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October 31, 2006

Colorado Amendment 44 gets more good press

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

With the election now just a week away, Halloween brings more great press for the folks at SAFER in Colorado who are campaigning for Amendment 44. This is a surprisingly open-minded profile of Mason Tvert, who is managing the SAFER campaign, from the Washington Times.

National NORML is helping to raise funds and coordinate efforts with SAFER. NORML Director Allen St. Pierre and NORML advisory board member Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), were both in attendance at the Capitol counter-rally described in the article.

I'm told that if it doesn't pass this time, there will be a network of grass roots activists, including many NORML members, ready to push it through in 2008.

The best scenario would be for it to pass next Tuesday, so this approach, which the Times describes as, "Alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, and therefore, marijuana should be legalized", can be used in other states.

This is just common sense. As a society, we have become numb to the daily barrage of negative side effects of overconsumption of alcohol. Clearly it is more than a problem, it is a crisis. Young men are drowning in the Mississippi River at La Crosse WI after getting drunk and falling in. The last victim had a .0432 BAC. La Crosse County decriminalized pot, but that does not go far enough. The state needs to legalize it. Under the current laws, we reward people for choosing alcohol and punish them for choosing cannabis.

People are dying. Legalizing cannabis is harm reduction. These are our children, falling off porches, drowning in pools, being beat up or raped. And these are our tax dollars being used to corral unruly drunks and police rowdy streets and keep the peace, at great cost. Madison spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing and policing Halloween. No riots this year, but plenty of drinking. The Detox Unit was prepared for a deluge of drunks. Who pays? We do.

But, you can play offense. There is still time for readers to donate to the SAFER campaign. They get good results with little funding. Be a part of history. SAFER website click here

Richmond Graduate Fuels Colorado Pot Movement

Pubdate: Tue, 31 Oct 2006
Source: Washington Times (DC) click here
Copyright: 2006 News World Communications, Inc.
Contact: letters@washingtontimes.com
Author: Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times


If Coloradans vote to legalize marijuana statewide next week, it will be almost entirely because of the efforts of a pudgy, clean-shaven 24-year-old University of Richmond graduate.

Mason Tvert, campaign manager for Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation, has pushed Colorado to the forefront of the marijuana movement, first with his successful 2004 Denver campaign and now with the statewide Amendment 44.

The amendment would allow people 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. If approved, it would make Colorado the first state to decriminalize marijuana.

It's a lofty goal for a campaign that, as Mr. Tvert describes it, consists of "two guys in a rental car." Mr. Tvert is running the effort from his cell phone and laptop, but that doesn't mean his opponents aren't taking him seriously.

Federal drug czar John P. Walters visited Colorado three times this year to denounce the effort, which almost every state lawmaker opposes. What Mr. Tvert brings to the table are energy, imagination, a knack for attracting free press and relentless tactics.

A case in point was an anti-Amendment 44 press conference Friday at the state capitol. Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, and other state officials were expecting to address reporters on the dangers of pot, but instead were bombarded by more than 100 marijuana advocates, led by Mr. Tvert, chanting slogans and waving green campaign signs.

The protesters tried to drown out Mr. Owens and other speakers with jeers such as "Lie louder, Bill." A frustrated Mr. Owens finally responded, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is a sad day for Colorado."

Attorney General John Suthers chided Mr. Tvert for interrupting the governor's message. "I thought his behavior was reprehensible," he said.

Whether such tactics will Mr. Tvert him any votes is debatable. A Denver Post poll showed Amendment 44 trailing 57 percent to 34 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

Mr. Tvert, who is counting on a big turnout from students after his campus voter-registration drives, said his supporters aren't easily reached on land lines. What is clear is that Mr. Tvert has hit a chord with his primary message: Alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, and therefore, marijuana should be legalized.

His message is backed by personal experience. He said that the summer before entering the University of Richmond, he drank himself unconscious during a concert and woke up in the emergency room.

He wasn't cited or punished, even though he was underage. He was subpoenaed later to testify against a fellow student who had been arrested for marijuana possession.

"What it shows is that our government's priorities on drug education are so skewed," Mr. Tvert said. "Have you ever seen a government committee warning that you could die of drinking? No. But I've seen plenty of commercials telling people they could ruin their lives smoking pot."

