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CCUA Chronology of Implementation
November 1996 through May 1999

by Fred Gardner and Pebbles Trippet ©

Introduction
1996
1997
1998
1999
 

When Prop 215 passed, many optimists thought it would mean the beginning of the end of a destructive, costly prohibition. They assumed the significance of the vote was unmistakable —the people of California had told the government to lay off citizens who were using marijuana for medical purposes. These optimists clung to the naive belief that, America being a democracy, elections results mattered.
But the passage of Prop 215 was viewed by Attorney General Dan  Lungren, as a mistake to be rectified by law enforcement.  He instructed police and prosecutors to keep arresting and charging people who used marijuana, even if they had the approval of a physician. Marijuana arrests in California actually increased in 1997, according to the Bureau of Criminal Statistics, to 57,667 —up for the sixth year in a row. Many doctors came to feel less willing to discuss marijuana as a treatment option with their patients, as they feared Lungren’s wrath and the attention of Janet
Reno’s Justice Department.
This chronology of the medical marijuana movement is for patients, caregivers and concerned citizens who want a fuller, more coherent account than the corporate media has provided. We apologize in advance for the incompleteness of the chronology. We ask all participants in the movement to contact us ASAP to fill in the blanks.
                               —Fred Gardner and Pebbles Trippet
1996
Nov. 6  Attorney General Lungren sends a midnight fax to all California law enforcement officials; effective 12:01 a.m., The AG advises, “the focus in cases involving potential marijuana violations should be on whether the medicinal use defense is factually applicable.”  The cop on the beat is advised to “ask early whether the person is taking medication, what medication for what condition, at which doctor’s direction, and the duration of treatment... whether the individual is a patient or caregiver. If he/she says patient, then ascertain name of doctor and caregiver. If caregiver, ascertain for whom, for how long, and on what basis.”
Also 11/6  Bill Zimmerman’s “Californians for Medical Rights” renames itself “Americans for Medical Rights” and announces plans to put medical marijuana initiaitves on the ballot in five more states. Their Sacramento lobbyist boasts that the organization consists of four people.

Nov. 7 The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana is granted non-profit status and an employer identification number by the California Secretary of State’s office. The articles of incorporation state that the Santa Cruz organization “will research, prepare and disseminate reports prepared for either the general public or the medical community based on information gathered directly from patients using marijuana to treat their medical needs. WAMM will also ensure that seriously ill patients have access at no charge to a safe supply of marijuana as prescribed by a physician through propagation of verdure in conjunction with community support. [“Verdure” is green-growing matter.]

Nov. 21  The Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club announces that its membership stands at “775 meticulously screened patients, and we are growing carefully.” Proprietor Jeff Jones thanks the city council for resolving that the “arrest of individuals involved with the medical use of marijuana shall be a low priority for the city of Oakland.” Protocols developed by the Oakland CBC are sent to clubs springing up around the state. Typically, a new member is required to produce a written medical diagnosis —signed by his or her doctor on stationery bearing a license number— recommending marijuana as a treatment. The club then calls the doctor’s office to confirm the diagnosis.

December 1 MedEx Santa Cruz is established “to provide in-home delivery of safe and affordable cannabis.”
 
Dec. 3   Lungren convenes a special “All Zones Meeting” of DAs, sheriffs, and police chiefs to lay out his approach to enforcement of Prop 215. “We think the narrowest interpretation is the most appropriate,” Lungren tells the law enforcers. “It would be our view that marijuana would not be available for acne, hangnails, stress or arthritis.” [This is a revealing slip of the tongue, since the initiative specifically sanctioned the use of marijuana in the treatment of arthritis.] The AG proclaims his strategy: to prosecute marijuana cases as vigorously as before; to put the burden of proof on defendants; and to require their physicians to testify in open court. Lungren says he will go to Washington to urge U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to enforce the federal laws against marijuana use.  San Francisco DA Terence Hallinan, the only open supporter of Prop 215, is denied a chance to address the session.

Dec. 4  Bill Zimmerman of Americans for Medical Rights tells the Sacramento Bee, “I think the attorney general is correct in arguing that the initiative should be interpreted narrowly.”   In Almador County, District Attorney Steven Cilenti sends the following note to Judge Don Howard of the County Judicial Court: “It is respectfully requested you dismiss the charges on the above named defendant as defendant has medical reasons to possess marijuana.” The sheriff subsequently mails back the patient’s two grams.
Dec. 17  In Sonoma County The People of California vs. Alan Edward Martinez and Jason John Miller is heard in municipal court and the first attempt to get a marijuana case dismissed on the basis of Prop 215 is promptly rejected by Judge Mark Tansil. The Defendants Alan Martinez, 40 —a nurse’s aide who has epilepsy— and Jason Miller, 24, his primary caregiver, were arrested in August ’96 for cultivating marijuana in a windowsill planter box.  Their lawyer, Bill Panzer, moves for an “in camera” hearing to keep confidential the identity of Martinez’s doctor; this, too, is rejected. “If the DEA withdraws a doctor’s right to prescribe,” Panzer argues, “they lose their malpractice insurance, their hospital privileges, and their ability to make an income.” Tansil rules, “The court can’t grant this witness special immunity. We must trust the system to deal fairly with this doctor and hope the doctor is a strong enough person to do the right thing.”

Also 12/17 In Alameda County a defense motion to move the case of People vs. Dennis Peron and Beth Moore to San Francisco —where 43 of the 44 alleged violations occurred— is denied by Judge Larry Goodman. This is the case stemming from the Aug. 4 raid on the SF Cannabis Buyers Club, which led to indictment on possession and transportation charges by an Alameda Grand jury. Peron’s lawyer J. David Nick argued that the grand jury should be reconvened to consider the “medical necessity” defense created by Prop 215, and that the raid itself was an improper attempt to influence the vote on 215.
 
Dec. 19 The San Francisco club stages a “‘We Forgive You Love-In” at the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement office near Fisherman’s Wharf. Some 40 members sing Christmas carols “in the spirit of the holidays, to forgive those in the BNE for their acts of aggression against the sick and dying who have been harassed and prosecuted for medical marijuana use...”
See the pot-filled bong before us!
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Makes you want to sing a chorus!
Fa la la la la, la la la la...
 Lungren, in Washington, D.C., calls on Justice Department officials to enforce the federal anti-marijuana laws.

Dec. 22  Thomas Constantine, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, threatens, “We are going to take very, very serious action against” doctors recommending marijuana for medical purposes.

Feds Threaten California MDs
Dec. 30 Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, Attorney General Janet Reno and Health & Human Services Secty Donna Shalala declare the Clinton Administration’s opposition to the medical use of marijuana at a widely covered press conference. They produce a chart entitled “Dr. Tod Mikuriya’s (215 Medical Advisor) Medical Uses of Marijuana” Twenty-six conditions are listed. One is misspelled —”Migranes.” Three —”Removal of Corns,” “Writer’s Cramp,” and “Recalling ‘Forgotten Memories”— simply do not appear in the various list of conditions Mikuriya has compiled.  McCaffrey declares, “This isn’t medicine, this is a Cheech and Chong show.” He warns that “a practitioner’s action of recommending [marijuana]... will lead to administrative action by the DEA to revoke the practitioner’s registration.”
Mikuriya calls the chart “a crude dirty trick —the kind of disinformation the U.S. military put out during the Vietnam War, only in this case the ‘enemy’ is the people of California.”
Lungren thanks McCaffrey and Reno for “quick action.”
Doctors are alarmed. “The war on drugs has become the war on physicians,” comments Virginia Cafaro, MD, of San Francisco.
Dennis Peron says, “Good publicity for Cheech and Chong.”

1997
January 8  Superior Court Judge David Garcia rules that the passage of Prop 215 entitles the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club —closed in August ’96—to operate. Dennis Peron, Beth Moore, et al are allowed to provide marijuana “for the personal medicinal use of persons who have designated the defendants as their primary caregiver pursuant to Health and Safety Code S11362.5.” Garcia tells the prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office “I don’t think you or I are going to say that the people of California were totally ineffectual in trying to pass a medical marijuana law. The defendants are ordered to operate as a non-profit organization and to maintain records showing that they have been designated as primary caregiver by members who have recommendations from physicians.” Garcia also orders the defendants to “maintain records showing monies expended and received as reimbursement of expenditures including overhead for their activities relating to the provision of medicinal marijuana.”  The AG’s office says its will contest the ruling that a club can be a caregiver under Prop 215.

Jan. 9  In Plumas County cultivation charges against Cinthia Ann Powers —a multiple sclerosis patient who uses marijuana medically— are dropped by DA James Reichle who says, “After carefully looking at her situation, Powers is a Proposition 215 case.” In Alameda County charges against Harold Sweet, a glaucoma sufferer, are dropped.

Jan. 13  In response to criticism by doctors and scientists, McCaffrey announces that his office will underwrite a $1 million study of the medical potential of marijuana by the Institute of Medicine (a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, whose function is to give the government objective answers to scientific questions).

Conant v. McCaffrey
Jan. 14   Several prominent Bay Area physicians and patients who use marijuana for medical purposes sue McCaffrey, Reno, Shalala and DEA chief Constantine in federal court for “effectively gagging physicians.” Conant v. McCaffrey, a class-action suit on behalf of all California doctors and patients who discuss marijuana as a treatment option, seeks to prevent the government from prosecuting or threatening to punish doctors who recommend marijuana. The suit, which is assigned to U.S. District Judge Fern Smith, charges that the feds “have intruded into the physician-patient relationship, an area traditionally protected from government interference.” The plaintiffs include doctors Marcus Conant, Arnold Leff, Neil Flynn, Milton Estes, Stephen Follansbee, Stephen O’Brien, Robert Scott, Debu Tripathy and Donald Northfelt; patients Jo Daly, Keith Vines, Judith Cushner, and Valerie Corral; the Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights; and Being Alive, an AIDS patient advocacy organization.

Jan. 15  The San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club reopens for business at 1444 Market. The club requires members to produce a letter of diagnosis but does not require a written recommendation for marijuana. “We’re on the honor system here,” says Peron. “You tell us your doctor recommends marijuana and that’s fine with us.” Carpenters begin transforming the basement of the club into an indoor greenhouse.

Jan. 30  An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine —“Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” by Jerome Kassirer, MD, the editor-in-chief—  derides the U.S. government’s policy as “misguided,” “hypocritical,” “out of step with the public,” and “inhumane.”  The prestigious journal calls for reclassifying marijuana from Schedule 1 (drugs of abuse with no therapeutic value) to Schedule 2 (which includes drugs deemed medically useful despite being potentially addictive, like and cocaine and codeine). Such a change would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana without fear of reprisal. Kassirer decries “the absolute power of bureaucrats whose decisions are based more on reflexive ideology and political correctness than on compassion.”

“I don’t think anyone wants to settle issues like this by plebiscite.” —Harold Varmus

Also 1/30 (and probably not coincidentally)  The director of the National Institutes of Health, Harold Varmus announces a special conference to resolve “the public health dilemma” raised by the passage of Prop 215. “I don’t think anyone wants to settle issues like this by plebiscite,” says Varmus, calling instead for “a way to listen to experts on these topics.”

February 2  Dennis Peron calls on state legislators to end the Campaign Against Marijuana Production. “To ensure the availability of cheap and pure marijuana to the patients who need it... stop the helicopter flyovers and seizures of marijuana in the production areas.” CAMP commander Walt Kaiser comments “We anticipate it will be business as usual. Prop 215 is an affirmative defense —but people will have to prove in court that cultivated marijuana was intended for a medical use.”
 
Feb. 6  “Bay Lawmaker Aims to Help Pot Law”  —SF Examiner headline. State Sen. John Vasconcellos announces that he will introduce legislation to “help implement” Prop 215. Americans for Medical Rights claims credit for helping to draft the so-called “enabling legislation.” Dennis Peron is suspicious: “Prop 215 doesn’t need any help.”

Feb. 7  McCaffrey’s lawyer rejects any possibility of settlement in Conant v. McCaffrey, writing “Doctors cannot evade the prohibitions of the Controlled Substances Act by claiming that they are merely providing their patients with ‘recommendations.’”

Feb. 9  Marine Lance Cpl Jason Allen Miller, trained in beach landing techniques, is caught delivering a half ton of marijuana by speedboat from Tijuana to a San Diego beach. Miller was found to be working for a San Diego family with Marine Corps connections (Gringos, by the way; corruption practices “diversity”) ...A nationwide poll financed by the Lindesmith Center finds 2-to-1 support —or greater— for allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for seriously or terminally ill patients.

Feb. 11   A hit piece in The New Republic entitled “The Return of Pot”informs our leaders inside the Beltway that renewed propaganda is required to discredit the medical marijuana movement. The disdainful impressions of author Hannah Rosin—who flew out from the east for a whirlwind tour of a few clubs and an overview from Bill Zimmerman— are cited by pundits as factual data. “As Hanna Rosin reports in the current issue of the New Republic, the clubs are peopled not by the desperate terminally ill but by a classic cross-section of California potheads, all conveniently citing some diagnosis or other —migraines, insomnia, stress- as their tickets to Letheland.” —Charles Krauthammer in the LA Times.

Feb. 15  DEA agents question family doctor Robert Mastroianni of Pollack Pines, who has recommended marijuana to three seriously ill patients since the passage of Prop 215. The local pharmacist says he has also been contacted by the DEA. Mastroianni says the effect has been intimidating. “I am now reticent and reluctant to recommend the use of medical marijuana even if it is my ethical duty to do so.”

Feb. 19-20  The conference of experts sought by Harold Varmus is convened by Alan Leshner of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The experts conclude that the safety and efficacy of marijuana with respect to many illnesses is unproven.
“Analgesia: No clinical trials involving smoked marijuana have been performed in patients with naturally occurring pain... Neurological and movement disorders: Evidence that marijuana relieves spasticity produced by multiple sclerosis and partial spinal cord injury is largely anecdotal... There is scant information on the use of marijuana or other cannabinoids for the actual treatment of epilepsy...  Nausea and Vomiting Associated With Cancer Chemotherapy: Since the approval of dronabinol in the mid 1980s, more effective antiemetics have been developed, such as ondansetron, granisetron, and dola-setron, each combined with dexamethasone. The relative efficacy of canninoids versus these newer antiemetics have not been evaluated.... Appetite Stimulation: Marijuana is reported to increase food enjoyment and the number of times individuals eat per day... There are no controlled studies of marijuana in the AIDS wasting syndrome, nor have there been any systematic studies of the effects of marijuana on immunological status in HIV-infected patients.”
The experts call for “more and better studies.”

Feb. 22 Orange County fires an equipment operator who used marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma. Rob Dunaway, 38, of Mission Viejo, was diagnosed with glaucoma at 19 and for 15 years has smoked a small amount of marijuana after work -never before or during, he says. “It’s heartbreaking,” says Dunaway. “I love my work. It’s what I’ve done all my life.”

Feb. 23 The Internal Revenue Service rules that taxpayers cannot deduct the cost of marijuana as a medical expense because it is a Schedule I drug and cannot be legally prescribed. The ruling means that employee benefit packages cannot cover marijuana expenses. In the same ruling, 1997-9 I.R.B.1, the agency announces that the cost of Laetrile, a substance derived from apricot pits to which desperate cancer patients sometimes turn, can no longer be deducted as a medical expense.

Lungren’s Guidelines
Feb. 24  The Attorney General’s Office issues guidelines for law enforcement officers in response to Prop 215. Patient Qualifications are defined as follows. “1. Patients must be California residents. Out-of-state residents, temporary visitors or foreign nationals without legal residence in the U.S. are not covered... 2. Patients must be seriously ill. Minor injuries, colds, common flu, most skin cancer, stress, etc., are not covered. 3. The patient must have had an examination by a physician, and the physician must have determined that the specific patient’s health would benefit from marijuana as a treatment for the specific illness. 4. The patient must not be engaged in behavior that endangers others such as driving a vehicle, working with dangerous equipment, or being under the influence in public. 5. The patient cannot be involved in any diversion of marijuana for nonmedical purposes... 6. Patients cannot cultivate or possess amounts geater than necessary for their personal medical needs. This precludes commercial and most cooperative style operations. Questioning by an officer should help determine whether the amount is consistent with what was recommended by the doctor for what length of time and for what illness. By way of example, if the patient is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for 30 days and the basis for the recommendation is to combat nausea caused by the therapy, then a supply greater than 30 days is more than necessary for medical use. Note: one marijuana plant produces approximately one pound of bulk marijuana. One pound will make approximately 1,000 cigarettes. Therefore, one can argue that more than two plants would be cultivation of more than necessary for personal medical use.”
The Guidelines state that cannabis clubs cannot qualify as primary caregivers under the law. “Although they may be supplying marijuana for medical purposes, they would not qualify as being primarily and consistently responsible for the housing, health or safety of the patient.”

Tod Mikuriya says, “The response of organized medicine has been shameful. They are more interested in relaying the federal threats to their members than in protecting them, let alone seeing that a safe and effective medicine is available to patients.”

Feb. 27  The federal government seems to relent in response to Conant v. McCaffrey. A letter from the Dept. of Health & Human Services and the Dept. of Justice to 250 medical organizations and groups in the U.S. states, “Nothing in federal law prevents a physician, in the context of a legitimate physician-patient relationship, from merely discussing with a patient the risks and alleged benefits of the use of marijuana to relieve pain or alleviate symptoms.”  The letter warns, however, “physicians may not intentionally provide their patients with oral or written statements to enable them to obtain controlled substances in violation of federal law... The CMA and AMA urge Conant et al to drop their lawsuit. CMA attorney Alice Mead “recommends that physicians not sign or complete those forms [patients’ forms related to marijuana use] and that they should not prepare their own similar forms.”  Tod Mikuriya says, “The response of organized medicine has been shameful. They are more interested in relaying the federal threats to their members than in protecting them, let alone seeing that a safe and effective medicine is available to patients.”

March 1   Mountain View police return six plants and some growing equipment seized from Edward Willis, a 43-year-old electrician with AIDS.  “We respect the voters’ call. In certain circumstances, upon a doctor’s recommendation, we will honor a patient’s right to use marijuana for medical purposes,” said Santa Clara County Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu (a veteran prosecutor who says she reconsidered her own position after watching a friend undergoing treatment for stomach cancer obtain relief by smoking marijuana). Willis’s doctor, Deborah Shih of Kaiser Santa Calara Hospital, had provided him a letter stating she would consider prescribing marijuana for him if she were legally able to do so.

March 11  San Jose city attorney Joan Gallo unveils a proposed ordinance to regulate the locations and operations of medical marijuana facilities  The city would allow “medical marijuana dispersaries” to operate only in commercial areas, away from schools, churches and daycare centers, and smoking of medical marijuana would not be permitted on the premises.” Dave Fratello of AMR applauds the city for “sensible regulation.” Dennis Peron says, “They want to put us alongside the porno shops. Would they tell a doctor or a pharmacist where they can or can’t have an office?”  Robert Niswonger, who was planning to open the Santa Clara County Cannabis Club at his home, which is near an elementary school, is advised to find another location.

Also 3/11 The Wall St. Journal runs a commentary by Gabriel Nahas, MD, and three colleagues, “Marijuana Is the Wrong Medicine,” taking issue with Kassirer’s NEJM editorial. Nahas flat out denies that marijuana relieves pain. “If Kassirer means to imply that marijuana is analgesic, he is simply wrong.”

March 17  Leaders of the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association urge a settlement of Conant v. McCaffrey in a letter to the plaintiffs and the feds. The CMA issues guidelines to its members, advising that a doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of pot as medicine and document the discussion in the patient’s record, but should not make a recommendation on whether to use mj, should remind patients that it remains illegal under federal law, and should not help patients get marijuana from buyers’ clubs.
March 18  Los Angeles prosecutors dismiss the case of an AIDS patient charged with marijuana possession. Willie Perkins, 35, had a written diagnosis from a doctor at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center acknowledging the possible benefits of marijuana. “Reviewing the spirit of the law... we decided to dismiss this case,” says Deputy City Attorney Jerry Baik.
March 25  The San Jose City Council becomes the first California entity to officially monitor and permit the distribution of medical marijuana.  Peter Baez and Jesse Garcia announce they will be opening soon at a site on San Carlos Street... Mendocino County DA Susan Massini warns growers that contracts with cannabis clubs will provide no legal protection. “They will not be immune from felony prosecution even though they’ve reached a contract with an organization that may be perceived in San Francisco as being legal,” Massini says. Sheriff Jim Tuso says his deputies will continue to arrest growers and confiscate their product even if they have contracts with a medical marijuana sales outlet. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Knight adds, “We’ve been instructed from our district attorney that a contract with the San Francisco cannabis club is not going to prevent us from taking the marijunana and arresting the person for cultivation or possession for sale.” Dennis Peron contends that patients can name a cannabis buyers club as “their primary caregiver with respect to providing marijuana” and that the club can reassign the right to cultivate marijuana to a grower.

April 5 The new Ukiah Cannabis Club begins registering members at the Forks Theater, 40 Pallini Lane... Proprietor Cherrie Lovett, a lupus patient, says “It’s gonna be small and it’s gonna be really low key, but I want all sick people to come and be a family.” The theater is owned by Marvin and Millie Lehrman, who also help run the club.
April 9  Jeff Webb of Oroville is arrested after being stopped by the CHP for a license plate violation near the Yuba/Sutter county line. Webb informs the officer that he and his wife are primary caregivers delivering medical marijuana to patients. Three small bags of pot with SF Cannabis Club seals are found in the car (less than 2 ounces). Webb is arrested and charged with transportation and possesion for sale. CHP captain Fred Steisberg says “Just having a card and a sticker on the bag isn’t enough. We define the terrm ‘primary caregtiver’ as someone who provides housing, care and safety for the patient.” [Prop 215 defines primary caregiver as someone who provides housing, care or safety...]

April 10  A warrant is issued for the arrest of Jean Baker, 39, the director of the Humboldt Cannabis Action Network, after she fails to appear in court on cultivation charges.  Baker says county law enforcement officials are punishing her for negotiating cultivation contracts with local growers. Deputy DA Worth Dikeman says Baker was observed in September at a site where marijuana was later found growing.  Sheriff Dennis Lewis says that under Prop 215 “Patients and caregivers can grow for personal use, but there’s no mention made of proxies growing large fields for clinics or clubs.”

DEA Raids Flower Therapy
April 21 At 6:30 a.m. federal DEA agents break down the door of San Francisco’s Flower Therapy club, seize 331 marijuana plants along with lights, fans and cash. DEA spokesman Stan Vegar says, “The federal statutes state that cultivation of marijuana —and in this case, high-level, sophisticated, large-scale indoor marijuana cultivation- is illegal. Prop 215 simply did not change federal law and it did not change the San Francisco DEA’s interest in these types of cases.” Proprietor John Hudson says the club will stay open for business. “This is a futile attempt to try and harass the medical marijuana movement.”  San Francisco DA Terence Hallinan, who was not notified in advance of the raid, calls it politically motivated. (Federal drug cases usually involve tons, not pounds of marijuana.) Hallinan urges U.S. Attorney Michael Yamaguchi not to prosecute the Flower Therapy staff, offering to “testify to the fact that this group was trying to comply with the law in the state of California.” Dennis Peron accuses rogue DEA agents of “attempting to derail Yamaguchi’s nomination for federal judge (by putting him in the political bind of being damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t prosecute the Flower Therapy staff)... Also 4/21 Senator Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) introduces a bill, S40, that would mandate an eight-year prison term for doctors who recommend marijuana, as well as revocation of their DEA registration.

April 30   Judge Fern Smith —a Reagan appointee— grants a preliminary injunction in Conant v. McCaffrey “limiting the government’s ability to prosecute physicians, revoke their prescription licenses, or bar their participation in Medicare and Medicaid because they recommend medical use of marijuana.” In a 43-page opinion she writes, “The First Amendment allows physicians to discuss and advocate medical marijuana, even though use of marijuana itself is illegal... The government’s fear that frank dialog between physicians and patients about medical marijuana might foster use does not justify infringing First Amendment freedoms... Defendants may only prosecute physicians who recommend medical marijuana to their patients if the physicians are liable for aiding and abetting or conspiracy under these statues.” Plaintiffs’ attorney Graham Boyd gloats that doctors can now, “recommend it, they can have discussions with their patients and they can do what doctors normally do, but they cannot help them obtain marijuana. They cannot fill out recommendations... They really shouldn’t take calls from the clubs.”  (In fact doctors “normally” write prescriptions and tell their patients where they can get them filled. More accurate than the lawyers’ self-congratulation is Judge Smith’s own conclusion: “This injunction does not provide physicians with the level of certainty for which they had hoped.”)

May 1  An arrest warrant is issued for a Mountain View man who obtained pot from the Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center using a forged prescription form. Director Peter Baez alerted authorities.

May 14  Researchers from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland and the University of California School of Public Health in Berkeley publish results of a study that examined the records of more than 65,000  members of the Kaiser health plan for an average of 10 years. Some 14,000 of the members said they were marijuana users between 1979 and 1985. A decade later the death rates of both subgroups were identical. Lead author Dr. Stephen Sidney warns that “marijuana can lead you into situations of risky sex.” Also, “The criminalization of marijuana use may itself be a health hazard, since it may expose the consumer to violence and criminal activity.” The authors cited “reasonable evidence” for marijuana’s effectiveness against nausea and in treating glaucoma.

May 20 Marines on a drug interdiction patrol near Redford Texas shoot and kill 17-year old Esequiel Hernandez Jr., a goatherd (and US citizen).

June 1 A hearing judge in Santa Cruz refuses to dismiss People v. Elm.   Sue Ellen Elm was charged with cultivation and possession for sale. She moved for dismissal of the cultivation charge on the basis of Health and Safety Code section 11362.5.  As described by the “Update” compiled by the AG’s office, “Defendant offered a letter from her psychiatrist which asserted (1) that defendant suffered from Dysthemia [mild depression]; (2) that defendant was using marijuana as treatment; and (3) that defendant had medical reasons for her use of marijuana. On the strength of these assertions, defendant argued that she was not subject to any criminal prosecution.  The court found that section 11362.5 applied only to ‘seriously ill’ California residents, and that the court may determine (1) whether a person is seriously ill; and (2) whether marijuana use is medically appropriate for that person.”  The judge said the psychiatrist’s letter was insufficient evidence.

June 6   Preliminary hearing in the People v. King in Tulare County. The case involves cultivation of 30 plants by a cancer patient named Mike King, 52, a former deputy sheriff who was severely injured when his patrol car was hit by a train (while he was pursuing a suspect). After many back operations and unrelenting pain, somebody recommended that King try marijuana “and he abandoned his longtime War on Drugs attitude and sure enough it was the thing that made it possible for him to lead a reasonably normal life,” says  his lawyer, William Logan.

July 1  Nicasio podiatrist Alan Ager goes on trial in Marin County on charges he was growing 134 plants in his yard. Ager’s defense: he smoked pot to deal with back pain and was seeking to lay in a year’s supply.

July 3  Al Martinez is killed when his car swerves off Bodega Highway, probably the result of an epileptic seizure. Martinez had been off marijuana since his arrest on cultivation charges, according to his lawyer. “The first death directly caused by government resistance to implementing Prop 215,” says Pebbles Trippet. “They scared him out of taking his life-saving medicine. He feared they were going to use it against him in the prosecution.”

July 29  Cancer patient Todd McCormick is arrested by LA sheriff’s drug investigators for growing 4,000 plants in an old Bel Air residence. McCormick is held on $500,000 bail, which Woody Harrelson posts for him. McCormick says he was growing different strains “so I could do research on my own body” and against the day he would be too weak to do so.

August 4  Criminal defense lawyer Tony Serra sends out a press release revealing that he uses marijuana as an anti-stress medication and is a member of the SF Cannabis Club. Serra says he’s going public to encourage fellow lawyers and others in “high stress lifestyles” to “come off the booze and get on the cannabis.”

August 12   Scott Summers of Santa Margarita tells Narcotics Task Force agents he had a contract signed by Dennis Peron to grow pot for the SF club.  Summers will later plead no contest.

August 15   In People vs. Trippet, the First district court of Appeals rules that Prop 215 protects transportation of marijuana for personal use and that it applies retroactively. Trippet was appealing conviction in a 1995 Contra Costa case in which she had been found with marijuana in her car and convicted for transportation. The court ruled that Prop 215 creates an “implied defense”  for transporation. “The voters could not have intended that a dying cancer patient’s primary caregiver could be subject to criminal sanctions for carrying otherwise legally cultivated and possessed marijuana down a hallway to the patient’s room.” Judge Paul Haerle also commented on the question of allowable quantity: “The statute does not mean that a person who claims an occasional problem with arthritis pain just in case it suddenly gets cold. The rule should be that the quantity possessed by the patient, and the form and manner in which it is possessed, should be reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs.” The court ordered a retrial for Trippet.

August 18-19  The civil trial of Dennis Peron, Beth Moore et al, begins in San Francisco with Superior Court Judge J. Albert Robertson II presiding. Senior Assistant Attorney General John Gordnier successfully moves to prevent a jury trial and to block Dan Lungren’s appearance as a witness. Peron hopes to prove that Lungren’s closure of the club in August ’96 was motivated by political opposition to Prop 215. The case is a civil matter involving the operation of a public nuisance as defined by state law. Peron also faces criminal charges with a different set of co-defendants in Alameda County in connection with the purchase and transportation of marijuana for his club... 18/20 The defense is granted a continuance (which it had sought because all the key rulings had gone against them).

August 22 The Ager case ends in a hung jury (10-2 to convict). The Marin DA’s office will subsequently announce its intention to retry him.

August 26   “Conservative Attorney General Lungren and liberal lawmaker John Vasconcellos stood shoulder-to-shoulder Tuesday to announce they had agreed on a three-year state study of marijuana.” —The SF Examiner.  At a press conference with a smiling Vasco and Carol Migden (co-sponsor of the bill), Lungren accepts congratulations from the liberals. The AG’s support for this bill, Vasco says, “is a remarkably fine example of how the people and the government can work together.”  Papers across the state play up the story.  As the Santa Cruz Sentinel observes,  “Lungren comes off as the politician who listened to the people, who put the rhetoric aside, and went for the truth.”

October 8   UCSF Professor Donald Abrams —after years of seeking approval, funding and government marijuana to study whether or not cannabis use leads to weight gain in AIDS patients— gets the green light and $1 million from the NIH. Abrams’s grant-winning protocol now emphasizes safety questions (whether or not there is an impact on the immune system, viral load and hormone levels, and whether THC affects protease inhibitor metabolism). The study will involve three groups of 21 patients. Each group will stay in a specially ventilated wing of SF General Hospital for three weeks. One group will smoke mj, one will receive Marinol, and the third will be given a placebo tablet.

Oct. 14  CAMP concludes its 9-week raiding party. A prss release from the Attorney General’s office quotes Lungren, “‘The value of the plants confiscated this year underscores that the passage of Proposition 215 should in no way curtail law enforcement’s efforts to interdict marijuana.’” The release continues: “The 132,485 plants if grown to maturity, could have been processed into about 66 tons of marijuana... that is more than 120 million marijuana joints that will not be rolled, smoked and potentially offered to children... Lungren stressed that the marijuana trade is growing larger and is being infiltrated by Mexican nationals, who are already heavily involved in the methampethamine trade... The plants seized during this operation were never intended to be used for medicinal purposes.” CAMP claims to have discovered 676 cultivation sites, arrested 54 suspects, and seized 25 weapons and $1,300 in cash. Of the 260 raids, 222 were in Humboldt, Mendocino and Sonoma counties... Dennis Peron comments, “Lungren managed to use the words ‘marijuana,’ ‘Mexican’ and ‘methamphetamine,’ in one sentence.”  Raids in Santa Cruz County dropped from 45 to five as the Sheriff’s Office reduced the number of days devoted to surveillance.

