Archive for August, 2011

Pizza boxes held marijuana, police say

August 31st, 2011
MEDFORD - Pinky’s Famous Pizza bills its custom-made pies as “gourmet taste delivered,’’ a mouth-watering blend of handmade dough, garden-fresh sauce made from vine-ripe tomatoes, and “the finest Italian cheeses that money can buy.’’ According to authorities, that’s not all that Pinky’s owner was buying. And it wasn’t just the ingredients that were top-notch. Pinky’s owner, Nikita Yanakopulos ...

Board of Supervisors won’t allow medical-marijuana sites on Maricopa County land

August 31st, 2011
They won't be allowed unless marijuana becomes a federally-approved drug.

Chesterfield Township could house South Jersey’s first legal marijuana-growing operation

August 31st, 2011
A licensed medical-marijuana supplier hopes to make Chesterfield Township the home of the first legal pot-growing operation in South Jersey.

Marijuana and Children

August 31st, 2011
Readers respond to a recent article about how a parent’s possession of small amounts of marijuana can prompt investigations for child neglect.

FDA, DEA Too Slow to Act

August 31st, 2011
The federal government is a mishmash of belated contradictions when it comes to the regulation of medicine. Its various stances aren't helping prevent drug abuse or overdoses, and they aren't helping ease patients' pain.

In April, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske unhelpfully suggested Congress require special training for doctors before they can prescribe powerful pain-fighting medication such as OxyContin.

People at the forefront of addiction are aware that the rising culprit at the center of overdose deaths, abuse and crime these days is hydrocodone, since oxycodone is more difficult to get.

That's why addiction experts and doctors have urged the Food and Drug Administration since the early 1990s to make hydrocodone a Schedule II drug ( like oxycodone ), which are much more strictly controlled than Schedule III drugs. Doctors say hydrocodone's potency was misunderstood, and it was a terrible mistake to list it as Schedule III , the Associated Press reported.

In March, a month before Kerlikowske's suggestion, 58 members of Congress, frustrated by the lack of action, filed a bill to allow the FDA and the Drug Endorcement Administration to bypass the usual rules-making process in order to adopt tougher controls on hydrocodone.

Here at home, the state passed its own pain medication law, which some say is so restrictive and burdensome that doctors are dropping patients rather than deal with the bureaucracy and the chance of being sued, or investigated by the FDA, the Seattle Times reported.

After years of requests, the DEA agreed to review hydrocodone in 1999. Twelve years later, the agencies say they are still in the preliminary stages, AP reported earlier this month.

"It's the nature of the process; it takes time," said FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess.

The government isn't always so slow in its pronouncements, or its hypocrisy.

In 2006, the FDA announced that "no sound scientific studies" supported the medical use of marijuana, contradicting the findings of a 1999 review by a panel of highly regarded scientists, the New York Times reported.

Under federal law, marijuana -- which is not physically addicting and has caused no known overdose deaths -- remains a Schedule 1 substance, like heroin and cocaine, despite sound evidence for its many medical applications. For example, marijuana works on pain, especially neuropathic pain, or peripheral neuropathy, a particularly difficult condition to treat.

If the federal government based decisions on science, hydrocodone would be a Schedule II drug, and marijuana would be Schedule III, or less. And doctors would be allowed to decide, without fear of lawsuits or criminal charges, what best to prescribe to their patients.





NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2011 The Daily Herald Co.
Contact: letters@heraldnet.com
Website: HeraldNet.com
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State Needs Meeting Of Minds On Pot

August 31st, 2011
There's no other way to describe it, Michigan is schizophrenic about marijuana.

Voters clearly want marijuana available for medical use, but local officials, politicians, law enforcement agencies and many in the medical community appear to be uncomfortable with the new law.

And there's no shortage of reasons why, starting with loopholes in the law that some critics say essentially legalize the drug.

For three years, officials and marijuana supporters have been debating how to implement the law with marijuana dispensaries or clubs sprouting in our communities while officials use moratoriums and develop zoning ordinances to ban them. Many communities, including Muskegon Township, are in court to stop dispensaries from operating. And the state Supreme Court will hear two cases on the issue this fall.

Between 80,000 and 100,000 Michigan residents have registered as medical marijuana users but many are afraid to be identified as such. Additionally, those "caregivers" who grow marijuana under the law to provide to others are in danger of arrest both from the state and the federal governments.

So what's it going to be? Can Michigan residents use marijuana to relieve nausea, increase appetite and deal with pain, or not?

All of this was brought to a head last week by an appeals court ruling that banned medical marijuana sales at a facility in Mount Pleasant and prompted the estimated 400 to 500 dispensaries in Michigan to shut down or risk being treated like criminals. But I've been thinking about this issue since a former high school classmate shared her story.

