TX NORML open meeting notes, March 3rd, 2010
During last month’s meeting we covered these stories:
-2010 Legislation from around the country
-Texas’ legislative process, and what to expect in the coming year and a half
-Marc Katz’s campaign came out in favor of legal medical marijuana in Texas
-National NORML announced the formation of the NORML Women’s Alliance
-Cali. Lawmakers in a committee voted in favor of marijuana legalization; Committee on Public Safety voted in favor of AB390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act
-CA Supreme Court says state medical marijuana limits are a floor, not a ceiling
-THC & Cannabidiol found to possess synergistic anti-cancer effects, by U. of California
-WA lawmakers heard testimony, and voted against, a marijuana legalization bill
-NH lawmakers debated legalization bill, referring it to a special committee
-NJ becomes 14th state to legalize medical marijuana
-Seattle City Attorney, Peter Holmes, declares marijuana possession prosecutions over
-LA city council enacts strict medical marijuana oversight regulations
-US Senate passes the National Criminal Justice Act, to “undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system.”
-NIDA spokesperson, Shirley Simson, admits to unscientific bias, and restricting research
-Willie’s tour bus gets busted again, in N.C.
Now for a review of some news from February:
Austin Police Dept. Crashes TX NORML Bob Marley birthday celebration, making 1 arrest and giving another citation for possession
The police who made an appearance told onlookers that they had smelled marijuana smoke on the street level, and witnessed individuals on the back of the outdoor deck while smoking.
This is the first time that any individual has been arrested for possession at any Texas NORML event, and hopefully the last.
Other than that unfortunate happening, and the fact that our opening band was a no-show, the Bob Marley birthday celebration was a great success, and a good time for almost all.
Over 270 people in attendance, and great performances by the bands. Plus, great quotes throughout the night from Bob Marley.
Marijuana Legalization Questions Excluded From YouTube Presidential Forum
Washington, DC: Moderators of a February 1 live YouTube debate with President Barack Obama failed to ask any questions regarding marijuana policy, even though the topic was the top vote getter on the website’s Citizen Tube/State of the Union poll.
Members of the public submitted over 14,000 questions to the site, which had promised to pose the most popular questions to the President. The three questionsthat gained the highest total of public votes all pertained to legalizing marijuana.
In 2009, publicly submitted questions regarding marijuana legalization topped several other White House related polls, including surveys conducted by Change.organd WhiteHouse.gov.
Rhode Island: Decriminalizing Marijuana Could Save Nearly One Quarter Of A Million Dollars Annually
Providence, RI: Legislation introduced by lawmakers this week to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses would save taxpayers an estimated one quarter of a million dollars annually in incarceration costs.
On Tuesday lawmakers introduced House Bill 7317, which would reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $500 fine, to a civil offense punishable by no more than a $150 fine. Similar legislation is pending in New Hampshire and Washington.
To date, 13 states have decriminalized the possession marijuana for nonmedical use.
Marijuana Use Growing In Popularity Among Older Americans, U.S. Government Study Says Nearly 10 Percent Of Men Age 50 To 54 Now Using Pot
Rockville, MD: Americans over age 50 are using marijuana in greater numbers, according to survey data compiled by the United States Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA).
Among men age 50 to 54, nearly 9 percent admitted to having used marijuana within the past year. Among males age 50 to 60, over four percent said that they had used cannabis.
CBS Corporation Bars NORML From Advertising On Times Square Billboard
NORML Told: “If CBS changes their morals we will let you know”
Washington, DC: Representatives from the CBS Corporation and Neutron Media Screen Marketing have rejected a paid advertisement from the NORML Foundation, the educational arm of the National Organization of Marijuana Laws (NORML), that was intended to appear on the CBS Super Screen billboard in New York City’s Times Square.
The fifteen-second ad, which asserts that taxing and regulating the adult use and sale of marijuana would raise ‘billions of dollars in national revenue, was scheduled to appear on CBS’s 42nd Street digital billboard beginning on Monday, February 1, 2010.
