Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Illinois Possibly Close to Legalizing Medical Marijuana.

Illinois may be close to legalizing medical marijuana.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act gained new momentum last week in the Illinois House when state Rep. Tom Cross (R-Plainfield) shifted his support in favor of the bill.

Cross said he decided to collaborate with the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), to "tighten the bill up" after hearing from constituents who said the use of medicinal marijuana is the only thing that eases their severe pain. The bill failed to pass through the state House in January.

If the bill passes, Illinois would have the strictest medicinal marijuana law in the country.

"You have to have a doctor's recommendation, and you have to have a bona fide relationship with this doctor," state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) said. "You have to take your medical records to the Department of Public Health that will scrutinize them before they give you the license."

If the bill passes, Illinois would join 16 other states and the District of Columbia in opposing federal rulings that explicitly prohibit marijuana usage for either recreational or medicinal purposes. Northwestern student Claire Thompson recognizes the conflict between federal and state laws but thinks legislative reform is necessary.

"I think having any sort of law legalizing marijuana usage is still better than having a law forbidding it across the board," the Medill senior said.

Illinois strict regulations are not ideal, Thompson said, but "necessary to get these kinds of things passed."

In an effort to win support for the bill, Lang agreed to change the original bill by placing stricter regulations on the plant's cultivation, removing the plants from patients' homes to dispensaries.

These new measures have helped garner support and dispel opposition from the bill. The Illinois State Police, Fraternal Order of Police and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce are among recent groups that have now taken a neutral position, a change from their previous opposition to the bill.

Medical cannabis organizations would cultivate and dispense cannabis to patients with valid prescriptions. The bill states there would be 59 such dispensaries, one per senate district. The dispensaries would be subject to random checks from the Illinois Department of Public Health and would incur large fines if their distribution programs were found to be "ineffective."

"There would be no additional cost to taxpayers," Schoenberg said. "The Medical Cannabis Organizations would be subject to application and licensing fees, which would cover the cost of regulating the facilities."

Opponents of the bill have used California, the first state to legalize marijuana for medical reasons, as an example of medicinal cannabis distribution run amok. Medill freshman Joshua Kopel said he finds this comparison frustrating.

"It is artificial to draw parallels between California and another state," Kopel said.

As to whether or not the legalization of medical marijuana could act as a gateway into eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes as well, Kopel said he thought it was hard to say. Thompson remains hopeful that state drug reform, even for medicinal purposes, will serve as "baby steps" for larger scale reform.

"Drug policy is not going to get on the level of national reform until states can demonstrate that it works," she said.

However, Evanston resident and NU alumnus Collin Johnson said he favors stricter regulations such as the ones in the proposed bill.

"I'm okay with medical marijuana as long as it's highly regulated," he said. "I'm not a big fan of marijuana usage in general. I sort of look at it in the same way I do cigarette smoking."

Schoenberg said plans for marijuana legalization were limited to legalizing medical cannabis only, emphasizing strict regulations.

"I have no interest in moving in the direction of California's policy," Schoenberg said.

He said his goal is to allow patients in pain "the kind of quality of life that everyone else has."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Would You Invest Your Money in Medical Marijuana?

Would you invest in a medical-marijuana company if you thought its profits would grow like, um, a weed?

As the WSJ reports, the industry is expanding as more states decriminalize the use of pot to treat pain, MS-related muscle spasms and other conditions. And that’s attracting private investors and raising the possibility of public offerings.

Most of this action is happening in Colorado and California, the states with the biggest medical-marijuana markets. Among the deals in the hopper, according to the paper: a seed supplier has raised $500,000 in a private financing round and hydroponic-equipment supplier GrowOp Technology and medical-marijuana vending-machine company Medicine Dispensing Systems are each planning IPOs this year. (General Cannabis, with subsidiaries including a marijuana-dispensary website and a dispensary-management business, is already public.)

