TX NORML open meeting notes, April 6th, 2011
During last month’s meeting we covered these stories:
– Marijuana compounds hold promise in treating cardiovascular diseases
– CBD potency decreasing overall in confiscated marijuana
– AZ lawmaker introduces bill to de-felonize marijuana possession, up to 2 ozs, and make it a $100 fine
– Drug dogs found to be more likely to “false report” when their handler believes contraband is present
– Nearly 60% of Americans in YouGov poll say marijuana should be taxed & regulated like alcohol
– DEA considering reclassifying plant-derived THC
– NYC arrests more than 50,000 for marijuana in 2010
– Medical marijuana laws in Montana & New Mexico were under attack
– Seattle Times, a well known conservative leaning paper, endorsed the legalization of marijuana is a series of editorials, prompting direct response from Drug Czar’s office, including a scheduled meeting
– Texas Legislative Updates, which we will be discussing again tonight
Now for the news from the past month:
Marijuana Inhalation Associated With Spontaneous Tumor Regression, Study Says
Cannabis inhalation is associated with spontaneous brain tumor regression in two subjects, according to a pair of case reports to be published in Child’s Nervous System, the official journal of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery.
Investigators at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver documented the mitigation of residual tumors in two adolescent subjects who regularly inhaled cannabis. Authors determined that both subjects experienced a “clear regression” of their residual brain tumors over a three-year-period.
“Neither patient received any conventional adjuvant treatment” during this time period, investigators wrote. “The tumors regressed over the same period of time that cannabis was consumed via inhalation, raising the possibility that cannabis played a role in tumor regression.”
Separate preclinical studies assessing the anti-cancer activity of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids indicate that the substances can inhibit the proliferation of various types of cancerous cells, including breast carcinoma, prostate carcinoma, and lung cancer.
National Cancer Institute says on website that marijuana could have an “antitumor effect”, but then a week later takes that information off the website.
DEA bans K2 & Spice, putting them in same category as heroin
The chemicals in question are synthetic cannabinoid agonists, which are added to otherwise inert herbal products. Once ingested, they interact with endogenous cannabinoid receptors to elicit certain physical and euphoric responses that are similar to some of the effects of marijuana.
The agency says that the federal ban will remain in effect for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services “further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled.”
Drug Czar meets with Seattle Times Editorial staff after series of pro-marijuana legalization editorials
In an unsigned editorial published on February 18th, the paper’s editors stated: “Marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed. The push to repeal federal prohibition should come from the states, and it should begin with the state of Washington.”
Immediately following the publication of the editorial, the Drug Czar himself, Gil Kerlikowski, contacted the newspaper to request the meeting.
Kentucky Lawmakers pass sweeping decriminalization laws
The bipartisan measure, House Bill 463, provides treatment-instead-of-incarceration options for defendants found guilty of possessing controlled substances.
Specific to marijuana law enforcement, the measure reduces existing penalties regarding the adult possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of up to 45 days in jail. (Under present law, the offense is punishable by up to one-year in jail.) However, barring extenuating circumstances, most minor marijuana offenders will face probation in lieu of incarceration under the provisions of the new law.
Los Angeles voters approve new medical marijuana tax
Some 60 percent of Los Angeles voters decided in favor of Measure M, a citywide ballot measure that imposes new taxes on the sales of medical marijuana at brick-and-mortar dispensaries.
Measure M allows city tax officials to collect 50 dollars out of each $1,000 in “gross reimbursements” that dispensaries receive from their clients.
The advocacy group Americans for Safe Access opposed the measure, arguing that it “threatens to increase the cost of an already expensive treatment for many medical marijuana patients in the city.” California NORML was neutral on Measure M.
Municipal voters have approved similar local tax ordinances in other California cities, including Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose.
Separately, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office released a list of 141 medical marijuana dispensaries that it has warned must shut down immediately or face legal action.
City officials have claimed that they are operating in violation of a newly passed citywide ordinance that aims to cap the total number of dispensaries at no more than a hundred.
Hawaii Senate passes multiple marijuana reform measures
They unanimously approved SB 1460, which reduces the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a civil violation punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
Regarding the medical use of marijuana, the Senate approved SB 1458, which allows for the state licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis-infused therapeutic products. Senators also passed SB 58, which increases the quantity of marijuana that authorized patients may legally possess under state law. Two other related measures, SB 175 and SB 113, also met with Senate approval.