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
READ Article at MAP/DrugSense: click here

Posted by Gary at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2006

Colorado Springs Business Journal: Marijuana Sales, Distribution Major Part of Local Economy

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, October 27, 2006

Win or lose, the campaign in Colorado for Amendment 44, the ballot initiative that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot, is stimulating discussion about marijuana prohibition in state media. Discussion has ranged from things like the safety of cannabis versus alcohol to even the economics of prohibition in an article from the Colorado Springs Business Journal, of all places (below). To learn more about the SAFER campaign or to make a donation, click here

Pubdate: Fri, 27 Oct 2006
Source: Colorado Springs Business Journal (CO) click here
Copyright: 2006 The Colorado Springs Business Journal
Contact: http://www.csbj.com/contact_us/contact_form.cfm?employeeNum=2&employee=Mike%20Boyd
Author: John Hazlehurst
Note: A detailed table "Input/Output model of the economic impact of the Colorado Springs marijuana trade" is on line with the article at click here


Impact in Colorado Springs Could Be Equivalent to $80 Million in Retail Sales, Account for 1,100 Jobs

On Nov. 7, Colorado voters will decide whether to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by any person over 21.

Initiative 44, which is modeled after an ordinance that Denver voters approved in 2004, is seen by both supporters and opponents as a first step toward comprehensive legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Eliminate the legal, social and moral arguments, and one thing becomes very clear: even without Initiative 44, the marijuana trade in El Paso County is a major contributor to the local economy.

According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 13.3 percent of Colorado residents use marijuana. Use spikes between the ages of 18 and 25, a demographic in which fully a third of all Coloradoans are users.

In Colorado Springs, where age demographics trend younger than statewide figures, as many as 15 percent of residents might be marijuana users. Given a metropolitan population of 550,000, that translates to 80,000 people.

Law enforcement officials, users and dealers estimated that the average marijuana user in Colorado Springs purchases/consumes about three ounces annually at a cost of about $1,000.

That translates into a yearly retail market of $80 million, derived from the distribution of 1,250 pounds of marijuana every month, or 41 pounds a day.

A typical Wal-Mart superstore, such as the one currently under construction on Baptist Road south of Monument, generates $45 million in annual retail sales. Is the impact of the marijuana trade, then, roughly equivalent to a pair of big-box superstores?

Difficult to Compare

Sue Piatt of the Colorado Office of Economic Development is cautious about making any such comparisons. She points out that such stores not only pay sales taxes, but, unlike the marijuana trade, also rely upon a complex infrastructure of buildings, suppliers, transporters and administrators.

A better measure of the magnitude of the marijuana trade, she suggested, might be to compare it to the gross annual sales of selected jurisdictions -- information that's available from the state Department of Revenue.

Manitou Springs, for example, has gross annual retail sales of about $65 million. Buena Vista is a little higher, at $90 million, while Crested Butte, at $79.5 million, nearly matches the estimated annual volume of the local marijuana trade.

At the Business Journal's request, Fred Crowley, a research economist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, created an input/ output model of the marijuana business (see sidebar). In an e-mail, Crowley commented briefly on the model.

"[My] analysis is based on the assumption the money from the sale of marijuana is spent in the local community. It was assumed $80,000,000 income is made from the sale of marijuana.

"It was assumed the income is earned by a cross section of households selling the drug from lower to higher income levels.

"Needless to say, the analysis is not an endorsement of the activity. Rather, it is an effort to identify the economic effects of the money being spent in El Paso County as a result of the sale of the marijuana. Social costs have not been included since I do not have the data on these items."

This is what the input/output analysis determined:

* Job creation: 1,100

* Income creation: $29.83 million annually

* Sales tax collections (state, county and city): $1.76 million

Tough to Quantify

Underground economies are notoriously difficult to quantify, since the usual metrics simply don't apply. You can't track store receipts, or sales tax collections, or wholesale inventories or bank deposits.

But you can track people -- people who are supplementing their incomes by selling or growing marijuana. Their ranks include not only bartenders and musicians but also middle-aged businessmen and spirited grandmothers.

"Dave," a slender, cheerful man in his early 20s, is seated at a rickety wooden table in the kitchen of his modest downtown apartment.

"You won't see anything better than this," he says, passing over a plastic bag of high-grade marijuana. "This is B.C. bud. You want an ounce -- it's $400."

B.C. bud is a generic term for high-potency marijuana, much of which is thought to originate in British Columbia.

Dave is a small-time marijuana dealer -- the last link in the supply chain. He's been selling to a small circle of friends and acquaintances since he was in high school.

