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Appeals Court hears case on medical value of marijuana


From Oct. 16th -

In front of a packed courtroom in Washington, the three-judge panel questioned ASA’s Chief Counsel Joe Elford and a federal lawyer about the merits of the scientific case, and the crucial legal issue of “standing.” Standing is a legal concept that restricts the right to sue to injured parties – people who are directly hurt by what they are fighting, and can get relief from a legal judgement. The issue of standing has been the reason why two prior appeals of the DEA’s classification of marijuana were rejected. In the past, patients have not been part of lawsuits against the Controlled Substances Act. The three judges were Merrick Garland, Karen Henderson, and Harry Edwards.

ASA’s Chief Counsel Joe Elford opened his appeal by arguing that the federal “Department of Health and Human Services plays a game of gotcha” by tightly controlling research access to cannabis and then claiming that there is not enough compelling research to justify reconsidering it as Schedule I. The Drug Enforcement Administration erred by determing that cannabis has a high potential for abuse when its findings determine its abuse and harm potential is less than other substances in less-controlled schedules, such as cocaine.

Judge Garland asked Elford if he was arguing that marijuana in fact meets HHS’s standard for studies. ASA’s counsel cited over 200 studies and argued that a circular standard is impossible to meet. He also said that, given that the schedule is relative, the DEA is ignoring even its own studies showing that marijuana has merely a “mild” potential for abuse.

Many observers felt the judges were willing to consider the argument of Michael Krawitz’s direct harm from the Controlled Substances Act, and this issue of “standing” has been the Achilles heel of past lawsuits against Schedule I. However, Judge Garland asked at one point, “Don’t we have to defer to the agency? We’re not scientists. They are.”

actually, the DEA gets its propaganda from the DHHS, who confirm what the DEA wants to hear.

no word yet on the ruling, from what I've seen.

Oct. 16th: New Hearing on Rescheduling of Cannabis


For the first time in 20 (!!) years, a federal court will hear evidence regarding the medical use of cannabis and be asked to change the DEA's current insistence that cannabis has no medical value.

Powerful Court Quietly Takes Marijuana Case That Could Shatter Federal Prohibition Laws

Specifically, ASA, a California-based patient-advocacy group, is trying to get the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana out of Schedule I, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970s category for drugs with “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and no “accepted level of safety for use under medical supervision.” Heroin, LSD, and PCP are also in Schedule I. Cocaine, methamphetamine and OxyContin are in Schedule II, legal for medical use but strongly restricted.

Two previous attempts to get the DEA to reschedule marijuana failed, but advocates believe there is enough new evidence to convince the courts. “There’s simply more science now,” says ASA chief counsel Joseph D. Elford. Since 2000, says Igor Grant of the University of California at San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, the center has done six studies that showed “efficacy for marijuana over a placebo” in relieving pain caused by peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).

This current attempt began in 2002, when a coalition of medical-marijuana and legalization advocates filed a petition with the DEA. It contended that cannabis “has an accepted medical use in the United States, is safe for use under medical supervision, has an abuse potential lower than Schedule I or II drugs, and has a dependence liability that is also lower than Schedule I or II drugs.” It requested that marijuana be moved to Schedule III (Vicodin, acetaminophen with codeine), Schedule IV (Valium, Xanax), or Schedule V (codeine cough syrup).

“Based on evidence currently available, the Schedule I classification is not tenable,” Grant wrote in the 2012 issue of the Open Neurology Journal . “It is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking. It is true cannabis has some abuse potential, but its profile more closely resembles drugs in Schedule III.”

read the article!

Who will say, “I just want to smoke it”?


Editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey writes for the Seattle Times:

A few weeks ago, I smoked it for the first time in 20 years. It was a quiet happening. I lounged by a campfire, entranced by the flames. Bugs gathered on the firewood, spooked by the smoke and heat. Some jumped to safety and some jumped into the flames. I pondered this for quite a while.

Afterward I thought, Why is this illegal? To protect the children? No children were present. And I am 61 years old. Why should I be subject to the laws for children?

The public concern over children is overdone. In the current “liberal” regime of marijuana for use as medicine, dispensaries are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school or playground. It is a stupid rule. Within two blocks of my house a 7-Eleven dispenses tobacco, wine and beer directly across the street from a park with play structures and ballfields. There is no problem for children. The 7-Eleven does not entice the children to buy cigarettes and beer. They buy Slurpees.

Is addiction the problem? I know addiction; I was addicted to cigarettes. Marijuana is not like that. The few people who continue to argue otherwise all seem to be in anti-drug work. They are making a living from prohibition, and they are seeing the worst cases. Their world is not representative and their view is not fair.

Hopefully state initiatives in Washington and Colorado can start this nation on a saner path regarding marijuana policy at the Federal level. Vote to legalize.

What Mormonism teaches me about religion

Apologies in advance for those I may offend.

I'm sharing this to talk about the issue of belief. When I look at Mormonism, I see the birth of every other religion, too. Because Mormonism originated in the U.S. - that also means it began in the not-too-distant past. Without the cover of a distant time, it's easier to ask about the origin of belief.

Revealed religious belief requires someone to accept the non-reality based stories of another person. When I hear the story of Joseph Smith and... Moroni (pardon, but I always think..what an appropriate name) I know that an entire religion came about because one guy claimed he saw a vision, an angel. Two other people claimed they were "witnesses." What this means is that they experienced the "same" vision or dream.

We know now that it's possible for charismatic people to influence the perceptions of others - to see things that aren't there - like the way Germans saw a superior "race" embodied in Hitler's political beliefs or the residents of Salem saw witchcraft among females.