All five measures now go before House lawmakers, where they stalled last year.
Pew Research Poll finds 45% support for marijuana legalization
Support for legalizing the adult use of marijuana has risen from 16 percent approval in 1990 to 45 percent today.
Fifty percent of respondents said that they opposed legalizing marijuana – the lowest level of opposition support ever reported by the poll.
More men than women (48 percent to 42 percent) backed legalization, as did more Democrats (53 percent) than Republicans (30 percent). Younger voters (age 18 to 29) were most likely to say that they support legalizing cannabis (54 percent), while only 30 percent of those age 65 or older supported the position.
The findings are strikingly similar to those reported last fall by Gallup, which found that an all-time high of 46 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and an all-time low of 50 percent oppose the idea.
Rhode Island Health Regulators select applicants to operate state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries
Rhode Island lawmakers in 2009 voted 102 to 3 in favor of allowing the state to license a limited number of medical marijuana facilities, 3 total. The lopsided vote overrode a veto by the former governor, Republican Donald Carcieri.
Approximately 3,300 patients are qualified to use marijuana legally in the state.
To date, only Colorado and New Mexico have established state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. Regulators in Arizona,Maine, and Washington, DC are in the process of licensing such establishments.
New Hampshire House of Reps passes measure for state-regulated medical marijuana
House lawmakers on decided 221 to 96 in favor of legislation, HB 442, that seeks to allow for the state to license facilities to produce and distribute marijuana to qualified patients.
Lawmakers in House and Senate approved similar legislation in 2009, but it was vetoed by Democrat Gov. John Lynch.
Medical marijuana repeal effort stalls in New Mexico
A New Mexico lawmaker has withdrawn legislation that sought to repeal the state’s four-year-old medical marijuana law. Newly elected Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said that she would have signed the measure, House Bill 593, had it reached her desk.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. James Smith, is now proposing a House Memorial bill that calls on lawmakers to study the state’s medical cannabis program.
Presently, over 3,200 patients are using cannabis legally in compliance with state law. In addition, state officials have licensedsome 25 facilities to produce or dispense medical cannabis. To date, reports of abuses regarding the use or distribution of medical cannabis as authorized by the law have been minimal.
Montana medical marijuana repeal efforts, first stalled, now back in force
The proposed medical marijuana repeal bill had stalled in the state Senate, prompting the first large-scale federal crackdown in the state since voters approved Montana’s medical marijuana law via initiative in 2004.
Federal law enforcement officials raided several Montana medical marijuana greenhouses and dispensary providers. Law enforcement officers confiscated various items of property, including marijuana, cash, and growing equipment, but failed to make any immediate arrests; otherwise known as “smash & grab”, where they destroy property and take everything else that’s worth money.
The repeal measure, HB 161, seeks to fully repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law, and make the 30,000 Montana citizens who now use medical marijuana legally into criminals. Montana’s medical marijuana law was passed with 64% of voters casting ballots in favor, 6 years ago.
It had stalled in the Senate, but in a surprising, and quick, turn of events, the bill that had looked to be dead in the water, has now passed through both the Montana House and the Montana Senate and is on it’s way to the Governor’s desk.
Now for our legislative update:
HB 548 – a bill to reduce the penalty for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, had it’s public hearing on March 1st, in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, and has been tabled since then.
We had been asking people to call the Committee Chair, Rep. Pete Gallego to ask him to put the bill up for a committee vote, however I, and many other people, have been told by the staffers that he hasn’t done so because he doesn’t believe it has the votes to move forward. That means that we need people to call the members of that committee and urge them to support the bill, and to ask Rep. Gallego to put it up for a vote.
It isn’t yet too late for this bill to move forward, but we still need the help of you all to urge these lawmakers to support it.
HB 1491 – a bill to give medical marijuana patients in Texas, with a Dr.’s recommendation, an affirmative defense, and protect those Dr.’s who recommend it, was assigned to the House Committee on Public Health, and has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing.
This is most disconcerting because the Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, Rep. Elliott Naishtat, is the bills author.
