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  Ohio Billionaire Bankrolling Mass. MMJ Question
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2012 at 19:23:54 PT
By The Associated Press 
Source: Associated Press 

medical Boston -- A proposed ballot question that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Massachusetts is being bankrolled almost entirely by an Ohio billionaire who has backed similar efforts in other states.

According to state campaign finance reports, Peter Lewis, chairman of the board of the auto insurer Progressive Corp. contributed $525,000 to the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, which is supporting the question.

That accounted for virtually all the $526,167 raised by the group in 2011.

Lewis has also backed pro-marijuana efforts in Ohio and Washington.

The Massachusetts ballot question would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis to get permission from their doctors to use marijuana.

The plan also calls for the state to register up to 35 nonprofit medical treatment centers around the state to distribute the marijuana.

A public relations firm representing the Committee for Compassionate Medicine said the goal of the question is "to ensure that Massachusetts patients have the same access to the necessary medical resources to fight debilitating diseases that are available in sixteen other states."

"Peter Lewis and others have provided the initial funding to ensure the Committee for Compassionate Medicine qualified for the November 2012 ballot and to establish a grassroots political organization and fundraising infrastructure for that effort," the statement said.

With that financial boost, the group is hoping to draw thousands of supporters to help convince voters to approve the measure if it reaches the November ballot.

Critics of medical marijuana initiatives say weakening the prohibition against the drug could send the message to young people that smoking pot is no big deal, ultimately encouraging more teens to experiment both with marijuana and harder drugs.

Under the ballot question, the new treatment centers would be authorized to acquire, cultivate, possess and process marijuana, including the development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments.

Those patients allowed to possess marijuana would be issued registration cards by the state Department of Public Health after a physician determines in writing that they have one of the qualifying medical conditions.

Nothing in the ballot question changes state laws against driving under the influence, forces health insurers to cover the expense of the marijuana, or requires employers to allow for on-site medical use of marijuana.

The bulk of the money contributed by Lewis - $350,000 - went to hire professional signature gatherers to collect the tens of thousands of signatures needed to guarantee the question a spot on the November ballot.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts also received $9,000 in consulting fees, according to the records with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Itís not the first time Lewis has waded into the debate about expanding access to marijuana.

Lewis is helping fund a campaign in Washington state to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use.

That question - which would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and impose a 25 percent excise tax on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana - appears headed for the November ballot in Washington.

And in his home state of Ohio, Lewis said last year that he was seeking proposals for a medical marijuana ballot issue for 2012.

Last month, backers of a ballot question to legalize medical marijuana were given the OK by the Ohio attorney generalís office to begin collecting signatures to put it on the November ballot.

The amendment to Ohioís constitution would also allow those with a debilitating medical condition - including cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and Crohnís disease - to use, possess, produce and acquire marijuana and paraphernalia.

It would also authorize vendors to make and distribute the otherwise illegal drug and set up a state oversight commission.

If the Massachusetts question lands on the November ballot it wonít be the first time that voters here have been asked to change state law regarding the drug. Generally they have been receptive.

In 2008, Massachusetts voters overwhelming backed a 2008 initiative which decriminalized the possession of an ounce of less of marijuana. The law instituted a $100 civil fine instead.

Then in 2010, advocates placed 18 nonbinding advisory questions on local ballots in communities across the state to get a sense whether Massachusetts voters would support another overhaul of marijuana laws.

Nine of the questions supported the use of marijuana for medical reasons while another nine backed legalizing the drug outright, allowing the state to regulate and tax it.

Voters responded to the questions with a resounding "yes." Support ranged from 54 percent in some districts to up to 70 percent in others.

Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Published: February 7, 2012
Copyright: 2012 The Associated Press

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Comment #10 posted by ekim on February 09, 2012 at 07:47:51 PT
listen to the clip many feedstocks can be used
why are we distracted by Keystone pipeline that will bypass local communities for refineries on the gulf and never hear about these local (hear audio in which it is stated that local biofrfineries means 40-50 mile radius from where the crop is grown) bio-refineries that will produce fuel in a renewable way.

is the Volt a flex fuel burning engine as most of GMs fleet now is.

also notice that no figures were mentioned as to how much ethanol from cellulose can be made. the NREL National Renewable Energy Lab has tested switchgrass for ethanol how many gals did they get. Are they being asked to test Hemp.

Maybe Rep Issa will hold a hearing as to who would add more jobs in the USA the Keystone or local bio-refineries using cellulose and which one will be better for National Security.

this cellulose plant is being built in Iowa

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on February 09, 2012 at 06:58:55 PT
I suppose a weak medMJ law is better than none. Political opponents will hate to see it pass, that's one thing to look forward to!

But it doesn't pass the smell test. Something is fishy. As I mentioned the "legalization" initiative in WA does not allow growing either. One might draw the conclusion that someone wants to create a market for cannabis products while heavily restricting supply - priming the market for future corporate control perhaps? I always urge people to draw their own conclusions, don't accept mine.

But this state is already awash in cannabis, you can't get arrested for it anymore. the problem for most patients, and recreational users, is affording it.

There's also concern that this creates a perception that cannabis plants are something terrible that must be heavily controlled at all times, which is not good for the legalization issue.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by dongenero on February 08, 2012 at 20:18:30 PT
Right to grow indeed
I couldn't agree more. It's such a simple's a plant! To take the potential for small scale production, for self or provider need, out of the hands of patients or caregivers is a bad precedent to set. I'm not opposed to dispensaries or even some government supply. Some people facing new cancer diagnosis for instance, do not have the luxury of time and have immediate need. Others have ongoing need however, and certainly should not be so limited from producing it themselves if they wish. Pretty basic symbol of freedom, or lack thereof it seems.

We don't really need government subsidizing private industry via monopoly to bilk the ill with price fixed and controlled production and access. It's just a plant after all. Though a very special one.

Big Pharma, patented or monopolized medicine, government over reach, is not needed or warranted here. They really just need to get out of the way.

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Comment #7 posted by John Tyler on February 08, 2012 at 19:37:11 PT
slightly off topic
Here is something I saw the other day, a web site called Iím not sure all that it does, but it seems to be a place where various activists can join together around an idea and generate lots and lots of support and get things done that one person alone could not accomplish. Itís worth a look.

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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 08, 2012 at 18:09:24 PT
Oh No Sam
I don't understand why they do it that way.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on February 08, 2012 at 15:52:57 PT
the disturbing thing about this is that Peter Lewis came in and pretty much steamrolled over local activists with this ballot language.

He's denied us the right to grow our own medicine, a goal for which local activists have fought for 20+ years. Every local ballot question and medical MJ bill filed by local activists for the last 10 years included personal growing for patients. Everything we have indicated a referendum with personal growing passing by over 30% victory margin.

The current medMJ bill in our legislature features personal growing of 24 plants per patient and was co-signed by 35 other legislators. Seriously, we've all been working on this goal for many years. Now Peter Lewis has come in filed this language that does not allow personal growing.

It also forces everyone to register with the DPH to become a patient, something that the Maine legislature actually just repealed in order to ensure privacy for their patients.

But Peter Lewis didn't give us that either. Also, the DPH will be allowed to set the amount of medicine that patients can have, and many other rules, again taking away rights that we had specified in our legislation.

Perhaps most disgruntling for locals is that fact that a political consulting firm - Rasky/Baerlein - was brought in to write the law. This firm was founded by a corporate attorney for Eli Lilly in Boston and remains Eli Lilly's PR, consulting, and lobbying firm for the state of Massachusetts. The same people that were out in the media running Lilly's defense of Prozac when the suicide scandal came out have written our new medMJ law.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by museman on February 08, 2012 at 10:46:45 PT
Yes, I have to agree. I feel quite strongly about economic corruption...but it takes a bit of fortitude to do something like that. I respect that fortitude, if not the money...or the perceived need for it.

