TX NORML open meeting notes, May 4th, 2011
During last month’s meeting we covered these stories:
– Inhaled marijuana associated with tumor regression
– National Cancer Institute posts marijuana’s potential anti-cancer effects, then promptly removes the info
– DEA officially bans K2 & Spice, making them Schedule I controlled substances
– Drug Czar meets with Seattle Times’ editorial staff after pro-legalization editorial
– Kentucky lawmakers pass decriminalization law
– L.A. voters approved new medical marijuana tax
– Hawaii senate passes multiple bills including decrim and medical marijuana improvements
– Pew Research finds 45% support for legalization, up from 16% in 1990
– R.I. health regulators select applicants to operate state-licensed dispensaries
– N.H. House passes measure for state-regulated medical marijuana
– Effort to repeal medical marijuana in N.M. stalls
– Montana medical marijuana repeal effort, which had stalled, came back with vengeance
– Texas Legislative Updates, which we will be discussing again
Now for news from the past month:
National NORML Conference Takes Place in Denver, April 21-23rd
Featured speakers included Montel Williams, and US Rep. Jared Polis.
Also, a music performance was put on by Bob Marley’s son, Ziggy, at the annual NORML/High Times Activist Awards Ceremony.
Cannabis Significant Reduces Pain In Randomized Trials
Cannabis inhalation and the administration of cannabinoids are both associated with “significant analgesic effects” in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain, according to a systemic review of randomized controlled trials to be published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Investigators from the University of Toronto, Hospital for Sick Children, conducted a literature review regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed chronic pain. Eighteen randomized controlled trials published between 2003 and 2010 involving a total of 766 participants met inclusion criteria. Four of the trials assessed inhaled cannabis, while other studies assessed the analgesic properties of either plant-derived cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoids.
All four trials involving inhaled cannabis “found a positive effect with no serious adverse side effects.” They added: “Of special importance is the fact that two of the trials examining smoked cannabis demonstrated a significant analgesic effect in HIV neuropathy, a type of pain that has been notoriously resistant to other treatments normally used for neuropathic pain. In the trial examining cannabis based medicines in rheumatoid arthritis a significant reduction in disease activity was also noted, this is consistent with pre-clinical work demonstrating that cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory.
Marijuana Use Associated With ‘Superior’ Cognitive Performance In Schizophrenic Patients, Study Says
Schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis use demonstrate “superior neurocognitive performance” compared to non-users, according to the findings of a meta-analysis to be published in the journal Schizophrenia Research.
Researchers at the University of Toronto, Institute of Medical Sciences, stopped short of attributing subjects’ cannabis use to the improved outcome, noting that patients with superior cognitive skills may simply be more likely to acquire cannabis than subjects with lesser abilities.
Three Out Of Four Americans Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana In Their State
74 percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized as a ‘medical treatment’ option in their state, according to an online Harris Interactive poll of 3,171 adults. By contrast, fewer than half of respondents (42 percent) say that they support ‘the legalization of marijuana for … recreational use.
Pollsters reported that adults in the East are most supportive of legalizing marijuana for both medical use (80 percent) and for recreational purposes (50 percent). The West is the next most supportive region of the country – with 76 percent of respondents supporting legalizing medical marijuana and 50 percent endorsing its personal use.
In the Midwest, 74 percent of respondents supported legalizing medical cannabis, but less than two in five (39 percent) endorsed legalizing its recreational use. Southerners were least supportive of marijuana law reform, with 69 percent of respondents endorsing medical marijuana legalization and only 34 percent supporting the plant’s broader legalization.
Respondents between the ages of 47 and 65 were most likely (80 percent) to support legalizing cannabis for therapeutic purposes, while respondents age 18 to 34 were most likely (49 percent) to back full legalization.
Montana Lawmakers Resurrect, Then Pass Medical Marijuana Repeal Measure, But Veto From Governor Follows
Members of the Montana Senate quickly resurrected and then passed House Bill 161, which would have repealed the state’s six-year-old, voter-approved medical marijuana law.
But, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, who has voiced support for the state’s medical cannabis program, vetoed the bill when it came to his desk.
