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
A PRAYER TO OUR CREATOR
WE COME TOGETHER TODAY TO PRAISE YOUR ALMIGHTY
GIFTS TO US…
YOU HAVE GIVEN US LIGHT FOR WARMTH,
MEADOWS OF FRESH FLOWERS,
AND HERBS,TO KEEP UP HEALTHY,
YOU GAVE US DARK TO SLEEP AND TO REST OUR
WEARY HEARTS AND MINDS FOR ANOTHER DAY,
YOU GAVE US BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO LOVE US,
AND CHILDREN TO CARRY ON OUR NEVER-ENDING
ENDEAVORS – TO CARRY OUT YOUR WILL ,
AS WE KNOW WE WILL NEVER ACCOMPLISH
YOU GIVE US INTELLIGENCE TO BE ABLE TO
SEPARATE THE GOOD FROM THE EVIL,
DEAR FATHER IN HEAVEN,
GIVE US THIS DAY, OUR DAILY BREAD,
AND FORGIVE US OUR SINS,
AS WE FORGIVE ALL OTHERS,
GIVE US THE STRENGTH, TO CARRY ON,
TO RECTIFY THE EVIL THAT TO WHICH WE HAVE
TO BRING BACK THE MEADOWS,
THE FLOWERS AND TREE’S,
TO CONTINUE TO HEAR THE BIRD’S AND BEE’S!
BLESS THE HEMP LORD, AND KEEP IT STRONG,
AND ENABLE US, TO CARRY ON…
*Dedicated with Love to Richard J. Rawlings…USMJParty
Here is a list of cannabis strains with ailments and diseases that each strain is said to help specifically for. If you have a degenerative or other type of disease, these strains may help!
Afghani = Emotional Stability
Afghanica = Nausea, Pain
AFGHANIE X HAZE = PMS, Lower Body Pain
Afghooie x Haze = PMS
AK-47 = Pain, Nausea, Depression, Insomnia, Headache
Alien Train Wreck = Asthma
Apollo 13 = Back Pain
Auntie Em = Crohn’s Disease, MS
AURORA B = Nausea, Joint Pain, Arthritis
Aurora Indica = Nausea, joint pain, arthritis
Berry-Bolt = Insomnia, Joint pain
Big Bang = Stress, Anxiety, Sedation
Big Kahuna = Back Pain, Arthritis, Herniated disc pain
BillieJack = ADD’s
Black Domina = Emotional Stability
Black on Blue Widow = HIV, Back pain
Black Vietnamese = Nausea, Muscle Spasms, Pain
Black/Blue Widow = HIV/AIDS, Back Pain
Blackberry = Digestive Disorders
Blackberry’s mother = Nausea, Joint Pain, Arthritis, HIV
Blue Fruit = Crohns Disease, Muscle spasms
Blue Moon Rocks = Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia
Blue Satellite = Pain, Nausea, Anxiety, Muscle Tension, Insomnia
Blue Satellite x Jack Herer = Depression, Nausea
Blueberry = Nausea, Insomnia, Pain
Bog Sour Bubble = Pain, Anxiety
Bonzo Bud = Body pain, Migraine
Bubble Gum = Fibromyalgia
Budacolumbia = Nausea
Burmaberry = Migraine, Depression
Burmese = Pain
Burmese pure = Anxiety, Depression
C99 x Great White Shark = Anxiety
Cali-O = Nausea
Cambodian x Orange Pekoe = Cerebral, Alert
Catalyst = PMS
Chronic = Muscle Spasms, Appetite Stimulant, Anti-emetic
Cinderella 99 = Epilepsy, MS, Nausea
CIT = Insomnia, Pain, Nausea
Citral = Insomnia
Cripple Creek = Hepatitis C, Degenerative Disc Disease, IBS, Interstitial Cystitis, Chronic Rotator Cuff Disease, HIV/AIDS
Deep Chunk = Joint Pain, Insomnia
Dynamite = Asthma, Crohn’s Disease, Hepatitis C
East Coast Sour Diesel = Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Radiculopathy
El Nino = Nausea, Insomnia
Fieldale Haze = Anxiety, Back pain
Fig Widow = Back pain, Psychosis
Firecracker = Depression, Anxiety, Nausea
G-13 = Depression, Pain, ADD, ADHD
G13 x HP = Nausea, Joint Pain, Insomnia
Grapefruit = Arthritis, Hepatitis C, Pain, Nausea
Green Queen = Epilepsy, Neck/spine pain
Green Spirit = Nausea, Headache, Body pain
Green Spirit x Timewarp x Herijuana = Insomnia, Migraine, Joint pain
Haze = ADD/ADHD
Heavenly Man = Stress
Herijuana = Pain, Nausea, Insomnia
Herijuana x Trainwreck = Diabetic neuropathy, Joint pain, Insomnia, MS
Hindu Kush = Social Anxiety
Ice Princess x Bubblegum = Migraine
Jack Herer = Anxiety, Fibromyalgia
Jacked #14 = Nausea
John Paul Jones = Body pain
Juicy Fruit = Insomnia, Joint pain, Anxiety
Kali Mist = Nausea, Depression
Kal-X = Body pain
KILLER QUEEN = Depression, Back Pain
Killer Queen = Depression, Back pain
Krinkle x Kush x Freezeland = MS muscle spasms
Lavender = Chronic Pain
Leda Uno = Insomnia
Legends Ultimate Indica = Insomnia, IBS, CROHN’S DISEASE, Joint/Muscle Pain
Legends Ultimate Indica x Herijuana = Muscle spasms, Pain
Lemon Chemo = Insomnia, Back pain, Migraine
Lemon Haze = Fibromyalgia
Lifesaver = Nausea, Headache, Pain, Insomnia
Lollipop = Cachexia, Degenerative bone and disc disease, Edema, General pain, General seizures, Glaucoma, Migraine, MS, Nausea, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Lowryder = Nausea, Pain, Headache
LSD = Nausea, Anxiety, Depression, Headache
M39 = Anxiety, Depression
Magic Crystal = Migraine, PMS, Depression, Nausea
Mango = Back pain, nausea
Mango x Northern Lights # 5 = Pain, nausea, insomnia, anxiety
Master Kush = Nausea
Medicine Woman = Diabetic neuropathy, general pain, general seizures, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, muscle spasms, nausea, radiculopathy
Misty = Hepatitis C, back pain, insomnia, nausea
Mountainberry = Insomnia, migraine, pain
Mr. Nice = Chronic Pain, Muscle Spasms
New York Diesel = Migraine
NL#5 = Social Anxiety
Northern Lights #1 = Arthritis
Northern Lights #2 = Nausea, insomnia
Northern Lights = Anxiety, radiculopathy, insomnia
Northern Lights x Cinderella 99 = Depression
Northern Lights x Jamaican = Arthritis
Northern Lights x Shiva = Pain, Toothache
NORTHERNBERRY = General Pain
NYC SOUR DIESEL = Edema, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Radiculopathy
Oak Goo = Pain, anxiety
OG Kush = Social Anxiety
OG KUSH PURPLE = Leg Pain, Knee, Butt Pain
Oregon 90 = Joint Pain, RLS, Pain, Nausea, Insomnia
Original Mystic = Epilepsy
Phaght Betty = Cachexia, degenerative bone/disc disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Purple Kush = Stress, Anxiety
