Earlier today, 18 members of Congress signed onto a letter that was delivered to President Barack Obama calling for him to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. “We request that you take action to help alleviate the harms to society caused by the federal Schedule I classification of marijuana. Lives and resources are wasted on enforcing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws,” the letter reads, “Nearly two-thirds of a million people every year are arrested for marijuana possession. We spend billions every year enforcing marijuana laws, which disproportionately impact minorities. According to the ACLU, black Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable usage rates.” The letter was signed by Representatives Blumenauer (OR), Cohen (TN), Farr (CA), Grijalva (AZ), Honda (CA), Huffman (CA), Lee (CA), Lofgren (CA), Lowenthal (CA), McGovern (MA), Moran (VA), O’Rourke (TX), Polis (CO), Quigley (IL), Rohrabacher (CA), Schakowsky (IL), Swalwell (CA), and Welch (VT). “Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during his State of the State address on Jan. 8 plans for a medical marijuana pilot program that would permit up to 20 hospitals to distribute cannabis to patients with serious illnesses. According to a press release, the pilot program "will allow qualified eligible participants to seek relief for their symptoms in a safe and legal manner, while also evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of a medical marijuana system," with the findings of the program to help shape future policy. The plan creates the program within current New York statutory authority—specifically, the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act of 1980, which allows the state to establish medical marijuana research programs in hospitals. Critics have claimed that the reliance on this statute is unworkable in the long-term. (Jurist, Jan. 9) read more
November 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Utah doctors endorse push for medical marijuanaDaily HeraldIn a letter sent to the state Controlled Substances Advisory Committee on Tuesday, pediatric neurologist Dr. Francis Filloux said the liquid form of medical marijuana is a promising option for children with epilepsy. Filloux and the other doctors join …and more »
25 Years Ago: DEA’s Own Administrative Law Judge Ruled Cannabis Should Be Reclassified Under Federal Law
Friday, September 6, 2013 marks the 25-year anniversary of an administrative ruling which determined that cannabis possesses accepted medical utility and ought to be reclassified accordingly under federal law. The ruling, issued in 1988 by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young “In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling,” determined: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.” Young continued: “It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.” Judge Young concluded: “The administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator conclude that the marijuana plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II [of the federal Controlled Substances Act].” Judge Young’s ruling was in response to an administrative petition filed in 1972 by NORML which sought to reschedule cannabis under federal law. Federal authorities initially refused to accept the petition until mandated to do so by the US Court of Appeals in 1974, and then refused to properly process it until again ordered by the Court in 1982. In 1986, 14-years after NORML filed its initial petition, the DEA finally held public hearings on the issue before Judge Young, who rendered his decision two years later. However, then-DEA Administrator John Lawn ultimately rejected Young’s determination, and in 1994, the Court of Appeals allowed Lawn’s reversal to stand – maintaining marijuana’s present classification as a Schedule I prohibited substance with “no accepted medical use,” and a “lack of accepted safety … under medical supervision.” In July 2011, the DEA rejected a separate marijuana rescheduling petition, initially filed in 2002. This past January, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the DEA’s decision, ruling that insufficient clinical studies exist to warrant a judicial review of cannabis’ federally prohibited status. Petitioners have appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court, which may or may not elect to review the matter.
In a historic pivot in the War on Drugs, the Obama Justice Department announced this week that the federal government will allow Washington and Colorado to implement their state laws for the taxation and regulation of legal marijuana. The carefully worded Justice Department memo does nothing to alter federal law. Instead, it makes explicit the federal objectives of continued enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act preventing activities including the distribution of marijuana to minors, the diversion of marijuana profits to criminals and cartels, the growing of pot on federal land and the export of marijuana from states where it is legal to states that uphold prohibition. To the extent that states themselves support those federal priorities by implementing “strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana,” the memo suggests, they should be left alone for now. In a radical twist, the memo even suggests that “robust” state regulation of legal pot “may affirmatively address [federal] priorities by . . . replacing an illicit marketplace that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.” The administration’s move exceeded even the rosiest expectations of drug reform advocates. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the sort of political vision and foresight from the White House we’ve been seeking for a long time,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement. “I must admit, I was expecting a yellow light from the White House. But this light looks a lot more green-ish than I had hoped. The White House is basically saying to Washington and Colorado: Proceed with caution.” In fact, the memo applies not only to states that have legalized recreational pot (or will), but gives new certainty to the nearly 20 states that have legalized medical marijuana. Most striking, the memo reverses the big-is-bad and profit-is-evil principles that have driven the recent crackdown on medical marijuana operations in California and beyond. “In exercising prosecutorial discretion,” the memo says, “prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department’s enforcement priorities.” “This is the most heartening news to come out of Washington in a long, long time,” said Neill Franklin, the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “The federal government is not simply standing aside and allowing the will of the people to prevail in these two states. The attorney general and the Obama administration are exhibiting inspired leadership. The message to the people of the other 48 states, to all who value personal freedom and responsible regulation is clear: seize the day.” Source: Rolling Stone (US) Author: Tim Dickinson Published: August 30, 2013 Copyright: 2013 Straight Arrow Publishers Company, L.P. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.rollingstone.com/
August 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Should Marijuana Be Rescheduled?Huffington PostIn short, the reason marijuana hasn't been rescheduled is because no product of whole, raw marijuana has a "currently accepted medical use" in the U.S., which is part of the legal definition of Schedule I defined by the Controlled Substances Act. By …Feds: Allow Medical Marijuana!National Review Online (blog)all 2 news articles »
The initiative to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Washington was estimated on Friday to raise up to $1.9 billion in new tax revenue over five years — or zero. The wild swing, included in an analysis by the state Office of Financial Management, reflects broad uncertainty about the potential federal intervention in an initiative that would set up the nation’s first regulated market for recreational marijuana use. The sky-high revenue estimate, which was previously disclosed in March, is based on an assumption that 363,000 customers in Washington would consume 187,000 pounds of marijuana in new state-license retail shops if Initiative 502 were approved in the Nov. 6 election. If it does pass, I-502 would earmark $227 million a year of new marijuana taxes for the state’s basic health plan and $113 million a year for drug research, prevention and treatment. Statewide administrative costs, covering such things as training police and licensing, would be more than $16 million a year. But the fiscal analysis makes clear the “significant uncertainties related to federal enforcement of federal criminal laws” outlawing marijuana. The analysis says that federal law enforcement could possibly target state-licensed growers and retailers, which “may prevent the development of a functioning marijuana market.” Attached to the analysis is a 2010 letter from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, sent as California voters were considering legalizing marijuana, vowing to “vigorously enforce the CSA ( Controlled Substances Act ) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture and distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.” Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for I-502, said the federal response may depend on the margin of victory. She noted that the federal government has only sporadically intervened in the medical-marijuana industry, and usually only when operators appear to be abusing state law. “Voters need to know that the federal government is giving us the room to show what we want to do,” she said. This analysis tried to tally some costs and savings for legalized marijuana but lacked data to estimate savings from fewer drug prosecutions. In 2011, 9,308 charges were filed in local and superior courts statewide for possession of less than 40 grams, which would be legal under I-502. A new DUI threshold for marijuana — a provision deeply unpopular with medical-marijuana patients — would likely raise nearly $4 million in fees from drivers charged under the provision. On Friday, the state Official of Financial Management also released an analysis of Initiative 1240, which would allow the creation of charter schools. I-1240 would cost $3.1 million over five years, mostly to establish an application process, and to run an oversight commission. The initiative would authorize as many as 40 charter schools, which are free, public, independent and can hire nonunion teachers. They would be funded the same way as traditional public schools, on a per-student basis. Staff reporter Brian M. Rosenthal contributed to this report. Pubdate: Sat, 11 Aug 2012 Source: Seattle Times (WA) Copyright: 2012 The Seattle Times Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ Author: Jonathan Martin
The medical use of marijuana was on trial Friday at the Sudbury courthouse. David Sylvestre was sentenced to 10 months under house arrest after pleading guilty to production of a controlled substance — cannabis and cannabis resin — he said he uses to treat severe diabetes. Sylvestre, 54, was also charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime in February 2009, after a search warrant executed at his St. Charles home turned up almost $100,000 worth of illicit substances. Those charges were withdrawn. Police seized 37 pounds of marijuana, 12 pounds of cannabis oil or resin and $1,300 in cash at Sylvestre’s home. Sylvestre appeared in the Superior Court of Justice before Justice Robbie Gordon, who heard submissions from Sylvestre’s lawyer, Denis Michel, and Crown prosecutor Denys Bradley prior to delivering his sentence. Michel was seeking a conditional sentence of house arrest for his client and Bradley was seeking a jail sentence of nine to 12 months. About 40 supporters of Sylvestre’s, in favour of the medical use of marijuana, packed into Courtroom J to lend support to the man who ran for the Green Party of Ontario against Sudbury Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci in the 2007 election. Michel said his client had never been in trouble with the law and was a practitioner of natural medicine who derived a product from marijuana he thought