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Support the great American hemp toilet paper challenge

By Lloyd Hart

The Great American Paper Boycott has challenged all the major toilet paper brands to make and nationally distribute the nation’s first roll of toilet paper made only from post consumer recycled paper and farm grown hemp fibers which will have to come from Canada, as US farmers face felony charges if they grow hemp.

Toilet paper is one of the most intimate things in people’s lives, and considering all the personal things we do with toilet paper and how many times it is used in a day, soft tissue ought to be a guilt free experience. Please join us in calling for the nation’s first roll of hemp toilet paper from the national brands.

Google your favorite brand of toilet paper, find out who makes it and write them a postal letter on hemp paper asking them  in your own words to get make hemp tissue paper instead of cutting trees. Keep in touch with the Great American Paper Boycott group on Facebook.


Japanese expatriot patient

A Japanese patient battling Crohn’s disease came to America for an alternative treatment, and now that he’s found it and works, he is afraid to return to Japan. Kenichi Nalita is trying to gain political and medical asylum in the US in a State that allows legal medica marijuana, because his homeland’s government says cannabis is not a medicine.

The first cannabis user to fight for his medical rights in Japanese courts, Nalita was arrested for marijuana in Japan and has used up all legal avenues for protection. He calls this the fight for his life and hopes the US will take him as a political prisoner seeking asylum, since if he stays in the US he can obtain medicinal cannabis in California but in Japan he faces prison. Readers can support his cause Save-Kenichi-Nalita on  Facebook.


Obama: legalization ‘entire­ly legitimate’ as debate topic

By Stephen Gutwillig, Drug Policy Alliance

After being overwhelmed by questions about cannabis legalization from YouTube viewers, President Barack Obama was forced to answer a question about drug policy during a recent online ‘town hall.’ Obama admitted that drug legalization is an “entirely legitimate topic for debate,” even though he is opposed to it.

On the heels of his statement, the ONDCP Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, wrote a piece for the Huffington Post where he claims the administration’s drug polices are based on a public health approach and agrees that America can’t incarcerate its way out of the problem.

“It is clear that President Obama and his drug czar are responding to the growing movement calling for alternatives to the failed war on drugs,” said Bill Piper, director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s great that their rhetoric is about treating drug use as a health issue instead of criminal justice issue but their actions still don’t match their words. There were more than 1.6 million drug arrests in the US last year alone. The vast majority were for possession, with more than 760,000 arrests for small amounts of marijuana. Arresting people who use marijuana or others drugs is not treating drug use as a health issue.”

Obama’s comments on legalization came in response to a question from Mac­Kenzie Allen, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a retired deputy sheriff who worked in Los Angeles. Allen had the top ranked question of 193,000 submitted. Amazingly, 198 of the top 200 most popular questions to the President had to do with legalizing cannabis and drug policy reform.

Distributor regulation in RI

By Jesse Stout, RIPAC

Rhode Island is one step closer to licensing ‘Compassion Centers’ (CCs) to distribute medical marijuana. In 2010 the Dept. of Health rejected all 15 applicants for three licenses, and restarted the whole process. On Feb. 7, 2011 it held a public hearing for shareholders to comment on the 18 new applications.

The cities of Providence, Pawtucket, and Warwick all endorsed various applicants, but the hearing began with four officials complaining. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung opposed the three applicants who sought to locate within his city because he did not want to allocate extra law enforcement resources to secure them. Cranston State Rep. Peter Palumbo took “the award for least informed testimony,” according to WRNI Health Reporter Megan Hall, by arguing that the proposed locations were not zoned for brownie-baking. North Kingstown State Representative Doreen Costa implausibly claimed to have received “hundreds” of emails opposed to a local applicant. Providence City Councilman Brian Principe opposed having centers near any residences.

The Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC) has supported patients’ right to safe and legal access since 2003, promoting the 2006 Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) and its 2009 amendment allowing the centers. Executive Director JoAnne Leppanen testified in support of the application of the Thomas C. Slater CC, for Providence. Slater was the widely revered RI state representative who sponsored the original MMA and two of three subsequent amendments. Leppanen also gave honorable mentions to Green Leaf Compassionate Care Center, the RI CC, the Institute for Alternative Therapeutics, Innovative Solutions, and Summit CC.

The department is scheduled to announce to whom the three centers will be awarded in mid-March. Some applicants say that, on that schedule, they can be open to supply registered patients with medical cannabis as early as June.

Meanwhile, some RI cities and towns have moved to create additional regulatory frameworks for compassion centers. Both Johnston and West Warwick have taken affirmative steps in recent months.


Colo patient privacy threat

By Laura Krihocannabistherapyinstitute.com

Colorado is the first state in the nation to create a branch of law enforcement dedicated to policing medical use, and patients are concerned about giving up their right to privacy to shop at one of these heavily police-monitored Medical Marijuana Centers (MMCs).

