How Much Pot Can a Sick Person Keep?

How Much Pot Can a Sick Person Keep?
Posted by CN Staff on June 30, 2007 at 13:45:02 PT
By Curt Woodward, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Washington State -- This fall, sober public servants will convene a series of meetings across Washington state to answer a pressing question: Just how much marijuana constitutes a two-month supply?That may seem like an odd question for straight-laced government types to tackle. But it's a serious attempt to shore up the state's medical marijuana law, which has been around for nearly a decade without defining the "60-day supply" patients are allowed to have on hand.
Now, after years of unsuccessful attempts to amend the law, the state Health Department has been ordered to spell out how much marijuana makes up that theoretical two-month cache.Prosecutors and police seem generally happy with the change, saying it should help rank-and-file officers determine whom to arrest and whom to leave alone.The American Civil Liberties Union and supportive state lawmakers think it could be the beginning of even broader reforms by the state's Democratic-controlled Legislature.But some patients wish the state simply wouldn't bother, spooked that the government will make the limits too restrictive and spark far more arrests for people in frail health.If the law is going to be changed, dissenters would rather see stronger protection from arrest or an allowance for group growing operations. Defining the 60-day supply, they say, is a do-nothing compromise aimed mostly at pleasing law enforcement."Once again, politics have trumped patients' rights. Once again, politics have trumped science," said Dale Rogers, head of Seattle's Compassion in Action Patient Network, which distributes medical marijuana.Washington's medical marijuana law was approved by nearly 60 percent of voters in 1998, following closely behind California in the first wave of such measures around the country.Under Washington's law, doctors are allowed to recommend marijuana for people suffering from "intractable pain" and several serious diseases, including cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.Marijuana patients still can be arrested and prosecuted, but may avoid conviction by proving a legitimate medical need. And like anywhere else in the country, nothing in state statute shields a patient from prosecution under federal law, which does not recognize medical uses for marijuana.But unlike the 11 other laws that protect medical marijuana users from a state criminal conviction, Washington has never set a specific limit for the amount of pot each patient was allowed to have.In neighboring Oregon, for example, patients are allowed up to 24 ounces of pot and two dozen plants at different stages of growth. New Mexico, the latest state to pass a medical marijuana law, plans to allow up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and three immature seedlings."Law enforcement officers in the field were put in the position of throwing their hands up in the air and saying, 'We'll let the judge and the jury sort that out,'" said Alison Holcomb, director of the state ACLU's Marijuana Education Project.An activist group highlighted the confusion around Washington's law last year when it asked county officials how many plants a medical marijuana patient was allowed for growing their own supply.One county said the answer was easy: Zero. Others had very specific formulas that accounted for the different stages of plant growth."The truth is, nobody's number had any legal precedence or greater validity than your number or my number," said Tom McBride, executive secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys."The cops don't care what the number is as much as they want you to pick a number - any number," said Joanna McKee, a longtime medical marijuana advocate who supports changing the law.So why would some medical marijuana patients and advocates be upset by an attempt to make the law clearer?In some cases, the gray area has served as a legal shield, allowing each patient and their doctor to argue in court how much marijuana they need, said Douglas Hiatt, a defense lawyer who specializes in medical marijuana cases."We can't have an outside health authority dictate to our doctors how much a patient should use," Rogers said.Opponents also fear the limit will end up being artificially low. Unlike standardized medicines, marijuana varies in potency. Add that to the variety of serious conditions it can be recommended to treat, and even one patient's use can change quite a bit.Ric Smith, a longtime medical marijuana user from Seattle, typically lights up before mealtimes to treat the nausea that comes with his HIV medication.In any given week - depending on how he's feeling and the potency of the pot - Smith can burn through anywhere from seven grams to about an ounce. But without it, even the smallest disturbance can be too much to handle."When you're at the top of the roller coaster and you just start over the other edge? It's that feeling, 24 hours a day," Smith said. "A pin drop, a bird flying by, a butterfly landing on your nose - anything will make you throw up."As they prepare for this fall's public lobbying with health regulators, Hiatt and others say they've already got their ammunition: a marijuana dosing study led by a University of Washington rehabilitation-medicine specialist, Dr. Gregory Carter.Following the study's guidelines, Hiatt said, patients should be allowed anywhere from a half-pound to 2 3/4 pounds of marijuana in two months. If the Health Department goes drastically lower, Hiatt said a lawsuit could follow."I know the people of Washington state didn't want lawyers and judges and prosecutors arguing about little piddly details like this," Hiatt said. "Is the person sick? Yes. Are they using it with a doctor's permission? Yes. Then leave them alone."Complete Title: How Much Pot Can a Sick Person Keep? WA Officials To Decide Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Curt Woodward, Associated PressPublished:  Saturday, June 30, 2007Copyright: 2007 Associated Press Marijuana Policy Project Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #4 posted by fight_4_freedom on June 30, 2007 at 21:55:45 PT:
