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Medical Marijuana: Michigan Petition Signatures Approved, Measure Headed for November Ballot Unless Legislature Approves It First

The Michigan Board of Canvassers Monday officially certified that the Michigan Compassionate Care Coalition had handed in enough valid signatures for its medical marijuana initiative to be transmitted to the state legislature. Under Michigan law, the legislature has 45 days to approve the measure. If it fails to act, the measure goes to the voters in November.

Organizers handed in 496,000 signatures, nearly two hundred thousand more than needed for the initiative to qualify. The Board of Canvassers found that 80% of the signatures were valid, leaving the measure qualified by a comfortable margin.

The initiative is almost certain to be on the November ballot, given the Michigan legislature's history of inaction on the issue. The legislature has considered several medical marijuana bills in recent years, but none of them have gained traction despite broad approval for medical marijuana in the state.

The initiative would:

  • Allow terminally and seriously ill patients who find relief from marijuana to use it with their doctors' approval.
  • Protect these seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for the simple act of taking their doctor-recommended medicine.
  • Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana for their medical use, with limits on the amount they could possess.
  • Create registry identification cards, so that law enforcement officials could easily tell who was a registered patient, and establish penalties for false statements and fraudulent ID cards.
  • Allow patients and their caregivers who are arrested to discuss their medical use in court.

Twelve states currently have working medical marijuana laws, but they are clustered in the Northeast, Intermountain West, and Pacific Coast. If there are no victories in neighboring state legislatures this year, Michigan could become the first Midwest state to approve medical marijuana.

Pregnancy: Arizona Bill to Force Meth-Using Mothers-To-Be Into Treatment Passes Committee

The Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee Monday approved a bill that would allow the state to detain pregnant women who use methamphetamine and hold them involuntarily in drug treatment programs. The bill also creates the crime of child abuse against a fetus. With a 4-3 "do pass" vote in the committee, the measure now heads for the Senate floor.

The bill, SB1500, is sponsored by Sen. Pamela Gorman (R-Anthem). In committee, Gorman said she is not normally a proponent of government interference in the private lives of citizens. "But I do think that the state has some very specific roles," she said. "And one of them is to protect people from harm from other people."

Under the bill, if state Child Protective Service workers know or have reasonable grounds to believe a pregnant woman is using meth and is not voluntarily seeking treatment, they must seek a court order requiring her to cooperate in a treatment program. If the woman refuses to cooperate, the bill would allow CPS to ask a judge to have sheriff's deputies pick up the woman and take her to a treatment facility. As the bill itself puts it:

"Allows a CPS worker to petition the court for an emergency custody order directing a sheriff or law enforcement officer to take the expectant mother into custody and transport the expectant mother to an institution or facility specified in the order, if either of the following applies:

a) the expectant mother refuses to comply with an issued order to cooperate.

b) the CPS worker reasonably believes that the expectant mother has previously failed or refused to comply with an appropriate prescribed course of treatment or monitoring and believes that emergency custody is necessary to protect the unborn child."

Such an unprecedented intervention is necessary given the "highly addictive" nature of meth, Gorman said. Even women highly motivated to stay clean could backslide, she warned. "I would propose that a child can't wait for a year for backsliding off good intentions to be released from being forced-fed methamphetamines by the mother," Gorman said.

Meth-using pregnant women had no advocates at the committee hearing. The three committee members who voted against the measure did so not out of concern for the well-being of those women, but out of fear that Gorman's measure could be a stalking horse for cracking down on abortion in the state. The portion of the bill that creates the crime of child abuse against a fetus could be used to halt abortions, they warned.

Sentencing: Vermont Bill Lowering Thresholds for Trafficking Charges Advances

A bill that would decrease the amount of drugs like cocaine or heroin necessary for people to be charged as presumptive drug traffickers was unanimously approved by the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday. The vote came two weeks after the same committee voted to lower the criminal penalties for people possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The bill, S-250, would reduce the amount of cocaine necessary to support a trafficking charge from 300 grams to 150 grams and the amount of heroin from seven grams to 3.5 grams. The amounts of the drugs needed to support conspiracy charges would also be halved, from 800 to 400 grams of cocaine and from 20 to 10 grams of heroin. People charged as traffickers would face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Sen. Richard Sears (D-Bennington), the chairman of the committee, said the bill is aimed at stopping the inflow of hard drugs into Vermont from larger, out-of-state cities in Massachusetts, New York and Canada. He cited violence around the drug trade and reports of drug dealers hooking young women on drugs and forcing them into prostitution.

