Local Nonprofit Sense Momentum for Cannabis

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  Local Nonprofit Sense Momentum for Cannabis

Posted by CN Staff on May 03, 2009 at 06:55:38 PT
By Scott Shenk 
Source: Daily Progress  

Virginia -- To help battle pain and other problems caused by his debilitating bone disease, Irv Rosenfeld used to take multiple daily doses of at least eight prescription medications, including strong pain pills Dilaudid and Percocet. Rosenfeld no longer takes any of those medications to curb the effects of his disease, multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses.
Nowadays, the Florida-based stock broker, who routinely takes disabled children sailing and plays softball, relies on just one medication: Cannabis sativa, commonly known as marijuana. "Without cannabis, most likely I would be homebound and on disability. That's if I was alive," Rosenfeld said this week in a phone interview. "It has literally made my life bearable."Rosenfeld is one of just four participants grandfathered into the now closed federal Compassionate Investigational New Drug program. The 56-year-old has been in the program nearly 30 years, during which time he has continued to push for cannabis to be legalized for medicinal use. Rosenfeld is not alone, as there has been a surge in recent months by pro-medicinal cannabis activists pushing for changes in law. One local activist group, Patients Out of Time, for years has been at the forefront of the fight to make cannabis legal medicinally. Based in Nelson County, just across the Albemarle line, POT is run by Al Byrne and Mary Lynn Mathre, and Rosenfeld is on the group's board of directors. They think that, with a presidential administration that appears to be open to their cause, now is the time to win the fight to make cannabis a legal medication -- and they believe the change can come at the federal level. Yet there are still many activists and government agencies that condemn marijuana as a dangerous drug that should remain illegal. When Byrne was a youngster, his father told him marijuana was evil and his son believed it. When Byrne was 22, his father was diagnosed as having liver cancer, and eventually succumbed to the disease. Chemotherapy treatments made his father deathly ill, and a doctor told the younger Byrne to get his father marijuana. After smoking marijuana, Byrne said, his father was able to eat and hold the food down. Byrne, a Navy veteran who is now 66, has been a believer in medical marijuana ever since.  Experiences Lead To Activism  Mathre, who for two decades was an addiction specialist consultant with the University of Virginia Health System, had similar experiences as a Navy nurse who has seen patients treated with medicinal marijuana. She has also written articles and books on medicinal cannabis. Both have testified in front of agencies and in court hearings in favor of medicinal cannabis. In the 1980s and '90s, Byrne and Mathre were on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In 1990, the couple helped to orchestrate a conference at which several of the federal medicinal marijuana patients spoke. It was covered live by C-SPAN. Afterward, Byrne said, NORMAL was inundated with thousands of phone calls. "And Mary Lynn and I realized we were onto something," he said. "Patients were the key."So the couple informally started their own activist group, which in 1995 officially became POT. In 2000, the couple began hosting conferences touting the legitimacy of medicinal cannabis research, something the federal government for years has said didn't exist. They have held three conferences. The last, in 2004, was held in Charlottesville and co-sponsored by the Virginia Nurses Association, the Pain Management Center and UVa's medical, law and nursing schools. Byrne said he has made it a point over the years to stay in the federal government's face on the issue. He and Mathre now see real potential that the fight can be won.  Is Science Clear?  For more than 30 years, cannabis has remained a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is considered to have the highest potential for abuse; there is no medically accepted use for it; and it is unsafe for use under a doctor's supervision. Byrne considers the government's stance absurd. "The myth out there by the government and people who believe the government is that [cannabis] hasn't been recognized as a medicine yet," he said. "There is no logical explanation for the government's approach."He said research has proven cannabis' medicinal value, noting a study sponsored by POT in which four of the federal Compassionate Investigational New Drug program patients were thoroughly tested and the results showed that cannabis helped relieve their symptoms with minimal side effects. There also is