WASHINGTON — An appeals court rejected the bid by medical marijuana backers to ease federal controls of the drug, ruling that the government properly kept the substance in its most dangerous category.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to maintain marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act because there are no adequate scientific studies finding an acceptable medical use.
“The question before the court is not whether marijuana could have some medical benefits,” U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards wrote in the opinion.
Edwards said the court’s review was limited to whether the DEA’s decision declining to reschedule the drug was arbitrary and capricious. He said the court found there was “substantial evidence” to support the agency’s determination that such studies don’t exist.
The case involves a 10-year-old petition from medical marijuana advocates who asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, IV or V drug, which would allow for looser regulation. On June 21, 2011, the DEA rejected the request, stating that existing clinical evidence wasn’t adequate to warrant reclassification.
“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well- documented studies that conclude otherwise,” Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the medical marijuana advocacy
organization that brought the case, said in an e-mailed statement.
Elford told the court during arguments in October that there were more than 200 studies that the agency refused to consider.
The group said it will appeal the ruling, according to the statement.
Lena Watkins, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told the court in October that the studies cited by the marijuana proponents were rejected because the research didn’t meet government standards. She said about 15 studies meet the standards, though the government doesn’t have the final results yet.
The court also waved off claims that government blocked efforts to study the medical effects of marijuana, citing the Health and Human Services Department policy supporting the clinical research with botanical marijuana.
“It appears that adequate and well-controlled studies are wanting not because they have been foreclosed but because they have not been completed,” Edwards said in the ruling.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
FRANKFORT, Ky. — With support from some of the state’s top politicians and claims that it would create thousands of jobs, an effort to legalize industrial hemp — the less-potent cousin of marijuana — may have its best chance of passing the Kentucky General Assembly.
Opposition from the Kentucky State Police helped kill earlier efforts to legalize hemp, which can be processed into fiber for clothing or provide an oil used in skin- and hair-care products. Once legal, hemp production in the United States was centered in Kentucky. Production fell nationally after the mid-1800s, as cotton surged.
State police still oppose legalizing hemp, arguing in part that because the plants look virtually the same as marijuana it could impede drug enforcement efforts.
But the proposal to legalize hemp has gained momentum from the alliance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, state Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
“This is something that you don’t have to borrow any money (for) that will have an immediate impact of thousands of jobs,” Comer said, based on an assumption that processors and manufacturers would locate in Kentucky if it is one of the first states to approve it. “We’re ahead at something that relates to economic development for once, so let’s pursue it.”
Comer and Paul say the state police concerns are unfounded because growers of industrial hemp would be licensed and global-positioning system devices would identify legal crops and reveal others as illegal.
Comer’s Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville, was filed earlier this month just before the legislature adjourned until February.
The bill would require growers to be licensed annually and have their backgrounds checked by the Agriculture Department. Each licensee would be required to plant a minimum of 10 acres to eliminate people who aren’t serious from getting licenses.
Growers would have to keep sales contracts for three years and provide names of hemp buyers to the department.
Hemp seeds produce plants with less than 1 percent THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, which has between 3 percent and 15 percent THC.
Comer said he believes there are 22 votes in the 38-member Senate in favor of the bill. But if it isn’t assigned to Hornback’s committee by Senate President Robert Stivers and other Senate leaders, it may never get to the floor.
“I’m afraid I see problems in the Senate,” Comer said.
Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said some members are uncomfortable with the bill.
If the measure passes the Senate, it likely will face an even tougher battle in the House, where Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McKee, a Democrat from Cynthiana, has blocked similar bills from getting a vote in the past
McKee has said the state police concerns resonate with him.
“I think we have some questions to answer, but I certainly don’t want to close any opportunity for viable agriculture,” McKee said earlier this month.
Gov. Steve Beshear said on a Lexington radio call-in show recently that his “only hesitation” is law enforcement concerns.
Even if an industrial hemp bill passed in Kentucky, it would still need federal approval. Federal drug policy effectively bans growing it, although other countries, such as Canada, allow it.
Paul, a Bowling Green Republican, has supported federal legislation to enable hemp production by classifying it separately from marijuana. Paul and Comer appeared together at the Kentucky State Fair last year to talk about their support for industrial hemp.
If legalized, Comer said he doesn’t see corn and soybean growers in Western Kentucky switching to industrial hemp, but he said it would be a profitable alternative for growers in hillier areas whose land is now used for grazing and pasture.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
If you needed another reason to avoid visiting a doctor, Obama just gave you a new one: as part of Obama’s 23 executive orders announced today, doctors will be transformed into gun control snitches who are ordered by Obama to ask patients about guns they might have at home.
Here’s the doublespeak from the executive order text:
Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.
What this means is that doctor-patient confidentiality is now history. Even worse, doctors are being pressed to start interrogating patients about whether they own guns so that this information can be reported to the government. This is all being done under the cover of so-called “gun safety” but it’s really about turning doctors into devious government spies who conduct covert patient interrogations under the cover of providing them with health care. Once collected by the government, this information will then be used to seize guns from those individuals under some kind of mental health designation.
This is all an extension of the current medical police state in which parents who say no to vaccinations for their children are threatened with having their children kidnapped by government thugs (CPS) if they don’t provide consent for the mass vaccination of their child (often with 6+ vaccines all at once).
Parents have also been arrested and / or threatened for refusing to consent to chemotherapy for their teen children who are diagnosed with cancer.
It’s not clear how these new executive orders are intended to prevent people from having their guns stolen and then used in a violent crime, as happened with the recent Sandy Hook shooting. Rather than actually preventing crime, this executive order seems aimed at labeling gun owners mentally ill by recruiting doctors into a government-run health care spy network.
CDC ordered to treat gun ownership as a disease
The Centers for Disease Control — the same government agency that routinely lies about flu pandemics and vaccines — is also being ordered by Obama to “research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”
This is doublespeak for having the CDC label gun ownership a “pandemic” and produce maps showing the “hot spots” of gun ownership that must be targeted with disarmament efforts in order to stop the spread of the “disease.”
Remember: The CDC routinely fabricates information to pursue its political agenda. The oft-quoted “35,000 flu deaths a year” statistic put out by the CDC, for example, is a complete fabrication with no scientific basis in reality. The CDC also fabricates numbers of flu shot effectiveness, putting out completely fabricated claims such as “this year’s flu shot was 62% effective.”
These numbers are pulled out of thin air. They have no basis in actual science or statistics. The CDC makes stuff up, including much of the mythology behind the so-called “AIDS epidemic.” (The CDC ran a massive AIDS fear mongering campaign in the 1980′s that scared the entire nation into increasing CDC funding.)
Now, the CDC is going to attack gun ownership as if it were a disease. Anyone who expresses a desire to own a gun will be described as “mentally imbalanced” and possibly suffering from a mental disease. After all, the argument goes, what sane person would ever want to own a gun in the first place? That’s the kind of irrational, emotional and manipulative argument we’re going to hear in the years ahead. You can also expect all private gun owners to be painted as complete nut jobs and whackos.