More on Montana:
Despite the veto of the repeal measure in Montana, another bill did pass into law, SB 423, which places a long list of new restrictions on medical marijuana in Montana, many of which will hinder people’s access to medical marijuana, and ability to become a registered medical marijuana patient.
The list of restrictions is too long to go into here, but suffice to say it restricts everyone involved, from the patients, to the caregivers, and even the recommending doctors, and it also prohibits the exchange of any money whatsoever (killing businesses), requires that law enforcement automatically be notified of all medical marijuana gardens and have authority to “inspect” them at any time for any reason.
I could go on about this, but in short, the new bill basically kills any/all legal medical marijuana businesses in the state of Montana. It also enacts a DUI provision which could potentially put medical marijuana patients in jail for using their medication, and threatens Doctors who recommend medical marijuana to more than 25 patients per year.
You can read full details on Montana NORML’s Blog, online.
Washington State Dispensary Law VETOED by Governor, who cites Federal Prosecutorial threats as the reason
Democrat Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday vetoed sections of Senate Bill 5073, which sought to license and regulate the dispensing of medical cannabis to qualified persons, and would have enacted additional legal protections for patients who voluntarily participated in a statewide registry.
Hawaii Medical Marijuana Reform Bill, Seeking To Improve On The Law For Patients, Dies Due To Inability Of House & Senate To Agree On It
Federal Prosecutors Around The Country Have Been Sending Threatening Letters To State Officials
This is a direct contradiction to what the Justice Dept. said publicly 2 years ago about not going after people who were operating, legally under state laws.
The latest memos carry a direct warning: “We maintain the authority to enforce (federal law) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”
Letters with various cautions have gone to officials in California, Colorado, Montana, Rhode Island and Washington (as mentioned before).
Officials in all of these states have raised concerns about the letters, and implied that medical marijuana laws should be curtailed.
Even states that haven’t received a letter are pausing;
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is using the letters sent to other states as a reason to not fully implement their new medical marijuana law, saying, “Those letters raised serious questions about legal jeopardy.”
These threat letters come in the wake of a new round of raids, across the country, on medical marijuana dispensaries and caregivers, including raids in Montana, Michigan, Washington, Colorado, and California.
Texas Legislative Update
We have been focused on 2 bills this session in the Texas Legislature:
HB 548 – would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana to a Class C Misdemeanor
HB 1491 – would give patients, with a written doctors recommendation for medical marijuana, an affirmative defense in court, and would protect those doctors who make recommendations
As much action that has been taken on these bills, and as much support for what the bills would do, you would think that at least one of them would have made more progress, but as of today, the status of both of these bills is the same as it was last month, and the month before.
HB 548 had a public hearing, in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, with all submitted public testimony in favor, but the committee chairperson has refused to put it up for a committee vote, saying that he “doesn’t have the votes to move it forward.”
I and many others have called the Chair of that Committee and asked for a vote to be made so that we have something on the record, but he has still refused.
HB 1491 has been sitting, with no action taken, in the Public Health Committee, thanks to that Committee’s Chairperson, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst. There have been countless calls made and letters sent to Rep. Kolkhorst asking her to schedule the bill for a hearing, and she has outright refused to do so;
Even though the Vice Chair of that Committee is the author of HB 1491, Rep. Elliot Naishtat.
Of course, we would like to see different people sitting in these legislative positions, so please keep this issue on your mind when you go to the ballot box next time.
As a non-profit organization, Texas NORML cannot ask you to vote for any specific person, but we can bring you this information so that you’re fully informed when you do vote.
We can also tell you that, 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
-Saturday, May 7th, Texas NORML will be holding the Texas Marijuana March and rally at the Texas State Capitol, from 2-4pm; we have confirmed that Austin City Council Candidate, Kris Bailey, and 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 is bringing former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson to Austin to be the keynote speaker at the Capitol Rally on Saturday!
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 last year, as well as the Portland Hempstalk.
Gov. Johnson announced on April 21st that he is running for President in 2012, so for him to be in Austin on Saturday, speaking at a Texas NORML event is a huge deal for us, and the first time that a Presidential Candidate has ever spoken at a Texas NORML event!
We are, obviously, extremely excited to have a former Governor and Presidential Candidate speaking at our event, and are hoping for a good crowd to show up.
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.
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?