A Lawyer Who Wants to See the Pot Called Legal

A Lawyer Who Wants to See the Pot Called Legal
Posted by CN Staff on November 19, 2002 at 22:53:53 PT
By Lynda Richardson
Source: New York Times 
Ruth M. Liebesman wants the point made that serious people are involved with the newly reconstituted New York City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws; Norml, for short.Ms. Liebesman, who is 44 and a criminal defense lawyer, keeps bringing this up. She looks serious  and tired, her brown hair still damp as she sits in a Midtown hotel for breakfast. She did not get home until 2:30 a.m. from the group's coming-out party at Tobacco Road, a Hell's Kitchen bar.
No, she says, she did not light up."I'm actually a very straight person," says Ms. Liebesman, who is wearing a conservative plaid skirt and a gray turtleneck that brings out her piercing blue eyes. "I'm not even much of a pot smoker. I have to have credibility as a criminal defense lawyer. I have to be above reproach."I smoked plenty of weed in college, and wouldn't it have been a shame had I been arrested, branded a criminal and not able to go to law school?"Ms. Liebesman is tough and focused. This is exactly where she wants the interview to be. She lets loose about the need for legalization of marijuana, railing about the waste in time and money of arresting tens of thousands of pot smokers in the city, particularly now with budget cuts and terrorism concerns."That's a simple lack of perspective and a failure to prioritize," she says.Just about now, though, the conversation runs off track. Outside, two or three suspiciously large kangaroos, perhaps as many as five, stride grandly across West 44th Street and into the hotel. It is a distraction.Ms. Liebesman swings around to watch. She's not humorless. She quips that they may be Norml members. The kangaroos, their fake marsupial ears flopping, are apparently on their way to a promotional event.Other odd matters arise, best left for later, like Ms. Liebesman's recollection of seeing an unidentified flying object at age 18. She's not eager to discuss this when it is broached, nor the mysterious cuts she says were found on her body after she had a dream.Getting back to the marijuana. She's asked if changing the drug laws has become more politically palatable. The issue was prominent in the campaigns of Tom Golisano, the Independence Party candidate for governor, and John F. Greco, the Libertarian Party contender who previously headed the Norml chapter.Ms. Liebesman, eating scrambled eggs, pauses. "I think it's a good time, but the government lags," she says.Things are that bad, eh? "It's a crossroads time," she adds. "I think we have a lot of work to do, but if we make our positions clear and explain to people what we are trying to do, they will agree with us. I just see the laws as causing more harm than the drug. The drug laws have completely failed. Illegality does not prevent people from obtaining their drug of choice."She became executive director of the embryonic New York City chapter of Norml, a Washington-based group, three months ago. She says the chapter began in August 2001, but got off to a bad start. So, did Norml get any juice from its $500,000 advertising campaign earlier this year? Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was the centerpiece, with an offhand remark he made on the campaign trail about his marijuana use: "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."Ms. Liebesman, the group's legal director then, looks serious again, grim. "Unfortunately, that was squandered," she says without pointing fingers. "There was a lot of press then and it was a good opportunity for New York Norml to jump in. I wasn't running it. And I don't know why it wasn't jumped on."She shifts in her chair. She would rather outline goals. She wants to discuss drug reform with the mayor. She wants action on a state law enacted in 1980, but never implemented, to allow the use of medical marijuana.Ms. Liebesman, a solo practitioner with an office in the financial district, has handled a slew of drug cases. She has defended people who buy and distribute marijuana to AIDS patients who say the drug fights nausea and loss of appetite.She also became friends with Uri Geller, the self-proclaimed psychic, after helping him work out a settlement in a dispute over attorney fees. In the mid-1990's, she was staying with Mr. Geller and his wife when she says she awoke to find blistery cuts. She says her doctor told her they looked like classic laparoscopy incisions. "I said, `I never had a laparoscopy,' and that was that," she says.The cuts vanished in four weeks. "I have no idea what it was," she says.She is more certain about her U.F.O. sighting in Pennsylvania. "I believe U.F.O.'s are out there, sure," she says. "Out of all the billions of planets, I don't believe this is the best God is capable of doing."EVEN as a child, when parapsychology became an interest, she says her mother had a hunch she would become a lawyer. She studied law at Suffolk University in Boston. "I was the criminal defense attorney for my siblings from the time I could talk," she says. "If they got in trouble, I'd jump to their defense."She was born in England, the daughter of a United States Air Force doctor, and grew up mostly in Westfield, N.J. She lives in Cliffside Park, N.J., with her boyfriend, a sports agent.As breakfast is cleared, Ms. Liebesman is looking alarmed. She doesn't want to come off as a screwball, diverting attention from Norml's mission. She calls later and mentions she is a member of Mensa, the high-I.Q. group.So, how to tie all this back to Norml? Who knows. Ask the kangaroos.Source: New York Times (NY)Author:  Lynda RichardsonPublished: November 20, 2002Copyright: 2002 The New York Times Company Contact: letters Website: NORML NORML Archives
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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on November 20, 2002 at 09:37:27 PT:
Speaking of "Tobacco" Road:
Remember those BLF "studies" that proposed that 3 cannabis joints are more destructive to lung function than 20 tobacco cigarettes? British Study Warns of Health Danger of Cannabis's hear what Richard Cowan has to say about them.British Lung Foundation Cons Media. Blaming Cannabis for Problems Caused By Prohibition. Tripping Over the Party Line. The Media Fell For It, As Usual, But UK Anti-Tobacco Group Does Not. 