You can be 100% sure that as the CDC researches “the causes of gun violence,” the agency absolutely will not conclude that psychiatric drugs had anything whatsoever to do with all the school shootings. Much like the FDA, the CDC runs interference for Big Pharma, deflecting blame at every opportunity. This is the same agency that continues to promote vaccines which inject babies with mercury!
Doctors: Sellouts to Big Pharma and the police state
All this makes (conventional) doctors even worse sellouts than we already suspected. Everybody knows doctors come out of medical school as Big Pharma’s dealers who routinely accept bribes from Big Pharma to prescribe their brand name drugs. But now doctors are also going to be snitching for the government.
That’s Obama’s new society: Everybody’s a snitch. Children are encouraged by school teachers to snitch on their parents, psychiatrists are now being ordered in New York to snitch on their patients, and now doctors across the country are being ordered to snitch on their patients.
These are classic signs of a police state where every other person is part of the government spy network (Stasi) reporting on anyone who dares to believe they still have a Bill of Rights (or privacy).
With the stroke of a pen, Obama has just transformed the entire health care system into a government spy network that snitches on innocent people under the pretense of providing them with health care.
That’s your Obamacare, folks: An interrogation, a band-aid and a bill in the mail. America is being screwed over on so many levels today, we’re all going to need emergency colon surgery just to pull the large metal objects out of our asses that have been jammed in there by Big Government.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
PUBLISHED FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2012 AT 6:19 PM / UPDATED AT 8:46 PM
CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD
Guilty verdict in case of Yippie caught with 155 pounds of pot
By Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau
LINCOLN — One of the original members of the ‘60s revolutionary group, the Yippies, was found guilty this week of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver after being caught with 155 pounds of baled pot in a van at Ashland, Neb.
Washington, D.C. — Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 16th at 9:30am.
“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy,” continued Elford. “What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.”
ASA filed its lawsuit in January, challenging the July 2011 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denial of the CRC petition, which was filed in 2002. The DEA is the final arbiter on petitions to reclassify controlled substances, but other agencies are also involved in the review process. Patient advocates claim that marijuana is treated unlike any other controlled substance in that rescheduling petitions are encumbered by politics and therapeutic research is subjected to a unique and overly rigorous approval process.
The announcement of oral arguments comes just weeks after a study was published in The Open Neurology Journal by Dr. Igor Grant one of the leading U.S. medical marijuana researchers, claiming that marijuana’s Schedule I classification is “not tenable.” Dr. Grant and his fellow researchers concluded it was “not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.” The study urged additional research, and stated that marijuana’s federal classification and its political controversy are “obstacles to medical progress in this area.” Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance (along with heroin) is based on the federal government’s position that it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
For more than a year, the Obama Justice Department has been escalating its attacks in medical marijuana states, including dozens of new federal indictments and prosecutions. Though U.S. Attorneys often claim that the accused have violated state law in some way, defendants are prevented from using any medical evidence or a state law defense in federal court. If the rescheduling lawsuit is successful and marijuana is reclassified, federal defendants will then gain the basis for a medical necessity defense.
The ASA appeal brief asserts that the federal government has acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the U.S. ASA argues in its brief that the DEA has no “license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case.” ASA is urging the court to “require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly,” and order “a hearing and findings based on the scientific record.” The panel of judges assigned to hear oral arguments includes Circuit Judges Henderson and Garland, and Senior Circuit Judge Edwards.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical marijuana laws that not only recognize the medical efficacy of marijuana, but also provide safe and legal access to it. Since the CRC petition was filed in 2002, an even greater number of studies have been published that show the medical benefits of marijuana for illnesses such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Last year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, added cannabis to its list of Complementary and Alternative Medicines, pointing out that it’s been therapeutically used for millennia.
AFI: Several patient-plaintiffs are available for interviews
Mr. Britt is a 52-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, who developed polio as a child, which caused him to have scoliosis, a fused left ankle, shortened left leg, and bone degeneration in his left hip. Mr. Britt also suffers from epilepsy, depression and insomnia, and uses marijuana to treat chronic pain in his leg, back, and hip. Marijuana has reduced Mr. Britt’s seizures and depression, and helps him sleep. Although Mr. Britt has taken prescription medication such as Marinol, Robaxin, Soma, and Xanax, none has proven as effective as marijuana.
Mr. Krawitz is a 49-year-old resident of Elliston, Virginia, who suffered an automobile accident in 1984 while serving in the United States Air Force. Mr. Krawitz has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as being totally and permanently disabled. Mr. Krawitz uses marijuana to treat chronic pain and trauma associated with his accident. He also use marijuana to treat central serous retinopathy. However, because of Mr. Krawitz’s medical marijuana use, he has been denied pain treatment by the VA.
Ms. Sherer is a resident of Washington, D.C. and the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In April of 2000, Ms. Sherer suffered a physical attack that has caused her to suffer from a condition that produced inflammation, muscle spasms, pain throughout her body, and decreased mobility in her neck. Because of multiple pain medications she was prescribed, Ms. Sherer suffered kidney damage. After her doctor recommended medical marijuana, Ms. Sherer successfully reduced her inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. This prompted Ms. Sherer to found ASA in April of 2002 to share what she learned about the therapeutic value of marijuana and to change public policy.
D.C. Circuit announcement of oral arguments: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_v_DEA_Oral_Arguments.pdf
ASA appeal brief: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf
DEA denial of CRC petition: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Petition_DEA_Answer.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf
When the Federal Appeals Court for the DC District begins taking evidence on October 16th in the appeal of the denial of a petition to reschedule marijuana from schedule I ( dangerous and having no medical value), to schedule II (dangerous but having medical value), one of the most important pieces of evidence to be presented will be the work of Dr. Igor Grant. Dr. Grant is a Professor of Psychiatry and is the Director of the state funded Center For Medical Cannabis Research at the University of California San Diego. The Center has completed 13 studies on medical marijuana and has found that smoked and vaporized medical cannabis is effective and beneficial for patients suffering from cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis and particularly chronic pain from a variety of conditions. These gold standard double blind studies also concluded that although there is some potential for abuse of medical marijuana, marijuana more closely resembles drugs in schedule III. Generally, adverse effects from marijuana use are mild to moderate and they decline over time. There have been no reports of overdose causing fatality from medical marijuana use.
Additional evidence likely to be used is the work of Dr. Donald Tashkin. His study of the possible connection between lung cancer and smoked cannabis resulted in some startling conclusions. As reported in Scientific American, the study of more than 2000 participants found no increase in the risk of developing lung cancer in people who use smoked marijuana. Those interviewed for the study included 611 cancer patients, 601 patients with head and neck cancer and 1,040 patients as controls. All participants were under 60. Additionally 80% of those with lung cancer and 70% of those with head and neck cancer had smoked tobacco while half of them smoked marijuana. As has been shown in many studies more tobacco smoking resulted in more cancers.
