Idaho to Consider MMJ Legalization

While other states are battening down the hatches, and trying to protect their medical marijuana systems from assaults by the Federal government, the state of Idaho has a movement to afoot to become the 16th state to legalize the drug for patients in need.

Specifically, there’s an aggressive movement by organizations like The Treasure Valley and Compassionate Idaho to get the legalization of medical marijuana onto the state ballot for the 2012 election.

One of the people pushing this drive is Compassionate Idaho member Isaias Valdez, who told the press, “I don’t have a reason for medical marijuana. I’m just doing this for the compassion of other people.”

Valdez believes that other Idahoans feel the same way. In fact, Boise State surveyed 525 households last February, and found that 74% of respondents were in favor of “…terminally and seriously ill patients to use and purchase marijuana for medical purposes.”

Lindsey Rinehart, who is working with Valdez, and trying to gather enough signatures (47,500 are required) to get the initiative on the ballot. According to Rinehart, this push is, “…about giving people the compassion they deserve. This is about caring about your neighbors, your church, your co-workers.”

Why Idaho? A national organization called the Marijuana Policy Project is working on state-by-state campaigns to legalize marijuana, and picked Idaho because it’s a state surrounded by other states that have already legalized MMJ in some fashion. Colorado, for example, has had legal medical marijuana since 2000.

If approved in next year’s vote, the Idaho Medical Choice Act would allow patients with “debilitating medical conditions” to possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana and to cultivate up to nine marijuana plants.

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Deputy AG Silent on MMJ Dispensary Crackdown

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole, the author of a June, 2011 memo which says that state MMJ laws do not protect medical marijuana growers is in Denver this week, announcing the results of a local crackdown on armed gang members.

Speaking to the press, Cole, whose memo said that dispensaries and licensed growers in MMJ-friendly states could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws, emphasized that individual U.S. attorneys have the discretion to go after such businesses or not, but would not address what the enforcement in California may mean to states like Colorado, which have similar laws regarding dispensaries.

Instead, Cole fell back on the line that his memo says all that needs to be said on the subject.

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MMJ Radio Spots Newest Federal Targets

Social Justice website Think Progress reported late last week on a new attack from the federal government.

Specifically, the United States attorney based in San Diego announced a plan to target newspaper and radio advertisements from MMJ dispensaries.

Already this month, U.S. attorneys in four different California districts stated that the federal government would be going after landlords and property owners who rent the buildings where dispensaries operate, or the land where marijuana is grown, but now they’re expanding that to include media outlets like radio stations and newspapers that air or print ads for dispensaries.

This information comes from an announcement made by U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, who covers San Diego and Imperial counties. Duffy told the press that she would be targeting the media, “…as part of the enforcement efforts in Southern California.” While Duffy also said she wasn’t speaking for the three other U.S. Attorneys covering California, she did make it clear that the four of them have been coordinating their efforts thus far.

Federal law prohibits the placing of ads for marijuana, or any other illegal drug, in, “…any newspaper, magazine, handbill or other publication.” While the law does not explicitly include the Internet, there is precedent for targeting online ads, as the U.S. Department of Justice recently won a $500 million settlement from Google, which was selling ads for online Canadian pharmacies.

Since the law specifies that it’s the placing of ads that is illegal, it’s possible that only the dispensaries and growers – those actually advertising – will be targeted, and not the media itself.

Still, it’s worrisome: where does free press begin and end? And shouldn’t the U.S. government focus on creating jobs and not targeting people who create very little disharmony?

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Do Closed MMJ Dispensaries Increase Crime?

There’s a report on the AP wires this week that the Santa Monica-based Rand Corp, a nonprofit “think tank” has removed from their website a study which asserted that crime increased in the areas around medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, CA, after they were shut down.

Speaking on behalf of Rand, Warren Robak told the press that his organization has removed the study, which was initially released last month, from circulation while it is being reviewed for accuracy. The decision is the result of claims from the Los Angeles city attorney’s office that the findings in the report were wrong, and a retraction was in order.

