (D-OR) in Senate Appropriations Committee last month.
Once again the amendment showing strong bipartisan support out of the gate, with 6 Republican, and 6 Democrat cosponsors lending their name to this year’s version: Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Ribble (R-WI), Lee (D-CA), Massie (R-KY), Blumenauer (D-OR), Heck (R-NV), Cohen (D-TN), Young (R-AK) Polis (D-CO), McClintock (R-CA), Titus (D-NV). The number of states listed on the amendment has jumped from 32 to 39, with New York, North Carolina,Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana becoming the latest states to be added to the list. This now means that about 85% of the U.S. population now lives somewhere with some sort of medical marijuana patient protection. Patients like Coltyn cannot afford to wait for the federal government to play catch-up and be denied access to their medicine, and in fact, they won’t wait, as Coltyn has said ““I’d rather be illegally alive than legally dead.” With an estimated 2.4 million medical marijuana patients as of October 2014 who are being “illegally healed” in the eyes of the Department of Justice who makes no internal distinction between medical and non-medical marijuana use, the protections afforded by the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment are needed now more than ever.
During the floor debate last year, many of the amendment cosponsors spoke in favor of the amendment, thereby establishing the legislative intent of the amendment. From their words as well as the words of the amendment’s opponents, it was clear that the intent of the amendment was to prevent the Dept. of Justice from interfering with with state legal medical marijuana conduct. As Rep. Farr put it:
“This is essentially saying, look, if you are following State law, you are a legal resident doing your business under State law, the Feds just can’t come in and bust you and bust the doctors and bust the patient. It is more than half the States. So you don’t have to have any opinion about the value of marijuana. This doesn’t change any laws. This doesn’t affect one law, just lists the States that have already legalized it only for medical purposes, only medical purposes, and says, Federal Government, in those States, in those places, you can’t bust people. It seems to me a practical, reasonable amendment in this time and age.”
In practical terms, it is still hard to measure the true effectiveness of the amendment, but there has been an appreciable decrease in the amount of federal interference with state-legal medical marijuana conduct. This is not to say that DOJ is being in full compliance or is even being transparent about how it has been complying with the spending restriction. While DEA raids of state-legal facilities are no longer the regular occurrence they once were, raids and their subsequent prosecutions are still continuing, even in the absence of proof that state laws were being violated, such as the Kettle Falls Five case in Washington State. While Reps. Rohrabacher and Farr have sought answers from DOJ on why this kind of interference is continuing to take place, the Department has largely sidestepped the issue, offering a terse quasi-explanation in the L.A. Times, but little else. But as Rep. Farr responded in a tweet, “@TheJusticeDept lawyers can try to parse words but Congress was clear: Stop wasting funds/resources prosecuting patients!”
We couldn’t say it better ourselves, but it’s worth repeating, it is a waste of taxpayer funds to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana patients. To further reiterate Rep. Farr, passage of the amendment sends a strong signal to DOJ that interfering with lawful state medical marijuana conduct goes against the sense of Congress. This sense is shared by over 85% of Americans who believe that patients should have safe and legal access to medical marijuana programs under the recommendation of a physician. The health of patients like Coltyn depends on the federal government not interfering with state medical marijuana laws (his self-produced PSA underscores the reason why it’s important). Supporting this medical marijuana amendment is not only compassionate, but also fiscally pragmatic and politically safe. This vote should be a no-brainer for conservatives and liberals alike who want to keep big government out of the doctor’s office. Take action and ask your U.S. Representative to VOTE AYE on the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.
Follow Steph Sherer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/safeaccess
Another Perspective Pot Possibilities and Problems Banking on legal marijuana is proving dicy, especially thanks to the feds.
By Ross Kaminsky – 5.26.15
Often the first thing I’m asked when traveling outside of Colorado is a half-question half-joke about how many people in the state I now call home are stoned. Although I’m pro-legalization, I’ve never touched marijuana and it seems as if I’m not alone: even though the state passed — by a 10-percent margin — a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing “recreational” (but still highly regulated) marijuana sale and use, sales tax receipts have underperformed expectations.