"I used to ride my bike around Rockrimmon to make deliveries," he said. "Now I just e-mail my list, and they come by."

For Dave, selling marijuana is a simple, painless and, he thinks, relatively risk-free way to make extra money.

"I don't make much, maybe a thousand a month," he said. "But I can work part-time doing construction, and have plenty of time for my music. Next year, I'm going to finish up at UCCS. I'd like to go to law school after that. I don't want to be doing construction all my life."

Projecting the Size

Law enforcement officials have long sought to estimate the size of drug markets by applying a multiplier to the quantity of drugs seized in transit. Typically, authorities have estimated that no more than 5 percent of marijuana shipments are successfully interdicted.

As a point of reference, last year, 2,391 pounds of "processed marijuana" were seized in Colorado, as well as 7,383 cultivated plants. Of the plants, 3,919 came from indoor "grows," and 3,464 from outdoor plots.

According to local dealers, native-grown marijuana is almost exclusively cultivated indoors, under the lights. If undetected, it's a profitable business.

"Jim," a popular Springs bartender, described one such grow. "It's almost as big as the bar," he said, indicating, with a sweep of his hand, an area about 30 feet by 50 feet. "And the plants are like six feet tall."

As a retail business, the marijuana trade appears to have several unique characteristics:

* It requires none of the infrastructure associated with similarly-sized retail businesses. There are no fleets of delivery trucks, no warehouses, no inventory control systems, no point-of-sale systems, no licensing and no direct tax payments.

* Retail distribution is entirely in the hands of small individual entrepreneurs, with little access to capital.

* There is little incentive for most of those individuals to increase their sales activity beyond a certain point. Every additional customer heightens the risk of detection and arrest.

* It seems likely that most small-time dealers net $1,000 or less per month, and expend the money as it is received.

Might Be More

Sitting in her light-filled North End home, "Lilith," a 50-something professional who has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years, reflects on her years as a marijuana dealer. Told that NSDUS estimates suggest that there are more than 80,000 marijuana users in the Pikes Peak region, she smiles gently.

"I think that's low," she said. "You wouldn't believe who my customers are -- they're very straight, very respectable. I've never had more than half a dozen. The problem has always been finding suppliers. I need to find a grower."

If marijuana were to be legalized and regulated, what would be the economic impact of such a change?

Present channels of sales and distribution would likely disappear. Prices also would likely plummet, even if the product was, like tobacco, heavily taxed.

Thousands of individuals would lose a substantial portion of their income.

If, as Crowley's model suggests, the marijuana trade is responsible for more than a thousand jobs in the Pikes Peak Region, the economic impact of legalization would be comparable to the closure of a manufacturing business employing a thousand people.

"We'd be out of business -- just like the bookies and numbers runners went broke when Lotto came in," said "Gary," a former hippie and now a successful Springs businessman. "Back then, there weren't so many gamblers, the odds were better, and it was a nice, quiet little business -- so there'd be a lot more stoners, bad dope and nobody would make any money.

"But", he added, brightening, "I guess the cops would be out of work, too."

Posted by Gary at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2006

Shepherd Express: Where's Jacki's Medicine?

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Milwaukee's Shepherd Express covered Jacki's fight to get an answer from Mark Green in an article in this week's edition. One small correction, Jacki is not receiving federal medical marijuana supplies. She was approved, but never supplied.

The day before, in Green Bay, Jacki's friends continued to keep up the pressure on Mark Green to reply to Jacki's letter. A small protest was held at the Brett Favre Steakhouse, the site of a small fundraiser for Green. Spotting a sign supporting medical marijuana with the universal "no" symbol over his name on the way in, Green reacted with a comment.

With the election less than two weeks off, will Green give Jacki an answer?

The three surviving members of the Commando Squad click here at Harvest Fest 2006
(photo by carissa)

Source: Shepherd Express click here
Pubdate: October 26, 2006
Author: Shepherd Express Staff
Section: Expresso


Mark Green doesn't support medical marijuana for seriously ill people

Polls show that an astounding 80% of Wisconsin residents favor legalizing marijuana for seriously or terminally ill patients if a physician supports that course of therapy.

But don't count Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green as a member of the majority.

