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Medical Marijuana: Bill Passes New York Assembly, Senate Must Act By Monday

For the second year in a row, the New York Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill. But the state Senate must act by Monday, when the legislature recesses, or the effort to enact a medical marijuana law in the Empire State will be dead for this year.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), would allow patients to use marijuana for specified life-threatening or debilitating conditions upon their doctors' certification that it is the most effective treatment. Patients and caregivers would register with the state and receive ID cards. They would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants and possess 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, although the bill foresees a state-regulated distribution system upon approval of the federal government.

After the state Senate balked at the last minute last year, supporters of the medical marijuana bill attempted to assuage the worries of foes, some of whom felt that last year's version did not provide adequate regulation. The state-regulated distribution system attempts to address those concerns.

"Every day that goes by without this sensible, compassionate law is a day in which our most vulnerable citizens must choose between suffering debilitating pain or risking arrest in order to find relief," said bill sponsor and Assembly Health Committee Chair Gottfried in a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the bill. "These patients don't have the luxury of waiting another year for their elected representatives to act -- they need the Senate to stand up for them now."

No word yet on what the Senate Republicans will do. Last year, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said he supported medical marijuana, but changed his mind at the last minute. This year one of his staffers delivered a statement for Bruno at an event organized by the Marijuana Policy Project to support the New York state lobbying effort to pass the bill, so maybe this will be the year.

Press Release: New York Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 18, 2008

New York Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill Bill Sponsor, Patients Urge Senate to Pass Bill Before June 23 Recess

CONTACT: Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747 ex. 115

ALBANY, NEW YORK — The New York Assembly passed a bill today that would protect New Yorkers with life threatening or debilitating conditions from arrest for using medical marijuana when their doctors believe it would be the best treatment option, 79-48.

The bill is similar to the medical marijuana bill the Assembly passed last year. The version passed today was modified to address concerns voiced by members of the Senate, who have until June 23 to pass the bill before the legislature recesses.

"Every day that goes by without this sensible, compassionate law is a day in which our most vulnerable citizens must choose between suffering debilitating pain or risking arrest in order to find relief," said bill sponsor and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. "These patients don't have the luxury of waiting another year for their elected representatives to act – they need the Senate to stand up for them now."

Dr. Kevin Smith, a Saugerties psychiatrist who has been recognized by the state legislature for his work with police forensics, said the bill would change the lives of people like him who have no better pain relief options.

"Unless you or a loved one has experienced it, it's difficult to understand the frustration and helplessness that comes from knowing that relief is readily available but forbidden by law," said Smith, who suffers from a painful genetic defect that causes his immune system to attack his spine and hips as though they were foreign bodies; the debilitating pain forced him to quit practicing medicine. "Medical marijuana can give me my life back, but right now I am barred by law from using it. This is crazy."

Glenn Amandola, a medically retired New York City police officer from Northport who suffers from chronic pain and a seizure disorder after being injured on the job in 1987, said it makes no sense for the law to prevent him from using medical marijuana when his doctor says it could help.

"As an officer with the New York City Police Department, I swore to uphold state law, and I'll never break that oath," he said. "The flip side to that, however, is that our lawmakers owe it to people like me who live in constant pain to make sure the law doesn't penalize us for seeking relief. I should have the right to decide for myself – with my doctor – what my best treatment options are."

With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 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 www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####
Location: 
Albany, NY
United States

Feature: Mendocino Marijuana Battle Waits for Election Results, Restrictive Initiative Draws Strong Opposition

Eight years ago, voters in Northern California's Mendocino County passed the groundbreaking Measure G, which allowed people to grow up to 25 marijuana plants for medical or personal use and directed local law enforcement authorities to make marijuana offenses their lowest enforcement priority. Since then, the already well-established Mendocino cultivation community has exploded, and with the size of the crop estimated to be somewhere between $500 million and $1.6 billion a year, marijuana is now the backbone of the local economy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/marijuana-harvest.jpg
outdoor marijuana harvest in California (from NDIC via usdoj.gov)
But with the boom have come problems, and now the backlash. Some of it is purely ingrained cultural opposition to marijuana, but other Mendocino residents have complained of environmental damage from commercial grows, diversion of water supplies, trash in the forests, neighboring backyards with valuable crops that attract thieves and armed robbers, the smell of growing marijuana wafting into schools and homes, and the disturbing of rural tranquility by pot-enriched ne'er-do-wells roaring around back roads in their high-dollar SUVs.