Representatives from Neutron Media approached NORML in mid-January about placing the ad, which was scheduled to air 18 times per day for a two-month period. The NORML Foundation entered into a contractual agreement with Neutron Media to air two separate NORML advertisements, and produced an initial ad exclusively for broadcast on the CBS digital billboard.
Days after NORML’s submitted the ad, the organization received the following e-mail, dated February 3, from a representative from Neutron Media stated: “I just received word from CBS and they will not approve your ad. If CBS changes their morals we will let you know.”
Commenting on CBS’ last minute rejection of the ad, NORML Foundation Executive Allen St. Pierre said, “Major media corporations like CBS have no problem airing programming that allows them to profit off the public’s interest in marijuana and marijuana law reform, such as Showtime’s hit series Weeds and the CBSnews.com online series ‘Marijuana Nation.’ Yet these same corporate entities balk at airing media that calls on reforming America’s criminal marijuana policies – policies that have led directly to the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965. How can advocates be expected to change these failed policies when those that control America’s airwaves refuse to allow them a public forum to voice their point of view?”
According to the results of a December 2009 Angus Reid survey, fifty-three percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana.
St. Pierre continued: “University studies show that regulating the adult use of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol would raise over $30 billion annually in new tax revenue, while saving an addition $15 billion per year in law enforcement costs. The content of NORML’s ad is based on sound, readily identifiable data. Moreover, the message of NORML’s advertisement is supported by a majority of the public. CBS’ denial of this ad spot is based on the company’s political and cultural bias and nothing more.”
Last summer NORML entered into negotiations with CBS to launch a live Saturday night radio broadcast on the corporation’s ChatAboutIt.com talk radio network. CBS representatives initially agreed to the programming, but then abruptly canceled the contract after NORML had raised the funding to produce its first show.
In 2009, the NORML Foundation launched the first-ever nationwide television ad campaign calling for the regulation of marijuana by adults. The Foundation purchased over 7,500 ad buys on prominent cable networks like CNBC, Fox News, G4, and FX. The ad campaign did not air on CBS-affiliated networks.
New Hampshire: Committee Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Measure
Concord, NH: Members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 16 to 2 on Thursday in favor of legislation to reduce marijuana possession penalties to a civil infraction.
As amended, House Bill 1653 would reduce the penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses (up to 1/4 of one ounce) from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to a nominal monetary penalty of no more than $200.00.
The measure now awaits action from the full House.
To date, 13 states have decriminalized the possession of marijuana for personal use.
Washington: Senate Lawmakers Expand Medical Marijuana Law
Olympia, WA: Senate lawmakers voted 37 to 11 last week to expand Washington’s nearly twelve-year-old medical marijuana law.
Senators approved S.B. 5798, which allows certain health care professionals – including naturopaths, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physicians, and advanced registered nurse practitioners – to legally recommend marijuana therapy to their patients.
Under present law, only licensed physicians may legally recommend medicinal cannabis.
The measure now awaits action from House lawmakers. The measure is scheduled to be heard before members of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Thursday, February 18, 2010. No decision has been made in the House Committee yet.
‘Gold Standard’ Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective
State-Funded Clinical Trials Show Cannabis Eases Neuropathic Pain And Spasticity, Landmark Report Says
Sacramento, CA: The results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled marijuana consistently show that cannabis holds therapeutic value comparable to conventional medications, according to the findings of a 24-page report issued Wednesday to the California state legislature by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).
Four of the five placebo-controlled trials demonstrated that marijuana significantly alleviated neuropathy, a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage.
“There is good evidence now that cannabinoids may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment for … neuropathy,” said Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the CMCR, at a news conference at the state Capitol. He added that the efficacy of smoked marijuana was “very consistent,” and that its pain-relieving effects were “comparable to the better existing treatments” presently available by prescription.
A fifth study showed that smoked cannabis reduced the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
Two additional clinical trials remain ongoing.
The CMCR program was founded in 2000 following an $8.7 million appropriation from the California state legislature. The studies are some of the first placebo-controlled clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis as a medicine to take place in over two decades.
Placebo-controlled clinical crossover trials are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ method for assessing the efficacy of drugs under the US FDA-approval process.
