By Alfa · Jun 16, 2005 · ·
  1. Alfa

    WASHINGTON -- Seated and steadied by her husband's hand, Angel Raich's eyes welled up with tears at the mention of her son.

    "He's 19 and tomorrow night he'll be going into the U.S. Army," she said.

    Raich is thankful she has lived to see him grow up. She wasn't always sure she would.

    Since she won her case against former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002, Raich has become a public face for the legalization of medical marijuana.

    The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prohibited the Bush administration from prosecuting Raich and her suppliers, who grow about 8 pounds of cannabis each year for her at no charge. They all live in California, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996 through a statewide referendum.

    On Tuesday, Raich was in Washington to support an amendment to an appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on medical-marijuana prosecutions in states that allow its use.

    "It is an absolute waste of public funds," Raich said. "They will be prosecuting us like criminals even though we're sick."

    Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., proposed the one-sentence amendment Tuesday in response to last week's Supreme Court ruling that deemed it constitutional for Congress to prohibit the cultivation and use of medical marijuana in California and the 10 other states allowing such activity.

    "It is a travesty for the federal government to step in and override a state law that would permit this activity," Rohrabacher said. "The people of the states have a right to make this decision."

    Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have legalized medical marijuana. All except Hawaii and Vermont held statewide votes on the measure.

    Raich, who said she has been ill since adolescence, suffered an allergic reaction in 1995 to birth control. Since then, she's been diagnosed with a multitude of medical conditions, including an inoperable brain tumor.

    Restricted to a wheelchair in 1996, Raich was not able to keep down any synthetic drugs. Her doctor then recommended medical marijuana, which Raich said has restored her appetite and helped her manage chronic pain.

    "It has restored my mobility," she said. "When I get out of the bed in the morning, I can't move without cannabis."

    Critics say the younger generation might have a hard time distinguishing between the medical use and the illegal use of marijuana.

    "You just need to be open with kids about everything in life," said Raich, who also has a 16-year-old daughter.

    The measure's sponsors also acknowledged the fight against the culture created by the recreational use of marijuana.

    "The decision-making surrounding this drug has been clouded by other consideration," Rohrabacher said. "It's time to leave the '60s behind."

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    This bill was voted down 264-161 on Wednesday by the House of
  2. Alfa

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - When the Supreme Court ruled last week that medical marijuana users could be federally prosecuted, it suggested that Californians and others who supported the drug's medicinal use "may one day be heard in the halls of Congress."

    Well, they were heard Wednesday, but it didn't turn out any differently. By a vote of 264-161, the House rejected legislation that would have blocked the Justice Department from interfering with California and nine other states that have laws allowing marijuana to be used to treat diseases like AIDS, glaucoma and cancer.

    It was the first test of Congress' mood on the issue since the court's 6-3 decision upholding broad federal authority over drug laws. The mood was about the same as the last time the House voted on such legislation, which was defeated 268-148 in 2004.

    The legislation was offered as an amendment to a spending bill. It would have barred the Justice Department from using funds to prevent the implementation of medical marijuana laws in California, Alaska,

    Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont or Washington.
  3. Alfa

    San Francisco - Federal agents executed search warrants at three medical marijuana dispensaries on Wednesday as part of a broad investigation into marijuana trafficking in San Francisco, setting off fears among medical marijuana advocates that a federal crackdown on the drug's use by sick people was beginning.

    About 20 residences, businesses and growing sites were also searched, leading to multiple arrests, a law enforcement official said. Agents outside a club in the Ingleside neighborhood spent much of the afternoon dragging scores of leafy marijuana plants into an alley and stuffing them into plastic bags.

    "The investigation led the authorities to these sites," the law enforcement official said. "It involves large-scale marijuana trafficking and includes other illicit drugs and money laundering."

    In a separate investigation, a federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted a doctor and her husband on charges of distributing marijuana at the doctor's office in Cool, a small town in El Dorado County.

    The doctor, Marion P. Fry, and her husband, Dale C. Schafer, were arrested at their home in nearby Greenwood and pleaded not guilty in federal court in Sacramento to charges of distributing and manufacturing at least 100 marijuana plants. The authorities said in a court document that Dr. Fry wrote a recommendation for medical marijuana to an undercover agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration even though there was a "lack of a medical record," and that her husband provided the agent with marijuana.

    The raids and arrests were the first large-scale actions against marijuana clubs and providers since the Supreme Court upheld federal authority over marijuana on June 6, even in states like California, where its use for medicinal purposes has been legal since 1996. The raids involved agents from federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service.

    "We will not turn a blind eye to serious and flagrant disregard of federal law," Gordon Taylor, an assistant special agent in charge of Drug Enforcement Administration office in Sacramento, said in a statement.

    "There may be those who think we can disregard the court and Congress.

    D.E.A. will not be among them."

    The raids angered and alarmed advocates of medical marijuana, some of whom stood on the sidewalk outside the clubs in San Francisco as federal agents worked inside.

    "This is an affront to patients and should not be happening," Kris Hermes, legal director of Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana advocacy group, said outside a storefront club that nearby residents said was used to grow marijuana not distribute it.

    Mr. Hermes said he could not say if the raids were a result of the Supreme Court ruling, but called it "unacceptable" that federal agents were accompanied by the San Francisco police because the city several years ago declared itself "a safe haven" for medical marijuana users.

    Several blocks away, agents seized computer records, medical files and marijuana plants at the Herbal Relief Center on Ocean Avenue. A security gate across the entrance had been pulled open, and a lock lay cut open on the sidewalk.

    "They came here before we even opened," said Van Nguyen, 27, who said the dispensary had been in operation about five years and had the records of several thousand patients.

    A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, Sgt. Neville Gittens, said in a statement that its officers "did not take part in any investigation of these clubs or take any enforcement action against these clubs."