Last week, Mendocino residents went to the polls to vote on a measure that would undo Measure G and set cultivation limits at six plants, as mandated by state law. (That portion of the law was recently declared unconstitutional by a state appeals court; see our coverage here.) Known as Measure B, the initiative had the support of most of the county Board of Supervisors and the rest of the political establishment and prominent local media, and polling suggested it would easily pass.

But despite media reports on election night that the measure had passed by a margin of 52% to 48%, the election is by no means over. Nearly 11,000 hand-delivered absentee ballots, or about 38% of the total vote, have not yet been counted. The county has until the end of the month to count them and certify the election, although the final results could be announced any day.

Opponents of Measure B think that they will prevail when all the votes are counted. Supporters of Measure B say the same.

"The margin right now is only 710 votes, and we think we will win in the end," said Laura Hamburg, spokesperson for the insurgent movement to defeat the initiative known as the No on Measure B Coalition.

"One reason for optimism is that those last minute ballots are coming from people who were very concerned about making sure the registrar got their votes, and we have been stirring those people to get out and vote. The second reason is geography. The county seat of Ukiah is more conservative, but the outlying areas of the county have been much more liberal and sympathetic to mom and pop personal and medical use. These rural areas are where the hand-delivered absentee ballots are coming from."

"There are a lot of conservative voters who take voting seriously and don't trust the Post Office and want to hand deliver their votes," argued Ross Liberty, spokesman for Yes on Mendocino County Measure B Coalition. "And our strongest district is District 1, which is where most of the uncounted votes are coming from. This is still doable," he said, while conceding that some of his allies consider his prediction of a 60%-40% win "overly optimistic." Still, said Liberty, his team all agrees they are odds on favorites to win.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dalegieringer.jpg
Dale Gieringer (courtesy pot-tv.net)
"No matter what the final outcome, this is a moral victory for us," said Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML, which opposes Measure B. "We were opposed by the board of supervisors, city councils, the sheriff, the DA, the monied civic groups, and the leading local media. We had the deck stacked against us, we were supposed to lose, but this has turned into a really close contest," he said.

Liberty said he was not opposed to medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana use, but that the situation in Mendocino County was intolerable. "I'm a libertarian," he said. "I would think I'd died and gone to heaven if federal marijuana prohibition were lifted, but I don't want Mendocino to be the only place doing it. These people aren't growing despite it being illegal, but because it's illegal. They're growing and dealing because its illegal and has a federal price support program."

Liberty said he was not personally impacted by marijuana growing -- although he complained about "the trained helplessness that dependence on federal marijuana prohibition brings to our community" -- but that other supporters of repeal were. "People who live near me grow, and it doesn't bother me, but there are quite a few people who can't stand the smell of it -- it really reeks in the summer -- and it can make their lives miserable," he said.

"It's also dangerous because it's worth so much money," Liberty continued. "One lady I know, within a hundred yards of her house, there's collectively a million-dollar marijuana crop in her neighbors' back yards. You have people with guns going through yards just following their noses looking for marijuana to steal. How do you let you kids out to play when that's going on?"

Liberty mentioned yet another problem, too. "I've had people grow on my property without my permission," he said. "It's not medical marijuana, it's just dope growers and outlaws." But, Liberty said, that incident predated Prop. 215.

Measure B doesn't address the real problems created by commercial growing, said opponents. "This initiative isn't aimed at the problems created by the large commercial grows -- the growing on public land, the environmental damage -- but at the people growing fewer than 25 plants," said Gieringer. "They're cracking down on the small growers, not the commercial growers. With even our opponents conceding it shouldn't be illegal, we should be about dealing with the problems associated with those big grows, and Measure B doesn't do that," he said.

