Letter: Capital Times: Congress should protect Americans legally using medical marijuana
Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
This letter, published today, ends a long LTE drought for me in the Cap Times going back to last March. TCT editor Dave Zweifel served up a great editorial, ("Sentencing Laws Should Make Sense" click here) that gave me the opening. With that I was able to get in last week's dispensary raids and the unjust Landa sentence.
Source: Capital Times
Pubdate: January 23, 2007
Author: Gary Storck
CONGRESS SHOULD PROTECT AMERICANS LEGALLY USING MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Dear Editor: Congress not only needs to enact sentencing reform, as Dave Zweifel says in "Sentencing laws should make sense," but also must protect medical marijuana patients and providers being targeted by federal agents in the 11 states that have legalized this therapy.
Not only are people acting legally under these state laws being arrested for federal offenses, they are then being sentenced to long federal prison terms. A prime example is Stephanie Landa, a 60-year-old medical cannabis patient and provider who on Jan. 4 turned herself in to federal authorities in San Francisco to begin a 41-month term for growing her medicine.
Just Wednesday, Drug Enforcement Administration agents simultaneously raided 11 medical cannabis dispensaries in the Los Angeles area. In West Hollywood, a city with a self-proclaimed "long-standing commitment" to the use of medical marijuana for patients with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses, city officials were stunned when the raids took out five of the city's seven dispensaries.
For an administration constantly harping about spreading democracy, the Bush administration's continued subverting of state laws and states' rights is the height of hypocrisy. Making war on sick people for their choice of medicine is not only cruel and immoral, but a complete misallocation of federal resources.
Medical marijuana supporters in Congress, the bulk of them Democrats, unsuccessfully tried four times since 2003 to pass a budget amendment that would eliminate these wasteful raids. Now that Democrats are in the majority, with medical marijuana supporter Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, it's time to end this madness once and for all by not just ending the raids, but by passing legislation allowing all Americans equal and legal access to this valuable medicine.
Bob Barr to Jim Miller: The Commando Squad was right!
Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, January 19, 2007
Updated Saturday, January 20, 2007
On Thursday, January 18, 2007, there was an event in New York City featuring Ethan Nadelmann from the Drug Policy Alliance and Bob Barr, former congressman and current civil libertarian, in what was billed as a debate about medical marijuana.
Jim Miller was there with a portable dvd player loaded with clips of the Commando Squad taking over Barr’s office in October 1999 click here and the libertarian party commercial featuring his late wife Cheryl.
Cheryl Miller and Bob Barr, two days before Jim placed her in Barr's office doorway in protest of his mmj position.
Jim Miller and Bob Barr, at the "debate", January 18, 2007.
The Commando Squad at Bob Barr's office on Thursday October 21, 1999.
The Libertarian Party commercial with Cheryl that unseated Barr.
Engaging Barr in conversation as he arrived, Jim quickly got an inkling that his position on medical marijuana had evolved a full 180 degrees.
During the Q&A, Barr had kind words about Cheryl and noted she had passed. Later, Barr posed for a photo with Jim, and told him to call him Bob.
Jim reported that Barr’s conversion came to the apparent surprise of the entire room. And while Barr’s position now is perhaps based more on the Constitution than compassion, the end result is that the congressman with whom we disagreed so much that we staged at protest in his doorway now agrees with us.
But, we need the folks in Congress now to act on this now. With Wednesday’s DEA raids in the LA area taking out 11 medical cannabis dispensaries in one day click here, Congress needs to step in and step up and protect patients and states’ rights. Barr’s defection certainly undermines what little standing medical cannabis opponents have left.
John Nichols recently wrote a column that was published in the Capital Times, "John Edwards Deserves Another Look" (Jan. 2) click here. I too, have been impressed with Edwards talk about poverty and other social issues, and Nichols’ column inspired me to see if other positions had evolved.
In his campaign for the 2004 nomination, Edwards publicly stated that he supported federal raids against patients and caregivers in states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana, and that he would not change federal law to protect patients who use medicinal pot.
But, in the interim, Edwards’ wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment. Like many others, I wondered if the experience of seeing a loved one suffer through serious illness had caused him to reconsider.
I called a number listed on his website click here and was advised to submit my question via email, and assured I would receive a response. I sent an email noting I had supported John Kerry in 2004 because of his support of medical marijuana. I also wrote, “I also have friends and loved ones who faced cancer. Some are still fighting, and others did not make it. Cannabis was of help to all. Most stated they would not be able to continue treatment without it. Several are now cancer free and leading productive lives.”
As of this writing, there has been no response from the Edwards campaign, and I doubt there will be. Decades of being both a medical marijuana advocate and patient has made it easy to spot politicians who are medical marijuana cowards. If Edwards were a real leader, he would have been on record as a supporter long ago.