Queen Bee = Neck/spine pain
Reeferman’s Hash Plant = Chronic Pain
Romulan = Chronic Pain
Sensi Star = Migraine, PMS, Back Pain
Shiskaberry x Dutch Treat = Migraine, anxiety, insomnia, nausea
Shiskaberry x Hash Plant = Anxiety, nausea
Skunk #1 = Nausea
Slow Train = Back Pain
Snow White = PMS, Head aches
Sonoma Coma = General Relaxation, Induce Sleep
SOUR CREAM = Insomnia, Joint Pain, Nausea
Stardust 13 = Pain, nausea, insomnia
Strawberry Cough = Back pain, depression
Super Impact = Nausea, insomnia, muscle pain, depression, anxiety
Super Impact x AK-47 = Pain, insomnia, mood
Super Silver Haze = Nausea, depression, RLS, Arthritis, Bladder Problems
Super Thai = Depression
Swamp Mix = Depression
Sweet Blu = Degenerative bone/disc disease, diabetic, neuropathy, edema, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, nausea, neck/spine pain
Sweet Tooth #3 = Depression, mood
Trainwreck = Anxiety, Arthritis, Diabetic Neuropathy, Depression
Trainwreck x Herijuana = Nausea, Anxiety, arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, depression
TW x LUI = Arthritis, nausea
TX = Arthritis, asthma, general pain, general seizures, glaucoma, MS
Ty’s Northernberry x Reeferman’s Herijuana = Appetite Stimulant, Spasms
UBC Chemo x Grapefruit = Muscle/Joint Pain
Ultra Green = Insomnia
Wakeford = Anxiety, nausea, insomnia
White Rhino = Body pain, back pain, joint pain, insomnia
White Russian = Pain, nausea
White Russian x AK47 x White Widow = Chronic Pain, Insomnia
White Widow = Cachexia, Hepatitis C, PTSD
White Widow x Big Bud = Depression, White Widow, Cachexia, Hepatitis C, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Wisp = Nausea, headache
WR = Muscle pain, nausea, insomnia
XXX = General Relaxation, Sleep
Please keep in mind that this is not to be considered as “medical advice” as the information given in this article is intended to be for informational purposes only, and is not intended to claim any specific cure of any ailment or disease through the specified strains, but is to be considered more of a guideline to help you decide what might be best for you in choosing the best strain for you.
Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes opened a dispensary in Modesto. Now they’re doing 20 years in federal prison. Their families want them home.
Behind the headlines about President Obama’s historic visit to federal prisons and highly publicized releases of non-violent drug offenders, the numbers tell a different story. Despite encouraging and receiving more clemency petitions than any president in U.S. history—more than the last two administrations combined, nearly 20,000—very few federal prisoners are actually being granted clemency.
Nowhere is this irony more glaring than in the world of legal cannabis. Cannabis is now considered the fastest-growing industry in the nation, yet remains federally illegal. The sea change from the Department of Justice since 2009 has allowed state-legal cannabis industries to thrive. Federal solutions seem to be around the corner and for the first time cannabis businesses are being publicly traded and receiving legal Wall Street investment.
Ricardo Montes and Luke Scarmazzo are two of the 20,000 federal prisoners appealing to President Obama for clemency. They have exhausted their appeals and are serving 20-year mandatory minimum sentences for openly running a dispensary in the early days of California’s pioneering medical cannabis law. The irony isn’t lost on them that their crimes are now legal and profitable, but their appeals for clemency aren’t based on justice anymore—they just want to be home with their kids. Their daughters, Jasmine Scarmazzo, 13, and Nina Montes, 10, are appealing directly to President Obama to release their fathers via a Change.org petition.
Nina and Jasmine
Nina Montes is in fifth grade. She is a straight A student who loves math and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She was just four years old when her dad went to prison. “All I remember is the cops coming and taking him away from me on my birthday,” Nina says. She has always dreamed that her father would be released on her birthday, May 15.
“It is really sad and it makes me cry [when I visit my dad in prison],” Nina says. “I cry when the time is over and we have to go because we only get three hours, maybe two.”
Nina gets to visit her father once every two months at FCI Lompoc, a five-hour drive from her home in Modesto, Calif.
“All I know is he made a mistake and I don’t think he should be owing that [much time],” Nina says.
Federal prisoners must purchase minutes in order to use phones. They are allowed up to 300 a month and calls are limited to 15 minutes each. Ricardo Montes says he tries to call every other day, sometimes every day, but he has to share his limited phone time between his three children.
“I try to speak to all of them, Nina is the oldest so I have more of a conversation with her. She is at the age now where I can actually explain why I am here,” Montes says. “She didn’t know for a long time. She really doesn’t understand when I explain to her what I did. She’s like, there are still other dispensaries open, why aren’t they going to jail? I told her I have no answer for that.”
Jasmine Scarmazzo is in the eighth grade and loves to debate. Inspired by her father’s case, she says she wants to be a criminal attorney when she grows up. She is increasingly confused as to why her dad is still in prison.
