Category Archives: activism

2014 : A Great Year for Marijuana Policy Changes — We CAN Celebrate in 2015!

2015 is a time to Celebrate some of the Successes from 2014. Across the Nation– 2014 was a great year for positive changes in drug policy reform—primarily for marijuana laws.Leaf gavel

Here are some of the Highlights:

Some of the 23 states which have Medical Marijuana Programs enhanced their programs.

In Hawaii, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force was formed. hus-conf-4-16-14

After six months of examining laws from other states and hearing testimony (from experts and the public) they produced a list of recommendations which will be used to draft legislation for the 2015 session.

States that had NO program– approved medical marijuana: New York, Minnesota, Maryland.Cannabisoil1

Eleven states will now allow qualified patients to use cannabis products that are high in cannabidiol (CBD). The patients are primarily children with severe, intractable epilepsy. The states are: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

For the first time, Congress cut federal funding for the enforcement of laws which would “Interfere” with the implementation of state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs. Taxpayer money will no longer be spent on prosecuting those who possess, distribute or cultivate medical marijuana (in compliance with state laws).

MANY STATES HAVE NOW DECRIMINALIZED OR LEGALIZED MARIJUANA POSSESSION

According to an article in the Huffington Post, many States chose to DECRIMINALIZE possession of small amounts of marijuana. They include: the District of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Maryland and regions of Maine, Michigan, and New Mexico.Jail door opened

Alaska and Oregon voters joined Colorado and Washington state in LEGALIZING marijuana. In Oregon, anti-legalization efforts were squashed when it was discovered that federal funds were being used in the politicking.

California had many HARM REDUCTION policy successes with marijuana, naloxone and decriminalization efforts.

And, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memo which says that it will not interfere with marijuana cultivation or sales if it occurs on tribal lands, in any state.

It seems the tides have been turning in favor of responsible marijuana use. This may be due to a growing awareness of the medical usefulness of marijuana and that millions of patients are using it safely. Maybe this is the result of a growing awareness of the devastating effects of the failure of the war on drugs. warondrugs

Maybe people have seen that many good things have come from the legalization in Colorado and Washington, such as opioid overdose mortality rates drop by 24.8 percent (NORML) and a drop in violent crimes.

Perhaps they saw that their favorite NFL teams –with players who use marijuana—make it to the top four playoff spots. Two of the best players, Seattle’s Marshawn lynch (sitting at #4) and Steelers Le’Veon Bell (at #2 spot) have admitted to using marijuana.

Thanks to the many people, including the Marijuana Mavericks, 2014 was a good year for positive change. Let’s hope this trend continues well into 2015.

 

 

 

 

The Votes are In. Many Sensible Marijuana Policy Reforms Pass

I votedSensible Marijuana Policy Reforms Prevail – From Alaska to Washington D.C.. . and Guam?

On November 4th, 2014, Voters across many states took a strong stance AGAINST marijuana prohibition and FOR sensible drug laws.  The people have spoken. File:Thomas H Ince - Megaphone 1922.jpg

Here’s what they decided:

Marijuana will be LEGAL for recreational use in the states of Alaska and Oregon and in Washington D.C.

Now marijuana will be regulated like alcohol.

Alaska’s, Question 2 passed with a 53% YES vote.  In Oregon, measure 91 passed with a 54% YES vote.

Washington D.C. (Initiative 71) passed with a 69% vote. While this is a huge victory, it is only a first step. The law only allows (right now) for people to grow their own, there is no structure to tax and regulate adult use marijuana, and as we saw in their recent decriminalization law, it will be exposed to possible congressional interference.

P medical-marijuanaFortunately, in GUAM – voters said YES to Medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, despite 57% of votes being in favor of medical marijuana, the measure failed in Florida. (a 60% vote was required.)

 

Jail w flag outsideFortunately, there was good news about decriminalization efforts in other states:

Californians passed Prop 47—which will reduce penalties for some crimes and reclassify MOST non-serious, non-violent crimes. Penalties will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. They also voted NO to drug testing of certain doctors.

In Michigan voters in THREE counties passed decriminalization ordinances, TWO counties in New Mexico did too.

In New Jersey the public was questioned about bail reform and they agreed that the number of pretrial incarceration (for low-level drug violations) should be reduced.

Portland, Maine voters passed to remove ALL legal penalties for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by an adult.Jail door opened

We should applaud the people who worked to make these efforts into a reality.

And, we should keep in mind the words of Margaret Mead:Margaret Mead

 

 

Vote

Voters in 7 States will vote on Marijuana Policy Reform

This is a HUGE Election Year for Marijuana Policy Reform!

