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Medical Marijuana: New Hampshire Veto Override Falls Two Votes Short

Three months after New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) vetoed a medical marijuana bill, bill supporters attempting to override the veto came up one vote short in the state Senate Wednesday. A two-thirds majority was required to override. The override effort had successfully passed the House earlier in the day.
almost but not quite at the New Hampshire Statehouse
The House voted to override the veto by a vote of 240-115, or 67.7% of the vote. But supporters failed to pick up a single vote in the Senate, and that made all the difference. The Senate vote both last summer and this week was 14-10 to override. It would have taken 16 votes to reach a two-thirds majority.

The bill, HB 648, would have established three nonprofit dispensaries to distribute up to two ounces of marijuana every 10 days to patients whose use had been approved by a doctor. Patients could be approved for chronic or terminal conditions that included cachexia, or wasting disorder; chronic pain; or nausea or muscle spasms. They would have had to register with the state to obtain an ID card.

In his veto message earlier this year, Gov. Lynch cited concerns about cultivation and distribution, as well as the opposition of law enforcement. Lawmakers had attempted to address those concerns in conference committee, crafting a tightly-drafted bill, but Lynch was unmoved.

"It's up to 16 of us in this chamber to look at those who are suffering to say, 'I understand and I will help','' said Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis). But every senator who voted against the measure earlier this year voted against the override Wednesday.

Pushing for the bill was the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense, backed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "You never give up hope so I'm disappointed," coalition spokesman Matt Simon told the Nashua Telegraph. "Now I'm not looking forward to making those difficult calls to people depending on the legislature to relieve their unrelenting pain."

In fact, Simon and other medical marijuana supporters are looking to inflict a little pain on legislators who voted against them. In a message to supporters after the override failed, MPP pointedly noted that two senators who had voted against the override, Betsi DeVries and Ted Gatsas, are up for reelection in Manchester next week.

Feature: Historic Hearing on Marijuana Legalization in the California Legislature

In an historic hearing Wednesday, the California legislature examined the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. The hearing marked the first time legalization has been discussed in the legislature since California banned marijuana in 1913.
Ammiano press conference for hearing
Onlookers and media packed the hearing room for the three-hour session. Capitol employees had to hook up remote monitors in the hallway for the overflowing crowd of supporters and opponents of marijuana legalization.

The hearing before the legislature's Public Safety Committee was called for and chaired by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF), who earlier this year introduced AB 390, a bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in the state. While Ammiano has made clear that he supports legalization, the witness list for the hearing was well-balanced, with legislative analysts and representatives of law enforcement as well as reform advocates in the mix.

The hearing began with testimony from legislative analysts, who estimated that the state could realize tax revenues ranging from hundreds of millions to nearly $1.4 billion a year from legalization. The latter figure was from the state Board of Equalization, while the lower estimates came from the Legislative Analyst's Office.

But tax revenues wouldn't be the only fiscal impact of legalization. "If California were to legalize, we would no longer have offenders in state prison or on parole for marijuana offenses," noted Golaszewski. "We estimate the savings there at several tens of millions of dollars a year. There would also be a substantial reduction in the number of arrests and criminal cases law enforcement makes. To the extent they no longer have to arrest people for marijuana, they could shift resources elsewhere."

Golaszewski said there are roughly 1,500 people imprisoned on marijuana charges in California, 850 of them for possession offenses.

The analysts were followed by a panel of attorneys who debated the legality of state legalization. "If California decides to legalize, nothing in the Constitution stands in its way," said Tamar Todd, a staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance Network.

But while Marty Mayer, attorney for the California Peace Officers Association (CPOA), generally agreed with that assessment, he also argued that the state could not unilaterally legalize. "The state of California cannot unequivocally legalize marijuana," he said, noting that marijuana is prohibited under federal law.