“There were so many tears,” Jasmine says, remembering the day Scarmazzo and Montes were sentenced. “My mom said, your dad got 20 years in prison; I didn’t really comprehend how long that was, I just knew I wasn’t going to see him for a long time. I knew why [he was going to prison]—because of the dispensary—but I was so confused, why is he going to prison if he is helping people?”
Jasmine remained confused until about the age of 8, when she started learning more about federal and state government in school and how it applied to her father’s case.
Over the years legal dispensaries have popped up, not just in Modesto, but across the country. Today marijuana companies are publicly traded and driving legal and profitable Wall Street investment in a handful of states.
“It makes me feel confused, once again, as to why our system is only holding certain people who are doing the same thing in 2016 and are free, and my dad’s in prison,” Jasmine says.
“Being in prison makes us miss the small normal things that a father and daughter share,” Luke Scarmazzo says. “I don’t get to be there to encourage her successes or console her when she fails or has a bad day. I don’t experience the little things like what she doesn’t like for breakfast or who her friends are. These are attributes that a dad should know and often take for granted, but because of our limited communication, I have to rush to talk to her about the larger mile-markers in life.”
Crime and Punishment
Scarmazzo and Montes opened the California Healthcare Collective in 2004, when they were both 23 years old. Although California became the first medical cannabis state by voter initiative in 1996, dispensaries didn’t begin to appear until the early 2000s, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. The state legislature passed S.B. 420 in 2003 to provide basic guidelines for state-legal medical cannabis cultivation and distribution. After the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004, more dispensaries began to open, but mainly in San Francisco and Los Angeles. CHC was the first in the Central Valley and served a patient base accustomed to driving an hour or more west to San Francisco and Oakland to obtain safe access under the law.
Montes says there was a clear need for a dispensary in the Central Valley. One local doctor writing cannabis recommendations had said up to 70 percent of his patients, many with cancer, were making regular trips to the Bay Area to access cannabis.
“We were the only ones open and we helped a lot of patients who were sick and couldn’t travel,” Montes says. “It was actually a good thing for the Central Valley… but [local law enforcement and then-mayor Jim Ridenour] didn’t see us as helping people out, they saw us as young kids making money and selling a narcotic drug. We tried to help people. We paid a lot of sales tax [over $1 million], but in that town it doesn’t matter.”
Modesto is largely an agricultural city located about an hour south of Sacramento, the state capital, and about an hour east of the San Francisco Bay. At 9.6 percent in 2015, the city has nearly twice the national average unemployment. Modesto, and the rest of the Central Valley, has consistently ranked high among the highest unemployment averages in the nation.
At the height of its operation, the collective employed up to 14 people.
“The people of the Central Valley are a hard-working, mostly blue-collar community and they don’t earn very high incomes compared to the rest of California,” Luke Scarmazzo says. “Many didn’t have the extra money to regularly make the 100-plus mile commute [to a legal storefront]. The patients that couldn’t afford to travel to the Bay Area before CHC opened were forced to break the law and purchase their recommended medication from the illicit market. It was a terrible hardship on so many levels.”
The dispensary was legal under state law, but as is it still is today, federally illegal. Although many have interpreted the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to leave the regulation of medicine to the states, the federal government affirmed its dominance over state medical cannabis programs in the controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision Gonzalez v. Raich. The federal government argued that because cannabis grown for personal consumption could wind up on the interstate market, the federal government had the authority to enforce federal commerce laws to control state-legal medical marijuana despite voter-approved or supported state legislation.
On Sept. 27, 2006—Jasmine’s fourth birthday—CHC was raided and Scarmazzo and Montes were taken into custody. In 2006, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott referred to the pair as the “poster children” for the problems with medical marijuana.
“These were drug dealers selling marijuana. This case is that simple,” Scott told the press. He cited $9.2 million in gross sales over two years of operation as evidence the collective was operating for-profit, in opposition to S.B. 420, which required medical cannabis collectives operate not-for-profit.
Gross sales paint an inaccurate picture of actual income and are irrelevant to defining a not-for-profit enterprise. Further, they aren’t completely accurate under state law. Gross sales reflect the total revenues generated before expenses such as labor, security, overhead, legal fees, and perhaps most relevant, cost of goods sold. Under California law, collectives can be reimbursed for their expenses and donations are made to continue the service of cultivating and distributing cannabis to patients. Technically, the numbers reflect gross donations made to the collective before expenses.
Despite what federal prosecutors decried as over-the-top executive compensation, it is not illegal or unheard of that a director at a non-profit could make over $100,000 annually in personal compensation while the business remains a non-profit. Top directors at United Way make just as much and are unquestionably considered not-for-profit.
Scarmazzo and Montes were found guilty of conspiracy, distribution and cultivation of marijuana.
As Luke Scarmazzo wrote for Kindland.com, “we were also charged with conducting a continuing criminal enterprise (CCE), a Nixon-era drug kingpin offense that carries a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence. No medical marijuana dispensary operator has ever been convicted under this fearsome statute. It has historically been reserved for cartel leaders and international drug kingpins. In fact, the charge is so rarely used that only 0.02 percent of inmates in the U.S., that’s 427 of them, are serving sentences for CCE.”
The FBI defines CCE in terms of membership and leadership, organizations with six or more people, one of which is a primary organizer, involved in organized crime or significant racketeering activity. Scarmazzo and Montes are the only state-legal dispensary owners to be convicted of CCE.
On May 15, 2008—Nina’s third birthday—Scarmazzo and Montes were sentenced and taken into custody. Scarmazzo was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months, Montes to the 20-year mandatory minimum.
Six months later Barack Obama was elected president. Shortly after he took office, in 2009, then-Attorney General Eric Holder released what is now known as the Ogden Memo, outlining the administration’s position in regards to state-legal medical cannabis; the feds said they were backing off compliant cannabis businesses and non-profits in legal states. The new position seemed to be a complete shift from the George W. Bush administration’s strong position against state legal medical cannabis. Cannabis businesses began to pop up all over California and Colorado.
Since Obama took office, four states and Washington D.C. have legalized adult use cannabis and 24 states have legal whole plant medical cannabis programs. In 2013, shortly after Colorado and Washington voters approved legalization initiatives, the Department of Justice issued the Cole Memo, which stated that, for the most part, the DOJ would not use its resources to enforce federal laws in states that had voted to legalize medical or adult use marijuana. Large-scale grow operations are now legal and profitable in many states. These states have not just legalized and regulated, they have taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues.