When researchers controlled for tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, smoking marijuana seemed not to have an effect. No link was found between smoking marijuana and developing head, neck, and lung cancer. The researchers concluded that marijuana seemed to have an anti cancer aspect to it and indeed other recent research has born this out. Research world wide supports the fact that marijuana is a relatively safe medicine effective for a number of conditions.
When the evidence is tallied up the Court will be left with only one conclusion. Marijuana is a safe and effective medicine and it should be rescheduled to more accurately reflect the facts regarding it’s use. This was the conclusion of the Administrative Law Judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Francis L. Young in his 1988 decision, “The evidence clearly shows that marijuana is capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people and doing so with safety under medical supervision… it would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the Drug Enforcement Administration to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance”. In that case the DEA got a appeals court to overturn the ruling, this time, with the DEA’s back against the wall, reformers will be waiting anxiously to see how the DEA will respond to the courts ruling should it not be in their favor, panic can make for some interesting outcomes.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Senator Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) is currently working to do away with Federal laws that classify industrial hemp in the same way as marijuana, a move that he says would have lasting economic benefits.
Currently, the Federal government effectively prohibits production of the non-hallucinogenic plant that can be used to make products including twine, paper and clothing. Even though 27 States have made some moves to facilitate hemp production, farmers who grow the plants still risk Federal raids.
Uploaded by mrwhateverfor on Dec 20, 2011
On July 29, 2005, Canadian police, acting on a request from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), simultaneously raided the BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Headquarters in Vancouver and arrested Emery for extradition to the United States outside a local storefront in the community of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia where he was attending a HempFest.
American authorities charged Emery and co-defendants Gregory Keith Williams, 50, of Vancouver, BC and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, of Vancouver, BC with “‘Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana”, “Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Seeds” and “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering”. Even though all the alleged offenses occurred in Canada, Canadian police did not lay any charges.
The day of Emery’s arrest, American DEA Administrator Karen Tandy admitted reasons behind the arrest were politically motivated by releasing the following statement, which praised blows dealt to the legalization movement: Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today. Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.
Emery was freed on a $50,000 bail and prepared to fight extradition in the courts.
Emery and his two associates, all charged in the United States with drug and money laundering offences, each faced a minimum 10-year sentence and the possibility of life imprisonment if convicted there.
On January 14, 2008, Emery had agreed to a tentative plea-bargain with U.S. authorities. The terms of the agreement were a 5-year prison term to be served in both Canadian and U.S. prisons. In return, he demanded the charges against his friends Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams be dropped.
(An appeal court judge ruled on March 7, 2008 in a similar case that a one-month jail sentence and probation constituted an adequate sentence for the crime of marijuana seed selling in Canada. This could possibly have been used to Emery’s advantage in his fight against extradition.
On March 27, 2008 the plea-bargain deal collapsed because of the refusal of the Canadian Conservative government to approve its side of the arrangement.
In late 2008, an extradition hearing was scheduled for June, 2009. However, before those hearings Emery agreed to plead guilty to one charge of drug distribution and accept a five-year sentence in the USA.
On September 21, 2009, Emery entered his guilty plea, and on September 28, he was incarcerated in a British Columbia prison awaiting extradition to a US federal prison to serve the five year sentence. There is a 30 day appeal period before extradition.
Emery was granted bail on November 18, after seven weeks in the pre-trial centre, to await the Justice Minister’s decision on the extradition order.
While Emery was imprisoned, his supporters held a permanent vigil outside the prison with tents and banners for 45 days, ending when Emery was released on bail.
On September 10, 2010, Emery was sentenced to 5 years in prison minus time served.
Until April 2011 Emery was held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the D. Ray James Correctional Institution in Folkston, Georgia.
On April 20, 2011, Emery was transferred to Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi.
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We are Independent. Although we are not technically affiliated with the USMarijuanaParty.org some of us are members of that party.
I, myself, am still listed on WIKI as a Chairperson, even though I resigned that position last July 2011.
I am now considered Kentucky Administrative as of September 2012.
However, the sites being set up pertain to issues only as a (NGO-Non Governmental Organization) and do not represent a “political party” in any form.
We do contact our legislators concerning issues that may or may not have to do with “repealing prohibition” – we ARE “Anti-prohibitionists”…
We will address any issue to do with Human Rights, Civil Rights, Constitutional Rights, Second Amendment, “Bill of Rights”, Religious Rights, Ecological-all aspects including Coal Fired Energy, Mountain Top Removal, etc., Police Brutality, Prisoners Rights, other Political Issues and anything else that comes up as needing to be addressed.
Feel free to contact with suggestions, etc., or if you would like to be a contributor to the site.
ShereeKrider@hotmail.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Landmark Prescription Drug Bill Takes Effect; Gov. Beshear Praises Full Throttle Attack on Prescription Abuse
Office of the Attorney General
Landmark Prescription Drug Bill Takes Effect; Gov. Beshear Praises Full Throttle Attack on Prescription Abuse
Press Release Date:
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Just days after a landmark prescription drug abuse law took effect, Governor Steve Beshear joined lawmakers and medical providers to report the law has already effected changes in the medical field and positioned Kentucky as a national leader in battling prescription abuse.
House Bill 1 (HB1), sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, passed in a special legislative session this spring. The bill included multiple elements to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs and to enhance law enforcement’s tools to investigate illegal prescribing practices.
“The enforcement of this bill began just a couple of days ago, and yet we already know that four ‘pain management clinics’ in Kentucky have waved the white flag and notified us they will shut their doors,” said Gov. Beshear. “We know that more than 9,000 medical providers have signed up for electronic prescription monitoring just since this law passed in April – more than doubling the number registered. The word is out. Kentucky is deadly serious about stopping this scourge of prescription drug abuse, and now we have some of the strongest tools in the country to make that happen.”
Gov. Beshear was joined by Attorney General Jack Conway as well as representatives from medical licensure boards, advocacy groups and law enforcement organizations, for today’s announcement.
HB1 expands the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system, the state’s prescription monitoring system, by requiring all prescription providers of controlled substances to register. It requires pain management clinics to be owned by a licensed medical practitioner, and requires professional licensure boards to investigate prescribing complaints immediately. The legislation allows for better coordination between health regulators and law enforcement to address problems of abuse. Finally, elements of HB1 will help prevent Kentucky from becoming a source state for prescription pills.
According to Kentucky’s Drug Control Policy Office, nearly 1,000 Kentuckians die every year from drug overdoses – an annual fatality rate that exceeds deaths from car accidents. More than 5,000 overdose patients are admitted to hospitals annually.
“Let’s be very clear – if you need a prescription for a controlled substance for a legitimate medical condition, you have nothing to fear. You’ll get your medicine. For doctors who worry their ability to prescribe will be compromised, you have nothing to fear. The law is built to protect valid prescribing,” said Gov. Beshear. “But if you’re doctor-shopping, buying extra pills for recreational use, or prescribing pills for cash, you’d better change your vocation or change your location, because we’re coming after you.”
