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ASA's Media Summary for the Week of 8/24/07

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
ASA ACTION : Defending Patient’s Property Rights
FEDERAL : Doctor-Lawyer Couple Convicted for Medical Growing
LOS ANGELES : Continued Blowback from DEA Raids on Dispensaries
CAMPAIGN ’08 : Democrats All Say DEA Raids Should Stop
WASHINGTON : State Studying Better Implementation and Access
KANSAS : Former AG Fighting For Safe Access
NEW MEXICO : Plans for State Marijuana Production and Distribution
OHIO : Medical Marijuana Initiative May Go Before Voters
DISPENSARIES : Patients and Local Officials Grapple with Needs
CALIFORNIA : Medical Marijuana Opposition Group Milks Federal Funds
GERMANY : First Medical Marijuana Patient Approved
ASA ACTION: Defending Patient’s Property Rights

What happens when qualified medical marijuana patients have encounters with law enforcement? Too often, their state-legal medicine is confiscated and not returned, even once it is determined that they are operating within the limits of the law. For more than two years, ASA has been leading a campaign to correct that injustice, helping patients get court orders for the return of their medical marijuana and even getting a fundamental change of policy from the California Highway Patrol, who was once one of the worst offenders. ASA has now taken that fight to the state court of appeals, arguing that patients who have committed no crime are always entitled to return of their property.

No crime? Give it back
Orange County Register (CA)
The California Court of Appeal for the 4th District will hear an important case today (at 1:30, 925 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana) regarding whether qualified medicinal marijuana patients are entitled to have their medicine returned after it has been seized by police even though they were entitled to possess it. It should be a no-brainer. Patients whose legally possessed property has been confiscated should have it returned unless they have been convicted of a crime.

Court considers medical marijuana seizures
by Rachanee Srisavasdi,
Orange County Register (CA)
If police officers seize marijuana legally kept by a medical marijuana patient, should they have to give the property back? That was the central question today before a three-justice panel of the state's Fourth Appellate District. Two California patients are pursuing the case with the legal assistance of Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana nonprofit group.

Judges asked to order the return of O.C. men's pot
by Christine Hanley,
Los Angeles Times
Two Orange County men have taken the cops to court to get their pot back. Jim Spray, 51, and Felix Kha, 22, who have doctors' recommendations to use marijuana for medical reasons, said that since charges against them were dropped, their property should be returned. Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based group that monitors medical marijuana issues across the state, is representing the two men.
FEDERAL: Doctor-Lawyer Couple Convicted for Medical Growing

Again the constraints on admissible evidence in federal marijuana trials have resulted in the convictions of Californians who were helping medical marijuana patients. In this case, the couple involved are a doctor, who is herself a patient, and her caregiver-husband, who is an attorney. After the passage of the state law allowing it, Dr. Mollie Fry began using marijuana as a treatment with help from her husband, Dale Schafer. Then they began to do what they could to help others in their community, providing recommendations and help with cultivation. First, the government stripped Dr. Fry’s license to prescribe medicines. Now, it has obtained convictions that mandate a minimum of five years in prison for each of them. They can only hope that the judge has taken note of how other district judges in California have treated similar cases, granting downward departures on the basis of the “lesser harm” entailed by helping ease suffering with cannabis rather than abiding by the blanket federal prohibition.

Guilty Verdict In Medicinal Marijuana Case In Cool
CBS 13 Sacramento
It took a jury in Federal court about three hours to hand down a guilty verdict in a local medicinal marijuana case that goes back six years.

by Cosmo Garvin,
Sacramento News & Review
There's an inscription carved into the plaza at the entrance of the Federal Courthouse downtown. Maybe you’ve seen it: “There are not enough jails, not enough policemen, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people.” Last week in federal court, defense attorney Laurence Lichter tried to read that phrase, originally uttered by Vice President Hubert Humphrey, to a jury, explaining why his client didn’t deserve five years in federal prison. Judge Frank Damrell wasn’t having it, and cut Lichter off during his closing statement. So goes the trial of Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband, Dale Schafer, medical-marijuana activists convicted last week of “conspiracy to manufacture” pot and distribute it to sick people.
LOS ANGELES: Continued Blowback from DEA Raids on Dispensaries

This editorial joins the Los Angeles City Council in condemning the involvement of city police in the coordinated series of federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries there. Since the city council was shown video footage of an LAPD officer assisting in a raid, a hearing has been held and an investigation begun. ASA is working with the City Council on a resolution of non-cooperation that would prevent police from ignoring state law.