"The violence we've seen, from the problems in Rutland to the recent slashing in Bennington, reinforces the need for the justice system to have more tools," Sears said. "We are sending a message that we won't have this happening in our communities," Said Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland), the bill's sponsor. Anyone possessing the quantities of drugs listed in the bill is probably a dope dealer, he said. "With the amounts that are outlined here, we are still talking about a big business," he explained.

The bill has the strong support of Vermont's drug abuse bureaucracy and law enforcement, and will probably pass. No word yet on what the long-term costs of imprisoning violators for decades will be.

Opponents of Marijuana Reform Constantly Contradict Themselves

This article on a marijuana decriminalization effort in New Hampshire provides a useful case study in the utter confusion and desperation of the anti-pot peanut gallery:
…Exeter Police Chief Richard Kane, among others, is adamantly opposed. "If we reduce the penalty for small amounts of marijuana, it will eventually lead to legalization and I think that's heading in the wrong direction," he said last week.

Nashua Police Chief Donald Conley also said it would be a mistake to take the sting out of the law. [Boston Globe]
So the Police Chief begins by arguing that we must go around stinging people for possessing pot. But when reform advocates argue that too many young lives are being derailed by harsh punishments for petty offenses, Conley completely changes his tune:
But Conley said it is rare for first-time offenders to get jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"As far as someone getting arrested and their lives being ruined, I don't think that's the case," he said. "Employers are more forgiving in this day and age, and police prosecutors frequently reduce marijuana cases down to violations…"
Wait, so should we be stinging people or not? He begins by defending aggressive sanctions and ends by claiming the sanctions aren't aggressive. The contradiction is transparent and embarrassing.

It is, in fact, not at all uncommon to hear defenders of harsh marijuana laws speak approvingly of the fact that most offenders avoid jail time. Thus, it is not necessarily the practice of ruining lives for marijuana which they crave, but rather the discretion to do so should the urge happen to arise. Meanwhile, millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans are branded as criminals so that people like Chief Conley can live out their authoritarian fantasies.
United States

Press Release: State Bill Protects Employment Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] For Immediate Release: February 21, 2008 Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes (510) 681-6361 or ASA Chief of Staff Rebecca Saltzman (510) 251-1856 x308 State Bill Introduced Yesterday Protects Employment Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients AB 2279 would reverse the State Supreme Court in Ross v. Raging Wire Sacramento, CA -- Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and several co-authors introduced a bill yesterday that would protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in California from employment discrimination. The bill leaves intact existing state law prohibiting medical marijuana consumption at the workplace and protects employers from liability by carving out an exception for safety-sensitive positions. The employment rights bill, which is being co-authored by Assemblymembers Patty Berg (D-Eureka), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego), is in response to a January decision by the California Supreme Court in Ross v. RagingWire. National medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) argued the case before the court and is now a sponsor of the bill. "The California Supreme Court decision said that an employer may fire someone solely because they use medical marijuana outside the workplace," said Assemblymember Leno. "Long ago, the legislature prohibited patient use of medical cannabis in the workplace or during working hours," continued Leno. "AB 2279 is merely an affirmation of the intent of the voters and the legislature that medical marijuana patents need not be unemployed to benefit from their medicine." On January 24, in a 5-2 decision, the California Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling that denied qualified patients a remedy from employment discrimination, based either on their status as a patient or a positive test for marijuana. The plaintiff in the case, Gary Ross, is a 46-year old disabled veteran who was a systems engineer living Carmichael, California, when he was fired from his job in 2001 at RagingWire Telecommunications for testing positive for marijuana. "It's important that we not allow wholesale employment discrimination in California," said former plaintiff Gary Ross. "If the court is going to ignore the need for protection, then it's up to the legislature to ensure that productive workers like me are free from discrimination." The decision in Ross v. RagingWire closed the door on redress through the courts, shifting the debate to the state legislature. California is not alone in its attempt to affirm employment protections for medical marijuana patients. Both Oregon and Hawaii have introduced similar legislation aimed at clarifying the intent of the state legislatures. This recent multi-state effort builds on existing legislation adopted in ten out of twelve medical marijuana states, including California, which already sought to protect patients from employment discrimination. "We welcome and strongly endorse this clarification from the legislature," said ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes. "Despite the ill-conceived ruling by the California Supreme Court, the intent of state legislatures has been to recognize the civil rights of patients and to offer them reasonable protections." Before the court made its final decision, Ross enjoyed the support of ten state and national medical organizations, all of the original co-authors of the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420), and disability rights groups. Since it began recording instances of employment discrimination in 2005, ASA has received hundreds of such reports from all across California. Employers that have either fired patients from their job, threatened them with termination, or denied them employment because of patient status or because of a positive test for marijuana, include Costco Wholesale, UPS, Foster Farms Dairy, DirecTV, the San Joaquin Courier, Power Auto Group, as well as several construction companies, hospitals, and various trade union employers. Further information: Employment rights legislation introduced yesterday: California Supreme Court decision in Ross v. RagingWire: Review legal briefs and more about the Ross v. RagingWire case here: # # #
United States