“These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs,” said former California Senator John Vasconcellos, who sponsored the legislation in 1999 to launch the CMCR. Vasconcellos called the studies’ design “state of art,” and suggested that the CMCR’s findings “ought to settle the issue” of whether or not medical marijuana is a safe and effective medical treatment for patients.
Over 2,500 Subjects Since 2005 Have Used Marijuana-Based Medicines In Controlled Clinical Trials
Hurth, Germany: Researchers worldwide have performed 37 separate clinical trials assessing the therapeutic safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis and marijuana-based medicines since 2005, according to a review published online last week in the journal Cannabinoids: The Journal of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM).
Investigators from Leiden University in the Netherlands and the nova-Institut in Germany conducted a systematic review of recent clinical trial data pertaining to the medical use of whole smoked marijuana and cannabinoids.
Authors identified 37 controlled studies since 2005 evaluating the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. The trials involved a total of 2,563 subjects.
Of the 37 clinical trials that have been recently conducted, eleven assessed the drug’s impact on chronic neuropathic pain – a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage. Other studies assessed the efficacy of cannabinoids to treat multiple sclerosis-associated spasticity (nine separate studies); HIV/AIDS (four); experimental pain (four); intestinal dysfunction (two); nausea/vomiting/appetite (two); schizophrenia (two); glaucoma (one); and ‘other indications’ (two).
Authors concluded, “Based on the clinical results, cannabinoids present an interesting therapeutic potential mainly as analgesics in chronic neuropathic pain, appetite stimulants in debilitating diseases (cancer and AIDS), as well as in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.”
Last Wednesday investigators from the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research released the results of a series of double blind, placebo-controlled trials that determined that cannabinoids could be “a first-line treatment” for patients suffering from neuropathy.
DC Lawmakers Debate Authorizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Washington, DC: District of Columbia City Council members held their first hearing on Thursday regarding legislation to authorize the legal use and distribution of medical marijuana.
Members of the DC City Council Committees on Health and Public Safety jointly heard public testimony regarding B 18-622, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act 0f 2010, which seeks to allow for the licensed production and distribution of cannabis to authorized patients.
The measure would implement components of Initiative 59 – a 1998 DC ballot measure that garnered 69 percent of the vote. However, until this year DC city lawmakers have been barred from instituting the measure because of a Congressional ban on the issue.
Congress lifted its ban late last year.
Vermont: Lawmakers Debate Medical Marijuana Distribution Plan
Montpelier, VT: State lawmakers heard testimony last week in support for establishing state authorized medical marijuana dispensaries.
Members of the Senate Committee on Government Operations heard arguments in favor of Senate Bill 226, which allows for not-for-profit ‘compassion centers,’ to “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, sell, and dispense marijuana related supplies, and educational materials” to state-qualified patients.
Passage of this measure would not amend existing state law permitting qualified patients to cultivate marijuana for their own medical use, or to designate a caregiver to cultivate marijuana for them.
In 2004, state lawmakers approved legislation allowing qualified patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes.
State-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are operating in New Mexico, and have recently been approved in Maine, New Jersey, andRhode Island.
Weeding Through The Hype: Interpreting The Latest Warnings About Pot and Schizophrenia
Once again members of the mainstream media are running wildwith the notion that marijuana use causes schizophrenia and psychosis.
To add insult to injury, this latest dose of reefer rhetoric comes only days after investigators in the United Kingdom reported in the prestigious scientific journal Addiction that the available evidence in support of this theory is “neither very new, nor by normal criteria, particularly compelling.” (Predictably, the conclusions of that study went all together unnoticed by the mainstream press.)
Yet today’s latest alarmist report, like those studies touting similar claims before it, fails to account for the following: If, as the authors of this latest study suggest, cannabis use is a cause of mental illness (and schizophrenia in particular), thenwhy have diagnosed incidences of schizophrenia not paralleled rising trends in cannabis use over time?
In fact, it was only in September when investigators at the Keele University Medical School in Britain smashed the pot = schizophrenia theory to smithereens. Writing in the journal Schizophrenia Research, the team compared trends in marijuana use and incidences of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Researchers reported that the “incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining” during this period, even the use of cannabis among the general population was rising.