I am honestly amazed that anyone would be incredulous enough to accept the beliefs of Mormonism - that anyone would take the stories that provide the foundation of the LDS belief literally. If someone is told these things are true as a child, however, I understand the belief would be as normal as being told that invisible germs make us sick. But upon reaching adulthood, surely we learn that things adults told us are not always true and we should examine those things to see if they do reflect reality.

Yet the belief is bound up in entire communities... in nearly an entire state, in a large population of people who reinforce that belief by enacting the rituals and approving of them - and by ostracizing those who don't participate. Buildings and monuments create a solid, engineered reality to shelter community belief.

Yet none of that matters, if your concern is with truth. If your concern is with belonging, however, it's dangerous to cut yourself off from your culture. Humans need one another to thrive and survive. Belief in some presence that compels us to reach out to others as we would have others reach out to us in times of need is a powerful motivator. Such belief creates community, and community reinforces belief.

When you are outside of that particular community and set of beliefs, however, religious understandings of the world seem bizarre and unsustainable for a mind that seeks to comprehend the world as it is, rather than as it we are told it is as children.

Of course, we all have beliefs that sustain us within our communities. We believe that all are created equal - even when we know all are not born into the same circumstances. All are created equal because we agree this idea treats others as we would hope to be treated ourselves.

We can accept this version of belief because it's mutual agreement and because its foundation is central to our reaction to community, and has been, even before we evolved our current consciousness of the world.

Isn't it enough to say that this golden rule, which exists across so many beliefs, is enough to sustain us? Do we need laws outside of those created by our institutions that were created to uphold this rule - isn't it enough to seek wisdom for how to live in this world without appealing to a power beyond reality?

This is what perplexes me about religion.

What Mormonism teaches me is how religion thrives.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

..speaks to the current Republican Party and religious right wing.

Marijuana Decriminalization on the Ballot in Grand Rapids, MI


City Commission this morning approved ballot language for a marijuana proposal that voters will consider in November. A city charter amendment sought by Decriminalize GR would make possession and use of marijuana a civil infraction enforced with a ticket, and prohibit Grand Rapids authorities from referring violations for criminal prosecution under state law...

Decriminalize GR last week submitted to the city clerk a petition with more than 10,000 signatures calling for the city charter amendment. The clerk’s office on Monday verified that the at least 6,565 of the signatures – the minimum 5 percent of registered city voters needed to get the proposal on the ballot – were valid.

If approved it would change the city’s laws to make being caught with marijuana a civil infraction punishable with only a $25 fine for the first offense. Fines would increase modestly for subsequent offenses.

Grand Rapids won’t be the only major city in Michigan voting on marijuana this November. After a lengthy two year legal battle the Coalition for Safer Detroit has an initiative that will finally be allowed to go before the voters in the city. If approved it will eliminate all local penalties for the possession of less than an ounce. Possession would still technically be illegal under state law.

Medical marijuana IS headed for Arkansas ballot (updated)

new link -

A measure that would legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas has qualified for the November ballot, according to the Associated Press.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care delivered more than a dozen boxes to the Secretary of State last month, which contained petitions with 67,885 signatures. The group’s first submission of signatures fell short after almost half of the entries were declared invalid and purged by the Secretary of State. But organizers managed to submit an additional 74,000 signatures, even though they needed fewer than 30,000.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act would allow up to 30 medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Arkansas and let patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. Cities and counties would be able to ban marijuana dispensaries under the law.

Only patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Tourette’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s Disease would be eligible to use medical marijuana.

original post:


A group of Arkansas drug reform activists submitted on Monday more than double the number of signatures needed to put their medical marijuana legalization initiative before the state’s voters in November.

The signatures represented the second round of petition gathering for campaigners with Arkansans for Compassionate Care, which saw its first submission of 65,413 signatures fall short after almost half of the entries were declared invalid and purged by the Secretary of State. Organizers told The Associated Press that they submitted an additional 74,000 signatures on Monday, even though they needed fewer than 30,000.

It’s not clear if voters in Arkansas, which trends deeply Republican, will approve the measure, but nationwide polling in recent years has found that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for medical use.

...The American Nurses Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America and the AIDS Action Council have all said that marijuana is useful in treating symptoms of numerous diseases like multiple sclerosis, AIDS wasting syndrome and chronic nausea caused by chemotherapy, among others.

Medical Marijuana Rescheduling to Go Before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals


This issue of whether or not the Drug Enforcement Agency acted inappropriately when it denied a petition to move marijuana from schedule I will go before the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit. The court has agreed to hear the case brought by Americans for Safe Access against the Drug Enforcement Agency. From ASA:

Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 16th at 9:30am.

“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy,” continued Elford. “What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.”

ASA filed its lawsuit in January, challenging the July 2011 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denial of the CRC petition, which was filed in 2002. The DEA is the final arbiter on petitions to reclassify controlled substances, but other agencies are also involved in the review process. Patient advocates claim that marijuana is treated unlike any other controlled substance in that rescheduling petitions are encumbered by politics and therapeutic research is subjected to a unique and overly rigorous approval process.

BrBa S5/E3

that is all.

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (Part 1)

Part 2:


Slavery By Another Name (the 1900s)


This is a long overlooked part of American history. After the assassination of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson's concern was to make sure white solidarity between North and South was reasserted - and Johnson, from Tennessee, cared little to nothing for the circumstances of those who had been held in slavery. Johnson opposed the freaking 14th amendment (states rights and all that.)

Radical Republicans of the Reconstruction Era wanted to thoroughly destroy the power structure that had made up the south before the Civil War. I agree. Ex-confederates should've never been allowed back into the Federal govt. They should've been executed as traitors, as the abolitionists wanted.

The sad irony, of course, is that it took another president by the name of Johnson to pass a civil rights act to undo what racists had undone over nearly a hundred years. He said Democrats had lost the south for a generation with his act. How repulsive that his prediction was correct.
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