the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Researchers there have reported positive results of smoked marijuana in HIV patients and in a study focused on alleviating nerve pain, for instance. There is much more medicinal cannabis research being conducted worldwide. But others are not convinced of cannabis' medicinal value or they believe science can isolate the herb's medicinal properties and thereby create a safe drug. Steven Steiner, founder of Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers, believes legalizing cannabis is a bad idea. "My stance on marijuana is it is not a benign drug that people equate it to be," he said. "It's a drug that intoxicates people who make bad choices."He admits that cannabis seems to help some with their health problems, but said science can, and has in the form of Sativex, isolate marijuana's medicinal properties without the need to smoke it. Sativex is a cannabinoid-based oral spray that was developed by United Kingdom-based GW Pharmaceuticals, and it has been approved for use by multiple sclerosis and cancer patients in Canada. It also is currently undergoing late-stage studies in the UK and in the U.S., according to GW's web site. Steiner believes pro-medicinal cannabis advocates are afraid of Sativex, which he said could be "the nail in their coffin."The Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency also are not convinced of cannabis' medicinal value. The DEA Web site section on its stance concerning cannabis (last updated in May 2006) clearly states that the department does not believe marijuana has any medicinal value. Indeed, the DEA describes marijuana as dangerous. "Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety," the site says. "It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers."Mathre and Byrne believe the federal government for too long has used propaganda and lies to keep cannabis illegal. "This whole thing is ludicrous," said Mathre. Still, Byrne believes it is only a matter of time before medicinal cannabis is legal on the federal level. "We're about to win here in the United States," he said. "We have the science."  A Long Fight Nearing End?  Recently, there appears to have been a shift in medical marijuana attitudes. Legislation to make medicinal marijuana legal is pending in four states. There are 13 states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. ( Virginia has a law, passed in 1979, that permits doctors and pharmacists to prescribe marijuana to cancer and glaucoma patients, but because marijuana is illegal federally, there is no legitimate way for the drug to be prescribed. )In March, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department would no longer raid marijuana dispensaries that comply with state laws, a reversal from the Bush administration. Significant hurdles remain, however, and Jon Gettman knows this better than most. Gettman, the leader of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, has filed petitions with the DEA to have cannabis rescheduled. His original petition in 1995 was denied on a technicality. But he refiled the petition in 2002. The newer petition has stalled for years, but he said last week that a decision could come sometime this year. "It's alive and well," he said. He said the petition relies on some 350 scientific research articles and clearly spells out that cannabis should not be a Schedule 1 drug. The ultimate decision will be made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which currently is considering his petition, said Gettman, a senior fellow at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. He also teaches courses at three other universities and is a writer, researcher and policy analyst. "We do expect some movement in the near future," he said. Yet, he acknowledges that with the Barack Obama administration stuck in the long process of filling positions, there could be more delays in a decision. Either way, he is more confident in his case than in the past. "We think we have a pretty good case," he said. "I'm confident in the science and the law."While marijuana is habit forming for some and has negative side effects for others, Gettman said it is more comparable to Schedule 3 and 4 drugs, which are legal for medicinal purposes. Like Gettman, Byrne and Mathre, Rosenfeld believes others will eventually be allowed to do what he has been doing for nearly 30 years -- legally use medicinal cannabis. "We will persevere," he said. "We will win. It's right."Newshawk: Hope Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress (VA)Author: Scott ShenkPublished: May 3, 2009Copyright: 2009 Media General NewspapersWebsite: http://www.dailyprogress.comURL: Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #13 posted by FoM on May 04, 2009 at 07:05:27 PT

