Marijuana Licensing Fails To Chase The Shadows
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Marijuana Licensing Fails To Chase The Shadows
Posted by CN Staff on October 09, 2009 at 19:41:17 PT
By Abby Goodnough 
Source: New York Times 
Santa Fe, N.M. — The only person in America with a state license to distribute marijuana wants to keep her identity secret. “I’m so totally paranoid I can’t stand myself,” said the distributor, who runs a nonprofit group here that grows and sells marijuana for medicinal purposes and who insisted on meeting in the privacy of a hotel room. It was not meant to be this way.
New Mexico’s new medical marijuana law was intended to provide safe, aboveboard access to the drug for hundreds of residents with chronic pain and other debilitating conditions. By licensing nonprofit distributors, New Mexico hoped to improve upon the free-for-all distribution systems in some states like California and Colorado, where hundreds of for-profit dispensaries have sprung up with virtually no state oversight. But even in New Mexico, the process — from procuring the starter seed (in Amsterdam, via a middleman) to home delivery (by a former Marine) — is not for the faint of heart. Those engaged in the experiment here never know if they will be arrested, because growing, selling and using marijuana remain illegal under federal law. And robbery is always a fear.In a reversal of Bush administration policy, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in March that the government would not prosecute medical marijuana distributors who comply with state laws. That announcement has emboldened Rhode Island to adopt legislation similar to New Mexico’s: it will license three nonprofit “compassion centers” to grow and dispense the drug by 2012. At least six other states are now considering the model. But in recent weeks, law enforcement officers, some of them federal, have raided dispensaries in California and Washington State, and in the absence of any actual change in the federal law, many still fear prosecution. Among New Mexican patients, demand has been great. In the two months since the Santa Fe Institute for Natural Medicine began dispensing marijuana, it has signed up about 400 clients, said Robert Pack, a patient on its board of directors who uses the drug to curb the side effects of epilepsy medication.Eager patients depleted the initial supply, and the organization had to hurry to produce more marijuana this month, because weeks of rain hampered the drying and curing phase. Twenty other nonprofit groups are seeking New Mexico’s approval to grow and sell medical marijuana, but the state’s Health Department will not identify them, citing privacy and safety concerns. Because the groups remain anonymous unless they identify themselves, other regulatory agencies — the Department of Agriculture, for example, which would inspect their growing techniques — will have no oversight. Such secrecy seems out of keeping with the law’s intent: to help medical marijuana patients emerge from the shadows and gain open access to the drug.“I think what’s appropriate is for this to be completely out in the open,” said Len Goodman, a patient who started NewMexicann, a nonprofit group seeking state approval to distribute marijuana. “As long as you follow the rules, you should be able to come out of the closet and function with no fear or shame.”For the Santa Fe Institute, the production process has been nerve-racking. The marijuana plants — no more than 95 at a time, under state regulations — are grown in a windowless rural building with steel doors, a motion detector and, to keep the plants’ pungent odor indoors, carbon filters. Despite a high-tech alarm system and the hidden location, the institute’s grower, who insisted on anonymity, said he constantly feared being robbed. “If I worked for Brink’s driving an armored car, I’d probably feel about the same way,” said the grower, a longtime organic farmer who said he had studied with marijuana breeders in Amsterdam.Delivering the marijuana can also be fraught with anxiety. The Department of Homeland Security informed the group that the former Marine who serves as courier could be prosecuted if stopped at any of several Border Protection checkpoints in southern New Mexico, where many clients live.“Homeland Security made it clear, clear, clear,” the institute’s chief said. “Their directive is, ‘You got it, we confiscate it.’ ”The institute’s grower started out producing equal amounts of two cannabis strains — one energizing, the other sedating. But the energizing strain quickly proved more popular with patients, many of whom take morphine and other narcotics for pain that leave them hazy. “They want something that makes them really clearheaded,” the grower said, adding that the energizing strain made users feel “almost like your I.Q. went up about 20 points.” While 13 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use since 1996, most give patients no help in obtaining it. In Colorado, an alternative newspaper is stepping in: it is hiring a pot critic to review the state’s many unregulated dispensaries. In Rhode Island, which legalized medical marijuana in 2007 but changed its law this year to allow nonprofit producers, it remains unclear whether towns will be able to block dispensaries from opening within their borders, or whether growers will be able to deliver to patients.One state-approved user, Rob Mooney, said the state’s licensed caregivers — who are allowed to grow and sell marijuana to two patients each at a given time — and street dealers “ended up selling me garbage that messed me up.”Ellen Smith, who mixes marijuana-infused oil into applesauce to ease pain from a degenerative tissue disorder, grows her own plants but finds doing so too stressful. Her plants have been stolen, she said, and caring for them requires constant vigilance.