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Artwork: Jimmy Wheeler
The late Jimmy Wheeler, a medical marijuana patient in Washington, created this artwork. Now a proposed patient protection bill will be named in his honor.

​As most medical marijuana patients in the state already know, the current medical marijuana law in Washington doesn’t protect patients from search, arrest or prosecution.

The recent Washington Supreme Court ruling in State v. Fry further highlighted how little protection — as in almost none! — the current law gives “legal” patients.
Medical marijuana activists Ken Martin and Steve Sarich of patient advocacy group CannaCare contacted every Senator and Representative in Washington at the beginning of the current 2010 legislative session, attempting to find a sponsor for their new bill that would finally offer legal patients protection from arrest and prosecution.
“We could not find a single sponsor for this bill,” Sarich told Toke of the Town. “Those I actually spoke with told me they were ‘too busy’ this session.”
“This made us curious about what, exactly, these legislators were so busy working on (besides new taxes on just about everything),” Sarich said. “What we found amazed us.”

Photo: Andreas Fuhrmann/Record Searchlight
Veteran Sean Merritt has spoken out against gun store owners who won’t sell firearms to medical marijuana patients.

​Morphine? Klonopin? No problem. But if you use medical marijuana, no gun for you!

Redding, California gun dealer Patrick Jones — who happens to also be mayor of the town — refuses to do business with known medical marijuana patients.

That refusal has drawn lots of criticism from patients such as Army Spc. Sean Merritt, an honorably discharged and disabled veteran. The patients, who have twice gone to Redding City Council chambers to denounce Jones, say he is violating patients’ rights, reports Scott Mobley at the Redding Record Searchlight.
“There is nothing in state law that says I cannot own or possess a firearm,” Merritt said at a recent city council meeting. And to be told as such is branding me as a severe mental patient or a felon. I am neither.”

Photo: KTVQ

​Law enforcement agencies say they have faced a bit of a struggle since medical marijuana was approved in Montana in 2004, reports Nikki Laurenzo at KTVQ.

“We are in a quandary because we have conflict between state law and federal law,” said Billings Police Chief Rich St. John.
No quandary at all, Chief. Your duty is to enforce state laws. Leave the federal laws to federal agents. Problem solved!

Graphic: Phawker

​New Jersey farmers see a chance to add a profitable new crop now that the state legalized medical marijuana last month.

“We would all like to grow it because we think it would be a good cash crop — literally,” said Fairfield, N.J., nurseryman Roger Ruske, reports Joseph P. Smith of the Vineland Daily Journal.
The idea is being taken seriously ever since outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine, in one of his last official acts, signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.
The New Jersey Farm Bureau has looked into the issue in depth, and found both good news and problems with the concept.
Farm Bureau research associate Ed Wengryn said the legislation isn’t written clearly enough for the state Department of Health and Senior Services to write regulations.
“But I will say there are growers interested in it,” Wengryn said.

Photo: HempCon 2010
HempCon 2010 Los Angeles is already a huge success, with thousands of festive attendees on the convention floor. Stay tuned, San Francisco… your turn is in April.

​A three-day celebration of all things cannabis opens Friday in downtown Los Angeles.

HempCon 2010 Los Angeles, at the L.A. Convention Center, will host exhibitors from across the country who’ll be showcasing products and services relating to medical marijuana and the movement to legalize pot, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.
Smoking and marijuana won’t be allowed at the event.
“There’s not going to be any cannabis — but we’re trying to spread the word,” said Cheryl Shuman, executive director of Beverly Hills NORML 90210, a branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

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Photo: 9News
DEA agents bag and remove marijuana plants from the home of Chris Bartkowicz during their February 12 raid of his home

​A federal judge ruled Friday that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must keep 10 marijuana plants with roots along with 10 clone starts taken from a medical marijuana grower while he awaits trial on drug charges.

Joseph Saint-Velktri, attorney for defendant Chris Bartkowicz, appeared in federal court Friday morning after filing a motion which asks the federal government to preserve all of the plants taken from Bartkowicz’s home last week, reports Nicole Vap Jace Larson at 9News.
DEA agents brought into the courtroom a box of the marijuana taken from Bartkowicz’s home to show the state of the plants. The marijuana shown in court still had its root system, and appeared wilted but not dried.

Medical Marijuana Patients of the District of Columbia

​The District of Columbia Council is scheduled to hold a hearing next week to discuss legislation to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in D.C.

The bill was introduced in late January when Congress — after waiting more than 12 years — finally lifted restrictions that had prevented a 1998 voter initiative from being impolemented, reports Martin Austermuhle at The DCist.
The legislation would allow the creation of five marijuana dispensaries where patients with specific ailments and a recommendation from their primary care physician could go to buy pot. Patients would also be allowed to grow their own cannabis.
Medical marijuana advocates feel the proposed legislation is too restrictive and doesn’t live up to the spirit of the 1998 voter initiative. The advocates plan to propose a set of amendments to the bill.

Vegetable matter is sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 and marketed under the brandname “K2”

​Federal agents are cracking down in imports of a “synthetic marijuana” as the substance, legal in 49 states (everywhere except soon-to-be-illegal Kansas), gains popularity nationwide.

Officials claim Food and Drug Administration regulations bar the important and sale of JWH-018, a synthetic cannabinoid, “because it is not a tested and approved drug,” reports Peter Mucha at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Eighty-five parcels have already been seized at Philadelphia International Airport after tests proved positive for JWH-018, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Officials said the parcels were arriving from Amsterdam at a UPS facility at the airport.

Photo: ^Berd
Happier days: Olympia, WA Mayor Pro Tem Joe Hyer in 2009

​Well, at least Olympia used to be cool.

Olympia, Washington Mayor Pro Tem and incoming Thurston County Treasurer Joe Hyer was arrested Thursday evening at his home on suspicion of marijuana trafficking, according to Thurston County Sheriff Dan Kimball.

Kimball said the mayor pro tem’s arrest is the result of a two-month investigation by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, undoubtedly flush with stimulus cash and hungry for more.
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