The people in 7 States, 1 District and 1 Territory will vote on   Legalization and Decriminalization.

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Image courtesy of the joint blog.

Public policy changes may also be made in 57 Municipal and County votes.

It’s EASY to Get informed and Stay informed–Here’s how:

Read this excellent article in the Huffington Post (by Stephen Gutwillig) about what is happening in: Alaska, Oregon, Florida, California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Washington D.C., and Guam.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE

From Russ Belville FB page
From Russ Belville FB page

Activist Russ Belville has ongoing RADIO coverage of ALL of these States (and Territory) plus 57 municipal and county votes—so you can stay informed.

Listen in at  420 Radio

Medical Cannabis may get out of CSA Schedule I prison (because it got a bad rap)

Leaf gavel

What started as federal criminal trials against seven men growing marijuana on national forest land in California has turned into a monumental, HISTORIC evidentiary hearing. The hearing lasted four days and started on Friday, October 24, 2014. It was complete with three expert medical witnesses and a NORML attorney whose testimonies were described as “lively”, “fiery” and at times “humorous”.

The judge will determine if the current Controlled Substance Act classification of marijuana (as a Schedule I drug) is appropriate and constitutional.

The defense attorneys contend that it is NOT constitutional because the scheduling is not appropriate.

The Judge’s decision could mean the END of marijuana prohibition–at least in California.

U.S. District Court Judge, Kimberly J. Mueller said she felt compelled to examine up-to-date evidence that marijuana has medical usefulness because of a Supreme Court decision which changed another law. The decision to delete a FOOTNOTE in another case (Footnote #37 from the Gonzales v. Raich case) led to this twist in the trial.  Read more about the Footnote here]

The testimony Judge Mueller heard this week will allow her to determine if marijuana meets the criteria of a Schedule I drug, a category that includes heroin and LSD.

As you may know, Schedule I drugs are defined as those that:

  • have a high potential for abuse
  • lack any accepted medical use in treatment (in the United States)
  • cannot be used safely, even under medical supervision.

The three eminent medical experts who testified are Carl Hart PhD, Gregory Carter, MD and Philip Denny, MD. The doctors argued that cannabis is one of mankind’s oldest, safest therapeutic substances and does not fit ANY of the Schedule I criteria. All three addressed marijuana’s current and potential medical usefulness, the “better than most drugs on the market” safety profile and what the “potential for abuse” means if you’re using marijuana as medicine.

If Judge Mueller determines that cannabis is inappropriately classified, and determines it to be “unconstitutional”, her decision could lead to the rescheduling or DESCHEDULING of marijuana.

This will be a landmark decision with statewide, national and international impacts. Many appeals are likely to follow and the case could head back to the Supreme Court. Judge Mueller is supposed to make her decision by November 19, 2014.

 

TESTIMONY GIVEN BY THE DOCTORS

Carl Hart 1

Dr. Carl Hart is a drug addiction expert. He is a psychoneuropharmacologist who has conducted addiction research on human subjects. He educates physicians at Columbia medical school. He sits on an advisory board of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and advocates for drug policy reform. His performance was described as a “masterful testimony”

Dr. Hart dissected the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (which defines addiction) and stated:

“After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”  (from Norml.org/news)

Dr Gregory Carter

Dr. Gregory Carter also specializes in educating physicians about cannabis. He is the medical director at St. Luke Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington. He holds many board certifications and fellowships including the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. He cited and discussed a meta-analysis of 18 placebo-controlled studies, the majority of them showing cannabis was effective at treating neuropathic pain and had minimal side effects.

It was noted that the United States government (DHHS) holds a patent on marijuana as a neuroprotective agent and that 23 states and Washington D.C. have medical marijuana laws.

Dr. Phillip Denny is a retired physician with vast experience treating medical cannabis patients.

Dr. Denny spoke about the U.S. government’s Investigative New Drug program (IND), the program that has supplied US patients with tins of government-grown cannabis since the 1970’s. He presented the results of a 2002 study showing the long-term successes in treating the severely ill IND patients. He fielded questions about a study showing the cannabis-based prescription medication, Marinol had the same effectiveness as smoked cannabis—helping substantiate the medical value of both.

Day 4 was also lively. Bertha Madras PhD, the only government expert witness asserted that cannabis cannot properly be called “medicine” because it does not meet the strict standards set by the Food and Drug Administration. NORML attorney Zenia Gilg countered by providing the results of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies which showed significant and beneficial medicinal effects.