I have more context than the average American on this issue: I used to live in Amsterdam. In that wonderful city — where, I repeat, I never touched the stuff — you drink coffee at cafés but at “coffee shops” you ingest marijuana, whether by smoking or eating cookies or brownies or by who knows whatever clever delivery system the 21st century has on offer. What I noticed the few times I was in a coffee shop with friends or even just walking by The Bulldog was that the majority of the patrons were not Dutch.
I suspect the same is happening here, with marijuana tourism fueling a substantial fraction of the recreational pot sales in the state. One company in Colorado’s fledgling pot tourism industry offers four-hour tours during which participants visit dispensaries and “grow” operations, “enjoy free sampling on the cannabis friendly luxury party bus” and “end our day with a smoke out…with delicious munchies, ganja and drinks.”
It sounds like a bad ’70s movie but this is serious business which other states are watching closely, wondering whether the potential public revenue and private employment benefits are worth the cost and effort of regulation, of reforming state banking laws and pushing for parallel federal reforms, of how to deal with “edibles” (one of the biggest post-legalization issues in Colorado) and the impact of legalization on children — including everything from accidental ingestion to the prescription of high-CBD strains such as “Charlotte’s Web” to treat seizure disorders. (CBDs are pharmacologically active ingredients in marijuana but do not get you “high,” a feeling created by another chemical called THC. Many high-CBD strains are specifically engineered to be low in THC.)
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of families have moved to Colorado seeking help and hope in the smoke or oil of what the federal government still classifies as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that according to Uncle Sam it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” While pot is on Schedule I, meaning that doing medical research on it is nearly impossible, drugs on Schedule II — laughably categorized as less dangerous and more useful than weed — include oxycodone, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Politicians outside of Colorado are starting to pay attention. Three U.S. senators, Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and, not surprisingly, Rand Paul (R-KY), have introduced the CAREERS Act which would, among other things, move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II within the Controlled Substances Act, remove CBD from the definition of marijuana (thus removing high-CBD low-THC strains from current regulation as controlled substances), abate the risk of federal prosecution for marijuana-related activities that are legal under state law, and prevent banks or banking regulators from discriminating against marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state law.
The banking issue is critical: Without an ability to deposit the cash from its sales at a bank, a legal marijuana business becomes an obvious target for violent crime while being tempted toward tax evasion. But banks, being federally regulated, are wary of becoming involved with a business selling a Schedule I substance directly to consumers.
Guidance issued last year by the Treasury’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) did not help given its laundry list of burdensome requirements for banks including “reviewing the license application (and related documentation) submitted by the business for a state license to operate its marijuana-related business” and “ongoing monitoring of publicly available sources for adverse information about the business.” What bank manager is going to want to deal with all that and still face the risk of an officious federal regulator saying that the bank has abetted money laundering?
A Colorado-approved application for a marijuana- and hemp-related credit union has been sitting at the Federal Reserve for six months, waiting for approval of a Fed “master account” that it would need to operate. One of the backers of the credit union says that he hopes the Fed will act within the next few weeks as it has no legal basis on which to deny approval.
Last month, an Oregon-based bank that had begun to offer similar services in Colorado not only canceled those plans but, due to the cost of regulatory compliance, said it would close the accounts of businesses that had thought they’d found a banking home. As the bank’s CEO noted, those people would probably need to take their money in cash since “I can’t think that a cashier’s check would be of any help to them.” I bet the Bandidos would love to know the dates of those transactions.
In February, the IRS fined a Denver dispensary for not electronically paying employee withholding taxes. When the company argued that it could not pay electronically because it could not get a bank account, the IRS denied its appeal even though the firm’s taxes are paid by the due date (and in cash, of course) directly at the local IRS office.
The national implications of Colorado’s marijuana legalization don’t end with banking. Bordering states such as Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are none too happy to have marijuana coming into their states. Since they can’t stop every car driving east on I-70, the latter two states have filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the United States arguing that “The Constitution and the federal anti-drug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country which conflict with federal laws” and that “In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress.”