Urge Your Legislator to Oppose DEA Medical Marijuana Raids -- Support SJR 20

[Courtesy of CA NORML] CAL: URGE YOUR LEGISLATOR TO OPPOSE DEA MEDICAL MARIJUANA RAIDS - SUPPORT SJR 20 See: California Senate Asks Feds to Cease Harassing Law Abiding Dispensaries! Urge Your Senator to Vote YES on SJR 20! NORML is pleased to announce that SJR 20, a resolution stating the Senate's opposition to the federal government's crackdown on local medical cannabis providers, has been introduced in the California State Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Health. This resolution would reinforce the Senate's opposition to the Drug Enforcement Administration's raids on medical marijuana facilities that pay sales tax and comply with California law. If passed, the California State Senate will forward copies of this resolution to the President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House, and all California representatives and senators, urging them to respect California law. Please take a moment and write your state senator today asking him or her to support SJR 20. If your senator sits on the Senate Committee on Health, then it is even more imperative that he or she hears from you. For your convenience, a prewritten letter will be sent to your state senator when you enter your zip code below. Click on: -- California NORML, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114 -(415) 563- 5858 -,
United States

Stop Filling Prisons, California -- Advocates to Take Sentencing Reform Case to Voters

California's prison system is in crisis. With some 172,000 inmates, the state's prison system is second only to the federal system in size, and its budget has ballooned by 79% in the last five years to nearly $8 billion annually. Still, the system is vastly overcrowded and faces two federal class-action suits seeking to cap inmate populations because overcrowding is resulting in the state not delivering constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care.
overcrowding at Mule Creek State Prison (from
In December, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was considering a plan to release some 22,000 nonviolent inmates early in response to the festering crisis. But that one-shot approach would not deal with the systemic problems and policies that created the prison crisis in the first place.

Now, after years of inaction in Sacramento in the face of the crisis, a well-funded initiative campaign that would result in a seismic shift in California sentencing and prison policies, especially when it comes to drug offenders and those whose offenses are related to their problematic drug use, has gotten underway. Dubbed the Non-Violent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA), the initiative would dramatically expand the treatment and diversion options made available under a previous reform initiative, Proposition 36, as well as reform parole and probation programs, and make simple marijuana possession an infraction instead of a misdemeanor.

About 35,000 California inmates, or about 20% of the prison population, are doing time for drug offenses. An unknown number, certainly in the thousands and possibly in the tens of thousands, are doing time for offenses related to their drug use. It is these offenders and their future brethren at whom the NORA initiative is aimed.

Sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance Network, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance and the Santa Monica-based Campaign for New Drug Policies, the people who engineered the successful Prop. 36 campaign, the NORA initiative would:

  • Create a multi-track diversion program for adult offenders. Track I provides for treatment for nonviolent drug possession offenders with a plea held in abeyance during treatment. For those who wash out of Track I, Track II provides Prop 36-style treatment after conviction, with graduated sanctions for probation violations, including eventual jail time. Track III is an expansion of existing drug court programs, with stronger sanctions than the other tracks. Judges would have the discretion to use Track III not only for drug offenders, but for any non-violent offenders whose crimes are linked to their drug use. Track III would be mandatory for those identified as "high-cost offenders" (five arrests in the past 30 months). The initiative would fund the diversion and treatment program at $385 million per year.
  • Create drug treatment programs for youth. NORA would invest about $65 million a year to build a prevention and treatment program for young people where none currently exists.
  • Require California prisons to provide rehabilitation programs to all exiting inmates at least 90 days before release and for up to a year after release at state expense.
  • Allow nonviolent prisoners to earn sentence reductions with good behavior and by participating in rehabilitation programs.
  • Cut parole periods for qualifying nonviolent offenders to between six and 12 months, instead of the current up to three years. Early discharge from parole could be gained with completion of a rehabilitation program.
  • Make simple marijuana possession an infraction (ticketing offense) instead of a misdemeanor.

Not only would NORA mean freedom for thousands of nonviolent drug and drug-related offenders, it would also save California billions of dollars. Prop. 36 is estimated to have saved at least $1.3 billion in five years by diverting offenders to treatment, and the California Legislative Analyst's Office projects that NORA could generate a billion dollars a year in savings for the prison system, as well as obviating the need for a one-time prison-building outlay of $2.5 billion.

Paid canvassers for NORA are already hitting the streets in California. They have until April 21 to gather some 435,000 valid signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. NORA will make that goal, organizers vowed.

"We've just announced this to our members and started gathering signatures," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli of the Southern California office of the Drug Policy Alliance Network. "We're very excited. It looks like the largest sentencing and prison reform in American history will be on the November ballot."

"This is Prop 36 on steroids," said Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML. "If it passes, this will lead to a comprehensive rewrite of all of California's laws regarding sentencing, probation, and parole for nonviolent, drug-related offenses. And this is a professional campaign. The measure will be on the ballot in November," he flatly predicted.

"Prop. 36 has been such a success, it has been extensively studied and proven, but the biggest problem is that it isn't big enough," said Dooley-Sammuli. "Combined with the difficulty of getting any prison reform through and of even obtaining adequate funding for existing reforms because of the impasse in Sacramento -- we've seen so many prison reforms die there -- we thought we really needed to put this on the ballot for stable funding, more treatment, and more diversion," she said.

"But NORA is not just about expanding Prop. 36," Dooley-Sammuli was quick to point out. "This is primarily a prison and sentencing reform effort. It brings common sense solutions to the problem of over-incarceration in California, especially the over-incarceration of nonviolent offenders in this state."

"The state has been incredibly reluctant and negligent in addressing the whole problem of nonviolent prisoners," said Gieringer. "Every effort to extricate drug offenders from the prison system has been seen as a political hot potato and has gone nowhere. Sentencing reform is political poison in Sacramento, yet we have this simmering prison crisis here in California."

If the politicians refuse to act, said Gieringer, it is time to take the issue directly to the voters. "This initiative is very justified because of the negligence of California's political class in not dealing with these issues," he said. "In fact, it is overdue, and now we the people have to try to come to grips with the failure of our political leaders to act. And I think we have the public on our side. The polling on this has been very favorable. Most people think nonviolent drug offenses should be handled with treatment, not prison."

"We have federal judges considering whether to take over the entire state prison system," said Dooley-Sammuli. "We don't have solutions coming out of Sacramento. We have very real budget problems that mean we can't afford to keep spending what we are on incarceration. NORA reallocates state spending from incarceration to treatment and rehabilitation, so we will end up with substantial savings over time," she predicted.