Today, Harborside Health Center in Oakland boasts over $25 million in gross annual sales. Blum, also in Oakland, recently became the first publicly traded dispensary with an initial valuation of $21 million based on $14 million in gross annual sales when it was acquired by Terratech Corporation. Privateer Holdings, owners of a portfolio of brands including Leafly.com, received the largest infusion of Wall Street capital of any marijuana business to date, $75 million. According to Weedmaps.com, there are four dispensary storefronts operating in the city of Modesto today and over 30 more mobile delivery services in the area.
Scarmazzo and Montes have watched all the legislative change around them from behind bars.
“I have mixed emotions when I read the headlines regarding legal marijuana,” Scarmazzo says. “On one hand, I’m happy to see the progress that is being made, research being conducted and the injustices being addressed. Marijuana in the context of criminal justice reform is something we desperately need in this country. On the other hand it’s extremely frustrating. With almost a decade served in prison, we’ve seen our freedom taken, our properties forfeited and our families lost, for business activities that are essentially legal now and taking place everyday throughout the country. Yet, we continue to struggle through this lengthy mandatory sentence. It’s hard to wrap my mind around sometimes.”
“It’s upsetting because when I got arrested I was young, I was only 26 years old, I thought I was doing something right by following state law,” Montes says. “So by exercising my rights and going to trial to fight for my innocence, they punished us severely. I have no action, so to me when I see that it’s a kick in the face. What did I do wrong?”
Search the name “Luke Scarmazzo” online and the first thing that pops up is a Youtube video called “Kraz-Business Man.” The video depicts scenes of Scarmazzo in a courtroom arguing that his medical cannabis business is legitimate and in alternate scenes smoking blunts and counting cash. Midway through the video he turns his middle finger to the camera and raps, “Fuck the Feds.” The video was an undeniably dumb move for a man running a state-legal medical cannabis dispensary in unchartered territory in the earliest days of Prop. 215, though hardly a crime. The video was introduced as evidence against Scarmazzo and Montes in court.
Twelve years later, Montes and Scarmazzo are in their mid-30s and their daughters are growing up without them.
“My daughter, Jasmine, was four years old when I was arrested. Ricardo’s daughter, Nina, was two. Today they are entering high school and junior high school, respectively,” Luke Scarmazzo wrote for Kindland.com. “They have spent much of their young lives growing up without their fathers. The impact is visible and saddening. According to a 2014 Rutgers University study, one in 28 children in the USA currently have an incarcerated parent. These children have a greater chance of living in poverty and an increased risk of experiencing serious mental-health issues.”
With all appeals exhausted, their only hope of early release is for President Obama to grant them clemency. Their applications are one of over 20,000 the administration has received. Jasmine and Nina hope that by appealing to supporters around the country via the petition they can ultimately reach President Obama.
“My dad is a good man. He made a mistake, but he is very sorry for it,” Nina says. “President Obama has two daughters. I don’t think they would like it if he went to prison for 20 years. His daughters would be miserable and want him home—he would want to come home too. That’s the exact same way I feel.”
“As we do time we realize our mistakes. Ignorance of the law is no excuse; at the time I didn’t understand federal law and how it trumps state law,” Montes says. “Now I understand it’s illegal federally. When I was young I didn’t understand that. We all make mistakes. Hopefully he could forgive our mistakes.”
“I’ve made some big mistakes in the past, ones that have greatly affected those closest to me, and I’m fully responsible for those poor decisions. But I ask for a second opportunity to prove I can make a positive impact, and most importantly, return to being a responsible father to a little girl that means the world to me,” Luke Scarmazzo says.
Sign the Change.org petition, “President Obama, Free Our Dads.”
Angela Bacca is a Portland, Oregon-based writer, photographer and medical cannabis patient. She has been published in Cannabis Now, SFCritic Music Blog, Skunk Magazine, and West Coast Cannabis, among others.
Tuesday, 29 December 2015
#1 Congress Reauthorizes Medical Marijuana Protections
Members of Congress approved language in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill that continues to limit the federal government from taking punitive action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states. The provisions reauthorize Section 538 of the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, which states, “None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent … states … from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/12/17/congress-omnibus-spending-bill-reauthorizes-medical-marijuana-protections.
#2 Federal Judge Upholds Marijuana’s Schedule I Status
A federal judge in April rejected a motion challenging the constitutionality of cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I prohibited substance. “At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Judge Kimberly Mueller said from the bench. “But this is not the court and not the time.” Judge Meuller had presided over five days of hearings in October 2014 in a challenge brought by members of the NORML Legal Committee. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/04/16/federal-judge-upholds-marijuana-s-schedule-i-status.
#3 Medical Cannabis Access Associated With Less Opioid Abuse
States that permit qualified patients to access medical marijuana via dispensaries possess lower rates of opioid addiction and overdose deaths, according to a study published in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-partisan think-tank. The findings mirror those published in 2014 in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluding, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-reduced-opioid-abuse.
#4 DC Depenalizes Marijuana; Arrests Plummet
Despite threats from members of Congress, District officials implemented voter-approved legislation earlier this year eliminating penalties associated with the possession and cultivation of personal use quantities of marijuana by adults. Following the law’s implementation, marijuana-related arrests in the nation’s capital fell 99 percent. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/12/04/cities-see-major-decline-in-marijuana-possession-arrests.
#5 Marijuana Law Changes Don’t Change Youth Use, Attitudes
Rates of youth marijuana use are unaffected by changing laws, according to data published in July in The American Journal of drug and Alcohol Abuse. Investigators evaluated trends in young people’s attitudes toward cannabis and their use of the substance during the years 2002 to 2013 – a time period where 14 states enacted laws legalizing the medical use of the plant, and two states approved its recreational use by adults. “Our results may suggest that recent changes in public policy, including the decriminalization, medicalization, and legalization of marijuana in cities and states across the country, have not resulted in more use or greater approval of marijuana use among younger adolescents,” researchers reported. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-changes-in-state-marijuana-laws-are-not-associated-with-greater-use-or-acceptance-by-young-people.