Medical marijuana activists have been seeking answers from Green, the son of a South African doctor, about his views on allowing seriously ill people to use marijuana as part of a state-regulated program. When Madison resident Gary Storck wrote to Green last year, Green's letter indicated that he was against legalizing medical marijuana, even for those suffering from debilitating medical conditions. "Smoking marijuana, even in small amounts, carries health risks that exceed any perceived therapeutic effects," Green wrote. "I believe current medical options are superior to legalizing an addictive and dangerous illegal drug."

Jacki Rickert, founder of Is My Medicine Legal Yet? (IMMLY), wasn't satisfied with that answer. "That's a belief, not a scientific fact," she said.

Rickert, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Advanced Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, wants to know what these "superior" options are. "Is there something that our doctors and pharmacists don't know?" she said.

Rickert, who uses a wheelchair, has been receiving medical marijuana through a federal program that is now closed to new patients, and firmly believes she's been helped by it.

But Jacki and her fellow "medical marijuana commando squad" haven't gotten an answer from the congressman, so they held a protest at Green's campaign office in Allouez.

It didn't seem to sway the congressman's opinion.

The NBC affiliate in Green Bay quoted Mark Graul, Green's campaign manager, as saying, "I don't think your average Wisconsinite believes we should be legalizing drugs."

But Graul may be mistaken. According to the protesters, they've gotten lots of support from passersby-a honk and waves from a car with three nuns, stories about other folks who've benefited from medical marijuana and signs of support from seniors.

Posted by Gary at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2006

Colorado Amenment 44 : Marijuana Use A Safer Choice Than Alcohol

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, October 20, 2006

One of many interesting and important contests across the country in the hugely important upcoming elections is Colorado's Amendment 44. If passed by Colorado voters, possession of up to an ounce of pot would be legal. Colorado already has medical use in place, and a campaign by SAFER, the group pushing Amendment 44, already passed a similiar initiative in Denver earlier this year.

Below is an OPED by Mason Tvert, the campaign director for SAFER click here. In addition to Colorado, Nevada has another attempt to legalize an ounce and South Dakota has medical use on the ballot click here. Several West Coast cities are voting to tax and regulate or make pot the lowest priority. The SAFER campaign is noteworthy for making an issue out of the relative safety of pot vs. alcohol, a contest alcohol cannot win. A win here could start a trend.

The OPED, originally published in the Pueblo Chieftain, was the feature article in DrugSense Weekly.

From the DrugSense Weekly, Oct. 20 , 2006 #471

Read This Publication On-line: click here


Marijuana Use A Safer Choice Than Alcohol

By Mason Tvert

Colorado -- Amendment 44, the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative, was proposed for one simple reason: The laws currently on the books force adults to choose alcohol instead of marijuana when they seek to relax or socialize. Given alcohol is far more harmful than marijuana, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Let's consider just a few of the facts.

Alcohol is deadly; marijuana is not. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 20,000 Americans die annually as the direct result of alcohol consumption. The comparable number for marijuana is zero.

In addition, as the Colorado on-campus deaths of students like Samantha Spady and Gordy Bailey make clear, alcohol overdose deaths are not just possible, but an all-too-frequent occurrence. Marijuana, on the other hand, has never caused an overdose death.

Alcohol increases the likelihood of violent behavior; marijuana does not. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice has reported the following about crime in the United States: "Two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor. Among spouse victims, three out of four incidents were reported to have involved an offender who had been drinking."

Alcohol is especially problematic on college campuses. Drinking by college students, ages 18 to 24, contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries and 70,000 cases of sexual assaults or date rapes each year, according to a 2002 study commissioned by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Task Force on College Drinking.

While these numbers are staggering, some statistics are even more powerful when conveyed as percentages. For example, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health College found that nearly three quarters (72 percent) of all college female rape victims experienced rape while intoxicated.

In order to correct this illogical system, and to give adults the freedom to use marijuana if that is what they prefer, we have proposed making the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for individuals 21 years of age and older. If you look at the language of our proposed measure, you will see this is our only intent. In fact, we specifically make it clear that possession of marijuana by individuals under the age of 21 will remain illegal.

Yet the attorney general of this state, John Suthers, in The Chieftain, has accused us of "recklessly" legalizing transfers of marijuana to minors. He has even libelously said that we are advocating such a change in law.

He knowingly ignored the fact that the drafters of the Blue Book (state voter guide) in the state legislature were the ones who claimed our initiative would legalize transfers to minors, with language the Rocky Mountain News called "misleading" and "false." In response, we sued the Legislative Council in court in order to clarify that such transfers would remain illegal after passage of our initiative due to the existence of a "contributing the delinquency of a minor" statute.