Thank you. I put the news on my Million Marijuana March Page but I can't get in the server to post it. I lost Ron's phone number and I am trying to get an email to him so I can get these articles posted.
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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on May 04, 2009 at 06:57:59 PT

FoM #1 - More on Toronto's GMM & Freedom Fest
Saturday May 2.
Toronto Freedom Festival with multiple stages featuring musicians, vendors, artists, exhibitors and speakers addressing human rights, environmental issues and alternative medicines happens Sat. noon to 8 p.m. (free). Queen's Park North. torontofreedomfestival.comHemp, freedom go hand in hand. 
Rita Zekas. May 2, 2009. The Gerbz, who is co-founder of today's Toronto Freedom Festival, has an extensive background in the music and club industry.

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Comment #11 posted by Yanxor on May 03, 2009 at 20:53:40 PT

I sense the momentum
There's a lot of legislation going on to that effect.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on May 03, 2009 at 16:42:52 PT

Just a Note: Global Marijuana March
I updated this page with a few articles from The Global Marijuana March but I can't get it uploaded for some reason. I didn't want anyone to think I wasn't trying to update the page but I just can't.
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Comment #9 posted by kaptinemo on May 03, 2009 at 11:57:22 PT:

Prohib prostitute Steiner strikes again
The man who pimped himself to Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which produced the drug (OxyContin) which played the final part in killing his son...yet he rails against Purdue's behest.I have vastly more respect for true practitioners of the 'oldest profession' than I do for Mr. Steiner; most are quite honest about their motivations. But Steiner? He doesn't have to act like an intellectual prostitute, but he seems to relish the role he has taken upon himself. In Dante's Hell, the 8th Ring is for Hypocrites as well as Evil Counselors and Deceivers; Mr. Steiner and his prohib buddies will feel right at home...
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 03, 2009 at 11:04:16 PT

I know it wasn't you. I think people that want to have guns should have guns. I don't think of guns one way or the other. Some people really have no interest in guns and that doesn't mean they are against guns. I don't like how Republicans say that Democrats want to take guns away when most of them aren't around guns and don't think about guns but concentrate on issues that are important to them. I think a person can buy one gun a month or so I read somewhere. That would mean a person could have 12 guns in a year and 60 guns in 5 years and 120 guns in 10 years. That's a lot of guns. You'd need a big house to make room for that many guns I would think. LOL! 
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on May 03, 2009 at 10:54:33 PT

How do people get phone numbers?
I suspect it's random computer picks through phone directories and similar, if not the same, sort of public directories for the addresses. 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 03, 2009 at 10:51:37 PT

It wasn't me. I know you know I agree with NRA about a lot and have been a member... but I wouldn't give anyone's name to anyone about anything. I wouldn't have even been a member, if it weren't that my husband was and wanted to sign me up, too... besides I got a cool belt buckle out of it. I was a Junior Forest Ranger, too... but I wouldn't send ole Smokey the Bear your address.God knows how they choose people to mail to. They also have membership drives aimed at women. Guess you missed that one.Junk mail. 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on May 03, 2009 at 10:21:16 PT

 Had Enough 
That sounds weird. How do people get phone numbers? I couldn't believe it but we actually got a call from a person wanting us to support the NRA. My husband didn't appreciate the call. They wanted to only speak to my husband. I guess women's opinions aren't important or they could have asked me instead.
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Comment #4 posted by Had Enough on May 03, 2009 at 10:05:40 PT

