Archive for the ‘California’ category

Tips on Providing Court Support in Marijuana Cases

February 6th, 2015
Northern California defense attorney Joseph Tully has posted some useful tips on how to show support in the courtroomCourtroom when someone is facing marijuana-related charges.
According to Tully, whose website highlights his experience defending medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, cultivators, and caregivers:
Being tried in court for any crime, especially a victimless crime, is a trying process. Not just for the defendants, but for their friends, family, and supporters as well.  When the crime involves medical marijuana in California, it is often the defendant who is victimized.  Community support is important to help a friend get through this difficult time and to support the larger cause. …
What are the best ways to support both the cause and our friends at the courthouse? I have lots of experience as a criminal defense attorney in the courtroom.  My courthouse advice for my clients can apply to their friends and supporters as well.  Here are six ways you can show support during a medical marijuana case.
You can read Tully’s full post, “Weed on Trial: 6 Ways to Show Support in Court,” after the jump.

Weed on Trial: 6 Ways to Show Support in Court
By Joseph Tully
Being tried in court for any crime, especially a victimless crime, is a trying process. Not just for the defendants, but for their friends, family, and supporters as well.  When the crime involves medical marijuana in California, it is often the defendant who is victimized.  Community support is important to help a friend get through this difficult time and to support the larger cause.
As a supporter, you may want to argue or shout or rant around the courthouse about the injustice.  But remember that the Defendant is fighting for their life and livelihood.  THEY are the focus of the trial.  Cannabis rights are important to fight for, but in court we do that by exonerating the defendants.  The verdict will set the tone for how Law Enforcement or the District Attorney pursues future cases.  DA’s will not prosecute future cases they know they won’t win.
What are the best ways to support both the cause and our friends at the courthouse? I have lots of experience as a criminal defense attorney in the courtroom.  My courthouse advice for my clients can apply to their friends and supporters as well.  Here are six ways you can show support during a medical marijuana case.
1.     Be Presentable. A trial is a serious thing for all parties, and your attire will show that you also take it seriously. Clean, tidy, and put together. You don’t need to wear a suit, but wear something you’d consider nice for your day to day.  It will not help your cause if you show up like you are camping in Humboldt.
2.     Be Quiet. As a defendant, you should only speak when addressing the court. As a spectator, you should be absolutely silent throughout the proceedings. Even in the halls and on the steps, keep your voice down and discussion to a minimum, since there are ears everywhere. One careless whisper could be overheard and sink the case.  The line “anything you say can and will be used against you” is not TV cop jive. Be especially cautious not to talk around jurors or potential jurors. In court we avoid even the “appearance” of impropriety.
3.     Be Present. Some parts of a trial can feel tedious to a defendant or spectator. My advice is: if it is important enough for you to be here today, then it should be important enough for you to keep your head in the trial. No sleeping, reading, texting, note passing, or knitting. Your degree of focus on the trial reflects your regard for its importance.
4.     Be Respectful. The courthouse is a workplace for hundreds of people.  There are also scores of people there for their own cases. 90% of the people at the courthouse are worried about their own cases and are oblivious to yours.  There are victims, jurors, social workers, clerks, and other people focused on their own issues.  Respect their reality by not intruding yours on to them.  This includes keeping your voice down, turning off phones, not smoking on the grounds, and not blocking doors and hallways.
5.     Be Careful. You and your friends might be chill, but a courthouse is full of violent people on edge. There are convicts and cops who are keyed up in this environment. There are also bad people seeking revenge on other bad people, and bad people seeking revenge on good people. Keep your eyes open and be wary of commotion.
6.     Be Thoughtful.  A trial can be personally overwhelming for a defendant.  Offer your friend support outside the courthouse.  Bring them a coffee. Offer to drive their kids to school. Pick up their dry cleaning for them. Small gestures of support for everyday things will help a defendant deal with the stress of the big things.
It is your right to smoke, shout, and rally for legalized marijuana, and I would defend your right to do it. But when a friend is on trial, the courthouse is not the most effective venue to demonstrate those rights.  Supporting a victory for the defendant will advance the cause as well as save your friend’s life and liberty.
There are many organizations that support the rights of marijuana patients, as well as their caregivers, collectives, and cultivators. One in particular, The Human Solution, organizes courtroom support for defendants. Check for a chapter in your area and any actions they have planned.
Joseph Tully is a criminal defense attorney at Tully & Weiss based in Northern California. He has experience defending medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, cultivators, and caregivers on trial for helping their patients.