#6 Gallup Poll: More Americans Than Ever Say Marijuana Should Be Legal
Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to nationwide survey data released in October by Gallup pollsters. The percentage ties the highest level of support ever reported by Gallup, which has been measuring Americans’ attitudes toward cannabis since the late 1960s. The percentage is more than twice the level of support reported in the mid-1990s. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/10/22/gallup-support-for-legalizing-marijuana-at-historic-high-2.
#7 Study: Marijuana Use Not Associated With Changes In Brain Morphology
Marijuana use is not associated with structural changes in the brain, according to imaging data published in January in The Journal of Neuroscience. Investigators assessed brain morphology in both daily adult and adolescent cannabis users compared to non-users. They found “no statistically significant differences … between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest” after researchers controlled for participants’ use of alcohol. “[T]he results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures,” researchers reported. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/02/19/study-marijuana-use-not-associated-with-previously-reported-changes-in-brain-morphology.
#8 Marijuana Consumers Less Likely To Be Obese, Suffer Diabetes Risk
Those who consume cannabis are 50 percent less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome as compared to those who do not, according to findings published in November in The American Journal of Medicine. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat, which are linked to increased risk of heart disease and adult onset diabetes, among other serious health consequences. The findings are similar to those of previous studies reporting that those who use cannabis are less likely to be obese or suffer from diabetes. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/11/19/study-marijuana-consumers-less-likely-to-suffer-from-metabolic-syndrome.
#9 NHTSA: THC-Positive Drivers Don’t Possesses Elevated Crash Risk
Drivers who test positive for the presence of THC in their blood are no more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than are drug-free drivers, according to a case-control study released in February by the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration. Authors reported that drivers who tested positive for the presence of THC possessed an unadjusted, elevated risk of accident of 25 percent (Odds Ratio=1.25) compared to controls (drivers who tested negative for any drug or alcohol). However, this elevated risk became insignificant (OR=1.05) after investigators adjusted for demographic variables, such as the drivers’ age and gender. The study is the largest of its kind ever conducted in the United States. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/02/12/feds-thc-positive-drivers-no-more-likely-to-be-involved-in-motor-vehicle-crashes.
#10 Legal Marijuana States Collect Over $200 Million In New Tax Revenue
Taxes on the legal production and sale of cannabis in the states of Colorado and Washington have yielded over $200 million in new revenue since going into effect in 2014, according to calculations reported by The Huffington Post in September. Colorado collected more than $117 million dollars from marijuana sales while Washington collected over $83 million. Cannabis sales commenced in Oregon in on October 1, 2015 and have yet to begin in Alaska. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/news/2015/09/03/legal-marijuana-states-collect-over-200-million-in-new-tax-revenue.
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.
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
Writer/editor, Illinois Policy Institute
Posted: 06/20/2014 5:52 pm EDT
Illinois became the 20th state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana in July 2013. But the Illinois law, which allows for a four-year medical marijuana pilot program, could be the next big windfall for cronyism in the state.
Political favoritism may already be cropping up in Illinois’ newly established medical marijuana industry, and barriers to entry could be steep as the state may impose hefty application and permit fees.
Competition to become established in Illinois’ medical marijuana business is stiff. Under the pilot program created by the new state law, Illinois will allow only 60 marijuana dispensaries and 22 growing centers.
This industry is expected to mean big money for those who land much-coveted business rights — last year, California’s medical marijuana sales were $1 billion. And in Illinois, a state notorious for corrupt insider dealings, the politically connected often get first dibs.
Those wanting a shot at one of the precious few dispensary and growing center slots are already jockeying for position. Anyone wanting to open one of these businesses must submit the name of the business, proposed location, relevant agricultural experience and much more information.
One person seeking medical marijuana registration from the state is Sam Borek, a former college roommate of Lou Lang, the state representative who sponsored Illinois’ medical marijuana law. According to CBS St. Louis, Borek has reserved at least three-dozen marijuana-related business names.
A friend of the governor is trying to get in on the action as well.
Chicagoan David Rosen, who was Gov. Pat Quinn’s chief fundraiser in 2010, plans to open a medical marijuana business in Nevada called “Waveseer” — and interestingly enough, he has also registered the same business name in Illinois.
Ultimately, the state will have the sole authority to decide the businesses it feels are best suited to operate under the new state law, and that will leave open the possibility for lawmakers to grant special favors to those applicants who are politically connected.
And any applicants who do receive registration through the state will have to comply with numerous regulations.
Under proposed regulations for the pilot program, the state would require dispensaries to pay a $5,000 nonrefundable application fee, a $30,000 permit fee and a $25,000 in annual permit renewal fee. Anyone wanting a dispensary permit will also have to show proof of $50,000 in escrow or bonds.
The application fee for growing centers is even steeper, at $25,000. Growing centers also have to pay a $200,000 fee after its permit is approved, plus a $100,000 renewal fee. Applicants would also have to prove that they have $2 million in escrow or bonds.
And if owners want to make changes to their business, there could be a fee for that, too.
Under the proposed regulations, the state could charge growing centers $1,000 to change their business name, to alter stock ownership or change principal officers.
These hefty fees certainly limit the number of people who can afford to open a business in a booming industry.
Given the level of state involvement in Illinois’ medical marijuana industry, it’s not hard to imagine opportunities for corruption. So as marijuana-related business licenses begin to roll out of Springfield, Illinoisans would be wise to pay attention to who’s reaping the benefits.
Follow Hilary Gowins on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hilarygowins
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.
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Medical marijuana regulations recently proposed in Illinois could be a major buzzkill for the state’s entrepreneurs and other small business owners.
Under the proposal from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, legal pot businesses would need approximately half a million dollars in startup costs. The program would require pot dispensaries to pay a $5,000 nonrefundable application fee, show proof of $400,000 in assets, pay a $30,000 permit fee and fork over a $25,000 yearly permit renewal fee.
Cultivation centers would be required to pony up a $25,000 nonrefundable application fee, prove they have $250,000 in liquid assets, pay a $200,000 fee once the permit is approved and pay a $100,000 renewal fee.
Additionally, local governments would be able to charge their own dispensary and cultivation center fees.