Gov. Schwarzenegger's move to release some prisoners early is necessary, but not sufficient, said Dooley-Sammuli. What is needed is not one-shot fixes, but systemic reforms, she said. "NORA is not a one-time opening of the jailhouse gates," said Dooley-Sammuli, "This is about systemic change in our sentencing and parole practices. This is not radical; it's common sense. This is not soft on crime; this is smart on crime. NORA will allow us to get past the politicking and get some solutions."

At this point early in the campaign season, there is no organized opposition, but that is almost certain to change. Too many powerful groups, from prosecutors to prison guards, benefit from the status quo, and fear-mongering on crime issues is a perennial favorite among politicians.

"The question is whether there will be any well-funded political opposition," said Gieringer. "Then there might be a real fight. But we haven't seen an opposition committee form yet. That's the real question mark."

NORA organizers have done their best to blunt opposition at the early stages by bringing potential opponents into the process, said Dooley-Sammuli. "We made many, many efforts to make this a collaborative process by reaching out to a wide variety of stakeholders. This has been a broad effort to bring in as many perspectives and sets of expertise as possible, and we've tried to make friends instead of foes," she said.

Coerced drug treatment is not the best of all possible worlds. But it's difficult to argue that drug law violators are better off in prison than in treatment. The NORA initiative will give California voters a chance to take a giant step in sentencing and prison reform and a small step toward true justice for drug users.

Marijuana: New Hampshire Decriminalization Bill Hits Bump

A New Hampshire bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana hit a bump Tuesday when the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee gave it a thumbs down. But despite the committee vote, the bill is not dead and will be the subject of an expected roll-call vote on the House floor.

The move was especially disappointing coming after a subcommittee of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved it on a 3-1 vote last week. But even that vote had resulted in a scaling back of the original proposal. Instead of the original one ounce cut-off point, the subcommittee voted to make it one-fourth of an ounce.

HB 1623 would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana from a Class A misdemeanor with possible jail time to a violation punishable by a maximum fine of $200. Sponsored by Reps. Jeffrey Fontas (D-Nashua), Andrew Edwards (D-Nashua), and Charles Weed (D-Keene), the bill has garnered strong public support, but also loud law enforcement opposition.

While proponents were disappointed with the committee's decision not to recommend the bill for further action, they expect a lively floor debate. "We're looking forward to taking the conversation to the floor of the House," Fontas said following the session.

"It's clear that legislators are becoming increasingly concerned about the unintended consequences of marijuana prohibition," explained Matt Simon, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project-affiliated group that is leading the campaign. "Based on this vote, it seems discussing sensible marijuana policy still makes some people uncomfortable. But people sure are talking, and they're realizing the consequences of penalties that far exceed the offense they're supposed to correct."

Eleven states have decriminalized marijuana possession, including New Hampshire neighbors Maine and New York. The Vermont Senate passed a similar measure last week.

Sentencing: Faced With Swollen Prisons, Idaho Ponders Reforms

With nearly 7,500 people behind bars in Idaho -- more than half of them for drug offenses -- the Idaho legislature is finally beginning to move away from the "tough on crime" posturing and infliction of mandatory minimum drug dealing sentences that helped create the current crisis. A bill with bipartisan support that would give Idaho judges the option to send people convicted of drug distribution offenses to treatment instead of mandatory prison terms if they are found to be addicts is on the move in Boise.

House Bill 516, sponsored by three Republicans and one Democrat, is in line for a full hearing at the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee this session. The bill would mark a departure for Idaho, which for years has responded to illegal drug use and sales by ratcheting up penalties.

But even the bill's sponsors are still playing to the punishment choir, if the Associated Press got it right. Rep. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise), a cosponsor of the bill, told the committee Monday most people convicted of drug distribution offenses deserved harsh sentences. But, she said, those involved in small-time dealing because of their addictions should get a chance at treatment instead. "For these rare instances, this will allow for an alternative sentence by judges," she said. "If treatment is provided, that provides the best chance of recovering."

Under current Idaho law, most drug dealing convictions require mandatory minimum sentences of three to five years. Some methamphetamine and meth precursor offenses carry 10-year mandatory minimums, though.