“It’s nerve-racking to have this around,” Ms. Smith said of her crop, whose skunky odor scented her kitchen. “It will be great to just go to the compassion center, pick up the product and go on with our lives.” But the Rhode Island state police have raised numerous concerns about the state’s model, pointing out that the required criminal check for employees of compassion centers will search only for in-state convictions. At a recent hearing, Capt. David S. Neill of the state police asked officials from the Rhode Island Health Department who would monitor the centers to make sure they are not growing more marijuana than the law allows (12 mature plants per patient at a given time), or selling the drug to people who are not approved users.The answer: nobody. Dr. Alfredo Vigil, New Mexico’s secretary of health, said tight regulation of medical marijuana programs was crucial.“As you can probably imagine, we’ve had all manner of interesting people come forward and say, ‘We want to be your producers,’ ” Dr. Vigil said. “If we do this in some uncontrolled fashion and some big bad thing happens, the whole program comes crashing down.”Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Abby Goodnough Published: October 10, 2009Copyright: 2009 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #19 posted by ekim on October 12, 2009 at 09:04:37 PT
answer brings more questions
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on October 11, 2009 at 14:10:36 PT
I think Dartanion only has a cyst. They can get them because of allergies I think. He will be ok because he has to be ok.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on October 11, 2009 at 14:08:29 PT
I hope it is nothing but a cyst for Dartanion. Losing Kaptin to cancer was emotionally devastating to us. I read the forum and I am shocked at the amount of cancer that people's Rotties are getting. They are the canary in the coalmine and we better listen up. I really think that cannabis could help but how? Would a holistic Vet know more about cannabis since they know about herbal medicine? 
Our Rottie ~ Four Strong Winds
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Comment #16 posted by herbdoc215 on October 11, 2009 at 12:59:07 PT
FoM, I agree 100% and was just thinking
same thing as you as we couldn't show Dartanion last week cause he has a small cyst/growth beside his eye which has me worried to death! I got a vet appointment with a local vet who specializes in Rotts and am going to discuss this with him as well. Something environmental seems to be causing accelerated cancer rates in certain large fast growing breeds of dogs, personally I think things like this should be considered canaries in the mine for us. I am definitely going to be looking into this in the very near future, as I've never considered producing medicines for animals before. I think cellular functions of their endocannabinoid systems would respond, we know the cancers response to THC/compounds...the methodology and delivery systems will take some working out. This could be something that really helps! I would dearly love to be able to give something back to this breed that has given so much to me (and so many other patients, as I've seen a bunch of patients with service rotties out west). I'll let y'all know what comes of this research. It's a damn shame that these things have all had to be worked out in garages and basements for the last 20 years...everything the prohibitionist taught in university about cannabis and drugs in general has pretty much been proven to be bs and they just keep spewing it out...
Peace, steve 
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on October 11, 2009 at 11:35:00 PT
I hope you see this. I am getting upset about all the rotties that have cancer. I know this happens in other breeds too. The latest is a less the one year old male rottie with a malignant tumor on his optic nerve. Someone has to try and do a serious study of cannabis as a treatment for cancer in dogs. If it shrinks cancer cells in people why couldn't it help a dog too?
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Comment #14 posted by charmed quark on October 11, 2009 at 09:20:11 PT
As others have pointed out, Marinol is an FDA approved schedule 3 drug. The Federal government certainly recognizes it as a legitimate medication. A problem might be that it is "indicated" only for two things:
1) anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS; and
2)nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments.Any other use is "off label". I'm using if off label for my neuropathic pain and spasms. My workplace pee tracker got very upset about my off-label use, much like your PO, and filed a report on me.I had to go to an employer review meeting and discuss my use of this drug. They asked only two questions:1. Are there any restrictions on its prescription ( beyond being schedule 3)and 2. Was it prescribed for me by a legitimate doctor for a legitimate medical condition.I could honestly answer "no" to 1. and "yes" to 2. and that was that.I realize the prison industrial complex makes its own rules, and you have few rights within that system, but it sounds like your PO lacks a basic understanding that Marinol is an actual prescription drug.
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Comment #13 posted by John Tyler on October 11, 2009 at 07:46:19 PT
Off topic
British ColumbiaAccording to news reports, “This was the "best year ever" for outdoor marijuana crops on Vancouver Island”.