Is Stress “Serious?”
Oct. 14  Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Harry Hull rules that defendant Richard Hearth can’t introduce into evidence a doctor’s recommendation obtained 11 months after his arrest for cultivation and possession of marijuana. Hearth had called the police to his house after three of his seven plants were ripped off in September, 1996. He was then arrested for cultivation and possession. In August 1997 he obtained a letter from Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld stating, “I have evaluated Mr. Richard Hearth and find that he has been using marijuana for medicinal purposes for at least five years. I recommend that he continue using marijuana as needed for anxiety. This recommendation is valid until November 30, 1997.”  Deputy District Attorney Michael Blazina argued that “a physician’s recommendation pursuant to Prop 215 must occur prior to defendant’s cultivation and possession.” The prosecution also argued that “defendant’s anxiety is not a sufficient illness to qualify for proposition 215 protection,” citing ballot arguments which refer to “seriously and terminally ill patients.”   Schoenfeld —who in the ’60s wrote a column for the Berkeley Barb under the name “Dr. Hip,” and in the ’80s directed a drug and alcohol rehab center in Salinas— had testified that Hearth suffers from chronic and situational anxiety and situational depression for which marijuana could provide relief.  Judge Hull rules that Hearth was relying on “an approval given primarily to create, after the fact, a defense to a criminal prosecution... Further, I find that the ‘illness’ for which Dr. Schoenfeld prescribed the past and future use of marijuana was not one within the contemplation of the voters at the time they approved this law.”

Oct. 15-18  The Drug Policy Foundation holds its 11th annual meeting in New Orleans. The  Edward Brecher Journalism Award goes to Garry Trudeau and the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for outstanding achievement in the field of drug policy reform to state senator John Vasconcellos.

Oct. 16  San Mateo County Supervisor Mike Nevin suggests that the county establish medical marijuana outlets at local clinics and distribute marijuana seized by law enforcement.

Oct. 17 Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dean Beaupre sends the criminal case against Dennis Peron et al back to San Francisco to avoid “the appearance of improper forum-shopping” by the Attorney General. Only one of the 44 illegal acts the defendants allegedly committed took place in Alameda County —Peter Vouhoue had been followed to Oakland and arrested there after delivering marijuana to the SF Cannabis Club.

Oct. 17-18  Proprietors from 15 cannabis clubs meet in Santa Cruz to seek agreement on basic principles of operation. Scott Imler of the Los Angeles CBC is the prime organizer of the conference, which also drew representatives from clubs getting off the ground, as well as about 100 interested observers. .

Oct. 21  Marin County Supervisors John Kress and Steve Kinsey propose an ordinance to allow the county to give out certificates to people who have verified illnesses that a licensed clinician deems appropriate to treat with marijuana. The cards would be valid for a year and cost $25. County Health director Thomas Peters says he will take feedback on the proposal for one month and then bring it back to the board for a vote... The Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement lowers its hiring requirement from four years of college to two; investigative experience is no longer required.

Oct. 28 Officers from the sheriff’s department raid the Monterey County Medical Marijuana Care Center, seizing seven grams of marijuana and the medical records of more than 100 members... The club will subsequently close.

November 5  On prime time TV, Murphy Brown, diagnosed with breast cancer, smokes marijuana to deal with the effects of chemotherapy.

The Year of Bittersweet Expansion
In which the original organizers defend themselves in California courts while the medical marijuana movement goes national, funded by enlightened capitalists and guided by a “professional” campaign consultant from Santa Monica.
 Nov. 11  Steve Michael of ACT UP! - Washington, D.C., sponsor of a medical marijuana initiative that has already collected 12,000 signatures, protests AMR’s plan to sponsor a separate measure.  “I am angered that the California-based Americans for Medical Rights would actively  undermine the efforts of DC AIDS activists working to qualify a medical marijuana initiative in our community...  The AMR crowd has hired a K Street PR firm and is currently calling on community groups throughout the District of Columbia to convince people to support their effort... This has been a long and draining campaign.  I have been frustrated by the leadership of the drug policy movement time and time again.  With a few exceptions they’ve ignored our requests for help, even the simple things, like postage, printing, signs, volunteers.  We’ve been left twisting in the wind”
Activist Lin Hagood adds:  “It’s like the AMR crowd is afraid that if we prevail they won’t be able to cash in on our effort.  We are going public in the hope that those who funded the California Initiative drive like Mr. George Soros learn of our poverty status and will bypass the fat cat AMR gatekeepers and help the DC community activist based effort to secure legal and safe access for medical marijuana to serious ill Washingtonians.  I can’t believe Soros has anything to do with the secret campaign by AMR to crush Initiative 57.”

Nov.  28 The DEA announces that state, local and federal agents confiscated more than 553,000 plants in California during the ’98 growing season. (In ’96 the figure was 351,000.) More than a quarter of the total came from Mendocino County. CAMP seized 132,000 plants -40% more than in ’96. Agent Bill Ruzzmenti suggests that Prop 215 misled the growers. “There is a misconception out there that growing marijuana is somehow legal, and it’s not.”

Dec. 9   The American Medical Association’s  policymaking committee calls for free discussion between doctors and patients about marijuana as a treatment option, and clinical trials of its possible benefits.

Dec. 12  The First District Court of Appeals rules that under the terms of Prop 215, sales are illegal and clubs can’t be primary caregivers. Attorney General Dan Lungren immediately notifies the district attorneys in California’s 58 counties that they can now move against the clubs: “When the issue of whether so-called ‘buyers’ clubs’ could be primary caregivers under Proposition 215 arose, this office sought to resolve the issue through the judicial process. It was our opinion that California’s citizens had approved a narrow measure that clearly did not contemplate sales of marijuana through ‘clubs...’ Many of you have clubs operating in your jurisdiction. This letter is to advise you of the ruling in People v. Peron so that you can prepare to take appropriate action. If you have any questions or need assistance with this issue, please contact either George William-son or John Gordnier.”   Dennis Peron comments, “Democracy itself is under attack here. The judges are calling the voters fools. They nullified the vote, essentially.”

Dec. 14-16 Investigators from the Institute of Medicine conduct a “Basic and Clinical Science Workshop” on the UC Irvine campus as part of an 18-month study commissioned by Barry McCaffrey’s National Office on Drug Control Policy. The IOM study is being conducted by two MD investigators —Stanley J. Watson, Jr. a mild-mannered research psychiatrist from the University of Michigan and John A. Benson, Jr., a silver-haired, bow-tie-wearing professor emeritus from Oregon Health Sciences University. The study director, Janet E. Joy, has a PhD in biology. Patients and caregivers sharing their experience and observations included Bill Britt, Peter McWilliams, Todd McCormick, Anna Boyce, Dr. Del Dalton, Marvin Chavez,  Etienne Fontan (Cannabis Alliance of Veterans), Andrew Kinnon, Kenneth Smuland,  Vic Hernandez, Bonnie Metcalf of the Yuba County Compassionate Use Co-op, Jo Anna Mckee (Green Cross Patient Co-op, Seattle),  Jeff Jones, Dale Gieringer, and Chris Conrad (author of Hemp for Health).
The IOM team then heard from researchers describing  the basic science, as currently understood, and the prospects of cannabis as a treatment for a remarkably wide range of conditions. It exerts its effects by acting on receptors in the brain and elsewhere that respond to the body’s own “cannabinoids.”   The line-up:
“Neuropharmacology of Cannabinoids and their Receptors” by Steven R. Childers, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; “Precipitated Cannabinoid Withdrawal and Sensory Processing of Painful Stimuli” by J. Michael Walker, Brown University; “Role of Cannabinoids in Movement” by Clara Sanudo, Brown University; “Tolerance and Cannabinoid-Opioid Interactions” by Sandra Welch, Medical College of Virginia; “Immune Modulation by Cannabinoids” by Norbert Kaminski, Michigan State University; “Marijuana and Glaucoma” by Paul Kaufman, University of Wisconsin; “Effects of Marijuana and Cannabinoids in Neurological Disorders” by Paul Consroe, University of Arizona Health Science Center; “Neural Mechanisms of Cannabinoid Analgesia,”  by Howard Fields, UCSF; “Wasting Syndrome Pathogenesis and Clinical Markers” by Donald Kotler, St. Lukes’-Roosevelt Hospital; “Clinical Experience with Marijuana” by Stephen O’Brien, East Bay AIDS Center;  “Marijuana in AIDS Wasting: Tribulations and Trials” by Donald Abrams, UCSF; and “Marijuana is Different From THC: A Review of Basic Research and State Studies of Antibyemesis” by Richard E. Musty, University of Vermont.

Dec. 17  In Sonoma County charges are dropped against Nancy Maffei, who used marijuana in treating lupus, a disease involving inflammation of the connective tissue. Symptoms can include joint pain, skin lesions and fever. Maffei’s caregiver Bob Sullens, who was growing 24 plants on her behalf, pleads no contest to possession of less than an ounce and pays a $100 fine.
Also 12/17  Concluding that the negative mental-health effects of cannabis have been exaggerated, and that the prohibition has been ineffective, and that “the police are open-minded on the issue of decriminalization,” New Zealand’s parliamentary health select committee calls for reviewing the legal status of cannabis.

Dec. 22 Scott Imler, proprietor of the West Hollywood club, writes the SF Chronicle, “The only ‘haphazard... for profit’ buyers’ club in the state is the high-flying Market Street circus.”

Dec. 26  Dennis Peron announces he will run for governor of California as a “liberal Republican” to face Dan Lungren in the June ’98 primary.

Also in December  Terry Parker of Toronto gets a judge’s approval to use marijuana to prevent epileptic seizures... The DEA’s Miami Field Division issues an internal “Survey of the Marijuana Situation” suggesting that active opposition to the medical-use movement is the proper role of government. The DEA mocks California’s Compassionate Use Act: “Since enacted, marijuana has been dispensed in California Buyer’s Clubs for illnesses such as foot pain, headaches and pre-menstrual syndrome.”  So nu?  On current distribution patterns, the DEA is worthy of Anslinger: “Both Colombian and Mexican marijuana is still being moved across the soutwest border of the U.S. via land vehicles, in particular trucks. From there it is moved into Florida via the I-10 corridor, mainly distributed into areas by Mexican nationals and migrant workers.”

1998
January 1   CHAMP, the buyers club at Church and Market (“Cannabis Helping Alleviate Medical Problems”) closes following Lungren’s threat and labor-management tension. Co-founder Vic Hernandez expresses disappointment that neither the city nor the state will provide an alternative to black market supply sources...
 The drug-testing industry trade journal MRO Alert calls on Congress to prohibit the possession and sale of hemp products. “There is little question that the most pressing issue in drug testing today is the commercial distribution of hemp products... The adverse impact such products have on drug testing programs is profound.” The drug testers want to ban all “products that would cause a positive urinalysis.” Including poppy seeds?

Jan.  9  In federal court in San Francisco, the U.S. Department of Justice files suit against the Cannabis Cultivators Club and Dennis Peron; Flower Therapy and John Hudson, Mary Palmer, Barbara Sweeney and Gerald Buhrz (their landlord!); the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative and Jeffrey Jones; the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and Lynette Shaw;  the Ukiah Cannabis Buyer’s Club and Cherrie Lovett and Marvin and Mildred Lehrman; and the  Santa Cruz club (no proprietor named).  The feds are seeking an injunction against the clubs under the rarely used civil provisions of the Controlled Substances Act, the 1970 law that established the drug scheduling system and decreed that marijuana has no medical use.  The approach seems designed to avoid a jury trial on the clubs’ right to operate... In response, Dennis Peron asks SF District Attorney Terence Hallinan and California Attorney General Dan Lungren to file fraud charges against five DEA agents who falsified doctors’ letters of diagnosis to gain membership in his club. Flower Therapy promptly gets an eviction notice from a landlord worried about losing his property.

Jan. 14  Marvin Chavez, who began operating the Orange County Club out of his home after Prop 215 passed, is busted for transportation and sales. Chavez had helped coordinate the local Prop 215 campaign. He tried to run the club according to the law he had helped establish. He informed patients that marijuana would be passed out free to members but a voluntary donation would be  requested (like $20 for an eighth of an ounce). “Undercover cops forged a doctor’s letter, getting in the door through subterfuge,” says Chavez.  “They begged me for some pot without adequate paperwork, begged me for a break. At first I said ‘no,’ then finally gave in to the begging, saying ‘Just this once.’ The police played on my compassion and entrapped me.”

January 15    Researchers at the University Massachusetts describe the “powerful anti-inflammatory effects” of CT-3, a non-psychoactive synthetic derivative of THC, in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. The manufacturer, Atlantic Pharmaceuticals, expects to file an investigational new drug (IND) application with the FDA. In early tests, CT-3 substantially reduced inflammation at very low doses and prevented the destruction of joint tissues that typically result from chronic inflammation.

Jan. 21 The Arcata City Council unanimously approves Ordinance 1276, which “recognizes that the assistance of medical marijuana associations... may in some situations help promote the safe and lawful access to and consistent and affordable distribution” called for by Prop 215. Jason Browne of the Humboldt Cannabis Center, working closely with Arcata Police Chief Mel Brown, developed the plan, which includes voluntary registration by patients with the police. The Humboldt Cannabis Center is a coop of 32 caregivers and patients who pay a $20 monthly fee, which entitles them to a portion of the crop being grown by members at two separate locations. They make contributions for any additional cannabis they get from the center.
Also 1/21  Florida Governor Lawton Chiles (who publicizes his own Prozac use) and his Cabinet issue a resolution denouncing the attempt by Floridians for Medical Rights to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

Jan. 22 San Diego Municipal Court Judge Gale Kaneshiro orders possession charges dismissed against Michael Ganey, who had had been arrested despite a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana for pain relief (he has a degenerative disorder in his wrists and ankles). Kaneshiro will subsequently grant a motion for return of  his confiscated property (less than an ounce of marijuana). But attorney James Silva will have to threaten contempt proceedings before San Diego’s Harbor Patrol will honor the order.

Jan. 31    After spending $250,000, AMR says its initiative drive in Maine has fallen about 4,000 signatures short. “A fraction of that money would have allowed the local grassroots activists to qualify their own initiative,” observes Laura Kriho of the Colorado Levellers.

February 1  C.H.A.M.P. reopens under new management. The fact that it was closed when the federal indictiments came down created a unique window of opportunity, allowing the club to escape prosecution.

February 3-4  The Thousand Oaks City Council moves to close down the Ventura club and the DA gets a court order to the same effect —based on Lungren’s argument that neither the club nor its proprietors are primary caregivers for the members under Prop 215. The order does not prohibit co-founders Andrea Nagy and Robert Carson from growing for personal use, and they are allowed to take home the plants under cultivation at the club.

Feb. 11 Canadian Ross Rebagliati, who won the Olympic snowboarding championship in Nagano, Japan, is stripped of his gold medal after testing positive for marijuana. Rebagliati says he inhaled second-hand smoke at a party. He will soon be reinstated as champion by the IOC on the fuzzy logic that marijuana —given the adverse effects on motor coordination attributed to it— can’t possibly be a performance enhancer! The truth is, marijuana makes you looser, which is why many snowboarders (and other athletes) don’t consider it a no-no. An experienced smoker tells the Update, “Maybe it costs you your edge, but maybe that’s not always a bad thing.”

Feb. 18  Robert Carson is stopped while driving and arrested for possession and transportation of marijuana.  A migraine sufferer with a doctor’s letter of recommendation, Carson is represented by Bill Panzer and James Silva, who will argue that Prop 215 implicitly bars prosecution in such cases....  The California Supreme Court declines to review the appelate court ruling that denied caregiver status to cannabis clubs.

Feb. 21  The New Scientist reveals that a recently published World Health Organization report had concluded originally that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco—but the conclusion was deleted under pressure from U.S. officials.
Feb. 23-24  The Institute of Medicine holding its third public session on medical marijuana, hears from four researchers on the subject of cannabis administration. Private-sector testing of aerosols, nebulizers, suppositories and other alternatives to smoking suggest a widespread conviction among scientists that the chemical components of cannabis have significant therapeutic potential.

Feb.  24  In Sacramento federal Judge Lawrence Karlton cuts four months off the 14-month sentence of convicted pot grower Roni Aurelio in exchange for a promise from Aurelio that she will warn would-be growers that Prop 215 doesn’t shield them from federal laws banning cultivation. Karlton says he took into account “the possibility that she relied on state law in determinining the legality of her conduct.”  The sentencing marks the first time the US government has successfully prosecuted a California resident who claimed the right to  grow mj under Prop 215.

Feb. 26   House Resolution 372, introduced by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla) would put Congress on record disapproving of state initiatives to legalize medical marijuana  — “a dangerous and addictive drug.”

March 9 Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Henry K. Nelson upholds a prior ruling for the return of marijuana siezed from Christopher Joseph Brown. The case against Brown had been dismissed on the basis that the marijuana he was growing and possessed was lawful under Health and Safety Code section 11362.5 (Prop 215).   Nelson found that the amount possessed by Brown (about 11 ounces) was reasonably related to his needs.

March 15  Dennis Peron rents a six-bedroom house on a 20-acre spread, about 7 miles north of Middleton in Lake County - “a country resort for club members where we can grow marijuana under Prop 215.”  There’s a pond and a couple of outbuildings overlooking a vast meadow.  The area is thinly wooded and the neighbors’ places are visible. The landlord is a 75-year-old well-wisher known as Magic Jack.  Asked why he didn’t choose Russian River or Mendocino, Dennis says, “I like Lake County. It’s affordable.”
 
March 16 San Francisco DA Terence Hallinan files an amicus brief in the federal case stating that if the cannabis clubs are closed down, patients will die and “what is now a reasonably well-controlled, safe distribution system... will devolve into a completely unregulated and unregulatable public nuisance.”  He raises the possibility of a city-run distribution system. Attorney General Dan Lungren, informed of the remark, threatens to prosecute any city personnel who distribute marijuana.

March 18 Fern Smith orders the plaintiffs in Conant v. McCaffrey —five patients, nine AIDS specialists and one oncologist— to turn over records and answer federal lawyers’ questions regarding discussions about marijuana since November 1994.  The government is trying to establish that there has been no lessening of doctor-patient discussion of marijuana, and therefore no “chilling effect” resulting from threats by McCaffrey to prosecute doctors who abide by Prop 215.

March 19  A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association summarizes 47 surveys conducted over the past 20 years and concludes that 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use.

March 20  Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the leading scorer in NBA history, surrenders 6 grams of marijuana —less than a quarter ounce— and pays a $500 fine to US Customs officials at an airport in Toronto. Jabbar is a migraine sufferer.

March 23  San Jose police seize patients’ records from the Santa Clara County Cannabis Center —one day after a sympathetic police chief is replaced by a drug warrior. In the days to come police will contact doctors listed in the files to discuss their patients’ cases. Co-founder Peter Baez, 35, is arrested (shortly after surgery for colon cancer) on charges of selling marijuana  to a person who had no doctor’s approval.  Police claim that Baez and Jesse Garcia were making a profit on the operation. They had $29,000 in the bank and had started drawing $300/week.  Baez, who has AIDS and faces more surgery, says  he owes $17,000 to growers, $1,200 in rent and $15,000 in legal bills.
Also 3/23  A ballot proposal which would amend the Nevada constitution to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is filed by Americans for Medical Rights. It would allow Nevada residents who suffer from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other “chronic or debilitating conditions” to possess and use marijuana with a doctor’s permission. Some 46,000 signatures are required -with a minimum number from each county. If the voters pass the measure in ’98, they will have to ratify it again in 2000 in order for it to take effect. Although it requires medical mj users to register with a state agency, the Nevada proposal is the most liberal from AMR in that it doesn’t set quantity limits.
Alan Leshner, director of NIDA —the man whose approval is needed for marijuana research to be conducted legally in the U.S.— reveals a bizarre mindset when he tells the New Yorker: “My belief is that today, in 1998, you should be put in jail if you refuse to prescribe SSRIs for depression... I also believe that five years from now you should be put in jail if you don’t give crack addicts the medications we’re working on now.” [SSRIs are antidepressants of the Prozac type.]

March 24:  A hearing on the Justice Department’s motion for an injunction that would close six northern California cannabis buyers clubs is held in Judge Charles Breyer’s courtroom.  See story below.

March 30  Cheryl Miller, with the aid of her husband Jim, uses medicinal marijuana in the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Rogane and is arrested and charged with possession. The civil disobedience is to protest H.Res. 372, which would affirm that the House is “unequivocally opposed to legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.” Miller, 51, has had multiple sclerosis since 1971. She states, “Having tried every legal drug to treat my pain and spasticity, I have found that marijuana is the safest and most effective medicine for me.”

April 2-3  Nine federal marshals break into Todd McCormick’s empty Laurel Canyon residence in an attempt to arrest him for bail violations. Next morning McCormick turns himself in and is jailed because there are traces of THC in his urine; his claim that the THC is from legally prescribed Marinol is disallowed.

April 8   The cases against Steve McWilliams and Dion Markgraaff, organizers of the San Diego Caregivers Club, are consolidated. McWilliams, 43, a former cowboy who uses cannabis for pain and migraines, was stopped in January at an internal border checkpoint while bringing 11 plants to a paraplegic club club member.  Investigators searched his home -on a ranch owned by cancer patient Carol Byron- and found a collective garden inside a barn.  On the walls were the names of patients to whom the plants belonged, including the ranch’s residents and San Diego club members.  McWilliams is charged with cultivation, maintenance of a location for distribution, conspiracy to cultivate for distribution; based on the Trippet precedent, transportation charges against  him are dropped. Markgraaff is charged with conspiracy to distribute,  sales to an undercover agent, and cultivation at the club’s Ocean Beach office.  The San Diego club served HOW MANY members at two locations, one in the Hillcrest district, one in a strip mall near a police station in Ocean Beach police station. It closed in February, following the busts. Lawyer James Silva thinks he’ll be allowed to mount a Prop 215 defense when the matter goes to trial in February 99.  McWilliams is facing four years, eight months in prison; Markgraaff is facing eight years.
 
April 11   Marvin Chavez and Jack Shachter, co-directors of the Orange County Cannabis Co-op, are arrested and charged with selling to undercover officers who posed as patients and caregivers.  Chavez was first arrested in January on seven counts of felony marijuana distribution and warned by a judge to cease his activities.  Within weeks he was entrapped by two undercover agents with phony doctors’ letters.  Shachter, who has painful detached retinas,  will be charged with felony sales (to an undercover agent posing as a legitimate patient’s caregiver) and “intent to deliver.”
 
April 14  Federal Judge George King orders the release of Todd McCormick because there was no legal basis for his arrest. “Is there a case law I am not aware of under which we can hold Mr. McCormick until his hearing?”  King asks Federal Prosecutor Fernando Aenlle-Rocha.  “Not that I am aware of,” Aenlle-Rocha answers.  “How could this man watch Todd led away in tears two weeks ago when he knew all along that what the government was doing was illegal?” asks Peter McWilliams, McCormick’s friend and publisher. “This was prohibited by the Bail Reform Act of 1984. This is not new law. The government had to know it was illegal.  Apparently people can be locked up just because the government asks for it.  That’s how dangerous to all of our liberties the federal war on California medical marijuana patients has become.”

April 15 Judge David Garcia orders the SF cannabis club closed because it sold marijuana to caregivers; and if the sheriff won’t enforce the order, says Garcia, Dan Lungren can do it with state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agents. Dennis Peron complains, “They’re closing us down on a technicality. I wrote the law specifically so that I could sell to caregivers of people who were too sick to leave the house.”  He vows to stay open “till they come to get us and we have another Waco.” The Examiner headlines: “Pot Club to Defy Order.”   But overnight a new strategy is developed. Dennis notifies the sheriff that he is formally closing his operation, which will re-open for business as the Cannabis Healing Center under the direction of Hazel Rodgers.  “If they want to play games, we can play games,” says Dennis.
Also 4/15  Fearing consumers will infer “a connection between beer and drug abuse,” the German Beer Association sues Asbjoern Gerlach, who has begun marketing a beer containing hemp. The ancient law stating that beer must be made from nothing but malt, hops, yeast, and water was relaxed in 1993 so Anheuser-Busch and Miller could sell their “beer” in Germany, additives and all.

April 20  Lawyers file motions to dismiss charges against B.E. Smith. “After B.E. Smith publicly declared his intention to grow marijuana for medical use under California Health and Safety Code 11362.5, he was targeted by the federal government for prosecution under federal law,” according to a writ filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California by Attorney Thomas Ballanco (Los Angeles) and Federal Defender Timothy Zindel.
The Background of the Smith Case by Ellen Komp of The  215 Reporter:
Smith, a 50-year-old Vietnam vet with post-traumatic stress disorder, announced his intent to exercise his rights to the Trinity County Board of Supervisors in April, 1997. He repeated his intentions in an article in the Trinity Journal.  Sgt. Dave Cox, head of the narcotics division of the Trinity County Sheriff’s department, threatened he would use federal law and federal law enforcement officers to deal with Mr. Smith.
Smith got national television coverage when he publicly planted 20 marijuana plants in June. His landlord, Martin Lederer, reported the planting to local sheriffs, who did nothing. Smith, a self-taught student of common law, refused to accept state jurisdiction by signing a ticket or bailing out, so that indictment would require an injured party to appear before a magistrate. Since there was no injured party, there could be no indictment.
After three weeks, Smith planted again, ending up with 87 plants. The plot was posted with statements from patients about why they could not grow for themselves: one was paralyzed from the waist down, another lost a leg, a third lived in the inner city.
Despite Smith’s invitation to an open inspection, local and federal police agents conducted covert surveillance and a warrantless search of the garden. On September 23, 1997, federal agents led by the U.S. Marshal obtained a search warrant and tore up the plants. An Eastern District Grand Jury indicted Smith and Lederer with multiple violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act. (Lederer was one of the patients for whom Smith grew.) Both appeared before the magistrate judge on December 4 and pleaded not guilty.
Ballanco (representing Smith) and Denvir (representing Lederer) have filed motions to dismiss based on the commerce clause and erroneous scheduling of marijuana. A separate motion alleges that the federal government exercised selective prosecution in order to deny a 215 defense to Smith and Lederer. Discriminatory prosecution or enforcement of the laws is generally recognized to constitute a valid defense to criminal charges (45 ALR Fed 732 (1979)). To select a man for prosecution because he has spoken freely within the meaning of the First Amendment is impermissible (U.S. v. Steele 461 F 2d 1148 (9th Cir. 1972).
The amount of marijuana involved in the case —87 plants— is far below the amount that would ordinarily be prosecuted by any U.S. Attorney in this state. A 1994 Memorandum by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California precludes federal prosecution for less than 200 plants on federally owned land, 500 plants on private land, or 200 kg of marijuana. A law clerk reviewed files of the Federal Defender’s Office for the Eastern District and was unable to find a single indictment alleging manufacture of fewer than 100 marijuana plants. Indeed, the average marijuana case filed in the district alleges ‘manufacture’ of over 1,500 plants.
“At least in this district, the U.S. Attorney is endeavoring not only to prevent speech but to coerce it through criminal process,” the motion states.
April 20: Sheriff Mike Hennessey closes the SF club. Hazel Rodgers, a club member whose name is on the lease, says she’ll run the operation on a patients-only basis (no sales to caregivers). The landlord, afraid he might lose his property if he honors the lease, won’t go along with the scheme -so the services of a locksmith are employed. More than 120 people work at 1444 Market; without the structure and support their employment provides, some may not fare very well. And many of the 8,000 members have come to rely on 1444 Market St. as a social scene.
April 20  Constable Gil Puder, a 15-year veteran of the Vancouver, B.C. police force, defies an order from the chief and gives a speech called, “Recovering Our Honor: Why Policing Must Reject the War on Drugs.” Drug busts almost always are aimed at the poor, he notes, and are relatively easy; the pay-off for cops includes overtime and faster promotions.... In Tuolomne County, Superior Court Myron Mower -a severe diabetic, legally blind, unable to hold down food- is convicted of felony cultivation.  Sheriff’s deputies, after raiding his house and ripping out 28 of 31 plants, found Mower in a hospital, hooked up to a morphine drip. “My health was all in that garden,” Mower told them. “You guys don’t know what you’ve done to me.” Mower “confessed” that the plants were for himself and two other sick people -resulting in his conviction and the imposition of a $1,000 fine by Superior Court Judge Eric DuTemple, plus five years’ probation... At a rally in front of the Calaveras County Courthouse, lawyer Tony Serra says he will argue that Robert Galambos —busted in Paloma with 380 plants— was growing mj for cannabis buyers clubs.  “You can’t in essence legalize milk and outlaw the cow,” Serra says.
April 22 “Young Blacks Link Tobacco Use to Marijuana” The New York Times makes a frontpage story out of surveys showing that black teenagers begin smoking cigarettes later than whites, but start using marijuana earlier. The increase is attributed to “a belief that cigarettes prolong the heady rush of marijuana.”
The Santa Cruz Club is closed for good. Med Ex, under Anita Henri, seeks to pick up some of the slack...  Carl Wright from the Feather River Compassionate Use Co-op says the assistant DA shelved his case. Carl can have his plants back and be allowed to furnish, not sell, medical mj. He can also show people how to grow.  CONFIRM
April 27  In Los Angeles U.S. District Judge George King says he will allow Todd McCormick to use Marinol if prosecutors cannot prove he is using it to mask marijuana use. McCormick is awaiting trial on charges of growing 4,116 marijuana plants in a rented Bel Air mansion. He claims protection under Prop 215. If convicted he faces a minimum 10-year sentence.
April 28    Portland, Oregon, multiple sclerosis patient Craig Helm is sentenced to two years probation and two $100 fines after a jury finds him guilty of marijuana manufacture and possession. Helm was arrested at his home in Hilsboro, Oregon in 1996, after a police raid that netted eight marijuana plants.  Helm, 48, is a former truck driver whose MS has confined him to a wheelchair. He began using marijuana, he says, when his prescription for the painkiller Baclofen failed to calm the wrenching muscle spasms in his legs, and his doctors told him they wanted to surgically implant a pump that would feed the drug directly into his spinal canal. Helm’s attorney, Leland Berger, says Helm rejected a pre-trial offer of bench probation in part because he hoped that the case might be dismissed on the basis of a “choice of evils” medical necessity (between marijuana and the surgically-implanted pump) defense. To that end, and with the help of the Medical Marijuana Defense Fund, Berger was able to fly Virginia neurologist Dr. Denis J. Petro to Portland to provide expert testimony on the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of Helm’s symptoms. Deputy District Attorney Greg Olson called the studies Dr. Petro cited “junk science” and sought to have his testimony stricken from court records, but Circuit Judge Gregory Milnes decided to allow it.
Helm’s own neurologist, Dr. Michelle Mass,”told the court that she would have prescribed Marinol for Craig had he asked for it in the past, and that she would do so in the future,” according to Berger.. “She also said that she would prescribe marijuana if it were legal.” Though the defense failed, the trial contributed to local understand of marijuana’s medical applications. “The very experience of having twelve people sit there watching Craig and listening to testimony over three days will have positive ripple effects throughout the community,” says Berger (whose account of the case,  and the response he received from a jury member after the trial, are posted on the Portland NORML web site at http://www.pdxnornil.org/news98 index 0430.html.)

April 29:   Good news and bad for the club at 1444 Market St.  A San Francisco judge rules that it can stay open under the leadership of Hazel Rodgers until the AG’s office brings evidence to prove that its activities are unlawful. But representatives of the building’s owner file preliminary eviction papers... 65 counties in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee are declared a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking area” by the federal government; pot is considered the number one cash crop in the depressed region. The designation will mean an infusion of $6 million for interagency eradication efforts... Andrea Nagy cites Prop 215 in applying for a pardon for a 1991 cultivation conviction. “I have rehabilitated myself,” Nagy tells Superior Court Judge Stephen Hintz, “and the activity I committeed is no longer proscribed by the state.” The pardon is granted over the objections of an Assistant DA.
May 2  The number prisoners in California for marijuana sales and possession -1,905- has risen by more than 10% since the passage of Prop 215, according to a report from the State Department of Corrections.  “This refutes the ludicrous claims that Prop 215 has effectively legalized marijuana in California,”  comments NORML’s Dale Gieringer.
May  WHAT   In Shasta County, Rick Levin is arrested for cultivation and possession.  He suffers from severe spasms and pain following a fall that burst his T12 vertebra and caused spinal cord damage. He has a four-page declaration of approval from his primary care doctor which Judge Ruggerio disallows as evidence.  Levin’s wife Kim is also busted.  ALSO IN SHASTA; MARSHALL AND MARILYN LOSCOT  kimmelevin[email protected]
860 August Way, Redding 96003  530 243 2159

May 7  Charges are dropped against David Kassikov of the Chico Co-op. DESCRIBE CASE.  Observers think the prosecution didn’t want to reveal the affidavit on the basis of which the original search warrant was issued.