The bill "ain't a bad idea," Rep. Dick Harwood (R-St. Maries) told the AP. "Our prisons are pumped full. It would be nice to give judges discretion about whether to send somebody to prison or to some other treatment program. In reality, they're the ones that are sitting on the front lines, not the legislators who are making the laws."

There is also a another bill aimed at sentencing reform in Idaho. Rep. Jim Clark (R-Hayden) has introduced a bill that would expand misdemeanor drug courts. It is aimed at stopping minor offenders from developing full-blown substance abuse problems. If these bills are truly harbingers of a new approach in the Gem State, it's about time.

Opiate Maintenance: Open Season on Methadone Clinics and Clients in the Indiana Legislature

Indiana's methadone clinics and their clients are the target of close scrutiny by the state House of Representatives. Last month, the state Senate passed a bill, SB 174, that would tighten state regulation of the clinics, where people attempting to wean themselves from dependence on opiates are administered or allowed to take home doses of methadone as a substitute opioid.

The Senate bill may represent reasonable regulation of an industry in which some 10,000 people participate in Indiana, but it's a different story in the House. While the bill as passed in the Senate restricted itself to requiring clinics to adhere to state and federal law, register with the state, and meet certain record-keeping requirements, the House is trying to micro-manage not so much the clinics, but their clients.

On Tuesday, the House Health Committee unanimously passed SB 157, but not before approving amendments requiring that patients be tested for marijuana and that they have a designated driver after appointments. The committee narrowly defeated another amendment that would have barred patients from bringing their children with them to the clinics.

According to remarks reported in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the sponsor of the designated driver provision, Rep. Steve Stemler (D-Jeffersonville), said he added it because the FDA considers methadone in the same class of drugs as heroin, Oxycontin, and other opioids. Hospitals and medical centers require patients taking these medicines after outpatient surgeries and other procedures have a designated driver.

One witness, John Dattilo, who lives near the Southern Indiana Treatment Center, told the committee he is concerned about the safety of his family as they travel down a road with hundreds of methadone patients each day. "It's all about safety to me," he said. "We need help. We do need to put some restrictions on this."

But Tim Bohman, regional manager for the health care corporation that owns that clinic, told the committee patients have a high tolerance for opioids and can function normally after treatment.

At least one committee member, Rep. Carolene Mays (D-Indianapolis), worried the measure could push patients away from the methadone clinics. "I'm concerned we'll lose people in treatment who are riding a bus or walking or don't have a designated driver," she said.

Marijuana testing of methadone patients is necessary because some neighboring states require it, said Rep. Stemler. Indiana should not be a magnet for addicts from elsewhere because of its loose methadone laws, he said.

Indeed, about half of the 10,000 patients served by the state's clinics come from out-of-state. But perhaps that's not so shocking given the state's geographic position. At its northwest corner is Chicago, to the near northeast is Detroit, to the near southwest is Cincinnati, and directly across the Ohio River to the south is Louisville.

At least the committee rejected one more attempt to micro-manage methadone patients, an amendment by Rep. Terry Goodin (D-Crothersville) that would have banned patients from bringing their children to clinics. It was supported by Clark County Commissioner Michael Moore, who testified that "too many" patients bring their children with them when they come in early in the morning for treatments. Moore, who owns a restaurant near a clinic, said that he often saw them dozing off or acting erratically before or after treatment. "This is the kind of behavior that would make most social-service agencies jump in and act," Moore said.

But Rep. John Day (D-Indianapolis) managed to blunt Goodin's amendment, saying he worried that a single parent might have to miss an appointment if she could not bring her children. "That's a very real dilemma," Day said.

While Goodin then withdrew his amendment, saying it did not have enough support to pass, he said he would offer a similar proposal later.

This isn't the first time opiophobia has reared its head in the Indiana legislature. Last year, the legislature voted to enact a moratorium on new clinics. But this is the first time the legislature has zeroed in on patients -- with measures ostensibly designed to protect the public safety but whose real world result would be to drive patients away from the clinics.

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