The MMCs were created in 2010 by the state legislature through House Bill 1284. Its stated intent was to put 80% of dispensaries out of business. Prior to this, patients were able to purchase from caregiving businesses called “dispensaries.” However, HB 1284 forced caregivers to give up basic Constitutional protections in exchange for the uncertain statutory privilege of applying to operate an MMC.

The newly-formed Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED) is part of the Dept. of Revenue, the first time a medical program has been run by the state’s tax collectors. Funded by MMC applicants with over $10 million in application fees, the MMED has dozens of armed auditors, investigators and regulators with all the powers of regular law enforcement officers and the additional power to enter and search any MMC at any time, without a warrant or probable cause.

The MMED intends to track all cannabis from “seed to sale.” Their new rules eliminate privacy by requiring each patient to place a photo ID, medical marijuana registry card, and the amount of cannabis being purchased on 12×12 space on the counter of each MMC. Each purchase will be photographed, videotaped and logged into a database of transactions that will be open to all law enforcement on demand, including the DEA.

The new MMED badge has the words “medical marijuana” atop and “criminal enforcement” below. This militarization of medical marijuana is causing many patients to forsake the system. Discrimination against cannabis runs rampant in Colorado. Patients have lost their jobs, children, VA benefits and health insurance when it was discovered they were on the registry. If confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, patients will not sign up for the program or shop at MMCs.

Since possession of cannabis is still a federal crime, shopping at an MMC will require patients to incriminate themselves in crimes when they are photographed purchasing medicine, and MMED agents are allowed to enter any MMC at any time without warrant or probable cause to search the premises and any patients in it.

House Bill 11-1043 will extend the statewide moratorium on new applicants for another year and require caregivers to register the location of their gardens with the MMED. HB 11-1250 seeks to ban centers from producing or selling cannabis edibles. HB 11-1261 seeks to ban patients from driving privileges by setting a limit on THC in the blood that most patients will always exceed. Any driver with an amount of THC over five nanograms/ milliliter in their blood will be considered impaired and guilty of DUI and subject to loss of their driver’s license. Patients who use cannabis continuously will always be over 5 ng/mL of THC in their blood.


Bernice Malin: Feb. 29,1920 — Dec. 19, 2010

Bernice Malin passed away peacefully on Dec. 19, 2010 surrounded by her family in Tarzana, CA. She was the beloved mother of Mikki Norris, publisher and managing editor of the West Coast Leaf.

Ms. Malin instilled in her four daughters the strong value of volunteerism and equal rights. She helped to form and raise money for the Jewish Home for the Blind in Chicago in the 1940s and the Louis G. Norris chapter of the City of Hope upon her husband’s passing in the 1960s. She always stressed the importance of treating people equally, starting with her family, which influenced her ‘Hemp Kid,’ Mikki, in creating the Cannabis Consumers Campaign to encourage people to come out of the closet and stand up for equal rights.

Norris attributes her activism and compassion for social justice and individuals to her parents’ upbringing. At a young age, they taught her about the horrors of the Holocaust and the ills of scapegoating groups of people, who are unfairly blamed for problems in society. This inspired her to develop the Human Rights and the Drug War exhibit project and subsequent book, Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War, along with her husband and partner, Chris Conrad, and the late Virginia Resner.

Ms. Malin will be remembered for her warm smile and ready laugh, her love of life, dancing and travel, and was known amongst her circles for her wonderful baked goods. She will be missed by Mikki and her sisters, Dolly Norris, Andrea Wishnow, and Shelley Norris-Alvarez, sons-in-laws, grandchildren, and the people who had the opportunity to know her.

A leap-year baby who lived to be 90 years old and suffered a major stroke four and a half years ago on top of Alzh­eimer’s, Bernice kept smiling to the end.

To make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association in her name, please click here Bernice_Malin.


Assembly bill would reduce penalty on some grows

By Quintin Mecke

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano introduced AB 1017, sponsored by Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, to change Health and Safety Code section 11358 cultivation from a mandatory felony penalty to an alternate felony or misdemeanor, known as a “wobbler”.

“When it comes to marijuana cultivation, one size does not fit all,” said Eyster. “The proposed change affords local DAs the charging discretion to determine, for example, that a home gardener with a few non-medical plants will not be prosecuted at the same level as a profiteer operating a major marijuana plantation.

“It makes no sense that unlawful possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is an infraction, possession of more than an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, possession of methamphetamines may be charged as a misdemeanor, but growing any amount of marijuana must be charged as a straight felony punishable by prison.”