Gilg also dimished Madras’s credibility as an expert witness, citing her lack of training and experience with working with medical marijuana. This stood in stark contrast to the vast education and experience of Dr. Hart, Dr. Carter and Dr. Denny.

To read more about day 4 click here:

DPAGlogo

Field Organizer sought for local drug policy reform NPO

DPAGlogo

JOB OPENING: The Drug Policy Action Group is seeking a Field Organizer.

Fresh Approach Hawaii founder The Drug Policy Action Group (www.dpfhi.org) is hiring!

The Field Organizer will work with DPAGʻs Executive Director and/or Board President, and will be responsible for DPAG’s public education campaign for statewide reform of marijuana laws including lobbying, growth and day to day operations of two coalitions formed during the 2013 Legislative Session: The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii (MCCHI.org) and Fresh Approach Hawaii (Freshapproachhawaii.org). For the full job description, see: DPAG_organizer.

Please send a letter of interest, resume, a recent writing sample and three references (all in PDF format) to info@dpfhi.org by September 20, 2013.

DPAG is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

USCouncilMayors

Hundreds Of U.S. Mayors: Let States Police Pot

We are still trying to obtain a voting list on this…more to follow!

“Hundreds of mayors from around the nation voted Monday to urge the federal government to give states leeway in establishing marijuana policies. The resolution was among dozens of symbolic measures city leaders unanimously passed on the last day of the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors conference in Las Vegas.”

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/us-mayors-want-states-police-pot.php?ref=fpb

State_of_Hawaii_seal

Bills to improve patient privacy and safe access to medical marijuana become law

Advocates call measures a “significant first step” to modernize Hawaii’s thirteen year-old medical marijuana law

(Honolulu, 6/25/2013) Patient advocates celebrated the signing of two bills to improve Hawaii’s 13 year-old medical marijuana program – the first updates to pass the legislature since the program began. Approved today were measures to move program oversight away from the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) and to the Department of Health (“DOH”), and to adjust the type and amount of medical marijuana a patient can legally possess.

HB 668 CD1 moves oversight of the program to the DOH, a move welcomed by advocates as both symbolic and substantive. HB 668 will go into effect January 1, 2015, giving time for the transition between departments to occur.

SB 642 CD1 increases the amount of medical marijuana a patient or caregiver can grow and possess. Lawmakers also added a provision requiring that only a patient’s primary care physician can certify them for eligibility, but later clarified that people covered in the Federal system (e.g. military dependents at Tripler) and those seeing specialist physicians will still have access to Hawaii’s medical marijuana program. This measure will also take effect in 2015 – one day later than HB 688.

Representative Della Au Belatti, who advocated strongly for the bills, said: “Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states.  By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the State can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”

The policy shift is part of a serious discussion on the future of marijuana law in the Islands, mirroring reforms happening around the country. Bills to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol and to remove criminal penalties for adult use garnered unprecedented public support and legislative interest and received hearings, but were ultimately shelved until 2014 with no final votes taken.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program enjoys very strong public support. Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between November 19 and December 4, 2012. Among its findings:

  • 81% of Hawaii voters support access to medical marijuana by sick and dying people under a doctor’s care.
  • 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.

Pam Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, said: “While Hawaii still has important work ahead in updating our medical marijuana program, these bills are a significant first step. The emergence of legislative champions for medical marijuana like Senators Will Espero and Josh Green and Representative Della Au Belatti shows that lawmakers recognize the broad public support among voters. We look forward to working with the 2014 legislature to establish state-regulated dispensaries, and to make additional patient-centered improvements to the Hawaii program.”

Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, added: “In 2000, Hawaii led the nation as the first state to legislatively establish our medical marijuana program. Now, a total of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have programs. Finally, 13 years down the road, Hawaii is moving toward patient-focused policies and away from a law enforcement approach. These bills do not address every concern, but are the first real steps toward a more sensible public policy — we are encouraged and will redouble our efforts next legislative session.”

Patients, doctors and caregivers are urged to join the confidential support network “The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii” founded by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and follow the latest news at www.mcchi.org

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Neuropsychopharmacologist: outlawing marijuana research is scientific censorship

“International drug laws amount to scientific censorship, setting back key areas of research including medical treatments, according to a former government drug adviser.

In the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Professor David Nutt, of Imperial College London, said UN conventions on drugs acted as some of the most scandalous examples of scientific censorship in modern times.

Along with another former government adviser, Leslie King, and Prof David Nichols, of the University of North Carolina, Nutt argued that psychoactive drugs used in research should be exempt from severe restrictions.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jun/12/drug-laws-scientific-censorship-david-nutt

Journal article (requires payment): http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nrn3530.html