Posted by Richard Cowan on 2002-11-19 13:50:04 
The article itself is a tendentiously selective review of a variety of old and relatively new studies, accompanied by 90 footnotes. Perhaps they were hoping that the quantity of citations would be sufficient, because the quality definitely is not. Their most frequently cited expert, Donald Tashkin, has concluded that even heavy cannabis smoking does not impair lung function. You have to find that in the footnotes. This analysis is the intellectual equivalent of scooping up after the circus parade. Unpleasant, but it is all too easy to see where they are going. For technical reasons I have divided this analysis into three separate postings. 
Read Full Story... Test of British Lung Foundation Report Including Misleading Press Release. 
Posted by Richard Cowan on 2002-11-19 13:33:10 
It is sad that a leading charity would subvert its mission to support cannabis prohibition, but that is exactly what the BLF is doing.
Read Full Story... to British Lung Foundation Report Plus NORML's Comments. 
Posted by Richard Cowan on 2002-11-19 13:20:29 
You have to wait until footnote #50 to find out that the leading authority that they cite throughout has concluded that basic respiratory function is not damaged by even heavy marijuana smoking. That would seem to undermine the premise of the article.
Read Full Story...
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Comment #5 posted by goneposthole on November 20, 2002 at 08:35:06 PT
distance traveled
The word 'quadrillion' needs to have parentheses.5.8697136 quadrillion miles (corrected).
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Comment #4 posted by goneposthole on November 20, 2002 at 08:26:45 PT
A UFO traveling at the speed of light from a distant star with planetary system that could harbor life, let's say, some 10 light years away would have to have incredible size. 365.25 days times 24 hours times 60 minutes times 60 seconds equals 31,557,600 seconds in a year. 31,557,600 seconds times 186,000 miles per second equals 5,869,713,600,000 quadrillion miles in one 
year's time traveling at the speed of light. A space traveling machine moving that fast would have to have some potent engineering behind it's hardware.Unless there is some kind of time warp to shorten those distances, I believe the feat is highly implausible if not impossible.Of course, I could be very wrong. Ezekiel saw the wheel."I'm not much of a pot smoker."-Ruth M. LiebesmanShe should smoke a lot more to get a grip on reality.If she can grope through the muck of cannabis prohibition to get it legalized, I will congratulate her. History will be very kind to her.
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on November 20, 2002 at 06:48:54 PT
I cannot think of ANY public issue where the press tries so hard to discredit advocates. Marijuana is a funny, giggling, substance, but there is NOTHING humorous about the marijuana laws. Would the NY Times be laughing about Saddam Hussein arresting Kurds? Would they ridicule Kurdish advocates? How is marijuana any different than any other political dissent?No, it's pure BIGOTRY. Just imagine an article on a black civil rights advocate in the 50's...."Mr. Washington disucussed how hundreds black people are still being lynched in the South each year. His white teeth flashed in the light as he talked around the issue of his legendary capacity to eat vast amounts of fried chicken. At one point, his eyes turned to the street as two street vendors wheeled their watermelon carts by. But the civil rights struggle isn't too big a bale for this stout fellow to heft....." We see stuff at least this bigoted every week from media outlets all over the country. The Canadian and English media don't seem to have a problem dealing with it as a serious issue. What a coincidence they also banned slavery 50 years before us.
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Comment #2 posted by DdC on November 20, 2002 at 00:43:38 PT
Did JFK Use Medical Marijuana?
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 09:43:14 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" stanford
From: Dale Gieringer mailto:canorml
The revelation of President Kennedy's medical records by historian Robert Dallek, showing that he suffered severe chronic pain and spasms from spinal damage and colitis plus anxiety and insomnia, raises the distinct possibility that JFK experienced the medical benefits of marijuana.It has long been rumored that JFK smoked marijuana. I spoke to a musician who played in a band that accompanied Kennedy around the country during his 1960 campaign. He told me that he witnessed JFK smoking a joint on the train; a group of secret service agents closed in to screen him from view while he lit up, but my acquaintance got a glimpse of him through the crowd. Many patients use marijuana to relieve the same problems JFK suffered:  back pain & spasms, colitis, anxiety and insomnia. My bet is that JFK did too. After all, his records show that he used a virtual pharmacopoeia of now-controlled substances, including methadone, Demerol, codeine, Ritalin, librium, procaine and barbiturates. Gieringer, Cal NORML
This is about Kennedy's use of drugs...
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Comment #1 posted by DdC on November 20, 2002 at 00:19:35 PT
An association of lawyers and judges encouraging examination of the consequences of the drug war 
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