Meantime, there are plans to launch a hedge fund, called Kaneabis, to invest in the medical-cannabis industry, the WSJ reports.

That said, there are obstacles to attracting investment — namely the fact that the drug is illegal under federal law. And, of course, there will have to be the potential for profits to attract investors.

Would you park part of your 401(k) in pot?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interstate Traffic Stop Yields Over Two Tons Of Marijuana

A late afternoon traffic stop Sunday by Department of Public Safety (DPS) state troopers netted over two tons of bundled marijuana and a first degree felony charge for a Florida man. A trooper made the stop at 3:50 p.m. at the 171 eastbound mile marker. The 2003 Freightliner Century Classic truck tractor, with a 1998 WABA trailer, was stopped for a traffic violation.

The driver, Giovanni Borrero, 30, of Longwood, Florida, showed signs of nervousness as well as indicators of criminal activity which were observed by the state trooper, according to the DPS report.

Consent to search was requested and verbal consent was given. The vehicle was then moved to the Wal-Mart parking lot in Mount Pleasant for easier access to off-load the trailer.

The search revealed 184 bundles of marijuana weighing 4,605 lbs., according to the DPS, mixed in with the load of produce that included jalapeno peppers, cilantro and cactus.

Borrero is being held at the Titus County jail where he was charged with Possession. of Marijuana over 2000 lbs., a First Degree Felony.

Big Tex Trailer of Mount Pleasant donated the use of one their trucks and trailer to transport the marijuana to the DPS Lab in Tyler.

Looking like the Great Wall of China, DPS troopers pose behind a wall of bundled marijuana that was offloaded in the Walmart parking lot late Sunday.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: dailytribune.net
Copyright: 2011 Palmer Media Group
Contact: The Daily Tribune Online - Contact Us
Website: The Daily Tribune Online - News

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Obama Announces 420 Gathering on Facebook

If one thing ought to be undeniably clear by now, it's that the President just loves being lobbied for marijuana legalization. That's why he keeps hosting popularity contests for political issues on the internet, and inviting the decidedly predictable chorus of calls for ending the war on drugs. So, in order to ensure that his next such event is similarly well attended, the President is asking us to join him for a live 4/20 celebration on Facebook that you don't want to miss!

The purpose of the event is to discuss ideas to "help our economy grow," and you know exactly what that means. As usual, the President will be taking questions from the public, which you can email or post directly on this page. There's no voting this time (I can't imagine why), but the Facebook page is already heating up with discussion of drug policy reform, so let's get in there and show the strength of our movement yet again.

Obviously, the President wouldn't be holding this event on 4/20 if he didn't want to discuss marijuana policy with us. Right?

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: StoptheDrugWar.org
Author: Scott Morgan
Copyright: 2011 StoptheDrugWar.org
Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org
Website: Obama Announces 420 Gathering on Facebook | StoptheDrugWar.org

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Man could face life in prison for 3 grams of Marijuana.

In Montana, Passing Someone a Bowl of Your Medical Marijuana Could Put You in Prison for Life.

In a Missoula County courtroom... an eight-woman, four-man jury found Matthew Otto, 27, guilty of a single charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs - in this case, 3 grams ( well under an ounce ) of marijuana. Otto faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Well under an ounce? How about close to a tenth of an ounce? Regardless, Montana law defines sales or distribution ( giving ) any amount of marijuana as a felony and allows for a one year to life prison sentence and $50,000 fine. Otto is lucky he wasn't within 1,000 feet of a school or an additional three years minimum would be added.

Otto stood accused of sharing a bowl of his medical marijuana with two friends in a car traveling down Reserve Street, where the trio passed a Missoula County Sheriff's detective on his way home from work last November.

How many times do I have to tell you people to not smoke pot in your freakin' car?!? Even if parked but especially if moving!

Both [Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew] Paul and [Public Defender Chris] Daly questioned potential jurors closely as to their experiences with and attitudes toward marijuana - medical and otherwise. Roughly half the 24 people from whom the eventual jury was chosen raised their hands in response to a question as to whether they'd smoked marijuana. While none had medical marijuana cards, five had family members with "green" cards.