“Prescription drug abuse is killing Kentuckians. Three people will die today from prescription drug overdoses. I believe the provisions in House Bill 1 will save the lives of our friends, our neighbors and our family members,” said Attorney General Jack Conway. “The provisions in this law will help shut down rogue clinics and providers who are poisoning people. I appreciate those in the medical community who have joined with us as responsible providers to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
“House Bill 1 and the emergency regulations will help stop tragic loss of life to drug abuse. We are working closely with medical professionals to ensure that legitimate pain management cases are not adversely affected,” said Speaker Stumbo. “The joint Implementation and Oversight Committee will be alert to any needed corrections, and we will make sure that all concerns are addressed.”
Lawmakers praised the cooperation of the Cabinets, agencies, and boards who worked together to create new regulations, educate patients and medical providers, and build the necessary computer infrastructure to support the implementation of the law.
HB1 Impact – KASPER enhancements
Effective July 20, all medical practitioners who prescribe controlled substances must register to use KASPER and run a KASPER report before prescribing a patient a controlled substance such as Oxycontin or Xanax.
When the law passed in April, KASPER had 7,911 registered accounts. Since then, another 9,137 providers have signed up for the program, a 115 percent increase.
According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), which oversees KASPER, 90 percent of all KASPER reports are completed within 15 to 30 seconds. The reports show medical providers what other controlled substances have been prescribed to a patient and in what amount.
“Some providers worried that running a KASPER report would be cumbersome or time consuming, but 9 times out of 10, it will take as much time as measuring a patient’s blood pressure or recording their insurance information,” said Mary Begley, CHFS Inspector General. “It’s a very short investment of time that will become as routine as taking a patient’s temperature. A report can provide crucial information that not only may flag a problem user, but may also warn a provider of otherwise unforeseen complications from drug interactions.”
KASPER’s cache of prescription information will grow more robust as more users add records. Supporters say patient care will become more precise as medical providers review patient prescription history and know more about existing prescriptions.
A 2010 CHFS poll of KASPER users noted that 94 percent of medical providers said that the program is an effective tool in tracking an individual’s prescription history, and nearly 94 percent reported satisfaction with the tool. Nearly 9 in 10 KASPER users reported denying a prescription for a controlled substance to a patient based on information provided by a KASPER report.
To accommodate the steep increase in KASPER use, CHFS has hired additional staff, implemented system upgrades and expanded capacity.
Existing regulations provide that all dispensers (usually pharmacists) report to KASPER when any Schedule II through Schedule V controlled substances are dispensed. For the first time, new regulations provide that all prescribers must request a KASPER report before Schedule II, III and some IVs are prescribed. A list of certain Schedule IV controlled substances, which are known to be used or diverted, is attached.
HB1 Impact: Shared Investigative Information
HB1 requires that when a complaint about prescription abuse is lodged with any of several investigative agencies – the Attorney General, Kentucky State Police (KSP), CHFS, or any of the professional licensure boards – that complaint must be shared with the remaining agencies.
Previously, if KSP was investigating a possible pill mill, the agencies that licensed that clinic were not required to be notified, nor would they be compelled to contribute information to the case.
The Attorney General, KSP, CHFS and the six professional licensure boards have signed a memorandum of understanding to notify the other agencies of prescription complaints within three days of receipt. This will allow the investigators to share information quickly.
The six professional boards – Medical Licensure, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Podiatry and Optometry – are required to share reports with the Attorney General, KSP and CHFS but not required to share among each other. This alleviates concerns that the professional organizations would be forced to report information to other boards that have no jurisdiction over the complaint.
HB1 Impact: Regulations Squeeze Offenders, Offer Grace Period for Providers
Regulations for the implementation of HB1 were filed on July 20, the effective date of HB1. These regulations, which interpret how the law is carried out by each agency, board, or office, uphold the intent of HB1 – to reduce the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs.
New regulations mandate that all pain management clinics must be owned by a licensed medical provider or employ a medical director in good standing with one of the professional licensure boards. Clinics will have some time to meet those requirements, but CHFS administrators say that already, four of the state’s pain clinics not owned by physicians have reported that they will close their doors. Another 9 have not yet contacted CHFS regarding licensing, and will be investigated to determine if they are operating illegally.
“Not all pain management clinics are abusing their prescribing authority – many of them are meeting legitimate patient needs,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “However, these regulations are designed to make it very, very difficult to stay in business if your clinic is a pill mill, prescribing high volumes of powerful drugs to people who are addicted.”
Each of the professional license boards has also created an educational period for practitioners through October 1st. Much like other laws such as the seat belt law, providers will have a few months to get accustomed to the new practices before any disciplinary action will take place.
“We don’t want the medical community to be afraid of immediate repercussions if they make an error this early in the process,” said Preston Nunnelley, chair of the Board of Medical Licensure. “We’ll have a few months to learn how the new policies will work, and we’ll be able to correct and guide providers along the way, instead of punishing people for unintentional errors.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Death by Medicine
By Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins are dangerous, yet ignore published statistics showing that government-sanctioned medicine is the real hazard.
Until now, Life Extension could cite only isolated statistics to make its case about the dangers of conventional medicine.
Ron Wyden’s hemp amendment fails
|Senator Ron Wyden|
The official reason was that the “hemp amendment” was not germane because it edged into the Controlled Substances Act. Wyden’s amendment would have excluded industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. He hoped to attach it to the farm bill.
|Silvia Gregory (left) and Jim Gregory package Hemburgers – veggie burgers made with hemp. An amendment by Sen. Ron Wyden to make it easier for farmers to grow industrial hemp failed in the Senate.|
José Peña brought some roadside weeds home from Kansas. Cops decided it was reefer, and a Texas court sentenced him to life in prison – without the evidence. It took a decade for Peña to get back some of the pieces of his life.
José Peña was tired as he drove south toward Houston on the morning of Sept. 27, 1998. Following a quick trip north to Kansas in a rented van – to pick up the brother of a distant cousin’s son – he was on his way home to Houston, where he lived with his wife and four children. It was the kind of favor Peña often did for friends and family, no matter how distant the relation – and the kind of favor that irritated his wife. “I was tired, and I was trying to get home,” the 50-year-old recently recalled. “My wife was mad at me for doing favors for other people” when he could instead be home.
That morning, just before 8am, Peña was cruising south down I-45, a little more than two hours from home. He was driving in the right-hand lane through Leon County when he passed a state trooper sitting in his car on the grass median. He thought nothing of it – just another Texas trooper on a long and nondescript stretch of highway – until he noticed the trooper pull out onto the road and follow him. The officer, Mike Asby, a veteran member of the Texas Department of Public Safety, drove in the left lane until his car was parallel with Peña’s. Peña looked over at Asby. “He pulled up next to me, and I looked at him because I wasn’t not going to make eye contact” with an officer whom Peña thought was definitely checking him out for whatever reason.