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Comment #12 posted by museman on October 10, 2009 at 22:06:08 PT
An Observation
I believe that what we are seeing all across the board, specificly related to cannabis prohibition (but not exclusively so) is a kind of law enforcement "surge" like mr. monkey and his chimps did for Iraq, just before he got booted.I believe that these actions were already set into motion before Obama was elected, or came into office.There was a plan in place, "justified" by the events that spawned the 'patriot act' that is only now being carried out by the servants of the power elite, because, i believe, they went into a temporary shock at losing their political mandate. The wide scope of these planned actions and 'coups' against factions of the liberal community -specificly cannabis users- is beyond any immediate fix by any administration, no matter how sincere and real that administration may or may not be.The monster was built and set in motion by a system that plays host and favor to corrupt and false values, outside the natural parameters of what a natural, human, life and existence should be. The monster was made alive by fear mongers, and power brokers, and fed by the aquiescence of the 'good citizens of america' who gave willingly of their life and time to fuel its creation -for a fistful of dollars, and a few dollars more.There is a major, noticeable increase in the local population of cops, by which I can only surmise is but a very small sample of what is happening across the country.And they've successfully indoctrinated enough 'warriors' in Iraq to fill the burgeoning ranks of the police state quite well.They are using cameras to stop and investigate any vehicles fitting certain profiles -particularly from my neck of the woods which has been labeled by Oregon cops as 'the lawless county.' (because we consistently vote them out. The only reason why they are here is because the patriot act literally wipes out the constitutional intent and concept of a citizen police force. Bush gave our county 3 million for law enforcement in 2008, just before he left office, while people can't get healthcare, dental care, or just an even break, or access to public libraries -but we get cops we don't want and didn't vote for).They are doing this, I know, because having been one of their profile stops just about a week ago, I started asking around, and within days I had more than enough stories to tell me that it was true.There are a lot of people who believe that Obama is a fluke reaction to a very bad preceding sitution, and that there's no way he'll be able to carry out much of anything to change the current scheme of things. In the prohibition/'law' enforcement camp (pretty much the same thing nowadays) this belief has been enhanced by all the right-wing hysterics we've been seeing of late, and this surge of cops is them rallying themselves against their first real challenges since the VietNam protests that supposedly 'defined' some aspects fo my generation.This is war.This is not 'politics.'It never has been, the politcal farces are all posturing, and a crapload of smoke and mirrors.We have been under the mainstream radar for decades because of the nature of fascism present in our unconstituional standing army referred to as 'law enforcement' which gave us absolutely no defence for their twisted 'law.' But that has changed with the medical marijuana initiatives across the country, and the abilty to freely disseminate correct information around the former media control, with the peoples access to the internet.The truth is, that the more intelligent humans (not 'clever', 'witty', or possessed of enough information to win at trivial pursuits) do not work for the government (unless forced to do so). The wisdom does not reside where the mainstream propaganda of social, academic, and economic accreditation has been brainwashed to believe, it resides within much more common, and commonly accessed consciousness than the exclusive class distinction paraded about as 'special.'The power, the intelligence, the wisdom, the will, and the real authority, resides within the people, and it is ultimately up to the people themselves -not their non-representative 'leaders' to apply that power where it is needed.It has been stated over the past few months that it seemed like the 'tide' was turning, and indeed it is, which is the very reason why LEOs all over America are pounding their chests and attempting to reassert their illgotten street authority before the people finish waking up.Unfortunately, because it is a war, the casualty list is still growing day by day. And until the people, not the lawyers, not the 'professional' this or that, just the people (screw all those 'titles' and 'positions' -they certainly did their fair share of screwing us!) until the people, or enough finally decide they've had enough of the Adolf Hitlers, the George Bushes, and the rest of their ilk -by finally refusing to capitulate to the doctrines of destructive agendas, the perpetuation of those same agendas will continue.On the day that a significant number of people realize where the truth and power really resides, and they begin to find alternative ways to live without selling their soul or sacrificing the time of their lives as a cog in a war machine, on that day the monster lays down and expires.As long as we petition the monster itself for relief,.. well, can't you just hear the mocking laughter behind the curtain? I can.LEGALIZE FREEDOM -retro from 1776
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on October 10, 2009 at 17:24:31 PT
"Have a good weekend"...
The freakin lowlife hound of hell. I believe that was meant to be smart assed.I hope he has a "Good weekend".... all I can do is fight the grief, dismay, anger, and sheer hatred that keeps trying to well up in me."Nightmare" is so true, Herbdoc.When will this nightmare end? Over a plant? A freakin real life nightmare over a freakin plant!EZ... I'm afraid. We're talking Federal court."This would not involve your being arrested or taken to court in custody.".... but it could mean revoking parole in court and leaving court in custody, I think. Maybe not. I hope not.I've been thinking they'd got their pounds and pounds of flesh from Runruff. I'd thought it was done with. Somehow I missed or forgot that it was parole. Dang. Dang. Dang.
