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Photo: Don Skakie
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes: “Ending marijuana prohibition and focusing on rational regulation and taxation will free up law enforcement resources to combat violent and property crimes, and it will restore respect for government and the law”

​There’s a new move afoot to legalize cannabis in Washington state. The newly formed political action committee New Approach Washington on Wednesday filed an initiative to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in the state. Sponsoring the measure are prominent civic leaders, along with members of the public health and legal communities.

The initiative would authorize the Washington State Liquor Control Board to regulate the production and distribution of marijuana for sale to adults 21 and older through state-licensed stores. A new marijuana excise tax would be earmarked for prevention, research, education, and health care. State and local retail sales taxes would be directed to the general fund and location budgets.
Unfortunately, the initiative would not allow the cultivation of marijuana by recreational users (medical marijuana patients in Washington are already allowed 15 plants). Cannabis users would be required to buy their supply at state-licensed stores. Another possible sticking point is the codification a THC blood level of of 5 ng/ml as per se driving under the influence; that would criminalize any driving by most medical marijuana patients, although very few daily medicinal users would be impaired at that level.

Graphic: Virgin

​Feel that? It’s the political ground shifting underneath our feet.

On Thursday, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, an international organization consisting of high level current and former heads of state, along with policy experts, released a report suggesting world governments give up the War On Drugs and consider more rational harm-reduction policies, including removing all criminal penalties for the possession and use of marijuana.

The Commission, which includes former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, among many others, urged leaders to consider alternatives to incarceration for drug use to shift their focus toward treatment of drug abusers, rather than punishment and interdiction for recreational users.

The federal government refuses to reclassify marijuana as medicine — despite the fact that it has sent Irv Rosenfeld and a handful of other patients hundreds of joints a month for close to 30 years.

​A coalition of medical marijuana advocacy groups and patients filed suit Monday in D.C. Circuit Court to compel the Obama Administration to answer a nine-year-old petition to reclassify medical marijuana.

The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has never received an answer to its 2002 petition, despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is unfortunately the final arbiter in the rescheduling process.
As recently as July 2010, the DEA issued a 54-page “Position on Marijuana,” but failed to even mention the pending CRC petition.
Plaintiffs in the case include the CRC, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out of Time, as well as individually named patients, one of whom is listed on the CRC petition but died in 2005.

Governor Jack Markell of Delaware on Friday signed into law a measure legalizing medical marijuana in the state.

​Governor Jack Markell on Friday signed SB 17 into law, making it legal for Delaware residents with certain serious medical conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

The bill had bipartisan sponsors and support in the Legislature. This makes Delaware the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, to pass an effective medical marijuana law.
The law goes into effect on July 1 and will permit people diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, decompensated cirrhosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), intractable nausea, severe seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, wasting syndrome, and severe debilitating pain that has not responded to other treatments, or for which treatments produced serious side effects, to possess up to six ounces of marijuana without fear of arrest.

Graphic: THC Finder

​Once again, Illinois is moving tantalizingly close to legalizing medical marijuana.

The state House is moving closer to making medicinal cannabis available for patients to ease the side effects of debilitating medical conditions, reports Todd Wilson at the Chicago Tribune.
A stricter set of rules and a surprise political alliance are helping to build the momentum for the medical marijuana effort in Illinois, long thwarted despite coming within a four votes of passing the Legislature in January.

Graphic: THC Finder

​The Arizona Department of Health received 110 electronic applications — almost 60 percent of them for chronic pain — and authorized at least 44 people to use medical marijuana on Wednesday, the first day the program was active.

Their cards were mailed on Thursday, reports Mary K. Reinhart at AZCentral, allowing them to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, and grow up to 12 plants.
Those who live closer than 25 miles to the nearest dispensary eventually won’t be allowed to grow their own, but until the dispensaries are up and running, all patients are allowed to grow.
About a third of the applications were rejected for various reasons, including problems with physician forms certifying the patient has a specific debilitating medical condition and could benefit from using marijuana.

Photo: THC Finder

​The Delaware Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana, despite reservations from some supporters who said the legislation has flaws.

The bill would allow adults with debilitating illnesses such as HIV or cancer to get authorization from their doctors to buy marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries, reports Chad Livengood at Delaware Online.
On an 18-3 vote, the Senate sent Senate Bill 17 to the House, where supporters believe there are enough votes to get the bill to Gov. Jack Markell’s desk for a signature. Of course, there were a few alarmists who claimed the bill puts Delaware on the path towards legalizing marijuana altogether, as if that’d be the end of the world.


​Delaware, ​”The First State,” could become the 16th to legalize medical marijuana.

State Senator Margaret Rose Henry and three Senate co-sponsors on Tuesday introduced SB 17 in the Delaware State Senate, calling for a common sense approach to providing compassionate care for seriously ill patients seeking relief with medical marijuana. Rep. Helene Keeley is the prime sponsor in the House, with eight co-sponsoring House members on the bill.

Montel Williams, a popular former talk show host and multiple sclerosis patient, attended Tuesday’s legislative session to meet with lawmakers and the Governor to urge them to support SB 17. Neuropathic pain associated with MS is one of the ailments for which marijuana has been shown to provide relief.
Passage of the bill would allow Delaware patients suffering from several devastating illnesses to receive medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin: “Politicians should not get in the way of people getting the medical relief they need”

​Just weeks after a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Maryland failed last spring, the state senator who sponsored the legislation — Jamie B. Raskin of Montgomery County — found himself with a very personal perspective on the issue.

His doctor told him he had a “worrisome” mass the size of a golf ball in his colon. Raskin, 48, learned four days later he had cancer, reports Ann E. Marimow at The Washington Post.
“Public health is now personal for me,” Raskin said. “I know what it means for people to be living on the absolute edge of hope and despair, and politicians should not get in the way of people getting the medical relief they need.”
Raskin, a Democrat, will be a leading voice on several issues during the legislative session, according to the Post, but when he talks about medical marijuana he’ll add a compelling personal story to the debate over whether Maryland should join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing cannabis for medicinal use.
Raskin said he didn’t consider medical marijuana during his chemotherapy because of a family history of asthma and cystic fibrosis. But he insists that he and his fellow legislators should work “to relieve suffering.” Medical marijuana, according to proponents and patients, can ease pain and nausea and stimulate appetite for those suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Graphic: Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project

​A medical marijuana advocacy group in Colorado has filed a lawsuit to overturn parts of that state’s medical marijuana law dealing with patient privacy, safe access, Department of Revenue regulation, and physician recommendations.
Kathleen Chippi and the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project want to scrap parts of House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 109. The suit was filed by Wednesday with the state Supreme Court, in an attempt to fast-track the process and bypass lower appellate courts.
“This petition was necessary to stop the state’s blatant attack on fundamental constitutional patient and caregiver rights,” Chippi said. “Coloradans need immediate clarification on rights they enjoyed from 2000 through 2009, and why some of those rights were extinguished by the state Legislature in 2010.”
“Medical marijuana patients are sick of being treated like second-class citizens,” Chippi said.
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