By Peter Hechtphecht@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 7:46 amCalifornia voters
favor legalizing pot for recreational use, strongly support the existence of medical marijuana dispensaries and want the feds to butt out of the California cannabis business.
In a California Field Poll released today, voters – by a 54 to 43 percent margin – say they want California to legalize marijuana beyond medical use with regulations similar to alcohol.
In the state with America's largest medical marijuana industry, the poll found that 67 percent of voters oppose an ongoing crackdown by the state's four U.S. attorneys on businesses selling pot for medicinal use.
The statewide poll was conducted little more than three months after voters in Washington and Colorado each passed measures to legalize marijuana as a mere pleasurable pursuit – upping the stakes in America's marijuana debate.
The poll results indicate continued strong support for medical marijuana as the stateSupreme Court
is deliberating on whether scores of California cities and counties can ban marijuana dispensaries.
Meanwhile, California voters
across party lines seem to be taking issue with federal threats, raids and prosecutions involving medical marijuana businesses.
The state's four U.S. attorneys have brought criminal cases against some medical marijuana providers and growers and sent letters threatening seizures of properties of others.
While all marijuana use
is illegal under federal law, U.S. prosecutors assert California's medicinal cannabis industries have been "hijacked by profiteers" violating both state and federal laws.
In the poll of registered voters in early February, 68 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of independents said they oppose the federal crackdown.
"It's certainly not winning over the hearts and minds of Californians," state Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said of voters' reactions to federal enforcement efforts. "The getting tough policy by the feds is not impacting public opinion in a positive way."
Poll respondent Stewart Hintz, 47, a Republican from Rocklin who doesn't smoke marijuana, said the federal crackdown was inevitable because dispensaries appear to be drawing numerous people with little or no medical need. But Hintz said, it's time for pot to be legal – and for the government to back off.
"Once (alcohol) prohibition was repealed, the feds pretty much took their hands off – and I think that's the best model," he said.
Some 58 percent of Field Poll respondents also said they favor allowing medical dispensaries in their cities or towns, with the stores strongly supported by voters in Northern California,
the San Francisco Bay Area
and Los Angeles County
and modestly supported elsewhere in Southern California.
"I haven't seen any substantive negatives" about dispensaries, said Patrick Cole, an independent voter in Butte County
who last tried marijuana in college nearly four decades ago. "The executive branch gets on its high horse about how insidious this is and how it's corrupting our neighborhoods. Yet there is a liquor store
on every corner."
The poll results drew a spirited response from the director of California's largest medical marijuana dispensary.
"This poll … heartens me and makes me feel validated," said Steve DeAngelo, whose Harborside Health Center dispensary in Oakland is being targeted by federal prosecutors who have sued to seize the property.
He said the poll results also suggest that California politicians opposing medical marijuana and its distribution "are going to see serious consequences" at election time.
Richard Lee, who led Proposition 19, the failed ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana in California in 2010, said poll results give momentum to advocates backing an initiative to legalize nonmedical use in 2016.
"I think it shows that it's going to win in 2016, and it's just a matter of writing the best law that we can."
Bishop Ron Allen of Sacramento's International Faith Based Coalition, a member of Californians Against Legalizing Marijuana, said the poll results show that "we have to do a better job of educating the community about the harms of marijuana."
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/02/27/5220454/field-poll-california-voters-favor.html#storylink=cpy
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —A new bill is aimed at cracking down on people driving under the influence of drugs.
Under SB 289, introduced by state Sen. Lou Correa, it is illegal for a person to have in his or her blood any detectable amount of drugs while driving, unless it was taken in accordance with a valid prescription from a doctor.
The drugs are from those classified in Schedules I, II, III, or IV of the California Uniform Controlled Substance Act.
Former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness, who represents the California Peace Officers Association, supports the bill.
“You’re talking about something that’s per se unlawful, prohibited -- so therefore, its mere presence, coupled with the operation of the motor vehicle, is a threat to the safety of the public,” McGinness told KCRA 3, adding that he is waiting for details on how the bill would be enforced.