Heres a start
 Help Jack Herer and the Youth Federation end 71 years of cannabis/hemp/marijuana prohibition by placing the California Cannabis Hemp and Health Initiative 2008 (CCHHI2008) on the November 4, 2008 ballot.This initiative re-legalizes cannabis/hemp/marijuana for:(1) Industrial uses(2) Medical uses(3) Nutritional uses(4) Personal use (21 years or older)The signature drive will begin in late November 2007 and continue through spring 2008. We will have just 150 days to collect 1 million valid signatures from California registered voters.You can help by becoming a trained signature gatherer. We will be putting a training video on our site soon.We are also starting a Political Action Committee to raise money for CCHHI2008.To find out more information and to volunteer, please go to:www.youthfederation.comVoice Mail: 831-425-3313
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on June 30, 2007 at 20:24:38 PT
Howard on the Hill
 NEWSLETTER – JUNE 29, 2007 I caught the 3:50 train back to Frederick on Friday.  I placed my cowboy hat on the rack overhead, hung my sport coat on the little hook on the wall and broke out my French vocabulary book. Across the aisle two students for Gallaudet University were ‘chatting’ away, their fingers, hands and arms moving with incredible speed to sign each other. I contemplated my 8 visits that day. I definitely ‘sold’ two quarts of ‘snake oil.’ One staffer’s brother had had a horrific meth problem and the other staffer knew this was Prohibition and the need to do what our grandparents did.  On the other side was a staffer who kept saying drugs cause crime & violence. 20 minutes later I had her (nearly repeat after me) saying that the drug trade/black market causes the crime, violence and death, not the use. As I reflected the progress made, I sighed heavily knowing the road ahead is long and arduous (for the spirit).  I opened my French book and started reading out loud, since I could not disturb the deaf students. At promptly 1550 hours, the MARC train smoothly began the journey home. Little did I know what awaited me there. Scream and Shout: After working out at the YMCA, I flipped on my computer. I immediately went to DRCNET for their weekly stories. Item # 9 leaped off the page and I punched it up. Governor Perry of Texas had signed a bill which will allow cops in Texas to write a ticket for simple possession of marijuana. The bill HB 2391 is nearly identical to one I worked on in 2003. I let out a Texas YEE-HAWW, and various other screams and shouts that lasted two minutes. My housemates were ready to ask 911 to send a strait-jacket to our house. Once Upon a Time in the State Closest to Heaven:  Four and 1 / 2 years ago Mark Stepnoski who had just retired from the Dallas Cowboys after dozen seasons and 2 super bowl rings believed in me enough to fund my first rodeo as a lobbyist. I arrived in Austin, registered myself, found a studio apartment and started on January 10th.  I quickly realized that I was the only full-time lobbyist who wore a cowboy hat & big buckle but no matter, they turned into wonderful marketing tools.  I asked the staffers I first met with to give me feedback on my approach, materials etc. All were helpful, most sympathetic to what I was doing and quickly I learned the ropes.  I decided the best way to win was to meet with the staffers of all 181 offices, make the pitch and watch my bill sail thru the legislature and onto the governor’s desk.  I accomplished the 181 visits but the bill died in committee without a vote being taken.  The bitter taste of defeat lingered, as I rode Misty across the rest of North America that summer. Mark said last night that there was no defeat in 2003, rather the beginning of a victory. He said it was the best money he had ever spent. As I am now engaged in the same education-type campaign on Capitol Hill, I will recall Mark’s words in the dark days ahead, when an end to prohibition seems as far off as ever. ‘You were a virus in Austin, Howard. Four years later the politicians you infected caught the disease and passed good legislation. Way to go!’ Thanks Mark.
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Comment #2 posted by know buddy on June 30, 2007 at 17:13:33 PT:
?? How can anyone other than a DOCTOR make that decision? In California doctors specify on the written approval what amount is appropriate based on the patient's need -- just like any other medication. 
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Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 30, 2007 at 14:30:28 PT
Years from now....
The amount won't be an issue. That's because people will take as much as needed to have an effect. Until then, we must endore this BS. Should we tell people how much alcohol is needed? Same BS.
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