This statute provides, in very clear language, that it is a felony to aid a minor in breaking a state law. Since possession of marijuana by a minor will still be illegal after passage of our initiative, providing a minor with any amount of marijuana will be a felony.

The attorney general said in his column - and the Chieftain editorial board strangely agreed - that a "creative defense attorney" would somehow convince a judge that people voting for our initiative intended to make transfers of marijuana to minors legal. This is absurd.

The attorney general should be far more concerned about the fact that he is going around the state telling defense attorneys that the contributing to the delinquency of a minor statute does not apply to transfers of marijuana to minors. This means individuals committing such an act will only be charged under current possession laws and subject to a $100 fine, which your paper recognizes as "not a high priority for law enforcement." If he doesn't think marijuana should be transferred to minors, why on earth is he telling everyone it is (and should remain) only a $100 fine right now and not a felony? Nice work, Mr. Suthers.

Please don't let elected officials fool or scare you into keeping marijuana illegal. Those who want to maintain our alcohol-based society - and the violence and death frequently associated with it - are the ones who are truly "reckless."

Vote YES on Amendment 44 and help make Colorado safer.

Note: Mason Tvert of Denver is the campaign director for SAFER - http://www.SAFERcolorado.org - the political action group promoting Amendment 44 marijuana legalization. This piece was originally published in the Pueblo Chieftain.

Posted by Gary at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2006

Second medical marijuana protest at Mark Green office

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For the second time in 8 days, Mark Green's Green Bay campaign office is again the target of protesters decrying his opposition to medical marijuana.

At an earlier event on October 10, click here, Jacki Rickert delivered a letter asking Green to explain his claim that other medications are superior to cannabis. Today, protesters delivered a followup letter from Jacki, asking that Green respond to her first letter. Rickert, bedridden back home in Mondovi, will not be in attendance today.

Eric, who coordinated the event on-site in Green Bay, reported a nice turnout and lots of support from passing motorists. A carload of nuns even honked and gave thumbs up to protesters. Office staff was very pleasant when the letter was delivered, but had no response from Green to Jacki's query. Unfortunately, despite the larger group, no media were on the scene.

I'll be posting some pictures from the action once I get them.

Posted by Gary at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2006

Transcript of Green Bay TV Report on protest at Green office

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, October 13, 2006

Green Bay's NBC affiliate, WFRV Channel 26, covered the Commando Squad protest at Mark Green's campaign office click here. Below is a transcript of the report. It is interesting to note that when we were in the office, we were treated very nicely and Jacki and other patient's need for medical cannabis was not disputed. But, when the WFRV reporter went into Green's office to ask for comment, the comment was delivered not by the staffer we spoke to, but Green campaign manager Mark Graul, who had apparently been lurking there the entire time we were in the office without discussing this with us. Graul, rather than empathize with sick and dying Wisconsinites who use medical marijuana, instead crudely attempted to insinuate that this is somehow about "legalizing drugs". It seems to me this position says a lot about what kind of a governor Green would be and why it is in the best interests of Wisconsin patients that Green not be elected.

A small group of people protested outside Mark Green's Allouez Campaign Office today. The protesters believe medical marijuana should be allowed if a doctor writes a prescription, they say having the government regulation would make the drug safer for medical use.

"There's a lot of people in the state already using medical marijuana who are at risk for arrest and jail every day, all that we are asking is for is to have a law to protect us, and let us have safe access to our medicine so we don't have to buy it out on the streets." (Gary Storck, medical marijuana patient)

"I don't think you're average Wisconsinite believes we should be legalizing drugs" (Mark Graul, Mark Green's campaign manager)

Currently anyone caught with marijuana can be arrested here in Wisconsin

Aired 6pm news Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Source WGBA NBC26 News story. 60-second clip

Posted by Gary at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2006

Medical Marijuana Commando Squad pays visit to Green Bay Green for Governor office

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The picket line outside Green's strip mall office at 1915 S Webster Ave in Green Bay 

The press release below discusses the Tuesday visit to Green campaign office at 1915 S Webster Ave in Green Bay by the 3 surviving Medical Marijuana Commando Squad members, Jacki Rickert, Gary Storck and Jim Miller.