The study, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times examined crime statistics in the ten days before and after city officials had shut down MMJ clinics last summer in compliance with a new ordinance. Their analysis showed that there was a 60% increase in crime within a three-block radius of a closed dispensary, as compared with the areas around those dispensaries that remained open.

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Friday Film Festival: ATF vs. MMJ

Earlier this week, I blogged about the department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms banning Medical Marijuana users from owning guns. I recognize the irony in sharing a video from Fox News, but the debate presented here is a good one. Enjoy.

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Firearms Forbidden for MMJ Users

This probably won’t come as a shock to anyone, but on September 21st, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive issued a reminder letter to law enforcement across the country stating that even if you live in a state that has approved the use of medical marijuana, the substance is still illegal, and that using it disqualifies you from buying legal firearms.

How would anyone know? Aren’t MMJ user records supposed to be private? Technically, the medical records are confidential, but the application for a gun permit requires that you state whether or not you use MMJ, and those who are honest about it are immediately barred from buying guns.

A recent story in the Denver Post referred to the application question as another attack on state medical marijuana programs, and frankly I think they were being kind in that wording.

Whatever your position on gun control, asking such a question seems a serious breech of privacy.

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Friday Film Festival: Dr. Andrew Weil

Lately, it seems that the U.S. government has been doing more and more harm to medical marijuana research. What does the future look like for MMJ? Can we honor the plant’s history and move forward productively? Here are Dr. Andrew Weil’s thoughts, from his presentation at last year’s MAPS conference.

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MMJ Q&A in Michigan Tonight!

In order to help dispel the confusion surrounding the legality of medical marijuana in Michigan, Edith Burney, a youth librarian at the Chelsea District Library has organized a discussion panel on the subject.

The panel, called “Medical Marijuana: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly?” is scheduled to take place tonight, Tuesday, September 27th, at the Washington Street Education Center (aka “the old high school”) in Chelsea, MI. It’s set to begin at 7:00 PM and end at 8:30.

According to a report that aired Sunday on Michigan radio stations, Ms. Burney wants to present a forum that focuses on facts and data, rather than any right vs. wrong arguments based in emotion.

While members of local law enforcement and health professionals will be giving short presentations at the event, the bulk of the time will be spent in a question-and-answer format. Ms. Burney says her goal is to provide the best possible information, in order to help people improve their lives.

More information can be found in this community calendar entry.

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Friday Film Festival: High Times MMJ Magazine

High Times has been a leader in MJ literature for decades now, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they also print a magazine devoted entirely to medical marijuana.

The fall issue has been on sale for a few weeks now, but today’s the actual first DAY of fall, so we’re sharing their preview video as a sort of double celebration.

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Cannabis Helps Crohn’s Disease!

The folks at NORML have called attention to a new study that was released via PubMed last month which points to Crohn’s Disease as yet another medical condition which can be eased by the use of cannabis. The therapy was inspired by the knowledge that medical marijuana is known to improve “inflammatory processes.”

The study in question was an “observational” study examining the effects of cannabis use in patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) and looked at everything from the progression of the disease itself, to the use of medication to control it, the need for some CD patients to undergo surgery, and the likelihood of hospitalization being required either before or after a patient had used marijuana. The patients in the study consisted of 26 men and 4 women, and the Harvey Bradshaw index was employed as a measure of disease activity.

The results of the study were that twenty-one of the thirty participating patients showed significant improvement after the use of medical marijuana and that the need for other medicines was markedly reduced. Of the participants, fifteen had undergone a total of 19 surgeries over an average of nine years before using MMJ, while after three years of cannabis use, only two still required surgery to ease their CD.

The net result: one more medical benefit of cannabis seems to be the easing of Crohn’s disease. Nevertheless, the U.S. government refuses to accept that any benefit could possible exist.

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