The most current draft of SB 289 does not make an exception for marijuana, for which patients receive a doctor’s recommendation, rather than a prescription.
“It would impact thousands and thousands of patients across the state who are not impaired,” said Lanette Davies, a spokesperson for Crusaders for Patients Rights. “There’s nothing in their system that’s impairing them, but they would be driving illegally if this bill is passed.”
Davies said a better way to ensure safe driving would focus on the nature of impairment, rather than the medication in the driver’s system.
However, supporters believe SB 289 is a good start in getting drugged drivers off the roads.
“The goal is to minimize the likelihood of anybody operating a motor vehicle on the highways in California when there’s evidence to show they have some level of impairment that will compromise your safety and mine,” McGinness said.
According to a recent study released by the Office of Traffic Safety, more California drivers tested positive for drugs that may impair driving at 14 percent, than they did for alcohol at 7.3 percent.
Read more: http://www.kcra.com/news/politics/New-bill-aims-to-crack-down-on-drivers-impaired-by-drugs/-/11797268/18979288/-/7eiiaiz/-/index.html#ixzz2LMQevgyl
February 10, 2013 9:30 am • BY ELLEN KOMP California NORML
In Hillary Clinton’s farewell speech as secretary of state, she said, “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.”
Clinton was referring to Venice, Calif.-based architect Frank Gehry, who molded a unique style of laid-back architecture and is the world-class architect of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles and the forthcoming Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial.
Someone who worked with Gehry in the 1980s reported him “coming out of rooms with clouds of [marijuana] smoke behind him.” It wouldn’t be too surprising. Even Meghan McCain says pot smoking is everywhere in LA.
I raise this in answer to the op-ed you printed recently from an employee of a drug testing company touting her company’s services as the means of achieving a safe and productive workforce, even in the wake of marijuana smokers winning their rights back in Colorado and Washington.
I beg to differ.
First of all, drug testing has never been scientifically shown to be effective at improving workplace safety or productivity, and studies indicate that the great majority of drug-positive workers are just as reliable as others. Medically, the consensus of expert opinion is that drug tests are an inherently unreliable indicator of drug impairment. Dr. George Lundberg of the American Medical Association has called them “Chemical McCarthyism.”
Second, by screening out marijuana smokers, we’re weeding out (so to speak) some of our most creative and, I would argue, productive employees. If you doubt that marijuana smokers have contributed to our society, see veryimportantpotheads.com
. In the case of someone using marijuana for medical purposes, it’s downright discrimination to deny them employment for using what a doctor has legally recommended under state law.
Silicon Valley, the brainchild of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (who both admittedly smoked pot in their youth), notoriously does not drug test its employees, knowing they’d lose much of their talent that way. Yet the region is responsible for much of California’s economic productivity, in one of the few nonmilitary industries the U.S. has.
Henry Ford’s method of sending investigators into his workers’ homes to observe their drinking habits seems outrageous today, yet employers are basically doing the same thing by demanding its workers pee in a cup on Monday to find out what they did on Friday night. Is it really their business?
There is an alternative called impairment testing that has been shown to be more effective than drug testing at assuring workers’ safety. But chemical tests are entrenched in our political process and with businesses and insurance companies, and the more forward-thinking ideas are, so far, crushed under the Greek architecture of the old days.
Carl Sagan, one of the many productive members of society who enjoyed marijuana, said, “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
It won’t do us much good to end the injustice of marijuana prohibition if only the unemployed can exercise their right to use it. And those companies that exercise drug testing will have only a piss-poor workforce.
Ellen Komp is the deputy director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Her column is a response to an opinion piece supporting workplace drug testing that appeared in the Star-Tribune on Feb. 3.
~I love that William Lacy Clay signed a bill in 2008 "accidentally" but it ended up being a good thing for him politically! ss
By Chris Goo@c_goodFollow on Twitter
Feb 8, 2013 4:31pm
Image credit: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images
A new effort is under way in Congress to legalize marijuana.