I have know people in Mass that could benefit.

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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on February 08, 2012 at 10:08:01 PT
Thanks Mr. Lewis
It's fortunate for our common cause that we have someone so benevolent as Mr. Lewis to assist in such matters.

Of the $526,000+ Lewis contributed, $350,000, some 2/3 was simply to hire professional signature gatherers. It would be nice if our movement could muster enough volunteers for such activities but, it's no trivial matter to gather enough valid signatures. I don't recall the requirement for Ohio but, in many states the requirements are in the hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Of course, it would be nice if we didn't have to go to such lengths. If only our Representatives had the huevos and morality to stand up for citizens, to stand up for the spirit of the Constitution. Polls clearly show the broad support among most Americans.

But this isn't the case. Instead we have our individual votes and thankfully a few wealthy and thus influential people like Mr. Lewis who are intent on doing the right thing, for all of us.

500k is nothing compared to what we have to fight in terms of resources that are in place to maintain the status quo. Perversely, it's mostly our own tax dollars we have to fight against.

We all need to do what we can. And I know I could do more, and plan to in the coming year.

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Comment #2 posted by museman on February 08, 2012 at 09:30:05 PT
voluminous message
"... Peter Lewis, chairman of the board of the auto insurer Progressive Corp. contributed $525,000 to the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, which is supporting the question.

That accounted for virtually all the $526,167 raised by the group in 2011."

Wow! There's all kinds of ways to look at that.

Won't even go where the prohibs would go, but there is some serious statement about the nature of political movement.

It's all about the money.

It's not about freedom, rights, common sense, legality, lawfulness, ethics, or any of the many terms used to falsely justify all the power that is in the wrong places for the wrong reasons. It's simply about whose palms gets greased sufficiently.

I don' know about anyone else, but I am sincerely done with supporting this system in any way, shape, or form.

The compromises that are urged by those who continue to uphold their 'livelihood' by supporting the numerous pervading falsities of the status quo system of values and 'ethics' (LOL) are as criminal as the 'laws' they are supposedly attempting to change. The culpability of the american laborer is more than most are willing to admit.

If the only way to get justice is to buy it from the 'justice system' then where's the 'justice?'

Oh the platitudes that could be leveled against this awareness are as numerous as the lies, obfuscations, and tenets of the capitalistic system of greed and exploitation. The most uncomfortable witness I have to bear in this fight, is the willingness of the slave to defend their masters.

But in the long run, they will just go down with the ship-of-state that is currently riding below the water line and taking on water fast. But in the meantime they just keep getting in the way.

It is a good thing that someone with resource is applying some of it to this purpose, but isn't there anyone else besides me that sees the problem?

As long as we continue to put value on money and it's false power (even though almost everyone is deeply programmed to believe in it) every effort to achieve true freedom and some balance to this society is doomed to fail. So that each generation has to fight their masters for a little ground to live their lives upon, and the masters just keep on ruling, waging war, death and destruction nonstop, without much worry about any serious challenge to their false authority, because they got everyone believing in their game.

As we move towards the next WWIII that our 'leaders' and their money masters are setting up, there is a counter movement of consciousness and awareness. But that awareness and state of being can only exist within those who have rejected the false stone of the builders, and sought the real stone of life -there is no compromise, no middle ground in this. Compromisers and capitulaters are just minions of the satanic rule.



[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by greenmed on February 07, 2012 at 20:43:38 PT
just two things
Mr. Lewis has been very generous to our cause. His support in getting medi-cann to those who need it and who can benefit from it is much appreciated.

There are two provisions I would like to see in any proposed legislation...

permitting home-growing, and given that,

protecting "compliant" home grows (those grows having a canopy area consistent with the number of patients being served) with a health professional's note, even if the grower chooses not to enroll in a government registry.

[ Post Comment ]

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