    Even before the Supreme Court ruling, many cities, including San Francisco, had begun to crack down on the clubs, which have proliferated in recent years and generally operate without regulation.

    Though the authorities would not say how the three clubs raided in San Francisco were tied to the accusations of drug trafficking, the police in San Francisco have complained that some of the 40 or so clubs in the city are little more than fronts for drug dealers.

    Ross Mirkarimi, a San Francisco County supervisor who favors the use of marijuana for medical purposes but wants the city to regulate the clubs strictly, said the raids reinforced the need for oversight.

    "We do not want bad apples to ruin something that Californians and San Franciscans overwhelmingly voted for and support," Mr. Mirkarimi said.

    Peter Ragone, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the federal investigation reinforced the importance of "trying to protect the legitimate uses of medicinal marijuana in the state."
  4. Alfa

    PROVIDENCE -- With legislation to allow seriously ill people to use marijuana as medicine having passed both chambers of the General Assembly by veto-proof margins, Rep. Thomas Slater is calling on Gov. Donald Carcieri to withdraw his threat to veto the bill.

    The House of Representatives passed a medical marijuana bill Wednesday by a 52-10 margin - after amending it to add Slater's name to the title. A slightly different version of the bill passed the Senate two weeks ago on a

    34-2 vote.

    "I hope the governor realizes that the people of Rhode Island support this bill by over 70 percent," Slater told reporters after the vote.

    Pointing out that there are sufficient yea votes in both the House and Senate to override a veto, Slater said the governor "should take note of that and let it become law without his signature."

    That apparently won't be the case.

    Spokesman Jeff Neal said, "Governor Carcieri and every law enforcement officer in the state took an oath to uphold the laws of this country and this would place them in an untenable position. Federal law states that marijuana is a banned substance and the Supreme Court recently upheld the primacy of federal law over state law."

    Slater's bill was sent immediately to the Senate and later on Wednesday a similar Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Rhoda Perry, was amended by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee to make it identical with Slater's and passed to the full House.

    If both chambers move expeditiously to pass each other's bills, Slater said, "before the session is over we will know what the governor's decision is."

    Under the legislation, a seriously ill patient certified by the state Department of Health as having certain chronic or debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease and up to two "primary caregivers" would be immune from arrest, prosecution, forfeiture or other penalty for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of "useable marijuana," or

    12 marijuana plants.

    The primary caregiver must be over 21-years-old and not be a convicted drug felon.

    The House version of the bill has a sunset provision and will expire June 30, 2007 if it is not renewed.

    Before that time, the DOH will provide the legislature with a report detailing whether there have been any known abuses of the law or arrests connected with it.

    Providence Rep. Steven Costantino, who sponsored earlier versions of the bill in previous years, said, "To me, it has always been a matter of compassion, simple compassion.

    "I've always been amused about the fear that something like this is going to cause this all of a sudden irrational move to do marijuana," Costantino continued. "That we are going to have an illegal substance out there that is not there right now. I have always been amused because I look at some of the legal drugs -- alcohol, the most abused drug ever. One of the most abused prescribed drugs, vicadin, has caused more harm in this society than any illegal drug like marijuana could ever (do)."

    Costantino said he has not seen problems in any of the other 10 states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

    "What I have read is that people who are ill, people who are in pain, whether it is cancer or glaucoma or wasting away because of HIV and AIDS, their pain is being reduced. And their quality of life, their end-of-life issues are maybe as not as bad" as someone who doesn't use medical marijuana, he said.

    Rep. Joseph McNamara, who chairs the House HEW committee answered questions about federal prohibition by quoting a federal Drug Enforcement Administration official as saying "the vast majority of our cases are against those involved in trafficking and major cultivation and distribution. We don't target sick and dying people."

    Among those voting against the bill were Lincoln Rep. Rene Menard who said a vote in favor would be tantamount to condoning the illegal sale of a controlled substance. "Someone is going to purchase it illegally to use it legally. What happens if that dealer sells to my kid?" Menard asked.

    Pointing to the two-year sunset provision, Warwick Rep. Al Gemma said, "let's try it, what have we got to lose?"

    Gemma said he would break the law to get marijuana "for someone in their last days."

    Minority Leader Robert Watson, who frequently complains about the influence of special interests at the Statehouse, said the federal government "has a gorilla in the game when you have the pharmaceutical industry in Washington, DC with their heavy-handedness."
  5. KillerKind
    Apparently he did veto...

    Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Legislation</font></font>

    June 30, 2005 - Providence, RI, USA


    Providence, RI:
    Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri (R) vetoed legislation this week
    that would have exempted qualified patients from state criminal
    penalties for the possession and use of medical cannabis. The General
    Assembly had previously approved the bill, known as the Edward O.
    Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, by votes of 52-10
    in the House and 34-2 in the Senate.</font></font>

    issued his veto a day after meeting with representatives from the White
    House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who encouraged
    the Governor to oppose the bill.</font></font>

    bill's sponsors are expected to schedule an override of the Governor's
    veto. An override would require votes from three-fifths of the
    lawmakers in each chamber.</font></font>

    approved, the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana
    Act would allow state-authorized patients with a doctor's permission to
    legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and/or 12 plants under
    state law. Patients and their caregivers are to register with the state
    Department of Health and their cannabis must be stored in an indoor
    facility. Patients who are legally authorized to use medical cannabis
    in other states will also receive statewide protection in Rhode Island
    under the Act.</font></font>

    Ten states - Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington - have enacted laws legalizing the physician-authorized use of medicinal cannabis. Maryland
    enacted legislation in 2003 requiring a patient's use of medical
    marijuana to be considered as a mitigating factor in a
    marijuana-related state prosecution.


    Source: NORML

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