Archive for November, 2010

Montana NORML Newsletter – Repeal or Legalization? Politics and the News

November 19th, 2010

Friends,

All my politically-connected friends keep telling me that our most recent election is a catastrophe for medical marijuana. The Republicans, who have a majority in both legislative houses in Montana, seriously considered opening the debate with a proposal (sure to win) to either 1) erase medical marijuana from the books, or 2) send it back to the media en-flamed hysterical voters. There is no guarantee that the voters would support the same law, today.

That said, my politically-savvy friends also say that outright appeal is possible, yes, but unlikely.

Of course, our message and goal is that Marijuana Legalization is the Best Thing For Patients. Really, the current controversy in Montana is not about the “marijuana” part of medical marijuana — the problem is the “medical” part, right?

There is no doubt that marijuana will cause vigorous debates in Helena (check out the proposed bills so far) when the legislature convenes in ~45 days. Whether you think that cannabis is a precious medicine for the sick and dying, or a sacred herb that should be available to all, or all of the above, I hope you’ll take a moment and register your location at http://mjdb.montanadrugpolicy.org — this is the primary way we’ll be reaching out to concerned citizens about the upcoming legislative mayhem. Click, register, make a difference, easy.

One of the challenges for medical marijuana preservation is that there are still lots of honest health care professionals who just haven’t been presented with the information that is available on cannabis’ medical benefits.  How can you help?

Buy a copy of the 86-page booklet, Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature 2000-2010, and tell us which health-care professional you’d like us to send it to.  Or, join a recent anonymous donor in donating $100 to fund the sending of booklets out statewide.

Click the yellow donate button on our website to help out.

Finally, a bit of gossip. We got a tip this morning that the offices of Jason Christ’s Montana Caregivers Network in Missoula were being raided. I walked over to the MCN office personally, and saw Missoula Police and Missoula County Deputies, and Jason in the middle, smiling and talking.

I anticipate there will be some dramatic media coverage soon, and that’s all I know so far.

Speaking of sensationalistic coverage, here’s the news:

Various Marijuana News

A moment of silence now, for the Montana outdoor plants that didn’t make it through the cold this week, and the Montana grown-ups who got busted this week.

Good night.

Marijuana Legalization is the Best Thing For Patients

November 18th, 2010

Medical marijuana can be a wonderful medicine and is a blessing to many chronically ill people, and NORML will always be in full support of safe access for patients.

However, if you really want to do what’s best for patients, you must support full legalization.

I am not talking about decrim. I am talking about a regulated (and yes, taxed) market in which businesses and nonprofits sell marijuana to citizens. Or, those citizens grow their own and share it with friends. Sort of like beer and wine today.

In this future world I am envisioning, big businesses will sell tolerable pot for cheap to people who don’t care much for quality. Smaller players will enjoy a connoisseurs’ market of high end crystal-caked gorgeous buds. And local “grassroots” clubs of growers will share the fruits of their gardens amongst their membership.

And the patients most in need, those people for whom marijuana is not social, is not cool, and has little aesthetic aspect, those people for whom marijuana provides important, sometimes near-miraculous therapeutic benefits, will be better off in such a world.

Walk with me, into this world:

First, the price will fall. The price of cannabis is inflated by prohibition currently. Why would a grower sell an ounce for $100 that can be sold for $200-300 by their patient five minutes later? Altruism? Sure, it can happen. But the market bears what the market can bear, and many Montana cardholders, I suspect, would quickly take advantage of such reasonable pricing.

In a world in which everyone can buy it for $100, that temptation, that opportunity, mostly evaporates.

Are there people buying cases of wine and selling $8 glasses? Sure — they’re called restaurants. They’re regulated, it’s legal, it’s okay.

Second, while free market economics is arguably a savage system, one thing it certainly does is offer the consumer lots of options. May the best product win. Imagine if retailers were competing not just on price, but on variety and quality as well. Imagine huge menu boards (like these) of dozens of strains, dozens of edibles, tinctures, cocktails, salves, oils, and who knows what else we’ll come up with.

And, you can go to any retailer you like.  Want a high-CBD banana muffin to ease your pain? Stop by my shop on 3rd street. Does your ailment benefit from Romulan-derived tincture to help with your chemo-induced nausea? The collective in Darby produces the best, and it’s available at retailers statewide. Looking for  a soaring cerebral experience from pre-rolled hemp-paper 2-gram joints  of Super Lemon Haze to inspire art, poetry, and conversation? Got you covered, at the boutique place on the 8th floor of the Millennium Building downtown.