“This change is long overdue and is simply common sense,” said Ammiano. “Allowing marijuana cultivation to be a misdemeanor will save the state money, allow for more cost-effective prosecution, and reflects the views of most Californians. I applaud DA Eyster for his leadership on trying to create a rational public policy for marijuana in California.”

“Sending nonviolent marijuana offenders to state prison is a particular waste of resources in a state that lowered possession penalties last year and seriously considered ending marijuana prohibition outright,” said Drug Policy Alliance California Director Stephen Gutwillig. “The fact that law enforcement figures like DA Eyster support Ammiano’s sensible new legislation shows how quickly the tide is turning.”


US returns $7500 to woman wrongly raided by DEA

By Pebbles Trippet, MMMAB

The US Treasury returned $7500 to Joy Greenfield on Jan. 25, 2011, money that had been confiscated by federal DEA agents in a summer 2010 raid on her Covelo property. “I have never seen that happen,” commented her attorney Bob Boyd.

Greenfield, 70, a softspoken grandmotherly grower, received Mendocino County’s first permit to grow 99 marijuana plants under the protection of the sheriff’s zip-tie program in July 2010. Within days of the approval, she was raided by the DEA, which confiscated her 99 plants, computer, and $7500 cash.

The DEA acknowledged they were looking for someone else. Her computer was returned to her last fall (but not the plants). Charges were never filed.

Her collective is one of 18 enrolled in Mendocino’s zip-tie program last year at $50 per plant plus $1500 and regular inspection fees. Greenfield said she intends to apply for the 99-plant exemption again this year. “I believe I got my money back because of the program.”


Bittersweet victory for LA

By Jessica Gelay, Drug Policy Alliance

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed hard-fought and still flawed medical marijuana regulations for the City of Los Angeles that took effect Jan. 28, 2011.

Previous regulations were revised after Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr struck down portions of the ordinance Dec. 10, 2010 in the case Americans for Safe Access v. City of Los Angeles. ASA represents over 100 collectives in this case.

The revisions mean that any collective that can prove it was in operation before Sept. 7, 2007 will be eligible to participate in a lottery. One hundred collectives will be chosen to apply for the registration process. The same day the new regulations were voted on, a motion was introduced to allow ten additional permits that Council members would be able to give on a discretionary basis. The date of the lottery has not yet been announced, but is expected to be released soon.

“At the end of the day there will be medical cannabis dispensing collectives in LA, even if it’s not as many as we want, or the ones that we want,” said Don Duncan, Americans for Safe Access California’s campaign director.

The struggle in gone on since 2006, and bad press surrounding the city’s lack of control over the opening of collectives has led to a statewide backlash in which counties, including LA, Orange, and Fresno, have voted to ban collectives outright. As dismal as that appears, support for safe access does exist, and case law is getting stronger.

For example, Judge Mohr acknowledged the lawful rights of citizens of California, when he ruled, “[I]n discharging its powers and duties under the police power, the City must not lose sight of the fact that the People of the State of California have conferred on qualified patients the right to obtain marijuana for medical purposes. No local subdivision should be allowed to curtail that right wholesale or regulate it out of existence.”

The California Coastal Commission spoke out and refused Laguna Beach’s desire to ban collectives in all city zones. Six commissioners disagreed with the city’s stance that cannabis collectives would be too difficult to deal with. In an article published Jan. 19, commissioner Mark Stone told OC Register reporter Claudia Koerner, “For communities to not step up and take some responsibility for how their folks can have access, and to push it off onto other communities, brings to us a consistency issue that is legitimate for us to look at even though it’s not directly a coastal access issue,”

In the same article, commissioner Ross Mirkarimi said, “Dispensary bans included patient access and criminal justice issues that the Coastal Commission could not ignore.” He said he “hoped the vote would send a message to cities to take a harder look at how to regulate dispensaries instead of banning them.”


Student patients hanging

By John Perri, SSDP

With more and more states having laws that protect patients from arrest for medical marijuana, one demographic is finding it nearly impossible to take advantage of these protections: college students.

School administrators in states like California, Arizona, Montana and Colorado have made it clear that medical marijuana is not allowed and student patients will not be exempt from punishment if caught using or possessing it on campus. All of these schools maintain that they would lose federal funding under the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act (DFSCA) if they were to follow state law and allow cannabis on campus.

The DFSCA is a federal mandate that states, “As a condition of receiving funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program, an institution of higher education must certify that it has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees.”

It is understandable that despite state laws making marijuana a legal medicine for qualified students, schools in such states are reluctant to make any policy change that might put them at odds with the federal government. However, no school has ever lost federal funding due to a violation of the DFSCA and the Dept. of Education has not attempted to clarify how state medical use laws affect the rule.