Colorado’s new Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, recently filed a brief with the Court asking for summary dismissal of the suit, saying that “The Plaintiff States’ attempt to selectively manipulate Colorado’s marijuana laws—leaving legalization intact but eliminating large swaths of state regulatory power—is a dangerous use of both the Supremacy Clause and the Court’s original jurisdiction, and it is unlikely to redress the Plaintiff States’ alleged injuries.” This less than neighborly conflict is only possible because of the senseless federal position on marijuana.
Congress has a particular problem now that the District of Columbia has — with a stunning 70 percent of the voters in support — legalized pot. Perhaps a little Maui Waui might make legislators get along better, or at least make C-SPAN a lot more fun for the rest of us to watch.
I don’t smoke pot and I warn my young children away from it. But the genie of marijuana legalization is not going back into the bottle, nor should it in a free society. All jokes aside, Colorado is leading the way in understanding both the benefits and perils of legal pot and of its regulatory framework. Other states, rather than stamping their feet and running to the feds, should watch this laboratory of democracy and learn from our success and our temporary failures.
May 26, 2015
via NORML’s Deputy Director, Paul Armentano:
The majority of the US Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday cast votes in favor of expanding medical cannabis access to United States veterans. The committee vote marks the first time that a majority of any body of the US Senate has ever decided in favor of increased cannabis access.
Committee members voted 18 to 12 in favor of The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. It was added in committee to a must-pass military construction and veterans affairs spending bill (the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act). The bill is “certain” to pass on the Senate floor, according to a Drug Policy Alliance press release.
Weeks ago, House members narrowly killed a similar amendment in the House version of the Appropriations Act by a floor vote of 210 to 213. Once the Senate version of the act is passed by the Senate floor, House and Senate leaders will need to reconcile the two versions.
The Daines/Merkley amendment permits physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans in states that allow for its therapeutic use. Under current federal law, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out written documentation forms authorizing their patients to participate in state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs.
Stand-alone legislation (HR 667) to permit VA physicians to recommend cannabis therapy is pending in the US House of Representatives, Committee on Veterans Affairs: Health Subcommittee. A similar provision is also included in Senate Bill 683/HR 1538, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act.
NORML coordinated its 2015 legislative ‘fly-in’ and lobby day in Washington, DC this past week, where many attendees visited with US Senators and urged them to vote for the Daines/Merkley amendment, among other pending reform legislation. Archived presentations from the conference are online here.
To learn and/or to contact your elected officials in regard to other pending marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Scientists have begun speculating that the root cause of disease conditions such as migraines and irritable bowel syndrome may be endocannabinoid deficiency.
Source: Alternet, 3.24.10
For several years I have postulated that marijuana is not, in the strict sense of the word, an intoxicant.
As I wrote in the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009), the word ‘intoxicant’ is derived from the Latin noun toxicum (poison). It’s an appropriate term for alcohol, as ethanol (the psychoactive ingredient in booze) in moderate to high doses is toxic (read: poisonous) to healthy cells and organs.
Of course, booze is hardly the only commonly ingested intoxicant. Take the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol). According to the Merck online medical library, acetaminophen poisoning and overdose is “common,” and can result in gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) “within hours” and hepatotoxicity (liver damage) “within one to three days after ingestion.” In fact, less than one year ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for tougher standards and warnings governing the drug’s use because “recent studies indicate that unintentional and intentional overdoses leading to severe hepatotoxicity continue to occur.”
By contrast, the therapeutically active components in marijuana — the cannabinoids — appear to be remarkably non-toxic to healthy cells and organs. This notable lack of toxicity is arguably because cannabinoids mimic compounds our bodies naturally produce — so-called endocannabinoids — that are pivotal for maintaining proper health and homeostasis.
In fact, in recent years scientists have discovered that the production of endocannabinoids (and their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body) play a key role in the regulation of proper appetite, anxiety control, blood pressure, bone mass, reproduction, and motor coordination, among other biological functions.
Just how important is this system in maintaining our health? Here’s a clue: In studies of mice genetically bred to lack a proper endocannabinoid system the most common result is premature death.
Armed with these findings, a handful of scientists have speculated that the root cause of certain disease conditions — including migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other functional conditions alleviated by clinical cannabis — may be an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency.