Unfortunately, the Chair of that committee, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, has refused to even hold a public hearing on the bill, so we desperately need everyone to flood her office with phone calls demanding that she schedule a hearing for the bill.
HB 1491, unfortunately at this point, seems like it could be “dead in the water.”
Going into the middle of April, if a bill hasn’t even been scheduled for a hearing, much less been introduced in both the House and Senate, the chances of the bill becoming law are almost nil.
I don’t want to discourage people, but at the same time we must be realistic about the chances of these, and be ready to put our efforts towards other things, like the upcoming election cycles.
The point should be, if these legislators ignore the will of Texans on these issues, then we should work to elect different people who will listen.
However, as a non-profit organization, Texas NORML cannot endorse, or campaign for, any candidates.
But, we can share information with the public about where these elected officials, and candidates, stand on the marijuana legalization/decriminalization/medication/industrial issues.
And we need you all to share that information with everyone you know in Texas.
And, if you want to see these bills pass in future legislative sessions, (the next isn’t until 2013!), you need to vote for people who support your position on this, even if it means you become a single issue voter.
Upcoming Events & Alerts
Austin Reggae Festival @ Auditorium Shores, April 15-17th
-Wednesday, April 20th, we’re working with Hot Mama’s Café for a 4/20 Potluck. Hot Mama’s Café is located at, 2401 E 6th St #1004, and the potluck will begin AT 4:20.
There will be a cannabis inspired art show, some chill music and all we ask you to bring is a dish/drinks and your good vibes.
-Friday, April 22nd is the next Texas NORML Member’s Mixer, which will be at the US Art Authority/Spiderhouse, and this mixer will be much more open to the public, and cheaper to attend, plus we’ll have an indoor AND outdoor stage, and will incorporate comedy, speakers, art, video, and poets into the event!
We have nearly 2 dozen performing acts confirmed, including musicians, comedians, and poets, plus food will be available from Hot Mama’s Café and Kimry’s Ital Palace!
There will also be a live, glass blowing demonstration, brought by our friends at Pipes Plus/SmoCo.
-Friday, April 29th, Texas NORML is co-sponsor of an rock show at the Red Eyed Fly, on Red River St., with The Austin 420, and music by Thunderos a, Snake Skin Prison, Sunglasses & Mushrooms, and Zig-Zag Illusion.
Cover for this event is just $5, and it is all ages.
-Saturday, May 7th, Texas NORML will be holding the Texas Marijuana March and rally at the Texas State Capitol, from 2-4pm, and we have a big announcement to make regarding that; we have confirmed that Russ Bellvile from National NORML will be coming to Austin to speak at the Capitol, plus former professional snowboarder, TV personality, current singer-songwriter, and NORML Women’s Alliance member Greta Gaines will be in Austin for the Marijuana March, as well as Chief Greenbud.
And the biggest news we have for the Texas Marijuana March, is that Texas NORML will be bringing former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson to Austin to be the keynote speaker at the Capitol Rally on Saturday, May 7th!
Gov. Johnson served as a Republican and outspoken advocate for marijuana law reform. He was also the keynote speaker at the National NORML Convention in Portland this past year, as well as the Portland Hempstalk.
And, it is very likely that Gary Johnson will be declaring himself as a candidate for President in 2012, if you are to believe the rumors!
Parking for the Texas Marijuana March will be at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, just to the east of the Capitol Complex, beside Waterloo park, between 13th & 12th streets.
The march will begin, from Waterloo Park, at 1:45pm, so you’ll want to get there to park around 1:15 or so.
That night, following the march and rally, we will be hosting an after party at Momo’s Club, starting at 7:00pm, with a meet & greet with Gary Johnson, Russ Belville, Chief Greenbud, and Greta Gaines.
Plus music during the afterparty will be provided by Greta, Chief Greenbud (plus Russ Belville will likely be joining Chief playing bass), Sun Salutation, and Clyde & Clem’s Whiskey Business.
Cover charge for the Afterparty will be $10 for Texas NORML members, and $15 for all others.
Obviously, we are VERY excited to be able to bring these high profile speakers to the Texas Capitol for the Marijuana March & Momo’s for the afterparty, and I hope you will all spread the word that Saturday, May 7th, 2-4pm, THE place to be in Texas is at the Texas State Capitol and Momo’s Club on 6th St!
Questions or Comments/anything left out?