Next up were the cops, and there were no surprises there. "Marijuana radically diminishes our society," said CPOA president John Standish. "Marijuana is a mind-altering addictive drug that robs you of memory, motivation, and concentration," he said before Ammiano cut him short, noting that the purpose of the hearing was to discuss public safety and economic impacts of legalization, not to debate marijuana's effects on health.

"Alcohol and cigarettes are taxed to the hilt, but the taxes don't cover the cost of medical treatment, let alone DUIs," Standish continued. "This would lead to an increase in crime rates, social costs, medical costs, and environmental concerns. There is also a very real concern that Mexican drug cartels are behind most of the imported marijuana coming into the US," he added, without explaining what that had to do with legalizing marijuana production in California.

And, pulling out yet another woolly chestnut, Standish resorted to the old and discredited "gateway theory" that marijuana use is a stepping stone to hard drug use. "Marijuana is a gateway drug," he said. "Every incident in 30 years of law enforcement I have been in where marijuana has been involved has not been good. Both marijuana and methamphetamine are equally critical problems," he said.
overflow room
After reciting a short list of violent incidents around large-scale illegal grows allegedly operated by Mexican drug cartels, Sara Simpson, acting assisting chief of the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, warned that the cartels were likely to try to maintain their market share. "That could lead to more violence," she warned.

"Legalizing marijuana is bad public policy," said Simpson. "A significant number of marijuana users are incapacitated," she claimed. "When a recreational drug user backs over your four-year-old, you consider yourself a victim of violent crime. Legalization would increase death and injury totals."

"Why would we want to legalize a substance known to cause cancer?" asked Scott Kirkland, chief of police in El Cerrito and chairman of the California Police Chiefs' Medical Marijuana Task Force. "Legalization will only result in increased use of marijuana with a corresponding increase in drugged driving," he warned.

But later witnesses said that California was simply wasting resources by arresting marijuana offenders. Dan Macallair, executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, said that arrest statistics from the past 20 years show that California law enforcement is more focused on prosecuting simple possession cases than cultivation and sales.

"California's drug war, particularly on marijuana, is focused on drug users," he said. "Virtually every category of crime has declined since 1990, except for a dramatic increase in arrests for marijuana possession. In 1990, there were 20,834 arrests for possession. Last year, there were 61,388 arrests. "

This was going on while arrests for all other drug offenses declined, Macallair said. For all other drugs, arrests were down 29%. Even marijuana manufacture and sales arrests had declined by 21%. More people went to prison in California in 2008 for marijuana possession than for manufacture or sales, he added.

"Our courtrooms are full every day with marijuana cases," said Terence Hallinan, the former San Francisco City and County District Attorney. "It's still against the law to sell even a gram. There are a lot of people in court and jail for marijuana offenses."

The Rev. Canon Mary Moreno Richardson of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego told the committee marijuana law enforcement has especially pernicious effects on the young. "When they find a group of kids with a joint, they take them all in to juvie. When they're incarcerated, they join gangs for safety. Jails have become the boot camps for the gangs," she said. "We need to think about and protect our youth."

"I speak on behalf of California's millions of marijuana users who are tired of being criminals and would like to be taxpaying, law-abiding citizens," said Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML. "We think it makes no sense for taxpayers to pay for criminalizing marijuana users and their suppliers when we could be raising revenues in a legal market."

"Today, our marijuana laws are putting our children in harm's way," said retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Gray. "We want to reduce the exposure of a lifestyle of marijuana use and selling to our children, but prohibition's illegal dealers don't ask for ID," he said.

At the end of the hearing, Ammiano opened the floor to public comment. While most speakers supported legalization, a contingent of conservative African-American religious leaders vigorously denounced it. "I know from personal experience the devastation that occurs in one's life and community as a result of drug abuse that began with marijuana," said Bishop Ron Allen, founder and president of the International Faith Based Coalition.

Also in opposition was Californians for Drug Free Youth. John Redman, the group's director, said legalizing marijuana to raise revenues was reprehensible. "This is blood money, pure and simple," Redman said.