Although Peña steadfastly maintains that he wasn’t doing anything wrong or unusual, Asby would later testify that Peña caught his attention because he was driving more slowly than the rest of traffic in a van caked with mud; when the van “weaved across the center stripe and also across the solid yellow line on the shoulder,” Asby testified in January 2003, he had to take action. “You’re required to stay in a single lane of traffic,” he said. He activated his lights and pulled Peña over.
Within the hour, Peña would be in handcuffs in the back of the trooper’s car, headed to the county jail in Centerville on a charge of marijuana possession. Nearly five years later, Peña would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison for possession of what the state said turned out to be 23.46 pounds of freshly cut marijuana that Peña was transporting in the back of the muddy blue van. Although Asby testified that this was not a normal highway drug bust – “normally,” he testified, marijuana moves north from Houston, already “dried out, cured, and ready to be sold” – he was certain that what he found casually laid out in the back of the van was pot because it smelled like pot – and he knows pot when he smells it. “It’s something that you learned in  years of experience being on the road?” prosecutor Whitney Smith (now Leon County’s elected D.A.) asked Asby.
“Yes, sir,” Asby replied.
Just Trust Us
There are at least two problems with the official story of Peña’s arrest and prosecution. First, Peña is adamant – and has been since 1998 – that what he was transporting was not marijuana, but actually hemp, pot’s non-narcotic cousin. Peña says he found the plants growing wild in Kansas and cut them down, thinking that he could use the stems and leaves in the various craft projects he made with leather and wood in his garage workshop; there was no doubt in Peña’s mind that what he was transporting was not marijuana. The second, and eventually more decisive problem with the official story of the Peña bust, is that prior to his trial, officials with the Department of Public Safety lab in Waco, where the plants were taken for testing, completely destroyed all of the case evidence – all 23.46 pounds of plant material – and then also lost the case file with all of the original documentation of the lab’s work on the case. By the time Peña was finally tried – more than four years later – there was absolutely no evidence to show the jury; instead, the state relied completely on the “experience” of Asby and of Waco lab supervisor Charles Mott (now retired) to persuade jurors that what they say they saw and tested was actually marijuana.
That is, it worked until late last year, when Peña’s conviction was finally overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, and Leon County subsequently dismissed the charges for good. In the intervening decade, however, Peña’s case became a political hot potato, catching the attention of judges and lawyers across the state who watched as the 10th Court of Appeals, based in Waco, played tug-of-war with the Austin-based CCA over the power of the Texas Constitution, and whether it affords citizens greater rights and protection against state power than does the U.S. Constitution.
It’s a conflict that has left the state of Texas divided and may mean – at least for the time being – that persons tried for crimes in one part of the state will be afforded greater protection from prosecutorial errors or malfeasance than are others. Frankly, says Keith Hampton, an Austin defense attorney who represented Peña just before his case was dismissed, you just “don’t see this happen very often.” Ultimately, whether the protections gleaned from the Texas Constitution by the 10th Court will remain in force and be applied to all Texans is still to be determined.
Weeds, Not Weed
Peña had a knack for creating handcrafted leather and wood items that sold like hotcakes, he says, at flea markets in and around Houston. He made personalized shellacked plaques and leather key chains with popular first names spelled out in tiny beads, and at a dollar a key chain, they sold well. So when he first saw the hemp plants growing on the roadside near Manhattan, Kan., they gave him an idea. He would take the plants – which, to an untrained eye, look exactly like marijuana plants – press the leaves, and then use them on plaques or affixed to the small leather wallets that he also had become expert at making. He recognized these as “volunteer” hemp plants – they grow wild across the country, reminders of the days when hemp farming was commonplace and even, during World War II, encouraged by the feds as supporting the war effort. By the Kansas roadside, they were scraggly and abundant. When he pulled into the Tuttle Creek State Park outside Manhattan, and saw the plants growing everywhere, he “loaded … up.”
Indeed, Peña thought nothing of the fresh-cut plants that he’d laid out in the back of the blue van he was driving. He knew – partly from experience of having smoked pot when he was younger, and partly because he knew that hemp was once a major agricultural commodity – that the plants were nothing more than weeds that looked like weed.
However, that’s not how Asby saw it. To him, it was clear that one thing, and only one thing, was taking place. Peña was moving a large amount of marijuana to Houston – as unusual as that might be, Asby acknowledged.
Peña repeatedly told Asby that the plants were hemp, and his insistence clearly gave some pause to Asby and the two backup officers who soon joined him. The three men stood next to the van pondering the notion that a plant could look like, but not actually be, marijuana. “I … questioned them, I said, ‘Well, he says it’s not marijuana,’” Asby recalled in court. “I knew that there was a substance called hemp and I was asking them. … And I asked them, ‘You ever heard of something like marijuana, just hemp, that is legal to have?’” he continued. “I don’t know that there is a legal kind. That was the question I was asking the officers: ‘Have you ever heard of this … where marijuana was cut and it turns out to be legal?’”
In the end, Asby was unpersuaded. “I just know marijuana smells like marijuana,” he testified in 2003. “And I have never found anything that I thought was marijuana that wasn’t.” He cuffed Peña and hauled him off to jail.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
U.S. attorney breaks silence on medical-marijuana battle
This article was published on 03.08.12.
Medical-cannabis patients and providers should expect ongoing persecution in California. However, media backlash due to the nearly half-year-old federal crackdown is affecting at least one prominent drug warrior: United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin Wagner.
Wagner broke the Department of Justice’s near silence with regard to the crackdown during a candid, hour-long talk and question-and-answer session last Tuesday at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon. The $30-a-plate affair took place on the 15th floor of 1201 K Street, and inside, Wagner admitted that the cannabis cleanup was the idea of the four U.S. Attorneys in California, not Washington, D.C.
The four were upset because of what Wagner called “flagrant” marijuana sales in the state. So they declared war on medical marijuana last October, sending out hundreds of forfeiture-warning letters to dispensaries across California. His office is in the process of seizing at least one dispensary in Sacramento, while officials have closed more or less every dispensary in Sacramento County.
He reiterated that they’re not going after patients and caregivers, rather interstate transporters, huge pot farmers and illicit dispensaries grossing tens of thousands of dollars per day in cash.
But the media critique of the war is wearing on Wagner, it seems. He said he counts on good press to create a “deterrent effect” in regard to cases of mortgage fraud, child exploitation, human trafficking and major gang violence. But he’s not getting any of that.
“I think that the members of the press would be forgiven for thinking that marijuana enforcement is all that we do,” he said. “It is far from the most important thing that we do. I have many other higher priorities that have a much bigger impact on public safety. I did not seek the position of U.S. attorney in order to launch a campaign against medical marijuana.”
Wagner was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 and has been with the DOJ since 1992, primarily in the Eastern District. When he and the other three U.S. attorneys took office at the end of 2009, “We found that we were in the middle of an explosion of marijuana cultivation and sales,” he said.