She has developed fibromyalgia, which is quite painful. She was uncomfortable with the narcotic painkillers she had been prescribed and was looking for alternatives. Although she had never used marijuana in her life, she decided to give pot a try.

She dutifully collected her medical records and took them to a "dispensary" in a seedy part of Lansing to start the process to be a registered user. As she sat in the waiting room, she realized that no one else seemed to have any medical records with them or appeared to be sick. And they all seemed to be quite a bit younger than her, college students she thought.

When it was her turn, the "doctor" took a cursory look at her records, took her hundred bucks and she was good to go. She ended her story by saying that after that experience she never used marijuana, it seemed criminal, she said as she showed us her official looking registered user's card.

I didn't tell her that a Michigan court had recently ruled that all records of Michigan medical marijuana users had to be turned over to the federal government, which does treat marijuana use as a crime.

I'm not ready to join fellow Chronicle columnist Steve Gunn in calling for the legalization of marijuana for all uses. But his argument is making more and more sense.

Are the long-term effects of marijuana any worse than those of beer, wine and liquor, which are legal? If marijuana was legalized would Michigan immediately turn into a state of potheads? What about all the money spent on what appears to be a losing battle in the war on drugs? In this economy there are many competing uses for such huge sums.

Gov. Rick Snyder wouldn't go there when the Chronicle Editorial Board asked him about the issue, not even to talk about the potential economic benefits of taxing marijuana sales. "It's my job to enforce the laws of the state," he told us. "The voters clearly want medical marijuana, but that's not my issue. That's not why I ran. I'm focused on jobs and kids."

And that's where our focus should be. The distraction and expense of the medical marijuana debate does nothing to create jobs nor does it help patients who should be having a legitimate discussion under the law with their doctors instead of being forced to skulk around like criminals.





NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Muskegon Chronicle, The (MI)
Copyright: 2011 The Muskegon Chronicle
Contact: The Muskegon Chronicle - Email the Editor
Website: Muskegon Chronicle | Muskegon, MI Newspaper - MLive.com
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Author: Paula Holmes-Greeley

End War on Marijuana

August 31st, 2011
The American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine rejects the failed U.S. drug war and the Feds' refusal to recognize the medicinal value of cannabis and cannabinoids.

Forty years ago this year, Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs ( WOD ). The WOD is now the longest running "war" in American history and a great failure. After four decades years of government waste, anti-science rhetoric, millions of shattered lives, and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, it is time to recognize, as more than 70 percent of Americans do, that the WOD has failed. The WOD has turned out to be a war on minorities and the U.S. Constitution.

In June of this year, the 19-member Global Commission on Drug Policy ( including several former heads of state, former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker, and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan ) released their report, which states that "political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won."

The many unintended negative consequences of our current drug laws include ( but are not limited to ) putting barriers in the way of legitimate medical use of Cannabis and medical research that can help in treating cancer pain, seizures, migraines, Crohn's Disease, and a host of other conditions. Our government is putting road blocks in the way of gaining a better understanding of the workings of the central nervous system and the role of the endocannabinoid system.

President Obama has said that science should be the determining factor regarding the medicinal use of cannabis, yet his administration has acted in exactly the same anti-science fashion as the Bush administration. The AACM requests that President Obama be a man of his word and follow the consensus of cannabinoid scientists and drug policy reform activists both nationally and internationally concerning the endocannabinoid system; that consensus is the inappropriateness of scheduling Cannabis as a schedule I drug. The President should support and promote clinical and basic research on Cannabis and its active constituents ( cannabinoids ). This would lead to both medical and economic benefits for the U.S.

There are many reasons to support the clinical application of cannabis but two of the most compelling are ( 1 ) that so many sufferers of advanced cancer get relief from the symptoms of pain from the medicinal use of cannabis. ( 2 ) Many sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD ) find cannabis provides the best PTSD symptom relief. Last year the Pentagon estimated 33% of our service men and women will return from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD. Don't we as their fellow Americans owe them the full array of proven therapeutic options? They have earned the right to be treated as heroes, and with compassion, and not as criminals.

In fact, the VA Medical Director has recently recognized the fact that many veterans suffering from PTSD use cannabis and the National Cancer Institute recently noted the medical benefits of cannabis for cancer patients.

It is well past time for the federal government to stop ignoring the public support for drug policy reform and the medicinal use of cannabis. Presently 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal cannabis. There are well over 100 medical organizations calling for the rescheduling of Cannabis from schedule I to schedule II or higher. These include the American Nurse Association ( ANA ), American Public Health Association ( APHA ), American College of Physicians ( ACP ), and the American Medical Association ( AMA ).