Third, medical marijuana treats patients like second class citizens. In Montana, despite the media hype, a person must jump through various expensive bureaucratic hoops to get and stay legal. If your current doctor (if you are fortunate enough to have one) is too uninformed or afraid to sign the papers, then choosing a potentially-less-than-savory “clinic” is the next unpleasant step.  Then the government papers (hopefully) get sent off to a state agency for review. In weeks, or sometimes months, you get your card. I hope you chose a trustworthy caregiver. I hope their crop succeeds. I hope they don’t get busted. And, in a few months, you need to start thinking about the renewal process.

Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutic herbs known to humankind, less toxic than aspirin and less addictive than caffeine. Why not make it more accessible to people with dire medical conditions?

Further, does anyone believe that marijuana is too dangerous for healthy people? Come on.

Adults shouldn’t need permission from any doctor, any cop, any bureaucrat, to use this plant responsibly, whether it’s for medical, spiritual, artistic, social, or other personal reasons.

Legalization is the best thing for patients. Spread the word.

Montana NORML Newsletter – Meeting in Missoula, Repeal and Reality TV

November 12th, 2010

Good evening friends,

If you’d like to meet the Montana NORML team and join us for a conversation about our activities and plans, please come down to the Missoula Public Library at 2PM on Saturday, Nov 13th.Here’s the Facebook event page with details.

A big topic is likely to be the upcoming legislature and the changes we’re anticipating. Medical marijuana in Montana could be repealed this winter, literally turning thousands of people and hundreds of businesses into criminals overnight.

Already, scores of people have registered at candidates.montandrugpolicy.org to get alerts about key moments in the legislative process this winter at which it’ll be important for people to call and email their elected representatives. Please, take a moment and do so now.

But of course, as you all know, the goal of Montana NORML is to get past medical and remove the threat of arrest for responsible adult use of marijuana. So, we’re working towards introducing legislation which will do that, one way or another.

In the wake of the defeat of Prop 19 in California, National NORML came up with this list of 10 lessons for the next round of initiatives to end marijuana prohibition:

  1. We must explicitly protect medical marijuana rights.
  2. We must remember that people 18-25 are our biggest group of stakeholders and we cannot over-penalize them to appease our opponents.
  3. We must find a way to integrate the current illegal growers into a new legalized market.
  4. We cannot win until people are more scared of prohibition than they are of legalization.
  5. We must stop painting the marijuana as a bad thing that needs to be controlled.
  6. We must be realistic about what legalization can and cannot accomplish.
  7. Legalize first, then deal with the drug testing issue.
  8. You can’t “treat it like alcohol” unless you can test for it like alcohol on the roadside.
  9. Commercialization must be handled with consistent statewide regulation.
  10. Medical marijuana has reached its peak and is now inextricably linked to legalization.

Some of these may arouse some controversy and debate. What do you think?


We’ve received another casting call from reality TV producers. This time, it’s Firecracker Films, and they say:

I’m after BIG CHARACTERS and GROUPS / BUSINESSES in the medical
marijuana world – dispensaries, delivery businesses, collectives,
growers, evaluators, farmers and of course, patients. I’m looking for
fun straight-talking characters, humor and the type of team spirit
seen in shows such as History’s Pawn Stars or TLC’s Cake Boss.

Call 310 309 3942 and ask for Alice Sharpe if you want to know more.

And now, the news…

Montana Marijuana News

Don’t forget to register at http://candidates.montanadrugpolicy.org/ :)

Kindest regards.

Medical Marijuana in Montana Could be Repealed

November 5th, 2010

Unless you help.

The 2010 election was pretty much a disaster for cannabis advocates. Key legislative allies were defeated, and many people who are hostile to medical marijuana (and proud of it) were elected.

Montana’s medical marijuana law stands a real chance of being repealed (erased!) in a few months. At the very least it will surely be altered with severe restrictions.

Were you hoping we could add PTSD, or depression, or insomnia as qualifying conditions? Or increase plant counts? Think again. With this new legislature, there is very little chance for any positive improvements or expansions in the law.

At this point, our opponents are probably better funded and better organized. They are working hard to return us to a policy of total criminal prohibition of marijuana. Of course their position is based on lies and fear, but they are attracting a small army of supporters.

Our only chance to preserve to what we have is if people get organized. People like you.

Caregivers, the legislature could charge you exorbitant fees,  put you out of business, or instantly turn you into felons. You have an interest in doing the following:

  1. Make sure every one of your patients is registered to vote.  Print a stack of registration forms and hand them out at your dispensary. Ask to see their voter registration cards before giving them cannabis!
  2. Collect their email addresses and phone numbers.
  3. Have an action plan in place for contacting them all quickly.

