NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- June 16, 2005

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- June 16, 2005
Posted by CN Staff on June 16, 2005 at 15:43:36 PT
Weekly Press Release
Source: NORML
Congress To Continue Prosecution Of State-Authorized Medi-Pot Patients - 161 House Members -- The Most Ever -- Vote To Halt RaidsJune 16, 2005 - Washington, DC, USAWashington, DC: State-authorized patients and their caregivers who use or possess medical cannabis will continue to be subject to federal arrest and prosecution, after the House of Representatives rejected a proposed amendment to bar the US Department of Justice (DOJ) from targeting patients who use marijuana medicinally in accordance with the laws of their states.
The House voted 264 to 161 against the bi-partisan measure, sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). The 161 House votes in favor of the patient-protection provision was the highest total ever recorded in a Congressional floor vote to liberalize marijuana laws. Of those who voted in support of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment, 15 were Republicans (a loss of four votes from 2004) and 128 were Democrats (a gain of 17 votes from last year). The House's only Independent Congressman, Vermont Representative Bernard Sanders, also voted in favor of the amendment.This year's vote came days after the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Justice Department has the authority to prosecute state-authorized medicinal cannabis patients for violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens called on Congress to address the issue of whether the use of medicinal cannabis should be criminalized."With the Supreme Court's ruling, Congress and the Justice Department have a choice: They can choose to waste taxpayers' dollars and undermine states' rights by arresting and prosecuting seriously ill patients who possess and use medical cannabis in compliance with state law, or they can choose more worthwhile priorities, like protecting national security," NORML Executive Director St. Pierre said. "Yesterday, 264 members of Congress chose to prosecute patients."Speaking on the House floor in favor of yesterday's amendment, co-sponsor Maurice Hinchey said, "It is unconscionable that we in Congress could possibly presume to tell a patient that he or she cannot use the only medication that has proven to combat the pain and symptoms associated with a devastating illness. How can we tell very sick people that they cannot have the drug that could save their lives simply because of a narrow ideology and bias against that drug in this Congress? ... Taxpayers' dollars should not be spent on sending seriously or terminally ill patients to jail."Also speaking in favor of the provision were Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and co-sponsor Dana Rohrabacher, along with Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Shiela Jackson Lee (D-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).Congressmen Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Steve King (R-IA), John Peterson (R-PA), Mark Souder (R-IN) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) spoke in opposition to the amendment.Final vote tallies for Hinchey/Rohrabacher MMJ amendment: Drug Enforcement Associated With Higher Levels Of Non-Drug Crimes, Study SaysJune 16, 2005 - Syracuse, NY, USASyracuse, NY: Drug arrests have an adverse impact on rates of non-drug crimes, including violent crimes and property crimes, according to empirical findings published in the June issue of the journal Social Science Quarterly.Researchers at LeMoyne College in Syracuse analyzed five years of New York state county data to evaluate the effects of recent drug arrests on reported rates of assault, robbery, burglary and larceny. Authors found: "Drug enforcement is positively associated with higher levels of both violent and property crime. ... These results are consistent with the view that non-drug crime rates may rise because limited police resources are diverted from [violent and/or property] crimes when drug arrests are given a higher priority, users must finance higher-priced purchases when supplies decline, and sellers pursue alternate crimes when the risk of arrest increases."Authors noted that arrests for marijuana violations were associated with an increase in larcenies, but not other non-drug crimes."For [New York] state as a whole, a 10 percent increase in the mean of [total drug arrests] would increase robberies by 212, burglaries by 576, and larcenies by 2,965," authors estimated. "A 10 percent increase in the mean arrest rate [for marijuana violations] is estimated to generate 880 additional larcenies for the state as a whole."Authors concluded, "The empirical findings raise serious questions about the effectiveness of drug enforcement as a crime-control measure and suggest that significant social costs may arise from existing approaches to drug control."For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Drug Enforcement and Crime: Recent Evidence from New York State," appears in the June issue of Social Science Quarterly.DL: Testing Not Yet Reliable For Cannabis, Study SaysJune 16, 2005 - Ghent, BelgiumGhent, Belgium: On-site oral fluid testing technology is not yet reliable for use by law enforcement to accurately detect the presence of cannabis in motorists, according to a review published in the current issue of the journal Forensic Science International."[M]ore work needs to be done principally in the areas of the sensitivity and reliability of on-site screening devices, particularly for cannabis S before oral fluid testing for DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) will have the reliability needed to be used forensically," the study concluded.To date, roadside oral fluid testing has only been implemented in Victoria, Australia, where critics have charged that the test is often inaccurate. Law enforcement in Britain and several European nations are expected to participate in a forthcoming pilot program regarding the use of roadside oral screening to test motorists for controlled substances.For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Oral fluid testing for driving under the influence of drugs: history, recent progress and remaining challenges," appears in the June issue of Forensic Science International.DL: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: June 16, 2005Copyright: 2005 NORML Contact: norml Website:'s Weekly News Bulletin -- Jun. 09, 2005's Weekly News Bulletin -- Jun. 02, 2005
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on June 17, 2005 at 18:59:59 PT
NORML: Renee Boje Denied Refugee Status
