TX NORML open meeting notes, Jan 6th, 2010
Texas NORML’s year in review
At last month’s meeting we reviewed the happenings of 2009.
Also talked about these stories:
Pot more popular than cigarettes among teenagers.
Many cannabis users are substituting it’s use in place of more dangerous substances including prescription, legal, and illegal drugs.
DEA had to change info about AMA’s stance on medical marijuana, following deluge of letters.
Whole plant cannabis extracts found to relieve intractable cancer pain better than THC alone.
Israel significantly expanded it’s medical marijuana program, including allowing patients to medicate on hospital premises.
Moderate marijuana use NOT associated with altered cognitive skills.
Federal 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis ruled industrial hemp IS marijuana.
And we talked about more potential marijuana law reform coming in 2010:
Currently, there is legalization legislation pending in California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington. Although they may not have much of a chance, the public debate is critical.
2010 Medical Marijuana Legislation
State legislation: MN, IL, MO, NJ, OH, TN, MD, NC, PA, DE, OH, WI, NY, CT, MA, NH and TX;
Voter Initiatives: AZ
2010 Cannabis Legalization Legislation
State legislation: VT, MA, WA; CA
Voter Initiatives: CA, TaxCannabis 2010, has gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot and appears ballot bound meaning that Californians will have the opportunity on November 9, 2010, to legalize marijuana outright for adult use.
Now, Texas does not have any legislation going on in 2010; our Legislature only works every other year, so our next opportunity will be in 2011.
And, for those of you who are thinking, “why don’t we get a ballot initiative going in Texas”, it’s because under Texas law, statewide voter initiatives are not allowed.
Plus, according to state law, “no entity within the state may direct law enforcement to enforce drug laws any different than state law”.
But, we are making strides, however slowly, towards marijuana law reform here in Texas.
NORML representatives in Waco are currently finalizing language for a medical marijuana bill, with the help of a NORML Legal Committee Lawyer in Dallas; the language for this bill is more along the lines of New Mexico’s medical marijuana bill.
But I don’t want to get your hopes up too much because we still have a long ways to go on this one: we must find a sponsor in the State House of Reps and/or the State Senate, which is a tough uphill road to take.
If/when we find a sponsor, the bill will have to go through all of the legal proceedings during the legislative session (which by the way only lasts 120 days!).
But, for the first time I can remember a major party candidate for statewide office has come out in full support of medical marijuana in Texas.
Marc Katz requested a meeting with Texas NORML about medical marijuana in Texas, and he is 100% in support of the medical marijuana bill we have been working on!
Mr. Katz will have to win the primary vote before he can even get on the ballot for November, but the fact that a major party candidate for statewide office has come out in support of medical marijuana is a big deal.
Our only event last month was the White Widow Wonderland Members Mixer, and considering the weather we had it was a great event! We had between 50-60 members in attendance, with some great music and plenty of food to boot.
Now for a review of some news from January:
During the 1st week of January, National NORML announced the formation of the
NORML Women’s Alliance
More and more women have been taking a leading role in this movement, and NORML would like to see this trend continue.
The NORML Women’s Alliance is a nonpartisan coalition of prominent, educated, successful, geographically diverse, high-profile professional women who believe that cannabis prohibition is a self-destructive and hypocritical policy that undermines the American family, sends a mixed and false message to our young people, and destroys the cherished principles of personal liberty and local self-government.
For more info on the NORML Women’s Alliance, visit:
California: Lawmakers Cast First Vote In Nearly 100 Years To Repeal Marijuana Prohibition
Lawmakers on the California Assembly, Committee on Public Safety, voted 4 to 3 on Tuesday in favor of Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act – which seeks to legalize the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
The vote is the first time since 1913, when California became one of the first states in the nation to criminalize the use and possession of marijuana, that lawmakers have called for the repeal of cannabis prohibition.
Further Assembly votes on AB 390 are unlikely to take place this session because of legislative calendar restraints. However, the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, has pledged to reintroduce a similar marijuana legalization measure imminently.
Registered supporters for AB 390 include: the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the California Public Defenders Association, among others.
Registered opponents of the bill include: the California Fraternal Order of Police, the California Narcotics Officers Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California Peace Officers’ Association, and the California District Attorneys Association.
Washington: Lawmakers Hold First-Ever Hearing On Marijuana Legalization
Members of the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness heard arguments in favor of House Bill 2401, which seeks to “remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana.” The hearing marked the first time that state lawmakers had ever debated the merits of regulating the use and sale of cannabis.