"We've seen an increase in criminal profiteering with commercial grows and growing on federal land, so there was a backlash from that," Hamburg acknowledged. "People started feeling like the energy was different, they saw all this profiteering. We're in our fourth decade of marijuana farming here, and we do it well, it is one of the glues that holds this county together, but there had never been any public venting of tensions about these changes," she said. "People wanted to DO SOMETHING, and many of them initially supported Measure B, but that has been changing as they really think about what it means," she said.

"This measure targets the wrong people," argued Hamburg. "If you want to address marijuana, why turn on the community? Why don't we see instead how we can thwart those big commercial grows? Mom and pop growers are community-minded people; if they are compensated by the dispensaries, they report their income. They're proud of being organic gardeners. We think we should put resources and energy into fighting crime, not backyard grows, and that's what's been happening."

Indeed, with the election of a new sheriff and district attorney in late 2006, marijuana law enforcement has come down harder, and asset forfeiture numbers are rising through the roof -- up from $100,000 in 2005 to $1.6 million last year -- but it's not the illegal large national forest grows being targeted, said Hamburg.

"When the sheriff goes after those big commercial grows, all they typically find is some guys living in tents in the woods -- there are no assets to seize," she noted. "We're very concerned that they are targeting smaller growers. Don't turn on law-abiding citizens who are part of the fabric of this community," she pleaded. "Don't turn us into criminals. We don't want to be felons for growing one plant for personal use or seven for medical."

It wouldn't just be mass criminalization that Mendocino would have to worry about if Measure B passes, it could be economic recession. Marijuana is by far the most important economic activity in the county, and Liberty freely admits that victory could lead to hard times, or, as he put it, "a period of adjustment."

"To the extent that we move the needle, we will have to adjust from an economy dependent on federal prohibition to one that is driven by the free market," he said. "Now, you don't see regular jobs coexisting with this marijuana economy. Basic industry jobs that must be globally competitive cannot compete with the wages driven by the price support program we know as federal prohibition."

Whatever the final election result, the Mendocino marijuana wars are far from over. And proponents of a more open system of regulated growth and sales are feeling emboldened. "After we came back in this campaign, we have a lot of bargaining strength," said Gieringer. "We expect to make some really forward-looking proposals for regulating the industry in Mendocino and moving closer to a legally regulated market that makes money for the county and keeps the criminals and fringe element at bay."

Stay tuned.

Medical Marijuana: Oregon Appeals Court Protects Workers

Oregon employers must make a reasonable accommodation for workers who use medical marijuana for a disability, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in an opinion released Wednesday. The ruling upheld an earlier ruling by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries that found that state laws barring discrimination protected medical marijuana users from being fired because of their choice of medications.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/medmj-bag.jpg
medical marijuana bags (picture courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
The decision came in the case of Emerald Steel Fabricators, Inc., in which an employee was terminated after admitting he had a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana. A key factor in the court's decision was the fact that the employee did not use marijuana at work. In a 2006 ruling, the state Supreme Court upheld the firing of a worker after he tested positive for marijuana, but in that case, the high court avoided the issue of non-workplace use of medical marijuana.

The voter-approved 1998 Oregon Medical Marijuana Act was unclear on whether employees must accommodate workers who use medical marijuana away from the workplace. In the present case, the Oregon Court of Appeals emphasized that the Emerald Steel employee did not use marijuana at work.

The appeals court also rejected several arguments by Emerald Steel, including the claim that employees could be affected on the job by off-hours medical marijuana use and the claim that marijuana use violates federal law even if it is legal under state law. Emerald Steel had not raised those issues during earlier proceedings. "Accordingly, we will not consider those issues for the first time on review," wrote Judge Timothy Sercombe in the opinion.

Legislators and some employer lobbies in Oregon have been trying for the past several years to impose restrictions on medical marijuana use and for laws that would allow employers to fire workers who use medical marijuana. But so far, those efforts have gone nowhere. Now, the Oregon Court of Appeals has dealt another blow to those efforts.

Marijuana Policy Project: Watch / listen to our ads in New York and Rhode Island

Dear friends:

Yesterday, MPP began airing this TV ad in New York State, urging concerned citizens to ask their state senators to make New York the 13th medical marijuana state.