Right now, the only declared 2008 candidate willing to really stand up for medical marijuana patients is a medical marijuana patient himself, Steve Kubby, seeking the Libertarian nomination click here. Kubby, the longest-surviving adrenal cancer patient on record, relies on medical cannabis to control life-threatening spikes in blood pressure caused by the disease. Running for governor of California in 1998, Kubby was wrongly targeted for his legal medical cannabis use, arrested, tried, convicted and eventually forced to seek asylum in Canada. After asylum was refused, Kubby was expelled and jailed for two months upon his return to the U.S.
The notion that supporting medical cannabis is the kiss of death to candidates is simply not true. Polling has not only found that most Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, but also that voters are more likely to support candidates who support medical marijuana.
If Edwards and other mainstream candidates can’t find it in themselves to be compassionate to the sick and dying or even agree with the wishes of most of the people they seek to lead, then why are they even running?
Ben Masel, fresh off winning the votes of over 51,000 Wisconsinites in his losing bid against Herb Kohl in the September 2006 primary, has announced plans to run again for Kohl’s seat in 2012.
Wisconsin State Journal columnist Melanie Conklin broke the news in her January 6, 2007 column, “Doyle's graceful inaugural dance,”
While most partygoers reveled in moment, at least one looked toward a future race. Asking Ben Masel, the well-known marijuana law reform advocate, if he was on hand to celebrate Doyle's re-election, he commented, "I'm here to work the crowd." Masel, who recently became a grandfather, explained, "I've filed to run for the Senate in 2012. I think this is the earliest on record."
Born in 1935, Kohl was first elected to the Senate in 1988 and re-elected to a fourth six-year term in 2006, after defeating Masel in the primary. In 2012, Kohl will be celebrating his 77th birthday on Feb. 7 of that year, although he already seems much older than that. Strangely, Kohl remains one of the most popular elected officials in Wisconsin, despite his lack of listening sessions or other interaction with constituents, as well as votes for things like the war in Iraq, PATRIOT Act and the bankruptcy bill. Still, Masel was able to gain 15% of the vote by spending less than $900 in one-dollar contributions. His total in the Democratic primary was 10,000 more than his Green Party colleague, Rae Vogeler, got in the general election in November. Masel’s entry into the 2012 race should mean it will be interesting!
This was published in the Wisconsin State Journal on Sunday, December 31, 2006, page one of the Forum section, upper left hand corner above the fold, under "Your Views" and "Cigarette Tax". Page C1. It was the first of several letters about a proposal to raise the state tax on cigarettes $1.00 per pack to $1.77. Nice placement. A lot of folks read the letter with their New Year's eve morning coffee and/or joint.
Unfortunately, a sentence that makes the letter a little clearer was edited out to make it fit: "Last week, a new study reported that marijuana is our nation's largest cash crop. "
As submitted, the first paragraph originally read:
"Recent articles and letters about a proposal to further raise Wisconsin's cigarette tax got me thinking. Last week, a new study reported that marijuana is our nation's largest cash crop. Despite almost 70 years of marijuana prohibition and nearly 800,000 arrests per year, most for simple possession, the cannabis market continues to grow. The report concluded cannabis should be taxed and regulated, like we do now with tobacco and alcohol."
The report referred to was John Gettman's study that was widely covered by the media via the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press, Pot Is Called Biggest Cash Crop,click here. Read Gettman's full report: click here.
Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Pubdate: December 31, 2006
Author: Gary Storck
TIME TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA AND TAX IT
Recent articles and letters about a proposal to further raise Wisconsin's cigarette tax got me thinking.
Despite almost 70 years of marijuana prohibition and nearly 800,000 arrests per year, most for simple possession, the cannabis market continues to grow. The report concluded cannabis should be taxed and regulated, like we do now with tobacco and alcohol.
This is not a new idea, and coincidentally, the report comes just days after the death of former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer.
A conservative Republican, Shafer had chaired President Richard Nixon's commission on marijuana. The commission concluded marijuana users "are essentially indistinguishable from their nonmarijuana using peers by any fundamental criterion other than their marijuana use."
They also found, "Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety."
Unfortunately, as we all know, Nixon's response was to reject the report and launch a full-blown war on pot smokers now in its fourth decade.
Today, we are still trodding down Nixon's dark road. Our prisons are jammed, our civil liberties are under siege, and even sick people are fair game in what has been for years our longest war. Still, as far down this wrong road as we are today, it is never too late to turn back.
In a world facing global warming, natural disasters, pandemics, terrorism, poverty and starvation, how can anyone say pot prohibition should be any kind of priority? Not only does it offer economic benefits and the creation of new jobs from farmers to cannabis baristas, but also safer communities with cannabis as a safer substitute for alcohol.
Tax and regulate and let the cannabis industry blossom.
- Gary Storck, co-founder of Madison NORML Wisconsin State Journal