MPP’s Rob Kampia Gives His Take on What’s Next for Marijuana Legalization

December 9th, 2014

Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Rob Kampia, discusses what’s next for the push to make marijuana legal in the United States:

The state that will most likely be next to legalize is Rhode Island, which would be the first to do so via state legislature. Also this spring, the District of Columbia is expected to enact a similar law through its city council.

There’s also a real opportunity to legalize marijuana through five more state legislatures between now and 2017 – Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Vermont. There will also be serious legislative activity in other states, such as New York, but it is less clear when such legislation will pass.

In November 2016, at least five states are expected to vote on similar ballot initiatives – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – and one could potentially appear on the ballot in Missouri.

By the end of 2017, marijuana could be legalized in 15 states and D.C., which would comprise 26% of the nation’s population.

Read the rest of Kampia’s column here.

Federal Bill Introduced to Increase Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana

November 25th, 2014

Last week, a bipartisan bill that would allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana for certain patients was introduced in Congress.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Under current policy, doctors and other specialists working with the VA are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana to any patient, despite growing evidence that it is useful in treating pain, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress, even if a patient lives in one of the 23 states, Guam, or the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) with the support of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, said they “are very proud to stand by Congressman Blumenauer and support the Veterans Equal Access Act.”

“The Veterans Health Administration has made it very clear that, as federal employees, they lack the free speech necessary to write the recommendations for Veterans to comply with state programs,” said Krawitz. “This legislation is needed to correct that legal situation and repair this VA doctor patient relationship.”

The status quo has numerous harmful effects, said Blumenauer. “It forces veterans into the black market to self-medicate,” he said. “It prevents doctors from giving their best and honest advice and recommendations. And it pushes both doctors and their patients toward drugs that are potentially more harmful and more addictive. It’s insane, and it has to stop.”

The Marijuana Policy Project is Already Gearing Up for 2016

November 6th, 2014

Marijuana advocates made history with three huge Election Day victories in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. and are optimistic for what the future holds.

“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in passing legalization in Colorado and bankrolled the successful campaign in Alaska.

The five states where MPP has already established committees to push ballot measures in 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The measures will likely be similar to the Colorado model, just as the measures in Oregon and Alaska were.

MPP also plans to work to help make marijuana legal through state legislatures, rather than ballot measures. The states that we are focusing on include Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland.

Most importantly, the upcoming push to make marijuana legal in those states will undoubtedly draw on the lessons learned from the successful marijuana policy reform campaigns so far — which, according to Tvert, fall into two categories. The advocates in Alaska and Colorado focused more on diminishing the fears concerned with the potential harms of marijuana by comparing the substance to alcohol, while advocates in Oregon and Washington argued that making marijuana legal is the safer alternative to marijuana prohibition.

“Our goal from the beginning was to get this message across that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol so that when that last month comes around, and the opponents are trying to scare people away from marijuana by saying it’s so dangerous, their reaction will be to say ‘yeah, but it’s less harmful than alcohol,’” Tvert stated.

Ultimately, by the looks of Tuesday’s election results, marijuana prohibition is on its way out. Moreover, momentum for sensible marijuana policy reform is growing across the country.

MPP Files Committee in California to Support 2016 Initiative to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana

September 24th, 2014

The Marijuana Policy Project filed a committee with the California Secretary of State’s Office today to support a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will start raising funds immediately to help place a measure on the ballot.