To view some more pictures of the action click here

PRESS RELEASE: Medical Marijuana patients and supporters deliver letter, protest at Green for Governor Green Bay campaign office

Medical Marijuana Commando Squad
Jacki Rickert: 715.926.4950
Gary Storck 608.241.8922
Jim Miller 908.279.4172

For immediate release: Wednesday, October 11, 2006


On Tuesday, Wisconsin medical marijuana patient-activists Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck, accompanied by New Jersey activist Jim Miller and other supporters, visited gubernatorial candidate Mark Green's Green Bay campaign office in Green Bay.

The group first delivered a letter to Green from Jacki Rickert click here, asking for clarification of his anti-medical marijuana remarks from a letter Green's congressional office had sent to Storck click here. After presenting the letter, the group moved out to the street and held signs supporting medical cannabis and highlighting Green's opposition. Many passing motorists honked their horns or gave thumbs up or other signs of support. The protest was reported by Green Bay TV channel 26 (NBC) click here.

The group is still awaiting a response from Green as promised by the staffer they spoke to.


Since 1999, three medical marijuana patients and the husband/caregiver of one have made it their goal to get politicians who are against medical marijuana to simply substantiate their opinions. Mostly operating in Washington DC, New Jersey, and Wisconsin they find other options when the normal course of action does not work. The leader of the Commando Squad died June 7, 2003, but the others continue to carry on what the late Cheryl Miller started.

For more information on the Medical Marijuana Commando Squad, visit: or read "Marijuana Fest Stokes Fight For Legalization", The Capital Times, Monday, October 9, 2006

- 30 -

Posted by Gary at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2006

Capital Times: Marijuana fest ignites fight for legalization

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, October 9, 2006

Madison's Capital Times offers some excellent coverage with the article below.

Drop Quote:
‘The sky didn’t fall, nothing happened, nobody got hurt, and we went all the way down the road in full public view and nothing went wrong.’ Jim Miller

Source: The Capital Times
Pubdate: October 9, 2006
Author: Ellen Williams-Masson Correspondent for The Capital Times


The skies were clear but a haze hung over hundreds of marijuana activists as they paraded up State Street to the Capitol for the 36th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival.

Some who marched advocated marijuana for medicinal purposes, while others championed hemp as an answer to the state's agricultural woes.

And more than a few undoubtedly toked up for the sheer pleasure of smoking a doobie on a sunny afternoon on State Street.

"The sky didn't fall, nothing happened, nobody got hurt, and we went all the way down the road in full public view and nothing went wrong," activist Jim Miller from New Jersey said.

"It makes no sense that if this is the way it works, why are people going to jail for doing that, when nothing happened?"

Miller is part of the "Commando Squad" that has fought for the legalization of medical marijuana and carries on the battle in memory of his wife, Cheryl.

Cheryl had lobbied for medicinal marijuana to ease her pain from multiple sclerosis before her death in 2003, and Miller played a tape of her agonized screams during physical therapy treatments without benefit of the drug.

Marijuana proponents have been fighting to legalize cannabis for decades since its criminalization in 1937, and local activist and Harvest Festival organizer Ben Masel believes they are slowly making headway.

"We've gotten a lot better, at least at the political level, at stopping new bad legislation," Masel said. "A lot of progress is happening on hemp agriculture."

Masel lost the U.S. Senate Democratic primary to incumbent Herb Kohl last month but secured more than 51,000 votes, more than half of which he attributes to marijuana supporters.

Masel also lost a Republican primary to Tommy Thompson in the 1990 governor's race when he ran on a platform advocating the use of hemp in agriculture.

Gary Storck, cofounder of the Madison branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), lamented the death of the medical marijuana bill during the past congressional session and pointed to the Capitol building behind him when he spoke at the rally.

"The people in this building are responsible for that bill dying in committee," he said. "It's time to turn these mothers out. We need you to vote, and we need to get your friends to vote."

Storck, Miller and other activists will be traveling throughout the state before the Nov. 7 election in an attempt to get candidates' positions on record regarding the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Storck cited a 2002 poll conducted by his activist group "Is my medicine legal yet?" (IMMLY) that reported over 80 percent of Wisconsin residents support legalized medical marijuana.

"No candidate should be able to run for office and get elected without stating their position on medical marijuana," Storck said. "Why won't they just do the people's will?"

Joann Price of Verona suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and also questioned why her medicine of choice isn't legal.

"I don't see why something that is a gift from God, a herb, made in the ground. . .can't be legalized," Price said from a wheelchair. "You've never heard of anybody getting into a fist fight or beating their spouse after they smoked a joint."