May 8   The San Jose club, with 270 members, goes out of business.  “We’ve been killed by the police and the district attorney,” says Peter Baez. “My credit is out. I can’t get any more marijuana....” Also 5/8: Former State Senator Bill Lockyer, running for Attorney General, reveals that he voted for Prop 215 and promises, if elected, to assure distribution of medical marijuana.

May 9  “Bowing to the wishes of consumers, the Government announced today that it would not allow food to be labeled ‘organic’ if it was genetically engineered, irradiated or grown in soil fertilized with sewage sludge,” reports the NY Times. “The action came in response to comments from tens of thousands of consumers concerned about the purity of their food and the integrity of the organic label... Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said biotechnology, irradiation and sludge fertilizer were safe and had ‘important roles to play in agriculture.’”  The organic farmers organized fast on this. The poisoners will try again, you betcha.

May 10   The trial of Dave Herrick begins.  Herrick is a Vietnam vet and former  San Bernardino county deputy sheriff (1977-91) who retired on disability due to a back injury after a car rolled over him. He uses marijuana for pain relief; had worked as a volunteer at the Orange County Cannabis Co-op; was arrested in March ’97 with seven quarter-ounce baggies marked “NOT FOR SALE” and charged with possession for sale, “even though I showed the cop my written doctor’s recommendation, and advised him that I was a member of the O.C. Cannabis Co-op, showed him my membership card, etc. etc.”  Judge William Froeberg denies Herrick the right to cite Prop 215 or “medical necessity” in his defense, and cracks to the public defender, “Does he think he’s Mother Theresa?”

May 12 The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors allocates $50,000 to design a three-year study of the medical use of marijuana that will follow FDA guidelines.

May 14   Judge Charles Breyer issues a preliminary injunction against five  cannabis clubs (Santa Cruz having folded). “The fact that it may be lawful under state law for defendants to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical purposes, does not make it lawful under federal law,” Breyer rules.  Gerald Uelmen, now representing the Oakland club, sees a small silver lining:
“The right to a jury trail has been left in tact, and quite clearly the availability of these defenses [necessity and joint purchase] has not been foreclosed. So, in continuing to operate, the clubs are not defying federal law. They are not defying an order by any federal court to close down. They are simply going to assert their right to have the availability of these defenses determined by a California jury.”

May 14  Dave Herrick of the Orange County Cannabis co-op is found guilty of two counts of selling marijuana -and acqutted on two counts. Judge William Froeberg would not let Herrick cite Prop 215 as a defense because it does not specifically protect the sale of marijuana. Mira Ingram reports: “Froeberg did not allow any evidence to be seen by the jury that related to Proposition 215, virtually eliminating all evidence Public Defender Sharon Petrosino had to submit. Stickers from cannabis baggies stating “Not for sale,” a club ID card, and a doctor’s note could not be seen by the jury. The jury came out after about an hour of deliberations to ask the judge why they weren’t allowed to consider Proposition 215 in deciding the verdict. Judge Froeberg said that 215 covers possession and use, but not sales. The jury deliberated for about two more hours before coming up with the two guilty verdicts.”  The Orange County club gave away marijuana and requested donations to cover its expenses. The suggested donation for 1/4 ounce was $20. Public defender Sharon Petrosino compared the approach to the one used by nonprofit organizations that send address labels to prospective supporters.
Judge Froeberg metes out a four-year sentence, one year shy of the max: “Mr. Herrick is nothing more than a marijuana dealer... As a former law enforcement officer, Mr. Herrick should have known better.”
Narcs from the WHAT County Sheriff’s Dept simultaenously raid the Arroyo Grande home shared by Thomas Dunbar and Jo-D Harrison Furino, seizing 203 opium poppies and 68 mj plants, and the Los Osos residence of John Edward McLean and his wife Violet, seizing  51 mj plants and 446 poppies. The defendants say they were for medical use.

May 15  The DEA, obligated to seek public commment on the envirnomental impact of using herbicides to eradicate marijuana, hears opposition from citizens in Hawaii. “Unless the DEA can prove that the spraying is less dangerous to personal, community and environmental health than the plant they are trying to eradicate, there is no justification for this expensive waste of taxpayers money,” says Daniel Susott, an Oahu physician. A spokesman for the state Agriciulture Dept. reminds the DEA that many Big Island residents grow their own vegetables and drink water from rain tanks... Also 5/15 In Lexington, Kentucky, would-be hemp farmers and vendors file suit in US District Court to legalize the low-THC version of the cannabis plant.  Their lawyer says it’s a matter of survival for many small farmers, adding “This whole country was created by people who were involved in agriculture and grew hemp.”  The federal government moves to have the suit dismissed

May 16  Some 20 DEA and local law enforcement agents storm in on four very sick people in the early morning hours at Dennis Peron’s spread in Lake County. They seize 238 plants from the garden —lopping them off a few inches above the ground, so that they’ll grow back— and several pounds of dried mj.  Jon Entwistle vows to replant. Sheriff Rodney Mitchell tells the Middletown Times-Star, “A mature, well-cultivated marijuana plant can produce one to three pounds of high grade processed marijuana.”
May 21  The Oakland club announces that it will remain open despite Judge Breyer’s order, and that every transaction now involves a statement confirming that the marijuana was purchased or cultivated jointly by the members for their medical use.  As the press conference begins, Jeff Jones is notified by staff that a DEA agent, posing as a patient, is trying to buy medical marijuana.  “Jeff went to the room where the DEA agent was sitting and asked him to verify all the papers he had just submitted. Jeff then escorted the agent into another room and opened the door to a roomful of media. Jeff told the media that he had just caught a DEA agent trying to make an illegal purchase with falsified papers. The terrified agent fled and tried to escape down the elevator... as soon as the elevator door opened [on the ground floor] the cameras and journalists were all over the DEA agent, who was struggling to cover his face like a common criminal.”  —Steve Kubby

May 26   Scott Imler of the L.A. Cannabis Resource Center tells the L.A. Times that the government has succeeded in closing 23 of 29 cannabis clubs, attributing his club’s success to the thoroughness with which they confirm  letters from doctors and enforce their rules. The club, which has 459 members, receives strong support from West Hollywood mayor Steve Martin. (No, not that Steve Martin.) They have 250 plants under cultivation, the goal being to grow enough in-house to meet all their needs.

Also May 26  The State Senate’s Committee on Public Safety, chaired by John Vasconcellos, holds a modestly entitled “Medical Marijuana Distribution Summit” (to which Dennis Peron is not invited) in connection with a bill Vasco has introduced, SB 1887, under which cities could establish and regulate dispensaries.
May 26   Some 50 farmers in the Chatham-Kent area of Ontario get federal permits to plant the first legal hemp crop in more than six decades in Canada. They are under contract to Kenex, Ltd, which is licensed and regulated by the government under the Controlled Substance and Abuse Act of 1996 (which legalized hemp farming). Bob Lecuyer of Kenex estimates 2,000 acres will be planted in ’98, 4,000 in ’99. “There is great demand for hemp products from the automobile industry,” he says.  $2 million worth of specially designed processing equipment from Europe is being installed.

May 28  CHAMP membership  reaches 500 as patrons of the club at 1444 Market seek a new source of medical marijuana. CHAMP insists on a doctor’s note recommending the use of marijuana and dated within 30 days of the new member’s application; staffers then call to verify and issue a photo ID. Manager Ken Hayes says they’re grossing $35,000/month... ACT UP at 3991 17th St.  gains 100 new members in a week -from 300 to 400. They require that prospective members sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that a doctor has recommended pot for their medical condition. “We’re not doctors or judges,” says Michael Bellefountaine. “If you make a promise that you are sick and you need pot, I give you pot.”  There’s no smoking at the club, which is in a small apartment. Prices for 1/8th ounce range from $55 (top grade California sinsemilla) to $15 (Mexican). They’re grossing $25,000/month, which barely covers rent and supplies...  Across the street is a small nonsmoking club run by AIDS patient James Green, who opened in December ’97 and now has 150 members. His highgrade mj sells for $70 an ounce.

May 28  Clifford Shibata, a longtime DEA employee who ran the agency’s Clandestine Laboratory Group in San Francisco is convicted of embezzling $120,000 that was supposed to be used to buy evidence and pay informants.

May 30  On the eve of the June primary, Chronicle columnist Ken Garcia directs a hit piece at Dennis Peron “Pot Clubs’ Peron —Such a Dope.”

June 1  Retiring Commandant Robert E. Kramek complains to the Washington Post that the Coast Guard needs and extra $500 million to $600 million more a year to spend on drug interdiction. [Is this really a higher priority than fisheries enforcement and the inspection of vessels?]

June 3   Lawyers Bill Simpich and Kenneth Frucht  sue Attorney General Dan Lungren in San Francisco Superior Court for blocking the implementation of Prop 215. They’re seeking an  order to stop the AG from prosecuting medical marijuana users and to allow counties and cities to get involved in distribution...  The United Nations will seek support for a multibillion dollar plan to eradicate the world’s entire production of heroin, cocaine and marijuana within 10 years. Pino Arlacchi,  the UN’s top counter-narcotics official, says he has already gotten a pledge of cooperation from the Taliban in Afghanistan (the Islamic group that won’t let girls attend school and stones women on the street).  Arlacchi is said to have become the UN’s top counter-narcotics official after curtailing the power of the Mafia in Italy; this is like Barry McCaffrey being named drug czar by Clinton because “as a 4-star general he stopped drugs from entering the United States from South America...”  Also 6/3: DEA Chief Tom Constantine and William Bennett join Florida politicians in a kickoff to the campaign to oppose the medical marijuana initiative.
June 4  In Placer County, Deputy DA David Tellman tells a jury, “I don’t think that stuttering is one of the illnesses that voters contemplated when they voted in favor of Proposition 215.” David Black of Dutch Flat will get WHAT SETENCE for possession of HOW MUCH mj.
June 5  The long-delayed study by Donald Abrams of UCSF into the effects of smoking marijuana on HIV/AIDS patients has been so saddled with restrictions that few test subjects have volunteered. According to the AIDS Treatment News, “the main drawback is that you must spend 25 days in a research ward at San Francisco General Hospital, without leaving during that time, and without receiving visitors (due to Federal rules for studying marijuana).”  Volunteers either smoke marijuana cigarettes (4% THC), take Marinol, or take placebo capsules.  Abrams, who got a runaround for years from NIDA, got the green light when he changed the stated emphasis of his study from seeing whether mj promoted weight gain to seeing whether it interacted adversely with protease inhibitors (which are metabolized in the liver, as is THC).  Abrams is seeking 64 volunteers who meet the study criteria; to date 32 have enrolled. For more info call 415-502-5705....  In England, a jury clears  Colin Davies of Greater Manchester of cultivating cannabis in violation of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Davies, a former joiner who broke his back after a 60-foot fall from a bridge in 1994, denounces the prosecution as a waste of money. “The only victim out of all this is me. I could not believe it when the police broke down my door. I was being arrested for something that was for my own medical benefit. Where am I on the scale of criminality?”

June 5 Donna Cockrel, a Frankfort Kentucky teacher who was fired after teaching her fifth-grade students about hemp, files a federal lawsuit against the school system and her former bosses.

June 8   On the opening day of the United Nations’ Special Session on Narcotics, an open letter to UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, drafted by Ethan Nadelmann of the Lindesmith Center and signed by over 500 prominent individuals, runs in the New York Times. “We believe the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself,” it states, and calls on the Secretary to lead a discussion of alternative solutions... “Global Days Against the Drug War” —demonstrations in some 30 cities protest the UN’s role as prohibition enforcer... “  In North Carolina a jury finds Jan Marlowe guilty of marijuana possession -after denying her a medical necessity defense. Marlowe, 45, suffers pain and nausea from porphyria (a liver abnormality), degenerative disk disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Her doctor testified that conventional pain medications damaged Marlowe’s liver, and that he recommended marijuana as a safer alternative. The Court refused to hear evidence on her medical need for marijuana.

June 9    Mendocino County Supervisors vote 3-2 to replace language calling marijuana eradication “not a reasonable and attainable goal” and “not a wise use of public funds” —in order to get their annual $250,000 grant.

June 10  “Two months and nearly two million men into the Viagra craze, concern is growing about the possibility of unanticipated side effects and adverse reactions when the impotency pill is taken with other medications,” reports the Wall St. Journal. “Federal regulators yesterday disclosed 10 more deaths of men who were taking Pfizer Inc.’s new drug.. While pharmaceuticals manufacturers test their concoctions on several thousand subjects to monitor side effects and efficacy, the real experiment begins only after a drug hits the market and vastly more people begin taking it...”   Roche Holding AG withdraws Posicor, its highly touted hypertension drug, 10 months after it hit the market; it was found to cause adverse reactions ... Other recently pulled drugs include American Home Products’ Redux, an obesity pill found to cause heart-valve damage; Hoechst’s Seldane, an allergy medicine that caused dangerous interactions with many other drugs; Eli Lilly’s Oraflex, an arthritis drug linked to 70 deaths; and Johnson & Johnson’s Zomax, a painkiller found to cause fatal allergic reactions... Many more drugs have to add warnings to their labels as adverse side effects and interactions are discovered after they hit the market.

June 13 Police officials from major U.S. cities convene to discuss the corruption of law enforcement by drug money. The number of federal, state and local offiicals in federal prisons has soared from 107 in ’94 to 548 in ’98.  Former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara says, “corruption ranges from chiefs and sheriffs on down to officers. Every week there’s another police scandal related to the drug war -corruption, brutality, and even armed robbery by cops in uniform.”   Also 6/13  Hundreds of people in pain demonstrate in Washington to demand freer access to medication. Skip Baker, the organizer of the American Society for Action on Pain (ASAP), says tht 51 percent of cancer patients are under-medicated. “In some states it’s legal to help a pain patient die, but not legal to control their suffering so they can live.”

June 17  Barry McCaffrey warns the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “There is a carefully camouflaged, exorbitantly funded, well-heeled elitist group whose ultimate goal is to legalize drug use in the United States.... Through a slick misinformation campaign, these individuals perpetuate a fraud on the American people, a fraud so devious that even some of the nation’s most respected newspapers and sophisticated media are capable of echoing their falsehoods....” An FDA advisory committee endorses the safety of Olestra, the fake fat from Procter & Gamble used in Frito-Lay potato chips.

June 18  A French government study concludes that smoking marijuana poses less of a threat to public health than the regular consumption of alcohol. Marijuana has low toxicity and little addictive power, researchers at the French medical institute INSERM concluded. The report identifies alcohol, heroin, and cocaine as the drugs most dangerous to health.  Tobacco, psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers, and hallucinogens were placed in a second, less harmful group.  Marijuana was classified in a third category of substances  posing relatively little danger. A Health Minister calls the report “toxicologically correct but politically wrong.”
June 19  After a doctor confirms that he had approved a decision by 62-year old Dean Jones to use marijuana (for high blood pressure, migraine headaches, back problems and periodic inflammation of the foot), the Ventura County district attorney’s office decides not to file charges against Jones. Simi Valley police, under court order,  return pot plants they’d seized from Jones’s backyard during a May 27 raid.  Although the plants were no longer alive, and only 10 of 13 were returned, Jones says, “I’ve been vindicated and I’m legal and that’s all I wanted in the first place.”  Jones and his wife had notified the Simi Valley PD that he was growing marijuana for his own medical use; he was arrested the next day. He spent 14 hours in the Ventura County jail and will now file a claim for false arrest.
In Arizona, medical marijuana advocates push for a “no” vote on Propositions 300 and 301— which would confirm the state legislature’s override of the 1996 vote allowing medical use of all schedule I drugs. The cause gets $900,000 from the richest man in the state: John Sperling, a professor of economic history whose Phoenix-based Apollo Group owns 88 private colleges. Sperling’s critique of the drug war, as summarized by the Arizona Republic: “the $350 billion spent each year on illegal drugs is going to drug lords in this and foreign nations, who in turn use their wealth to corrupt police, border agents, judge and politicians.” Sperling warns of “a bureaucratic-industrial complex that has resulted in laws and enforcement measures that have given our nation the highest rate of imprisonment in the industrialzed world. The cabal is composed of police and prison guards, their unions, the construction firms that build prisons, the private firms that run the growing number of private prisons, the food and other commodity firms that supply prisons, and the politicians whose campaign coffers are filled by all those who benefit from the current system.” This from a man who is in an allied field, in a sense, and truly understands the situation. Sperling describes the Arizona legislature as “totally indifferent, not only to the will of the citizenry, but also to a bankrupt (drug war) program.”   A small split in capital through which a little flower seems to be growing...
Alaskans for Medical Rights circulates an initiative that allows patients to possess one ounce and cultivate three plants. It requires patients to register with the state, and makes no provision for distribution.
June 22  In Santa Monica, mj possession charges are dismissed against Kim Jiminez. Attorney James Silva reports: “Jiminez is a paraplegic  who is confined to a wheelchair and recently had his right leg amputated. He suffers from a spasticity condition as a result of his spinal cord injury. Mr. Jiminez is the owner of a hemp boutique on Main Street in Santa Monica. He was cited for possession of under an ounce in early June when he was medicating outside of his place of business. Despite informing the police that he was a patient, he was cited and his medicine was confiscated. I presented the letter from his doctor to the City Attorney and explained the protection that the Compassionate Use Act is calculated to afford patients and the charges were dismissed today.”

June 29   In San Bernadino County the drug eradication team seizes 18 plants from Prop 215 organizer Gene Weeks  —plus his growing equipment and four “mother plants.” He writes to a friend, “they took $740  all the money I had, my entire collecxtion of High Times, misc personal and intimate photos, my personal medicine. they then  arrested me and transported me to West Valley correctional facility in Rancho Cucamonga where I was detained without even my diabetes medicine, not to mention pain medicaiton for my severely degenerated arthritic spine or my wheelchair. I wsa released three days later, broke, sick, not charged with any crime, and having no medication. Thanks to a couple of angels named Janette and Alan I had a ride home and some McDonalds burgers (jail food isn’t fit for my 8 yr old dog, who was locked in my trailer alone while I was in jail)... I’m depressed and confused as to the fact that I’m a Vietnam era veteran who is totally disabled, and now my government, for which I volunteered to do war, is now making war on me because I must use cannabis to make lifeand the painful body I’m trapped in just bearable for one more day.”

June 30 Vasconcellos’ distribution bill, SB-1887, is defeated by the Assembly Health Committee.

July 1 Advertisements warning that marijuana is unhealthy begin airing nationally. The federal government and the ad industry will spend $2 billion over five years on the propaganda campaign. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America will direct the funds to favored newspapers, TV and radio stations in 12 markets; ads will also be placed on billboards and the internet. It will be the 15th largest brand campaign in America, reaching 95 percent of homes with four antidrug messages a week.

Also 7/1 In Dallas, Texas, opponents of the drug war picket the DEA office. Spending on prison construction to college construction in Texas is 77-to-1, says one of the signs. 50,000 Americans are arrested every month on marijuana charges...  Marijuana growers in Washington state worry that pollen from the hemp being grown in Southern Canada will reach their all-female plants, causing them to seed up.

July 6    Wives of two soldiers die as an Army helicopter crashes in the Bahamas. Chief Warrant Officers Daniel Riddell and David E. Guido and Sgt William Westgate had taken Pam Guido and Rebecca Riddell for a ride in their UH-60 Black Hawk. Stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, they were in the Caribbean on a mission that supports DEA drug interdiction efforts. An Army investigator will note that the assignment had a “party atmosphere” and was known as a way for military families to take free vacations.

July 7  The Oakland City Council approves a policy allowing patients growing marijuana indoors to possess 48 flowering plants and 96 non-flowering plants —and six pounds of processed marijuana. Those growing outdoors are allowed are 30 flowering and 60 non-flowering plants. The amounts are based on what the federal IND program provides to its eight patients.  Police are instructed not to cite patients and caregivers who can document their status and don’t exceed the quantity limits.
Also 7/7 In Philadelphia a class action lawsuit is filed against the federal government by attorney Lawrence Elliott Hirsch representing Kiyoshi Kirumiya of Philly and 165 other medical marijuana users seeking a judgment “declaring the therapeutic cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional and that The People are free to use it for their health without control or interference by the government of the United States of America.”  In a 128-page brief, Hirsch will assert, “The right to consume, ingest or smoke a plant that grows wild in nature, such as cannabis, is antecedent to, and more fundamental than the right to vote...”  In SF the federal government files a motion with Judge Breyer asking that the U.S. Marshal be authorized immediately to close down the cannabis clubs in Oakland, Marin and Ukiah.
July 14 An Aurora, Illinois, pediatrician is arrested for growing 20 indoor plants....  A Brooklyn assistant DA is arrested outside a Led Zeppelin reunion concert on charges of marijuana and hashish possession.
July 14/20  U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, on “a fact-finding mission” in Holland, insults his hosts by claiming that their liberal policies have resulted in widespread drug abuse and a high murder rate. The Dutch Ambassador corrects him and the Washington Times (which printed McCaffrey’s claims uncritically): “Your reporter... was told clearly and plainly that the homicide rate in the Netherlands was 1.8 per 100,000, which is one-fifth that of the U.S. rate of 8.2 per 100,000. He was also told that the incidence of cannabis use in the Netherlands was 4.6 percent of the total population vs. 6 percent in the U.S. and that the incidence of youth drug use was almost 50% less than in the U.S. in recent years. In fact, U.S. government data show that in 1995, almost 50% of high school seniors had tried an illegal substance, which is much higher than the 30.2% attributed to the Netherlands.”  Holland’s Health Minister Else Borst says of her interaction with McCaffrey, “When I say we prefer young people only experiment with cannabis, he just falls silent and gazes ahead.”  Some fact-finder.
July 16  The Pentagon is trying to persuade Panama to create a “multinational couternarcotics center” that would house more than 2,000 U.S. troops. (If a new agreement is not reached, all U.S. military forces must leave Panama by the end of ’99.)...  The Fresno Bee reports, “The 9-year-old boy who tipped deputies to his parents’ suspected marijuana crop remained in the custody of Fresno County’s Children Protective Services Wednesday, along with his 10-year-od sister.”  The boy called 911 because his parents were having a fight, then showed the cops their crop  -two plants.  “The couple were jailed briefly before being released on their own recognizance... A man at their home said Wednesday that he didn’t want to talk about the incident. ‘Why don’t they just leave us alone?’ said the man, who refused to give his name. ‘We’re just hard-working Americans.’” [In Catholic school, M. was told that the Soviets were so evil they encouraged kids to turn in their parents. I was taught the Nazis did it.]

Also in July  A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed 13,625 cancer patients released in nursing homes. Of those in daily pain, 16% received  a mild pain reliever such as aspirin, Tylenol or Advil; 32% received codeine or a similiar drug; 26% received morphine; and 26% received nothing at all.” Co-author Vincent Mor of the Centre for Gerontology and Health Care Research at Brown University says “Drugs, particuarly narcotic pain killers, are not viewed positively by nurses and doctors. There’s a very strong worry about addiction.”  The study concludes, “Daily pain is prevalent among nursing home residents with cancer and is often untreated, particularly among older and minority patients.”

July 20  An audit by Peat Marwick determines that the DEA has no system for keeping track of property and equipment, cannot document more than $5 million in purchases made last year, and has no reliable records for its inventory of seized drugs.
July 22 Representatives Bill McCollum of Florida and Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio propose a $2.6 billion “Western Hemisphere Drug Eradication Act” —part of an effort by Republicans to pump up the interdiction budget. They claim that the acquisition of 10 modernized Navy P-3 patrol aircraft (refurbished by Lockheed-Martin for $43 million per) will help cut the flow of drugs into the U.S. by 80 percent over three years.   DANGER DANGER DANGER!
July 23-25 The International Cannabinoid Research Society meets in La Grand Motte, France.

July 24   Peter McWilliams, a best-selling writer/publisher, is indicted along with Todd McCormick and seven others on charges of conspiring to “manufacture” marijuana for medical use. McWilliams, who has AIDS complicated by non-Hodgkin lymphoma, has been on a complex regimen of protease inhibitors and anti-virals since 1996. He was arrested for helping finance gardens in four locations (including McCormick’s infamous “Bel Air mansion”).  Under federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, he and McCormick each face at least 10 years.  McWilliams says he was denied access to his AIDS medications while in custody.

Also 7/28  The Oakland City Council unanimously approves an ordinance sponsored by Nate Miley, that designates the Oakland club to enforce the state’s marijuana laws, i.e. to provide marijuana to seriously ill Californians as per Prop 215. Lawyer Rob Raich, who devised the plan, thinks that being named “officers of the city” should give staffers the same protection that narcs have under the federal Controlled Substances Act to possess and sell marijuana!  “The Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative runs a clean, legitimate business, contributes to Oakland’s downtown revialization, and prevents seriously ill people from turning to the streets to buy their medicine,” says Miley.
July 29 The international basketball federation (FIBA) votes to penalize the use of mj by players in its tournments... In Ontario, Canada, the London Cannabis Compassion Centre is open for business at 199 Wellington St.; proprietor Lynn Harichy has MS. Husband Mike makes deliveries to most of the 40 or so clients, who are too ill to come get their own. The centre sells quarter ounces for $65 -about $10 below street price. Requirement of a doctror’s  recommendation waived for persons over 65. The Harichys decided not to run the operation our of their home because they didn’t want their children exposed to a police raid.

July 30  “The Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act” —Initiative 692— makes the ballot after AMR underwrites the collection of 260,000 signatures.

July 31 Breyer grants a motion to have the case against  Flower Therapy dismissed.  The club lost its lease after its proprietors were indicted. Rumors abound that some staffers are working for a club associated with ACT-UP in the Castro... Judge Robert Fitzgerald allows the prosecutor of Marvin Chavez access to patient records seized from the Orange County Co-op.
August 4   To the dismay of his lawyers, Marvin Chavez (who has spent 90 days in jail awaiting trial) rejects a deal that would mean no prison time. Copping a plea would also enable Chavez to use marijuana —but not distribute it. “I’m not trying to save the world,” says Chavez, “but I’m an American and I’m willing to stand for my civil rights.” Chavez suffers from a rare spinal disorder and is in the early stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
August 5   Republican leaders quash a plan by two Republican Congressmen to require drug testing of House members and their staffs, the Associated Press Reports. “We have a few well-placed people who don’t want this,” says Rep. Joe Barton, a co-sponsor of the proposal. Rep John Boehner of Ohio has refused to allow the plan to be brought up for discussion. Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas told reporters there isn’t time to take up the matter before the August recess. Many lawmakers have complained that the measure is unnecessary and insulting.  This is the same crew that overwhelmingly passed the “Drug Free Workplace Act of 1998” to expand mandatory workplace testing among ordinary UC citizens.
August 6  Happy Hiroshima Day. Congressman Bob  Barr, Republican of Georgia, introduces House Resolution 4380, amending the FY 1999 Washington DC budget to prohibit the certification of election results on Initiative 59. “None of the funds contained in this act may be used to conduct any ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act, or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.” Sic, sick, sic. [D.C.’s 530,000 residents don’t even have a representative in Congress, only an “observer.”]  Co-sponsor Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, says he’s thinking of the safety of constituents who come to visit the nation’s capitol.
August 10   Colorado Secreratry of State Vicky Buckley rules that AMR did not submit enough valid signatures to place the medical marijuana initaitve on the ballot... In weeks to come a Denver District Court judge will order the measure placed on the ballot; then the Colorado Supreme Court will order Buckley to make a line-by-line count.
August 11 The Wall St. Journal reports that many big HMOs “hoped to turn tidy profits by offering the elderly an alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But soaring drug prices, federal Medicare budget tightening and management miscalculations have dashed their dreams. Instead, the HMOs are scrambling to close some money-losing Medicare plans and raise charges for others. Their actions are jolting patients and raising questions about the government’s effort to cut Medicare costs by encouraging even more elderly beneficiaries to sign up for managed care in coming years.”
August 11 or 12 Michale Ganey’s residence WHERE is raided by a multijurisdictional Narcotics Task Force.  “We know you’re growing mj, show us where it is.”  Ganey, exonerated earlier in the year, shows them.  They yank some 30 plants, mostly seedlings, and charge him with cultivation.
August 14  Heavily armed DEA agents invade Dennis Peron’s Lake County Cannabis Farm and destroy 130 plants nearing maturity.  The feds don’t file charges against the heartbroken patients, who ask “Should the DEA systematically raid the homes of seriously ill persons and remove doctor-approved medications with no trial or concern for the health or well-being of the person trying to recover? Why would they want to? Is the ‘war on pot’ more important than saving lives in an epidemic? Does federal prohibition against marijuana apply to individual cancer patients cultivating one or two plants to help mitigate the pain so they can stay in chemotherapy?”  Lake County Sheriff Rodney Mitchell says he thinks the farmers wanted to get raided as a publicity stunt. “Otherwise, why would they fax me a copy [of an invitation to an open house]? why would they fax the DEA one? Why would they put it on their web site, which the DEA monitors every day?”
Also 8/14  Chris Webber, a great basketball player under contract to the Sacramento Kings, is fined $500 for carrying less than half an ounce of marijuana in his luggage while passing through the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Webber has been labeled a troublemaker because, as a rookie, he told his coach not to shout insults at him. This episode will cost him his endorsement deal with Fila.
August 14    A second judge (the first being on vacation) rules that Marvin Chavez cannot defend his marijuana distribution on the basis of Prop 215.  “To forbid any mention of Prop 215 at Marvin Chavez’s trial is to perpetrate a fiction in the courtroom and deny the jury relevant information.” —The Orange County Register.
August 20   The Religious Freedom Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Joe Baca,  passes the California Senate (having previously passed the assembly). Pebbles Trippet calls it “perhaps the most important religious freedom statement since the People v. Woody case, which confirmed Native Americans’ right to use sacramental peyote. It’s the California counterpart to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, originally passed by the U.S. congress in 1993, only to be voided as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in June ’97. Its purpose is to codify the principle that government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification and only by the least restrictive means consistent with that.
   “It also provides a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government. It will provide protection for religious minorities as intended by the federal RFRA, and can be used by religious minorities whose use of marijuana is spritual and sacramental, such as Rastafarians, Hindus, Sufis, Coptic Christians, etc.”
Gov. Pete Wilson will veto it.
August 21 “It is impossible to fight the massive cannabis trade in Greenland as it involves the whole of society, “ Hans Haahr, chief of the national Drug Squad, tells Radio Greenland. Haahr estimates that the trade in cannabis is equivalent to nearly 10 percent of the annual gross national product. Of all places!
August 31  Judge Charles Breyer rejects as “creative, but not persuasive,” Oakland’s argument that under the federal Controlled Substances Act, city officers enforcing local drug ordinances are immune from prosecution for possessing, buying and selling illicit drugs in the course of their work, i.e., they have the same rights as narcs.  Breyer turns down the Justice Department’s request that the clubs be immediately found in contempt of court and closed.  A lawyer from the downtown San Francisco firm of Morrison & Foster, invited by Rob Raich to join the Oakland club’s defense team, requests a jury trial on the question of whether the club could operate under a “medical necessity finding.”