The battle lines are shaping up. On one side are law enforcement, conservative clerics, and anti-drug zealots. On the other are researchers, activists, and, evidently, the majority of Californians. Ammiano gave as a handout at the hearing a sheet listing at least six recent polls showing majority support for marijuana legalization in the state.

The bill isn't going anywhere for awhile. Ammiano said he will hold more hearings later and may revise it based on the hearings. But marijuana legalization is now before the legislature in California.

Medical Marijuana: Colorado Court of Appeals Rules Caregivers Must Do More Than Just Grow Pot

In an opinion released Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that persons designated as "caregivers" under the state's medical marijuana law must do more than merely supply marijuana to patients. In so doing, the court upheld the conviction of a Longmont woman, Stacy Clendenin, who argued that marijuana she grew in her home was distributed to authorized patients in dispensaries.
Colorado state medical marijuana application
That wasn't good enough for the appeals court. Caregivers authorized to grow marijuana for patients must actually know the patients they are growing for, the court said.

"We conclude that to qualify as a 'primary care-giver' a person must do more than merely supply a patient who has a debilitating medical condition with marijuana," the court ruled.

The ruling, if upheld on appeal, threatens to put a crimp in Colorado's burgeoning medical marijuana industry. Dozens of dispensaries have sprung up in the state this year, and growers have been supplying some of them.

That has sparked calls for reining in the dispensaries, a call that was echoed in a concurring opinion to the ruling. In his concurrence, Judge Alan Loeb wrote that Colorado's constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana "cries out for legislative action."

Attorney General John Suthers told the Denver Post he applauded the decision. "I am pleased to see the Court of Appeals has provided legal support for our case that a caregiver, under Amendment 20, must do more than simply provide marijuana to a patient," Suthers said. "I also was pleased to see the assertion in the special concurrence that Amendment 20 'cries out for legislative action.' I could not agree more. I hope the legislature will act and create a regulatory framework that gives substance to the Court of Appeals' findings."

But Clendinin's attorney, Robert Corry, said the ruling was limited and that he would appeal it. "This decision is quite limited and only applies to Stacy Clendenin and only applies to those who went to trial before July when the state board agreed that caregivers could simply provide marijuana," Corry said. "I am concerned that the court superimposed California law on Colorado and I don't think California (medical marijuana) law is a shining star of success."

A Historic Hearing on Marijuana Legalization in Sacramento Today

Wednesday was a historic day at the California state capitol. For the first time since the state banned marijuana in 1913, marijuana legalization was the topic of a hearing in the state legislature. The hearing was organized by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), head of the Assembly's Public Safety Committee, to discuss his marijuana legalization bill, AB 390. For three hours, proponents and opponents of reform clashed before an overflowing hearing room--the hearing was so popular capitol employees had to add a monitor in the hallway for those who couldn't get into the session. Both supporters and foes of legalization were well represented, and they mostly followed their predictable scripts. To this observer, law enforcement's dire warnings and objections sounded increasingly threadbare and shopworn and the arguments of legalizers especially compelling, but then, I agree with the legalizers. I think what is important about Wednesday's hearing is not so much what was said--we've heard it all before, on both sides--as where it was said and in what context. Just a few days ago, they were talking legalization at the statehouse in Boston; now, they're doing it at the statehouse in Sacramento. Nobody expects the California bill to pass this year, but the fact that legalization is finally getting a serious hearing is a sign of progress. I'll be reporting on the hearing and the preceding press conference in more detail later this week for the Drug War Chronicle. Check out the article on Friday.
Sacramento, CA
United States

Medical marijuana override falls short in New Hampshire

Marijuana Policy Project

Marijuana Policy Project Alert

October 28, 2009

Drop Shadow

Dear friends:

Today, the New Hampshire legislature came just shy of voting to override Gov. John Lynch (D)'s veto of the state's proposed medical marijuana law. Two-thirds of the votes were needed. Although we cleared the House with 67.6% of the vote (240-115), it lost in the Senate, 14-10.

