Pages tagged "Federal"

  • Indictments Thrown Out by Nevada Judge, Who Said the State’s Medical Marijuana Law “Makes No Sense”



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A Nevada trial court judge threw out an indictment Monday against Leonard Schwingdorf and Nathan Hamilton, two medical marijuana dispensary operators arrested in federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement raids on several Las Vegas facilities last year. This was the first legal disposition since the Obama DEA raided at least 5 area dispensaries on September 8, 2010, indicting 15 people as a result.

    When dismissing the indictments, Nevada District Judge Donald Mosley called the state’s law “mind boggling.” Judge Mosley further questioned the legislature’s failure to craft a law that benefits patients:
    [W]hy don't they (the Legislature) make up their mind if they want to make it legal or not…I can't make any sense out of this law.

    Judge Mosley also asked about the law:
    Are people supposed to give it away? I mean it just makes no sense.

    Although all 15 indictments stemming from last year’s raids were initially filed in federal court, only 7 remain as federal cases. The rest of the indictments, two of which were tossed earlier this week by Judge Mosley, were transferred to state court.

    According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, defendants have called the state law “paradoxical because it allows patients registered with the state to possess the herb, but makes it illegal to obtain it.”

    Mosley agreed with defense attorneys in their allegations that prosecutors withheld important medical-related information from the grand jury that indicted Schwingdorf and Hamilton.

    Seven federal prosecutions are still pending as are another state case, which will be heard Friday by District Judge Doug Smith. An indictment against multiple operators and the vagueness of Nevada’s medical marijuana law will again be at issue this Friday.
  • Research Approved to Study Effects of Medical Marijuana on PTSD



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After a lengthy approval process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has granted research to study the effects of medical marijuana on people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This summer, the research group MAPS was given the go-ahead by FDA to conduct a:
    Placebo-Controlled, Triple-Blind, Randomized Crossover Pilot Study of the Safety and Efficacy of Five Different Potencies of Smoked or Vaporized Marijuana in 50 Veterans with Chronic, Treatment-Resistant [PTSD].

    The effects of medical marijuana on PTSD has been a growing area of inquiry given the difficulty of treating the condition and its prevalence among U.S. troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as others. PTSD affects as many as 7.8 percent of Americans and according to the New York Times:
    Currently, nearly a third of the 4,982 patients approved for medical marijuana in New Mexico suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, more than any other condition, according to the state’s health department.

    Preceding final approval by the federal government to conduct PTSD research using medical marijuana, the Journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience published an article in June 2011 on “The role of cannabinoids [the compounds found in the marijuana plant] in modulating emotional and emotional memory processes in the hippocampus.”

    Unfortunately, MAPS still needs approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) before it can begin trials, but Americans for Safe Access looks forward to the eventual completion of this research and the greater acceptability of using marijuana to treat a debilitating condition that affects millions of people in the U.S.
  • Tennessee Congressman Calls Federal Medical Marijuana Policy “Misguided”



    Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) wrote a letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on Monday, urging a change to the country’s drug policy with regard to marijuana. In addition to calling the federal policy on medical marijuana “misguided,” Cohen said, “Marijuana does not belong on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.”
    There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as these harder drugs and it should not be treated as such.

    Cohen, who has taken FBI Director Robert Mueller to task over the federal government’s policy, called for compassion in his letter to Kerlikowske:
    We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely on marijuana to treat the effects of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses the benefits that marijuana provides.

    Cohen also described a personal experience he had with medical marijuana:
    I have personally witnessed a close friend who was suffering in the last days of pancreatic cancer benefit tremendously from smoking marijuana. It increased his appetite, eased his pain, and allowed him to smile. It allowed him to deal with death with a little more dignity.

    Fortunately, there is a bill currently in Congress that would reclassify medical marijuana. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is mobilizing people to urge their Members of Congress to pass HR 1983, a bill that would reclassify marijuana to Schedule III and allow states to pass their own laws.

    ASA has also taken the Obama Administration to court over its refusal to reclassify marijuana. After a 2002 petition filed by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) was denied earlier this year, ASA and the CRC filed an appeal in the D.C. Circuit. Advocates are hopeful that either Congress or the courts will push the federal government to address medical marijuana with a sensible public health policy.
  • Action Alert: Tell Congress to Support New Bills



    August is the month to visit your Congress Critter! Most Representatives will be back home soon, so this is your chance to explain why it's important to pass the bi-partisan legislation pending in Congress. H.R. would block the federal prosecution of patients in states that allow medical cannabis. H.R. 1984 would protect bank accounts for medical cannabis dispensaries. And H.R. 1985 would let dispensaries deduct expenses on their federal taxes like any other business.