Federal policy didn’t change, rather “what we saw … was an unregulated free-for-all in California in which huge amounts of money was being made selling marijuana … to virtually anybody who wanted to get stoned.”
Wagner said that’s not what California voters approved. Stores marking up pot 200 percent is “not about sick people. That’s about money.”
His reaction has been “quite measured,” he said. Most dispensaries just got warning letters.
“In a few instances, after ample warnings, we’ve brought civil-enforcement actions while reserving criminal prosecution for the most flagrant violators of not only federal law but state law,” he said.
He referred to cases such as one where seven Roseville and Fresno suspects were indicted in February for growing pot with doctor’s recommendations and running a dispensary as a front to traffic it to seven states in the Midwest and South.
Wagner also warned that a season of raids in the Central Valley is coming in 2012, and that mega pot farmers are on notice that if they plant again this year, their land could be seized.
He tried to make the case that pot is just a fraction of what his office does, referring to 61 indictments on mortgage fraud last fiscal year.
During audience questions, activists asked why the federal government says marijuana has “no medical use,” yet the United States has patented its ingredient, cannabidiol, for treating strokes.
“What I know about marijuana as medicine you can probably put in a thimble,” he said.
But health policy is not his job, he said. “My advice to you is to write your congressman.”
Sacramento lawyer Alan Donato asked for guidelines for local dispensaries to avoid federal attention.
“I’m not in a position to be of much comfort,” Wagner said. “You don’t ask the CHP, ‘How many miles over the speed limit can I go before you pull me over?’”
Stephen Downing, a retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, asked if the failed drug war would ever make Wagner say “Enough is enough” to his boss, Attorney General Eric Holder.
“That’s hard to say,” Wagner said. “I totally understand the debate over legalization as opposed to criminalizing narcotics.
“It really depends on what the cost-benefits are. Marijuana is obviously not nearly as destructive as [methamphetamine]. The risks in legalizing marijuana may be significantly less that meth.”
But prescription drugs “are the biggest, worst drug problem in terms of trends … [and] that’s a legal drug.”
SN&R news intern Matthew W. Urner got the biggest attention of the lunch, asking Wagner if he ever tried the second-most-commonly used mind-altering substance in America, and if so, what he thought.
“Uh,” said Wagner, “I’ll say that I went to college.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Chris Roberts Fri., Mar. 9 2012 at 5:00 AM
Union Pulls Plug on Medical Reform, Other Ballot Measures Starved For Cash; Legislature, Ammiano Last Hope for Reform Now
Nobody likes to celebrate with a loss, but for the medical marijuana movement, 2010 and the historic defeat of semi-legalization measure Proposition 19 already look like the good old days.
Feast turned to famine quickly: Multiple marijuana legalization and medical marijuana reform ballot initiatives vied this year and last for a spot on voters’ ballots in November. But United Food and Commercial Workers and Americans for Safe Access withdrew on Thursday their Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, and leading proponents of legalization initiative Regulate Marijuana Like Wine are already looking ahead to 2014.
But with the federal Justice Department’s crackdown on California cannabis in full swing, that may be too long to wait, leaving all eyes now on an outspoken lawmaker from San Francisco to save cannabis in California.
Tom Ammiano, you’re their only hope.
Oakland union organizer Dan Rush, chief of the Medical Cannabis and Hemp division of UFCW’s national chapter, told the Sacramento Bee on Thursday afternoon that the union was "pulling the plug" on the MMCRT, which would have created a state-level bureaucracy to oversee and regulate the state’s medical marijuana industry not unlike what Alcoholic Beverage Control does for liquor.
Cash was the main reason, ASA executive director Stephanie Sherer told SF Weekly on Thursday evening: with about six weeks left before signatures were due in Sacramento — initiatives need over 500,000 valid signatures to qualify; campaigns usually submit 750,000 or more by the April 20 deadline — the campaign had $1.25 million of the $2 million needed just to pay signature-gathering companies to qualify.
More cash would be needed to run a campaign, so the call was made to focus on Sacramento, said Sherer, who added that the campaign started late and nonetheless "achieved [its] dream: to get something in the Legislature."
"We’re not dropping anything," said Sherer, who said the money will be spent on a "public awareness campaign" to sway lawmakers’ minds. This may work now when it did not before: leery lawmakers in Sacramento wanted proof that the often divisive and divided medical marijuana movement was not "a mile wide and an inch deep," she said. "Well, we’re not."
ASA and UFCW raised the cash in increments of $500 to $10,000 from medical marijuana dispensaries, dispensary organization, patients, advocates, and pot growers big and small, she told SF Weekly (financial disclosure forms have yet to be filed with the Secretary of State).
It’s now up to the Legislature and Ammiano, who introduced a bill very similar in language to the UFCW-ASA effort. It has yet to be called for a hearing in committee. A spokesman for Ammiano was not immediately available for comment late Thursday.
Ammiano will need Republican cosponsors as well as support from his Democratic colleagues in order to make any headway.
Meanwhile, the three legalization measures are still starving for billionaires. A few weeks ago in LA, proponents for Repeal Cannabis Prohibition, Regulate Marijuana Like Wine, and the California Cannabis and Hemp Health Initiative issued a "statement of unity" that included a clarion call to rich people. All ballot initiatives were in desperate need of cash; they remain so today.
In 2010, recall, Richard Lee of Oaksterdam University spent millions of his own money to put Proposition 19 on the ballot. The initiative won more votes than Meg Whitman, but was still defeated on the ballot, 46.2 percent for to 53.8 percent opposed.
Once on the ballot, he received big money contributions from George Soros, Peter Thiel, and other progressive-minded angel investors; those rich pot-loving folk have yet to pony up this year, and it now appears they won’t.
Though "anything can still happen," said Steve Kubby, one of the proponents for Regulate Marijuana Like Wine. "I’m all about miracles."
And he might need one. RMLW has $54,000 in the bank and about 200,000 signatures, said Kubby, an "eyeball estimate, mind you" he gave via telephone after looking at a stack of papers in his South Lake Tahoe home. "We have to do an audit, but I can tell you we have a pile."
The challenge now is to figure out how to get a voter initiative on the ballot and how to win a campaign without a billionaires’ largess. That has not been done: it was Soros who bankrolled Proposition 215 in 1996.
"I do not understand how a person with billions who enjoys cannabis even on occasion, and who sympathizes with the damages of cannabis prohibition on our society, would not take a shot at real reform for 2012 in the nation’s most populous state," said East Bay-based organizer and activist Mickey Martin, who used to head up edibles collective Tainted, Inc. before a federal bust. "For a few million bucks we could have cannabis freedom for 12% of America in one effort. Someone needs to write that check."
Martin pointed to 2016, a presidential cycle, as the more likely "next time around" for cannabis legalization or reform. Kubby pointed forward to 2014, when fundraising and signature-gathering can be done in the cheaper offseason.