The ad features Burton Aldrich, a quadriplegic father of five who relies on medical marijuana to control the excruciating pain and violent spasms related to his condition. In the ad, Aldrich says, "I don't know if I would be around if it wasn't for marijuana. It shouldn't be a crime to treat pain and suffering.”

The New York Assembly passed MPP's bill last June with a 95-52 vote, and now we need the state Senate to act before it adjourns on June 23. You can read media coverage of our campaign here.

As you may know, MPP is 100% dependent on financial help from supporters like you to keep this ad on the air over the next few weeks. If you support MPP's aggressive and effective campaigns to pass medical marijuana laws, would you please help today?

And last week, MPP began airing this radio ad in Rhode Island. You can listen here as medical marijuana patient George Des Roches asks, "Have you ever had a gun held at you to buy your medicine? I have, seven times." You can also see the Providence Journal's coverage of the ad here.

MPP passed a law protecting Rhode Island medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail in 2006. However, because some patients are unable to grow their own marijuana or to find a caregiver who can, they must risk buying marijuana on the criminal market. At least three, including George, have either had guns held at them or been mugged while trying to obtain medical marijuana on the streets.

The radio ad urges Rhode Islanders to pressure the Rhode Island House to pass legislation to allow three nonprofit organizations to dispense medical marijuana to registered patients. The Senate passed such legislation by a 29-6 vote on May 15 but — so far — the House has yet to take action.

The bill is supported by the state medical and nurses associations, as well as the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Rhode Island chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Rhode Island Office of the Public Defender, and — according to MPP's new poll — 69% of Rhode Island voters.

We're only able to press forward with ads like these with the financial support of our e-mail subscribers and other dues-paying members. Would you please help us keep these ads on the air by making a donation today?

Thank you,
Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

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 $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Ruling clouds Mendocino pot measure

Location: 
Ukiah, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Press Democrat (CA)
URL: 
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080530/NEWS/805300345/0/FRONTPAGE

Press Release -- Breaking News: Vermont Hemp Bill Becomes law

[Courtesy of Vote Hemp] FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2008 CONTACT: Adam Eidinger, t: 202-744-2671, e: adam@votehemp.com or Tom Murphy, t: 207-542-4998, e: tom@votehemp.com Hemp for Vermont Bill Becomes Law State Wants Federal Permission for Farmers to Grow Hemp MONTPELIER, Vermont – Vote Hemp, a grassroots advocacy organization working to give farmers the right to grow non-drug industrial hemp, is extremely pleased that Vermont Governor Jim Douglas allowed H.267, the Hemp for Vermont Bill, to become law without his signature yesterday afternoon. The bill overwhelmingly passed both the House (126 to 9) and the Senate (25 to 1). The new law sets up a state-regulated program for farmers to grow non-drug industrial hemp, which is used in a wide variety of products, including nutritious foods, cosmetics, body care, clothing, tree-free paper, auto parts, building materials and much more. Learn more about industrial hemp at: www.VoteHemp.com. Smart and effective grassroots organizing by Vote Hemp and the Vermont-based advocacy group Rural Vermont (www.ruralvermont.org) mobilized farmers and local businesses, many of which pledged to buy their hemp raw materials in-state if they have the opportunity. Rural Vermont’s Director Amy Shollenberger says that “the Hemp for Vermont bill is another step toward legalizing this important crop for farmers. The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't allow this crop to be grown. Looking at the Canadian experience, hemp provides a good return for the farmer. It's a high-yield crop and a great crop to mix in with corn.” Vermont grows an average of 90,000 acres of corn per year, a small amount compared to Midwest states; however, the need for a good rotation crop exists nationwide. From candle makers to dairymen to retailers, Vermont voters strongly support hemp farming. Admittedly a niche market now, hemp is becoming more common in stores and products across the country every day. Over the past ten years, farmers in Canada have grown an average of 16,500 acres of hemp per year, primarily for use in food products. In Vermont, the interest in hemp includes for use in food products, as well as in quality and affordable animal bedding for the state’s estimated 140,000 cows. “Vermont’s federal delegation can now take this law to the U.S. Congress and call for a fix to this problem of farmers missing out on a very useful and profitable crop,” comments Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “North Dakota farmers who want to grow hemp per state law are currently appealing their lawsuit in the federal courts. The real question is whether these hemp-friendly state congressional delegations feel compelled to act,” adds Steenstra. Rural Vermont’s Shollenberger states that “the Vermont law is significant for two reasons. First, no other state until now has followed North Dakota’s lead by creating real-world regulations for farmers to grow industrial hemp. Second, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, as well as a member of the Committee on Agriculture – relevant committees that could consider legislation. We also have a friend at the USDA in new Secretary Ed Schaffer who signed North Dakota’s hemp bill as Governor. I plan to visit Washington, DC and try to figure out what Congress and the Administration intend to do.” # # # Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com and www.HempIndustries.org. BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.
Location: 
Montpelier, VT
United States

