NORML's 2003: The Year In Review

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* 2003: The Year In Review

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2003: The Year In Review
NORML's Top Ten Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

#1: Brits Vote To Abolish Pot Prohibition
The British Parliament voted in November to downgrade marijuana from a
Class B to a Class C scheduled drug so that its possession is no longer an
arrestable offense. The policy change will take effect on January 29,
2004, and will be similar to the laws in 12 US states where the possession
and use of small amounts of marijuana is no longer punishable by criminal
arrests and/or jail time. Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#2: Democratic Presidential Candidate Promises To Regulate Pot Like
Alcohol
In one of the strongest and most progressive endorsements of marijuana
law reform ever made by a prominent Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich
(D-Ohio) announced in December that, if elected, he would end federal
criminal prohibitions on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes,
and establish national guidelines to regulate it like alcohol. "A Kucinich
administration would reject the current paradigm of 'all use is abuse' in
favor of a drug policy that sets reasonable boundaries for marijuana use
by establishing guidelines similar to those already in place for alcohol,"
Kucinich promised. Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#3: Inhaled Marijuana Found To Be Safe And Beneficial For HIV Patients
Short-term use of oral and inhaled marijuana does not elevate viral
load in individuals with HIV infection who are receiving antiretroviral
medications and may provide some therapeutic benefits, according to the
results of clinical trial data published in August in the journal Annals
of Internal Medicine. "These findings suggest no major, short-term harmful
effects and possibly some beneficial effects of cannabinoids in
HIV-infected patients taking protease inhibitors," editors of the journal
summarized. Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#4: Supreme Court Says Doctors Can Recommend Medicinal Marijuana
The Supreme Court in October declined to review a unanimous Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the rights of physicians to
discuss the medicinal use of marijuana with their patients. By rejecting
the government's appeal, the Court upheld the Ninth Circuit's order
enjoining the Justice Department from revoking physicians' federal
licenses to prescribe medicine if they recommend marijuana to their
patients. Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

-Tie for #5-

#5 Feds Lack Authority To Arrest Pot Patients
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on December 16 that
federal prosecution of patients who possess and cultivate marijuana for
their own medicinal use is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress'
Commerce Clause authority. As a result, the court ordered a preliminary
injunction barring the Justice Department from arresting the plaintiffs -
California medical marijuana patients Angel Raich and Diane Monson - for
violating the Controlled Substances Act.
"As applied to the limited class of activities presented by this case,
... the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purpose
and not for exchange or distribution is not properly characterized as
commercial or economic activity," as defined by the CSA, a majority of the
court determined. "This conclusion, coupled with the public interest
considerations and the burden faced by the appellants if, contrary to
California law, they are denied access to medicinal marijuana, warrants
the entry of a preliminary injunction."
NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup praised the Ninth Circuit's
opinion. "This is a crack in the blanket federal prohibition of marijuana,
the first ever recognized by the federal courts." Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#5: Pot Possession Ruled To Be Legal In Alaska
The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled in August that the right to privacy
in the state constitution precludes any penalty against private use and
possession of marijuana by adults. The ruling upheld a 1975 state Supreme
Court decision allowing for individuals to possess up to four ounces of
marijuana for recreational purposes, and struck down a 1990 state
initiative recriminalizing pot. Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#6: Largest Ever Clinical Pot Study Finds Cannabinoids Effective For MS
Oral administration of synthetic THC and/or a cannabis oil capsule
ameliorates multiple sclerosis (MS) associated pain and improves patients'
mobility compared to placebo, according to clinical trial data published
in November in the British medical journal Lancet. The study, involving
over 600 volunteers, was the largest ever to examine the effects of
cannabinoids on MS. Authors' of an accompanying commentary on the study
wrote, "We now have as much evidence to support the use of these oral
cannabinoids as we do for many standard therapies for [MS-associated]
spasticity." Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#7: Federal Judge Rejects Prison Time For Ed Rosenthal
A federal judge in June sentenced noted marijuana author and
cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal to one day in prison with credit for time
served. Rosenthal could have faced as many as 60 years in prison after
being convicted in January on three counts related to marijuana
cultivation. Rosenthal grew marijuana to supply local patients who use it
in accordance with state law, but the jury who convicted him was barred
from hearing that evidence. The jury later renounced their verdict. Read
the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#8: Netherlands Becomes First Nation To Offer Prescription Pot In
Pharmacies
In September, the Netherlands became the first country to make
cannabis available as a prescription drug in pharmacies. Dutch Ministry of
Health spokesman Bas Kuik told the Associated Press that the legal change
ensures that patients have consistent access to medicinal quality
cannabis. "Doctors are prescribing marijuana to their patients anyway, and
there are many medicinal users, so we may as well regulate it," he said.
Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#9: Feds Indict 55 People, Sentence Actor Tommy Chong To Prison In
Unprecedented Paraphernalia Crackdown
Federal authorities indicted 55 people and raided more than 100 homes
and businesses in February for selling glass pipes commonly associated
with marijuana smoking. Among those indicted, 65-year-old actor/comedian
Tommy Chong was sentenced to nine months in prison for his role as head of
Nice Dreams Enterprises, a business that sold glass pipes via the
Internet. Read the full story at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

#10: NORML Organizes Patient Rally On Capitol Hill In Support of Medical
Marijuana
On September 22 and 23, NORML organized a patient lobby day and
Capitol Hill press conference calling on Congress to allow the
state-sanctioned use of marijuana as a medicine. More than 20 seriously
ill patients flew in from around the nation to testify and tell their
members of Congress that marijuana is the only medicine that safely and
adequately alleviates their suffering. As a result of the meetings,
several additional Representatives signed on to federal legislation
seeking to liberalize the use of medicinal marijuana. Read the full story
at:
NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws - NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws