NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- March 27, 2003

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- March 27, 2003
Posted by CN Staff on March 27, 2003 at 16:42:42 PT
Press Release
Source: NORML
Maryland Medical Marijuana Defense Measure Sent To Governor Annapolis, MD: Maryland Senators voted Wednesday in favor of legislation to allow medicinal marijuana patients to raise an "affirmative defense of medical necessity" at trial. The bill, which previously passed the House of Delegates, now goes to Gov. Robert Ehrlich for his appoval.
Although Ehlrich has said that he supports the limited use of marijuana as a medicine, he has not taken a specific position regarding this bill. As a federal Congressman, Ehrlich backed a proposal that would have rescheduled marijuana so that state laws legalizing the drug would no longer conflict with federal law.Maryland's legislation does not legalize the use or cultivation of medical marijuana by qualified patients. Rather, the law only requires the court to consider a patient's use of medical marijuana to be a mitigating factor in marijuana-related state prosecutions. If the patient successfully makes the case at trial that his or her use of marijuana is one of medical necessity, then the maximum penalty allowed by law would be a $100.00 fine. Existing Maryland law imposes a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1000.00 for marijuana possession, regardless of the circumstances.The Senate backed the measure despite federal pressure from Drug Czar John Walters and Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, who argued that the medical use of marijuana was "immoral" and a "cruel hoax."For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. For detailed information on additional pending legislation, please visit: Finding Relief Means Breaking The Law Debate Becomes Personal Likely To Ease Penalties for Medical Marijuana Governor Gets Medical Marijuana Bill Talks in Drug Bill Tussle New Homeland Security Department Appoints First-Ever Counter Narcotics "Czar"March 27, 2003 - Washington, DC, USAWashington, DC: The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have named former CIA operative Roger Mackin to coordinate federal anti-drug efforts between the two agencies. The position will combine the existing duties of the United States Interdiction Coordinator (USIC), a currently held position within the ONDCP, with those of the newly established DHS Counter Narcotics Officer.According to an ONDCP press release, the Counter Narcotics "Czar" will "ensure that all DHS counterdrug policies, initiatives, efforts, andresources are aligned with the President's National Drug Control Strategy," among other duties.NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre criticized the formation of the new federal anti-drug bureaucracy under the umbrella of the DHS. "Adding another 'anti-drug' technocrat to the acronym soup of federal agencies already charged with drug law enforcement at this time of heightened security and federal belt-tightening is the embodiment of government waste and redundancy," St. Pierre said.Though the ONDCP's press release alleges that Mackin has "unmatched experience" in coordinating anti-drug efforts and drug policy, an internet search-engine query under his name revealed virtually no references to his background. Mackin has worked as an intelligence officer for the CIA in Vietnam, and later in South America.For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.DL: Continue To Tighten Screws On California Medi-Pot Providers: L.A. Cannabis Providers Plead Guilty, Await SentencingMarch 27, 2003 - Los Angeles, CA, USALos Angeles, CA: Founders of one of the state's largest and most respected medical marijuana dispensaries accepted a "pre-indictment" plea agreement with the US Department of Justice this week for their role in operating the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (LACRC). The club, which was regarded as one of California's most strictly regulated medicinal marijuana cooperatives, operated for five years until being raided by federal agents in October 2001. The LACRC manufactured and distributed medical marijuana to over 900 qualified patients at the time of its closure.Under the agreement, LACRC founder Scott Imler and two others pled guilty to one federal count of maintaining a drug establishment. Though the charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in jail, Imler is hopeful that the judge will impose a lesser sentence "when considering our actions within the totality of the situation." Sentencing is scheduled for later this summer.Imler says he accepted the plea after it became clear that any evidence regarding the use of medical marijuana or California's law legalizing it would not be allowed at trial. Currently, federal defendants can not introduce such evidence as a defense against criminal prosecution because the federal government fails to legally recognize marijuana's medical value.The Feds' raid of the LACRC in late 2001 was part of a federal crackdown on statewide medical marijuana dispensaries, including the raid of the California Medical Research Center in Cool California, which served some 5,000 members. Club proprietors Dr. Marion Fry and her husband, attorney Dale Schafer said earlier this week that the US Attorney's Office has called requesting a "pre-indictment" status conference to discuss their case, and that the Justice Department is likely to move forward with federal charges.NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup called these latest developments evidence that the federal government is continuing to make targeting and prosecuting California medical marijuana patients and providers a top priority. "It appears the federal government is using the likelihood of long, mandatory prison terms, and the shock of the Ed Rosenthal conviction earlier this year, to coerce other medical marijuana providers to plead guilty to federal charges before they have even been indicted," Stroup said. "The real tragedy is that more patients who are legally entitled to use medical marijuana under state law will be forced to obtain their medicine on the black market as a result of the governmentıs strong-arm tactics."For more information, please contact Keith Stroup at (202) 483-5500 or California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer at (415) 563-5858.DL: Move To Seize LA Cannabis Center, US Medical Marijuana Laws Clash Center Members Try To Carry On Source: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: March 27, 2003Copyright: 2003 NORML Contact: norml Website:'s Weekly News Bulletin -- March 20, 2003's Weekly News Bulletin -- March 13, 2003's Weekly News Bulletin -- March 06, 2003
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Comment #2 posted by TecHnoCult on March 28, 2003 at 07:09:14 PT
I couldn't have said it better myself. We are the only ones that can change this, not "they".THC
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Comment #1 posted by Kegan on March 28, 2003 at 04:27:09 PT
Who is to Blame?
Do we blame Bush?Do we blame Ashcroft?Do we blame Nixon or Reagan or Aslinger?Do we blame teachers?Do we blame the cops?Do we blame our parents?No.We blame the heavily armed citizens of the US for not bothering to get off their couches and take their country back.We blame the people who complain to each other in restaurants about what "should be done", but never actually DO anything.We have to blame ourselves.
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