    You can reach your Representative by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or take action online right now.
  • It's About Time



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After nine years of delay, the DEA finally denied the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) petition to reschedule marijuana.  While this may superficially seem like a setback, it now allows us to get a more fair hearing in federal court.  We even had to to file a lawsuit in federal court to compel any action on this decision, so it is a step in the right direction that we received a final administrative action on the rescheduling petition to set the stage for a court battle.  Now, we can present our evidence to a tribunal that will listen.

    Already, Time posted an article concluding that science demonstrates the following:
    if an appeals judgment were based on scientific evidence, rather than political considerations this time around, it's easy to imagine a very different outcome.

    Similarly, the International Business Report posted an article entiled, "Did U.S Government Miss the Mark with Medical Marijuana Ruling?"  You can guess the answer (or click on the link for the result).  The short of it is that we are getting a chance in court and we need to make the most of it.  And we will.
  • Celebrating Independence Day with an Unhealthy Dependence on the Federal Government



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    More by a confluence of circumstances than by design, the federal government made clear this past week its intolerance to medical cannabis as well as its intolerance to the independence of local and state governments to decide their own public health policies. The irony of the U.S. Department of Justice issuing formal threats against the autonomy of local and state officials on the eve of Independence Day is not lost on many who are paying attention to this latest power grab by the federal government.

    When was the last time you remember local and state officials being threatened en masse with criminal prosecution by the federal government for implementing their own public health laws? This egregious attempt by the fed to seize unwarranted authority over the states should be a concern not only to the medical cannabis patient community, but also to those who believe in the importance of local autonomy in a federalist system of democracy.

    There are, however, historical demons in our states’ rights closet too, not the least of which is the amalgam of state laws enacted to resist federal desegregation efforts during the Civil Rights era. However, there must be ways to protect people from harm and bigotry using our federalist system of government, without ceding omnipotence to the fed and giving up the rights of states and their localities to care for the health and welfare of their people. There is no doubt that the fed is attempting to set a precedent that will allow them to usurp control from local and state governments and inhibit their ability to pass their own public health laws.

    This is a time to rise up in opposition to the federal government and its abuse of authority. This is not a time to cower and buckle to intimidation. The States of Arizona, California, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington have either suspended or gutted parts of their medical cannabis programs in response to threats from U.S. Attorneys.  However, the State of Delaware recently passed the country’s 16th medical cannabis law, including the licensing of distribution centers, despite awareness by the legislature and Governor Jack Markell that the new law contradicted parts of federal law. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill to regulate and license medical cannabis distribution centers in his state despite a threatening letter sent by U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin to Vermont’s Public Safety Commissioner.

    If local and state officials want to maintain their independence, they must take a cue from the States of Delaware and Vermont and stand up to the federal government. Governors, state attorneys general, legislators, county supervisors, city council members and others must join together and fight back against this latest encroachment.

    To be sure, medical cannabis patients are not going away. If the federal government refuses to recognize the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and develop a sensible public health policy, then states must be allowed to do so in its place. As we celebrate our freedom from government tyranny on this July 4th, let’s also be resolute in our stand against tyrannical acts by the Obama Administration.
  • Medical Cannabis Community on Red Alert



    [caption id="attachment_1695" align="alignnone" width="275" caption="Deputy US AG Cole"]
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    Under the Obama Administration, Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memo reinforcing the intent of the federal government to interfere with state medical cannabis laws, specifically the creation and licensing of dispensing centers. Compromising the legitimacy of dispensing centers will jeopardize access for patients in medical cannabis states across the country.  The time has come for great action on our part to show the federal government that our state's right to medical cannabis will not be trumped. 

    Our community is on red alert.  ASA suggests that everyone revisits their emergency response plans, and if you do not have one, now is the time.  Sign up for ASA Raid Text Message Alerts by clicking here.  If you are a medical cannabis related business, sign up your business for our Raid Response Program.

    For more information, click here to view our press release, and click here to read ASA’s Blog reaction.

    Americans for Safe Access will be holding a conference call on Tuesday, July 5 2011 at 5:30pPST/8:30pEST-6:30pPST/9:30pEST to discuss our course of action to respond to this event.  To dial in on Tuesday, call 832 431 3335 and enter participant code 1618568. 

    In the meantime, it is very important to build support from our political leaders, and question the Obama Administration for their actions. 

    If you live in a medical cannabis state, take one minute to call your state's governor using the following script.  To find your governor's phone number, click here.