Selective enforcement
EDITORIAL, Los Angeles Daily News
When federal agents busted down doors raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles in July, Los Angeles Police Department officers were their comrades in arms. The department's assistance in the raids infuriated some City Council members, who chastised them last week for cooperating with the Drug Enforcement Agency and for enforcing federal drug laws that are in conflict with California's medical marijuana law - and the will of the public.
CAMPAIGN ’08: Democrats All Say DEA Raids Should Stop

With all Democrats running for President and the majority of Republican candidates saying DEA actions against state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers should end, the recent spate of raids may be the last gasp of a dying federal policy. Sure, federal officials have been denying the medical science for decades, but with international researchers uncovering new potential for the treatment of such difficult diseases as MS, cancer and Alzheimer’s, pressure for policy change is increasing.

All Democratic presidential candidates pledge to end medical marijuana raids, group says
by James Pindell,
Boston Globe
Last night in Nashua US Senator Barack Obama became the latest Democratic presidential candidate to say that if he were elected president he would end raids from federal law enforcement agencies against those who use medical marijuana in the dozen states where it is legal to do so.
WASHINGTON: State Studying Better Implementation and Access

Removing criminal penalties for patients whose doctors have recommended they use medical marijuana is but the first step in grappling with the issue of safe access. Keeping patients out of jail is one thing, but states with protections for patients must also confront the means by which patients are to get their medical marijuana. Questions of quantities and caregivers are just a few of those Washington and other medical marijuana states are facing.

Officials seek public input on medical marijuana
by M. Alexander Otto,
Tacoma News-Tribune (WA)
The Washington State Department of Health is looking for public input on what constitutes a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. Officials also want to hear the public’s ideas about how patients can gain access to adequate and safe sources of medical marijuana.

Input sought for new medical marijuana rules
by John Branton,
The Columbian (WA)
State health officials have been directed by the Legislature to create new rules for the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, and the public is invited to comment.
KANSAS: Former AG Fighting For Safe Access

As reported last week, a push for a state medical marijuana measure in Kansas is coming from a man who was its chief law enforcement officer, former Attorney General Bob Stephan. Common sense and compassion are enough to convince most folks that patients should not be prosecuted or imprisoned for following their doctors’ advice, but sometimes it takes personal experience to make an advocate.

Former Attorney General Bob Stephan advocates medicinal marijuana
by Sasha Roe,
Daily Kansan
Stephan, who is diagnosed with stage four lymphocytic lymphoma, wants to allow new laws for medicinal marijuana use. The issue could come up in future legislative sessions.

Stephan joins push for medical marijuana
by Scott Rothschild,
Lawrence Journal-World (KS)
The push to legalize medical marijuana got a big lift Friday when former Attorney General Bob Stephan announced his support and urged Kansans to get behind the effort.
NEW MEXICO: Plans for State Marijuana Production and Distribution

Governor Bill Richardson pushed through a medical marijuana bill in New Mexico because, as he said, “it was the right thing to do.” Now he is directing state officials to figure out how to grow and distribute marijuana to patients, even though the state Attorney General has suggested it could create federal legal problems for the state employees involved. While Richardson has not indicated whether he will implement the distribution plan once its designed, the fact is that federal drug law includes an immunity provision for state officials who deal with drugs as part of their jobs.

NM pushes marijuana program
by Barry Massey,
Associated Press
Gov. Bill Richardson has ordered the state Health Department to resume planning of a medical marijuana program despite the agency's worries about possible federal prosecution.

Gov. Orders Agency To Plan For Medical Marijuana Program
KOAT TV7 Albuquerque
Gov. Bill Richardson is ordering the state Health Department to move ahead with the planning of a medical marijuana program, despite the agency's worries about possible federal prosecution.
OHIO: Medical Marijuana Initiative May Go Before Voters

With neighboring Michigan gearing up for a voter initiative on medical marijuana this fall, and legislative action stalling in the Ohio House this year, patient advocates in the Buckeye State are considering trying for a ballot measure of their own next year.