That said, none of this is to suggest that there may not be someassociation between marijuana use and certain psychiatric ailments. Cannabis use can correlate with mental illness for many reasons. People often turn to cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of distress. One study performed in Germany showed that cannabis offsets certain cognitive declines in schizophrenic patients. Another study demonstrated thatpsychotic symptoms predict later use of cannabis, suggesting that people might turn to the plant for help rather than become ill after use.
Of course, even if one takes the MSM’s latest ’sky is falling’ scenario at face value, health risks connected with pot use — when scientifically documented — should not be seen as legitimate reasons for criminal prohibition, but instead, as reasons for the plant’s legal regulation.
“We don’t outlaw peanuts because a small percentage of people have allergic reactions. We educate the community, we regulate where and when peanuts can be exchanged. That seems like it ought to apply to marijuana, too.” Said Paul Armentano, from National NORML.
To draw another real world comparison, millions of Americans safely use ibuprofen as an effective pain reliever. However, among a minority of the population who suffer from liver and kidney problems, ibuprofen presents a legitimate and substantial health risk. However, this fact no more calls for the criminalization of ibuprofen among adults than do these latest anti-pot allegations, even if true, call for the current prohibition of cannabis.
United Nation’s Anti-drug agency, International Narcotic Control Board, recently attacked the Parliament-sanctioned Canadian Medical Cannabis Program
Oddly they ignored our own Prohibition-addled but medical cannabis-friendly America.
with 90 million Americans currently living in 14 states and the District of Columbia that have legal protections for medical patients who use cannabis with a physician’s recommendation (and 120 million living in states where cannabis possession is decriminalized), 2,000 or more retail outlets or delivery services for medical cannabis (including 24/7 medical cannabis vending machines in California) and a federally subsidized cannabis farm that, among other projects, supplies five medical cannabis patients 300 pre-rolled ‘joints’ per month (which equates to about ten ounces per month!) for the rest of their lives in a closed, grandfathered program, the United Nation’s anti-drug agency ridiculously believes the world urgently needs to take great heed in the Canadian government’s eight-year old and largely uncontroversial medical cannabis program.
Currently, Health Canada has issued almost 4,900 permits allowing people to possess medical marijuana they get from more than 1,100 licensed growers, some of whom are growing it for their own use.
If Canada is getting grief from the blue helmet crowd, shouldn’t the governors of New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maine be receiving the same as their states sanction medical cannabis distribution?
Now for upcoming events and announcements from Texas NORML:
St. Patrick’s Day, Wednesday, March 17th, at the Mellow Mushroom, Texas NORML will be sponsoring an all day/night music event; 4 bands in the afternoon, and 2 of the best Dubbists that night. And it is FREE!!
Come celebrate a green holiday with the greenest of all organizations!!
Friday & Saturday, March 19-20, 2:00pm-5:00am, at Ruta Maya,
Over the course of these 2 days, more than 20 (yes count ‘em) dub and reggae
stylee bands will be on hand to provide literally more than 24 hours of musical
Plus, some great Caribbean food will be available from Ital Palace!
High Times SXSW Doobie Awards Party!!
Sunday, March 21st, High Times Magazine returns to Austin for the SXSW Music
Conference, and brings their annual Doobie Awards presentation!
from High Noon til 6pm. The show is hosted by High Times’ Editors BOBBY BLACK and VAPORELLA . Performers include NEBULA, KARMA TO BURN, LOS MARIJUANOS, PROSPECT HILL, LIONIZE, HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES, DIXIEWITCH and AMY JO SAVANNAH. Plus hip-hop legend B-REAL will be making a special appearance to accept the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for CYPRESS HILL!
Also they’ll be celebrating the release of HEMP HEMP HOORAY!, the new
soundtrack of music from and inspired by Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No
Tickets to the High Times SXSW Doobie Awards are $15, and this year they are on
sale before the event!
Austin Reggae Fest, Apri 16-18th
4/20 at Stubb’s with Texas NORML, Slightly Stoopid, & Del tha Funkee Homosapien
May 1st, 3rd Annual Texas Cannabis Crusade!