Patients, the legislature could snatch this precious privilege away and turn you into criminals overnight, or restrict the list of qualifying conditions and renewal procedures so that your card simply expires and you cannot renew. You have an interest in doing the following:

  1. If you’re comfortable, come out of the closet. Tell your friends and neighbors you’re a registered patient and how marijuana helps you. Putting a human face on the topic may turn some people around. Tell them to tell their legislators.
  2. If you’re comfortable mentioning your debilitating medical condition in public, and are capable of speaking professionally, consider making a trip to Helena this winter to testify. There will be multiple opportunities. Contact us if you’re interested, as there may even be funds to offset travel and lodging.
  3. Be sure you’re on our email list to be notified.

Montana NORML and allied organizations statewide will be watching the legislative proceedings day-by-day, hour-by-hour. There will be times at which a key meeting or vote is about to be held. Those are the times we need to be able to quickly generate calls and emails from constituents to specific legislators.

Everyone, please go to http://candidates.montanadrugpolicy.org

  1. Click the map where you live.
  2. If you live in a major town like Billings or Missoula, you’ll get another map. Click where you live again.
  3. Next (this is the important part!), click the “I live in this district and want to help!”
  4. Fill in your name, email, and/or phone.  That’s it!

We’ll contact you when the legislator who represents you needs to hear your voice. We’ll also ask you to call five other people in your neighborhood and get them to make calls and send emails too. So think about who those five people will be.

This strategy does work. Calls and emails from the people in their home districts can change minds and generate helpful votes.

Let’s work together to stop the repeal of medical marijuana in Montana.  Will you join me today?

Montana NORML News – Election Results, Missoula Meeting, and the News

November 5th, 2010

Voters,

By most accounts, this week’s election was brutal for those of us who are working to end cannabis prohibition.  Proposition 19, which would have made marijuana legal for adults in California, failed (albeit with the highest vote for statewide legalization ever). A medical marijuana dispensary initiative initiative in Oregon failed. A medical marijuana initiative failed in South Dakota. Another, in Arizona, is still too close to call.

Closer to home, the Republicans picked up a bunch of seats in the state legislature. Ending marijuana prohibition isn’t necessarily a  Democratic or Republican issue, but historically the Republicans have been generally hostile to our cause. Key progressives who supported medical marijuana were defeated, and anti-marijuana conservatives were elected, in multiple districts. Simply preserving what we have will be a challenge.

How can we do it? At key moments, like when a committee is about to vote, we all need to be able to get in touch with the legislators who represent us and our neighbors and tell them how strongly we feel about the issues. That’s why it’s important to get involved today. Yes, you. Yes, now. :)

Do this: go to http://candidates.montanadrugpolicy.org

  1. Click the map where you live.
  2. If you live in a major town like Billings or Missoula, you’ll get another map. Click where you live again.
  3. Next (this is the important part!), click the “I live in this district and want to help!”
  4. Fill in your name, email, and/or phone.  That’s it!

We’ll contact you when the legislator who represents you needs to hear your voice. For bonus points, think of five other people in your neighborhood who you can recruit to make calls and send emails to legislators this winter.

A final thought about Prop 19. While it didn’t get the votes it needed to end cannabis prohibition in California, it educated millions and moved the issue forward. Today, it is no longer a question of IF marijuana will be legal, but WHEN.

Already, activists in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, and yes, Montana, are gearing up for 2012.  58% of people in the American West support legalization.

By the way, if all 18-29 year olds voted, we would win on marijuana issues most every time. Are you in that age group? Did you vote? Will you next time? Think about it, and forward this to a friend!

It would sure help if more cannabis consumers became willing to give 20 minutes or 20 bucks to the cause. I hope I can count on you. You can donate here.


NORML Meeting

Montana NORML will host a conversation about our work and the upcoming legislature in the Missoula Public Library Board Room on Saturday November 13th at 2PM.

Come on down and meet the board and let us know how you’d like to help.

Here’s the Facebook event page.


Medical Booklets Available

Those of you at the MMGA Symposium in Helena last month may have heard Dr. Chris mentioned that the NORML Foundation publishes an excellent 86-page booklet called “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature 2000-2010“.

We have them in stock again, and can get them to you for a donation of $5 or more. Click the yellow PayPal button on our site, or send a check made out to Montana NORML: PO Box 8411, Missoula, MT 59807. Make sure to let us know your address.

And now, the news…

Recent Marijuana News

The road ahead is hard. But victory is on the horizon, and I’m not quitting any time soon.