Monday, August 16, 2010

Are you self-medicating?

Some people say that all cannabis use is medicinal.

Is that going too far?

What do you think?

Here are some things to consider.

It has always been the case, for all species, and for all time, that the earth provides everything an individual needs to prosper. Whether that be abundant game for African carnivores, daily sunlight for trillions of plants, or fruit bearing trees, seeds and vegetables for our selves.

Why would the earth not provide an ideal medicine for many conditions which are common for humans? It would be illogical to assume that such a thing is unlikely.

Cannabis is effective in many ways. As a pain reliever, and an appetite stimulant, to be sure. But it’s also a bronchodilator (as in it opens up the air passages in the lungs making it easier to breathe) and cannabinoids have frequently been demonstrated to have a curative effect on several different forms of cancer.

This much is widely known,and is the main impetus behind recent attempts to make this herb available to patients in many of the states of the union.

But there are more studies all the time and the known efficacy of this plant continues to expand.

It is demonstratively effective in slowing the progression of several degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, and MS to name only a few.

It kills the MRSA superbug.

For thousands of years, cannabis has also been used as a mood elevator, and as a way of relieving the effects of stress.

Almost any other substance used for this purpose, whether it be alcohol or prescription drugs or the recreational variety, is ultimately, toxic in sufficient quantities.

Cannabis is the safer alternative to all of these things.

It is absolutely wrong to continue the prohibition of cannabis. It flys in the face of logic. It runs counter to the recommendations of just about every study of cannabis prohibition that has ever been undertaken.

And it denies suffering people access to something hugely beneficial for their well being.

In its present form, cannabis prohibition manifests itself as a racially biased war on the poor. Its effect on poor communities, and minority populations is absolutely dire. It achieves no worthwhile results. The number of problem drug users in the United States continues to increase despite decades of this expensive and ugly war on freedom.

The present arrangement works to the benefit of a very few at the expense of the great many. It is immoral, and corrupted from top to bottom.

Rise up. It is time to end the war.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Doctor knows best? I don’t think so.

The house Health and Government Operations committee working group has reported out a bill that appears to be designed for the purpose of preventing patients from accessing medical marijuana in Maryland.

Dr. Morhaim not only prepared the bill he introduced without any input from patient advocacy organizations, but the working group consulted only with law enforcement and with the representatives of the pharmacists.

The revised bill is written in such a way that it would be late in 2011 (at the earliest) before patients could expect to be able to access a safe supply of medicine. The bill no longer includes protection from arrest for patients who are in compliance with the law. The bill no longer allows patients to grow their own medicine. The bill absolutely excludes any patients under the age of 18.

I think this revised bill is totally unacceptable for all of the above reasons, and I am writing to my Delegates and letting them know that.

I recommend you do so as well.

The medical establishment has spent decades preventing patients from having access to this potent and absolutely non-toxic healing herb. This new bill represents the latest attempt to force people to use dangerous expensive narcotics when a perfectly safe alternative can be grown in anyone’s basement.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Project Vallario

The Public Health Medical Marijuana Bill (HB 712) will not succeed unless the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee allows the bill to come to a vote.

Democrat, District 27A, Calvert & Prince George's Counties
House Office Building, Room 101
6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3488, (301) 858-3488
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3488 (toll free)

Message to be sent out to Facebook, mailing lists and via phone calls to EVERYONE:

1 Call (or email) the committee chairman, ask him to bring HB 712 to a vote.
2 Call your friends in Vallario’s district (see below) ask them to call (or email) the chairman.

District 27A
ZIP City County

Here is a precise District Map and here is the same area on Google Maps

Street Action: Collect signatures and identify activists in district 27A

Team A – Sunday afternoon (March 7) with clipboards, posters and postcards. Followed six days later by Teams A & B the following Saturday (March 13)

Please add your name to the list for either or both events by emailing if you are able to participate

Public event to be scheduled at restaurant in Oxon Hill

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Hearing

The last week has been a blizzard of activity, culminating in today’s hearing in front of two committees comprising more than a quarter of the entire Maryland House of Delegates. There were more than two dozen witnesses, and many more written testimonies.

It was a huge gathering of energy, marshaled by Dr. Dan Morhaim, Delegate from Baltimore’s 11th district. And the forces behind Medical Marijuana were so rampant, so overwhelming, that the only harms our side suffered were self-inflicted. But let us not dwell on small things – today went very well for us.