After Colorado and Washington became the first two states to approve the sale and use of pot, marijuana advocates are turning their eye toward the federal government – something they don’t often do.
Members of Congress will introduce between eight and 10 bills to roll back federal marijuana restrictions and levy new taxes.
The first two were introduced this week by two liberal members of Congress. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., on Monday rolled out a pair of bills that would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, while still allowing states to ban it.
Polis’s bill, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, would remove marijuana from the list of banned substances under the Controlled Substances Act and regulate pot under a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms. Marijuana growers would have to buy permits to offset the costs of federal oversight.
Blumenauer’s bill, the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would levy a 50-percent excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, typically from growers to processors or sellers, plus annual “occupation taxes” of $1,000 and $500 on marijuana growers and anyone else engaged in the business.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., meanwhile, plans to introduce another marijuana bill sometime soon. He’s the only Republican to formally support either Polis or Blumenauer as a cosponsor.
Blumenauer’s office confirmed that a slew of bills are on the way.
“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” Blumenauer said in a prepared statement on Monday.
He may be right. Marijuana legalizers enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, hitting on their two major legalization initiatives at the state level in Colorado and Washington. Since then, bills have been introduced to roll back marijuana restrictions in Hawaii, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.
It’s unlikely Congress will legalize pot anytime soon, despite polls showing broader public acceptance of pot. In December, 64 percent of Gallup respondents
said they don’t want the federal government stepping in to prevent pot legalization in states that allow it. In November, another nationwide Gallup poll showed that 48 percent think marijuana should be legal, while 50 percent think it shouldn’t be.
But Polis’s bill only has 11 cosponsors and must make its way through the Republican-controlled House Agriculture Committee. Blumenauer’s has two and must make its way through the GOP-controlled House Ways and Means Committee.
What’s significant about the new push, however, is that it comes on the heels of actual state-level policy change. State and federal laws now thoroughly conflict on the topic of marijuana, and never before has Congress considered legalization in that context.
In fact, Congress rarely considers marijuana legalization at all. The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project considers a 2011 effort by then-Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, to have been the first serious effort to end marijuana “prohibition” at the federal level. That bill went nowhere. Before that, Frank pushed a bill in 2008 that mostly decriminalized marijuana federally. In a Democratic Congress, that bill died in committee. One of its seven cosponsors signed on by accident
The present effort appears more coordinated. Along with their bills, Polis and Blumenauer released a 20-page white paper on the history of marijuana’s illegality. It’s the first time pot legislation has been introduced in such a multi-bill wave.
For decades, marijuana advocates have pushed medical-pot laws and decriminalization measures through state ballot initiatives and state legislatures. The federal push, unlikely as it may be, represents a new prong in their strategy.
By Paul Armentano
February 6, 2013, 1:54 p.m.
Former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration Robert Bonner wrote in his Feb. 1 Blowback article
, "There is still no such scientific study establishing that marijuana is effective as a medicine."
Nonsense. Over the last several years, the state of California, via the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research
, has conducted several placebo
-approved clinical trials affirming the safety and therapeutic efficacy of cannabis. Other institutions have as well. (Click here
for an overview of more than 200 such trials.)
Summarizing the findings of many of these trials, Dr. Igor Grant of UC San Diego declared
last year in the Open Neurology Journal: "The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking."
Bonner's second claim, that "not a single scientifically valid study by a qualified researcher has ever been denied by the DEA or, for that matter, by the National Institute of Drug Abuse
," is equally specious. In fact, in recent months the NIDA has stonewalled an FDA-approved clinical protocol by researchers at the University of Arizona
College of Medicine to assess the treatment of cannabis in subjects with post-traumatic stress disorder
. Dr. Sue Sisley, who sought to conduct the study, told Wired.com
: "At this point, I can't help but think they [the federal government] simply don't want to move forward. Maybe they figure if they stall long enough, we'll give up and go away."
Finally, Bonner's suggestion that advocates would be better served targeting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is a red herring. The FDA exists to determine whether patented products from private companies can be brought to market. Because the present law forbids any legal private manufacturers to exist, there remains no entity available to fund the sort of large-scale clinical research and development necessary to trigger an FDA review.