Medical marijuana may go on Ohio ballot
by Alan Johnson,
Columbis Dispatch (OH)
A statewide issue to legalize medical marijuana is headed for the ballot in Michigan next year -- and could swing south to Ohio shortly thereafter.
DISPENSARIES: Patients and Local Officials Grapple with Needs

Most of the struggle over patient access at the local level has been at the level of land-use planning, with officials and patients negotiating the appropriate role of medical marijuana dispensaries in the community. Implementation of state law is difficult enough, but federal interference has made matters worse. The federal government has clearly had an impact with continued raids and prosecutions, but patients are also fighting back and making their own impact on the community and local law. ASA's report on officials' experiences of how dispensaries are working is at AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DispensaryReport.

Medical marijuana supporters, defendants rally in Modesto
by Eve Hightower, Modesto Bee (CA)
Seven people arrested on drug charges stemming from an investigation into an Oakdale medical marijuana dispensary were in court Wednesday. Their arraignments were put off until Sept. 25 so the district attorney has more time to investigate.

Cities grapple with pot clinics' growth
by Harrison Sheppard, Whittier Daily News (CA)
More than a decade after California voters passed legalized medical marijuana, an explosion of dispensaries and patients has cities and counties scrambling to regulate the operations. According to Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, 26 cities and eight counties in California have ordinances allowing and regulating dispensaries.

Colma pot clubs killed by council
by Christine Morente, Oroville Mercury-Register
Medical marijuana dispensaries are now banned from this town. Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, said the prohibition of dispensaries is disheartening and asserted the facilities are legal under state law.

County weighs need for medical marijuana
Fox News Bakersfield
Kern County Supervisors are struggling over whether the county should oversee medical marijuana facilities. It was a heated meeting during the morning session of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Medical marijuana advocates, patients and activists packed the meeting to speak out in favor of the county regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in the county.

Sheriff gets booed at Board of Supervisors pot meeting
KGET TV17 (Bakersfield)
Sheriff Donny Youngblood got a chilly reception at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning. Youngblood was booed by medical marijuana supporters when he said, “I think we need to say no to medical marijuana dispensaries in Kern County.”

Board votes to keep pot law as is
by James Burger, Bakersfield Californian
Kern County supervisors on Tuesday struggled to find a clear path for themselves out of the legal morass that is medical marijuana in California.

Salinas council deadlocks on medical marijuana ban
by Brian Seals,
The Salinas Californian
An ordinance that would have permanently prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries in the city failed to pass at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. A vote that would have rejected the ban failed on a 3-3 tie vote. Councilman Steve Villegas was absent.
CALIFORNIA: Medical Marijuana Opposition Group Milks Federal Funds

When medical marijuana advocates are asked why opposition persists in the face of medical science, many point out that those opposed frequently have vested financial interests in perpetuating prohibition. The case of a new group in California would seem to confirm this. Founded by state law enforcement officials using federal money, the group is already busy using myths and misinformation to block dispensaries. The real question is why anyone actively undermining the implementation of state law is allowed to remain on the state payroll.

Marijuana gains new foe
by Will Bigham, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
A newly formed organization opposed to medical-marijuana dispensaries is urging local governments to prohibit the businesses. Paul and Brenda Chabot formed the group after learning of a federal program that helps groups seeking solutions to substance abuse. The group lacks steady funding, but it is working to secure federal grants, Brenda Chabot said. Brenda is a former probation officer for San Bernardino County; Paul Chabot is a Commissioner for the Juvenile Parole Board of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
GERMANY: First Medical Marijuana Patient Approved

Neighboring Holland has been providing cannabis by prescription for some time, but Germany has now officially made provisions for its first patient, a woman with MS. Many MS patients report that they use medical marijuana to ease spasticity and nerve pain that is not otherwise treatable. Since one patient is now allowed use of medical marijuana, other similarly situated patients in Germany can hope that they, too, will be given access soon.

Germany Allows Patient Legal Use of Cannabis
Deutsche Welle
A patient suffering from multiple sclerosis has been legally allowed to buy cannabis at the pharmacy under strict conditions. It's the first time Germany has permitted the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Germany permits medicinal marijuana
United Press International
A German woman with multiple sclerosis is the first person in her country to be allowed to legally buy pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to ease her symptoms.

Find out more about ASA at AmericansForSafeAccess.org . More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at AmericansForSafeAccess.org/News .
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