According to a statement from MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia:

Rob Kampia

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible. Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.”

The announcement has generated quite a bit of media interest, which began with a mention in a Washington Post story summarizing the statewide efforts currently underway to end marijuana prohibition.

It noted MPP has filed committees in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Nevada for 2016, and it plans to focus on making marijuana legal through state legislatures in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont over the next few years.

MPP’s Mason Tvert on ‘Fox & Friends’ with Bishop Ron Allen: Part 2

September 9th, 2014

Here is the second debate between MPP’s Mason Tvert and prohibitionist Bishop Ron Allen on Fox & Friends, as promised.

MPP’s Mason Tvert Debates Bishop Ron Allen on ‘Fox & Friends’

September 5th, 2014

On Thursday, MPP’s Mason Tvert appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss a law that was recently passed in Berkeley, California that directs medical marijuana dispensaries to donate a portion of their medicine to low-income patients. This idea did not sit well with noted prohibitionist Bishop Ron Allen:

Mason will be back on Fox & Friends this Saturday morning, where he will reportedly continue his discussion with Bishop Allen.

California Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill Dies On Suspended Session

August 18th, 2014

Thursday marked the end of SB 1262 in California, as the Assembly Appropriations Committee failed to take a vote on the measure before deadline. Unfortunately, this means that another legislative session has passed without the enactment of sensible statewide regulations and clearer legal protections for medical marijuana providers. However, while SB 1262 was ostensibly written to address this widely agreed upon issue, the most recent version had a number of flaws that ultimately led to MPP opposing passage.

Perhaps the most glaring flaw of the legislation was ceding regulatory power to the Department of Consumer Protection, an agency that never expressed any interest in being entrusted with this important task. In fact, the department failed to take part in a single stakeholder meeting. While we are certainly disappointed that the legislature failed to pass a regulatory bill, we are relieved that they did not pass one that would have caused more harm than good.

Bill to Regulate California’s Medical Marijuana Businesses Continues in Assembly

July 15th, 2014

A bill that would establish regulations and protections for a wide range of medical marijuana businesses in California continues to make progress in the legislature. Sen. Lou Correa’s bill SB 1262 recently emerged from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, and will next be considered in the Appropriations Committee in August.

Sen. Correa’s bill has been heavily amended no less than five times since it was introduced in February. Many of the changes in the past few months have been big improvements, but some provisions remain troubling. For instance, the current version of the bill requires costly business license fees, saddles local governments with primary responsibility to enforce the law, and gives wide latitude to law enforcement officials to prohibit businesses.

We have been told it is too early to know if these requirements will change as negotiations among many different groups continue at a rapid pace. The only thing that is certain is that the bill remains very much a work in progress. For a list of MPP’s concerns with the current draft of the bill, click here.


Study Says Medical Marijuana May Help Alleviate Pain in Sickle Cell Patients

June 13th, 2014

A University of Minnesota research group, led by chief researcher Kalpna Gupta, has found that the cannabinoids in marijuana can help treat pain caused by sickle cell disease, reports Minnesota Daily. The group has been running tests on mice and it has yielded good outcomes from those tests. The study says the next step is to move onto human trials; however, it is running into issues with Minnesota’s laws.

In order to take this next step, the research will be moved to California, where medical marijuana became legal almost 20 years ago. Minnesota, on the other hand, has a stricter medical marijuana law that will take effect next summer. This research may actually affect the Minnesota law, however, by providing evidence that could help add sickle cell disease to the qualifying health conditions for the program.

The conditions currently approved by Minnesota law include cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, and seizures. The Department of Health in Minnesota is presently creating a task force to investigate the therapeutic effects of marijuana. Dr. Gupta’s research is being funded by the National Institute of Health’s grant, and is intended to test the effects of vaporized marijuana on 35 sickle cell disease patients at the beginning of July. Minnesota’s medical marijuana laws are some of the strictest in the nation, but the research Dr. Gupta is doing may be able to help more patients find relief.