Sensible Colorado: The Mayor's Panel and YOU

 

 



GOOD NEWS! The Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel appointed by Mayor John Hickenlooper has officially recommended that the Denver City Attorney's Office STOP prosecuting adults for marijuana possession in Denver!

 

Now we need your help!

 

 

It is critical that we demonstrate the strong sentiment of the public in favor of implementing this recommendation. You can help bring about change in how Colorado's capitol city handles marijuana by taking just one or two minutes to send a message to Denver city officials urging them to support and/or follow this recommendation.

You do NOT need to live in Denver OR Colorado to lend your voice to this effort! Here's how to help:
Step 1: Open a blank e-mail

Step 2: Copy and paste the following address list, subject, and message into your e-mail

Step 3: Hit send!


Address list:
http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=milehighmayor@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=city.attorney@denvergov.org, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=rick.garcia@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=jeanne.faatz@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=paul.lopez@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=peggy.lehmann@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=marcia.johnson@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=charlie.brown@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=chris.nevitt@gmail.com, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=carla.madison@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=judy.montero@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=jeanne.robb@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=michael.hancock@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=carol.boigon@ci.denver.co.us, http://b8.mail.yahoo.com/ym/sensiblecolorado.org/Compose?To=linkhartatlarge@ci.denver.co.us

Subject: Support Mayor's panel recommendation

Message: (Be sure to include your name and address if you reside in Denver)

I am writing to encourage you to support the implementation of the first recommendation of the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel.

The majority of the panel approved the recommendation, which calls for the Denver City Attorney's Office to adopt an official policy to no longer prosecute cases of private adult marijuana possession.

The Marijuana Policy Review Panel was appointed by the mayor to implement the "lowest law enforcement priority" ordinance approved by Denver voters to the greatest extent possible, and this recommendation would bring about the changes the majority of voters wish to see. Denver voters have made it clear they do not think adults 21 and older should be punished simply for possessing a drug less harmful than alcohol, and it is my understanding that the Denver City Attorney's Office is able to refrain from prosecuting in such cases. Thus, I hope you will urge that office to follow the recommendation.

In Missoula, Mont., where a similar "lowest law enforcement priority" initiative was adopted in 2006, the Missoula County Attorney's Office adopted an official policy to uphold the new ordinance and stop prosecuting in cases of simple adult marijuana possession. Seattle and a number of California cities have also adopted "lowest priority" ordinances and experienced a decline in prosecutions for marijuana possession. Like the people in those cities, Denver citizens are ahead of the curve when it comes to reforming marijuana laws and policies, and we too can take a more common-sense approach to marijuana use by adults.

Although marijuana possession is only punishable by a $100-$200 fine in Denver, it is important that you understand the detrimental effect a marijuana arrest can have on an individual. Everyone who pays their citation (and thus pleads guilty) receives a permanent drug conviction on their criminal record; people can lose their jobs, college financial aid, professional licenses, public housing benefits, and more; and those on parole or probation could find themselves in one of our already overcrowded jails or prisons.

For those reasons and more, the voter-approved ordinance was endorsed by the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, the ACLU of Colorado, the National Lawyers Guild Colorado Chapter, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, the Libertarian Party of Colorado, the Green Party of Colorado, ProgressNow Action, and Sensible Colorado, among others.