Promptly after passage of Arizona’s medical use law last year, the University of Arizona and two other state universities made it clear they would not allow students to use or possess their medicine on campus. In Colorado just last month, a high school student / patient was told that he couldn’t even return to school if he was taking a cannabis lozenge to control seizures caused by a neurological disorder. After a disabled student at U Montana was caught and punished for growing cannabis in his on-campus housing, the school adopted a policy specifically prohibiting cannabis use by students with state-issued medical-marijuana permits. The only positive policy change that some colleges have started to make is to allow cannabis patients to live in off-campus housing. That isn’t enough. Students using pharmaceuticals such as pain killers, amphetamines, or anti-anxiety drugs, which all have a much higher potential for abuse and addiction than does cannabis, are allowed to live on campus.

The DFSCA was passed in 1989, seven years before California became the first state to allow medical use of cannabis. Policy needs to be clarified for students and administrators. The Dept. of Education needs to make it clear that schools in states with legal medical marijuana will not lose funding if they allow patients to consume or possess medicine on campus.

More about SSDP’s campaigns: SchoolsNotPrisons.com


Flash point for medical advocates in Washington State

By Martin Martinez, Lifevine

State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle was the highest-ranking Washington state proponent for medical cannabis even before the Medical Use Act of 1998. She has introduced numerous bills to protect patients, having personally seem the ravages of cancer hit close friends who, in more than one case, effectively quelled severe nausea induced by chemotherapy with medical cannabis therapy.

Following months of research, and a wealth of public comment on no less than ten revised drafts, she introduced the ambitious Senate Bill 5073. It was intended to extend safe access in three separate categories: single-patient gardens, small community gardens, and large state- sanctioned production and distribution channels licensed by the Departments of Agriculture and Health, respectively.

Things change. Law enforcement did not testify at Health and Safety Committee hearings, but pushed through harmful amendments behind the scenes.

While having a sales tax on medical marijuana or retracting some sections protecting employees may be seen to have merit, three amendments to SB 5073 are deal-breakers with much of Washington’s cannabis community. First, dropping community gardens from a ceiling of 25 patients down to three is completely unrealistic. Secondly, now the “voluntary” registration section excludes from arrest protection patients who do not register and removes penalties from police who abuse the registry with unwarranted investigations. Third, it places unreasonable demands on physicians, such as a quarterly filing procedure that would severely limit the number of recommendations written and reduce the state’s qualified patient population by thousands.

Senator Kohl-Welles has pledged to remove the adverse sections, yet no one can be sure that she will be successful. Readers should voice their concerns with SB 5073 to the State Senate and to the House with its companion bill HB1100.

Senate Bill 5073 must not reach the governor’s desk in its current form. Please take time to write a letter, email, or make a phone call to Washington legislators. Visit medmj-wa.com for updates and to take action on SB 5073.


San Diego fight to ‘Stop the Ban’ against medical access

By Ben Cisneros and Eugene Davidovich

A coalition of community groups, non-profits, businesses, and concerned citizens launched the grassroots ‘Stop the Ban’ campaign to get San Diego City Council to replace an impending de facto ban on medical cannabis facilities with reasonable regulations for collectives.

The Council is expected to vote on the proposed ordinance March 28, 2011. If passed, it would force all currently open facilities to close and effectively eradicate safe access in the city, where over 50,000 patients are currently served by more than 100 dispensaries. It would take collectives at least a year to come into compliance with the Process 4 Conditional Use Permit, so, under this scenario, San Diego will see a long period of time with no access and then maybe a handful of places emerging after the compliance period.

Led by the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access and Canvass for a Cause, a non-profit specializing in grassroots organizing, Stop the Ban is urging the City to amend its proposed ordinance, and bring it in line with the recommendations of the City Medical Marijuana Task Force.

“People need to know what’s about to happen in their city,” said attorney and Stop the Ban spokesperson Rachel Scoma. “The ordinance, as proposed, would close every medical can­nabis facility serving patients in San Diego, make it virtually impossible for any to reopen, and leave thousands of AIDS, cancer, MS and other seriously ill patients in despair.”

Gretchen Bergman of A New Path outlined the need for compassion and her opposition to the proposal at a Stop the Ban press conference held outside City Hall.

“We want to make sure that if the City insists on passing this ban that they do so despite the most unprecedented outpouring of public opposition to an ordinance that the city has ever seen,” said Scoma.

The campaign has also launched stopthebansd.org to inform the public about the impending ban and help organize volunteers for the effort.

Stop The Ban Coalition: Canvass for a Cause, A New PATH, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Americans for Safe Access, San Diego Renters Union, Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Ideal Choice Insurance, Law Offices of Melissa Bobrow, Law Offices of Kimberly Simms, Nug Magazine, Kush Magazine, San Diego County Community Coalition, Green Freedom Law Group, Legal Cannabis Institute, Several Members of the San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force and others.