"We’ll raise the money ourselves, between now and 2014," he said. "I can tell you with certainty, if we don’t get onto the 2012 ballot, this will definitely be on the 2014 ballot."
So keep the faith, marijuana users. And try to befriend some billionaires while you’re at it.
Follow us on Twitter at @chroberts_yeah, @TheSnitchSF, and @SFWeekly
Friday, March 9, 2012
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire House narrowly passed a bill to decriminalize a person’s first two marijuana possessions under one-half ounce.
Republican Speaker Bill O’Brien abstained from voting, allowing the bill to squeak by Thursday with a 162-161 vote. The House voted overwhelmingly 228-89 to kill a second bill to legalize and regulate the drug.
Under the decriminalization bill, first offenses would be violations punishable by a $250 fine. The second would be $500. Subsequent offenses would be misdemeanors subject to a year of jail time and a $1,000 fine. Offenders under 21 could also be ordered to take a drug awareness program.
All offenses are currently misdemeanors punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.
The bill now goes to the Senate. If it passes, Gov. John Lynch has promised to veto the measure.
"Marijuana is a controlled drug that remains illegal under federal law. New Hampshire parents are working to keep their kids away from marijuana and other drugs. We should not make the jobs of parents – or law enforcement – harder by sending a false message that some marijuana use is acceptable," Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said after the vote.
In the criminal justice committee’s report to the House, Rep. Kyle Tasker, a Nottingham Republican who co-sponsored the bill, called it "a measured and calculated reduction in penalties." Surrounding states have tried similar laws with good results, he wrote in the report.
According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 14 other states have decriminalized marijuana, including Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut.
Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, a former U.S. marshal, said he supported decriminalization but felt a half-ounce was too much. That amount of marijuana would be equivalent to 20-30 joints, he said.
"When someone is carrying around 20-30 joints they’ve crossed the line into distribution," said the Penacook Democrat.
Lynch has opposed such bills in the past. In 2009 he vetoed a bill to establish three medical marijuana dispensaries that would have distributed 2 ounces every 10 days to severely ill patients whose doctors approved the drug’s use. Lynch cited concerns over cultivation and proliferation beyond the dispensaries as reasons for his opposition.
He also promised to veto another medical marijuana bill last year and a 2010 bill that would have decriminalized possession or transportation of less than one-quarter ounce of the drug. The Senate killed both before they reached his desk.
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun
10:45 a.m. EST, March 9, 2012
His decision comes as states with programs similar to what Maryland is considering have come under fire from federal prosecutors and were forced to suspend all or parts of their programs. His decision could once again kill an effort that has stalled in the General Assembly for years.
Maryland legislators are to begin debating three medical marijuana bills in House of Delegates committee hearings today.
"We have some serious concerns about liability," said O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory. "Those concerns were raised by U.S. attorneys across the country. Based on those concerns, it is probably likely we would veto any legislation."
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire recently vetoed parts of legislation in that state after U.S. attorneys said state employees would not be immune to liability for violating the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.
In Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell halted implementation of a program that would have distributed medical marijuana through nonprofit centers. He did this after the U.S. attorney there said state workers could be held liable and that possession and distribution of drugs was illegal under federal law even if allowed by a state.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler‘s office also expressed concerns about the legality of medical marijuana in a letter to Baltimore County Del. Dan K. Morhaim, the lead sponsor for two of Maryland’s bills. Morhaim had asked whether the bills could lead to federal criminal liability.
"The federal law prohibits use and possession of marijuana, as well as distribution and manufacture, without regard to whether the marijuana is ultimately used to treat a medical condition," wrote Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe.
Maryland Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein is expected to testify today that his agency cannot support any of the bills, including one that he previously endorsed, according to a draft of his testimony.
"It is hard to imagine putting state employees in a position where they would face criminal liability," Sharfstein said in a phone interview Thursday.
Sharfstein killed efforts to legalize medical marijuana last year when he cited a lack of scientific consensus about the benefits of marijuana and concerns about regulating a program. Instead, the state agreed create a commission to study how to develop and implement a plan to distribute medical marijuana. The General Assembly did amend state law to allow sick people found with less than 1 ounce of the drug to argue medical necessity as a defense.
This year, lawmakers will consider two bills written using the commission’s recommendations and introduced by Morhaim, the only doctor serving in the General Assembly.
One of the Morhaim bills, backed by Sharfstein and law enforcement officials, calls for a strictly monitored program in which an educational research institution would be selected to dispense the drug to patients.
"This is something that needs to be done in a proper and rigorous way as you would do with any medication," said Paul Celano, who served on the commission and is president of the Maryland and D.C. Society of Clinical Oncology and chief of medical oncology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
The second plan, which Morhaim favors, would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to some patients and create a network of state-sanctioned and supervised dispensaries and growers. The bill is similar to one the Senate passed last year.
Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore City Democrat, has introduced the most liberal bill, which would allow individuals to grow marijuana. She said former talk show host Montel Williams, who said he smokes marijuana to deal with the pain of multiple sclerosis, will testify on behalf of her bill.
Glenn said she doesn’t worry about federal law because it is unlikely to be enforced.
"The federal government is on record saying this is not a priority for them," Glenn said. "If a state has a well-written law they are not going to seek any enforcement action. There is no need for patients with cancer and other diseases that become so debilitating to have to suffer."
Kate Bell, a criminal defense attorney with Kaminkow & Woods in Baltimore, said she has represented clients all over the state who have been arrested for possessing marijuana they used to help ease the pain of an illness. She supports Glenn’s bill because, she said, it would make the drug most accessible to patients.
"If you are buying it on the black market you are giving your money to a criminal organization," she said. "I have had sick people who have spent the night in jail. Something has to change."
Baltimore Sun reporter Annie Linskey contributed to this report.
twitter.com:ankwalkerRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
As the world begins to digest the implications of intellectual property for online censorship, another IP issue threatens an even more fundamental part of our daily lives: our food supply. Backed by legal precedent and armed with seemingly inexhaustible lobbying funds, a handful of multinationals are attempting to use patents on life itself to monopolize the biosphere.
Find out more about the process of patenting life and what it means for the food supply on this week’s GRTV Backgrounder.
Transcript and sources:
The oft-neglected legal minefield of intellectual property rights has seen a surge in public interest in recent months due to the storm of protest over proposed legislation and treaties related to online censorship. One of the effects of such legislation as SOPA and PIPA and such international treaties as ACTA is to have drawn attention to the grave implications that intellectual property arguments can have on the everyday lives of the average citizen.
As important as the protection of online freedoms is, however, an even more fundamental part of our lives has come under the purview of the multinational corporations that are seeking to patent the world around us for their own gain. Unknown to a large section of the public, a single US Supreme Court ruling in 1980 made it possible for the first time to patent life itself for the profit of the patent holder.
The decision, known as Diamond v. Chakrabarty, centered on a genetic engineer working for General Electric who created a bacterium that could break down crude oil, which could be used in the clean-up of oil spills. In its decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled that:
“A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101”
With this ruling, the ability to patent living organisms, so long as they had been genetically altered in some novel way, was established in legal precedent.