Marijuana Phone Poll NOT a Scam, Just Confusing
So let me be the first to say that this all has been much more confusing than I would have ever expected.To rehash for everyone, the other day I was contacted by a fellow marijuana supporter telling me to call 973-409-3274 to “help legalize marijuana”. I called the number, but something didn’t seem right to me since there was no identification whatsoever for who was conducting this poll. I chose not to vote and, instead, started googling to hopefully figure out who was behind this number.The first bit of information I found claimed that the number was related/endorsed by, however, I could not find any information which would support this claim on’s website. I sent an e-mail off and got a reply from Ben Rattray (founder and CEO of who dismissed the claim and denied any endorsement for the number. Update: has posted its own reply to this confusion.Some claims made regarding the number said it was a “national census” being conducted, others claimed it was directly related to specific pro-marijuana bills which needed support.It appeared that there was much mystery/controversy surrounding this combination of digits which made it appear very shady.Thankfully, though, we have reached the end of this adventure and have finally figured out what exactly this number is, what is is not, and, most importantly, who owns it.I was up fairly late last night updating this whole escapade with new information, planning to realease a follow-up article to various social networks this morning. Before I could do so, however, I noticed a new twitter message which claimed that it was not a scam and was owned by Humor Hotlines (most famously known for their “reject-hotlines“).When I checked out their website, I did notice that they had a section for a “Marijuana Legalization Endorsement Line”, but the number was not the same as the one in question.In this same block of time, I received an e-mail from an intern at (the apparent owner of Humor Hotlines), saying:Hello, my name is Michael. I am an intern with RH Brands in Atlanta, Ga. We manage a portfolio of hundreds of humorous hotlines that you may be familiar with such as The Rejection Hotline, Psychiatric Hotline, It Could Always Suck More, and Call to Santa. you can find out more at Today, I ran across some tweets of yours saying that our Marijuana Legalization Endorsement Line (973-409-3274) is a scam. I just wanted to let you know that we aren’t scamming anyone. All of our numbers are completely free to call, and we fully intend on sending a petition to Washington once we reach 1,000,000+ endorsements. Although most of our services are humor related, this particular line isn’t. Sorry for any confusion. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding the number, and have a good day.Finally! Looks like we are making progress…Through Michael, I was able to get on a phone call with Jeff Goldblatt, President and Founder of who helped clarify everything.What appears to have happened is an unfortunate series of events which started with Goldblatt’s company creating a legitimate phone-poll petition in hopes of legitimately presenting it to people in the government through various contacts. RH Brands is not an actual political/advocacy group and has no major connections or affiliation with any political group/person which could ensure something like this would “make it in front of the Preisdent” (as so many messages online made it appear to be), and in Goldblatt’s own words it is a “half-a-step-better” than calling your congressman.RH Brands did not misrepresent itself, though… it just probably should have represented itself a bit more. Due to the fact that Goldblatt wanted the poll to be taking seriously, he did omit adding “brought to you by Humor Hotlines” and admits that this was–in retrospect–probably not a good decision (as it aided in the confusion).What appears to have happened is a few rogue users wanted to help spread this phone number so they invented stories to make it seem more legitimate (by claiming it was backed by, for example). We all know how the game of “telephone” works, and as one person told another and that person told another, the story began to slowly evolve into the various ones currently seen throughout the internet.So let me break it down simply into what this number is and what this number is not:What this number is:
·	This number is one of many numbers created by the novelty-number company Humor Hotlines. 
·	Unlike other numbers from HH, Goldblatt claims this is a legitimate poll being conducted which he plans to compile and give to various contacts within the government in hopes that it will be presented to Congress and President Barack Obama. 
·	This number is completely free and has apparently no known risks/fees associated with it outside of normal cell phone charges/minutes used/etc. 
·	If the number reaches a certain amount of votes (1,000,000), HH has every intention to follow through and send the compiled petition to the government. What this number is NOT:
·	A scam. 
·	This number has no relation with any political group or marijuana advocacy group. 
·	Endorsed by any politician, political group, advocacy group, or any person/group in a position of political authority. 
·	This number has no deadline. 
·	The number has no more power/authority to legalize marijuana than any other petition created by people online (however, every bit helps). 
·	Though some have claimed to have received charges after calling this number, it must have been coincidence or confusion because the number does not appear to create any charges (though if you can prove to me it does, feel free to contact me). So… should you call it? If you want to, yes… there doesn’t appear to be any harm in it and it actually may end up being a good petition. But please do not think that you are directly helping to “legalize marijuana”, and definitely do not tell others it is backed by groups which have no idea what it is.Honesty is crucial and when people lie to get others to do something–even if they think it is right–things like this happen.I apologized to Goldblatt for the confusion, however he was very understanding and even admitted that he himself is wary of things that sound “too good to be true” and understands why I was warning others to be cautious. While Humor Hotlines has undoubtedly benefited from the mass confusion regarding their number, it is clear that this is not the fault of Goldblatt’s company… rather, it appears to be the result of some trouble makers online and the ripple-effect of social networking.I’d like to thank him again for taking the time to clear things up and hopefully now that the mystery is gone surrounding this number people can begin calling it for what it is, rather than calling it under the false-assumption of it being something it is not.

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Comment #3 posted by John Tyler on May 03, 2009 at 08:13:15 PT

Keep on keeping on
I have been following this debate for decades. Lately, we have seen a change in the tide of opinion. The prohibitionists’ argument has grown weaker and more feeble and is basically based on fear, whereas pro-legalization people have a message of hope. The Republicans and their prohibitionist ideology have reached an all time low point in power, influence, and popularity. The last resistance is the entrenched law enforcement bureaucracies who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, but I think that can be overcome too. We can do this. We are doing this. Keep up the good work.     

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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 03, 2009 at 07:32:51 PT

Michigan: Royal Oak Considers Pot Zone
May 3, 2009URL:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 03, 2009 at 07:24:44 PT

Canada: High Times at Freedom Fest
May 03, 2009URL:
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