Medical Marijuana Up in Smoke

Medical Marijuana Up in Smoke
Posted by CN Staff on November 01, 2005 at 07:21:59 PT
By Caelan MacTavish
Source: Daily Vanguard 
Oregon -- As if the U.S. “war on drugs” was not absurd enough, a lawsuit filed in September has now proclaimed its first marijuana-related casualty. Jonathan Magbie, a quadriplegic, was sentenced in 2004 to a 10-day jail sentence in Washington, DC for possession of one joint. He died four days into his sentence.What makes his death even more horrific is that Magbie was arrested contrary to the will of DC voters. In 1998, 70 percent of voters approved a medical marijuana law, similar to the one here in Oregon.
It never took effect, however, because Rep. Bob Barr (of the “get government out of our lives” Republican Party) legislatively killed the initiative on the federal level. He tacked on an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have denied the city any money at all for the year if local officials attempted to “enact or carry out” any democratically approved initiative that would reduce criminal penalties for possession of any kind of drug.DC caved to keep its city running. Although the amendment was found to be unconstitutional the next year, a federal appeals court reinstated it in 2002, preventing people in wheelchairs from legally smoking pot.At his hearing, Washington DC Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin could have given Magbie probation, since it was his first criminal offense. But after the judge asked whether Magbie would continue to smoke marijuana in the future and he replied that he would, she sentenced him to 10 days in jail.While in custody, Magbie, who was paralyzed in a car wreck when he was four, saw his health rapidly deteriorate. He required a tracheotomy tube, a pulmonary pacemaker, and a ventilator at night to breathe in his sleep. Doctors at the Department of Corrections did not have the equipment to sustain his health, and despite Judge Retchin’s knowledge of this, she sentenced him and Magbie died four days later on Sept. 24, 2004.Two weeks later, U.S. Army veteran Steven Tuck was lying in a Canadian hospital bed. He fled to Canada after his plants were raided in California by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Tuck smoked marijuana to alleviate chronic pain from a 1987 parachuting accident.Canadian authorities arrested Tuck on his gurney, drove him to the border, and delivered him to U.S. agents, and he then spent five days in jail — all with a catheter still attached to his penis. He was offered no medical treatment during his stay in the hospital, and his lawyer, Doug Hiatt, said, “This is totally inhumane. He’s been tortured for days for no reason.”Extradition for drug use is becoming a common phenomenon, as the “war on drugs” goes international. On July 29 DEA agents in Vancouver, BC, arrested Marc Emery for selling pot seeds to U.S. citizens on the internet. The U.S., which has engineered prison time for Emery while they try to extradite him to America, wants to charge him in U.S. courts for activities that took place in Canada, and give him a life sentence for a crime that does not warrant jail time in Emery’s home country.How much further will this madness go? According to figures released by the FBI, there were 771,605 arrests for marijuana in 2004. Approximately 686,000 of these arrests were for marijuana possession, not distribution. All violent crimes combined totaled 590,528 arrests in the same year.Our prisons are bursting with potheads, while violent criminals are set free to make room for more. Are laws that ban marijuana possession really making us safer?“The Emperor Has No Clothes,” by Jack Herer, the most comprehensive study of marijuana in existence, shows marijuana has been used medically for thousands of years. The recent criminalization and anti-drug rhetoric contradict all known evidence about marijuana. Some FBI agents who routinely give lectures on the dangers of marijuana have never heard of Herer’s book. Dedicating themselves to arresting a marijuana user every 41 seconds, their manpower to track and detect potential terrorism is significantly reduced.It is time to concede the “war on drugs” and let the drugs win. It is not working; it is a constant destabilization to our society. The era of marijuana prohibition, only 68 years old, needs to end. As Oregon doctor Fred Oerther says, “More Americans die in just one day in prisons, penitentiaries, jails, and stockades than have ever died from marijuana throughout history. Who are they protecting? From what?”They certainly did not protect Jonathan Magbie.Note: How government undermines its constituents.Source: Daily Vanguard (Portland State, OR Edu)Author: Caelan MacTavishPublished: November 01, 2005Copyright: 2005, Daily VanguardContact: christiang vg.pdx.eduWebsite: Articles: Prince of Pot Fights Extradition on Drug Charges Arrested at Canadian Hospital Released 'Top-Floor' Treatment in D.C.
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Comment #4 posted by Max Flowers on November 02, 2005 at 09:03:47 PT
Yes but the coke and guns were obviously his friend's, since he (Magbie) would need help using coke and couldn't use a gun at all. He was definitely not choosing his friends very wisely, but that doesn't mean, in my opinion, that the subject of his death should be avoided as an example of drug war run amok. Was he convicted for the coke or guns? If not, they're pretty much irrelevant.
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Comment #3 posted by runderwo on November 01, 2005 at 18:24:14 PT
It would be a good idea to be cautious about using Magbie as a poster child for the anti-prohibition movement. The problem is that he also had cocaine and guns in his car, which I am sure will eventually be pointed out by an opponent. What happened is a tragedy certainly, but the other factors complicate it in terms of its PR value.
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Comment #2 posted by eco-man on November 01, 2005 at 16:25:31 PT
Mistake in the article.
Medical cannabis patient Steven Tuck was forcibly extradited to the USA out of his Canadian hospital bed on Oct. 7, 2005, not 2004. 
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Comment #1 posted by eco-man on November 01, 2005 at 16:20:46 PT
Jonathan Magbie activism continues.
If one does a search for Jonathan Magbie in Google one of the top results consistently is this over-a-year-long thread of media articles, comments, photos, posters, images, and activism concerning Jonathan Magbie: above link is to the latest news for now on page 11 of the thread.
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