No matter the media medium, the tragic story of the federal government’s war against a beloved plant and the people who’re keen to it, can’t be told enough times, in enough ways.
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United States Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), along with eight co-sponsors, has introduced legislation — House Bill 6335, the Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act — which seeks to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act so as to “exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical-marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.”
Representative Lee’s bill, the first of its kind ever introduced in Congress, is a direct response to Justice Department’s increased and arbitrary use of the civil asset forfeiture statute to sanction property owners whose tenants are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. Since October, US Attorneys in California alone have sent more than 300 threatening letters to landlords across the state, resulting in the closure of more than 400 dispensaries, according to tabulations compiled by the group Americans for Safe Access.
Speaking in support of the proposal, Rep. Lee explained, “As a long-time supporter of the rights of patients to have safe and legal access to medicine that has been recommended to them by their doctors, this bill will provide clarification to California businesses and security for California patients. The people of California have made it legal for patients to have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, as a result, thousands of small business owners have invested millions of dollars in building their companies, creating jobs, and paying their taxes. We should be protecting and implementing the will of voters, not undermining our democracy by prosecuting small business owners who pay taxes and comply with the laws of their states in providing medicine to patients in need.”
The Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act has been assigned before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. You can contact your member of Congress is support of the Act via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Several other marijuana law reform bills also remain pending before Congress, including:
* HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which prohibits the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess marijuana by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The measure presently has 20 co-sponsors. You can contact your member of Congress in support of this Act here.
* HR 1983, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which ensures that medical cannabis patients in states that have approved its use will no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies. The measure presently has 22 co-sponsors. Support this measure by clicking here.
* HR 1831, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, excludes low potency varieties of marijuana from federal prohibition. The measure presently has 33 co-sponsors. Its just introduced Senate companion bill, S 3501, has three co-sponsors. Contact your member of the House and Senate in support of this Act here.
* HR 6134, The Truth in Trials Act, provides an affirmative defense in federal court for defendants whose actions were in compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their state. The measure presently has 22 co-sponsors. You can support this measure here.
[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]
Total seizures of cultivated cannabis plants fell an estimated 35 percent between the years 2010 and 2011, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and published in the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.
Data for the year 2011 indicates that some 6.7 million cannabis plants were eradicated nationwide under the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, which is active in all 50 states. This figure represents the lowest total of cultivated plants eradicated since 2006, and is a 35 percent decrease from 2010, when the DEA reported eradicating some 10.3 million marijuana plants.
The year-to-year drop was largely a result of a decline in the total number of plants eradicated in California. In 2010, the DEA reported eradicating some 7.4 million plants in California. That number fell to just under 4 million plants in 2011.
Overall, approximately 60 percent of all of the marijuana plants eradicated in the United States in 2011 were from California plots.
The DEA further reported having seized over $11 million in assets associated with its eradication efforts in California. Nationwide, the agency reported seizing over $42 million in assets associated with its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.
According to a July 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under President Barack Obama is the largest on record, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011. According to the GAO, the fund paid out approximately $79 million to California law enforcement agencies, the most in the nation, for their participation in federal raids and seizures.
In recent months, the Justice Department has targeted numerous properties in California for civil asset forfeiture – including Harborside Health Center, the largest and most prominent medical marijuana dispensary in the state.
Year-to-year cannabis eradication data is available from the Sourcebook here.
As I wrote last week in an op/ed for The Sacramento Bee, when it comes to the federal government’s policy on marijuana, not so much.
Viewpoints: Science supporting medicinal pot is clear
via The Sacramento Bee
A dozen years ago, California lawmakers did something extraordinary. They authorized investigators throughout California to conduct a series of FDA-approved, gold standard trials to assess whether cannabis is safe and effective as a medicine.
In all, researchers conducted more than a dozen clinical studies examining whether cannabis could meet objective standards of safety and therapeutic efficacy. For example, investigators at the University of California, San Francisco, assessed whether vaporizing cannabis could rapidly and consistently deliver the plant’s active ingredients to patients in a manner that is far safer than smoking. It could. At UC San Diego, clinicians examined whether inhaling cannabis posed potential harms to the immune system, particularly in subjects suffering from immune-compromised conditions like HIV. It didn’t. And at universities throughout the state, investigators studied whether marijuana provided statistically significant relief in a number of hard-to-treat conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and neuropathic (nerve) pain. Cannabis did so – consistently.
… Nonetheless, policymakers – particularly those in Washington – have responded to these most recent scientific findings with no more than a collective yawn. Despite pledging to let “science and the scientific process … inform and guide decisions of my administration,” neither President Barack Obama nor Congress have taken any steps to amend federal law or federal policy to reflect the scientific reality that marijuana possesses well-established therapeutic value. In fact, this administration has taken just the opposite approach.
In 2011, the Obama administration quashed out-of-hand an administrative petition that sought federal hearings regarding the present classification of cannabis as a substance with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” In its rejection, the administration alleged, “The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”
Yet, the findings from California’s 12-year-old study program show that each of these claims is demonstrably false.
It is long past time to reject the notion that we as a society possess insufficient evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of cannabis. The truth is that we know plenty. Most of all we know that there remains no valid scientific reason to justify the continued targeting, prosecution and incarceration of those Americans who consume cannabis responsibly.
Read my entire commentary here.
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This week: Oregon will vote on legalization, a new study on cannabis use and MS, and the LA City Council moves to ban medical marijuana dispensaries citywide.
Also, check out RAND Corporations presentation entitled “Should Marijuana Be Legalized?” which was presented on Capitol Hill this month. While NORML disagrees on many of the points made, RAND’s views make for a very interesting discussion.