This is not to imply that cannabis could not meet the FDA's objective standards for safety and efficacy. According to a keyword search on PubMed, the U.S. government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research, there are more than 22,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to marijuana and its biologically active components, making cannabis one of the most studied therapeutic agents on Earth. Further, the plant has been used as medicine for millenniums and is incapable of causing lethal overdose in humans. By objective standards, cannabis is arguably safer than most conventional therapeutics it could potentially replace.
The federal government’s insistence that cannabis remain classified in the same schedule as heroin
and in a more prohibitive schedule than cocaine is not based on either science or reason. As opined
in a 1997 New England Journal of Medicine article, it is time for federal authorities to "rescind their prohibition of the medical use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat."Paul Armentano is deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Lawsand coauthor of the book "Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?"If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed and would like to participate in Blowback, here are our FAQs and submission policy.
Supreme Court Hears All Sides of Dispensary Case
Posted February 6th, 2013
February 5 - The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, a case determining whether or not Riverside may ban medical marijuana dispensaries within its borders.
The justices, appearing at a special session
at the hundredth anniversary of the UCSF law school, were equally hard on attorneys on both sides of the case.
“The Legislature knows how to say, ‘Thou shalt not ban dispensaries,’ ” Justice Ming W. Chin told IEPHWC's attorney J. David Nick. Answered Nick, “If you were to allow bans, city by city, county by county, that is the opposite of what the Legislature was trying to accomplish.”
In questioning Riverside's attorney Jeffrey V. Dunn (pictured at podium), one of the justices pointed out that if all counties in California banned dispensaries, no one in California could visit a dispensary. Words like "consistent" and "establishment" weighed for their full meaning, and the letter as well as the stated purpose of the law was discussed.
Nick made it clear that locals have a great deal of authority over zoning of dispensaries, but that the Court has never ruled that locals may make illegal anything legal under state law (except perhaps in a single cited case). Much was made of the fact that state law merely offers limited immunity from state law only.
Dunn is a partner at Best, Best and Krieger, an Irvine-based law firm that has promulgated anti-dispensary ordinances throughout California and according to their website,
has now been paid to defend those ordinances in 30 municipalities. Dunn assisted in the drafting of a bill
last year giving cities more power to regulate dispensaries. A BB&K attorney recently gave a presentation
at the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers meeting.
A ruling is expected within 90 days.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in California.
MEDIA ADVISORY Americans for Safe Access For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2013 California Supreme Court to Hear Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban Case Tuesday in San Francisco Court is expected to weigh in on whether municipalities can ban distribution, deny patients a legal medication San Francisco, CA
-- The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow morning at University of San Francisco in a closely watched case that addresses whether local governments can lawfully ban medical marijuana dispensaries or should instead be compelled to adopt ordinances regulating them. The case, City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center
, is one of at least six appellate court cases coming down on different sides of the issue. Although multiple appellate rulings have overturned bans on local distribution, the Riverside
court upheld that city's ban, claiming that the wellness center violated municipal code and was a "nuisance per se." What:
California Supreme Court oral arguments on the legality of municipal bans against medical marijuana distribution When:
Tuesday, February 5th at 10:15am Where:
University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street, McLaren Conference Center (Rooms 250–251)
"Local dispensary bans thwart the will of the electorate and the State Legislature, and are therefore preempted by state law," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "Hundreds of thousands of California patients who are too sick or otherwise can't cultivate medical marijuana themselves rely on dispensaries for safe and legal access, a right they should not be denied."
case, which is being argued by J. David Nick, is the lead case on this issue currently before the High Court. However, several other appellate decisions from southern California on the same issue were also granted review, including County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective
, 420 Caregivers v. City of Los Angeles
, City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective
, City of Temecula v. Cooperative Patients Services, Inc.
, and People v. G3 Holistic
. In most of these decisions, the court has sided with municipal governments in their effort to prevent regulated distribution, but two appellate rulings notably hold that local officials may not ban distribution and must develop regulations instead.
Specifically, the County of Los Angeles decision from July 2012 overturned a local ban on dispensaries, reversing the lower court’s preliminary injunction from the previous year. The appellate court in County of Los Angeles held that “medical marijuana collectives…are permitted by state law to perform a dispensary function,” and that “[Los Angeles] County’s total, per se nuisance ban against medical marijuana dispensaries directly contradicts the Legislature’s intent.” The Court further concluded that, a “complete ban” on medical marijuana is “preempted” by state law and, therefore, void.
Last year, ASA filed an amicus 'friend of the court' brief in the Riverside
case, arguing that the city's ban ought to be overturned. “While municipalities may pass reasonable regulations over the location and operation of medical marijuana collectives, they cannot ban them absolutely,” read ASA’s amicus brief. “These bans thwart the Legislature’s stated objectives of ensuring access to marijuana for the seriously ill persons who need it in a uniform manner throughout the state.” While more than 50 localities in California have regulated the lawful operation of dispensaries, over 170 cities have questionably banned their operation outright.
Despite some misconceptions, the Riverside
case will likely not address the legality of medical marijuana sales and distribution, which has been fully litigated and established as a right under state law. The most recent decision in this regard came from People v. Jackson
, a criminal case in which the legal sale of medical marijuana by a storefront dispensary was affirmed and a defense established for Jackson and other future defendants. The California Supreme Court refused to review or depublish the Jackson
decision, which now stands as the law of the state.
According to the California Courts, Tuesday's oral arguments are part of a special session, "the latest in a series of student outreach programs to improve public understanding of the state court system, [which] also commemorates the University of San Francisco (USF) School of Law Centennial Celebration." The hearing will be broadcasted by livestream on The California Channel at http://www.calchannel.com
. Further information:
Appellate decision in the Riverside
ASA amicus brief in the Riverside case: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Amicus_Riverside.pdf
Links to other appellate decisions on this issue: http://bit.ly/XrfMBB
# # #
By Robert Bonner
February 1, 2013, 8:23 a.m.
Reacting to a federal appellate court decision upholding the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's denial of reclassification of marijuana, The Times states in its Jan. 25 editorial
that whether marijuana should be reclassified under federal law to permit its prescription as a medicine should be based on science and an evaluation of the facts, rather than on myths. I fully agree.
And yet the editorial is based on the myth that the DEA has made it "nearly impossible" for researchers to obtain marijuana for such scientific studies. To the contrary, not a single scientifically valid study by a qualified researcher has ever been denied by the DEA or, for that matter, by the National Institute of Drug Abuse
. And there is ample government-grown marijuana, specifically for research, available at the marijuana farm run by the University of Mississippi
. More surprising, as your editorial points out, is that there is still no scientifically valid study that proves that marijuana is effective, much less safe, as a medicine.
As the DEA administrator 20 years ago, I denied the reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule I controlled drug because there were no valid scientific studies showing that smoking marijuana was an effective medicine. In my decision, published in the Federal Register, I interpreted federal law and set forth a five-part test that included whether there were valid scientific studies demonstrating that marijuana was safe and effective for treating any medical condition. I noted that at that time there were none of the kind of controlled, double-blind studies that the Food and Drug Administration
would require before approving a new drug application, and I clearly spelled out that this would be necessary before marijuana would be reclassified to a lower schedule that would permit its use as a physician-prescribed medicine
Essentially, I invited those who advocate marijuana use as a medicine to conduct research and then present it to the DEA. I laid out a road map for what they needed to do. If scientifically valid studies demonstrated that marijuana was “effective” and “safe,” as the FDA defines those terms, the agency would reclassify marijuana into one of the other schedules. It is amazing that 20 years later there is still no such scientific study establishing that marijuana is effective as a medicine. And yet in the interim, the well-funded marijuana lobby, including the National Assn. for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and others, have spent tens of millions of dollars on convincing voters to pass medical marijuana
initiatives based on anecdotes but not science.