I hope you will join these organizations, the majority of Denver voters, and me in standing up for a more rational approach to adult marijuana possession in Denver.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing where you stand on the panel's recommendation.

Sensible Colorado | PO Box 18768 | Denver CO 80218
Location: 
Denver, CO
United States

Marijuana: Hawaii County Council Rejects "Green Harvest" Eradication Program

By the narrowest of margins, the Aloha State's Big Island Hawaii County Council has rejected a state and federally funded marijuana eradication program known as "Green Harvest." The action came during a council meeting last week, when the council tied 4-4 on whether to continue to support the widely criticized program. The tie vote meant the motion to accept the funding failed.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/volcano-national-park.jpg
Volcano National Park, Hawaii Island
"Green Harvest" began in Hawaii three decades ago and has been controversial ever since. Many residents opposed the program, saying low-flying helicopters searching for pot fields disrupted rural life and invaded their privacy. Others argued that the program has done little to eradicate marijuana and even promoted the use of other, more dangerous drugs.

By the 1990s, council members heeding public complaints began expressing reservations about the helicopter missions. In 2000, they rejected $265,000 in federal eradication funds, two-thirds of the program's money that year. But the following year, they once again accepted the full amount offered.

But last week's vote means the council will say "no thanks" to $441,000 in state and federal funds for "Green Harvest." It also means the county will save the $53,000 from its own budget that would have been its share of the operation's financial burden.

Last month, the council had narrowly approved "Green Harvest" on a 5-3 vote, but that vote had to be redone because the council failed to publish the legislation in local newspapers, as required by law. That provided the opportunity for Councilman Angel Pilago to change his vote and kill the program.

"This will have long-term impacts," Pilago said. "When we institute programs we, the county government, need to look at if they are detrimental to people's rights and the health and safety of the community. That's what we do," he told the Associated Press after the vote. "It's about home rule," he said. "The county must be assertive and aggressive and not defer certain powers to the state and federal governments. We must not cede those powers."

Pilago is running for mayor of Hawaii County, and his vote on "Green Harvest," as well as his support for a lowest law enforcement priority initiative currently underway there, could help him draw a contrast between himself and incumbent Mayor Harry Kim, who is a "Green Harvest" supporter.

"My position is no secret," Kim told the AP. "I support eradication, as long as it's done in a way that is not harmful to people who should not be harmed, as far as noise and catchment systems and all those concerns. I'm against all drugs. Marijuana is an illegal drug."

Medical Marijuana: California Appeals Court Throws Out Quantity Limits

In a May 22 decision, the California 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles has ruled that state lawmakers unconstitutionally overstepped their bounds by limiting the amount of marijuana patients could possess. California's Compassionate Use Act became law as the result of a 1996 voter initiative, and the legislature cannot amend initiatives, the court held.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/medmj-bag.jpg
California medical marijuana bags (courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
Seeking to regulate medical marijuana in the state, the legislature passed a bill that set limits on the amount of pot patients could possess. That bill set the limit at eight ounces of dried marijuana and six mature or 12 seedling plants.

Prosecutors used that provision of the law to charge medical marijuana patient Patrick Kelly with marijuana possession and sales after they busted him with 12 ounces. Kelley was a registered patient, but did not have a doctor's recommendation that he needed more than the eight ounces envisioned by the legislative action. Prosecutors were wrong to charge Kelly, the court held.

"The CUA does not quantify the marijuana a patient may possess. Rather, the only 'limit' on how much marijuana a person falling under the act may possess is it must be for the patient's 'personal medical purposes,'" Justice Richard Aldrich wrote.

"The legislature... cannot amend an initiative, such as the CUA, unless the initiative grants the legislature authority to do so," Aldrich continued in the 7-2 opinion. "The CUA does not grant the legislature the authority to amend it without voter approval."

The unconstitutional provision was part of a 2004 bill by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) that sought to clarify the state's medical marijuana law. The following year, Vasconcellos got a bill passed that removed the cap language, but it was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who argued that it removed "reasonable and established quantity guidelines."

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