Dr. Morhaim introduced his legislation to the world, and to us, about a month after we sent the legislature our first batch of 600 postcards in support of medical marijuana. The bill, described by Dr. Morhaim as the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the country, was not to our liking for a few reasons, but its absolute prohibition of patient cultivation was simply unacceptable. We did, for a time, consider shelving this objection, but the MMJ patients and activists in Maryland were almost monolithic in their support for the right to grow, and thus we determined to offer only conditional support for Dr. Morhaim’s bill.

When the bill was introduced, with 47 cosponsors in the House, and 10 in the Senate, it is reasonable to assume that part of the reason for the huge number of cosponsors were the 2166 of our postcards (at least one from every single district in the state) which had, by then, been received by the Delegates.

We never met with Delegate Morhaim until yesterday, although our friends at MPP did inform him, and the lead sponsors in the Senate (Sen. Brinkley & Sen. Raskin) that the right to grow was a deal breaker for us. So it cannot have been a surprise to Del. Morhaim that we chose to announce our provisional support, conditional on such an amendment, when we contacted the entire Delegation on Wednesday morning.

Very shortly after receiving this letter, Del. Glenn invited us to a meeting with Del. Morhaim in her office.

Damien called Neill Franklin of LEAP and asked him to come with us. Something about Major Franklin, (Ret). adds a certain gravitas to the crew. Maybe his thirty three years as a police officer in Maryland. Whatever, we introduced ourselves to Dr. Morhaim – he already knew Neill.

The meeting was efficient. Dr. Morhaim told us how he was going to deal with our objection. It was in no way a negotiation – Damien and I barely spoke – and Dr. Morhaim asked us no questions, nor did he even solicit a response – he was perfectly clear - this is what you can have – take it or leave it.

He also said, that removing the prohibition on the right to grow might cost us the bill this year, and if we don’t get a favorable report out of the Judiciary committee, then we will be back in the same position next year. That Judiciary chair Vallario will strangle the bill in committee is a cast-iron certainty, so all we really discovered was that when Morhaim re-introduces the bill next session, the right to grow will be excluded again.

Without the right to grow there is no legal supply of marijuana. Our other objections to this legislation can be dealt with in subsequent years - if we don't start with the right to grow we might never get medical marijuana at all. Such things as protection from arrest, or the inclusion of particular medical conditions can be dealt with in subsequent years, if necessary.

For the rest of the day we made phone calls, collected testimony, and generally prepared for our trip to Annapolis.

We had to deliver 70 copies of the written testimonies by noon. Some of them needed a bit of tidying up when they arrived, but we were in Annapolis at 11:30AM with seven times seventy testimonials, ASA also had a bunch, and there were umpteen witnesses who registered to speak. As the hearing came together in the huge committee room in the Legislative Services building, we were feeling nervously confident.

The TV people interviewed Barry Considine just inside the committee room, and I think there were at least two TV teams, as well as someone from the Gazette newspaper. Lots of the seats were full when Chairman Vallerio asked the bill sponsors -- Delegates Glenn and Morhaim, and Senator Brinkley -- to take their seats at the witness table.

For three hours witness after witness, generally in groups of four, took their allotted three minutes to share their expertise, their suffering, their pleas to the Delegates to please pass this legislation, (frequently saying also with an amendment to allow patients to cultivate). Only two witnesses raised an objection to the bill itself. And both of these based their objection on controversial research suggesting cannabis as a causative agent in schizophrenia. The only cops who spoke, spoke in support.

There were a few Delegates who identified themselves as opponents by their questions – two were openly hostile - they will be getting a few more postcards I expect. Also, I think we might send a newsletter to the rest of the Delegation with respect to the questions that perhaps remain open – and I might look into that schizophrenia thing a bit more. If is true, then Doctors should be made aware of the need to check for a family history of psychosis before recommending cannabis to patients, and if it is junk, then we should point to the research that proves its junk.

In what was one of the most dramatic moments, one of the speakers from LEAP made public a bit of police practice from his past experience. Matthew Fogg explained that his strong objection to the clause excluding felons from jobs in, or ownership of, medical marijuana dispensaries, was due to the fact that narcotics police routinely, and intentionally, made more busts in poorer parts of town, because it was harder for the victims to lawyer up and beat the rap. And because poorer areas are very frequently places with a high concentration of minority groups, this policy was racist then, and to perpetuate it with this exclusion, is racist now. I found this argument persuasive. Delegates who may have benefited more from this revelation seemed otherwise occupied when the point was raised. Perhaps this matter could be further explored in a newsletter to the Delegates.

The committee members will now retire to consider their votes, and to make such amendments to the bill as seem appropriate.

We are aiming to be the victors in the last battle, what has happened so far is just foreplay.

And we keep getting stronger.