“Probably 50 percent of the wannabes are now out,” Joseph Friedman, a suburban Chicago pharmacist hoping to opening a dispensary, told the Chicago Tribune. “This is going to bring out just the serious players who are well-capitalized and well-credentialed.”
Regulators have been slowly hammering out the various rules for potential users, growers and dispensary vendors since the state’s medical weed law — the strictest in the nation — went into effect earlier this year. Medical marijuana advocates worry the new proposals for dispensaries and cultivation centers could price out suffering patients and ultimately threaten the success of the nascent pilot program.
“This program was designed, proposed and passed to help sick people,” Dan Linn, the executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), told The Huffington Post. “But now it seems the state has wrapped itself up in the bureaucracy and this is all going to be on the backs of sick people.”
Linn said the some of the high regulation fees will help keep the pilot program cost-neutral for the state and also weed out “the perceived trouble makers” hoping to get rich quick in the medical marijuana gold rush.
The downside, Linn said, is what he calls the “trickle-down” cost to medical marijuana patients. “A lot them are sick and on disability and can’t afford the [high price of] legal medical marijuana. You’ll see patients who sign up for a card and never use it.”
Linn notes that if the fees are passed on to customers and medical weed becomes significantly more expensive than that on the street, dispensaries and clinics won’t have enough business. “Ultimately,” he said, “that could make or break this program.”
Real estate is shaping up to be another challenge for potential medical marijuana businesses, with local governments in the Chicagoland area tinkering with zoning laws that could restrict pot businesses’ already limited options.
Other proposed regulations would require medical marijuana patients to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check and pay $150 yearly fee for a special photo ID card, the Associated Press reports.
Regulators will take public input on the proposals until Feb. 27.
Jan. 1, 2014, medical marijuana was legalized in Illinois for patients who qualify for the substance. This will be an evolution in end-of-life care and symptom management. Every patient deserves to live comfortably with the most dignity as possible.
“We always want to strive to provide the highest quality of care,” said Passages Hospice Founder Seth Gillman. “We have to keep an open mind to any medications or opportunities available to our patients.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed a medical marijuana law into place for Illinois Aug. 1, 2013. The law is going to be one of the strictest medical marijuana laws signed in the United States. There will be a four-year pilot program for 60 state-run dispensaries that will be under 24-hour surveillance.
The U.S. is lagging compared to other countries when it comes to the use of medical marijuana. Israel has used the drug for medicinal purposes since 2005 for terminally ill patients.
Passages Hospice strives to maintain its role as an innovative leader in hospice care and pain management. Medical marijuana can alleviate symptoms associated with terminal illnesses, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many others.
The drug will be used as treatment for a variety of symptoms, such as loss of appetite, nausea, pain, anxiety and sadness. The substance will also eliminate some of the negative side effects associated with drugs like morphine.
Medicinal use of marijuana has been around for many centuries. The Cannabis sativa plant has elements with pain relieving properties. Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in cannabis associated with the relief of pain and vomiting along with appetite stimulation.
The most common cannabinoid in the plant is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive chemical component that causes a high. This component is the reason medical marijuana has been so controversial. Fortunately, researchers have been able to develop strains of marijuana that contain little traces of THC, but just enough to have beneficial effects for medical purposes. This will allow patients to still maintain a clear head and carry out day-to-day activities.
“As part of our dedication to unique and innovative programs, we are anxiously awaiting approval for a medical marijuana licensure,” said Gillman. “Passages has always supported a patient’s right to live comfortably and on their terms.”
For more about Passages Hospice, visit www.passageshospice.com or call 888-741-8985.
Posted Jan. 29, 2014
On December 10th the National Law Review
published an article written by Vedder Price in which
they give some clarification of the Illinois Medical
On august 1, 2013 Governor Pat Quinn signed the
“Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot
One of the most disturbing provisions to me is the
fact that a patient CANNOT grow their own medicine.
It must be dispensed (and paid for) at a legally
However, one good thing that is included in the
“Act” was in regards to an employment related
issue. Under the “Act” it would be unlawful to
discriminate against an employee or applicant based
upon their medical cannabis use, provided is legally
prescribed and obtained.
It would seem that legalization has opened up doors
in all commerce ventures across the country and
worldwide. The problem is the legalization itself has
opened up a whole new door for criminalization.
As the product of “Cannabis” is patented, grown,
produced, sold and exchanged over the stock
market all around the world, the doors of the new
prisons will be opening for those of us who might
not choose to abide by their “growing standards”.
Each state law is markedly different and continuously
changing amid the stress of a newly marketed item.
But the bottom line is legalization equals regulation
and taxation which we are seeing now amid the
hustle and bustle of the “legalizing states”.
There will indeed be much money to be made.
Jobs will be created. People will have access to
Cannabis – IF deemed necessary by thier doctor,
and the “law”.
Just like the opiate wars which we are living in every
day, which would include all Pharmaceutical Opiates
which are marketed through Pharmacy’s and
regulated by law therefore creating a black market
for them by law of supply and demand (via
addiction), so will the war on Cannabis continue,
long after it is “legal”. The only difference is that the
Cannabis is not addictive like other opiates and that
is and will continue to be the saving factor in this
rude scenario of “legalization”.
Below are some links of information on the legalization process.
PORTAGE — A Glencoe, Ill., man is accused of selling $180 worth of psychedelic mushrooms to undercover officers Aug. 29.
Mark Edward Mikolajczyk, 33, now faces up to 20 years in prison on a Class B felony of dealing drugs and has also been charged two misdemeanors, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
An informant told the Porter County Drug Task Force that he knew of someone who dealt in “molly,” also known as Ecstasy, and psilocybin mushrooms.
Mikolajczyk told undercover agents he was out of “molly” but drove to Portage to deliver the mushrooms.
Portage police pulled him over after the deal and found the money used to buy the drugs (serial numbers had been recorded so the cash could be tracked), as well as another $703 and the 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)
"I don’t want to fucking give this United States government one fucking dollar of taxes…" — Jack Herer, "The Emperor of Hemp", September 12th, 2009
“I don’t want to fucking give this United States
government one fucking dollar of taxes…”
— Jack Herer, “The Emperor of Hemp”, September 12th, 2009
(Portland Hempstalk Festival–his final speech.)
The Fallacy of the “Legalize and Tax Cannabis” initiatives.