was a “miracle cure” for controlling diabetes. Sylvestre has post-secondary education in chemical engineering and was growing marijuana and experimenting to see whether it could replace the conventional medications and insulin he was taking for diabetes. Sylvestre worked for more than 25 years and raised a family, and when he was charged by police, he and his family were just “getting on with enjoying the Earth’s benefits,” said Michel. Michel told the court while Sylvestre had a prescription from a physician for the use of marijuana and had applied to Health Canada for permission to use the substance, he hasn’t been licensed to do so. Gordon questioned why Sylvestre would have grown such a large quantity of marijuana when he said he needed less than eight grams a day to control diabetes. The judge pointed out police seized 36.9 pounds of marijuana buds, 12 pounds of cannabis resin and 38 plants from six to 18 inches tall. “Does that seem to you to be an inordinate amount?” he asked Michel. Michel agreed it did, but said Sylvestre needed that quantity to produce the substance that gave him relief from diabetes symptoms. “I’m not saying it’s a cure for everyone,” said Michel of his client’s use of cannabis to control diabetes. But his client didn’t want to become wheelchair-bound from complications from the disease. Sylvestre later told Gordon, because he hadn’t grown marijuana before, he didn’t realize how much of the substance he was producing. Michel said his client was not a danger to society. “A conditional sentence is jail, it is custody. There’s no denying it,” said Michel. Some people think it’s a “glorified probation order,” he said, but it’s not. Bradley spoke of the impact a grow operation this size could have on the wider community, suggesting people like Sylvestre are “the reason there are drugs in schools in our community.” Sylvestre’s supporters booed and jeered at that remark before being admonished by Gordon they weren’t doing Sylvestre any favours. Bradley urged the judge to send a message to citizens with his sentencing of Sylvestre that jail is the result of running “large, sophisticated” grow operations. Sylvestre told Gordon he did not have “monetary profit” in mind when he grew the large quantity of marijuana. At one point, Gordon cautioned Sylvestre he was venturing “a little far afield” when he spoke about nutrition and soils in relation to diabetes, urging him to stick to the matter at hand. “I have an intent to do no harm in honesty and integrity,” Sylvestre told the judge. “I am not a criminal, not at all, and so I stand here before you … I could tell you lots more, but it would probably not be what you want to hear.” Sylvestre said he watched a friend die of diabetes-related complications, and feared that was his fate if he continued with traditional medicine. He even contemplated suicide, “that’s how bad my quality of life was,” said Sylvestre, who is now on a disability pension. He said it was “unbelievable” he would be denied a way to improve his health, but he said he had no intentions of breaking the law. “I want to prosper life, not just for me but for everybody,” he said. Gordon asked Sylvestre what happens when that desire conflicts with the law. Sylvestre said people should work to change those laws. Several members of the gallery cheered. Said Sylvestre: “I cannot just sit back and do nothing, but I will not break the law.” An activist involved in Occupy Sudbury protests, the anti-poverty movement and community gardening, Sylvestre said he tells people to “respect the law” and “do no harm. “I don’t know what else to say.” Gordon said he believed Sylvestre did not sell the cannabis he grew, but Gordon said he “wasn’t naive enough to believe it wasn’t shared with others.” Bradley had told the court he feared just that — that cannabis shared with others would end up in the wrong hands. Gordon said he doubts Sylvestre will stop using cannabis, but said he did not think Sylvestre posed a threat to the community. This is one of the rare instances where a conditional sentence is appropriate, said Gordon. “This is no slap on the wrist,” and 10 months of house arrest reflects that. Under the terms of his sentence, Sylvestre must remain at his home in the Flour Mill at all times except for medical appointments and Saturdays from 10 a.m..-4 p.m. He cannot possess weapons for 10 years. When asked if he could comply with those conditions, Sylvestre said yes. “Good luck,” said Gordon before adjourning. Supporters broke into loud applause, cheers and whistles, crowding around Sylvestre and hugging him as he spoke with reporters. Sylvestre said he was never worried about going to jail, although his family was. One of his supporters, a man about 30, began to weep when Sylvestre repeated his mantra of “no harm in honesty and integrity.” Said the man: “That’s Dave.”
Yesterday, February 6th, Governor Quinn signed SB 1701 (known better as the Good Samaritan Policy or Overdose Immunity Bill), which has been on his desk since December 16th, marking the first time any policy of this sort has passed into law in Illinois. In layman’s terms, it establishes extended rights for drug offenders calling on behalf of someone overdosing. In a state where heroin overdose is among the worst in the nation, this bill was designed to try and reduce the harms of substances regulated by the Controlled Substances Act. Read More
#1 NORML Sues to Halt Government’s Prosecution of Medical Cannabis Providers In October, the United States Deputy Attorney General, along with the four US Attorneys from California, announced their intentions to escalate federal efforts targeting the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries and providers. In response, members of the NORML Legal Committee filed suit in November against the federal government arguing that its actions were in violation of the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. Plaintiffs further argued, using the theory of judicial estoppel, that the Justice Department had previously affirmed in federal court that it would no longer use federal resources to prosecute cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law.