    Governor--
      
    I am outraged at the Obama Administration's continual disregard for our state's medical cannabis laws.  We need your leadership to come out against the Obama Administration's actions, and support the rights of medical cannabis patients! 

     

     

     



    Thank you.  President Obama--

    I am outraged with your Administration's recent Department of Justice Memo from Deputy Attorney General Cole.  You made promises to protect our community, and they have been broken.  Denying patients the right to access medication through dispensing centers is an attack on the patient community.  Issue a policy that allows states to implement their laws, and protect patients rights to safe access! 

    Thank you.

    If you have not done so already, sign ASA's Petition to Obama to end federal interference with state law by clicking here.

    We look forward to talking to you on Tuesday, July 5 about our next steps.

    Everyone across the country should take minute to call Obama's reelection campaign using the following script.  His campaign hotline is 312-698-3670.  The White House Comment line is 202-456-1111.
  • DOJ memo sends a chilling message

    [caption id="attachment_1678" align="alignnone" width="275" caption="Deputy US Attorney General James Cole"]
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    In a move that impacts hundreds of thousands of medical cannabis patients nationwide, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a chilling message tonight to state and local officials who are seeking to implement medical cannabis laws and to those trying to provide legal medicine: You may be prosecuted.  In a memo to US Attorneys nationwide, US Deputy Attorney General James Cole said that
    Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities… are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law… Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other federal financial laws.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling on members and supporters to get ready for a large-scale national response to the DOJ threats that could stymie implementation of state and local laws and make getting medicine harder. We have to let President Obama know that federal interference and intimidation hurts patients – and we expect him to do better!



    Preventing state and local governments from regulating medical cannabis activity is counterproductive and harmful to legal patients, most of whom cannot or will not grow their own medicine. Without anywhere to obtain their doctor-approved medicine, hundreds of thousands of legal patients are left to fend for themselves and are pushed into the unregulated illicit market. That is not what voters and lawmakers intended when they adopted medical cannabis laws in seventeen states and the District of Columbia.

    The threat of using money laundering and other federal financial crimes is particularly onerous in the current political landscape. Under pressured federal pressure, many banks are denying services to medical cannabis providers; and the IRS is auditing providers in California and Colorado using antiquated codes designed to penalize drug cartels. Fanning these flames only makes menaingful regulation harder. Why not let legislation sponsored by US Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Pete Stark (D-CA) address these issues without intimidating lawmakers, regulators, tax collectors, providers, and others?

    This long-awaited clarification from the DOJ upholds the recent status quo of aggressive enforcement against state and local medical cannabis laws, in direct contradiction to Obama's comment on the campaign trail that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." Until states and localities have the ability to adopt and enforce their own laws regarding the production and distribution of medical cannabis, federal interference and intimidation will continue to undermine the rights of the very patients the DOJ purports to recognize.

    We can do better than the same old federal posture. President Obama should end the criminal prosecution of medical cannabis providers who are obeying state law and cooperate with state and local officials trying to implement rational, compassionate policies. A good first step would be to respond to the nine-year old rescheduling petition that seeks to remove medical cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The President could also support legislative efforts to harmonize federal law with the laws of the states where medical cannabis is legal. Support for US Representative Barney Frank’s (D-MA) HR 1983 would go a long way towards bridging the federal divide and reassuring state and local officials that it is OK to implement the law. It may also help persuade legal patients and providers that it is OK to obey it.
  • Call AG Holder's Office Today



    Don't let U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder deny your access to medical marijuana!

    Holder is expected to "clarify" the federal government's enforcement policy on medical marijuana.any day now. Call Holder's office today at 202-514-2001 to demand that the Justice Department leave state medical marijuana programs alone. (Sample script after the jump)

    Attorney General Holder—
     
    Most medical cannabis patients rely on local distribution centers for safe and legal access to their medicine.  Unfortunately, recent federal actions have cut off this access, leaving many without the medication they need.  Please don't let the Justice Department continue to interfere in the development and implementation of state and local medical marijuana laws. President Obama's pledge of not using Justice Department resources to undermine state medical marijuana laws must be upheld. Please issue a policy that will protect both patients and the distribution centers on which they rely.
     
    Thank you.
     

    Thank you for taking a minute to fight for safe access. 

    Americans for Safe Access is the nations largest member based medical cannabis organization.  We rely on charitable donations to fuel the fight for safe access.  To donate to the movement, click here.
  • A Small Step Forward



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The District of Columbia Circuit issued an order yesterday requiring the Drug Enforcement Administration to answer our petition for writ of mandamus. While this doesn't require the government to actually answer the rescheduling petition filed in 2002 by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, it is certainly a step in the right direction.