September 2  In a pamphlet by Utah criminology professor Gerald Smith —introduction by Senator Orrin Hatch—  parents of teenagers are warned that marijuana use may be indicated by “excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc...”
The Lancet publishes a study of the lifestyles young British doctors. Some 93% are found to drink alcohol, 60% to excess. More than 35% of the men and 19% of the women use cannabis, with more than 11% doing so regularly... A study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine concludes that marijuana use is not associated with injuries requiring outpatient treatment. The investigators tracked 1,611 members of a California HMO over three years.
Sept. 5   In Nevada, the Secretary of State qualifies AMR’s medical mj initiative; it’s on the ballot as “Question 9.”  Gov. Bob Miller, Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa and Highway Patrol Chief Michael Hood all come out in opposition. The sheriff of Las Vegas calls it “an absolute scam.” The chief of the state Division of Investigations predicts drug defendants will clog the courts with spurious medical defenses. They all take solace in the primacy of federal law.
Sept. 10    An innovative solution to the doctors’ dilemma is set forth in a Sept. 15 “memorandom of understanding” between District Attorney Mike Mullins and the county medical association’s board of directors.The SCMA’s 21-member Professional Standards and Conduct Committee —which reviews malpractice cases and complaints lodged against physicians—   will review members’ recommendations of marijuana on a case-by-case basis, creating a measure of collective responsibility.  physicians treating AIDS patients in the Guerneville area.
Sept. 12  Singer-songwriter Buzzy Linhart, a glaucoma patient who says “I would be blind without marijuana,” is busted and jailed in Berkeley for cultivation of 12 plants in his backyard. A neighbor’s complaint about some kids trying to cut through their yards brought the police, who reviewed his bona fide doctor’s recommendation, helped him bring the plants indoors, and left.
Sept. 13  An ambitious Berkeley cop obtains a warrant to search  Buzzy Linhart’s house by failing to inform a judge of her fellow officers’ conclusions. His plants plus small amounts of processed mj and hash are confiscated, and he is arrested. [Linhart wrote Bette Midler’s first big hit, “Friends.”]
Sept. 16  House Joint Resolution 117 —a “sense of the Congress” resolution reiterating that marijuana is dangerous and addictive and should not be legalized for medical use- passes by 310-93, with no public hearings. The American people are urged to vote no on medical marijuana initiatives. A multiple sclerosis patient  seeking to discuss the bill with Rep. Bill McCollum, Renee Emry Wolfe, 38, of Ann Arbor —pregnant with her fourth child—goes into spasm in his office and lights up a joint for relief. She is promptly arrested.
Sept. 17  The Vancouver Province reveals that Vancouver police used US Navy undercover agents to gather evidence for marijuana busts at Hemp B.C. and the Cannabis Cafe back in April. Court documents show that four U.S. agents were named in an application for a search warrant that led to a raid on the stores in late April.  A lawyer for the woman who owned the stores calls the U.S. involvement “absolutely bizarre.”
Sept. 21  Human rights activists accuse Moscow police of planting drugs on suspects -on orders from political or criminal groups seeking to compromise their enemies.  An editor who ran for mayor of Kirov and the head of an agricultural concern say they were framed. In Russia -where more than 63,000 people were arrested on drug charges in ’97- teachers are being paid in vodka.
Sept. 22  The LA Times informs employees that they are not allowed to consume hemp nutritional products. An internal managers’ report states, “Hemp oil, hemp seed and seed sweetie goodies will cause a positive drug test on accident-related drug testing programs within the Times.” The report conludes that “employees are not to eat these products.”  But seed sweetie goodies remain legal, and the sweetie-goodie defense has been upheld in court.
Sept. 23 Placer County Sheriffs raid Georgia and Michael Baldwin's home with guns drawn. The couple are arrested despite recommendations for the use of medicinal marijuana written by their physician, Alex Stalcup, MD.  “Proposition 215 does not apply in Placer County,” a deputy comments.  The police tell the local media, “the whole house has been turned into a marijuana growing and packaging operation”  —a charge that will adversely affect the Baldwins’s dental practice. “What they did find,” according to Dr. Baldwin, “was less than an ounce of usable marijuana, 96 marijuana plants, 20 of which were two-to-three feet tall, 16 of them were one foot tall, and the rest were two to four inches tall. And they found 50 cuttings that had just been started and had no roots at all... The entire garden that was seized fits into two grocery bags.”
Sept. 24  Campaigning against Measure 67, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle claims marijuana “contributes to violent and assaultive behavior.” Portland psychologist Roger Burt says mj is “definitely in the big leagues of addiction.” The Oregon Medical Association remains neutral, the AMA is opposed to Measure 67, which allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to grow up to seven plants and possess an ounce of dried mj.
Sept. 29    A letter supporting House Resolution 117 from Deputy DA Carl Armbrust —who prosecuted Dave Herrick and is prosecuting Marvin Chavez— appears in the Orange County Register.  Dismissing the Californians who voted for Prop 215 as  a “relatively small handful of people who want to smoke pot,” Armbrust concludes, “Congress did the right thing. In the words of the office of National Drug Control Policy, ‘Medicine must be based on science rather than ideology...’” In Germany, a committee of the House of Representatives of the State of Berlin unanimously endorses the medical use of cannabis. The committee consists of members of all parties.
Sept. 30   Heather Gordon of Miami, a 23-year-old political science student who had been accepted for a White House internship, is rejected after answering “yes” to a question about having smoked marijuana costs her her security clearance...   Companies that do drug testing have significantly lower productivity than comparable companies that do not, according to a study by Edward M. Shepard and Thomas J. Clifton of the Le Moyne College Institute of Industrial Relations. They surveyed 63 firms in the computer and communications equipment industries and found that both pre-employment and random drug testing had a significant negative effect on worker output. They speculate that testing may be a waste of resources or might hurt employee morale
October 7  A retired Penn State chemistry professor who had staged four symbolic marijuana “smokeouts” to protest the prohibition is found guilty after a judge tells the jury, “Even if you don’t like the law, you must follow it.” Julian Heickle, who represented himself, had told the jury “The state is trying to punish me for exercising a God-given right to own a vegetable.”
Also 10/7 E-mail from Brenda Kerhsenbaum: “Sister Somayah is being held at the 77th and Broadway jail in downtown LA. Somayah, who grows cannabis for medical use for herself, and other medical patients who held letters from phsyicians, was arrested by four LAPD narcotics police who said she had too many plants. She grew 30, all small except for two large, and that the letter she showed them was dated 1997! One of the police was an officer she had lodged a complaint against with the city council. Recently she petitioned the city council in her district to be aware of her legal pharm. She is being held on $50,000 bond. She said the jail is very cold, and we do not think she has her medicine. Somayah suffers from sickle cell disease, a very painful ailment, and she uses cannabis to relieve the pain. She can go to the Veterans Administration any time for morphine. She greatly prefers cannabis. We have attempted to contact Kenny Kahn, who helped her previously. Also, Scott Imler is trying to find some legal assistance for her...”
Oct. 7 Peter McWilliams files suit against Attorney General Dan Lungren in Superior Court in Los Angeles. The suit, which charges the AG  with four breaches of the California Constitution, asks for no monetary damages -only that he fulfill his oath of office...President Clinton signs the Higher Education Act of 1998, which would deny student loans to convicted drug offenders -but not to murderers or thieves... The Patients and Caregivers Health Center is open for business on Mission St. in San Francisco...
October 8  Six marines have been arrested and at least seven others are under investigation for marijuana and steroids use, according to Camp Pendleton officials. Five of the arrested men were helicopter mechanics; the other worked at the Substance Abuse Control Center on base and allegedly helped Marines alter the results of their drug tests.
Oct. 9   Sophomore Jennifer Treisch appeals to administrators at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, to lift a ban on necklaces made of hemp twine. Treisch, one of several students who have taken up necklace making, says, “I like the look of natural things, and I see hemp as a strong and natural fibre. The rule is really pointless. The administration is focusing more on enforcing rules than on our education.”
Oct. 10     Pharmacologists from the University of Adelaide —in the largest-ever study correlating road accidents with drug and alcohol use— find that drivers who had smoked marijuana were marginally less likely to have an accident than those who were drug-free. A study spokesman, Dr. Jason White, said the slight difference could be explained by anecdotal evidence that marijuana smokers were more cautious and drove more slowly because of altered time perception. White said the study showed the importance of concentrating efforts on alcohol rather than other drugs... The Lancet publishes a major study of car crashes by Scottish researchers, revealing a strong link to tranquilizer use.
Oct. 13   Judge Charles Breyer rejects the “medical necessity” argument and authorizes U.S. marshals to shut down the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative.  Lawyer Rob Raich paraphrases Breyer’s reasoning in rejecting the medical-necessity argument:  “Even though members testified that medical cannabis has actually saved their lives, they didn’t say they would die tomorrow without it.” Breyer says the Marin Alliance can have a jury trial on the narrow issue of whether they actually distributed marijuana on the day a federal agent said they did (in a report too shoddy for Breyer’s taste).  Breyer also rejects the clubs’ challenge to the “rational basis” of the government’s marijuana prohibition, saying he doesn’t have the authority to evaluate it.
Oct. 15  In Edwardsville, Illinois, Wesley Earl Lowry and his wife, foster parents in court to adopt children ages four and six (whom they’ve been raising for two years) are busted for possession of 4.9 grams of marijuana and may now lose the kids... A NORML analysis of DEA marijuana eradication data reveals that law enforcement eradicated over 237 million feral hemp plants (“ditchweed”)  in ’97, along with four million cultivated plants.
Oct. 16   A 73-year old Rabbi named Eli Gottesman is arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle a bottle of shampoo filled with cocaine and marijuana into a federal prison in upstate New York. “God knows I didn’t do anything wrong,” says the former “Rabbi of the Year.”
Oct. 18  Colorado Secretary of State Victoria Buckley, a Republican, rules that there aren’t enough valid signatures for Colorado’s medical marijuana initiative to qualify for the ballot. Buckley claims that a line-by-line check turned up 36, 911 invalid signatures —out of 88,715, total— so the measure fell short by 2,338.
Oct. 18 Police chiefs from the 52 largest cities in the US and Canada, convening in Salt Lake City, oppose ballot initiatives for the legalization of marijuana for medical use. “Decisions about medicine in our country should be based on science, not popular votes,” says the organization’s president Charles Ramsey, chief of the Washington, D.C. , echoing Barry McCaffrey... Oct. 18  At their annual convention, the American Association of Pediatrics hears marijuana denounced by Hoover Adger, Jr. MD, of the Drug Czar’s office, who says “If pot is a medicine, teens will rightfully conclude that it’s good for you. That sends the wrong message.”
Oct. 19  At 5 p.m. the Oakland Cannabis co-op closes for business, as ordered by Judge Breyer.  The co-op, which served some 2,000 members, had been operating in defiance of Breyer’s May 13 order with the support of the city government. The city council had deputized the club’s staff in an attempt to comply with federal law (based on the same clause that entitles narcs to buy and sell controlled substances). Gerlad Uelmen is convinced that Breyer will be reversed for dismissing the co-op’s “joint user” argument, which holds that the members formed one legal entity to obtain their marijuana, therefore no act of distribution occured...
 Also 10/19 In Texas, Stephen Hale, the Democratic candidate for Denton County district attorney pleads guilty to delivery of marijuana and gets two years probation. Arrested in March for giving a woman a quarter ounce, Hale chose not to withdraw from the race. “The people who would support me don’t care about my giving a little bit of marijuana to a former girlfriend, and those who hate me will hate me anyway,” he says. The former girlfriend, he adds, “was strung out on Valium.”  As Wise County attorney from 1993 through 96, Hale dismissed several hundred marijuana cases. He told the Dallas Morning News that he developed his relaxed attitude towards pot as a GI in Vietnam.  He was busted for possession there, too, but escaped a felony conviction and was able to get his law degree. In 1994 Wise County police groups called for his resignation.  Hale says,  “Almost every GI I knew smoked marijuana, but I got caught. I came home from serving my country on felony probation for not hurting anybody... I dismissed over 500 marijuana cases because I did not see how it was in the interest of justice to punish someone for a victimless offense. That’s still how I feel about it.”  PEBBLES HOW DID HE DO IN THE ELECITON?  ATTORNEYS JERRY COBB AND RICKY P ERRITT . DENTON, TEXAS  NEAR DALLAS?
Oct. 21 At a pretrial hearing, Justice Dept. lawyers move for dismissal of the class action suit challenging the federal government’s prohibition of cannabis -Kuromiya vs. the US- on the grounds that Congress can ban anything it wants for whatever reason. In response to a question by Judge Marvin Katz, the government lawyers acknowledge that the U.S. provides marijuana to eight patients under the compassionate use program. [In the 1970s, in response to a lawsuit by patients, the US Dept of Health and Human Services began supplying up to 300 joints a month to people with documented medical needs. The government closed the program to new applicants in 1992, when many AIDS patients sought to join.]  Judge Katz, a Reagan appointee who used to be Arlen Specter’s law partner, likens the government’s approach to providing morphine to only eight people, and refuses to dismiss the suit. He surprises all involved by proposing a settlement whereby the government would distribute mj to the plaintiffs in “a carefully monitored, scientifically controlled program” that would yield “useful scientific research results that would help decide whether marijuana was medically beneficial or not.”  The stunned government  lawyers respond that the proposal is unacceptable, but Judge Katz orders them to consult with their higher-ups. Hirsch comments that it’s the first time “any judge in the federal system has taken such a rational and compassionate approach.”
 Also Oct. 21 The Ottawa Sun reports: “Mounties will use teddy bears to help ease the fears of terrified tots whose parents are on the receiving end of a drug raid. It’s amazing what a difference handing a brand-new teddy bear to a sobbing three-year-old can make, says RCMP constable Jean-Louis Rompre, who spearheaded Project Comfort. Rompre said. ‘It just clicked when I saw a little girl a few months ago. She was so afraid and just kept crying...’”
Oct. 24  Behind in the polls and increasingly desperate, Dan Lungren takes to pot-baiting Gray Davis. At a campaign stop in Fresno, the Examiner reports,  “Lungren scoffs at Davis’ optimism, joking that the Democrat might have taken Proposition 215, which allows the use of medicinal marijuana, too seriously.” Does Lungren’s “joke” have any implication other than that Davis smokes mariuana?
Oct. 12  In Sacramento, Bob Ames is arrested at his home in Sacramento for cultivation of 32 medical cannabis plants. He will be charged with cultivation for sale.
Oct. 20    Dentist Michael Baldwin and his wife Georgia are arraigned in Auburn municipal court for cultivation of 146 plants being grown indoors. Lungren has instructed prosecutors that one ounce per months is sufficient for all patients, and that each plant yields a pound. Patients contend that indoor plants typically yield 1/2 ounce.   The Baldwins have recommendations from their doctor DETAILS? 916-632-7692
Oct. 26  Campaigning in Oregon against Measure 67, Dr. Donald Vereen, an aide to Barry McCaffrey, says the validity of medical marijuana should be up to federal health officials. “We don’t want something determined to be a medicine because a bunch of people voted on it.”
Oct. 22  Congress passes the “Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act,” introduced by Rep. Bill McCollum R.- Florida and Sen. Mike DeWine R.- Ohio.  It will allocate $23 million to scientists developing a fungus genetically engineered to destroy opium poppies and coca plants. “These micro-organisms have the potential to cripple drug crops before they are even harvested,” according to DeWine. The obviously insane scheme to eradicate plants that mankind spent thousands of years breeding is hailed by the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Benjamin Gilman, R.-N.Y. as a “silver bullet... extremely effective, not costly, doesn’t affect the environment and is a good way of eradicating coca.”  [Ed. Note: DANGER DANGER DANGER. ]
Oct. 27  Back in federal court in San Francisco, Bill Panzer, representing the Marin Alliance, argues that Breyer has the jurisdiction to hear arguments on “the rational basis of the government’s prohibition of marijuana.
Oct. 29  In New York, Derrick Smith, facing his third conviction for marijuana sales, jumps through a courthouse window and falls 16 stories to his death.  State Supreme Court Justice Budd Goodman had offered Smith three to six years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. “I’m 19 years old, your honor. That is terrible. That’s terrible,” Smith told the judge, who then set his trial date. As Smith was led from the courtroom to a secure area, he ran, jumped on a bench in front of the window and leaped to his death. Smith’s mother was among the spectators in the courtroom who heard the commotion; she ran behind a partition, saw the open window and the court officer there alone. “I thought his mother was going to have a nervous breakdown,” said a court employee. “She kept saying, ‘That’s my son. That’s my son.’”
Also 10/29 The ACLU challenges the Barr amendment forbidding Washington, D.C. to count the votes on Initiative 59. The DC Board of Elections and Ethics, named as a defendant, responds by joining the suit as a plaintiff, arguing that Congress is violating the first amendment rights of DC residents. The Clinton Justice Department says it will defend Congress’s right to deny DC home rule...  Barbara Bush appears in TV ads made by the Drug Free America Foundation for airing in states with medical marijuana intiatives: “Now is not the time,” the former first lady declares, “to send the message to our young people that marijuana is ‘medicine.’ It is not. It is a dangerous, illegal drug.”   Ex-presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush all issue statements denouncing the initiatives in the name of Science.  Operatives from McCaffrey’s staff are barnstorming and firing off op-ed pieces. Their strategy is obvious now: a stall in the name of science.   “No one argues that people should eat moldy bread instead of taking a penicillin capsule,” writes McCaffrey.  [He never mentions that penicillin was approved for use after its efficacy was proven on just six patients.]  “If components of marijuana other than THC are found to be medically valuable,” McCaffrey concludes, “the current scientific process will approve those components for safe use.”  Having claimed for years that the mj plant had no beneficial effects whatsoever, the drug warriors are now promising to deliver us the “good” part of the plant without the “bad.”
Oct. 30 Contra Costa County agrees to pay $1.2 million to settle damage claims of general assistance welfare applicants who, over the past six years, had been required to take a “Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory” -on the basis of which they’d been subject to drug testing.  Some 5,000 GA recipients may be eligible for relief. ACLU lawyer Brad Seligman established that the test was totally unreliable and inaccurate... Paul McCartney says his wife Linda, who died in the spring, had smoked marijuana to ease the discomfort of chemotherapy -with a doctor’s approval...   The Oakland club is permitted by Judge Breyer to reopen as an educational resource and purveyor of hemp products. Rumors abound that cannabis is being dispensed to club members at a nearby location.
Nov 1. The Boston Globe runs “A Realistic Prescription to Mix Marijuana and Moderation” by  Thomas W. Clark, an addiction researcher. “Despite its bad official press, THC actually ranks lowest in addictive potential of all commonly used substances, even below caffeine, according to two independent raitings by NIDA and the University of California. Lab animals cannot be induced to consistenly self-administer THC, as they can with opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine... How strict are we willing to get to suppress a drug that, used in moderation and in a non-smoked form, is no more risky (subtracting the risks of criminal prosecution) than having an occasional glass of wine with dinner?”
November 3    Residents of Washington, D.C. get to vote on Initiative 59 because ballots were printed before Congress prohibited the results to be certified, but the votes are not tallied -the first time in American history that a voted has been voided thus.  An exit poll paid for by AMR shows Initiative 59 winning by a 69-31 margin... In Arizona, Proposition 300, which would approve the state legislature’s override of the 1996 vote allowing medical use of all schedule I drugs, loses by a 57-43 margin... In Colorado, Initiative 19 -which will not count unless a federal court overrules the Secretary of State- passes by 57-43. .. In Alaska, Proposition 8 passes by 58-42... In Nevada Question 9  is answered yes by 59% of the voters... In Oregon Measure 67  wins 55-45 and Measure 57, which would have recriminalized possession, loses by 33-67... In Washington State Initiative 692 passes by 59-41 and carries every county.... In Minnesota, Jesse Ventura is elected governor on the Reform Party ticket; he recognizes the war on drugs as a failure, wants to reintroduce industrial hemp... And in California, Bill Lockyer wins the AG’s race by a 9% margin over Stirling, and Lungren himself goes down in the governor’s race to Gray Davis.  [Deceased Sheriff Sherman Block outpolled Lungren by 86,000 votes in LA County.] In Mendocino County, voters elect a sheriff, Tony Craver, and district attorney Norman Vroman -a Libertarian- who advocate the decriminalization of marijuana. In Orange County, Mike Carona, a candidate bitterly opposed by Brad Gates, is elected sheriff.

Year Three: Affirmative Action
For Medical Marijuana Users
Nov. 5  Lockyer tells the 10 o’clock news that Lungren was “obsessed” with marijuana. “We used to say he must own a copy of Reefer Madness and watch it every night...”The incoming AG reveals that his mother died at 50 and his sister at 39, both from leukemia. “You don’t have to see this very much before you start to say, ‘If they are in pain like this then why can’t they have access to this medicine?’”
Also 11/5 The DEA publishes a notice in The Federal Register proposing to move Marinol —synthetic THC made by Unimed Pharmaceuticals— from Schedule II to Schedule III.   “It could just sit there for a long, long time,” explains a Washington insider.  But eternal optimist Dennis Peron comments, “All these years they’ve been saying ‘you don’t need marijuana because Marinol is the same thing.’ Which means they’re thinking about putting marijuana in Schedule III, too.”  Schedule II drugs  (such as cocaine, morphine, and methamphetamine) are recognized as having medical use but a high potential for abuse.  Schedule III drugs have accepted medical use and a lower potential for abuse (such as aspirin with codeine). The move follows a study showing that there is virtually no street market for Marinol.
Nov. 6   Glenn Levant, the head of DARE, complains to the LA Times that  the use of a cannabis leaf in ads for Alterna Hemp Shampoo “is a subterfuge to promote marijuana.” Levant, a former deputy Los Angeles police chief ,  founded the private nonprofit to promote his “Drug Abuse Resistance Education” program to schoolchildren nationwide....
Nov. 8 The Willamette Week reports that Portland defense lawyers “are up in arms after discovering that the police have been secretly tracing phone calls -perhaps for years- to get leads on suspect marijuana growers. The Portland police Marijuana Task Force put a “trap” on the phone line of American Agriculture, a store that sold indoor growing equipment.  They traced incoming calls and paid unannounced “knock-and-talk” visits to the homes from which they’d been placed. Defense lawyers say the police illegally obtained the court order to install the trap... The Interior Minister of Germany’s new government -a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens- says the ban on possession of cannabis will be reviewed.
Nov. 10   After many delays, the trial of Marvin Chavez is underway in Orange County Superior Court. Judge Thomas Borris denies Chavez the right to use a Prop 215 defense, on the grounds that he wasn’t an authentic “primary caregiver” to club members Shirley Reaves and Gene Hoffer.  Defense lawyers J. David Nick and James Silva focus on entrapment. An undercover agent from the DA’s office, Joseph Moreno acknowledges he provided Chavez with a phony doctor’s recommmendation —after Chavez rejected a recommendation from a phony chiropractor. Nick establishes that the 1/8th oz bag was labelled “Not for Sale” and had the name of the Orange County Patient Doctor Nurse Support Group on it; and that Chavez had explained to the narc his rights under Prop 215.
 Also 11/10  Federal health officials reject a proposal from neurologist Ethan Russo to compare smoked marijuana to synthetic THC and an injected painkiller in acute migraine treatment.  “Our bureaucrats,” says Russo, “are ignoring the science, as well as the rising tide of public opinion that is clamoring for clinical studies of cannabis...”  The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology recommends that the government immediately move marijuana to schedule II so doctors can prescribe it and pharmacists provide it. The 70-page report states, “We have received enough anecdotal evidence to convince us that cannabis almost certainly does have genuine medical applications, especially in treating the painful muscular spasms and other symptoms of MS and in the control of other forms of pain... We therefore recommend that clinical trials of cannabis for the treatment of MS and chronic pain should be mounted as a matter of urgency. We warmly welcome the fact that, in the course of our inquiry, both Dr. Geoffrey Guy of GW Pharmaceuticals, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s working group under Sir William Asscher, have set off down this route.”   The Lords also call for the development of cannabinoid drugs and safer delivery devices.  Some of the same scientists who had input into the House of Lords report have also contributed to the upcoming Institute of Medicine report, which will cover a lot of the the same ground. Can we expect similar recommendations?
The British Home Office Minister promptly counters, “there is no scientific evidence that it will work,” and rejects the Lords’ recommendation. The British Medical Association backs the Home Office, according to James Landale of the Times (UK), because making cannabis available by prescription would reduce the drug companies’ incentive to develop more effective drugs.
November 14 The Lancet publishes a study by Wayne Hall and Nadia Solowij (University of Southern New Wales, Sydney) on “the most likely undesirable effects of cannabis.” The researchers, having reviewed all the medical literature,  list respiratory complications (notably bronchitis) and highway accidents (risk increases with use of alcohol).  Longterm heavy use can be associated with “subtle” alterations of cognitive function (memory, attention, comprehension) and a risk of “dependence.” Hall and Solowij say nobody knows if these effects are reversible... Cannabis as a cause of mental illness is very rare, although its use might accelerate the illness for individuals with psychotic tendencies. The researchers conclude, “moderate indulgence in cannabis use has little danger for health.”  The Lancet tones down its 1995 declaration -”smoking cannabis, even as a longterm habit, is not dangerous for health”- but notes, “It would be reasonable to think that cannabis is less a threat for health than alcohol and tobacco.”
NORML convenes in Washington, D.C... Geoffrey Guy reports that the plants GW Pharmaceuticals is growing —under license from the Home Office!— will be ready for harvest around Christmas.  Using the model of a start-up biotech corporation, he is forming a separate company to conduct clinical trials. Tod Mikuriya proposes a collaboration. “Instead of waiting for the legislature to set up a University of California project,” Mikuriya tells Guy,” the existing Cannabis Centers can participate in a pharmaceutical research project supervised and administered by physicians and scientists, in which GW Pharmaceuticals would supply cannabis (from cultivars developed by Hortapharm) with varying cannabinoid ratios,” and he, in California, would supervise trials of their effects on different illnesses and conditions.  Guy is interested in collaboration of several sorts: “1. Direct supplying of medicine to participating patients and centres. 2. Supplying of clones or seed stock and overseeing production and distribution from contracting growers. 3. Biomonitoring of patients as they are admininstered medicine through the inhaled route utilizing the internet or other 2-way video.”
Nov. 17 In Manchester, England, Colin Davies,  the founder of a co-op that supplied free cannabis to people with multiple sclerosis is arrested for cultivation, possession, and possession with intent to supply cannabis. Officers remove 28 plants and his co-op records from his flat.  Davis, who has a painful, debilitating back condition, had already been exonerated in one jury trial.
Nov. 18  The widow of Sonny Bono blames his death in a skiing accident on the prescription drugs he was taking (Valium and Vicodan) Congresswoman Mary Bono tells  TV Guide that Sonny was taking “15, 20 maybe pills a day, all prescribed by doctors, that badly impaired his judgment.” The drugs made him moody, withdrawn and angry, and made their 12-year marriage “very difficult” according to Mary.  She also blamed the drugs for a 16-foot fall Sonny took off a balcony two years before he died.
Nov. 19 After not being allowed to consider Proposition 215, the jury came in with a verdict in Marvin Chavez’s case around 9:45 am this morning. He had 10 charges against him, and was found not guilty on two charges, but guilty of 5 misdemeanors and 3 felonies in the rest.
Counts 1-5, where he was charged with felony sales to a patient and a caregiver who were members of the club, the jury found him not guilty of felony sales, but guilty of misdemeanor furnishing after hearing testimony from those involved that they donated money to the Co-op and weren’t paying for the cannabis.
On counts 6 and 7, which involved undercover police, Marvin was found guilty of felony sales. In one charge, he gave undercover narcs an ounce of cannabis and the narcs voluntarily donated $80 to the Co-op. In the other, Marvin gave undercover narcs 1/4 of on ounce and the police voluntarily donated $20 to the Co-op.
On counts 8 and 9, which involved another undercover narc, one who was a caregiver for the undercover “patient” narc, the jury found Marvin not guilty. Police had no tape recordings of those transactions. The narc involved in these counts said Marvin called the cannabis a “lid.” Funny how he has never used that term around any of us patients, and most of us wouldn’t even know what a lid is. This narc also was a member of the California Narcotics Officers Association, the organization which gave the largest donation to the anti-215 campaign. Another narc in one of these charges testified onstage that he had seen a newspaper article about Marvin, but had no idea how Marvin was trying to work under 215. He also testified that he had no idea what Proposition 215 is. Being a narc who has read about Marvin, that testimony is hard to believe.
It is interesting that the jury found Marvin guilty of felony sales on two of the charges that involved police entrapment and not guilty on the other two police entrapment charges. Finding police entrapment on two of the charges sends a message to police trying to pose as patients to infiltrate cannabis co-ops and harass sick people.
The tenth charge, for transportation of a package of cannabis to the post office, where he tried to mail over an ounce (although the DA’s method of weighing was questionable) of medicine to a patient living in Northern California. The jury found him guilty of felony transportation in that charge.
Marvin will be sentenced on Friday, January 8. DA Carl Armbrust said he expected Marvin to get about 7 years in prison. Attorney James Silva said he will file an appeal.
We need help with Marvin’s mounting legal costs. Most of us patients are on limited incomes and have donated all we can spare, but we still have many unpaid bills. Please send donations to: Orange County Patient-Doctor-Nurse Support Group (OCPDNSG) Legal Defense Fund c/o The law Offices of James M. Silva 33 Clubhouse Ave. #3 Venice, Ca 92091. —Bill Britt
Also 11/19 Alterna Inc. sues Glenn Levant, the head of DARE America Inc., for defamation, saying it will drop the suit if Levant retracts his slur on their ad campaign, paid their legal fees and bought “correctional advertising to inform all Alterna customers of Levant’s inaccurate comments.” Levant calls the suit “a cheap publicity gimmick...”
Nov. 21  Ed Plotner of Redding, a hepatitis patient who was denied a liver transplant after testing positive for marijuana (which he used to combat severe appetite and weight loss), dies.  Banned by most transplant programs, marijuana —unlike heroin, cocaine and alcohol— is not a risk factor for hepatitis.
Nov. 22  The Marijuana Policy Project, analyzing the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime  Report, notes that the number of marijuana arrests  -695,201- was higher in 1997 than in any other year in U.S. history. Of the arrests were for possession, the marijuana “sale/manufacture” (5.6%) and “possession” (38.3%) by theie total number of arrests for all drug abuse violations. Some 37,000 non-violent marijuana offenders are incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails in the U.S.... Also 11/22   Alan Leshner the director of NIDA, responds to Thomas Clark’s “Realistic Prescription,” which appeared in the Boston Globe Nov. 1.  Leshner begins by dismissing the distinction between hard and soft drugs —the distinction you would most want to impress upon a kid if you really cared about their safety.  He says mj’s “high potential for abuse” is proven by  the fact that “every year more than 100,000 people, many of them adolescents, seek treatment for their inability to control their marijuana use.”  Leshner ignores the fact that most are forced to “seek treatment” in order to work, or by the school/criminal justice stystem.  “Most people who are knowledgeable about addiction would qualify this as an addictive drug,” Leshner asserts.  We can expect to see versions of Leshner’s letter to the Globe appearing elsewhere in the media as the big Stall in the Name of Science unfolds. “Another science-based reason for not condoning marijuana use comes from a recently published study by a Harvard researcher showing that use of any illicit drug, but especially marijuana, significantly increases the probability that an individual will abuse other drugs during the course of a lifetime.”  Note the gratuitous and misleading use of “science-based” and “Harvard.”
 Nov. 24      In Colorado, the Supreme Court rules that the vote for the medical marijuana initiative (which passed by a 57-43 margin) should not count because the backers didn’t get enough signatures to qualify. Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey declares, “The purpose for a detailed signature verification procedure is to maintain integrity in the initiative process.” This is mullarkey of the highest order. The obvious purpose of the signature process is to confirm that a substantial number of voters support a given initiative, justifying the expense of putting it on the ballot. The fact that initiative 19 passed should have made this review of the verification process moot... In Orange County parents of three Foothill High School athletes accused of smoking marijuana challenge the Tustin Unified School District’s policy of  reassigning students to other schools after a first “drug offense...” In North Carolina a federal judge
Nov. 27 The FDA issues new rules requiring drug companies to test drugs on children before marketing them, but a loophole makes it possible for pediatric testing to occur after a new drug has been approved for adult use. FDA Deputy Commissoner William Schultz says, “We do not expect to hold up the approval of new drugs for adults even if the study in children was inadequate. Instead, we’ll approve the drug for adults and then require studies in children.”
Also in November Jeannette Tossounian of Kitchener, Ontario, acknowledges to the Kitchener-Waterloo Record that she is proprietor of a dispensary called Marijuana Used for Medicine. She provides mj in small quantities at less than half the retail price to people with documented need. MUM members ask doctors to sign a form stating “I have discussed with my patient what I am aware of in terms of the health benefits and risks of marijuana. I would consider prescribing it if I were legally able to do so.” Tossounian finds that “most doctors are supportive,” although some are “totally afraid to sign the form.”  Her 50 clients include people from all walks of life suffering from a range of ailments, including epilepsy, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, hepatitis, migraine, arthritis and cancer. MUM is the fourth Canadian club to come out of the closet. Local police are aware of the club and consider it a very low priority bust...  Add Canada items: Speedskater Catriona LeMay Doan, Canada’s golden girl at the Nagano Olympics, lags behind Ross Rebagliati, the snowboard champ who test positive for marijuana, in endorsements. “You see his face everywhere,” complains LeMay Doan. “I’ve always been very vocal on being anti-drug...” A survey of passengers arriving in Toronto from Jamaica on Air Canada finds that 56 percent of blacks are searched compared to only 10 percent of whites. “You stand there at the airport and watch it and it’s incredible” says lawyer Donald McLeod.  “We are not an apartheid state.”
Nov. 29 Swiss voters defeat a measure to legalize heroin, cocaine and marijuana. The chief of the federal health department says the government will propose new drug laws in ’99. Regular cannabis users in Switzerland: 500,000 out of 7 million population. Heroin and cocaine addicts: 30-36,000.
Nov. 30: A Time magazine cover story on Ritalin reports that some 4 million schoolchildren in the U.S. are being given this strong legal speed —with almost a million more getting  Prozac and similar antidepressants... The Associated Press reports that the US Attorney’s office in San Francisco, responsible for enforcing federal law from the Oregon border to Monterey Bay, pursued only 4 of the 32 environmental crime cases referred to it for prosecution in recent years, “exasperating federal pollution cops who have watched their efforts go nowhere.” An EPA agent complains, “I can’t tell you how many times we would go to the prosecutors, and guess what? They’re involved in a dope trial for the next six weeks.”