The reason the FDA and the DEA have scientific standards is because snake-oil salesmen are able to sell just about anything to sick people without any scientific proof that it has a truly helpful therapeutic effect. If proponents of medical marijuana had invested even a small fragment of their money in scientifically valid studies, we would know one way or the other whether it works.
One can only conclude the marijuana proponents did not go this route because doing so would have shown that cannabis is not an effective and safe medicine. Alternatively, we are left to conclude that their agenda was not about marijuana to help sick people, but rather was getting voters to pass medical marijuana initiatives as a wedge to legalize the drug for "recreational" use. Here is a response from a long time activist Rick Doblin:
Dear Mr. Robert Bonner,
Hello from Rick Doblin, Ph.D.,(Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, with my dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana). I'm currently Executive Director of the non-profit research and educational organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS, www.maps.org
), which I founded in 1986. You may be surprised to learn that for the last 20+ years, I have been inspired by, and frequently quote, your 1992 statement that you mention in your article above in which you encouraged advocates of medical marijuana to conduct more research.
In 1992, you wrote, <Those who insist that marijuana has medical uses would serve society better by promoting or sponsoring more legitimate scientific research, rather than throwing their time, money and rhetoric into lobbying public relations campaigns and perennial litigation."
I have put my full energies for the last 20+ years into trying to conduct FDA-approved medical marijuana drug development research. Unfortunately, my experience, to which I hope you will give some credence, is exactly opposite of the open door to research that you claim exists. MAPS has obtained FDA and IRB approval for three different protocols to which NIDA refused to sell any marijuana, preventing the studies from taking place. In addition, NIDA refused for 7 years to sell MAPS 10 grams (!!) of marijuana for laboratory research investigating the vapors that come out of the Volcano vaporizer, compared to smoke from combusted marijuana.
Furthermore, MAPS has been involved for the last decade in litigation against DEA for refusing to license Prof. Craker, UMass Amherst, to grow marijuana exclusively for use in federally regulated research. In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Bittner recommended, after extensive hearings with witness testimony, that it would be in the public interest for DEA to license Prof. Craker to grow marijuana under contract to MAPS, ending the NIDA monopoly on the supply of marijuana legal for use in FDA-regulated studies. DEA waited for almost two years and then rejected the ALJ recommendation just six days before the inauguration of Pres. Obama. On May 11, 2012, oral arguments took place before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit by Prof. Craker challenging DEA's rationale for rejecting the DEA ALJ recommendation. A ruling is currently pending from the 1st Circuit. From my perspective, DEA's rationale for rejecting the DEA ALJ recommendation is arbitrary and capricious, but of course what matters is what the 1st Circuit will eventually decide.
In your article above, you claimed, <To the contrary, not a single scientifically valid study by a qualified researcher has ever been denied by the DEA or, for that matter, by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.> The wiggle room in your statement above is the definition of "scientifically valid study". One would think that for a privately funded study being conducted without a penny of government money, with the aim of developing marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine, that the FDA would be the regulatory agency to determine whether the study was "scientifically valid" and that Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval would be sufficient to protect the safety of the human volunteers to the study. However, in 1999, HHS created a policy (which could be reversed by Pres. Obama at any time without Congressional action) stating that PHS/NIDA reviewers would have to conduct an additional review of protocols from privately-funded sponsors seeking to purchase!
marijuana from NIDA. This additional PHS/NIDA protocol review process exists only for marijuana, not for research with any other controlled substance. MAPS has been able to make substantial progress with our research exploring the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD, including a current study in 24 US veterans, firefighters and perhaps even police officers with work-related PTSD.
It is these PHS/NIDA reviewers who have rejected all three of MAPS' FDA and IRB approved medical marijuana drug development protocols, preventing them from taking place. You can claim that the rejection of the these protocols was because they were not "scientifically valid". However, to make that claim, you would be saying that FDA and IRBs have approved studies that are not "scientifically valid", an accusation against the FDA that I doubt you really want to make.