Overgrow The World
April 21, 2010
I have listened and understood the words of the late Jack Herer, and I am amazed how few people who say they believe in what Jack was saying truly understand the real reasons why he so horrified at the idea of creating new cannabis taxes. Let me explain quickly: THEY ARE NOT NEEDED AT ALL! As a matter of fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
Now I’m sure that many of you don’t believe me. If that is the case, then you also didn’t understand what Jack meant, or perhaps you simply weren’t paying attention, choosing to hear what you agreed with and ignoring what you didn’t understand, or simply weren’t interested in.
The first “ignored fact” is that the vast majority of the “illicit market” for cannabis is underground, hence, completely untaxed. There is a small fallacy to this statement, however, as even those “underground economies” still purchase their supplies, tools and equipment from “legitimate businesses” and those businesses all pay taxes of one form or another. Cannabis growers order pizza, buy gas, hire electricians and plumbers, et cetera. In this admittedly roundabout way, cannabis already is taxed, albeit to a very small degreee in comparison to the total size of the market as it stands, and to the potential which is known to exist.
Let’s say that cannabis/hemp were re-legalized prohibition was repealed today, and it was done so without the creation of any new tax codes specifically for cannabis. Most think that this would be a bad thing, as it wouldn’t be “exploiting the market” without creating new tax codes, new agencies, new enforcement regimes. Unfortunately, the people who believe that have been lied to, and it’s time that they learned the truth.
In actual fact, if cannabis were re-legalized prohibition was repealed today and taxes weren’t considered in the equation in any way, it would still be beneficial to society in terms of savings alone. We’d save money on policing, of which estimates range that between 40-60% of all police costs are directly due to “drug prohibition.” Logic follows that with police not bogged down with grandmothers taking a puff to slow their glaucoma, they would then be able to concentrate their resources on combating real crimes. Things like rape, murder, fraud, home invasion and theft, assault and battery, arson, financial crimes, environmental crimes (of which cannabis/hemp prohibition is one of the leading causes, in fact), and many more REAL crimes with REAL victims.
Taken a step further, lawyers would then be freed up to work on real crimes as well. So would prosecutors. So would judges, court stenographers, prison staff and more. WIthout locking away non-violent “criminals” who have harmed noone else–and this is the scary part for corporations–the “warehousing of otherwise productive humans for profit” would suddenly become far less profitable for the prison-industrial complex to continue, and prohibitionary statute development might begin to fade. With less “legal reasons” to imprison people for essentially minding their own business, more people would not have the lives and futures destroyed.
So let’s say that there were no new taxes created upon re-legalization of cannabis/hemp, and we ONLY consider the tens or hundreds of billions SAVED by no longer wasting time attacking people in their homes for posession or for growing a few plants for their own consumption. Are not those billions of dollars saved a tremendous enough benefit to justify the immediate repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition? Could saving those billions of dollars not be immediately transferred into lower taxes, or public debt reduction? Would those savings alone not be of tremendous, immediate and long-term social value?
Now let’s consider the tax idea on it’s own merit.
With re-legalization repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, there would immediately follow the creation of new businesses to exploit what is widely known to be a global market for cannaibs and hemp products. Each of those businesses would be subject to business income taxes that currently do not exist. WIthout a single character added to business tax statutes, the net result would be the establishment of “new revenue” from those “new businesses.”
Of course, those businesses would need people to man storefronts, deliver products, develop products, design packaging, grow the raw materials, process the raw materials, et cetera. These jobs would all be legitimate jobs in the real job market. Each of those jobs would be subject to existing income tax statutes. It’s not hard to see how those “new jobs” would in turn be utilized as “new tax revenue sources” which previously did not exist. Again, without a single line of new codes written, a brand new revenue stream has been obtained.
Each of those new employees and businesses would need supplies, equipment, computers, energy sources, and services. All of those businesses and individuals would then use their incomes to purchase those items or services they needed, either to operate or enhance their businesses, or simply to make their lives at home a little better. All of those products would be purchased at existing retailers and/or wholesalers that exist in the current “legitimate marketplace.” All (or the vast majority) of those purchases would be subject to sales taxes at state/provincial and federal levels. Again, not a single comma added to the existing statutes required, but “new revenue” has effectively been attained.
Now let’s take the cannabis market ITSELF.
All of those newly created and legitimate businesses would provide products that people either wanted or needed, be they for medical purposes or for recreational uses. All of those products would then be subject to state/provincial and federal sales taxes. With each sale would then come “new revenues” which do not exist today. Again–are you starting to notice a pattern yet?–without the addition of a single line of code to any existing tax codes.
The Fallacy of “New Government Regulatory Jobs”
People keep being told that “new jobs” will be created in the “new regulatory framework” that “will be needed”, but they haven’t thought this through. Some have partly thought it through, thinking that since a percentage of those worker’s incomes will be clawed back by income taxes–say 25%–that means that those jobs are “cheaper” than “real jobs”. That’s actually not quite right.
When you look the “real economy”, or in other words, the economy from which all government income is derived via the millions of tax codes which exist to take our incomes from us all, any position in this “real economy” is one which is subject to taxation, and therefore, is generally to be considered a contributing position.
On the other hand, when you look at “government jobs” which are wholly funded by “real people” with “real jobs” in the “real economy”, every government position which exists–no matter what country or what level of government–is a drain on society, and must be so, as “we hired them to work for us.”
Now let’s take a simple example that we’ve all heard a million times: “Joe The Plumber.”
If Joe was working in his own shop, or for someone else in their business, he would be a contributing factor in the “real economy” in the amount of taxation on his income, we’ll use 25% for illustration purposes. This means that 25% of his income is diverted to “public employees and projects” needed for society to function as it currently exists.
Now let’s take Joe’s situation if he were a government employee…let’s say he’s employed by the local Public Utilities Comission. Now Joe’s income is wholly funded by tax dollars, and thus, is a drain on society. We’ve established an income tax rate of 25%, so we can now say that Joe is “cheaper” because now his services now only costs us 75% of what they would, had he remained in his private sector job.
Here is the “minor error” in that logic: Joe has moved from the “real economy” to the “government economy”. In making that move, the “real economy” has lost 100% of a “real job”, while the government has gained an employee “at a discount of only 75% of their private sector wages.” When you add that up, you see quite clearly that Joe’s “new job” is effectively now a 175% loss to society as a whole.