Proponents like Price say cannabis provides pain relief and alleviates a host of other medical conditions without the harmful side effects or high costs of many prescription drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement in April 2006 that the FDA, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy "do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes" because of a lack of sound scientific studies required for the FDA drug approval process.

Plenty of patients continue to self-medicate with marijuana, however, often as an alternative to prescription drugs. Cassius, a 23-year-old veteran who served in the Airborne Rangers, returned home from Baghdad with bottled up rage and a hand-rolled remedy to ease the pain.

"I smoke weed, and I'm going to die smoking weed," he said, declining to give his last name. "If I want to smoke marijuana, I can be judged, but I can fight and die for the country, and see my battle buddies blown up on land mines in Fallujah."

Cassius, a Gary, Indiana native, says he never used drugs before joining the military but now smokes pot on a daily basis to "mellow out" since he came home to a life of unemployment and disillusionment.

"A lot of rich guys, Caucasians, like to pull out their scotch with two ice cubes," he said. "War gives you a gift, because when you come back, you look at things differently."

Posted by Gary at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

Wisconsin State Journal: Hundreds rally to legalize marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, October 9, 2006

Drop Quote:
“We’re good members of the community. We’re otherwise law-abiding citizens who are taking a safer alternative to alcohol. We shouldn’t be punished for that.” GARY STORCK Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival organizer

"No police calls were made to the event Saturday or Sunday, and no arrests were made for marijuana use, said Madison Police Sgt. Dave McClurg."

Sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70's on Sunday helped swell attendance for Sunday's parade up State St. to the Capitol. Saturday's sunny skies and slightly cooler temps made festivities at the Library Mall a very comfortable and mellow experience. The Wisconsin State Journal weighed in with lenghty piece reprinted below.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Pubdate: October 9, 2006
Author: NATHAN LEAF 608-252-6126


As Wisconsin farmers tended to the soybean and corn harvest, hundreds of people gathered in Madison this weekend hoping that someday those same farmers will be able to legally add another cash crop to their yield.

On Saturday and Sunday on State Street Mall, proponents of marijuana legalization gathered to stump for their favorite weed with political speeches, music and - at least in a few instances - pot smoking at the 36th annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival.

Last year the focus was on supporting a bill that would have legalized medicinal marijuana in Wisconsin. But with the demise of that bill, this year's focus was on electing officials who do support legalization, said event organizer Gary Storck.

"Go out and ask the candidates where they stand and if they don't support medical marijuana or they refuse to say how they would vote on it, don't give them your vote," Storck said of this year's message at the festival. "There's so much fear out there. Seventy years of prohibition have made (marijuana) almost an expletive in some cases."

Storck estimated crowds in the hundreds attended the event, which he said functions not only as a rally but also a social gathering of like minds. "It's also kind of a social thing and a reunion of the cannabis community of the Upper Midwest," he said.

To Storck, marijuana's illegal status is un-American and unfairly punitive.

"We're good members of the community," he said. "We're otherwise law-abiding citizens who are taking a safer alternative to alcohol. We shouldn't be punished for that."

The event ended with a march up State Street and rally at the steps of the Capitol Sunday afternoon.

No police calls were made to the event Saturday or Sunday, and no arrests were made for marijuana use, said Madison Police Sgt. Dave McClurg.

"It's time to legalize it," said Ricardo Jimenez, a commercial artist from Trempealeau, about 20 miles northwest of La Crosse. Jimenez set up a booth at the event featuring smoking pipes, hemp clothing and a pot-leaf emblazoned flag proclaiming "Legalize It!" among other marijuana-branded items.

Jimenez said the movement to legalize marijuana is making progress.

"People are going to do it and you're not going to stop them," he said. With large numbers of people jailed for marijuana use, prohibition has created a dangerous, black-market drug trade, Jimenez said. "If they decriminalize it and (the government) controls it, you don't need all this madness."

Janny Mayo of Oshkosh comes to the festival every year and is unsure if marijuana will ever be legal. But she's hopeful.

"I do believe one day they will realize there is nothing wrong with it," she said Sunday afternoon from her stand selling Styrofoam pumpkins with pot-leaf cutouts. "There (are) more important things to worry about than people smoking pot. . . . It's just going to take enough people to push it."

Mayo feels that the taxes generated by legalized marijuana could be a boon for the government. "I think it would help the deficit a great deal, the money they could make off of it," she said.