Lawmakers at the hearing also heard testimony in favor of HB 1177, which seeks to reduce the penalties on minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine to a monetary penalty of no more than $100.
State lawmakers on the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness on Wednesday, January 20, rejected House Bill 2401, which sought to regulate and tax the commercial use of marijuana like alcohol.
Lawmakers voted 6 to 2 against the bill.
Committee members also voted 5-3 against House Bill 1177, which sought to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction.
All three Republican members of Committee rejected the measures, as did two Democrats. Both Democrat opponents are former police officers.
New Jersey Legislature Authorizes Medical Use Of Marijuana, 14th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Lawmakers in the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation this week that seeks to make New Jersey the fourteenth state in the nation to allow for the state-authorized use of medical cannabis by qualified patients. The measure, known as the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, now awaits action from outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine – who has pledged to sign the measure into law early next week.
The Act authorizes patients with a physician’s recommendation to possess and obtain medical cannabis from state-authorized “alternative treatment centers.” Patients diagnosed with the following conditions are eligible to use medical cannabis under the Act: cancer, glaucoma, seizure and/or spasticity disorders (including epilepsy), Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease), any terminal illness if a doctor has determined the patient will die within a year, and/or any other medical condition or treatment that is approved by the state health department.
Unlike the medical marijuana laws that have been enacted in thirteen other states, authorized patients in New Jersey will not be eligible to legally grow their own cannabis.
New Hampshire: Lawmakers Debate Marijuana Legalization Measure
State lawmakers heard testimony on Wednesday in support of taxing and regulating the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults.
Members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee heard arguments in favor of House Bill 1652, which “allows [for] the purchase and use of marijuana by adults (age 21 or older), regulates the purchase and use of marijuana, and imposes taxes on the wholesale and retail sale of marijuana.”
On January 27, members of the Committee voted 16-2 on a motion to refer the bill to a special study committee. Assuming the House agrees with this recommendation, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will study the bill more thoroughly this summer, and it will issue recommendations for the following legislative session by November.
Basically this bill is on hold for a little while.
Lawmakers at the hearing also heard testimony in favor of HB 1653, which seeks to amend certain marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine.
Seattle: City Will No Longer Prosecute Marijuana Possession Offenses
Newly elected city attorney Peter Holmes will no longer prosecute minor marijuana possession offenses, according to a reportpublished in The Seattle Times.
“[The city of Seattle] is no longer going to prosecute marijuana possession cases anymore,” said Holmes. The Times reports that Holmes has already begun dismissing cases that were filed by the previous city attorney, Tom Carr.
Holmes defeated Carr in the November 2009 election.
In 2003, Seattle voters approved Initiative 75, which requires that “the Seattle Police Department and City Attorney’s Office shall make the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana offenses, when the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.”
A 2008 citywide review of the ordinance reported “no evidence of any adverse effects of the implementation of I-75, including specifically: 1. No evident increase in marijuana use among youth and young adults; 2. No evident increase in crime; and 3. No adverse impact on public health.”
California: Supreme Court Affirms State’s Pot Possession Limits Are A Floor, Not A Ceiling
The Court found that patients who possess quantities of medical cannabis above those recommended under the state’s 2004 law (six mature or twelve immature plants and/or eight ounces) may still be afforded legal protections if this amount is “related to meet (the patient’s) current medical needs.”
In other words, just because a registered patient has more than the law recommends, that doesn’t mean that patient is breaking the law, as long as he/she can show that the amount possessed is medically necessary/needed.
Los Angeles City Council Enacts Medical Marijuana Oversight Regulations
Members of the Los Angeles City Council voted 9 to 3 on Tuesday in favor of regulations capping the total number of medical marijuana dispensaries that may legally operate within the county, and restricting where such facilities may be located.
The new ordinance, which won’t take effect until at least 45 days after the mayor’s signature, seeks to limit the number of legally zoned dispensaries to no more than 70 countywide. However, the regulations will allow for additional facilities to maintain operations if they opened prior to the passage of city’s 2007 moratorium prohibiting new dispensaries, and if they comply with the newly enacted guidelines.
Under the new rules, city officials would require dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from certain “sensitive’ public locations, such as schools, parks and other gathering sites – restrictions that would cause many existing outlets to either close their doors or change locations.
US Senate Committee Passes The National Criminal Justice Act
The United State’s Senate, Committee on Judiciary,unanimously approved Senate Bill 714, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009.
