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September 2003



*Bad Pot, courtesy of the…

Bad Pot, courtesy of the Government
Government Grass Turns Off Users

Some of the first patients to smoke Health Canada’s government-approved marijuana say it’s “disgusting” and want their money back.
“It’s totally unsuitable for human consumption,” said Jim Wakeford, 58, an AIDS patient in Gibsons, B.C.

So let’s get this straight. The marijuana is so bad, sick people want their money back! Now that’s some pretty bad pot.
Let’s take a look.

More pictures and test results available at Canadians for Safe Access. Pictures courtesy Vancouver Island Compassion Society (Marius, photographer)

You see, the Canadian government was forced by the courts to insure that medical marijuana patients had a legal means to obtain pot, so they grew some deep in a secure mine, chopped it up (including seeds and stems), and so far have made it availble for sale to ten patients. The marijuana was supposed to have 10% THC, but, according to Canadians for Safe Access, tests at around 4%, which requires much more smoking to get any medical effect.
Now, since U.S. citizens are flocking to Canada for prescription drugs, maybe Canadian patients can try the U.S. for medical marijuana? (see cartoon) Nope.
The United States government also grows marijuana. It’s a monopoly under the direction of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) which has no interest in helping medical marijuana studies. In fact, they tend to insure that any “scientific” studies reflect their point of view (as the recent ecstasy debacle shows). They grow the only pot which can legally be used for research.

At present, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) contracts to Dr. ElSohly at the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana at an outdoor, fenced facility with 24-hour armed guards. The product that is grown is seeded, leafy, low-potency material with stems included. The product is sent to Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina for rolling into standardized cigarettes, usually with about 4% THC

More lousy pot.

The pot is unsmokeable, they say, full of sticks, stems and seeds. The leaves have gone stale after at least a year of storage, freezing and then thawing.

Too bad governments couldn’t get someone good at growing medical marijuana like Steve Kubby to grow it for them. Unfortunately, the feds keep arresting them. Or someone like Peter McWilliams to provide his wealth of knowledge. Unfortunately, they killed him.
Now, however, Prof. Lyle Craker, Director, Medicinal Plant Program, UMass Amherst Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, is in the midst of the process of seeking DEA permission to establish a medical marijuana production facility to grow high-potency marijuana for FDA-approved research (tons of info at MAPS).
The DEA will probably reject the application. They don’t want anyone to really research medical marijuana, because they know that medical marijuana is sound science and they’re afraid of losing their stranglehold.
The public comments time period of the application ends September 22. You can add your voice.
Go to either the Drug Policy Alliance action alert or the NORML action alert and send your message. It’s quick and easy. Do it now.

*Medical Marijuana returns to the…

Medical Marijuana returns to the 9th Circuit
“Lawyers Want Court To Consider Medical Marijuana: Four Clubs Say Pot Consitutional”
Oral arguments were heard yesterday morning by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in a combined series of cases which challenges the constitutional right of the federal government to interfere in medical marijuana cases.

Santa Clara University professor Gerald Uelmen urged a panel of three judges to find that “Americans have a fundamental constitutional right to relieve their pain.”

Back in May, 2001, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 (United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, No. 00-151) that medical necessity is not an allowable defense in federal marijuana cases, due to the specific language used in the Controlled Substances Act. This was a narrowly tailored ruling, which left the door open to challenges on other grounds.
The Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative has now joined with the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, the Ukiah Cannabis Buyer’s club, and Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana to expand the argument in the hopes of working back up to the Supreme Court.
Some of the court documents are available here. In brief, this case deals with several points:

Commerce Clause issues

The groups’ activities are wholly intrastate and the government has not shown justification for using the commerce clause for intrastate activity under the necessary and proper clause.
Some of the activities are non-economic and so cannot be prohibited under either clause

The federal government’s actions encroach upon the sovereign powers of the state of California
Patients’ 5th and 9th amendment rights are violated

The right to bodily integrity, to ameliorate pain, and to prolong life
Physician-patient relationship rights
Government has failed to offer any legitimate, much less compelling justification for infringement on these rights

There are also some technical issues involved.
Just as the Truth in Trials Act which will be considered in Congress is the best hope for medical marijuana from the legislative branch, this combined case seems to be the best hope for judicial relief. It’s a tough battle, and the Supreme Court may be wary of dealing with this case (if it gets there) due to the fact that commerce clause and state sovereignty issues are potentially a problem in much of the federal government’s activities, and the court may not wish to open that can of worms.
I’ll let you know about the progress of this case as it develops.