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Comment #10 posted by ezrydn on October 10, 2009 at 12:53:28 PT:
Just Do It!
Runruff,As you know, Marinol is NOT illegal. And evidently the PO and his supervisor are not aware of that. Personally, if it were me, I'd have it turned over to the court for qualification. The hearing wouldn't be about returning you to lockup but, rather, to settle the "Marinol" question by someone who knows the law. You could be instrumental in opening up the concept to your brothers and sisters. You've in a solid position, I think, and that comes from my law school days.
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Comment #9 posted by ezrydn on October 10, 2009 at 12:35:34 PT:
Robbery comment
What's really sad about the comment about "fear of robbery" is that said robbery comes at the hands of US Agents. Be sure to put your Wii away before you leave the house.
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Comment #8 posted by herbdoc215 on October 10, 2009 at 12:15:41 PT
runruff,  I feel for you bro...
It sure seems as if this nightmare will never end for some of us...and the agents of evil will keep twisting the screws! Marinal is schedule 3 so they shouldn't be able to with hold but nothing these days would surprise me. They approved and let me use Marinal pills while i was on federal probation and bond so I can't see them doing to you unless you was in custody already? just some PO and supervisor thinking they are doctors. Just sucks having the extra stress of going to court to get them to sic off the hounds. They are trying attrition to show others what will happen to them by standing up for their rights by beating us so bad! Keep the faith, this nightmare must end someday. peace, steve
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on October 10, 2009 at 10:20:13 PT
"justice" system
I'm pretty sure judges and PO can do whatever they damn well please. They can make specific parole restrictions on individuals that blatantly violate civil rights.hell, they can gag your free speech while you're on parole, I'm sure taking your meds is no problem.that is the whole point here - re-creating slavery. once you've entered the criminal justice machine you're at their mercy. no more voting, no more civil rights, you're back on the plantation
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on October 10, 2009 at 07:44:27 PT
Oh no.I thought they were through with you.
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Comment #5 posted by greenmed on October 10, 2009 at 07:41:08 PT
It seems your P.O. and his supervisor are unaware that Marinol is Schedule III. If your physician prescribes Marinol, and the P.O. returns your case to court, wouldn't it get thrown out immediately? It sounds like the parolers are the latest law-enforcement to claim the right to practice medicine, or am I missing something?I hope you're both feeling better. Stay well.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on October 10, 2009 at 05:55:25 PT
fear and paranoia
Wow, things in New Mexico sound very very scary - oooh my, just in time for Halloween the NY Times editors are playing trick or treat! scary marijuana man is coming!Just imagine how the many thousands of sick people feel in the states where medical cannabis is totally illegal.Not fearing boogey-man robbers, but uniformed government SWAT-team thugs that operate above the law.I wonder how that feels? 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 10, 2009 at 04:37:32 PT
Oh my that's not good at all.
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on October 09, 2009 at 21:38:57 PT
A letter from my PO.
I told him my doctor recommended Cannabis for my glaucoma, this waw his reply:              Hello Jerry, First, I hope you and your wife are recovering from the sickness you had earlier this week.  I wanted to send you a note regarding your question about using MJ based on your Dr's prescription or recommendation. 
Prior to your message, I had discussed your case with my supervisor. I'm specifically talking about using marinol as you showed me.  
She told me that since the Fed Govt does not recognize MJ or marinol as medicinal, and still illegal, state law would not matter.  
Essentially, she said that if you wish to continue using marinol, even in capsule form, I would have to return your case to court as a violation case for illegal drug use. 
Then it would be up to you and your counsel to make your case directly to the court.  I would expect you would be telling the court that you used at the direction of your Dr. We would then see what the courts position would be.  This would not involve your being arrested or taken to court in custody. We would simply file the violations papers and request a hearing and let the judge decide if using marinol or MJ would be in violation of your supervised release. Basically, you have to either voluntarily quit using these subtances, or we have to go to court and let the court decide the outcome. I'm sure you'll let me know what you would prefer to do. I expect I'll be talking with you sometime next week.  Have a good weekend. Scott Lewis Scott E. Lewis
U.S. Probation
Desk - 541-608-8781 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 09, 2009 at 19:46:21 PT
About The New York Times Article
A version of this article appeared in print on October 10, 2009, on page A12 of the New York edition.
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