Medical Pot Rules Leave Patients with Questions
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Medical Pot Rules Leave Patients with Questions
Posted by CN Staff on March 01, 2010 at 13:34:07 PT
By Diana Hefley, Herald Writer
Source: Herald News
Washington State -- Turns out growing marijuana plants indoors under artificial light without soil may be easier than sorting out the state law that allows sick people to use the stuff.Since Washington voters passed the medical-marijuana law in 1998, patients have been frustrated over how to get marijuana and abide by the rules. Police officers must juggle how to leave authorized patients to their bongs and brownies without letting drug dealers walk.
The legal haze played out in the criminal trial of a medical-marijuana patient in Snohomish County earlier this month. A former Bothell woman denied allegations she was a drug dealer. The 24-year-old claimed she was an authorized patient growing marijuana for medical treatment.A Snohomish County jury waded through math problems and gardening lessons trying to find justice.During three days of testimony, a witness at one point used paper cups in an attempt to illustrate the marijuana gardening cycle. Lawyers argued over whether a plant without roots should count as part of a patient's 60-day supply. The judge questioned which parts of a marijuana plant are usable.Meanwhile, jurors wrestled with a law that says patients can use marijuana as medicine but offers no guidance for buying it legally.The jury acquitted the Bothell woman in under three hours. They were convinced her pot was for medical purposes, not back-alley deals.“Fortunately, these are infrequently going to trial, but I'm not surprised there is confusion,” said Alison Holcomb, the drug policy director for the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.Qualified patients can possess a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. They need a doctor's note and an identifiable medical condition, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis. They also need proof that common treatments have failed in their case.The law doesn't say how patients are supposed to acquire marijuana. It also is silent on how much pot constitutes a reasonable 60-day supply.Legislators tried to offer some clarity in 2007 when they asked the state Department of Health to provide a guideline for a 60-day supply. Health officials arrived at 24 ounces of usable marijuana — that's 1.5 pounds — plus no more than 15 plants, at any stage of growth.But those limits still are just guidelines and not part of the statute, said attorney Natalie Tarantino of the Snohomish County Public Defender's Association. She represented the Bothell woman in the medical marijuana trial.“I think the law is murkier than most,” Tarantino said.If a case gets to court, a judge or jury will be the ones who decide how much marijuana a person needs to treat their ailments, said Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock.Every medical marijuana user is different, and most of the cases never make it to trial. The Bothell case was the first in Snohomish County since the law was enacted.Prosecutors and police aren't interested in arresting and prosecuting sick people who are trying to follow the law, Baldock said. But as long as it's illegal to use, possess and distribute marijuana, these cases are going to be investigated, he said.That's why more needs to be done to protect authorized patients and providers, Holcomb said.The law doesn't decriminalize marijuana. It only allows patients an affirmative defense at trial. They still must prove they are a patient with a doctor's permission.“We don't think that's what Washington voters intended when they passed the law,” Holcomb said.The ACLU would like to see authorized patients free from prosecution. Medical marijuana patients shouldn't be arrested for marijuana-related offenses, Holcomb said.Lawmakers also need to tackle how patients get medical marijuana, she said. Patients must grow their own, designate a grower who can only provide for one person, or buy it illegally. They also must be able to prove to the doctor that pot helps their symptoms.That means a person must illegally experiment with marijuana first, Tarantino said.“Does that mean we're sending grandma with glaucoma out on the street to buy marijuana?” she asked.That can be worrisome for doctors. By discussing the benefits of marijuana, physicians can be opening their patients up to legal problems.Dr. Gil Mobley attended the Snohomish County trial to get a sense of how these cases are being prosecuted. Mobley, who runs a medical office in Missouri, plans to open a Seattle clinic specializing in marijuana treatment. He's concerned some doctors are rubber-stamping authorizations and leaving patients vulnerable to prosecution.Mobley also is worried that some are using medical marijuana as leverage for legalization. That's misguided, he said: Medicine isn't for recreation.“I don't think pot should be available to everyone,” Mobley said. “I can't be in favor of it without regulations.”On the other hand, patients who have found relief with marijuana shouldn't live in fear of criminal prosecution, he said.Police also say there are inherent dangers in growing marijuana. Fires break out as growers pack small rooms with lights, fans and filters. Patients also may be at risk of home-invasion robberies.“We tell people to be careful,” said Baldock, who works with the drug task force. He prosecuted a double murder in Everett where the couple tending an indoor pot farm were shot to death during an attempted robbery.Holcomb said much of the confusion, frustration and fear could be cleared up if the state gave the green light to controlled and regulated dispensaries.Dispensaries, particularly in California, have drawn criticism from some lawmakers, police and neighbors. Some of the hundreds of shops sprouting up are merely fronts for illegal drug operations and havens for crimes, they complain.Holcomb pointed to New Mexico, where the state licenses nonprofit growers to provide marijuana to qualified medical patients. “Patients need somewhere safe to obtain quality medical marijuana and a consistent supply so they don't have to go to the black market,” she said.King County Prosecutor Dan Satterburg in 2008 said his office would be looking “with a very lenient eye” toward medical marijuana patients, including those operating cooperative gardens and sharing with other authorized patients.A similar directive hasn't cropped up here. Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe said that for years the office has considered small-quantity marijuana possession cases a low priority. Still, the law is the law.“When our laws change on marijuana, our efforts to enforce them will change,” Roe said.Source: Herald News, The (Fall River, MA)Author: Diana Hefley, Herald WriterPublished: February 28, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Herald NewsContact: editor heraldnews.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on March 02, 2010 at 09:29:46 PT
Minnesota News
Medical Marijuana Advocates Drop 2010 Push, Will Wait ’Til Pawlenty’s GoneMarch 2, 2010URL:
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 02, 2010 at 08:42:39 PT
New Hampshire AP Article
NH House Considering Decriminalizing MarijuanaMarch 2, 2010Concord, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire's House is considering decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults — a year after the Legislature voted to legalize medical use of the drug.Gov. John Lynch vetoed the medical marijuana bill and opposes the new House bill to decriminalize possession of one-quarter ounce or less of the substance. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday. The bill does not address medical use.Anyone under age 18 caught with one-quarter ounce or less would be subject to a $200 fine. The youth's parents would be notified and he or she would have to complete a drug awareness program and community service within one year of the violation. Failing to comply would result in a $1,000 fine.Copyright: 2010 The Associated PressURL:
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on March 02, 2010 at 08:07:27 PT
Employed by Westword; Smoke and Report 
US CO: Marijuana Reviewer William Breathes: Yes, I Do Inhale
 Webpage: 25 Feb 2010Source: Westword (CO) Marijuana Reviewer William Breathes: Yes, I Do Inhale
If you'd told me six months ago that I'd have a job with Westword that basically required me to smoke pot and then give readers my take on toking, I would have asked you for a hit of whatever it was you were puffing on.
And you would have passed it to me, and it would have been some pretty strong shit -- because here I am, several months into my gig as the first medical marijuana critic in the nation (alongside my cohort in cannabis criticism, the Wildflower Seed), writing the weekly Mile Highs and Lows.The first thing friends ask when they discover my alter ego (aside from whether I have any good pot on me), is this: "What's it like?"Here's what it's like. I try to go to dispensaries in the afternoon before the after-work rush so I can hang out a bit. Lately I've been going to shops that were suggested to me by other patients -- either in passing at other dispensaries, through comments on the blog, or from friends with their medical marijuana patient cards. I like to get a feel for the place and talk with the bud-tenders about what they recommend when they hear about my particular preferences and problems. Although I've been smoking pot recreationally and medicinally for nearly fifteen years, I've been a medical patient for the past year because of ongoing nausea and stomach pain that has hospitalized me countless times. Pot not only helps curb the nausea, but it also eases the anxiety that comes with more severe episodes.I knew what I was looking for in terms of bud quality when I started this, as I've been spoiled with amazing organic, soil-grown herb for some time. But I'm not a snob. I've seen some incredible hydroponic herb, and I'm always open to anything grown well. Some of my favorite strains are OG Kush, Super Silver Haze, properly grown Trainwreck, Jack Flash, Island Sweet Skunk, old-school Fort Collins Cough and (as overplayed as it is) Sour Diesel. I try to buy grams of different herb from each shop for variety; in fact, I'm quickly running out of places to put all the little medicine jars they keep giving me.Cont.
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Comment #2 posted by EAH on March 01, 2010 at 21:12:15 PT:
oy -vey
I don't to point out to everyone here what an Alice in Wonderland legal situation exists in WA and in there own ways, every other MMJ state.
This is like trying to establish a legal exception for medical use of alcohol during 
prohibition, state by state. Trying to parse out every variable with this legally is 
just a joke, as we see here. The answer to this is to split all questions on this away from the criminal justice system. 
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on March 01, 2010 at 19:10:44 PT
a person must illegally experiment with marijuana 
that is the rub. “I don't think pot should be available to everyone,” Mobley said. “I can't be in favor of it without regulations.”On the other hand, patients who have found relief with marijuana shouldn't live in fear of criminal prosecution, he said.when the Gov spends millions of our hard earned treasure on
only finding fault, the people must stand and say yes Regulations are the only way to have justice.but understand clearly all options are on table.
like Montel Williams said on Stossel -------i have serverd
this Country would you deny me the right to make a living and pay my is not a question of why someone finds comfort it is how the person acts in this socity that counts.we must study all aspects of this great plant.the french are using a hemp based concrete as are the brits -- the poor 
souls in haiti and chile could be helped with this information and grow the plant to help as most 
of the trees have been all cut down."CRDs" - A Government-Funded, Anti-Cannabis Study Grant
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