Yes, because over half of US adults aged 50 or younger have tried marijuana. If that's going to be a disqualification for jury duty, you're going to find it increasingly hard to seat juries ( as happened in Montana last year ).

Samantha and Jordan Lambert, who was driving the car, originally told Missoula County Sheriff's Detective Jon Gunter that they'd gotten the marijuana from Otto, according to court papers. Wednesday, they testified they didn't remember who lit the bowl or where the marijuana in it came from.

Daly repeatedly pointed out that neither of the Lamberts was charged with possessing or distributing marijuana, even though the bowl was shared among the trio.

"The detective told me if I was honest with him about taking a hit off the pipe, I would not be in trouble," Jordan Lambert testified.

[Missoula County Sheriff's Detective Jon] Gunter testified that as a narcotics investigator, he felt it was more important to home in on the source of the drug.

So this terribly dangerous 3g of medical marijuana that Otto distributed to Jordan Lambert wasn't so dangerous that we needed to charge the pot-smoking non-medical-marijuana-patient driving the car; it was "more important to home in on the" legit medical marijuana patient who was "the source of the drug"? Otto didn't hold a gun to Lambert's head and force him to take hits while driving by an off-duty sheriff. Lambert made a choice to endanger other drivers on the road but the police feel the real danger is the patient medicating in the back seat?

Sheriff's Deputy Bill Burt, who questioned Otto while Gunter was talking with the Lamberts, videotaped that encounter.

On the tape, Otto told Burt that he had a medical marijuana card and that he used cannabis for back and knee pain.

"I've got all kinds of pain from carrying all this equipment," Burt replied. "... My point is, you're doing it for the recreation."

How do you know that, Deputy? Living with chronic pain is just that - chronic. It exists at all times. Just because Otto shared a bowl with two healthy people doesn't mean he wasn't using medically himself.

The point, Paul said after the trial, was that Otto's legal marijuana became illegal the minute he gave it to someone else.

District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps had reminded jurors as they began 3 1/2 hours of deliberations that marijuana is classified as a dangerous drug and that the amount of marijuana is immaterial.

Let this be a lesson to all patients out there. That pipe on your lips is medicine. But that pipe on your healthy friend's lips is transformed into a "dangerous drug" and you are no longer a patient. Here in Oregon, the mere sight of your medicine in public transforms it into a dangerous drug and you into a criminal. You can carry around a pound and a half of usable cannabis, but if anyone can see even a single stem or flake of it, a mere 29 grams of usable cannabis is enough to get you a felony.

Otto was unwise in sharing his bowl with the driver of a moving car, but that driver deserves more punishment than Otto does, and neither of them deserve anything remotely close to life in prison and a $50,000 fine.

And another lesson for patients? Hire a real lawyer - don't depend on the public defender.

Meanwhile, the Montana House has passed a bill to increase the penalties for sexual assaults:

Currently a person convicted of sexual assault is fined up to $500 and can be imprisoned for up to six months. But under Sen. Taylor Brown's bill, the penalties double for a second time offender then increase to $10,000 and five years in prison for a third offense.

"When we look at this bill, we find kind of a inconsistency with a lot of other statutes that we have, drunk driving, partner family member assault, the third offense is a felony and typical sentence is five years, violation orders for protection, stalking has progressively increased penalties, even cruelty to animals has increased penalties," said Rep. Cary Smith, ( R-Billings ).

Got it? If we catch you for the third time sexually assaulting someone, we could put you in prison for five whole years. But if you pass someone a bowl of your medical marijuana, we could put you in prison for life. Because in Montana, people like Missoula County Sheriff's Detective Jon Gunter and Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul have their priorities in order.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2011 Independent Media Institute
Website: Home | AlterNet
Author: Russ Belville

Don't you all just love the country we live in?