Besides its political mission and status as a social event for marijuana supporters, the festival also shows marijuana use in a favorable light, Mayo said. "It's good because (the public) also sees that it's a peaceful thing," she said. "If this was a beer fest you'd have people raising hell, fighting and everything else."

Posted by Gary at 12:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2006

October 3rd, again...

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, October 03, 2006

As the years go flying by, there are a few dates each year on which I try to pause and reflect. One of these is October 3, the anniversary of an eye exam I had on October 3, 1972.

For years, I had been enduring the poking, prodding, bright lights and stinging drops as part of exams and treatment of my severe case of congenital glaucoma. Unlike earlier appointments, I had smoked some good cannabis beforehand, which I had recently become intimate with, like many high school seniors of the time.

My doctor of many years checked my eye pressures as he had done so many times before, but this time was different. Rather than confirming my normally elevated IOPs remained elevated, he was rather elated to discover that on this day they were normal.

The medical record from my glaucoma eye exam on October 3, 1972

I had previously read news articles about clinical trials performed at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1971 that first reported that inhaled cannabis temporarily reduces ocular pressures. Now, I had confirmed those results personally.

From that day forward I realized that glaucoma might not blind me. I had been steadily losing vision since I was a child, and treatments were few and risky. But, now there was something that gave me hope and some peace of mind after a childhood defined by fears of going blind. The only problem was, in 1971, just a year earlier as the clinical trials were ongoing, federal authorities had reclassified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. This was per the Controlled Substances Act, newly enacted less than two years earlier, on Oct. 27, 1970.

Today, the federal government still clings to the Schedule 1 fallacy, despite irrefutable proof that cannabis is a potent treatment for myriad illnesses and medical conditions. Ten years after California legalized medical marijuana, the war against patients continues. And, 34 years later, this patient is still waiting for the answer to the question, Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Posted by Gary at 12:45 AM | Comments (1)

October 02, 2006

NORML's "Smoke the Vote" rates Wisconsin congressional delegation

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, October 2, 2006

National NORML has launched their "Smoke the Vote" campaign.

Project VoteSmart rates Members of the House of Representatives on their voting record for several different marijuana-related bills and amendments click here.

The Wisconsin delegation stacks up like this:

Dave Obey- D 30
Tammy Baldwin- D 20
Ron Kind- D 10
Gwen Moore- D 5
Mark Green- R -10
Paul Ryan- R -10
Tom Petri- R -20
Jim Sensenbrenner- R -20

No big surprises here. Tammy Baldwin was edged out by David Obey because he voted against HJ Res. 117 in 1998, before Baldwin took office. If you consider that Tammy has been the sole member of the delegation to cosponsor The States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act year after year, as well as the Truth in Trials Act, then her score would be much higher. Tammy also sponsored medical cannabis legislation in the Wisconsin Assembly before moving up to Congress.

Ron Kind, on the other hand, lost points because he voted for HJ Res. 117, "Expressing the Sense of Congress that Marijuana is a Dangerous and Addictive Drug and Should not be Legalized for Medicinal Use" To his credit, he has supported the Hinchey Amendment, but twice, he broke appointments with Jacki Rickert at his DC office.

Gwen Moore deserved her score of 5. Despite strong support for medical cannabis in her district, she has been unwilling to do anything more than vote for the Hinchey Amendment. Attempts by state medical cannabis supporters to meet with her office in DC have been rebuffed. Despite her supposed progressive pedigree, she has been little better than her all but useless predecessor, Jerry Kleczka, on this issue. Based on her Hinchey votes, she deserves reelection, but she also needs education from her constituents so she can better reflect their overwhelming support of medical marijuana.

Mark Green, the anti-medical cannabis zealot now running for Wisconsin governor, got off with only a -10. His actual score should be much lower, and if elected, would likely veto any medical marijuana legislation, should it reach his desk. His opponent, Gov. Jim Doyle, has been on record since before his election in 2002 as ready to protect patients by signing medical marijuana legislation, should the legislature get it to him.

Paul Ryan also got off easy. Like Green, he is willing to put his opposition to medical cannabis in writing. His votes against the Hinchey Amendment reveal a man very comfortable with laws that put patients in jail for using medical cannabis.

Tom Petri, described by many as a moderate, is clearly no moderate on medical cannabis as evidenced by tying Jim Sensenbrenner for the lowest score.

Posted by Gary at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)