Medical Marijuana Advocates Target Connecticut
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Medical Marijuana Advocates Target Connecticut
Posted by CN Staff on June 21, 2011 at 05:58:19 PT
By Stephen Dockery, Associated Press 
Source: Associated Press
Hartford, Conn. -- Marijuana advocates are targeting Connecticut as one of the states most likely to approve use of the drug for medical reasons, moving to build on momentum from the legislature's recent decriminalization of small amounts of it.While advocates prepare to step up lobbying efforts, opponents are trying to hold the line on a drug the federal government deems dangerous and illegal.
Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, said Connecticut is one of the five states his organization will target because they're likely to enact more permissive pot laws. The others are California, Colorado, Rhode Island and Vermont. With a governor and legislature that have shown support for marijuana legislation, Riffle said, the timing is right in Connecticut.Republican Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, who supported a medical marijuana measure that failed in the last legislative session, said prospects for approval next year are bright."It's true we do have the votes in both chambers and the governor said he'd sign it," said Bacchiochi, a widow from Somers who risked arrest 20 years ago to obtain marijuana for her husband when he was suffering from bone cancer.The bill to decriminalize marijuana is awaiting the signature of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. It would reduce the punishment for possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana to fines of $150 for a first offense, instead of the current misdemeanor with higher fines and a possible jail term.A medical marijuana bill advanced until the end of the term along with decriminalization, and bill supporters said time constraints forced legislators to choose one over the other. A task force was set up to study the medical issue for next session.Even with the governor and lawmakers amenable to the idea, legal medical marijuana isn't a sure thing. Some members in the Senate are strongly opposed, and deliberation over the measure could be drawn out.Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs. Around a dozen states have decriminalized marijuana, and of those, about half went on to implement medical marijuana laws.Erik Williams, executive director of the Connecticut branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said decriminalization can prove looser marijuana regulations won't harm the state."It takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of the fear mongers out there when they see things really haven't changed," he said.Advocates say medical marijuana programs allow people in severe pain to obtain relief that is not possible through medications currently available. Supporters would give patients access to the drug through some of type of pot shop and allow them to grow cannabis from home.Opponents, however, say starting a marijuana program will lead to increased crime and drug use.Michael Rinaldi, president of the Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association of Connecticut, said a medical program would be abused by people not in serious pain, lead to other drug use and put the state in conflict with the federal government."I have yet to see a positive side to any of this," Rinaldi said.The state has flirted with medical marijuana laws before. In 2007 the legislature passed a measure to allow the drug, but it was vetoed by then Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican.Malloy proposed a medical marijuana bill much like the one Rell vetoed in 2007. He encouraged the decriminalization effort as a cost-saving reform.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Stephen Dockery, Associated PressPublished: June 21, 2011 Copyright: 2011 The Associated PressCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 21, 2011 at 09:23:03 PT
Article From The Huffington Post Blog
California's Marijuana Laws: Feds Could Move Against Medical Marijuana By Michael MontgomeryJune 21, 2011As soon as today, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to release a letter clarifying the Justice Department’s policy toward the 15 states that have approved medical marijuana laws. Of particular importance to California is whether federal authorities will tolerate states, cities or counties licensing and regulating commercial marijuana growing and distribution.Tommy LaNier of the National Marijuana Initiative, which is funded by the White House, is unequivocal: "That, in very simple terms, is what drug traffickers do,” LaNier says.Justice Department officials in California say they are stepping up a broad enforcement strategy that could target medical marijuana operators even if they are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.But Jay Rorty, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says those warnings violate previous assurances from federal officials.URL:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 21, 2011 at 08:35:10 PT
Article From The Hill Blog
Reps. Frank, Polis Urge DOJ To Leave Medical Marijuana to StatesBy Mike Lillis June 21, 2011 
Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) are urging the Obama administration this week to reiterate earlier vows to leave the enforcement of medical marijuana laws up to the states.The lawmakers want Attorney General Eric Holder to re-avow his commitment to a 2009 Department of Justice (DOJ) memorandum – known as the Ogden Memo – which said the agency won't target medical marijuana patients or providers if they are not violating state law."Recent actions by United States Attorneys across the country have prompted states to deny patients safe and reliable access to their medicine," the lawmakers wrote in a June 20 letter to Holder.The letter was prompted by the lawmakers' concerns that several correspondences this year from the DOJ to state and local attorneys indicate the agency is walking back the Ogden Memo in the face of conservative criticism that the administration has been too lenient in the war on drugs.In a February letter to the Oakland, California city attorney, for instance, the DOJ vowed the department "will enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law."Such letters have emboldened state lawmakers in Washington state, Arizona and Rhode Island to kill or delay implementation of local medical marijuana laws, the lawmakers wrote.URL:
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