The bill had passed the legislature in June, by 232-108 in the House and 14-10 in the Senate. But on July 10, Gov. Lynch vetoed the bill, after refusing to meet with 15 patients and after failing to give input to the legislative conference committee, which amended the bill to address each of the eight concerns he had voiced in April.

To override the veto and pass the bill into law, we needed supportive votes from two-thirds of voting members of the House and 16 votes in the Senate.

Coming so close to victory makes losing more painful. Yet the support of MPP’s 29,000 dues-paying members allowed us to wage a fierce fight: We retained a top lobbying firm in the state and funded an outstanding organizer, Matt Simon, who leads the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy. We also ran tens of thousands of dollars of TV, radio, and print ads featuring patients who were counting on the governor and legislature to do the right thing and generated hundreds of e-mails, calls, and faxes and postcards to the governor and key legislators.

But the bill faced strong opposition from the state's attorney general and chiefs of police.

However, we’re determined to see New Hampshire medical marijuana patients protected from arrest and jail. 71% of New Hampshire voters support allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to use and grow medical marijuana for personal use if their doctors recommend it, according to a 2008 Mason-Dixon poll.

Would you help us come back even stronger? Please don’t let the New Hampshire patients who spoke out publicly in support of this bill be ignored. Donate what you can today.

Need one more reason? Do it for the memory of Scott Turner, a New Hampshire medical marijuana patient and activist who died August 4 after a long and painful battle with degenerative joint disease and degenerative disc disease.

Together, we're going to win this fight.

Thank you,

Rob Signature

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.


MPP will be able to tackle all of the projects in our 2009 strategic plan if you and other allies are able to fund our work.

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United States

Press Release: State Assembly to Hold Historic Hearing on Marijuana Regulation Wednesday 10/28/09

MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                                              
OCTOBER 27, 2009

State Assembly to Hold Historic Hearing on Marijuana Regulation Wednesday 10/28
Press Conference at 9 a.m. Followed by Hearing in Public Safety Committee

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications …………… 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA — On Wednesday, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee will hold a historic hearing on the implications of taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcoholic beverages. The informational hearing marks the first time California’s legislature has considered ending marijuana prohibition since California first banned marijuana in 1913. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), chair of the committee, is author of AB 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act. A press conference will precede the hearing.

            WHAT: Press conference and Public Safety Committee informational hearing on taxing and regulating marijuana.

            WHO: Speaking at the press conference will be Assemblyman Tom Ammiano; Aaron Smith, Marijuana Policy Project; Stephen Gutwillig, Drug Policy Alliance; and Dale Gieringer, California NORML. Available to answer questions at the news conference and testifying at the hearing will be: Terence Hallinan, former district attorney, City and County of San Francisco; Dan Macallair, executive director, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice; Jim Gray, retired judge, Orange County Superior Court; Rev. Canon Mary Moreno-Richardson, Episcopal priest, Hispanic Ministries at St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego; Tamar Todd, staff attorney, Drug Policy Alliance Network; Allen Hopper, counsel, American Civil Liberties Union.

            WHERE: State Capitol, Sacramento. Press conference in Room 317, hearing in Room 126.

            WHEN: Press conference at 9 a.m., hearing at 10 a.m.

         With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit


Sacramento, CA
United States

Press Release: N.H. Patients Make Final Plea for Medical Marijuana Law in Tuesday Press Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

OCTOBER 26, 2009

N.H. Patients Make Final Plea for Medical Marijuana Law in Tuesday Press Conference

CONTACT: Matt Simon, New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy… (603) 391-7450

CONCORD— One day prior to the final vote on HB 648, patients and advocates will hold a Tuesday morning press conference urging legislators to end the uncertainty and pass this bill into law when they vote Oct. 28.

Additionally, half-page newspaper ads have been slated to run Tuesday in the Concord Monitor and the New Hampshire Union-Leader urging support for the override.