The implications of such a monumental ruling are understandably wide-reaching, touching on all sorts of issues that have the potential to change the world around us. But it did not take long at all for this decision’s effects to make itself felt in one of the most basic parts of the biosphere: our food supply.
In the years following the Diamond v. Chakrabarty decision, an entire industry rose up around the idea that these new patent protections could foster the economic incentive for major corporations to develop a new class of genetically engineered foods to help increase crop yields and reduce world hunger.
The first commercially available genetically modified food, Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato, was approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 1992 and was on the market in 1994. Since then, adoption of GM foods has proceeded swiftly, especially in the US where the vast majority of soybeans, corn and cotton have been genetically altered.
By 1997, the problems inherent in the patenting of these GM crops had already begun to surface in Saskatchewan, Canada. It was in the sleepy town of Bruno that a canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, found that a variety of GM canola known as “Roundup Ready” had infected his fields, mixing with his non-GM crop. Amazingly, Monsanto, the agrichemical company that owned the Roundup Ready patent, sued Schmeiser for infringing their patent. After a years-long legal battle against the multinational that threatened to bankrupt his small farming operation, Schmeiser finally won an out-of-court settlement with Monsanto that saw the company agree to pay for the clean-up costs associated with the contamination of his field.
In India, tens of thousands of farmers per year commited suicide in an epidemic labeled the GM genocide. Sold a story of “magic seeds” that would produce immense yields, farmers around the country were driven into ruinous debt by a combination of high-priced seeds, high-priced pesticides, and crop failure. Worst of all, the GM seeds had been engineered with so-called “terminator technology,” meaning that seeds from one harvest could not be re-planted the following year. Instead, farmers were forced to buy seeds at the same exorbitant prices from the biotech giants every year, insuring a debt spiral that was impossible to escape. As a result, hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the Indian countryside since the introduction of GM crops in 1997.
As philosopher, quantum physicist and activist Vandana Shiva has detailed at great length, the effect of the invocation of intellectual property in enabling the monopolization of the world’s most fundamental resources was not accidental or contingent. On the contrary, this is something that has been self-consciously designed by the heads of the very corporations who now seek to reap the benefit of this monopolization, and the monumental nature of their achievement has been obscured behind bureaucratic institutions like the WTO and innocuous sounding agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Although the deck appears to be stacked in favour of the giant multinationals and their practically inexhaustible access to lobbying and legal funds, the people are by no means incapable of fighting back against this patenting of the biosphere.
In India itself, where so much devestation has been wrought by the introduction of genetically engineered crops, the people are fighting back against the world’s most well-known purveyor of GMO foods, Monsanto. The country’s National Biodiversity Diversity Authority has enabled the government to proceed with legal action against the company for so-called biopiracy, or attempting to develop a GM crop derived from local varieties of eggplant, without the appropriate licences.
Although resistance to the patenting of the world’s food supply should be applauded in all its forms, what is needed is a fundamental transformation in our understanding of life itself from a patentable organism to the common property of all of the peoples who have developed the seeds from which these novel GM crops are derived.
This concept, known as open seeds, is being promoted by organizations around the globe, including Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya organization.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Why I Do What I Do…
I can never remember the details. The “detail” section of my brain just does not work very well. I’ve had Major Clinical Depression with Chronic symptoms, Dysthymia, Chronic Anxiety as well. I also, among other things, had a “Cerebellar Vascular Accident (CVA) which is about the same as a ruptured aneurysym in 1998.
It does not matter though, because I can remember where to find the information that I want or need, when I need it!
At the same time, the “philosophical” portion of my brain tends to work overtime. I spend most of my waking day on the internet, scanning for more and more information for which I know I will not remember the “details” of.
Scanning the internet for anything or everything from conspiracy to political, socio-economics, healthcare and the conspiracy thereof, cannabis related medical issues and the conspiracy thereof, then back to the daily news and beyond.
I never had the opportunity to go to college, and I received my education in “Little’s” such as our former President Abraham Lincoln, who, incidentally, was also from Kentucky.
I read, and read and read some more and then ask “Why?” or “Why Not?”, and then I search for more.
I believe as George Carlin did when he said that “children should be taught to question”. Question everything. Nothing should be taken for granted nor at face value.
In the 1990′s my Father and I were discussing “Hemp” one day and he advised me that I should seek out Gatewood Galbraith and go see him. That “He” knew all about it. At that time I was busy raising kids and working and taking care of Mom and Dad on the weekends. Did not even have a computer!
I began about 2002 searching out “marijuana” information on the internet.
My Dad had died in 2001 and three months prior to that had called me one day and asked me if I could find him “a little pot”. As I was then ignorant of any kind of medicinal use of Marijuana, and he had COPD and Heart Disease. My only answer to him would be, “I’d love to Dad, but I’m afraid if you tried to smoke it at this point it could kill you.” His lung capacity was near zero. At that time we knew nothing of the “healing oil”. So about 2004 I was browsing one day and it came to my mind to search for “Medical Marijuana”, which I did.
The rest is history. Once I found how to access the information nothing was gonna stop me from trying to spread the message – through as many sites as I could possibly access. It suffices to say that in the last seven years or more I have learned a lot. The whole world has learned a lot.
I have been through many changes in my life and am thankful for most of them.
My only hope is that the World have a chance to recover itself before it is too late.
Much of that depends upon how we choose to “FREE” this God given gift of Cannabis, and what is done with it once it is.
And then comes the “Human Issue”…
I have seen so many abuses against humanity in general that I cannot ignore it. So therefore, I not only am an activist for anti-prohibition, but I have very strong feelings concerning other issues as well.
Mountain Top Removal, and strip mining, coal ash and the illness and death as a result of, death penalty issues, prisoners rights issues, “DRUG WAR” Prisoners as well.
Civil Rights, Human Rights, Bill of Rights, Constitutional Rights, the list could go on forever.
I am in no way qualified to be a politican, or a lawyer, nor would I ever want to be because I do not want to be put into a position where I can no longer say what I feel is right, but must succumb to the “for the greater good of the people” clause which they use in order to be able to lie to us with a straight face.
And since there are so many differing opinions within any given movement of Activists, I feel it should be to try to be a citizen reporter and/or journalist. I can bring the news of the important issues which effect our live to your laptop, and I may have an occasional opinion on a given subject, but basically I want to give you the information that you need in order to make up your own minds about what you think is right.
After all, It’s not about what I as a single being wish to have happen. It is about a Democracy which believes in the right of the people to decide for themselves who they want in office and how these laws are carried out. In the end, it is only YOU that can help save our Earth and bring it to peace by petition, voting rights, etc., After all, as Gatewood once said: There are only two ways to win a war. One is politically and the other to take it to the streets. I damn sure hope the streets isn’t where we end up.
Peace and Prayer to You All!