Dec. 98 The DEA’s Miami Field Division issues an internal “Survey of the Marijuana Situation” suggesting that active opposition to the medical-use movement is the proper role of government. The DEA mocks California’s Compassionate Use Act: “Since enacted, marijuana has been dispensed in California Buyer’s Clubs for illnesses such as foot pain, headaches and pre-menstrual syndrome.” So nu?...  On current distribution patterns, the DEA is worthy of Anslinger: “Both Colombian and Mexican marijuana is still being moved across the soutwest border of the U.S. via land vehicles, in particular trucks. From there it is moved into Florida via the I-10 corridor, mainly distributed into areas by Mexican nationals and migrant workers.”
December 2:   An FDA advisory panel recommends that a new arthritis drug called Celebrex from G.D. Searle & co. (a unit of Monsanto) carry a warning that it can cause ulcers. Celbrex was also found to cause hypertension, swelling and kidney problems.  FDA-approved painkillers cause between 10,000 and 20,000 deaths a year and more than 100,000 hospitalizations. Celebrex is a new type of drug designed to block the Cox-2 enzyme, which is involved in inflammation. Cox-2 inhibitors are not supposed to affect the gastrointestinal lining... A Public Citizen survey of FDA medical officers (physicians responsible for reviewing New Drug Applications) identifies 27 drugs approved in the past three years that shouldn’t have been, and declining standards of safety and efficacy... Members of Floridians for Medical Rights sue the Jacksonville Sheriff and the Duval County Supervisor of Elections in federal court for forcing them to leave an area near a polling place during the recent elections. No damages are sought, but the group wants better training for officers and poll workers...  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, now a member of Parliament, sponsors a conference on medical marijuana in Berlin, with the concrete goal of creating a central library of all the relevant scientific literature... Kirsten Muller-Vahl of the Medical University of Hanover describes impressive results of a trial in which THC was given to patients with Tourette’s syndrome and other muscle tremor... Elsewhere in the news, IDEC Pharmaceuticals and Genentech notify doctors that their anticancer drug  Rituxan has caused at least eight deaths since it was approved by the FDA last year. Roche (which owns 66% of Genentech and distributes the drug in Europe) has warned that Rituxan should be administered only in hospitals, with a physician present...
December 3  Medical marijuana becomes legal in Oregon and Washington.  “It will be imperative that the patient educate the doctor. That education won’t be coming from Eli Lilly or Merck,” says Rick Bayer, the doctor who led the Oregon drive. [And wasn’t provided in medical school, he might have added.]  Law enforcers moan to the media about anticipated difficulties and the sneakiness of the citizenry. Molalla police chief Rob Elkins worries that if officers confiscate marijuana and then have to return it to patients, they’ll be violating federal laws against drug trafficking!  Multnomah County DA Michael Schrunk, who prosecuted about 900 felony marijuana cases in ’97, says that only 19 of them involved medical-use defenses (although why anyone would raise an impermissible defense is unclear). He predicts the number will rise as perfectly healthy folks claim to be gaining medical benefits from the devil weed...The Oregon Medical Association advises its members not to write recommendations for patients seeking to use marijuana -despite the passage of the AMR initiative. “At  this point it would be mistake for physicians to participate in an  activity which may or may not be the subject of conflict between state  and federal law, much less a complicated scenario currently lacking an administrative rule infrastructure.  Physicians who are willing to participate in the medical marijuana process would be well advised to wait until the Health Division makes its rules and the federal government takes an official position on the act itself.”   In Seattle, Jo Anna McKee say she’s gotten at least 100 calls since the election from people “who have been sick for a while but were afraid of getting in trouble,” wondering how to obtain marijuana for medical use. Plans are afoot to set up “new branches, so to speak” of the Green Cross Patient Co-op, which had been providing medical marijuana to some 400 patients prior to the election with the tacit assent of local law enforcement.
Also 12/3   The Marijuana Farmers of St. Vincent, an island nation in the Caribbean (population 110,000) , send Bill Clinton a letter demanding compensation if the U.S. destroys their crop. Six U.S. Marine Corps helicopters are scheduled to ferry more than 120 troops from the Caribbean Regional Security Service and St. Vincent police force to uproot and burn marijuana plants on “remote northern plots.” Similar operations in recent years have destroyed milions of plants in Trinidad, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua.  “We have 8,000 people whose livelihood depends on marijuana” said organizer Junior Cottle. Some 60 percent of the population worked in the banana industry before trade negotiators reduced St. Vincent’s European export quota. Marine Corps Lt. Col Jeff Douglas says that the U.S. will only provide transportation and will train troops to avoid booby traps...
Also 12/3 Municipal Court Judge Maral Adjikian orders the LAPD to return 35 plants taken from Sister Somayah, a member of the West Hollywood Club —the first time plants have been ordered returned in LA County.
Also 12/3 The Arizona Daily Star reports that thieves made off with about 500 pounds of marijuana from a 7-ton load that was supposed to be burned at a south Tucson incinerator on Nov. 17. The load was made up of pot seized by Customs officials in West Texas and New Mexico.  Ten customs employees involved in the incineration have been placed on paid leave. Taxpayers should be relieved to note that the Customs Service has convened a narcotics destruction task force.
Dec. 4   Gerald Uelmen, representing Peter Baez, argues that San Jose police went beyond the scope of their search warrants when they seized all 265 client files from the Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center in March. Baez faces seven felony counts in connection with his operation of the club, which opened in April ’97 and closed May 8. The DA argued that the police were empowered to seize the files by a San Jose ordinance governing the club...  The Justice Department asks US District Judge Richard Roberts to dismiss the ACLU suit that would force the District of Columbia to reveal the vote count on Initiative 59.  Here we have an issue on which Clinton and Bob Barr agree...Also 12/4  The FDA acknowledges that 33 deaths due to liver failure have been caused by  Rezulin, a diabetes drug launched in March 1997 by Warner-Lambert Co. after “fast track” approval by the FDA. The drug was withdrawn from the market in Britain a year ago. Nine drugs other than Rezulin reduce blood sugar in patients with adult-onset diabetes. Liver injuries caused by Rezulin have occured in about 2 percent of all patients according to FDA records; most heal on their own. A veteran FDA medical officer assigned to evaluate Rezulin had recommended rejecting it initially but was removed from his position on the advisory  committee.

350,000 undergraduates are now majoring in “criminal justice” at U.S. colleges.  The field has become “a cash cow for college administrators.”

Dec. 5  Fox Butterfield of The New York Times reports that 350,000 undergraduates are now majoring in “criminal justice” at U.S. colleges.  The field has become “a cash cow for college administrators.” Most of the students are “from working class backgrounds and are the first members of their families to go to college. The appeal is jobs as police officers, prison guards, probation officers, private security company employees or FBI agents.”
The dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University in Texas observed that “the largest single impact on criminal-justice enrollment in the past 10 years was ‘Silence of the Lambs.’” Butterfield interviewed a student who’s “an administrator for an investment bank by day but wants to become a profiler for the FBI. Her inspiration comes from watching the NBC show ‘Profiler,’ which is about a beautiful blond FBI agent who solves gruesome murders through psychological analysis of demented killers’ minds.” A teacher commented, “Now they all want to be FBI profilers. They see it on TV; it’s very glamorized.”
Dec. 7  High Times and John Gettman ask the DEA to delay the rescheduling of Marinol, subject to public hearings.  High Times and Gettman are co-petitioners in another action to reschedule marijuana and THC, as well as Marinol (which is synthetic THC made by Unimed Pharmaceuticals).  They argue that rescheduling Marinol is inconsistent with DEA policy statements that trace amounts of THC in industrial hemp are such a danger to public health as to justify a ban on hemp cultivation in the U.S.  (Sales of Marinol increased shaply in the first nine months of ’98, according to Unimed.)
Also 12/7   The Second District court of Appeals (Division 6) issues an order staying all lower court proceedings until it reviews J. David Nick’s appeal of the order under which the Thousand Oaks Cannabis Club was closed back in February. “The judge [who issued the original order] ruled that only completely incapacitated patients can have caregivers and that supplying a medical service or drug on a schedule to a patient is not ‘consistently assuming responsibility for the health and safety of that person,” says Nick.... Barry McCaffrey tells the Council of State Governments that the US is winning the war on drugs, but victory is being jeopardized by the medical marijuana movement. His latest sound bite: “Pain management is not best done with a joint and two vodkas.”
Dec. 8 How crazy can you get? The Michigan Court of Appeals refuses to block extradition and Alfred Odell Martin is transported back to Martinsville, Virginia, where 25 years ago, he was jailed for selling $10 worth of marijuana. Martin, who’d been sentenced to 10 years in prison with nine years suspended, fled to Michigan where he married, raised three children, and worked for a mortgage company. “Michigan may know him as the responsible businessman with a good record, but Martinsville knows him as a drug dealer,” says prosecutor Joan Ziglar... Roche Diagnostics has won Food and Drug Administration clearance to begin marketing ONTRAK TESTCUP-er. The drug testing device is specifically designed to assess the drug use status of emergency room patients. ONTRAK TESTCUP-er is capable of simultaneous detection of cocaine, morphine, amphetamines, barbiturates and benzodiazopenes, with results in less than five minutes.
Dec. 10 A Lake County jury, after a nine-day trial, finds Charles Eddie Lepp of Hidden Valley not guilty.   Lepp is a 46-year old Vietnam vet who has had bypass surgery and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic back pain, skin cancer, degenerative arthritis, and manic depression. He was arrested in August, 1997, with 131 plants growing in his yard. He said he and his wife Linda had a verbal approval from a doctor in Salinas, NAME Wahl to use mj for pain relief. Linda has thyroid cancer. She spent the first 11 years of her life in a brace and is clinically depressed. Their co-defendant and friend Matt Bronsert has been in constant pain since an on-the-job injury. Lepp was growing for all three. Deputy District Attorney Fred Raper argued that the quantity of mj Lepp was growing suggested that he intended to sell some. Lepp said the surplus was for donation to the SF Buyers Club. Raper also challenged the validity of Lepp’s recommendation. Dr. Wahl denied having recommended mj; The Lepps testifed that he did and the jurors believed them. Lepp says the case put him $15,000 in debt.  John Entwistle, Jr., says the jury’s verdict “will be viewed as the green checkered flag to produce, produce, produce!”    Lepp  says, “I did everything I could to obey the law. I got a doctor’s approval. I’ve always been honest with my doctors. I don’t want doctors prescribing conflicting medicines, so I’ve always told them all the medicines I do, including marijuana... Because of all the stink, my doctor flip-flopped and claimed he never gave me a recommendation.What he’d said was, ‘If you believe marijuana helps you, go ahead and smoke it. I’ll testify in court and support you.’ I took that as a recommendation. When asked if he had told me this he said ‘It’s possible.’ The jury believed me. The reason they couldn’t convict me was that they looked at me and saw themselves, their mother, their brother, their sister. I told them, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m like you.’ But if I were black or gay, they might’ve tried to backdoor me. But I’m a white middle class goddamn war hero, military intelligence. I have letters of support from the V.A., with combat duty in Vietnam in 1972. 90% of what’s wrong with me can be traced to my service years.
“I need marijuana. When I take pain pills -I’ve have to take hundreds a month- it tears me up. I get bad when I drink alcohol. On weed, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like me... The jury was made up of 10 men and two women. The DA used up all 20 peremptories getting rid of 215 supporters. Again and again, jurors said the same kind of thngs, like ‘I support medical use... I voted for 215... You’ll have to disqualify me.’”
The Lepps’s co-defendant Matt Bronsert pled guilty TO WHAT CHARGE and got 120 days’ jail time and three years’ probation.    707 994-7676
Dec. 11 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano says he will push for a law to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  “We need to be at the forefont of treatment,” says Cayetano.
Dec. 13   Texas Ranger Sgt. David Duncan charges that his investigation of the killing of teenage goatherd Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. by Marines on drug interdiction patrol has been obstructed by the military. Duncan was not given timely access to the witnesses; subpoenas were ignored and documents concealed.  This killing of a US citizen occurred in May ’97 in Redford, Texas. The Marine Corps has agreed-—without admitting wrongdoing, of course— to pay $1.9 million to the Hernandez family. Also Dec. 13, the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service acknowledges that 20 marines and sailors from the San Diego area have been investigated for drug smuggling in ’98. Pentagon officals tell the LA Times they don’t know how many servicemen have been court-martialed for smuggling, or how many are currently under investigation. They call the drug busts “isolated incidents” as the cancer metastasizes.
Dec. 14 The Virginia House of Delegates passes a resolution asking federal officials to let the state’s universities experiment with cultivation of hemp for commercial use. The sponsor, Delegate Mitchell Van Yahres, suggests that hemp would be a good option for farmers adversely affected by the national tobacco settlement. The General Assembly will consider the measure at its next session.
Dec. 17  A parliamentary health committee in New Zealand, after an eight-month study, concludes “the negative mental health impact of cannabis appears to have been oversated, particularly in relation to occasional adult users of the drug...”  European researchers report in The New England Journal of Medicine that at least half the drugs donated to wartorn Bosnia-Herzegovinia were unusable —outdated supplies dumped by their manufacturers, who reaped millions of dollars in tax breaks savings on disposal costs. “17,000 metric tons of inappropriate drugs may save donors $25.5 million,” according to the report. Studies of “aid” sent to people in need after earthquakes and famine in Africa, Mexico and the former Soviet Union show the same pattern of dumping for profit by drug companies.
Also Dec. 17, Concluding that the negative mental-health effects of cannabis have been exaggerated, and that the prohibition has been ineffective, and that “the police are open-minded on the issue of decriminalization,” New Zealand’s parliamentary health select committee calls for reviewing the legal status of cannabis.
Dec. 18  Sacramento Police Detective NAME MacKannin testifies that, regardless of paperwork demonstrating medical status, all patients caught with medical cannabis will be arrested and prosecuted, all immature medical cannabis will be killed, and all medical cannabis gardens will be destroyed. MacKannin, who led the raid on Bob Ames’s residence, testified that he believed the Sacramento patient/activist “was growing it for himself and  to give it away to others for free. “ Although the judge noted that this case doesn’t include most of the items ordinarily found in sales cases -and that giving away cannabis to qualified patients would not be illegal under California state  law- Ames was ordered to stand trial next year on two felony charges, cultivation, and posession with intent to distribute medical cannabis.
Dec. 18  The prosecution of Lori Converse and her caregiver, William McConnell, is delayed so that the Sonoma County Medical Association’s peer review committee can validate her need for medical marijuana. Converse, 33, suffers from  degenerative disc disease stemming from two car crashes. She and McConnell were arrested Sept. 17 for cultivation. “I was blown away that they threw me in jail and treated me so brutally in the first place,” commented Converse, who had two letters from doctors authorizing mj use. “I figured being broken and all that they’d  take that into consideration.”
The review panel had hoped to avoid getting involved in ongoing cases to prevent the possibility that its members could be subpoenaed. But District Attorney Mike Mullins expressed hope the review panel would weigh in, adding, “There is reason to believe she has a serious illness within the meaning of the statute.”  Converse, who takes legally prescribed morphine for her pain, was forced to go without it for six days while in jail.
Also 12/18  Judge Richard Roberts hears arguments on the ACLU/Washington, D.C suit to count the Initiative 59 votes. The Clinton Justice Department supports Bob Barr’s amendment, arguing that Congress has the legal authority to not certify legislation in the District; but in typical “I didn’t inhale” fashion, they raise no objection to the vote count being released! “That’s basically turning an election into a public opinion poll,” observes Wayne Turner, the AIDS activist who organized the Initiative 59 campaign. “This is about the right of the people of the District of Columbia to have their votes counted and to have them count.”  He sums up the situation and the year: “This is about democracy held hostage.”  The voided vote is a first in U.S. history.

Dec. 21 Ed Learn, Will Larson and Robert Bonencamp -patients whose plants were uprooted from a Guerneville garden in August by Sonoma county sheriffs- file a petition for the return of their plants. “We know this will be a symboolic victory, because the plants are long dead,” comments Dennis Peron, “but when the judge orders the medical marijuana returned, a lot of patients will know that Prop 215 is alive and well in Sonoma County.”
Dec. 23 Federal charges have been  dropped against Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana.   ASK PANZER OR RAICH...  San Jose police sgt. Tim Kuchac, who had stated in his affidavit that he was part of the team that served the first warrant on the SJ club and noticed a computer that could have contained business records, admits under questioning from Peter Baez’s lawyers that he had not been to the center before signing the affidavit. “I have very few instances in my life as a lawyer where I had a police officer admit on the stand to perjury,” comments Gerald Uelmen... Also 12/23The state auditor reports that wells and reservoirs in California are now infiltrated with carcinogenic MTBE from gasoline (to the point of being undrinkable in Tahoe, Santa Monica and other water districts) because state officials chose to  ignore the problem between 1990, when they first became aware of it, and 1997. The auditor finds “deficiences at every step of the regulatory process, from issuing permits... to enforcing laws designed to protect us.”  In other words, while the Attorney General was showing zero tolerance for marijuana users, he showed zero interest in the oil companies’ poisoning our water.   Good riddance to Dan Lungren -and may we not kid ourselves in the days to come about the Democrats’ commitment to the corporados...
Dec. 18    “In recent weeks, squads of lobbyists from PhRMA [the drug industry’s lobby], Merck, Warner-Lambert, Bristol Myers Squibb and others have descended on Congress,” according to The Wall St. Journal, to oppose a bill, introduced by Democrat Tom Allen of Maine, that would give senior citizens the same discount on prescription drugs that HMOs and the government now get. Although the measure wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything, drug lobbyists contend it would “ultimately harm the elderly by halting the development of promising drugs that could aid against the ravages of old age.”
The Journal reports, “With profit surging, drug companies had the financial wherewithal to spend more on lobbying in 1997 that any other industry. PhRma [the industry lobby] spent more than $6 million, while Merck dispensed $5.1 million for a squad of five in-house lobbyists, among other expenses. Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Glaxo Wellcome each spent around $3.8 million.”
A PhRMa spokesman told the Journal, “This is part of the democratic process. We lobby, and the other side lobbies.”
12/22 A unit of RJR Nabisco pleads guilty and will pay a $15 million fine for its role in the smuggling of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cigarettes into Canada.  The goal was to evade U.S. and Canadian taxes. Reynolds and other companies started shipping large amounts of Canadian brands, like Players, to the northern U.S., even though few Americans smoke them. Distributors would move them into Canada through the St. Regis Mohawk/Awkesasne Indian Reservation -just like “drug” smugglers from Mexico use Camp Pendleton to enter the U.S.
Dec. 24 Basketball star Corie Blount, home in Columbus, Ohio, for Christmas, is pulled over by the highway patrol because his car windows are too dark. A drug-sniffing dog finds a briefcase with $19,000 in cash, which is confiscated and handed over to the DEA. Blount says he had just sold a car -but he will have to prove it in court before he can get his money back. In the Columbus Dispatch columnist Steve Stephens writes, “David Stern must wish he had the kind of negotiating power wielded by the State Highway Patrol... If the cops decide they want a particular pile of money, they need only claim that it would probably have been used to buy drugs. To get the money back, the (former) owner of the cash must take the cops to court to prove otherwise... Many innocent citizens, less able to afford the loss and the high-priced attorneys needed for a court fight, have suffered from the same seizure laws. How many basic rights will be seized before citizens demand their return?”
Also 12/24  Rolling Stone publishes a major piece on medical marijuana by William Greider that describes Bill Zimmerman —his primary source— as “the national head of the movement.”  Greider proclaims, “If this year’s outcome turns out to be an important turning point, one explanation may be that the 1998 referendum propositions were different [than Prop 215]. They were designed to be law-enforcement friendly, and they included new regulatory rules that avoid much of the legal ambiguity and conflict that followed California’s decriminalization vote in 1996.”
December 25  Another Christmas in jail for thousands whose only crime was possession of prohibited drugs. Will Foster does not receive his hoped-for freedom, despite unanimous approval from the state’s parole board to release him and several prison supervisors’ taking the unusual step of urging Gov. Frank Keating to issue a pardon...Some 43,000 people are in California prisons for drug offenses, not counting those in county jails or federal prison. Of these, 17, 747 are in for possession.  “While California now has five times as many drug prisoners as in 1986,” notes Dale Gieringer, “this has had no evident effect on illegal drug use...”   In New York state a bipartisan coalition backed by the Lindesmith Center launches an ad campaign opposing the long mandatory minimum sentences instituted in 1973 by Nelson Rockefeller...
In a downcast Christmas column, Ann Landers observes “the war on drugs has turned out to be a colossal failure.” The line will be censored in the Tampa Tribune and some of her other outlets.
Dec. 26  Police in San Francisco —claiming they’d been summoned by a silent emergency alarm— trash the apartment of Richard Evans, director of the recently opened San Francisco Patients and Caregivers Health Center on Mission Street, and arrest him on cultivation and pornography charges (based on his possession of two books by photographer Jock Sturges). Evans, who has applied for a permit to operate his club, says he was growing strictly for medical use —his own and his club members’. He calls the porno charge an attempt by “rogue agents” to slander him. District Attorney Hallinan will promptly dismiss all the charges against Evans. But the police will re-arrest him and hold him for five days.
Dec. 28  Attorney General Elect Bill Lockyer issues a list of priorities that includes making Prop 215 work.  He calls his predecessor “overly zealous in continuing to oppose [Prop 215] even after the people had adopted it.”   In Washington state Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen pays a $7,000 fine for turning his office into a mini-campaign headquarters opposing Initiative 685 (a 1997 medical mj initiative that lost at the pools).
Dec. 29 Russian President Boris Yeltsin instructs the government to set up a special fund for waging a war on illegal drug trafficking... Rastafarians from St. Vincent and the Grenadines condemn the eradication effort by the US the DEA and Marine Corps. The 10 day exercise netted more than a million plants on 302 plots. “The task force also burned 148 huts,” according to the Miami Herald...  Industrial hemp is being grown in fields around Chernobyl in an attempt to remove radioactive pollutants from the soil. Certain plants break down or degrade organic pollutants and stabilize metal contaminants by acting as filters or traps.  “Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find,” says Slavik Dushenkov of Phytotech. [Why don’t we try it at Hunter’s Point and the Presidio?]...
Also 12/29  In Tacoma, Washington, a blind, semi-paralyzed man with AIDS is arrested for cultivation of three plants and jailed for two days. Police say the newly-passed medical marijuana initiative does not apply because Kelly Grubbs did not have a letter of recommendation. Dr. Rob Killian protests that such letters are kept in doctors’ files, not issued to patients, lest they be construed by the feds as prescriptions. The Seattle Times editorializes that Killian “flunked in this first test case of the law.” Will law enforcement in Washington use Lungren’s tactics to oppose implementation?
Dec. 31 At the glasshouse complex operated by GW Pharmaceuticals in Southeast England, staffers are harvesting 5,000 eight-feet-tall cannabis plants —10 separate strains with varying cannabinoid ratios, provided by HortaPharm, which will be processed into “a treacly liquid” for use in inhalers. The Medical Research Council is drafting guidelines under which tests on patients will be conducted in the new year by GW and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The first trial, by Dr. Anita Holdcroft of Hammersmith Hospital, London, will involve patients in post-operative pain.  A second, by Dr. John Zajicek of Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, will test whether MS patients get relief from spasms. One group of about 100 patients will be given the conventional treatment for controlling muscle spasms. A second group will receive THC.  A clinical trial overseen by Guy will commence in spring 1999 and will involve some 2,000 patients over the course of two years. “We will be using whole plant extracts for delivery by inhalation since this is far more precise and controllable than the oral route,” says Guy. “The first area of study in patients will concern the relief of nerve damage pain including sufferers of multiple sclerosis... By the end of 1999 we intend to be working with pharmaceutical grade extracts from cloned plants rather than growing from seed. We will then be growing and harvesting on a regular basis.”  By then he expects to be supplying other researchers —Tod Mikuriya is among the first in line— who want to test the safety and efficacy of Guy’s plant extracts.
 

1999
1999: A Stall in the Name of Science
January 1 In San Diego, Steve McWilliams opens Shelter From the Storm, a new club, out of an apartment behind the Hemp Store in Hillcrest.  CHECK AND EXPAND
Jan. 2    In Tacoma, Washington, Tracie Morgan, 61, and her son Kelly Grubbs, 35, are arrested for the cultivation of three plants in their home. Grubbs has AIDS, is blind, and is semiparalyzed from a stroke. The police say that the mother and son lacked documentation that the marijuana was for medical use.

“I have long believed that the laws regarding marijuana are too harsh. Those who keep pot for their own personal use should not be treated as criminals. I’m with you...” —Ann Landers

January  5  Ann Landers runs a letter from a mom whose son had been arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. A lawyer had told the mom the police usually tack on intent-to-distribute to stiffen the charges. Ann says, “I have long believed that the laws regarding marijuana are too harsh. Those who keep pot for their own personal use should not be treated as criminals. I’m with you...”
The FDA approves a meat-flavored pill called Clomicalm —sold by Novartis, the makers of Ritalin— for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs...
A study by Amsterdam University and the Central Bureau of Statistics determines that drug use among the Dutch is about half as common as the Dutch government had assumed. Some 15.6 percent of Dutch people aged 12 and over have tried cannabis, compared to 32.9 percent of Americans.  Some 2.5 percent of the Dutch have used cannabis in the last month —compared to 5.1 percent of Amercians, according to government stats from both countries. “A repressive drugs policy, as implemented in the U.S., does not necessarily reduce drugs use,” the authors conclude. “Availability is not a determining factor for the use of drugs in a country.”
Jan. 6 A French government report notes that about 60,000 deaths in 1997 were attributed to cigaret smoking, 20,000 to alcohol —and 228 to heroin. Some 2 million Frenchies are said to smoke marijuana regularly.
Jan. 7  The National Basketball Association strike is settled with the players capitulating on their share of the profits (down from 57 to 52 percent) and on marijuana testing.  They agree to be tested every year at the start of training camp —but not randomly during the course of the season.
Jan. 9   Yahoo! -the giant Internet search service- sics its lawyers on Yahooka!, a small new website that seeks “to spread the truth about marijuana, tell of its medical uses, and speak of the principles of individual rights and freedom.”
Jan. 11  The office of the Drug Czar gives Ogilvy & Mather $129 million to handle the purchase of anti-drug ads in the media. Our tax dollars at work...
An article in the Journal of the US Public Health Service by Ernest Drucker, a professor of epidemiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, concludes, “From a public health point of view, drug prohibition is a disaster. Drug related deaths and diseases have increased sharply.” Drucker notes that enforcement activities constitute 67% of the $16 billion federal drug budget and more than $20 billion per year in state and local enforcement expenditures, compared with $7.6 billion for treatment, prevention and research.  While black people are no more likely to use illegal drugs than whites, they are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites and 3.5 times more likely to die of  overdoses.
Also 1/11 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Narcotics, Rand Beers, calls for the eradication of poppy-growing in Pakistan. He notes that the military will have to destroy crops: “There is no way we can give farmers enough money to keep them from growing if the government does not enforce (eradication).”
Also 1/11 in San Francisco, Richard Evans is arrested again and held for five days until he can make bail (set at $25,000). He faces charges of growing and selling marijuana.
Jan. 12    The city of Oakland files an amicus brief with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Oakland club. Written by city attorney Linda LeCraw and former FDA general counsel Peter Hutt (who helped draft the Controlled Substances Act), it argues that the federal law banning marijuana is a “legislated truth” with no rational basis —comparable to laws denying the vote to women and African Americans.  Also, in approving Prop 215, California voters “deemed the medical use of cannabis to be a fundamental liberty interest” protected by the 9th and 10th Amendments.
“Co-Payments Rise for Prescriptions,” reports the Wall St. Journal. “Many consumers in managed-care plans are being asked to come up with $25 or more for a prescription that a year or two may have cost them just $5 to $10.” The excuse?  “A surge in development of dozens of expensive drugs that are overwhelming HMOs’ prescription-drug budgets...”
The annual “Physician Compensation and Production Survey” of the Medical Group Management Association reveals that male doctors make more than women in almost all specialties —and the gap is widening. One factor is that women doctors tend to spend more time with their patients.
Jan. 13   Aetna agrees to buy Prudential Health Care; six giant companies now dominate the health insurance business. The AMA and several state medical societies protest. Doctors can expect to be paid less per patient, i.e., patients will get less time per visit (the average is now 11 minutes) and can expect a narrower choice of doctors and shorter hospital stays...
The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, based in Portland, is pushing the Cannabis Tax Act, which it hopes to place on the ballot in Oregon and several other states in 2000.
In Ireland, where drug testing of the workforce has been introduced by multinationals, some 5% are testing positive —most of them for cannabis, according to a report in the Irish Independent.
The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a Colorado law requiring petition circulators to be registered Colorado voters. Bill Zimmerman says that had AMR been able to hire out-of-state crews to gather signatures in ’98, medical marijuana initiatives would have made the ballot in Maine and Colorado.
Jan. 14  Charges against Buzzy Linhart are dismissed by a Berkeley DA, setting up a “Brown motion” for return of the confiscated marijuana and a civil suit against the Berkeley police...  Researchers at Duke Univesity report in Science that Ritalin works not by means of the neurotransmitter dopamine but by boosting production of serotonin. In other words, they’d been completely wrong all this time! Did you hear any mea culpas?
Health Canada (the Canadian FDA) bans the use of Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone to boost milk production. Veterinarians cite a 25% higher risk of udder infection, an 18% rise in infertility and a 50% rise in lameness among animals injected with the hormone.Tests in lab rats show possible invasion of the hormone into the prostate. During the review of BGH, six scientists alleged that they were pressured into approving it, and one told a Senate committee that Monsanto had offered research money as a bribe. The US FDA reiterates that BGH “is safe and effective when used as labeled.”  Monsanto estimates that 30% of US dairy cows are getting the drug, which was first marketed in ’94 (although dairies for decades had been producing more milk than the nation could consume).
Jan. 15 Add voices of sanity: Colorado Senate Bill 95, introduced by Dorothy Rupert (D-Boulder) would put a three-year moratorium on prison construction and establish a task force to review criminal sentencing policies in the state... The FDA, citing liver-failure deaths caused by Rezulin, directs its experts to reassess the drug’s safety. Rezulin has been taken by more than 1 million people who have adult-onset diabetes since its introduction by Warner-Lambert two years ago —generating $1 billion in sales.
Jan. 16  Barry McCaffrey tells the Associated Press, “More eighth graders are using heroin in today’s America than 12th graders.”   The man seems to have suffered minimal brain damage. He also announces that the White House will seek to have duplicate medals awarded to swimmers and runners who lost to East Germans in the 1972, ’76 and ’80 Olympics. “We need to look at the notion of supplemental medals when it can be proved in the courts where medals were lost to chemically engineered competition,” says the drug czar. The International Olympic Committee has been unwilling to rewrite the record books, but McCaffrey, noting that two-thirds of their revenue comes from US television networks and corporate sponsors, says, “Our voice should be listened to.”

