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April 2005
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Anticipation…

I thought it would be good to recap just a few of the major events in drug policy reform that are in the works.

  • The Supreme Court Decision in Raich v. Ashcroft. The next possible dates for a decision are April 26, April 27, May 2, and May 16.
    • Raich Day of Action. If the result of the Supreme Court Decision is negative, then 50 hours later, a nationwide action will occur to raise the awareness that legislative relief is needed.
    • Hinchey Rohrabacher-Amendment. If the decision is negative, you’ll be asked to contact your Congressperson to pass the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, which prevents the federal government from using federal funds to interfere with states that have medical marijuana laws. (This is the same amendment that failed in 2004 and 2003.)
    • Truth in Trials. It’s possible that such an outcome would also revive interest in the Truth in Trials Act sponsored by Senator Durbin (which allows individuals who use marijuana for medical purposes under doctor supervision to mention that fact in federal drug trials.)
  • Plan Colombia Funding. Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26) is national call-in day to protest the administration’s plans to send another $731 million to Colombia. Call your Senators and Representatives tomorrow. Perfect timing, too! Condoleeza Rice is scheduled to be in Colombia on Wednesday to promote Plan Colombia. If the call-in goes well, this could dampen Rice’s media promotion of this waste of taxpayer money.
  • HR 1184, if enacted, would repeal the HEA Drug Provision that denies federal financial aid to many of those who most need it. No date set yet for considering HR 1184, although we hope it will happen during this session (currently in House Subcomittee on Workforce Protections. Take action now.
  • A legal challenge was filed on Friday by the ACLU on behalf of Professor Lyle Craker, Ph.D. against the DEA, for their policy of obstructing private research that could lead to marijuana being approved as a prescription medicine. A hearing is scheduled this summer.
  • Re-scheduling petition. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis submitted a petition to re-schedule Cannabis on October 11, 2002, which was accepted by the DEA on April 3, 2003. Expected date of final response by the DEA: when hell freezes over.
  • Data Quality Act Complaint. An attempt to force Health and Human Services to use their own rules to correct falsehoods about medical marijuana. Filed in October with a 60 day response time required. Given 3 extensions and finally responded by claiming to be able to fold their response into the re-scheduling petition (above). ASA has 30 days to appeal.
  • “Defending America’s Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2004” — an odious bill by Rep. James Sensenbrenner. The House Judiciary Committee could vote on it this week. Take Action.
  • Future Supreme Court cases of importance, include the Hoasca Tea Case and a a consent to search issue, which will be heard in the next term.
  • Sativex, having cleared Canadian hurdles, will be looking for approval in the United States. GW Pharmaceuticals, understanding that medical marijuana in the U.S. is a matter of politics, not merely of clinical trials, has hired Andrea Barthwell to lobby.

If I’ve left out anything important, let me know — this is just off the top of my head.
And, of course, this is just the national scene — there’s tons going on at the state level. See, in particular, Grits for Breakfast for everything happening in Texas, and follow Loretta for news from Alabama.
The really positive thing when you look at this list is that drug policy reformers are using every tool at their disposal – legislative, executive, judiciary, science, public awareness, states, etc. It’s necessary to combat the intense propaganda paid for by our own tax dollars, and it’s this kind of comprehensive effort that has the best chance of eventual success.

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