MAPS currently has obtained FDA and IRB approval for a study of marijuana in 50 US veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. Dr. Sue Sisley of UArizona is the PI and approval has been obtained from the UArizona IRB as well as the FDA. Research into a potentially beneficial treatment for US veterans is being blocked by PHS/NIDA reviewers who rejected this protocol. These PHS/NIDA reviewers approached the protocol review as if we were asking for a government grant for a basic science study. Instead, we were seeking to purchase marijuana from NIDA for a privately-funded drug development study. The PHS/NIDA reviewers made numerous incorrect and uninformed comments and clearly didn't understand drug development research. One reviewer objected to our outcome measures when we are using the FDA-required measure of PTSD symptoms, the CAPS. If you or any readers want to review our protocol along with the PHS/NIDA reviewers' comments and my annotated response, the documents are posted at: http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/marijuana_for_ptsd_study/
The compete record of Prof. Craker's DEA lawsuit is posted at: http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/dea_timeline/
MAPS will soon be resubmitting our marijuana/PTSD protocol for another round of PHS/NIDA review, even though we think this review should be eliminated from the process. All FDA/IRB and DEA approved protocols should automatically be allowed to purchase marijuana from NIDA.
To summarize, you have been an inspiration to me and have motivated me to devote several decades of my life to seek approval for medical marijuana drug development research. My failure to make progress in overcoming the obstruction of medical marijuana research by DEA/NIDA/PHS provides one of the clearest reasons for state level medical marijuana policy reform.
My conclusion is opposite of yours, when you said, "One can only conclude the marijuana proponents did not go this route because doing so would have shown that cannabis is not an effective and safe medicine."
Rather, one can only conclude that privately-funded medical marijuana drug development research is being aggressively and actively obstructed by DEA/NIDA/PHS because they know it can be scientifically proven that marijuana, smoked or vaporized, is both safe and effective.
The heros in all of this in my eyes are the FDA. It's not because FDA is pro-medical marijuana, or pro-psychedelic psychotherapy. Rather, FDA is pro science over politics. In other words, FDA are heroes simply for doing their jobs. If only DEA/NIDA/PHS considered the public interest over their increasingly out of touch passion for blocking FDA-regulated medical marijuana drug development research.
I urge you to reread your 1992 statement and join MAPS in asking for the end of the PHS protocol review process and for a new policy in which all FDA/IRB/DEA approved protocols automatically obtain approval to purchase NIDA marijuana. In addition, I sincerely hope you will also support DEA licensing of Prof. Craker. It's time to "serve society better by promoting or sponsoring more legitimate scientific research."
Rick Doblin, Ph.D.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please forward this to everyone you know and send a letter to the judge:
Honorable Judge McGlynn
Tehama Superior Court
Juvenile Justice Division
445 Pine Street
Red Bluff, CA 96080
To the Honorable Judge McGlynn January 29, 2013 Tehama County, CA
RE: Daisy Bram
As a mother of a young child, I appreciate and share the concern the court would have for a child in a bad environment, unable to care for themselves. I would hope the court can also recognize when the only evidence of abuse appears now by the Butte County deputy district attorney Jeff Greeson, by tormenting this family repeatedly. Keeping a family with young children together must have more weight than the personal vendetta of a person of authority, who disagrees with personal choices that are allowed by law.
In the case of Drake M. (case # B236769), Division Three of the Second Appellate District, California Court of Appeal ruled on December 5, 2012 that while parents who abuse drugs can lose custody of their children, a parent who uses marijuana for medical reasons, with a doctor's approval, isn't necessarily a drug abuser. This ruling illustrates a growing recognition of the legitimate use of medical marijuana in this state and other states. The kids must be safe; however parents should be able to use legally prescribed medications when children appear not to be at demonstrated risk of harm.
DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young, after reviewing all the available evidence on marijuana, declared, “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” When compared to the dangers of children consuming prescription drugs and alcohol, or the ramifications of a drunk or drugged parent, any home is actually safer if responsible parents utilize marijuana as a harm reduction technique from these other drugs.