Also 1/16  A “haze of uncertainty” hangs over the status of medical marijuana in Oregon, according to the Grants Pass Daily Courier. “The law doesn’t allow you to buy it or for it to be sold to you,”  states Peter Cogswell of the Oregon Dept. of Justice.  A spokesman for Oregonians for Medical Rights advises the would-be medical mj user to get a doctor’s recommendation and bring it to the boss.  “I think in most cases employers will be compassionate for their employees,” says Geoff Sugarman of OMR. And what if they’re not, Geoff? Will Soros pay the rent?

Jan. 18 Gen. Charles Wilhelm, top American military commander for Latin America, meets with Columbia’s defense minister on creating a 1,000-member “counternarcotics battalion... to provide police with army protection during anti-narcotics operations in the rebel-dominated areas.”
Jan. 18-19  At a special hearing on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s proposed guidelines for marijuana eradication efforts in Northern California, Humboldt county residents describe low-flying helicopters and armed personnel terrifying wildlife and livestock, disrupting work and school, and threatening endangered bird species The hearings were organized by the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project and The Rights Organization on behalf of plaintiffs in a federal suit against the government’s 1990 Operation Greensweep. As part of a settlement, U.S. district judge Fern Smith ordered that the BLM prepare guidelines to  address the adverse environmental and human impacts of anti-marijuana operations.
The hearings are presided over by retired California appeals court judge William Newsom (a liberal, father of SF Supervisor Gavin Newsom). Linda Derkson presents evidence that flights beneath 2,000 feet could cause serious harm by disrupting migration patterns and inducing desertion of nests.   Rare bird breeder Fred Bauer testifies that he suffered $40,000 in losses from broken eggs,  abandoned nests and breeding deaths caused by CAMP helicopters.  Witnesses testify that helicopters routinely came down to tree-top  level, endangering nesting birds by using their prop-wash to blow down foliage in search of marijuana. Horse trainer Susan Carmada tells how helicopters panicked horses, startled riders, and once maliciously chased a colt and its mother around the field.  Other animal breeders complain of harm to rabbits, emus, and buffalo. Vietnam vets testify  how the noise of helicopters exacerbated post-traumatic stress. Schoolteacher Kim Kemp testifies that helicopters had landed on her schoolgrounds unannounced and once caused so much noise as to force her  to close her school. Bernadette Webster describes how her daughter was upset after encountering a gun-toting Operation Greensweep guardsman in camouflage gear, who refused to identify himself. Gary Holder, a former deputy sheriff and CAMP officer, says “Every officer that’s  been in a helicopter involved in the CAMP program, if they were going to  tell you the truth, would say ‘Yes, we have flown under 500 feet, we got as close as we could to the treetops to hover, we have looked  into people’s windows.’ Holder warns  that enforceability of guidelines would be a major problem, since CAMP personnel are brought in from out of county and trained to believe that “everybody out there is a bad guy.” Former CAMP commander Gene Womack complains that confiscated marijuana was stored in a pit just 100 yards from the dormitory of the  Eel River Conservation Camp correctional facility, creating an  attractive nuisance for prisoners, many of whom ended up being charged  with marijuana offenses at considerable state expense. The BLM declines to send a representative to the hearings, claiming concern about their physical security in a hostile community.

Jan. 19    In South Lake Tahoe, Steve Kubby, a cancer patient and medical marijuana activist who played a key role in the Prop 215 campaign, is arrested with his wife Michelle for cultivation and the usual bogus related charges, including conspiracy.  Kubby, 52, has adrenal cancer (in miraculous emission) and high blood pressure.  As the Libertarian candidate for governor, he received HOW MANY votes in 1998. Bail of $100,000 is  offered by ACME bail bonds of Culver City, a firm that considers  medical mj patients a good risk before attorney Dale Wood gets the Kubbys out on o.r.
Kubby’s statement: “An anonymous letter with vague accusations (information called ‘weak and non-specific’  by Don Atkinson of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department) was the ‘probable cause’ under which four different law enforcement agencies monitored our every move for the past six months.  All evidence being used against Michele and me comes from the privacy of our own home and was obtained by spying through our windows, examining our trash, and monitoring our Internet communications.  Something around half of the documentation provided by government offficials to our attorneys were political documents surrounding my candidacy for governor last year and the medical marijuana movement. Every aspect of our garden documented and in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act Of 1996 that the voters in this state approved overwhelmingly. Absolutely no sales ever took place. Michele and I broke no laws and should have been protected under the law. Instead, we are witness to how the legal rights of seriously ill people are routinely violated. Please help us end this insanity once and for all.”
Also 1/19  The mayor of Portland, Vera Katz, unveils the “Campus Crime Stopper program.” Students will be paid up to $1,000 to snitch on classmates who carry weapons, drink alcohol or use drugs around school... Reuters reports that Jamaican police seized “a record amount of narcotics and made a record number of drug-related arrests (7,352) in ’98... Jamaica’s performance in the area of drug control will come under close scrutiny by the US at the beginning of March. The White House will recommend to Congress whether the island should be among those countries which merit being recertified for their record of cooperation in the international drug fight. Decertification would mean the withdrawal of most forms of direct aid from the US and the loss of US support for assistance from multilateral institutions including the IMF and the World Bank.”

Jan. 20:  Pfizer reports that sales of Viagra in Europe helped push fourth-quarter net income up 14% —but users don’t come back for more. “Viagra sales are flat in the US and demand for the product has been met,” the Wall St. Journal reports. “The question remains whether demand in Europe already has ended.”  Fortunately for Pfizer, Zoloft had sales gains of $489 million —up 24% from a year ago.
Also 1/20 The Israeli Health Ministry establishes a committee to provide doctors with guidelines for prescribing marijuana.
Jan. 21  Journalist Pete Brady  —who had criticized Butte County police in a High Times article— is arrested in Chico for possession of slightly more than an ounce of dried mj, some food containing marijuana, and seven small cacti alleged to be peyote. Brady is a medical marijuana user with a bona fide prescription. He had been working on a book with Steve Kubby, and infers from his interrogation that his license plates had been traced after a visit to Kubby, and that the cops are sniffing for a “conspiracy.”
 Also 1/21 three-judge Court of Appeal panel unanimously rejects Serge Rigo’s attempt to use Prop 215 to overturn a cultivation conviction. Rigo, who was using mj as a treatment for chronic stomach problems, was arrested on election day, 1996 —the day Prop 215 passed. But he didn’t get a doctor’s approval until three months after his arrest. And the doctor was Tod Mikuriya.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen introduces a bill whereby the Hawaiian legislature would allocate $100,000 for a study by the University of Hawaii at Hilo to study the feasibility and desirability of industrial hemp production. Diversified agriculture has surpassed sugar and pineapple (combined) in value since 1992, although much more acreage is devoted to the corporate crops... In North Dakota, Republican legislator Dave Monson introduces a bill to eliminate hemp from the list of “prohibited noxious weed seeds.”

Jan. 22 The Chicago Tribune reports that local schools are now stashing Ritalin in locked safes, following numerous rip-offs by students. The drug is selling for $5 to $15 a pill, according to police. “Ritalin abuse,” as defined by NIDA, rose by 1,400 percent between 1994 and ’97. More than 4 million U.S. schoolchildren are given the drug daily to treat “hyperactivity.” An estimated 10 percent of high school seniors now abuse it...  About 10 percent of the coral worldwide has died, according to researchers at the AAAS meeting in Anaheim. Previously unknown bacteria and viruses are killing marine life at coral sites off Florida, and there is a 7,000 square mile “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jan. 24 “Drug companies are gearing up to fight any plan for the Government to provide prescription drugs as a basic benefit in the traditional Medicare program,” reports the NY Times.  Eighty percent of Medicare beneficiaries regularly use prescription drugs for which they pay out-of-pocket. The Democrats propose using some of the projected surplus to help pick up the tab. The drug companies “fear it would lead to Federal regulation of drug prices.”  Meanwhile co-payments are skyrocketing as private insurers try to maximize their profits.  Seniors typically pay twice as much as HMOs and other “favored customers.”

Jan. 25 Eli Lilly buys off three drug companies that had planned to market generic versions of Prozac in 2001. Shares of Lilly stock soar $6. “We plan to capitalize on our expertise with depression,” crows Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel...
The Virginia House of  Representatives passes an industrial hemp resolution by a 76 to 23 vote; now it goes to the Senate.

Jan. 26  It was a great fourth quarter of ’98 for the pharmaceutical industry. Merck, the world’s largest drug company, led in sales growth at 21 percent. Schering-Plough led profit growth with 22 percent (powered by strong sales of Claritin)... Barry McCaffrey pledges $1 million to promote drug testing of Olympic athletes. The drug czar’s 10-page policy paper calls for athletes to be available for testing 365 days a year, every year —not just during Olympic years.
Jan. 27 Jane’s Defense Weekly quotes US Marine Corps Gen. Charles Wilhelm, commander-in-chief of Southern Command, which oversees US military activities and assistance in South America. ““I think the connection between the insurgents and the narco-traffickers has been very clearly demonstrated. This is an insurgency that has been sustaining itself for a number of years, so I think the linkage is definitely there.”
Jan. 29 Marvin Chavez, founder of the Orange County Cannabis Coop, is sentenced to six years for selling marijuana to two undercover agents posing as patients and mailing mj to a cancer patient. Chavez was not allowed to cite Prop 215 in his defense. Family and friends weep as he is led away in handcuffs. J. Prosecutor Carl Armbrust sums up: “Marijuana is still an illicit drug in the United States, and California is still part of the United States.”
Defense attorney James Silva says, “The message sent out from Orange County today is ‘hide.’”  Silva charges that Chavez’s probation report violated his rights to free speech. “Mr. Chavez says he would continue to travel around the state and ‘educate’ people about medical marijuana,”  the Probation Dept. had warned the judge.   Silva and David Nick will appeal on the grounds that the judge erred in not allowing the jury to hear a defense based on Prop 215. They hope to link Chavez’s appeal to Dave Herrick’s.

Also in January: Scientific American reports that more than 40 percent of US corporations monitor their employees by checking e-mail, voice mail and telephone conversations, recording computer keystrokes and video surveillance (some in lockers and bathrooms). One quarter of Fortune 500 companies release confidential employee info to government agencies without a subpoena; 70 percent give the information to creditors. But three-quarters of the companies will not allow employees to see supervisors’ evaluations of their own performance...
“In the interest of military readiness and good order and discipline,” declares Lt. Col. Greg Girard of the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s office in the Pentagon, “active-duty Reserve and Air National Guard Members “are now prohibited from consuming any products containing hemp seed oil.”  Minute quantites of THC in hemp seed confound the urinalyses that the AF relies on... Express Personal Services, a large temp agency in the southwest, reports that marijuana users account for 83 percent of employees who fail drug tests, followed by alcohol (10%), amphetamines (6%) and cocaine (1%).  The true nature of America’s “drug problem” is revealed!

February 1 International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch —a longtime Franco flunky whose staffers call him “Your Excellency”— will oversee an Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Agency run by Prince Alexandre de Merode, IOC medical commissioner. Drug testing was introduced at the 1968 Olympics. “Thirty years later, it has unfortunately become clear that... doping is spreading at a terrifying rate,” the IOC admits. Their answer? More drug testing. [If the rich/poor system didn’t create such enormous stakes, few athletes would go to such dangerous lengths. The system perverts every field: sports, science, law...]
A policeman writing under the name Marcus Laffey in the New Yorker  confides, “The war on drugs is a game for me, no matter how urgent it is for poor neighborhoods or how grave the risks are for cops. We call dealers ‘players,’ and there are rules as in chess, percentages as in poker, and moves asin school yard ball. When I went from being a beat cop to working in narcotics, the change was refreshing. For one thing, you deal only with criminals. No more domestic disputes...”

Feb. 2 Kim Levin of the Shasta Patient Alliance asks the county board of supervisors to provide guidelines for medical marijuana users seeking to grow their own. Levin’s husband Rick is on 100% disability following a severe back injury. The Levins were charged with cultivation of 41 unsexed seedlings.  Writes Kim: “My husband Rick suffers from severe spasms and pain following a fall that burst his T12 vertebra and  caused spinal cord damage. His primary care doctor wrote a four-page declaration of approval for continued use of medijuana. Our case continues to get more bizarre because of the prosecuting DA and Judge Ruggerio not allwing a medical defense, prescription/declaration or records to be admitted. We have met Marshall and Marilyn Loscot, another prosecuted Shasta County patient/caregiver who was sentenced in this same judge’s courtroom -and also no medical use was considered. After months of crying (unbelief my government could to this mot me when there is a law on the books!!) I am now angry and going to the County Board of Supes to request they state what a patient can possess or grow here.”

Feb. 5     After a review of clinical studies conducted by National Institute of Mental Health researchers, 29 are suspended and 50 altered because of “ethical problems,” i.e., patients being taken off medicine so that scientists could observe the return of symptoms, and patients not being told they faced serious risks without hope of benefit. Numerous experiments involved ketamine, an anesthetic sold on the streets as a hallucinogen. It was used in people with mental illness and in healthy volunteers to study “the biology of psychoses.”   The NIMH is a branch of the National Institutes of Health, the agency that  oversees government-funded academic research. These studies were being conducted by doctors and PhDs, with the informed consent of other doctors and PhDs. The Boston Globe broke the story.
Add press congrats and game imagery: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette runs an eye-opening piece by Kenneth Heard describing the efforts of the West Memphis Police to stop cars and trucks hauling illegal drugs and/or large sums of cash —and the lucrative pay-offs. “When money is confiscated during traffic stops, law enforcement agencies can go through either federal or state civil forfeiture procedures to obtain some of the money seized. It is more lucrative for agencies to use federal procedures because they can receive up to 80 percent of the cash.” Amounts over $250,000 go to the state’s asset forfeiture fund —which is penniless because law enforcement agencies that confiscate more than $250,000 always go through federal forfeiture procedures. Heard quotes an investigator with the Crittenden County Drug Task Force, Mickey Thornton, saying, “It’s like a game for everyone: how well can they hide it and how well can we find it?”

Feb. 7  The Clinton-Gore administration announces a five-part plan designed to cut drug use in half by 2007. [See letter, page 3, “Drug-free at last!”]... The International Control Board, an independent panel that oversees U.N. drug-control treaties, reports that people in North and South America consume large amounts of performance-enhancing drugs and stimulants, commonly called “uppers,” while Europeans are the world’s top users of stress-reducing drugs, also known as “downers.” The report notes that “particularly in the United States, performance-enhancing drugs are given to children to boost school performance or help them conform with the emands of school life. They are also taken by adults to achieve the desired body image, boost athletic proess and social skills, or enhance sexual performance.” The ICRB also calls for more research to determine whether cannabis is beneficial.
 
Feb. 8 Some 20 supporters of Renee Emry-Wolfe picket the U.S. Department of Justice to protest the prosecution of a multiple sclerosis patient for smoking a joint in Congressman McCollum’s office. The indigent mother of three flew in from Ann Arbor, Michigan, only to be notified that her trial will be delayed —again— until April 23.... The Clinton-Gore administration seeks $18 billion for drug control programs in next year’s budget; about two-thirds goes to law enforcement and interdiction.  Al Gore calls drug abuse “a spiritual problem” and says alientated youth are vulnerable to “messages that are part of a larger entity of evil.”
Feb. 9 U.S. State Dept. spokesman James Rubin voices concern about alleged drug trafficking by North Korea. (You won’t hear Madeline’s top aide talking about the heroin trafficking of the Kosovar Liberation Army...)
Feb. 10   In Queensland, Australia, Justice Alan Demack drops charges against a 54-year-old man who pled guilty to cultivating and possessing marijuana, which he said he used for chronic back pain. The head of the Australian Medical Association disses the judge’s precedent-setting move. “There is no scientific evidence available from proper trials to justify the use of marijuana in palliative care.”
 
 

Feb. 13-14  California NORML convenes in San Luis Obispo. The Libertarian Party announces a drive to recall Placer County DA Brad Fennochio and Sheriff Edward Bonner for going after Steve and Michelle Kubby.
Feb. 15  Hemp Golden Ale is served on Air Force One as the Clintons return from their trip to Mexico, where they assured President Ernesto Zedillo that Mexico would again be certified to receive massive US military aid in support of its drug interdiction efforts... An American Bar Association task force led by Reagan’s Attorney General, Edwin Meese III, warns lawmakers against the “misguided, unnecessary and harmful” tendency of showing they are tough on criminals by turning more offenses into federal crimes. The report notes that the number of federal prosecutors in US attorneys offices increased from 3,000 to 8,000 since the late ‘60s.
 
Feb. 16  A report from the US Customs Service to a Congressional oversight panel admits that the drug war has left the agency highly vulnerable to corruption. The report reveals a “long history of strife and infighting” between its Internal Affairs unit and its Office of Investigations.

Feb. 17  The heads of 17 AIDS organizations send an open letter asking Barry McCaffrey to give fast-track approval to marijuana. “You may be aware that the standard Food and Drug Administration approval process has been streamlined for several medications important to people living with HIV disease and AIDS. Drugs shown to fall within an acceptable standard of safety have been made available to patients before completion of all scientific trials proving effectiveness. This special procedure has helped thousands of patients to obtain life-extending benefits from new medications, and has contributed directly to building the science base for such new drugs. Our request is simple. Just as other promising AIDS medications have been made available prior to final FDA approval, so too should marijuana, when recommended by a physician, be made available to patients who choose to use it.”
Also 2/17 CBS Morning News reports that more employers are testing hair samples to screen job candidates for past drug use —and that different labs come up with widely different results on samples from identical heads of hair, and on different heads of hair exposed to identical amounts of drugs... On the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, a popular reggae singer — Joseph Topize, known as “Kaya”— is arrested for smoking marijuana at a rally, setting off riots. Kaya will die after four days in police custody. An autopsy by a French doctor will reveal, “The victim was thrown violently with the head facing the ground... We noted traces of blows to the knees by a blunt instrument.”
Feb. 18: The Chicago Tribune describes a visit by a police officer and his drug-sniffing German Shepherd to a local elementary school. “This dog bites with a pressure of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds per square inch,” the children are informed.  The dog “mesmerizes his audience by ripping apart sofa cushions to find chemicals that smell like heroin and crack cocaine.” Says officer Schulz, “The kids just love to see what we can teach these guys to do...”
Also 2/18 The Sacramento News & Review runs an excellent piece by Michael Pulley surveying the disimplementation of Prop 215 in the Central Valley. More than 30 medical mj users have been arrested in the Sacramento region, according to Ryan Landers. Dave Thornton, an investigator for the state Medical Board, acknowledges that the board is investigating “a handful” of doctors -including Dr. Alex Stalcup of Concord, who has worked for years as a consultant to the California Narcotics Officers Association. “I’ve run a practice that has a lot of pain patients,” Stalcup tells Pulley. “[Medical marijuana] is a major step forward for pain patients. I don’t write a lot of [recommendations]. I write them for people who are regular patients of mine. Unfortunately, quite a few of those patients have been arrested and are facing prosecution.”
The Medical Board is also investigating Dr. Stephen Banister of Nevada City, writes Pulley. A patient of Banister’s named Wesly Stockdale was informed by letter that the Board wanted to review his medical records, and would subpoena the records if Stockdale did not grant permission within 10 days. Stockdale replied, “I will not sign a release of my records with Dr. Banister. Not only to I find this to be a gross invasion of my privacy (wherein I also object to the subpoenaing of my records in any and every way possible) but I believe Dr. Banister to be a man of high integrity, competence, decency and compassion and I believe that the review of my chosen physician to be a highly inappropriate and misguided action.”  Stockdale was initially arrested for possession of marijuana before Prop 215 passed, Pulley reports. “One of the conditions of his probation was that he was not allowed to smoke pot. After Prop 215 passed, Banister recommended pot for a chronic spasticity problem in Stockdale’s back. Stockdale challenged the probation restriction in Nevada County Superior Court on the grounds that medical necessity under Prop 215 took precedence over the probationary restriction. The court ruled in Stockdale’s favor. Despite that ruling, the medical board launched its investigation of Banister, who could not be reached for comment.”
Feb. 19  Nineteen drug companies agree to pay $176 milion to settle a class action lawsuit alleging they gouged the public for medicines sold through independent pharmacies.  (Independent druggists were paying up to $28.90 for 100 tablets of a synthetic thyrod drug while HMOs paid as little as $1.43.)  the companies —Merck,  Abbott Laboratories, Glaxo Wellcome, Squibb et al— will provide brand-name drugs to clinics that dispense drugs to the poor. [See Ap[ril 21 follow-up.]
 Feb. 20  The Federation of American Scientists urges President Clinton to instruct the National Institutes of Health to carry out research on marijuana wherever there are “prima facie” indications of possible efficacy —without waiting for the Institute of Medicine to complete its review of the literature. Reviewing the literature is said to be “the least important function,” and that the investigators should have been instructed to help NIH design suitable experiments.

A Letter from Marvin 2/20/99
Mira,
I am still here in Santa Ana waiting to be transferred, the question is when.
I’ve been too sick call three times about my medical condition [Marvin has Ankylosing Spondylitis, a degenerative spinal arthritis). My symptoms are headaches, pressure behind my eyes and ears, pain in my neck and shoulders, my spine is stiff, teeth grinding and jaw pain, muscle spasms, and a rash behind my neck.
I’ve only seen a nurse —no doctors. I question the qualifications of these people. My concerns as a patient and disabled person are to receive quality medical care under the Americans with Disabilities Act that I am being denied.
Please share this information with people, newspapers, etc.
What I am worried about, and told the medical person, is my neck and spine when they transfer me. I was told it is a four hour or so ride that may cause more damage to my neck or spine.
Please let everyone know that I am grateful for their support. While I am in here, I am educating patients about their rights. While I ‘ am here as a political prisoner, I pray that we can get medical cannabis to the patients that need it. It is the law.

I want to clear something. They accused me of wrongdoing by selling cannabis to undercover agents. The fact is on court record — the agent who posed as the patient said I made it clear that the cannabis was FREE, that if he could make a donation, it was for copies, etc. Those are the facts.
I thank you for your great support. Keep it up.
Everything will turn out for the best for all of us.
Marvin Chavez, Sr.
Central Men’s Jail, Santa Ana

Feb. 21  Thousands of protesters in Maruitius clash with police protesting the death in prison of Joseph Reginald Topizem who been arrested for smoking marijuana at a rally to decriminalize the herb.
Feb. 22 Ryan Huntsman, 19, files suit against the city of Newport Beach and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated when he was transfered without due process another high school after police found a marijuana pipe in his car... New York becomes the first city in the U.S. to seize vehicles on the spot of drivers suspected of drunken driving- including first-time offenders. Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s new policy, if a suspect is convicted on DUI charges, the vehicle will be auctioned off by the Police Dept.

Feb. 24 Black leaders and public health advocates publish an open letter to Barry McCaffrey stating that they are “deeply troubled” by his  “inaccurate and misleading statements” opposing needle exchange programs and medical marijuana.  Among the signers: San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Jr., former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, and author Henry Louis Gates.
Feb. 25   Fresno radio station KFCF invites Mike Alcalay, Jeff Jones and Dale Gieringer to hold a public meeting on medical marijuana. No doctors in the area are willing to recommend marijuana as a medical treatment. “They’re scared,” explains a man in the audience. “I called doctors from Salinas to Three Rivers and not a one would see me.”
The LA Times publishes an eloquent op-ed by John Vasconcellos asking “What kind of a government carries on a crusade against the will of its voter, favors pain and even death for some of its people?”
Feb. 26 State Senator Tom Hayden introduces a bill, SB 1261, to establish a Commission on Drug Policy and violence that would study the link between prohibition and drug-related violence. Hayden notes, “The economic benefits of illegal drug production and distribution are an incentive for traffickers and dealers who utilize violence as a means of establishing market control... Efforts to suppress this illegal drug production, distribution and use have led to an unprecedented expansion of law enforcement and a military war on drug cartels, resulting in further levels of violence.”
Feb. 28-March 1  “Every 20 seconds someone in the U.S. is arrested for a drug violation. Every week, on average, a new jail or prison is built to lock up more people in the world’s largest penal system.” Thus begins a brilliant two-part feature in the New York Times by Timothy Egan, who debunks the “crack epidemic” and recounts the costs of the prohibition effort -including loss of freedom and widespread misery. Among the many facts Egan cites: “Surplus military gear has also flooded into SWAT squads’ lockers. Between 1995 and 1997 alone the Department of Defense gave police departments 1.2 million pieces of military hardware, including 73 grenade launchers and 112 armored personnel carriers.”
Also in February :  DuPont pays $7.7 billion to acquire the world’s biggest seed company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International.  “The deal establishes the Wilmington, Del., chemicals giant as the dominant power in the rapidly growing cro-biotech industry,” notes the WSJ. “The agreement is a blow to Monsanto, and will rattle the U.S. Farm Belt, where genetically modified crops are spreading like wildfire.”
Five girls die after their car plows into a utility poll; there is evidence they’d been “huffing” Duster 11, a spray used to clean computer keyboards that contains difluoroethane. Some 240 people have died since 1996 according to the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition. Huffing is ranked fourth among all forms of substance abuse by teens. More than 1,000 products contain “euphoriants,” including vegetable cooking spray and typewriter correction fluid. Most inhalants depress the central nervous system and show the heart, sometimes to an irregular beat. A federal study in ’97 estimated that new users of inhalants had increased to 805,000 from 380,000 in 1991, and that most were between the ages 12 and 17.

March 1  Dear Abby runs a letter from Steve Wilcott of San Francisco, criticizing Barry McCaffrey’s “inaccurate statement that Holland has a higher crime rate than the United States due to Holland’s liberal drug policies. In fact, Holland has a much lower crime rate than the U.S. Obviously, Holland’s oderate approach works far better than our draconian criminal approach. The United States should follow Holland’s good example and make a distinction betwen marijuana and hard drugs... By lying about the alleged dangers of marijuana, we cast doubt on the warnings about truly dangerous cocaine, LSD, heroin and designer drugs.”  Abby responds, “I agree that marijuana laws are overdue for an overhaul. I also favor the medical use of marijuana —if it’s prescribed by a physician. I cannot understand why the federal government should interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, nor why it would ignore the will of a marjoity of voters who have legally approved such legislation.”
Also 3/1 A study by the Justice Police Institute in San Francisco finds no correlation between California’s general drop in crime and the imposition of longer, mandatory sentences for repeat felons... Catch-23: In Kentucky,  a U.S. District Judge dismisses a suit that would enable farmers to grow hemp. The judge ruled that the farmers don’t have standing to challenge the law that prohibits growing hemp because they are not being hurt by it; and they are not being hurt by the law because they don’t grow hemp.
March 2  Representative Barney Frank  (D-Mass) reintroduces the “Medical Use of Marijuana Act,” which would set aside federal controls on marijuana, so the states can determine their own policies. Frank’s bill would modify the Controlled Substances Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act so that none of their provisions would restrict
(A) the prescription or recommendation of marijuana by a physician for medical use,
(B) an individual from obtaining and using marijuana from a prescription or recommendation of marijuana by a physician for medical use by such individual, or
(C) a pharmacy from obtaining and holding marijuana for the prescription of marijuana by a physician for medical use under  applicable state law in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed or  recommended by a physician for medical use under applicable State law.” The legislation would reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under federal law, thereby making it legal for physicians to prescribe.
In Albany, New York, more than 500 people of various political persuasions protest the Rockefeller drug laws at the state Capitol. The laws, enacted in 1973 under Nelson Rockefeller, have resulted in more than 23,000 people in state prison for drug offenses, at a cost of $2 billion. Four out of five were never convicted of a violent felony; 17 percent had no prior felony arrests.

March 3  My name is Michael Baldwin.   My wife and I are the defendants in medical Marijuana case in Placer County.  Our case is very similar to the Kubby’s case except our case was presented secretly to the Grand Jury and the DA had us indicted on pure hearsay testimony.  They based our whole case on a .25 g joint.  Who  has ever heard of a .25 g joint....  In our case the sheriff did not find any incriminating evidence that points to sales. No money, no receipts, no prepackaged marijuana, no large quantities of marijuana, and nothing else that points to sales. They only turned up a small makeshift garden and written recommendations establishing its legality.  916-652-9206   I can be reached at (916) 632-7962,  <[email protected]> or
<[email protected]>

Also 3/3  Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock announces that his department is developing guidelines for clinical trials on the therapeutic benefits of marijuana.  Rock’s announcement pre-empts a debate in the House of Commons on a bill supported by the Bloc Quebecois, New Democrat and Progressive Conservatives, as well as prominent doctors among the liberals. Says Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, “It’s been a shame that when there’s something that really works for people, they have to use illegal routes to get it.”
Hilary Black of the Vancouver Compassion Club comments, “If Rock wanted to show good faith, he would put a stay on any criminal proceeding right now that has anything to do with medical use, and that would show that this is real and not just political fluff.”  Law professor Alan Young says the announcement was made “simply to stall and to create the illusion that this government does truly care about the plight of sick people.”  Derek Kent of Health Canada says the government is “working at determining where medicinal-quality marijuana can be located, where it could be legally available.” Young counters, “they’re the only institution that can license a manufacturer, so they keep setting themslves up for failure by saying ‘We don’t have the clinical trials, we don’t have a licensed manufacturer.’ That’s all a product of our government’s policy. Rock hasn’t specified what medical or health indications they’re looking at. Even if they started the trial process tomorrow, it will take four or five years before we see any substantive results or data.”

To insist on more research before allowing medical use is to “laugh in the face of the Canadian public.” —Marie Andree Bertrand

Marie Andree Bertrand, a member of the government’s famous Le Dain commission that in 1971 recommended decriminalization, says that to insist on more research before allowing medical use is to “laugh in the face of the Canadian public.” The research she says, was done and paid for 25 years ago. According to Colman Jones of Now Magazine, the Le Dain commission “cited a series of classified U.S. army studies from the ‘50s showing potentially valuable therapeutic effects from the use of synthetic cannabinoids for everything from fever and epilepsy to high blood pressure.  Says Bertrand, ‘We spoke of all the symptoms that would be alleviated by cannabis. The minister is reinventing the wheel. This is full of bullshit.”
Percentage of Canadians glad that the government is now going to sponsor research: 78.
 
Add Canada Stats
• More than seven out of every 10 drug offenses in Canada were related to marijuana in ‘97 and two-thirds of them were for simple possession.
• Canadians charged with marijuana offenses in ‘97: 47,908 (up from 33,267 in ‘91, belying police claims that it’s a low priority bust)
• Some 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for using marijuana.

March 4 Alaska’s medical marijuana law goes into effect but the Department of Health and Social Services is not yet accepting applications for identification cards (which are required by the law). Republican Sen. Loren Leman, who opposed the measure, immediately introduces a bill that would require users to register with the state (registration was optional according to the initiative, which passed with almost 60 percent). Leman also wants limits on what ailments qualify and restrictions on doctors’ rights to recommend...   A report in Nature overthrows the notion that addiction is a result of increased levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. For more than a decade NIDA-funded scientists have spent millions trying to develop drugs that would “cure” cocaine addiction by blocking dopamine. There is hardly a mea culpa as NIDA turns out to have been dead wrong for two decades.

March 6 The U.S. donates $500,000 in drug-fighting equipment to Zimbabwe’s Criminal Investigation Department —faxes, computers, printers, two sniffer-dog trailers, and funding for two officers to attend a two-week training session in South Africa.  A CID official says the main focus will be on marijuana (dagga)... State Department spokesman James Rubin warns Caribbean countries they’d better “cooperate in the international fight against drug trafficking” or else Madeline spank.  (Members of the Caribbean Community had voted to suspend agreements whereby U.S. forces patroled their countries. )  Jamie blithers, “The growing recognition of the problems of marijuana use and the corrupting and corrosive effect of economic dependency on the illegal trade is provoking cannabis growers to rationalize their illegal activity.”