The AACM therefore strongly recommends, after more than 40 years of the WOD, that: 1 ) It is time to reject the failures of the past and let loose the engine of American industry, 2 ) it is time for the President to be a man of his word; look at the science, support rescheduling cannabis, and have the federal government fund clinical studies using both whole plant cannabis and its active constituents; and not just British grown cannabis and/or cannabis from the federal marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi but various American strains. The government should follow the recommendation of Chief DEA Administrative Law Judge, Judy Bittner, and allow University of Massachusetts Botany Professor Lyle Craker, an expert on botanical medicinals, the opportunity to do research on cannabis as one would any other botanical medicinal.

The AACM joins with over 100 medical/scientific organizations to oppose the War on Drugs and the federal government's monopoly on cannabis for clinical and basic research. We request the opportunity to meet with the Drug Czar and appropriate FDA and DEA officials to educate them on the medicinal uses of cannabis and the potential savings of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.

In summary, a quote from the Institute of Medicine, which, in a federally financed report in 1999 concluded, like all scientific organizations that has examined these issues, that "Marijuana is an effective medical treatment and is neither addictive nor a gateway drugs."





NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Santa Barbara Independent, The (CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Santa Barbara Independent, Inc.
Contact: letters@independent.com
Website: The Santa Barbara Independent
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Author: David Bearman

The Flaws In Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act

August 31st, 2011
For those who enjoy a marijuana buzz every now and then, it was good while it lasted.

Over the past couple of years, Michigan had become very Californian in its approach to, and availability of, marijuana.

These were high times, indeed, with medical marijuana dispensaries popping up all over the place, and serving up some of the strongest and best pot that many local users had ever sampled.

Making it even easier, doctors were hanging shingles all over the place --willing to ask a few questions, collect a couple hundred bucks, and then swear that you were so sick you needed marijuana.

I cannot say for certain that no family physician with a long-term patient relationship ever certified a medical marijuana patient's need.

But efforts to find such a case, by word-of-mouth or for a story, proved fruitless.

Marijuana cards, rather, were issued on a walk-in basis, often in hotel rooms or dispensaries, to patients the physician had never seen before.

Pot docs were redefining the notion of fee-for-service.

Meanwhile, folks were getting pot licenses for long-ago broken bones that ached, for football injuries that stiffened up and for a wide range of other ailments, documented or not.

Those, then, are the flaws in Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act.

It became obvious early on that both the distribution and diagnostic arms of the voter initiative were, at best, vague, and, at worst, ripe for fraud.

None of this is new.

It's been known on the streets and reported in the media, and it's the reason the marijuana act was the subject of cases snaking their way through courts across the state.

As everyone knows by now, an Isabella County case was the first to make it to the state appellate court, which issued a ruling last week effectively ending the dispensary option statewide.

Like it or not, Isabella Prosecutor Larry Burdick was correct in pursuing the suit, and the court got its ruling right.

Burdick, by the way, is not opposed to the medical use of marijuana.

In cases like these, especially those thwarting a popular voter initiative, it's easy to see law enforcement as the bad guy.

That is not the case.

"I am not opposed to medical marijuana," Burdick wrote in email exchanges last week.

"The voters approved it and it's here, and I think we have been pretty reasonable in this county dealing with all these ambiguities."

What troubled Burdick, and law enforcement statewide, was that the law discusses patients and primary caregivers, who are allowed to cultivate marijuana for the patient.

Our law never mentions dispensaries and never outlines a retail sales model.

"As to dispensaries, I just felt that the law absolutely did not permit them," Burdick said. "That interpretation was borne out by the Court of Appeals."

Personally, I am also not opposed to medical marijuana.

In fact, I could almost be convinced that we should legalize the stuff and spend our enforcement and treatment money elsewhere.

Few Michigan residents favor the amount of law enforcement time and money put into catching and prosecuting pot users, let alone the flyovers used to find growing crops every fall.

And disgust for the murderous drug cartels of Mexico and their impact on the Southwest United States is universal.

But if we don't want to return to the distribution model of the past, then we need a law that allows what developed.

Overreaching on our flawed existing law was not the way to carve out a working system.

Bottom line is that the system that developed in Michigan is not the system approved by voters.

Read the law.

And if you don't like the medical marijuana law that we have, then let's get another one.





NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: News-Herald, The (Southgate, MI)
Copyright: 2011 Heritage Newspapers
Contact: Heritage
Website: The News Herald: Breaking news coverage for Southgate, MI
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Author: Rick Mills

Time To Fix Medical Marijuana Law

August 31st, 2011
Editorial: Not everyone was happy when Michigan voters overwhelmingly said that marijuana should be available for those who find it helpful in dealing with pain and other debilitating symptoms arising from various medical conditions.

They should be happy now.

Thanks to a vague law, a listless Legislature, aggressive police work and a crushing appellate court ruling, it's just about impossible for a person to legally obtain the marijuana that 63 percent of the state - -- and Livingston County -- voters said should be available to them.

In other words, if grandma's cancer-related nausea is alleviated by a small dose of marijuana, she better know how to grow it herself. And she better have a grandchild who can connect her with the local pot pusher.

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, approved in a statewide referendum in 2008, has some wording problems. That's one reason why this newspaper did not endorse it. But, vague wording notwithstanding, the public clearly supported the intent.

That didn't sit well with some politicians, including Bill Schuette who two years later became attorney general, thanks to a Republican landslide.

It also hasn't set well with police and prosecutors. To be fair, they were in a bind. The possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana is still illegal. Without clear guidelines, they needed to enforce the law as they understand it. Some, however, seem to take this responsibility quite eagerly.

For instance, the Michigan Court of Appeals court ruled last week that no one -- caregivers or so-called dispensaries -- could legally sell marijuana to legitimate, card-holding medical marijuana users. A day later, two Ann Arbor medical marijuana clinics were raided by mask-wearing police officers who took some employees away in handcuffs. Police officials told AnnArbor.com that the raids were unrelated to the court ruling, but also declined to provide any details or specifics about what crime may have been committed.

Sound familiar? That's what happened south of Fowlerville this year when a similar LAWNET squad, some wearing masks, raided a dispensary that was openly providing marijuana to medical marijuana card-holders. It took months for court and police officials to reveal the justification for that raid.

Attorney General Schuette didn't try to restrain his glee. Shortly after last week's ruling, he essentially informed law enforcement officials that it was open season on medical marijuana clinics.

In a prepared statement, he called the ruling "a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches."

In an earlier guest column for this newspaper, Schuette described the horror created by the act. It seems that somewhere in the state, the holder of a medical marijuana card may have been stopped while driving under the influence of pot.

That just shows how hyped up this campaign has become. One place the act is specific is that it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, medical card notwithstanding. Someone who violates the law should be arrested, just like the thousands caught driving while drunk. That is done all the time without shutting down all bars, liquor stores and distributors of alcohol.

Schuette says the law was intended to help "the seriously ill." But that didn't stop police and prosecutors from successfully seeking felony charges against a Genoa Township man, a registered card-holder with rheumatoid arthritis, who was growing marijuana along with his wife, another card-holder who has breast cancer. Their crime? They didn't have a cover on the otherwise enclosed area where they grew the legally allowed amount of marijuana. Such is the "invasion" facing Livingston County.

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act makes it legal for a person to use marijuana for medical purposes, but it pretty much provides no legal way for a person to obtain that marijuana. That's even more true now that the appeals court has spoken. The situation begs for the Legislature to take action.

But Lansing has barely lifted a finger, despite continued evidence that people want this solved in a way that will provide for the safe, effective distribution of marijuana for legitimate medical purposes.

Legislators have had time to cut funding to public schools, hack away at public employee benefits, raise taxes on retirees and cut benefits to children in poverty.

But grandma and her glaucoma? She's on her own.





NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2011
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Copyright: 2011 Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Contact: Livingston Daily | livingstondaily.com
Website: Livingston Daily
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Marijuana Case Put On Hold For Big Daddy’s In Macomb County

August 31st, 2011
Chesterfield Township's attempt to shut down a medical marijuana facility was put on hold Monday when a judge scheduled a Sept. 30 evidentiary hearing.

Attorneys for the township and Big Daddy's Management Group and the facility's landlord argued in front of Judge John Foster in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens regarding the township's claim it violates the zoning ordinance and a new ordinance that bans any "medical marijuana dispensary, compassion center or other similar operation for the consumption or distribution of medical marijuana."

Big Daddy's counters that the facility on Gratiot Avenue between 23 and 24 mile roads complies with state law and township ordinances. It claims the new ordinance is ineffective because it was passed after the facility opened.

Big Daddy's eliminated its monetary transactions between and among patients and caregivers at its four facilities in Southeast Michigan following a state Court of Appeals ruling last week.

The facility continues to sell equipment for growing marijuana indoors and advice.





NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Tue, 30 Aug 2011
Source: Daily Tribune, The (Royal Oak, MI)
Copyright: 2011 The Daily Tribune
Contact: editor@dailytribune.com
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