Senate Bill 714 will establish a `National Criminal Justice Commission’ to hold public hearings and “undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, including Federal, State, local, and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. … The Commission shall make findings regarding such review and recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system.”
It’s been many years since a federally appointed commission has taken an objective look at American criminal justice policies, and it’s been nearly 40 years since federal lawmakers have undertaken a critical examination of U.S. drug policy. As affirmed by the bill’s chief sponsor, Democrat SenatorJim Webb of Virginia:
“America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. … The United States has by far the world’s highest incarceration rate. With 5% of the world’s population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world’s reported prisoners.
… Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. … Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. … African-Americans — who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population population — accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.
… It is incumbent on our national leadership to find a way to fix our prison system.”
Marijuana Compounds, Cannabidiol & THC, Possess Synergistic Anti-Cancer Effects, Study Says
Marijuana’s active compounds act synergistically to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce malignant cell death, according to preclinical trial data published online by the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
Investigators at the University of California, Pacific Medical Center Research Institute assessed whether the administration of the non-psychoactive cannabidiol would enhance the anti-cancer effects of THC on glioblastoma (brain cancer) cells.
Researchers reported that a combination of cannabinoids showed greater anti-cancer activity than the administration of either compound individually. “We discovered that cannabidiol enhanced the ability of THC to inhibit cell proliferation and induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis (programmed cell death),” authors reported.
A 2008 scientific review published in the journal Cancer Research reported that the cannabinioids inhibit cell proliferation in a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lymphoma.
Federal Agency In Charge Of Marijuana Research, NIDA, Admits Stifling Studies On Medicinal Cannabis
A spokesperson for the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) told the New York Times last week that the agency does “not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana.”
Under federal law, the agency must approve all clinical and preclinical research involving marijuana. NIDA strictly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s lone research supply of pot – which is produced and stored at the University of Mississippi.
NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson told the Times: “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
NIDA presently oversees an estimated 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances.
In 2007, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that NIDA’s monopolization of marijuana research is not “in the public interest,” and ordered the federal government to allow private manufacturers to produce the drug for research purposes. In January of last year, DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart set aside Judge Bittner’s ruling.
President Barack Obama announced his selection of Leonhart to be the DEA’s Director.
WILLIE NELSON’S TOUR BUS CITED FOR MOONSHINE, MARIJUANA, in Kenansville, North Carolina
6 members of Willie’s entourage were arrested and then released, but Willie was not at the scene when the arrests happened.
Now for upcoming events and announcements from Texas NORML:
Our second annual Bob Marley birthday celebration will be this Saturday, February 6th, Momo’s
$10 cover unless you’re a Texas NORML member $5
Bands are, The Raspas, McPullish, The Bandulus, Contra Coup.
If you didn’t see them already, we have event posters here.
Also, if you listen to the radio we have ads for the event running on KGSR, 93.3, and KOOP, 91.7.
In March during SXSW, High Times will once again be in town, and hosting the Annual Doobie Awards presentation.
This year the High Times SXSW party will be on Sunday, March 21st, at Emo’s, from high noon till 6pm. Cover charge is usually around $15.
In April will be the Reggae Fest, and we may have a 4/20 party, but that’s not definite yet.
Saturday, May 1st, is our 3rd Annual Texas Cannabis Crusade, done in conjunction with Outgrow Big Bro, and this year will be different from last in terms of the location.
The last 2 years we’ve had the “home base” for the event at Zilker Park, however we have had too many people for the reserved spots at Zilker, so this year we will be having all the Cannabis Crusade festivities at Wooldridge Square Park, an historical downtown Austin park where LBJ launched his candidacy for president.
Wooldridge Square Park is located at 900 Guadalupe St, on the west side of Guadalupe between 9th and 10th.
We will begin festivities at 10:00am, with breakfast, live music, sign making, and getting ready for the march to the State Capitol.
We’ll have our rally on the south steps of the Capitol, with speakers including NORML Legal Committee Lawyer, Bruce Fox, Barry Cooper, and others, as well as live music.
Following the rally at the Capitol, we’ll head back to Wooldridge Square Park (just 5 blocks from the Capitol!!) for an evening filled with live music, cannabis carnival games, food, and fun for everyone!
Stay tuned to our websites for band lineups and more details in the coming weeks.
We are very much looking forward to the Cannabis Crusade, and hope you will spread the word to everyone you know!
That’s all we’ve got this month, so don’t forget to come see us at Momo’s club this Saturday for Bob Marley’s birthday celebration.
Peace & good buds to you all!