March 7  Timothy Egan in the New York Times exposes the extent of the police state. “In the federal system, nearly 60 percent of all people behind bars are doing time for drug violations. In state prisons and local jails, the figure is 22 percent...Triple the rate of 15 years ago.... More than 400,000 people are behind bars for drug crimes —and nearly a third of them are locked up for simply possessing an illegal drug.” Egan quotes Ed Meese, Reagan’s attorney general, calling for a review of mandatory minimums.

March 9  Judge George King’s ruling against Peter McWilliams is announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. McWilliams, who is on protease inhibitors, sought to smoke marijuana while awaiting trial. Alternatively, he requested placement in the federal compassionate use program, which has been closed to new members since 1992. “We are not empowered to grant what amounts to a license to violate federal law,” wrote King.  Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. As such, Congress determined that it has no currently accepted medical use.”  Sick?  Call a Congressman.

March 9   The American Journal of Psychiatry publishes a report on treating Tourette’s Syndrome with THC in the form of Marinol.  A 25-year old man who began smoking marijuana on his own at age 19 noted “a marked improvement of both vocal and motor tics and associated behavioral disorders.”  He was followed by a group of German doctors in an uncontrolled open clinical trial. After treatment, the severity of his tics declined markedly. The improvement began 30 minutes after he was given 10mg of Marinol and lasted for about 7 hours; no adverse effects were noted. A doubleblind, placebo-controlled study is now planned.
March 10  District Judge Robert Murphy observes that “the drugs of choice in the Payne County (Oklahoma) area have changed to methamphetamines and kids have changed more to inhalants such as gold paint” during his five years on the bench. Have you talked to your kids about sniffing gold paint?...
March 11   The Clinton Administration asks for $17.8 billion for the drug war in fiscal 2000. The budget has more than quadrupled since 1988 (while availability of illegal drugs has risen and the price of cocaine and heroin has fallen).  Two thirds of the money goes for incarceration and interdiction, one-third for prevention.  The new budget would give the Bureau of Prisons a 13% increase and the FBI a 19 percent increase. The budget for the US Attorney’s office would go up 50 percent.
 

March 14 An LA Times editorial describes Prop 215 as “a carelessly crafted measure, permitting physicians to prescribe marijuana not just for serious conditions like cancer, AIDS and glaucoma, but for ‘any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.’ That’s a huge loophole inviting illegal use of marijuana.” 1. The authors of the initiative were not so careless as to use the word “prescribe,” given the federal constraints on doctors. 2. By passing Prop 215, the voters of California made it legal for patients and physicians to determine which conditions marijuana might be useful in treating. We changed the law —whether or not the Attorney General and the corporate media got the message.
Also 3/14 The Justice Department reports that the number of inmates in the US rose to 1.8 million in 1998 —although crime rates dropped for the seventh consecutive year. Drug offenses accounted for the greatest share of the increase.

March 16  Circuit Court Judge Michael Marcus orders the Portland City Attorney to let defense lawyers review documents of the Police Bureau’s Marijuana Task Force pertaining to a “trap and trace” device used for at least three years to monitor incoming calls to American Agriculture, which sells indoor growing equipment. The police would knock on the doors of the callers and pressure the residents to permit a search of the premises.  [Old-timers will remember when the ominous “knock on the door” symbolized the “totalitarian” police state.]
Also 3/16, in Ottawa, as onlookers weep, RCMP agents smash the indoor growing operation of Aubert Marin, who for 20 years has provided marijuana to AIDS and cancer patients.
 

Minnesota Jesse Ventura withholds support from a bill that would allow a patient with a note from a physician to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana after the Republican Public Safety Commissioner says “it would create a nightmare for law enforcement.”

March 17  The Institute of Medicine releases its long-awaited report on the medical potential of marijuana. The IOM team
• confirms that marijuana has been effective in treating chronic pain, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, lack of appetite and wasting in AIDS patients.
• strongly advocates research into and development of cannabinoid drugs.
• debunks the notions that marijuana is addictive and that its use leads to heroin and cocaine use.
• notes that marijuana has a lower potential for abuse than alcohol or tobacco, and is safer than many commonly used drugs.
However, the report  contains strong warnings about the dangers of smoking, and does not recommend using marijuana in the treatment of Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases, seizures, migraines, glaucoma, and many other ailments for which patients and doctors contend it provides relief.
Barry McCaffrey’s response: “What marijuana legalizers won’t tell you is that a substance found in marijuana can be delivered through various legal means.” [Marinol as the rationale for prohibition... McCaffrey delayed releasing the report for more than a month while his staff developed these moronic non sequitur soundbites.] White House spokesman Joe Lockhart summarizes the party line: “What we found out is that there may be some chemical compounds in marijuana that are useful in pain relief or anti-nausea, but that smoking marijuana is a crude delivery system. So I think what this calls for is further research.”
Dennis Peron looks at the bright side of the report. “Vindication! We were right all the while! The science is there. Is the political will there?”
 
March 18  Testimony begins in the trial of Robert Michael Galambos, 34, from Paloma in western Calaveras County man who was busted in July ’97 with 382 plants which he was growing for the Oakland club, according to a contract signed before the bust. Defense lawyer Tony Serra argues that Galambos believed the clubs were lawful and therefore he could legally grow for them. Galambos is also a medical marijuana user who suffered a fractured skull in a car wreck 10 years ago.  He obtained a doctor’s recommendation two months after his arrest.
Also 3/18 Anna Boyce is invited by assistant sheriff George Jaramillo to visit department headquarters and discuss the implementation of Prop 215. Boyce comments, “When we wrote this it never occurred to us that there would be distribution problems. We always assumed there would be centers where people would go for cannabis, because a few already existed.” This is the key point obscured by Zimmerman’s take-over of the campaign: Prop 215 was a referendum on the buyers’ clubs’ right to operate.
 March 19  Attorney General Bill Lockyer tells San Francisco officials “I have no intention of intervening” against local cannabis clubs -but a low-profile approach is necessary to ward off a move by the federal government. Supervisor Tom Ammiano summarizes the AG’s position: “If we attempt to distribute marijuana to those who are verifiably sick, and if that is not done with an in-your-face attitude, we can almost guarantee that those people’s needs will be met.”  District Attorney Hallinan urges Lockyer to drop charges against Dennis Peron et al stemming from Lungren’s infamous Aug. 4 ’96 raid... San Mateo submits a proposal to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a clinical trial of the effects of smoking marijuana on nausea, anorexia and weight loss stemming from AIDS and cancer treatments.
March 22 Richard Brookhiser, a senior editor of National Review, comments on the IOM report in a New York Times op-ed piece: “I had reached the same conclusions as a cancer patient seven years ago.” [One of the reasons rationality may prevail is that the need for medical cannabis crosses class lines.]
March 23    In San Diego Superior Court Steve McWilliams and Dion Markgraaff plead guilty to maintaining a place for distribution of a controlled substance. The case began more than a year earlier when McWilliams was arrested as he attempted to deliver a van full of plants to a quadrapeligic patient whose garden had been destroyed by San Diego county sheriff’s deputies. The plants were the property of and a gift from the members of the San Diego Cannabis Caregivers’ Club. In exchange for their plea, the prosecution dropped seven other felony charges against McWilliam and Markgraaf. “There’s nothing to be won here,” said Markgraaff. “I’ve been conspiring to help people. I pleaded guilty.”

Also 3/23The Clinton Administration publishes a list of European goods it will subject to huge tariffs if Europe refuses to buy beef from American corporations.  (“American farmers” is how the New York Times describes the rejected vendors.)  European trade officials are worried about the longterm effects on humans of eating cattle raised on hormone-laced feed. The U.S. government is threatening a trade war if the Europeans continue to rely on “faulty studies” questioning the safety of the beef. This same U.S. government  -so confident about people eating trace hormones in their beef- is so worried about the hypothesized longterm effects of marijuana smoke that it will continue imprisoning its own citizens who inhale it. Inconsistent? No -whatever they do they do in the name of science...Why do our experts think all those little girls are getting their periods at age five? All those little boys being born with the urethra coming out at the base of the penis? And how come the meat tastes so much better in Europe?

March 24  At the National AIDS Update Conference in San Francisco, Dr. Joycelyn Elders calls for legalizing marijuana and defines the war on drugs as racist from the start. “Our heroin policies were really racist policies against the Chinese. Our marijuana policies were mostly against the Mexicans. It hasn’t been scientific data that has made the policies in the first place,” asserts the Surgeon General ousted by Clinton. “Marijuana has never killed a single person. Tobacco kills four hundred-some thousand a year. We’ve made  the prison industry a major industry primarily on marijuana.”

March 25  Robert Galambos is found guilty on cultivation charges; the jury deadlocks on possession for sale after a full day’s deliberations. Galambos faces three years in prison. District Attorney Seth Mathews won’t say whether his office will retry Galambos on the possession for sale count.  “We feel that more people are going to be prosecuted because of this,” says defense lawyer Shari Greenberger, “especially in areas like Calaveras County...”  Tony Serra had argued that prosecuting growers who were supplying medical marijuana dispensaries and uses is like ‘legalizing milk and outlawing the cow.” Galambos had declined a plea bargain that would have required him to accept a felony conviction because he aspires to a career in special education. He had been working towards a degree in child development at Columbia College. One of his teachers, attended his trial. She told the Modesto Bee that “Galambos was one of her best students, and had been doing exemplary work with pre-schoolers as part of his training.  ‘He is thoughtful, considerate, sensitive and intelligent,’ she said. ‘We need more people like him going into child development, and if he couldn’t be a teacher it would be a tremendous loss to society.’

March 23    Arsenic levels in some states’ drinking water are high enough to cause bladder cancer, according to a National Research Council study that calls for prompt imposition of lower  limits. The current limit —50 parts per billion— was set in 1942. In 1962 the Public Health Service recommended a limit of 10 ppb for intersate suppliers (the same standard adopted by the World Health Organization). But government policy has remained unchanged all these years while scientists debated contradictory data about the dangers of arsenic. (Although arsenic occurs naturally in some soils, it is also a byproduct of mining and chemical production.)

March 26 Attorney General Lockyer returns from a trip to Washington during which he met with U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey, to discuss the implementation of Prop 215. “‘Both were very clear that medical marijuana use violates federal law,’” Lockyer reported. According to the Sacramento Bee,  “McCaffrey added that a massive research effort is needed to determine if marijuana has any medical value. Lockyer said he told McCaffrey that state law authorizes him to conduct certain marijuana-related research. But McCaffrey told Lockyer he’d be violating federal law and risking arrest [personally!] if he did so. In the short term, Lockyer said, there will be no change in federal policy and California’s law should be improved so solid statutes are in  place if and when the federal government recognizes it.”
Also 3/26  A Gallup poll shows that 73 percent of Americans would “vote for making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering.” The highest support was among independent voters, at 79 percent, and among 18-to-29 year olds (77%). The percentage expressing support for outright legalization was 29% -and you can bet a few of the 1,018 taking part in the phone survey would vote yes in the privacy of the ballot box but not to a Gallup pollster... The United Nations International Drug Control Program will create its own satellite system to monitor the cultivation of illicit plants.

March 30   Representatives of 400 South American tribes challenge a U.S. patent awarded to a California entrepreneur for the main ingredient of a plant called ayahuasca. Their lawyer, David Downes, says, “When people claim as private property something that is sacred knowledge of thousands of people, we fear that patents have gone too far into the public domain.” Turmeric and basmati rice have been patented in the U.S.
Also in March: Sen. John Vasconcellos introduces SB 847, which would fund research on marijuana through the University of California;  and SB 848, a “spot bill” on distribution that will be written after Lockyer’s Task Force has made its recommendations... Montana and Virginia formally call for an end to the federal ban on industrial hemp. The New Hampshire House narrowly defeats a bill that would have made it legal to grow hemp.  The Minnesota Senate passes a bill to allow experimental hemp production, but the House votes it down. The House also nixes a bill that would have authorized the University of Minnesota to conduct hemp research after the head of the Minneapolis DEA office testifies “An illegal drug under a different name is still an illegal drug.” [The goal of the research would have been to further reduce the THC content of hemp.]...
Timothy Jost of Ohio State, writing in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, concludes that physicians are inhibited from prescribing pain medications because they don’t want legal authorities to think they’re abetting drug abuse... Scientists discover that the harmless natural oil that gives peaches their smell also kills fungus and other pests in the soil, and could replace methyl bromide, the widely used soil fumigant that is toxic to people and damages the ozone layer... A federal class action suit is filed in Oakland and Los Angeles to hold the CIA and Department of Justice liable for supporting the importation of crack cocaine into the US (to finance the Contras’ cause in Nicaragua in the 1980s)....The Hawaii House votes to have the state grow an experimental 10-acre crop... Former CIA Director James Woolsey is hired by the North American Industrial Hemp Council to lobby for repeal. The DEA bases its opposition on fears that legalizing hemp would “send the wrong message to young people” and enable farmers to grow high-THC plants without detection. Woolsey and Blandon entering the hemp business at roughly the same time —conspiracy theorists take note.
 The U.S. threatens to retaliate with tariffs on selective European products unless the European Union lifts its ban on hormone-laced U.S. beef...  Steve Howe, a former major league pitcher who was suspended for drug and alcohol use during his playing days, is told he can’t volunteer as a coach for the girls softball team in Whitefish, Montana, on which his daughter plays second base. Pending a background check. Says Howe: “I’m kind of dumbounded by the whole thing,” Right now a lot of damage is being done to these kids and to the program. And for what reason? I don’t know.”

April   Piomelli et al publish a study in Nature Neuroscience concluding that “The endocannabinoid system may act as an inhibitory feedback mechanism countering dopamine-induced facilitation of motor activity.” Both dopamine and anandamide are produced in a structure of the brain called the striatum and released simultaneously. Piomelli’s group at UC Irvine determined that the two neurotransmitters acted in concert.  Working with mice, they blocked the brain’s cannabinoid receptors with an antagonist drug, and produced a surge in dopamine -resulting in the mice developing nervous tics and jerky movements. These symptoms are akin to those of people with Tourette’s syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. If anandamide -the body’s own cannabinoid- has a modulating influence on dopamine, this would explain why inhaling or ingesting external cannabinoids provides some patients with relief from the symptoms of Tourette’s and Parkinson’s....
“State Will Run Out of Prison Space in 2001.”
             —Headline on an A.P. story in the Mercury News.
“Farmers Lobby to Legalize the Growing of Hemp”
                  —Headline on page 1 of The New York Times.

April 7  In San Francisco prospective club proprietors Jane Weirick and Wayne Justman —Peronistas who have been running a medical marijuana delivery service called Compassion On Wheels— meet with Erminia Palacio, MD of the city health department. Their medical director, Tod Mikuriya, asks the city to sponsor a clinical trial testing the efficacy of cannabis in combination with disulfiram in the treatment of alcoholism. He has developed a protocol and hopes to use the new club as the study site.
Also 4/7 The Florida Supreme Court hears arguments on whether 61-year-old George Sowell —who has glaucoma and takes nausea-producing medication to prevent the rejection of a transplanted kidney—  is entitled to a necessity defense. “I’m a law-abiding man,” says Sowell, “but I’m not going to sit here and go blind. It kills the sickness so I can eat and I can see.”

April 10   Beloved Mary Rathbun —Brownie Mary— dies at Laguna Honda nursing home in San Francisco at age 77. Her three arrests for distributing marijuana baked goods to AIDS patients helped educate the people of California about the medical potential of marijuana. She helped Dennis Peron launch the original cannabis buyers club.  Beth Moore and WHO were with her at the end.
“I figure right now she’s making a deal with God. ‘God, if you let me in, I’ll make you a dozen brownies on the house.’”       —Dennis Peron.

April 12  “Today I was in court with Robert DeArkland expecting a preliminary  hearing, instead the district attorney dropped charges for  cultivation  of 13 indoor marijuana plants. Robert was a patient with a doctors  recommendation to use marijuana. I think this might be Sac County’s  first for a felony charge dropped! YEA!! YEA!! YEA!! YEA!! YEA!! YEA!!” —Ryan Landers, reporting live from Sacramento.
• Genentech pays $50 million to settle government charges that the biotech giant marketed human-growth hormone for unapproved uses between 1985 and ‘94.  Why is it that the government continues doing business with corporations caught in the act of ripping off the American people? The defense companies get caught and fined all the time, great patriots that they are.
• The U.S. government, on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, is pressuring poor countries into abandoning a practice called compulsory licensing that has enabled them to buy anti-AIDS drugs. The U.S. holds the patent on ddI, a protease inhibitor developed through federal research; but Bristol Myers Squibb is licensed to sell the drug in Thailand and charges more than the average daily wage). ACT UP plans a march in Washington, D.C., to expose the venal practice.
• Consolidated Growers and Processors, a U.S. company, signs a $25 million contract to build two hemp processing plants in Manitoba, one dedicated to food and one to fiber.  At full capacity, the stalk processing plant will handle 100,000 tons per year and the seed processing plant 15 tons per year. The plants will come on line in early 2001.  The main market for the products is the U.S., where it’s illegal to plant the seeds!
Was the Canadian decision to legalize hemp production a success?  In 1998, 27 farmers planted some 1,700 acres of hemp in Manitoba. In 1999 125 farmers contracted with Consolidated to plant more than 12,000 acres. The gross is almost $500 an acre.  Consolidated has offered to purchase all the seed and stalk the farmers can produce. The seeding is done in May, weather permitting, and the harvest takes place between mid-September and early October.  The plants will be built in Dauphin, about 180 miles north of Winnipeg.
• Consolidated Growers & Processors hires renowned plant biologist Slavik Dushenkov to head its biotechnology and seed breeding units.

April 13   In Auburn, jurors are picked in People v. Baldwin...  In San Francisco, before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers representing the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative dispute Judge Breyer’s closure order. Annette Carnegie argues that Judge Breyer should have required the government to identify members who obtained marijuana on a given day and allowed them a jury trial (and the chance to present a necessity defense). Gerald Uelmen argues that by deputizing the co-op staff, the city of Oakland brought the club into compliance with the federal Controlled Substances Act. An amicus brief by the City of Oakland argues that the right to change the law by popular initiative is an “unenumerated right” protected by the Ninth Amendment.
Also 4/13 Khalid El-Amin, point guard on the University of Connecticut’s NCAA-champion men’s basketball team, is arrested in Hartford’s North End on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.  His first arrest ever.  He’ll apologize and get a day of community service speaking to school children on the evils of drug use.
April 14 Dean Troyer, an Edmonton firefighter who admitted growing marijuana for medical use, is allowed to keep his job.  “It doesn’t affect his job performance,” says the department.
April 15  NIDA director Alan Leshner joins model Kathy Ireland, actress Jaclyn Smith, singer LeAnn Rimes, driver Michael Andretti, Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders, and composer David Foster to kick off the NIDA-Kmart Kids Race Against Drugs program. “This new parternship between NIDA and Kmart is a unique opportunity to reach the nation’s youth, and the adults in their lives, with special, science-based materials developed especially for them,” says the NIDA chief.  Attention American taxpayers:...
NIDA has made the search for addiction-predisposing genes a major goal. “We need to be looking at genes to see whose brain is more or less susceptible to being changed,” says Alan Leshner. And then what are “we” going to do to them? Warn them to be extra careful?
April 16 Merle Haggard explains why he hasn’t played Boston since 1990. New England used to be part of his Canadian tour, but the indignity of crossing the border became unacceptable. “If they find a seed of marijuana in your car or bus, they’ll run it all over the news,” Haggard told the Boston Globe. “I’ve got 30 people working for me. There is liable to be a seed of marijuana. So it makes it very uninviting to go into Canada, knowing that the United States is going to harass you coming back. They snatched some buses from people I won’t name, and buses are not cheap. It costs us seven or eight years of our lives to pay for these buses, and they just take ‘em. Like I say, you can’t personally shake people down that work for you. I’m not going to do that. You don’t know who’s doing what and who isn’t but this ‘zero tolerance’ thing they’ve got going is really amazing. They’ve got private enterprise building prisons now. It’s scary. It’s overkill.”

April 17 the United Nations awards Tajikistan $6.4 million to combat illicit drug trafficking.
April 19   “Andrea Nagy of the Ventura CBC fame received a visit at 1 p.m. They took her and her mom’s 64 plants, along with indoor growing equipment... Andrea works for a lawyer that filed several lawsuits against local law enforcement and it could be some sort of retaliation. She feels devastated and violated.” —Ralph   The raiding party consisted of 20 cops in full riot gear with body armor and laser-sighted weapons. They ignored letters from doctors confirming that the Nagys were bona fide patients. As they left, the cops told the Nagys they would be notified by mail if charges were to be pressed.
Also 4/19 Gen. McCaffrey, in Topeka, tells the Capital-Journal matter-of-factly that the U.S. prison population will grow another 20 percent in the next five years. Somebody somewhere is doing some planning...
As NATO escalates its attacks on Yugoslavia, the U.S. Air Force and the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Southern Command under Marine Crops Gen Charles Wilhelm (McCaffrey’s successor) bicker over how many bases are needed to fight the war on drugs south of the border. Manta, Ecuador and the Dutch Caribbean islands of Curacao and Aruba are favored by the Joint  Chiefs.  The Air Force says it “can effectively launch counternarotics reconnaissance operations over the entire drug source zone”from just one site,” according to Inside The Pentagon. “Air Force refueling planes are spread thin and some fear SOUTHCOM would get the short end of the stick when the service balances its operating priorities.... SOUTHCOM also hopes to establish a fourth site at Liberia, Costa Rica, although negotiations with that Central American nation are on a slower track because of sensitivity there to a U.S. military presence... Site surveyors estimated Manta may need in excess of $100 million in military construction alone to be suitable for US forces.
Also 4/19, The U.S. Office for Protection From Research Risks finds that four Los Angeles clinics run by addiction specialist Walter Ling, MD,  unethically exposed research subjects to risks. The centers are ordered to stop conducting research on new patients.  Just last year Barry McCaffrey awarded Ling a presidential citation and NIDA gave him $4.3 million to experiment with drugs intended to ease cravings. Ling had set up a nonprofit called Friends Research Institute. He chaired the ethics committee that regulated the very studies he and his colleagues were conducting.  According to the feds —doing something useful for a change— consent forms exaggerated the potential benefits of studies while understating the risks. Others misled patients about the right to withdraw from studies.
Also 4/19   Lawyers for Renee Boje fight her extradition from Canada. Boje, 29, was an associate of Todd McCormick’s who moved to Vancouver rather than face trial following the infamous Bel Air bust. In the U.S. she faces a minimum of 10 years if convicted.  Similar charges in Canada would result in a fine and/or a light jail sentence. “ She’s a refugee from the American war on drugs,” argues lawyer John Conroy.   Says Renee, “I am hoping that Canada will provide me a safe haven, as it did for the conscientious objectors to the Vietnam war.”

April 20   Robert DeArkland, a 71-year old cancer patient with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana, files a $10 million false-arrest claim against Sacramento County. De Arkland was busted in February with 13 indoor plants. The DA’s office dropped the charges, citing insufficient evidence.  A retired building inspector, DeArkland said that cops descended on his residence in full riot gear, kept his teenage children from leaving for school, and told his wife they would lose thier home. [His lawyer, Joe Farina, is handling half a dozen medical mj cases in Sacto County.]
Also 4/20, The Arizona Supreme Court reports that a state program diverting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment saved the state $2.5 million in its first fiscal year of operation. Some 77 percent of probationers tested drug free after completing the program...  Celebrex —“Monsanto’s breakthrough superaspirin,” as the Wall St. Journal calls it— “touted as much safer than other pain killers, has been linked to 10 deaths and 11 cases of gastrointestinal hemorrhages in its first three months on the market.” The real number may be 10 times as high, given the FDA’s lame reporting system.
But don’t let ‘em have any marijuana!

April 21  Judge James Garbolino requests that each side in the People v. Michael and Georgia Baldwin submit briefs, and suspends the trial for a week so that he can review the issues. The prosecution had already rested. “The judge will decide if there’s a need for the defense to present any evidence,” according to the Baldwins’ lawyer, Larry Lichter. Disparite standards from county to county amount to a form of discrimination, Lichter argues.  “If someone who grows 146 plants in Alameda county would be innocent, why should you be guilty in Placer County?”
• California State Sen. Hilda Solis introduces a bill whereby the government would provide health insurance for the working poor by 2003.  More than 7 million Californians are currently without coverage...
• “Major Pharmaceutical Companies Post Higher Earnings” —Headline in the Wall St. Journal. Johnson & Johnson up 12% from last year. Schering-Plough up 20%. SmithKline Cheecham up 16%...  In San Francisco, a Superior Court judge approves a settlement under which major drug companies will provide $148 million worth of drugs free to nonprofit clinics in compensation for years of overcharging independent pharmacies. (In an egregious example, HMOs paid $1.75 for 100 tablets of Synthroid, while independents paid $27.06.)  Marin druggist Fred Mayer, who spearheaded the suit, says that under the settlement the drug companies will be unloading drugs they want to get rid off instead of providing ones poor people need. Is there a more evil industry?
April 21  As Celebrex sales dip in response to news of occasionally fatal side effects, Merck’s Vioxx —a drug of the same type— gets okayed by an FDA advisory panel.  The competition is even deadlier. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs —NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and aspirin— are associated with 10,000 to 20,000 deaths a year and 100,000 hospitalizations.)
Also 4/21 JAMA publishes a major study showing  that eating an egg a day does not increase the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. Several generations of Americans were warned otherwise by the medical establishment. Did you hear any mea culpas?
April 22   At the Mendocino County sheriff’s office in Ukiah, Christopher Brown picks up a half pound of stale marijuana confiscated after a 1997 raid on his house. “It’s the first time a person has walked out of a police station with marijuana legally in their hands,” comments attorney Hannah Nelson, who won the case...   In Switzerland a government panel recommends legalizing the sale and use of marijuana. Purchasers would have to prove they live in Switzerland.
April 23  The U.S. Supreme Court considers the Clinton administration’s appeal to let the FDA control tobacco sales (on the grounds that cigarettes are medical devices that deliver a drug, nicotine). An appeals court had ruled that the FDA would be usurping congressional authority. The 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act gave the FDA jurisdiction over drugs and “devices,” both defined as items “intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.”  In 1996 the FDA decided —after confirming that manufacturers added nicotine to cigarets to promote addiction— that cigarets were subject to regulation as drug-deliverers.
Also 4/23  McCaffrey tells the nation’s top ad execs at that if the anti-drug ad campaign succeeds, the federal government will boost funding for other “social marketing programs.”  The government has hired a “scientific survey firm” to query 20,000 children and parents to assess the campaign’s progress.
April 25  The FDA approves Xenical, a new anti-obseity drug marketed by Hoffman-LaRoche.  It blocks the absorption of fat in the intestine and the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as beta-carotene —so patients must take vitamin supplements. It causes diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, “loose stools” and “fecal incontinence.” A one-month’s supply costs $116.  Although recommended only for obesity, it will be prescribed by doctors to people wishing to lose a few pounds.
But don’t let ‘em have any marijuana!
April 26 Dion Markgraff and Steve McWilliams get probation and community service after promising not to distribute marijuana. Markgraff vows to found a political party...  The Libertarian Party of California launches a website —www.215Now.com— to publicize the disimplementation of Prop 215 and the Kubby case.
April 27 Paul Rofe, South Australia’s chief prosecutor, says that the prohibition of cannabis results in young people getting to know dealers who may then turn them on to hard drugs... Robert DuPont, who headed the DEA when they were trying to eradicate marijuana with Paraquat in the late ‘70s,  spins the IOM Report in a misleading op-ed piece in the Washington Post. DuPont falsely asserts that a medicine must “show superiority” over existing treatments to gain FDA approval. In fact, a new drug must show superiority over a placebo in clinical trials.

DION: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE PARTY AND ‘CANNABIS UNIVERSITY?”

April 28  The Colorado Court of Appeals grants Laura Kriho a new trial. In 1994 Kriho was the lone holdout on a jury that would have convicted a 19-year-old woman of amphetamine possession. Kriho was then convicted of contempt because she hadn’t revealed during jury selection that she had a record (for LSD possession at age 19) and worked for reform of the drug laws.  The appeals court ruled 2-1 that the jury’s right to secrecy had been violated.

April 29   “We have just received a report that Judge Garbolino has dismissed the cultivation charges against the Baldwins. The judge ruled that the Baldwins are protected by the Compassionate Use Act, but must still stand trial on the charge of sales. Since there is no direct evidence of sales in the Baldwin case, this is a great victory for them.”  —Jeff Jones.
“The jury hung  6 to 6 on Dr. Baldwin and 5 to 7 favoring acquittal for Mrs. Baldwin. Jurors said that if they had seen the six tubs of cannabis butter, they would have acquitted.” [email protected] PLEASE AMPLIFY

Also 4/29  In Oregon, House Speaker Lynn Sondgrass (a Republican from Boring) squashes a bill by Floyd Prozanski (Democrat from Eugene) that would allow Oregon farmers to grow hemp... The New York Times reveals that New Jersey state troopers have for years enlisted hotel managers and employees to report suspected “drug traffickers.” Among the tell-tale traits: speaking Spanish and asking for a corner room.  The program is based on similar ones run by the feds and the LAPD. Troopers routinely review credit card receipts and registration forms without warrants and falsify the source of their evidence when cases came to court.

April 30   In Seattle, patients whose doctors are afraid to recomend marijuana in writing, publicize their situation by lining up at Harborview Medical Center’s HIV/AIDS clinic, where semi-retired psychiatrist Francis Podrebarac, is willing to do so.   Thomas Hooton, the clinic’s medical director, says the recently passed medical marijuana initiative “didn’t clarify anything for us.”   Harborview and the University of Washington have a task force creating guidelines for doctors. Doctors in the Veterans Administration hospital system have been advised by legal counsel not to recommend marijuana.
• Royal Canadian Mounted Police endorse a call from the nation’s police chiefs to “decriminalize” possession of 30-grams-or-less of marijuana. First-time offenders could be ticketed, fined and spared a rap sheet entry.  Professor Alan Young isn’t impressed. “De facto criminalization is not an effective way to deal with the issue,” he says. “It’s a smoke screen to block serious law reform.”  A report by Toronto Public Health  finds that 19 percent of students and 13% of adults report past-year reefer use.

“De facto criminalization is not an effective way to deal with the issue,” says professor Alan Young. “It’s a smoke screen to block serious law reform.”

Also in April    A phlebotomist is caught washing and reusing disposable needles at a SmithKline Beecham lab in Palo Alto. The media are shocked to learn that phlebotomists earn $8 to $12 an hour, and that the job requires only 10 hours of training...   Public health advocates ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to notify the two million Americans who received radiation treatments in the ‘50s and ‘60s to treat chronic sinus infections that they’re at risk for nasopharyngeal cancer. The CDC says the relevant studies aren’t statistically significant...   Elena Kouri and colleagues at Harvard report in the journal Psychopharmacology that heavy users of marijuana become more aggressive when they go off it.  Alan Leshner, director of NIDA, plugs the study in a press release: “People addicted to marijuana may continue to use the drug at least partly to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms,” according to Leshner...
Thomas Wang and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital report in the journal Circulation that advertising induces doctors to prescribe calcium blockers and ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure over cheaper beta-blockers and diuretics. “Physicians who have been surveyed claim that adverising has little effect on their practice patterns, but common sense suggests that pharmaceutical companies would not spend the money they do if they didn’t have evidence of its effectiveness. Calcium channel blockers were the most heavily advertised medication of any type during 1996.”