Now, much to my pleasant surprise, Fox News Health columnist Chris Kilham has weighed in on this important theory.
Are You Cannabis Deficient?
via Fox News
If the idea of having a marijuana deficiency sounds laughable to you, a growing body of science points at exactly such a possibility.
… [Endocannabinoids] also play a role in proper appetite, feelings of pleasure and well-being, and memory. Interestingly, cannabis also affects these same functions. Cannabis has been used successfully to treat migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma. So here is the seventy-four thousand dollar question. Does cannabis simply relieve these diseases to varying degrees, or is cannabis actually a medical replacement in cases of deficient [endocannabinoids]?
… The idea of clinical cannabinoid deficiency opens the door to cannabis consumption as an effective medical approach to relief of various types of pain, restoration of appetite in cases in which appetite is compromised, improved visual health in cases of glaucoma, and improved sense of well being among patients suffering from a broad variety of mood disorders. As state and local laws mutate and change in favor of greater tolerance, perhaps cannabis will find it’s proper place in the home medicine chest.
Perhaps. Or maybe at the very least society will cease classifying cannabis as a ‘toxic’ substance when its more appropriate role would appear to more like that of a supplement.
NASHVILLE, Ill. (AP) – The tiny southern Illinois town of Nashville is preparing to say its farewells to four of its own killed in a Kentucky plane crash.
Services will be held Wednesday for 14-year-old Sierra Wilder at Nashville’s Campagna Funeral Home. She died in the Friday crash along with Nashville furniture store owner Marty Gutzler, wife Kim Gutzler and their 9-year-old daughter, Piper.
The Gutzlers’ other daughter, 7-year-old Sailor Gutzler, survived. She managed to crawl from the wreckage and endure bone-chilling cold during her mile-long trek through woods and briar to a home where she told the occupant of the crash.
Private services for the Gutzlers are Friday.
The victims will be cremated after their funerals.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash.
Nashville is 50 miles east of St. Louis.
we petition the obama administration to: Remove the Whole Cannabis Plant from Schedule 1 for Medical Research & Patient Access
Research & experience suggest medical cannabis helps with Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV, GI disorders, PTSD, eczema, Autism, arthritis, and other conditions.
Please remove the whole cannabis plant from the federal government’s banned Schedule 1 list.
Extensive research into various whole plant medicinal strains must be allowed to identify the full potential of this therapeutic plant. Research, mostly from other countries, already suggests the compounds in whole plant cannabis strains work synergistically to produce medicinal effects and help reduce side effects. Therefore, limited rescheduling of individual components for cannabinoid-based synthetic drugs alone will not work. Please allow the various strain options for research and medical access.
Published Date: Jan 05, 2015
Link to: FACEBOOK GROUP: SAFER KENTUCKY
Justice Department on Thursday will tell U.S. attorneys to not prevent tribes from growing or selling marijuana on the sovereign lands
U.S. won’t stop Native Americans from growing, selling pot on their lands
Opening the door for what could be a lucrative and controversial new industry on some Native American reservations, the Justice Department on Thursday will tell U.S. attorneys to not prevent tribes from growing or selling marijuana on the sovereign lands, even in states that ban the practice.
The new guidance, released in a memorandum, will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and tribes must still follow federal guidelines, said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota and the chairman of the Attorney General’s Subcommittee on Native American Issues.
It once again sends a message that we really don’t care about federal drug laws. – Kevin A. Sabet, an opponent of marijuana legalization and former advisor on drug issues to President Obama
It remains to be seen how many reservations will take advantage of the policy. Many tribes are opposed to legalizing pot on their lands, and federal officials will continue to enforce the law in those areas, if requested.
Southern California is home to nearly 30 federal- and state-recognized Indian tribes, with a total population of nearly 200,000, according to state estimates. The largest tribes operate profitable casinos and outlet malls, including those by the Morongo, Cabazon, San Manuel and Pechanga tribes.
- Representatives of several of the largest tribes could not be reached for comment.