HB 648 passed the House and Senate June 24, but was subsequently vetoed by Gov. John Lynch.  If it becomes law, New Hampshire would become the 14th state to protect seriously ill patients from arrest for using medical marijuana if their doctor recommends it.

WHAT: Press conference urging legislators to pass the medical marijuana bill into law

WHO: Advocates scheduled to participate include: 

Rep. Evalyn Merrick, prime sponsor of HB 648

Barbara Filleul, a cancer survivor from Concord

Dennis Acton, a cancer survivor from Fremont

Former state Sen. Burt Cohen, a survivor of Hepatitis-C

Matt Simon, executive director for the N.H. Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy

WHEN: Tuesday, October 27, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Legislative Office Building lobby, Concord, N.H.

Concord, NH
United States

Medical Marijuana Regulations: We need your input!

Sensible News header

Sensible Colorado - working for an effective drug policy


Medical Marijuana Regulations:  We need your guidance 


Dear Supporters of Sensible Drug Policy,
Interesting news!


Colorado State Senator Chris Romer has requested that Sensible Colorado contact our large database of patients and supporters to request input on a bill he plans to run in 2010-- a statewide bill to Regulate Medical Marijuana Sales.  Senator Romer has told Sensible Colorado that he wants to see our state become a leader in alternative therapies-- including medical marijuana-- for all seriously ill people. 
The Senator wants to hear from you.  Please take advantage of this unique opportunity to help shape the future of medical marijuana in Colorado.  Contact Sen. Romer today with your guidance and comments at:  To assist with this process, we have linked a copy of Sensible Colorado's White Paper titled "Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:  Benefits and Regulation" HERE and have included an email template below.    
--Here is a sample email--
Dear Sen. Romer,
On behalf of Sensible Colorado and the movement for safe access in Colorado, I applaud you for examining the important issue of medical marijuana regulation in our state.  It is vital that Colorado's sick patients have safe and reliable access to this doctor-recommended medicine.  Please keep in mind that medical marijuana dispensaries are utilized by the sickest members of your community, so please act to preserve these facilities.  Here are some ideas for sensible regulation:
-- Arbitrary caps on the number of dispensaries can be counterproductive.  Policymakers do not need to set arbitrary limitations on the number of dispensaries allowed to operate within a community because, as with other services, competitive market forces will be decisive. 
--Regulations are best handled by Health and Planning Departments, not law enforcement.  Let's leave medical issues to health professionals.  Law enforcement agencies, having little expertise in health and medical affairs, are ill-suited for handling such matters.
--Restrictions on the locations of dispensaries are often unnecessary and can create barriers to access.  Certainly we don't want dispensaries-- or liquor stores for that matter-- next to schools.  However, patients benefit from dispensaries being convenient and accessible, especially if the patients are disabled. 
--Patients benefit from onsite consumption and proper ventilation systems.  Dispensaries that allow patients to consume medicine onsite encourage members to take advantage of non-marijuana, therapy services and allow for greater social interaction, which can have positive psychosocial health benefits for this chronically ill population.  

Thanks for your time and for the opportunity to comment on this important topic.

Sensible Colorado | PO Box 18768 | Denver CO 80218

United States

Our Side: San Diego ASA Protests State Narcs Lobby Awards

San Diego's ASA chapter protested outside the California Narcotics Officers Association awards ceremony this week. As well they should -- CNOA is a statewide drug police union that has a nasty habit of publishing some of the most warped propaganda about the drug war I've seen. Larger copies of the protest photos, and more of them, online here.
San Diego, CA
United States

Nice Article on Wisconsin's Medical Marijuana Bill and the Movement Supporting It

The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, a bill named after a well-known Wisconsin medical marijuana patient and activist, was mentioned here last week. Check out another article about from two days ago in the Express Milwaukee newspaper, Medical Marijuana Advocates Won't Wait. Good article -- and good title, why should they have to wait?
United States

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