May 1 The Oregon Health Division announces plans to charge $150 for cards exempting medical marijuana users and their caregivers from state laws against possession and cultivation of mj. Health officials expect about 500 people to register —generating $75,000 in revenue. The program, with one full-time employee (Kelly Paige, coordinator), will have an annual budget of $105,000.  Paige’s office has received 105 requests for cards since the election... The last May Day of the millenium is celebrated at pro-marijuana marches in major cities. “It’s time to end the war against us and all living things,” says Megan Davies of Santa Cruz...
The American Journal of Epidemiology publishes a major study by Johns Hopkins investigators who found “strong evidence of the absence of a longterm residual effect of cannabis use on cognition.”  They administered a standard mental exam to 1,318, people and then did follow-up exams 12 to 15 years later. Cognition declines with aging without reference to marijuana use, they concluded. The researchers found no male-female differences and no differences between light and heavy users.
May 3  Fox’s show “World Wildest Police Videos” stages chases and other confrontations that viewers think are real, according to an expose aired on “Inside Edition.” A recent fake episode showed a boat chase in which two gun-wielding officers shout at suspected drug runners, “Get on the boat! Get on the deck of the boat! Face down...” Narrator John Bunnell (a former Portland Sheriff) then says that the “suspects” are in “custody,” and that 20 pounds of marijuana they tossed overboard has been found. “These smugglers won’t be seeing the 20 pounds again, but they will be looking at 20 years.”  The deceitful show draws more than 8.3 million viewers.
Time Magazine publishes a favorable portrait of Mel Brown and the Arcata plan (a registration card entitles the bearer to possess a half ounce or less of dried marijuana and up to 10 plants)...  In Congress, Republican Benajmin Gilman of New York, chairman of the House International Relations committee, bemoans the loss of Howard Air Force Base in Panama, “the crown jewel in our fight against drugs.” (The U.S. flew 2,000 “counter-drug missions” a year out of Howard.)
May 6  Dennis Peron has been offered a deal, via attorney David Nick: plead guilty to misdemeanor distribution (in connection with running the San Francisco cannabis buyers club, which might move six to eight lbs in a day), and accept a year’s probation, during which time he could use marijuana.  Dennis is reluctant to accept because 1, “It’s saying Dan Lungren was right in some way.” And 2, a trial would be a way for the movement to regain some of the momentum it has lost under Zimmerman, to reassert radical leadership and goals... Lockyer’s Task Force holds its fourth meeting in Sacramento to discuss the content of a bill that’s supposed to facilitate the implementation of Prop 215... Gen Barry McCaffrey, on National Prayer Day, declares “Never before in our nation’s history has it been more important to pray for our young people.”
Also 5/6, In Toronto, Judge Harry LaForme characterizes as “patently unfair” a new government process by which seriously ill people can apply to use marijuana.  (LaForme had ruled in ‘98 that AIDS patient Jim Wakeford’s right to alleviate pain were violated by the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.)  As part of the application process, Wakeford was asked to name his supplier; Wakeford refused .“I can’t believe the cruelty of this government,” says Wakeford. “They’ve been hoping that I’d croak along the way... I’m sick. I’m scared. I need help, not harassment.”  LaForme grants Jim Wakeford an interim exemption from prosecution and Health Minister Allan Rock says he’ll let it stand.  Some 20 Canadians with chronic or terminal illnesses have applied for exemptions to date.
• Susan Eastman of Tampa’s Weekly Planet reports that prison labor netted $81 million for Florida’s Prison Rehabilitation Industrustries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc., in ‘98. “We are suggesting that companies taking a look at offshore labor look at us first,” she quotes a PRIDE spokesman. “We kind of have a Third World inside our prisons.”  Eastman is one of several first-rate journalists exposing the significance of the war on drugs. Alan Bock of the Orange County Register and Peter King of the Sacramento Bee have also been consistently sharp.
• Michigan becomes the first state to force Welfare applicants to pass a drug test in order to receive financial aid.

May 10  May 10 San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown promotes a program for seizing the cars of people soliciting drugs or prostitutes. Brown used to be a defense lawyer... A network of reform groups publicizes “The Effective National Drug Control Strategy” in a four-page ad in National Review. Its stated goal: “to make a safer and healthier America for our children, reduce the spread of isease related to drug use, lower crime rates related to the illegal drug market and end the racial injustice associated with current drug policy.”
May WHAT  In Tulare county, Penny and CD McKee, both of whom use mj for medical problems, were convicted of felony cultivation for growing 43 plants.  CHECK AND AMPLIFY NBNBNBNB
May 13 Eli Lilly buys time for a half-hour infomercial pushing Prozac directly to consumers. (Lilly expects to sell a million Prozac ‘scripts to children under 18 this year.)...The American Medical Association releases a survey showing that the median income of U.S. doctors in 1997 was $164,000 (meaning half earned more, half earned less). It was the fourth straight year of slight decline, due to managed care... James Woolsey, the former CIA director who now represents would-be hemp producers and marketers, signs a letter in the New York Times calling for more bombing of Yugoslavia. Other signers include “Rabbi” Michael Lerner and “intellectual” Susan Sontag..
The FDA approves SmithKline Beecham’s Paxil for treatment of shyness, which has been medicalized as “social phobia” or “social anxiety disorder.” SmithKline’s CEO says that 17 million Americans suffer from this medical problem. The company will begin its marketing drive by “educating doctors about social phobia.” Then they’ll fund the American Psychiatric Association and two other non-profits to buy ads comparing social phobia to “being allergic to people.”   The manufacturers of Effexor, Zoloft, and Luvox also plan to peddle their antidepressants to shy people.
May 13  By a 15-5 vote, the Alaska Senate passes a bill requiring medical marijuana users to register with the state —a significant weakening of the initiative passed by voters in November by a 3-2 margin. “The idea that the citizens didn’t know what they were doing or that legislators know best is pretty arrogant and obnoxious,” says Democrat Johnny Ellis of Anchorage. Republican sponsor Loren Leman worked with Alaskans for Medical Rights in drafting a “compromise” version of his original bill. David Finkelstein of AMR tells the Anchorage Daily News “We want the money [$58.000 to set up the registration system]. We want the registration system. We just don’t want it mandatory.”

“It doesn’t take away the pain, but it makes it so, in my head, the pain isn’t the only thing that’s there.”  —Bill Kozlowski

A witness opposed to the measure, Bill Kozlowski, a 27-year-old Juneau man with severe hemophilia, eloquently describes the value of marijuana: “It doesn’t take away the pain, but it makes it so, in my head, the pain isn’t the only thing that’s there.” Kozlowski doesn’t want to register because he has no confidence it will remain confidential and marijuana use still violates federal law. “Why should I risk my already short and difficult life to be put on a list that can be used againse me? Would [the legislators]  want to be put on a list for their meart medication or their diabetes medication? I don’t think so, because it is nobody’s business.”
May 13-15  The Drug Policy Forum meets in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of the reform movement and whine about a slight decrease in underwriting from Soros.

Please Mr. Soros, Mr. Soros please
Please Mr. Soros, Mr. Soros please
We’re down on our knees
And we ain’t got a dime!

May 14 Ken Hayes, director of CHAMP  —the largest cannabis co-op in California— is busted with about 800 plants (mostly seedlings and clones) in backyard greenhouses at his Petaluma home. Hayes had patient records on hand to show who he was growing for. The DEA, the Sonoma County Narcotics Task Force, and the Petaluma Police carried out the raid. They also confiscated 10 pounds of bud and $2, 500 cash. Hayes’s bail was set at $35,000. His lawyer, Bill Panzer of Oakland, is trying to convince Sonoma County D.A. Mike Mullins that Ken was growing for CHAMP’S patients —to realize their “right to obtain and use” marijuana for medical purposes under Prop 215.
In the wake of the bust, more than 100 CHAMP patient-members offer to testify that Hayes was growing on their behalf.

Times Reporters Shocked, Shocked
To Discover For-Profit Clinical Trials
May 16  The New York Times publishes a major piece by Gina Kolata and Kurt Eichenwald exposing the fact that doctors who conduct clinical trials are well remunerated by drug companies. (Anyone licensed to practice medicine can conduct clinical trials.) “Once clinical research was a staid enterprise primarily administered by academic researchers... Now it is a mutibillion dollar industry, with hundreds of testing and drug companies working with thousands of private doctors. In this new industry, patients have become commodities, bought and traded by testing companies...
“This new system is a boon for drug companies because it reaches out to a vast pool of test subjects who have never before been available for experimentation... The industry treats research agreements as corporate secrets and contractually forbids doctors to disclose them.”
The Times piece may be part of a push by one group —the academic medical centers— to regain market share.  Which is not to say that every word of it isn’t true. But like the recent revelations by the Guatemala Historic Truth Commission that “we” installed and maintained murderers and torturers in power, the belated truth, the incomplete truth, means little and simply restores a bit of moral authority to the corrupt system.
The “problem” is not simply that doctors accept money from drug companies to enroll patients in clinical trials (and thus have an incentive to maximize the prospective benefits and downplay the risks in describing the trials); equally significant is the incentive the docs have to give the companies the results they want, i.e., that their new products are safe and effective. Common sense suggests that a doc who would massage the entry criteria would massage the results.  Kolata and Eichenwald did not compare the rates at which doctors who report favorable results get rehired by the drug companies (as opposed to those who find adverse effects).  Certainly the drug companies are monitoring the enrollment rates very carefully.
May 17  Part two of the Times exposé focuses entirely on one doctor, a driven internist practicing in Whittier, CA, who skewed countless clinical trials, pressured employees into complicity, seriously jeopardized patients, and was eventually sentenced to 15 months in jail. The implication is that the system is subject to abuse because the drug companies and the government do a very lax job of monitoring the docs conducting clinical trials. As if the answer is tighter regulation...
Some highlights
• “Doctors who recruit the most patients receive additional perquisites, such as the right to claim a coveted authorship of published papers about the studies -even though the truth author is a ghost writer using an analysis from the drug company. Those who fail to meet the recruitment goals are usually dropped from future studies.” This shows how carefully the companies are keeping tabs on the docs, and that they’re operating on the carrot-and-stick model.
• “Testing companies often use doctors as clinical invetigators regardless of their specialty, at times leaving patients in the care of doctors who know little about their condition.”
• “What the patients are not seeing is that the clinical investigator is really a dual agent with divided loyalties between the patient and the pharmaceutical company.”
                                                           —Dr. David Shinn
• “The patient is an object to make money. Having patients is just the dirty price for doing business.” -Dr. Robert M. Califf, director of the Duke Clinical Reseach Institute, on the attitude of the drug companies towards clinical research.
• “Doctors with money at stake may persuade patients to take drugs that are inappropriate or even unsafe. Under the current system of monitoring, such actions are almost impossible to catch and no statistics are collected on such events.”
• Nurses and assistants in the doctors’ offices function as “study coordinators” and also get bonuses for signing up patients.
Murray Lumpkin, deputy director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA sees no distinction between block grants for university research and paying doctors directly.
• “The assumption that doctors can resist financial temptations has been proved wrong repeatedly in other situations... Throughout much of the 1980s, doctors could refer patients to treatment centers —such as physical or radiation therapy sites— in which they had a stake. The practice was outlawed after studies found that doctors were overusing treatment and tests when they had financial interests in the centers that provided them. A 1992 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that doctors with investments in radiation sites prescribed such treatment as much as 60 percent more often than those without the financial conflict.
• For decades drug companies “turned to a trusted group of medical school researchers who dictated how trials were conducted. And the drug companies had to wait in line: Research financed by Government grants was far more prestigious; in the eyes of many academics, drug-company trials were to research what McDonald’s hamburgers were to food.
“In those days... payments went to the university, not to the investigator. The university doctors were often paid a flat fee for their work, no matter how many patients they actually enrolled.”
In the ’90s companies began rushing drug development, aided by FDA reforms that speeded up the approval process.  Academic researchers conducted more trials but lost market share to private-practice docs entering the business.
In 1980, in Tucson, there were eight drug research projects, all but two at hospitals affiliated with the university of Arizona. In 1997 there were 157 being conducted in offices around the city.
“Now, with federally financed research on the wane, it is the academic researchers who are banging on the doors of the drug companies, asking for a second  chance. But they are finding it hard to keep up with the private doctors.” Some academic med centers are setting up their own research divisions to draw on their patients for trials.
• Seventy percent of the docs conducting drug studies in the ’90s had been involved in three or fewer previous studies, i.e., were new to the whole process. A quarter had conducted only one experiment.
 
May 17  The Alaska House approves the bill forcing medical marijuana users to register. “Bill sponsor Sen. Loren Leman said it draws a bright line for police so that they can enforce the law against recreational use of marijuana.” —the Anchorage Daily News. David Finkelstein of AMR urges patients to register... The House also passes a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it harder to get voter initiatives on the ballot.
May 18 The Illinois House votes 78-35 to study the feasibility of legalizing industrial hemp.
May 19  A jury in Santa Monica Superior Court convicts Joe “Hemp” Kidwell, a motorcycle mechanic/marijuana activist, for growing 14 plants on the roof of his Venice office building. Orthopedist Fred Hakmet testified that he recommended Kidwell use marijuana for arthritis and chronic back pain. The jury found no evidence that Kidwell intended to sell marijuana. Defense lawyer Seymour Friedman calls the verdict “illogical” and says he’ll appeal.

“I was not fired for what I did at work. I was fired for what I did on my own time. What this tells me is everybody can be tested. If my job was safety sensitive, there’s not a job in the world that’s not safety sensitive.”
                                               —Ron Smith

Also 5/19An appeals court rules against a ditch tender fired by the Fresno Irrigation District after flunking a drug test. Ron Smith had been awarded $240,000 after a jury found that his privacy had been violated; but the judges decided that random testing was “justified by the hazards inherent in plaintiff’s employment.”  Smith’s comment: “This is a bad blow for the people of this country. A free country? It’s disgusting, disgusting. I was not fired for what I did at work. I was fired for what I did on my own time. What this tells me is everybody can be tested. If my job was safety sensitive, there’s not a job in the world that’s not safety sensitive.”

 B.E.Smith Verdict:
Prop 215 Doesn’t Count
May 19-21 BE Smith is tried in federal court in Sacramento on charges of possession and “manufacturing” of marijuana. Smith was busted in the summer of 1997 for growing 87 plants on land rented from a friend inTrinity County.  After his lawyers unsuccessfully ask Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr., to recuse himself, Smith testifies that experiences during the Vietnam war caused him to start using marijuana; that he subsequently used it as an alternative to alcohol; and that he was growing for himself and others, as sanctioned by Prop 215. Woody Harrelson testifying as a character witness for Smith (whom he met during protests to save the Headwaters Forest) accuses Judge Burrell of “keeping the truth from the jury” by refusing to let Smith cite Prop 215 or medical necessity in his defense.  After the jury gives its verdict —guilty on both counts— Burrell orders Smith taken into custody immediately. Smith is led away amidst exclamations of “We love you, dad,” and “You’re a free man.”  Sentencing will be August 6 in Department 10 at the federal courthouse, 5th and I Street,  Sacto...

May 20  Two multinational drug companies — Hoffman-LaRoche and BASF— admit fixing the prices of vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B5, C, E and beta carotene, and settle with the U.S. Justice Dept for $725 million. (Another member of the cartel, Rhone Poulenc Rorer, cooperated with the prosecution so as not to delay a pending $22 billion merger with Hoechst A.G.) Top corporate execs held secret annual meetings to set precise production quotas, prices, and distribution channels; yet the Roche CEO and chairman have the gall to feign surprise. (By a strange coincidence, Roche was fined $14 million in 1997 fixing the price of citric acid and lysine.) Why doesn’t the government just stop doing business with companies that cheat the public? Corruption really is endemic. The government lawyers occasionally impose some slap on the wrist, the companies give back pennies on the dollars they ripped off from the public, the media act as if it’s all very significant (“a new record settlement”), and the system grinds grimly on.
Also May 20   David Teatsworth of Tacoma is arrested for growing 157 indoor plants intended for 11 Green Cross Co-op patients.  “We had passed a law. I thought everything was okay. I am not a criminal,” says Teatsworth from Pierce County jail. “I had the paperwork. The Green Cross lawyers told me everything was legal because I was acting as a caregiver for the 11 people.”  Charles Grisim of Green Cross confirms that the patients’ co-op had arranged with Teatsworth to grow the plants:  “We’ve got an imbalance in the number of sick people who can grow marijuana and the number who need it.” But Pierce County Prosecutor John Ladenburg says the initiative doesn’t allow an individual to be caregiver for more than one person. And the initiative’s main backer, Dr. Rob Killian of AMR,  agrees with the prosecutor. “The law clearly contemplates one person growing marijuana for one other person,” says Killian. “If Green Cross is claiming otherwise, then they’re wrong.”

May 20  Researchers from Cornell University report in Nature that corn genetically altered to produce a pesticide is producing windborne pollen that can kill Monarch butterflies and other insects.  The pest-resistant corn is being planted on an estimated 10 to 20 million acres in the U.S. this year. It carries a gene from a bacterium that kills corn borers. (God forbid the American consumer should find a little worm at the end of an ear of corn, and have to cut it off the way grandma had to...)  Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed, which grows in and around cornfieds throughout the Midwest.  About half the monarchs that migrate through the cornbelt. “Nobody had considered this before,”  Dr. Fred Gould, insect ecologist at North Carolina State University, tells the New York Times. “Should we be concerned? Yes.”

“Nobody had considered this before”
                                         —Dr. Fred Gould

We’re concerned that nobody had considered this before. How could they not? According to the Times, “Representatives from Novartis Agribusiness Biotechnology, Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., the top sellers of Bt corn, challenged the signifiance of the findings.”  Undoubtedly they’ll fund their own studies so that they can cite “contradictory results” and keep on pumping out the poison.
Winners and Sinners: The Times plays the piece on page 1 and devotes an editorial to it; but the lead contains this doubly misleading line— “Transgenic crops have proved tremendously popular with American farmers in recent years.”  Monsanto et al create tremendous financial incentives to push genetically altered crops; and the farms’ corporate owners are not the ones out there in the field.
  Also 5/20  Great piece by Michael Marciano in the Hartford Advocate about MTV’s crude censorship around the marijuana issue.  Snoop Doggy Dogg can drink while driving and sing about it, but the line about “smokin’ Indo” gets cut. “MTV has enforced a policy —which includes blurring out any images of pot leaves and requiring artists to submit censored tracks— to exclude any and all marijuana references. Guns, gangsters and prostitutes are still acceptable, of course.” MTV is owned by Viacom, Inc.
May 21  The National Institute on Drug Abuse issues new guidelines that will supposedly enable scientists with private grants to obtain marijuana from the supply grown on 1.8 acres at the University of Mississippi. The DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy were in on drafting the guidelines. NIDA will rule on the scientific validity of the proposed studies.
The Institute of Medicine had recommended that the federal government provide marijuana to individual patients who would be participating in “n=1” clinical trials, under their physicians’ supervision. The new guidelines say single-patient studies do not “produce useful scientific information,” and “We do not foresee that they would be supported under this program.”
Study designs will have to follow guidelines from the IOM report —which limit the conditions for which marijuana is considered a promising treatment, limit the duration of trials to six months, and require that subjects try all standard medications prior to enrollment!
“We really believe this will make it much easier for research to go forward,” says Gen. McCaffrey. “Come into my house and I will give you gingerbread,” says HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.
NIDA’s Steve Gust says the government is trying to figure out how much to charge for its “research-grade marijuana.”  Plans call for growing the crop annually, instead of every other year, as had been the practice in the long years of squelched demand.  At present only three studies are using Biloxi boo: Donald Abrams’s at UCSF (weight gain in HIV patients and interaction with protease inhibitiors); Martin et al at the Medical College of Virginia (comparing smoked marijuana to Marinol in treating pain); and WHO at the University of Chicago (comparing smoked mj and marinol in treating nausea).

Local Growers’ Marijuana
Far More Potent Than
Government Experts’
  Dale Gieringer of California NORML notes, “The medical marijuana provided to patients in cannabis clubs is at least three to four times medically stronger than that legally available to researchers and patients from the federal government, according to a potency study sponsored by California NORML  and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
“The study, consisting of three rounds of testing by two different DEA-licensed laboratories, measured the concentrations of THC and its two commonest chemical relatives, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN).
In all, 49 samples of medicinal cannabis were analyzed for potency by standard gas chromatograph mass spectrometry. “The sample showing the lowest THC (3.9% or less) was the government’s own marijuana, grown for NIDA to supply researchers and eight patients. Nearly all other samples tested over 8%, with averages in the range of 12.8% to 15.4%, and many samples above 20%. One sample of hashish (concentrated resin) tested above 44%.
“Our study clearly shows that the underground market is producing better medical marijuana than the U.S. government. High potency pot enables patients to inhale less smoke for a given effective dose of THC.  Based on THC content, the clubs’ cannabis appears to deliver three to five times as much medicine per puff of smoke than NIDA’s.
Gieringer’s study revealed that California sinsemilla contains only trace amounts of CBD or CBN — except for one sample, which contained more than 8% CBD (a non-psychoactive precursor of THC suspected to have anti-convulsant and anti-anxiety properties). “
Despite the evident superiority of the medical marijuana clubs’ products,” Gieringer points out, “They remain strictly illegal under federal law. The government has even acted to suppress their availability by closing down clubs in California... The findings of the potency study suggest that patients would be better off to smoke cannabis from the clubs. It’s irresponsible to require NIDA’s marijuana to be used in human subjects, given the availability of higher-grade alternatives. The time has come to end NIDA’s monopoly on the marijuana supply.”
Gieringer’s study was undertaken soon after the passage of  Prop 215, and was complicated by DEA regulations designed to prevent labs from analyzing illicit drugs. “When it comes to marijuana research, the United States is not a free country,” he says. “In our experience, it’s easier for kids to get high-grade pot at school than for responsible researchers, physicians and patients to get it legally.”

Hitler Staging for Orange Bowl Bash
“Gov. Jeb Bush signed three anti-drug bills into law Friday, May 21, at the Orange bowl in Miami in front of thousands of cheering schoolchildren from the DARE Program...  ‘As long as you choose to stay away from drugs, everything is at your doorstep,’ Bush told the children. ‘You can be a police officer, mayor, governor, or even president of the United States.’ Later, the governor told reporters, ‘It’s important for kids to know there’s a lot of good in this world’ in the wake of the school shootings in Colorado and Georgia.
Moments later, the children watched a phony shootout on the football field between drug dealers and police officers. The Miami-Dade Police Special Response Team, Miami Special Weapons and Tactics, and the Florida Highway Patrol Tactical Response Team took on ‘bad guys.’ FBI brought out its armored personnel carrier, a vehicle that resembles a tank with wheels. As the alleged drug dealers fell to their deaths, the children cheered.”
Also 5/21 Janelle Bluhm, a Portland woman with multiple sclerosis, pays $150  and obtains the first medical marijuana permit issued by the state of Oregon. The FDA approves Merck’s Vioxx, a cox-2 inhibitor, for treating osteoarthritis and acute pain, including menstrual cramps. Existing non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can cause bleeding ulcers and their use leads to more than 107,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths a year. (But don’t let ‘em have any marijuana...) NSAIDS target two forms of an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase, which plays a role in inflammation but also protects the stomach lining. (Think of your two hands as separate forms of the same structure.) Cox-2 inhibitors target only the form of the molecule thought to cause inflammation; thus, it is hoped, they’ll cause fewer ulcers than NSAIDS.
“The government’s approval of Merck’s Vioxx arthritis medication sets the stage for one of the biggest drug-industry marketing showdowns in recent history.” —The Wall St. Journal, noting that Vioxx will compete for market share with Celbrex, the cox-2 inhibitor introduced last year by Monsanto and Pfizer.
 May 23 A national survey in the Chronicle of Education reveals that most drug arrests on college campuses are for marijuana possession. ASK ERIC

“Here’s an unsettling thought: A division of drug giant Merck & Co. may soon have access to your medical diagnosis and discuss with your doctor which drug to prescribe —while you’re still in the examining room.”
—Elyse Tanouye in the Wall St. Journal

John Gettman Says
Scheduling Decisions Are Made
By Health and Human Services,
Not DEA or Drug Czar’s Office
   The Department of Health and Human Services calls the shots when it comes to marijuana prohibition, and the cops at DEA and the general over at ONDCP take the heat. That’s how the process is set up, and it is amazing that HHS gets away with it.
For example, HHS must produce a medical and scientific evaluation for any drug subject to the scheduling process, and schedulikng is based on this document. However, this key document is not even made available to the public —it is only available by way of a Freedom of Information Act request. If you called DEA today and asked to see any scheduling evaulation provided for them by HHS, you will be told that DEA cannot release another agency’s work product that a FOIA request is required.
   That’s another way of saying the documents are classified, or too sensitivie for wide public circulation. However, we’re not talking about the atomic bomb, we’re talking about evaluation s of controlled substances that determine, in the case of marijuana, whether or not millions of pople will be subject to criminal prosecution or not. One of the defining characteristics of scientific output is that it is subject to public review, that it be made avialble to the community —both other other scientists and indeed to the general public. This example should set off alarm bells within the scientific community —it is a procedural technicality, but procedural technicalities are what scientific ethics are all about...
Here is the point of our petition, in a nutshell. If the federal governmentwants to keep marijuana in schedule 1, or if they believe that placing marijuana in schedule 2 is a viable policy, then we’re going to cross-examine under oath and penalty of perjury every HJHS official and scientist who claims that marijuana use is as dangerous as the use of cocaine or heroin. Scheduling is based on scientific analysis, not DEA policy or preference. they hide the evaluations from public critique to obscure this fact, and to make sure that criticism of scheduling decisions fall on DEA and not HHS. This process allows HHS to escape public accountability for their decisions. They are not scientists at DEA. HHS findings on scientific and medical issues are binding on DEA. So it is fairly clear who’s in control of this process —HHS is.
Until 1988, no scientist in the world knew how marijuana caused its charactgeristic effects. The discovery of the cannabinoid recepor system revolutionized understanding of marijuana. Research findings from 1988 to 1994 provide the key scientific basis for marijuana’s rescheduling. In correspondence Thomas Constantine stated in 1995 tyhat DEA did not know of any information that would require new proc eedings. After receiving my petition and studying it for 30 months, DEA admitted in December 1997 that it provided sufficient grounds for the removal of marijuana and all cannabinoid drugs from Schedules 1 and 2. It turns out that there was sufficient information on record, and I conclude that DEA just wasnt’ aware of its significance. After all, they’re not scientists ove there, are they?
But they are scientists over at HHS. They knew about these new research findings; a few of the most important were dsicovered in the labs at the Naitonal Institute of Mental Health. Federal law requires HHS to summarize and publish marijuana research findings every three years, yet this process ground to a halt as soon as Donna Shalala took office as the Secretary of HHS, just as the key receptor discoveries occurred. These discoveries were well publicized in the press and in scientific journals, but they were never summarized in the triennial reports to Congress and the people that are required by law.
The law also requires that marijuana have a high potential for abuse to be a schedule 1 drug, or even a schedule 2 drug. Why, wehn it comes to marijuana, is it okay for the federal government to ignore the laws we, the people, passed in our democratically elected legislature? Why is it that they seek to maintain marijuana prohbiition at any cost? At a cost to the rule of law, and at the cost of over 700,000 arrests per year?
Why is it that the scientists at HHS have known that marijuana does not belong in schedule 1 or schedule 2 and have never acted to remove it?  HHS can begin proceedings itself, without waiting for an interested party to file a petition. I suggest that one of the reasons that the rescheduling petition is currently stalled over at HHS is that several scientists on pthe public payroll over there are wrestling with their consciences over these very issues. Will the loss of scientific integrity become another casualty to maintaining marijuana prohibition at all costs?
I predict that marijuana rescheduling will take two to five years to resolve, depending on the ethics of the government’s scientists. If they acknowledge that marijuana does not have the same abuse potential as heroin, than marijuana prohibition in the United States will have to end.
Medical Efficacy Irrelevant?
The medical marijuana issue is important because therapeutic users bear the greatest injustice... However, legally, it is only relevant if marijuana has a high potential for abuse.  As our petition argues and as the recent Institute of Medicine report confirms, marijuana does not have the high potential for abuse required for schedule 1 or schedule 2 status. While public debate has shifted to the issue of marijuana’s medical use, there has been an unprecedented increase in arrests for marijuana posession and sales ofenses. It may very well be that this shift in public debate has removed a historic constraint on marijuana arrests, and that this lack of public condemnation has encouraged law enforcement to make as many arrests for marijuana use as possible. By accepting medical use as the primary reference point for debate, the reform movement implies that we are willing to concede the legal validity of the federal government’s interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act. Surely, this has not been the intent of the reform movement...
The federal government of the United States won’t follow the law when it comes to marijuana’s regulation, and they never have.  That’s it. That’s the problem.

May 24 Indomitable Grant Krieger, a multiple sclerosis patient on probation for distributing medical marijuana, announces plans to start a cannabis club in Calgary. Krieger says he has stopped visiting his probation officer because “Society doesn’t have the right to tell me how to heal my body or what I may or may not use in the process...” In Vancouver, Hemp B.C. and the Cannabis Cafe are about to close, forced out of business by the city council.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denies a U.S. request to use Venezuela’s airspace for anti-narcotics flights. Watch your back, Hugo...  Pharmacia & Upjohn seeks FDA approval of a new antidepressant called Reboxetine, that increases levels of norepinephrine in the brain. A corporate researcher says, “By adding vitality and color in an otherwise gray life, we can make a real difference for a lot of people.”   Sounds like the ad campaign is already on the drawing boards. Reboxetine is said to have “the same level of side effects” as Prozac. In other words, frequent and signficant... Thomas Constantine announces that he will retire as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Constantine reportedly protested the Clinton Admini-stration’s certification of Mexico as a fully cooperating partner in the War on Drugs. As Administrator Constantine added more than 1,100 agents, raising the agency’s total to more than 9,000 employees.

May 26  Outrageous conduct by a DEA agent is the subject of a hearing in federal court in San Francisco called by Judge Susan Illston to review the 1997 bust of John Dalton for “marijuana production.” DEA Special Agent Mark Nelson seduced Dalton’s mentally ill wife, a longtime cop wannabe, telling her she was an agent of the DEA, even assigning her a “special agent number” which is refered to in over 30 internal reports. She then taped him —even putting a recorder under their bed
Dalton, a mechanic with no criminal record, has been in federal prison in Dublin for two years. He is represented by Tony Serra, who moved that the case be dismissed. “The DEA can’t have it both ways,” writes Mark Heimann, who has tracked the case for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. “If she was an agent, the evidence she gathered was obtained illegally. If she’s not an agent, the information she gathered and turned over to Nelson was probably gathered illegally. Either way, whatever evidence against Mr. Dalton was obtained by recording devices buried in the marital bower, it is protected by marital privlege, and as such, should be tossed, gutting the core of the government’s case.”
May 30  The SF Chronicle runs a long piece about California in the ’90s that doesn’t mention the medical marijuana movement. A graphic timeline lists former Mayor Frank Jordan’s publicity-stunt-shower as a major event, but not the passage of Prop 215.
Also in May Canada’s health department has received some 750 applications from farmers who want to grow hemp and approved more than two-thirds of them —including 25 who will be growing for research purposes... Great piece in the Sacramento Bee by M.S. Enkoji about a black student-athlete from St. Louis attending Lassen Junior College in California; he was entrapped by a female narc who offered him sex and badgered him for marijuana. He sold her 2.1 grams and is now facing five years. He rejected diversion. “I would lose any chance of going into the armed services or getting financial aid for school,” he explained.
 

 

 

 

O'Shaughnessy's
O'Shaughnessy's is the journal of the CCRMG. Our primary goals are the same as the stated goals of any reputable scientific publication: to bring out findings that are accurate, duplicable, and useful to the community at large. But in order to do this, we have to pursue parallel goals such as removing the impediments to clinical research created by Prohibition, and educating our colleagues, co-workers and patients as we educate ourselves about the medical uses of cannabis. Read O'Shaughnessy's Online
 
SCC
The Society of Cannabis Clinicians (SCC) was formed in the Autumn of 2004 by the member physicians of CCRMG to aid in the promulgation of voluntary standards for clinicians engaged in the recommendation and approval of cannabis under California law (HSC §11362.5).

As the collaborative effort continues to move closer to issueing guidelines, this site serves as a public venue for airing and discussing these guidelines.

Visit the SCC Site for more information.