The policy comes on the heels of the 2013 Justice Department decision to stop most federal marijuana prosecutions in states that have legalized the possession or sale of pot. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia have all moved to legalize the drug, though the D.C. law may be scaled back by Congress.
Some tribes see marijuana sales as a potential source of revenue, similar to cigarette sales and casino gambling, which have brought a financial boon to reservations across the country. Others, including the Yakama Reservation in Washington state, remain strongly opposed to the sale or use of marijuana on their lands.
Purdon said in an interview that the majority of Native American tribes, mindful of the painful legacy of alcohol abuse in their communities, appear to be against allowing marijuana use on their territory.
The federal government will continue to legally support those tribes that wish to ban marijuana, even in states that now permit its sale, Purdon said.
But the Justice Department will generally not attempt to enforce federal marijuana laws on federally recognized tribes that choose to allow it, as long as they meet eight federal guidelines, including that marijuana not be sold to minors and not be transported to areas that prohibit it.
“The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations,” Purdon said.
John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, said a primary purpose of the memorandum to be released Thursday is to assure U.S. attorney offices and tribes that despite the changes in Justice Department policy announced last year, federal prosecutors still have the authority to prosecute marijuana felonies on tribal lands.
In many cases, federal prosecutors are the only ones permitted by law to prosecute marijuana felonies on tribal lands.
Walsh said that the new memorandum, like the one issued for states last year, emphasizes that states or reservations must have “robust and effective regulatory systems in place” and that federal prosecutors reserve the right to take broader enforcement actions.
The policy is likely to be criticized in states opposed to marijuana sales, particularly those with Native American reservations.
Kevin A. Sabet, an opponent of marijuana legalization and former advisor on drug issues to President Obama, called the policy an “extremely troubling development.”
“It once again sends a message that we really don’t care about federal drug laws,” he said.
Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, said, “Native Americans and their families suffer disproportionately from addiction compared to other groups. The last thing they want is another commercialized industry that targets them for greater use.”
Times staff writer Hugo Martin in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Originally posted on TIME:
People in Illinois who have had direct contact with an Ebola patient in certain African countries must now undergo a quarantine for 21 days.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed an order on Friday that affects medical workers and other “high-risk” travelers who have been around Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“This protective measure is too important to be voluntary,” he said in a statement. “While we have no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in Illinois, we will continue to take every safeguard necessary to protect first responders, health care workers and the people of Illinois.”
Similar orders, which exceed federal recommendations, are in effect in New York and New Jersey for travelers landing in New York City-area airports, including Newark in New Jersey.
ri, 09/05/2014 – 1:14pm
More than 2,000 people registered for Illinois medical marijuana identification cards in the first three days of applications, dwarfing the number the program’s administrators had envisioned, the state announced Friday.
Authorities began taking electronic applications Tuesday from patients whose last names start with letters A through L, with those people able to register through Oct. 31. Officials had expected just a few hundred applications in the opening days, the Illinois Department of Public Health said without specifying the number of applicants.
“This is a promising sign that the program is on track to fulfill its key purpose — alleviating the pain and suffering for thousands of Illinoisans,” said Bob Morgan, the chief of the state’s medical cannabis pilot program.
Others can apply in November and December, and any patients and caregivers can apply starting next year. Patients must have a written certification from a doctor and get a background check, then pay $100 a year to apply for a medical marijuana card. Disabled people and veterans will pay $50 annually.
Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the state health department, said that while the registrations in the application period’s infancy are “obviously higher” than forecast, “it’s not something we can’t handle.”
“The system is working well,” she said, noting that demand for the program should become clearer in about a month. “It’s always difficult to speculate and estimate how many are going to apply. Hundreds of thousands (of Illinoisans) are eligible for medical cannabis cards with debilitating conditions.”
A state law enacted last year authorized a four-year pilot project that will expire in 2017, but so far, not a single marijuana seed has been planted. State officials have said the first products may be sold next year. The state will begin to accept applications on Monday from aspiring cultivation centers and dispensaries vying for one of a limited number of permits.
When the harvest begins, patients will be able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a two-week period from a state-authorized dispensary. They must be diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions listed in the Illinois law. Those conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and dozens of other health problems.
— Associated Press