Joe’s still making the same amount of money. We’re still paying him the same amount of money when he does his work…but now he is NOT contributing to the “real economy” at all, while he is draining 75% of his wages from unnaportioned taxation of the people who are forced to pay his salary, whether they partake of his services or not.
Unfortunately, this also applies to every “equivalent government position” that exists in the world. Accountants cost 175% of what they would cost in the “real economy.” So do welders, secretaries, cafeteria cooks, lawyers…ALL of them! If they work for the government, they are at a much higher cost than their equivalent “real world” positions in the real economy.
We need to keep this in mind whenever we hear talk of ” new regulations” because that almost always means “new regulatory bodies”, and that DEFINITELY always means “new government employees” which are going to cost us dearly if we allow such things to occur.
If we are forced to accept some form of taxation in order to move closer to the full repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, so be it…let’s move a little closer…but the second we have a positive change under our belts, we must NOT become complacent! We must continue to fight for the full repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition until the batttle is decisively won.
Once we have some “half-assed reasonable legislation” in place, we can guage what are the worst parts of those enacted bills and target them one by one until they’re all gone, and then, we will have our ofn freedom, and freedom for what is arguably the most important plant known on this planet.
At the Hempstalk Festival, during Jack Herer’s final public speech, he said (among other things):
“I don’t want to fucking give this United States government one fucking dollar of taxes…”
Obviously, he understood my thinking…or perhaps, I simply learned enough to come to an understanding of his.
What about you?
EDIT: I have since come up with the complete solution to the perils of prohibition in THREE WORDS:
If you remember only three words in your lifetime, THOSE are the ones that WILL end cannabis/hemp prohibition.
If we continue to be led by propagandists and prohibitionists into accepting ever-longer-names for prohibition, while believing we are “moving closer to freedom”, we’ll never get there…it’ll just keep getting more complex, more costly, and more damaging to society as a whole…as it has for decades already.
If we allow our politicians to “reschedule” cannabis, this COULD mean an outright statutory BAN on ALL cannabis use, medicinal or otherwise, for the length of time it would take “to conduct safety studies.” We already know that if they keep finding proof cannabis is non-toxic, anti-oxidant, neuroprotectant, et cetera, we also already know that these “safety studies” will be completed in an absolute minimum of 4-6 years, to an absolute maximum of…NEVER!
“Decriminalization” is NOT repeal. It’s still illegal.
“Legalization” simply tells the politicians and courts that we believe the fix to bad legislation conveived of in fraud can only be fixed not by deleting it from the recored entirely, but by making it more complex…but keeping it all on the books for future “quick-n-easy” readoption when prison investors want higher revenues to do their profit-taking from.
“Re-legalization” is just two letters prepended to the above.
“Tax and regulate” tells OUR EMPLOYEES that “we owe them new taxes for not wasting our money attacking us.” If we keep buying into the scam, they’ll get it, too!
“Regulate like [insert commodity of the hour here]” is just another way to justify the creation of a new regulatory body, hire new “government employees”, raise taxes, lower rights and freedoms, all while telling the wilfully ignorant population that “they are free.” They ain’t. They won’t be.
“REPEAL” means: The statutes are GONE. Deleted. History. Erased. Terminated. Removed from the “law” journals. NEVER TO RETURN.
The ridiculous proposition that “if we want it legal again, we have to create new taxes” is also a prime example of idiotic propaganda foisted upon a wilfully ignorant population. Only two seconds of thought tells you the truth of the situation…we do NOT need to “appease our employees” when we finally force them to stop wasting our money. Not wasting all those billions of dollars every year should be, and IS, reward enough to everyone all on it’s own!
When we find out we’ve got a crooked mechanic who’s bee charging us for spark plug changes on every visit that we didn’t really need, and were nothing more than a waste of OUR money…we don’t praise them and give them permanent bonuses, do we? So where did the idea come from, that in order for our employees to simply do their job with a litle more brainpower behind their actions, that we need to give them more money and hire more people? Reality has to sink in eventually, folks! Even through the infinitely thick skulls of “politicians.” They might be as dense as the core of a neutron star, but they still have ear holes! SO START SPEAKING UP!!!
Either we DEMAND the full repeal of prohibition, or we will continue on with it forever, just with a different name, and higher taxes…and let’s face it, folks: OUR EMPLOYEES will be completely happy to rename what they’re doing to us and call it whatever we want to call it, if we’re dumb enough to allow it to continue. Are we really so blind as to STILL not see the truth for what it is?
Want it over? MAKE it over!
It really is just as simple as that.
* That solves prohibition on a national level…we still need to remove cannabis/hemp from the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in order to end prohibition GLOBALLY.
The Fallacy of the “Legalize and Tax Cannabis” initiatives.
Overgrow The World
April 21, 2010
MY PERSONAL COMMENT: SOMETIMES (MOST OFTEN) OLD NEWS IS THE BEST NEWS – SMK.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Knee jerk? You betcha. Keep in mind that medical marijuana isn’t even legal in Illinois. So these people are wasting their time banning businesses that can’t even exist according to their state law.
The Illinois state legislature failed to pass medical marijuana laws in the 2012 session, but lawmakers have introduced an almost identical bill again this session. Dubbed House Bill 1, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, the proposal would allow for cultivation and distribution businesses in the state for a limited, trial period. The 2012 version also made possession of up to two ounces legal and would have made driving within six hours of medicating illegal.
Libertyville officials say that if the bill were passed, they wouldn’t be able to handle the zoning requests through their current code. The resolution the town passed January 22 – which is contingent on the state passing House Bill 1 – would require a public hearing on whether or not the town should adjust their zoning to allow medical marijuana businesses at all. It’s basically a ban, without really being a ban.
Multiple calls to the town trustees and mayor were not immediately returned. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.
Also on the chopping block at the January 22 town meeting were sex-related businesses. The town lingerie store would be spared, but all other stores selling porno flicks and vibrators (and any strip clubs) will be forced to operate in the industrial district on the edge of the Chicago suburb.
So while you can still get a lap dance in Libertyville, there’s apparently no room for people providing compassionate pain relief.