The appellate court found that the record did not support the finding that the children would be at substantial risk of detriment if returned to that mother based on her use of marijuana. (Jennifer A. v. Superior Court, supra, 117 Cal.App.4th at p. 1346.) Medical marijuana use alone is not sufficient to take a child away. I truly hope that this ‘de facto’ policy of DCFS is changed, and that no more parents and children have to suffer needlessly. Please limit how authority figures can manipulate laws to separate children from their parents that use marijuana for medical reasons with your ruling.
As a nursing mom, I would also like to remind the court that for little humans, and the mothers who breastfeed their young, have a sacred right to be together, and these young families are now dependent on the court to keep mothers and her young together for nourishment, physical and emotional protection. Can you imagine how you might feel with the center of your universe disappeared for weeks without explanation, without connection, without trust that is so vital to the young years? Babies need constant attention from trusted caregivers to thrive. This situation would be enormously taxing for any adult, perfectly capable of expressing themselves, but a baby who is otherwise being cared for? The stress and emotional toll this has on a mother and child is damaging to say the least, and worst case scenario would produce life-long developmental problems.
I pray this letter will prevent some of the harm I have seen to these children in foster care, when they should have been with their loving parents. Daisy Bram is a loving and caring mother. Please return her children as soon as humanly possible.
Dale Sky Jones Executive Chancellor Oaksterdam University Oakland, CA 94612
Posted January 23, 2013 by JEFF PRINCE in News
The bar is well stocked at J.R.’s house, nestled quietly in a well-to-do neighborhood not far from downtown Fort Worth. Booze is in short supply — three dusty wine bottles sit forlornly on a shelf. This bar’s bounty is green, red, and gold flowery buds sprinkled on trays and in baby-food-sized jars. It’s a cornucopia of cannabis, enough to make any connoisseur’s toes curl.
Mexican dirt weed?
J.R. doesn’t touch it. He’s a trained budtender with a diploma earned at Oaksterdam University
, the pot college in Oakland, Calif. With a second home in California (and a medicinal marijuana permit in that state), J.R. buys nothing but the best pot, hydroponically grown with precise formulas of water, light, temperature, and nutrition for maximum effect. (Like all the pot aficionados interviewed for this story, he asked that his full name not be used.)
This ain’t your pappy’s weed. “Hydro” is several times stoner, er, stronger.
Domestically produced marijuana has been transformed into a major, sophisticated industry in this country, including in states like Texas, where pot is still illegal. People in the business are perfecting product development and growing techniques, and all over the country there are entrepreneurs like J.R., already clandestinely in business but waiting for the day when pot is legal –– a day they see rapidly approaching.
Five years ago, about 90 percent of the pot sold in North Texas could be categorized as Mexican weed. Now hydro has taken over about half of that market.
American pot farmers produced about 22 million pounds in 2006, worth about $35 billion, according to a report published that year in the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform
. Texas didn’t rank among the top 10 states in outdoor marijuana production, but came in at No. 5 for indoor growing (115,000 pounds annually).
The same report listed pot as the country’s No. 1 cash crop. Corn and other crops are grown in greater volume, but, according to the Bulletin
, none match weed’s production value — not corn ($23 billion), soybeans ($17 million), or hay ($12 million).
Of course, accurately determining how much pot is grown and smoked is kind of like trying to fence in a butterfly.
“It’s just a wild-ass guess,” said Terry Nelson, who spent three decades in law enforcement, including stints with the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. Now retired, he’s a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
(LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals who disagree with current drug policies. They say legalization would cripple cartels and street dealers.
“If there is one [grower’s crop] you are stumbling on, there are probably a thousand that you’re not,” he said. “Cops always use the 10 percent rule: You catch 10 percent of people doing something wrong and know about 10 percent of what’s going on.”
Mexican weed still dominates the Texas market, he said, but hydro is making a big impact.
“We need to legalize these drugs so we can regulate and control them,” he said. “That will reduce about 80 percent of your crime and violence related to the drug trade.”