June 17, 2005 - Ottawa, ON, CanadaOttawa, Ontario: The appeal of American expatriate Renee Boje was denied yesterday by Canadian Justice Minister Irving Colter, who has ordered Boje to turn herself in to federal authorities to face extradition to the United States. Boje had been free on bail in Canada while she appealed a February 2000 British Columbia Supreme Court decision ruling that she be extradited to the United States to face marijuana conspiracy charges for her alleged role in 1997 California marijuana case involving over 1,000 marijuana plants.Boje, along with her Canadian husband and Canadian-born two-year-old son, is expected to turn herself in to authorities later today. Boje's lawyer will request that she remain in Canada and free on bail while they challenge the Justice Minister's decision. If indicted federally in the United States, Boje could face a mandatory sentence of up to ten years in prison.In his decision, Colter wrote: "The conduct alleged against Ms. Boje is that she was tending and watering some of the 4,116 marijuana plants being grown in a private, rented mansion in Bel Air, California. I am not satisfied that this conduct can be viewed as an expression of political opinion."He added, "In my view, neither Ms. Boje's belief that her actions were legal [under California's medical marijuana law,] nor the possible conflict between state and federal legislation in the United States of America raise a basis to refuse surrender on the facts of this case." Colter concluded, "I am not persuaded by the length of the sentence that Ms. Boje may serve if convicted nor the conditions under which she may serve it would amount to cruel and unusual punishment such that they would shock the Canadian conscience and compel me to refuse her surrender."Boje filed for refugee status in Canada in 1998 after US federal agents raided the home of cancer survivor and medical cannabis patient Todd McCormick, with whom Boje had a working relationship. McCormick served four years in federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.Boje has been living in Canada, where she owns her own business, for the past eight years.To read the text of the decision, visit: listen to an interview with Renee, visit:
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Comment #5 posted by jose melendez on June 17, 2005 at 15:18:30 PT
commerce clause
I would like to add that as I understand commerce clause issues, officials are incorrectly applying these rules: Our system, fostered by the Commerce Clause, is that every farmer and every craftsman shall be encouraged to produce by the certainty that he will have free access to every market in the Nation, that no home embargoes will withhold his export, and no foreign state will by customs duties or regulations exclude them. Likewise, every consumer may look to the free competition from every producing area in the Nation to protect him from exploitation by any. Such was the vision of the Founders; such has been the doctrine of this Court which has given it reality. "H. P. HOOD & SONS V. DU MOND336 U.S. 525 (1949)
Decided April 4, 1949.As I explained to an investigator for the Office of Citizen Complaints for the City of San Francisco as part of my statement on the record, the decision above is newer than the decision relied upon in Gonzalez v. Raich, and as such applies to statements in restraint of the cannabis trade in that California city: peace, but criminalize prohibition.
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Comment #4 posted by Agog on June 17, 2005 at 09:21:26 PT
CSA enabled by the infamous "commerce clause"
Hi Afterburner,Your question isn't naive at all. In fact the confusion around such things is just one factor that allows these injustices to continue today.The controlled substances act is enforced via the commerce clause (which is now subject to "butterfly effect economics") That is important, because congress in the constitution was allowed to regulate trade between the USA and foreign nations and "among the states" of the union(ie: INTERSTATE Commerce) It is from that power that they have been sticking their noses where they don't belong for 70+ years now. The controlled substances act was not specifically authorized in the Constitution, it was because Congress was allowed trade regulation powers that this was born indirectly. Kap posted an excellent reference about the history of Hemp a few days back. In that volume is great information on how these laws came to be. Unfortunately it also highlighted the corruption back then as well. Even more unfortunately, the only way to end that corruption is to limit the powers of the Federal Govt in such a way as to render them irrelevant, that way there is no economic benefit in creating laws that favor one class of activity over another.... essentially one of the planks of the Libertarian Party if you are interested.I hope this helps... and if there are others out there that can lend more clarity to this discussion please jump in... better understanding of the process will benefit us all.All the Best
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on June 17, 2005 at 08:46:37 PT
Naive Question
Under what provision of the US Constitution is the Controlled Substances Act permitted?
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Comment #2 posted by CorvallisEric on June 17, 2005 at 03:44:27 PT
For map and statistics freaks (comment 1)
Short report with 1 map - Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older - whole report also deals with alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, all illegal drugs, and associated perceptions of risk.Table of contents for the whole report - page containing all the data tables and maps (maps on bottom of page) - quick, totally unscientific look at the maps shows me that there may be a negative correlation (an inverse relationship) between last-month marijuana use and last-month binge drinking. And an even stronger negative correlation between last-month marijuana use and last-month tobacco use. The tobacco map slightly follows the red-blue political divide, especially if you remove the Intermountain West (Mormon Country). Any study using this data should take into account the enormous population differences between the different areas.Also, do people in different areas vary in their inclination to answer honestly? I wish they had a survey asking about alcohol and tobacco and then a question like "We don't want to know about your use of illegal drugs. If we had asked you, would you have answered honestly without any fear or concern? Yes/no/maybe"
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 16, 2005 at 17:23:37 PT
AP: Gov't Finds Highest, Lowest Marijuana Use
Associated Press ReportsThursday, June 16, 2005 
 By Kevin FrekingWASHINGTON - Both college towns, Boston and Boulder, Colo., share another distinction: They lead the nation in marijuana use. Northwestern Iowa and southern Texas have the lowest use.For the first time, the government looked at the use of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and various other substances, legal as well as illegal, by region rather than by state for a report Thursday. Regions could be as specific as Riverside, Calif., or as broad as all of the state of New York (minus New York City). Federal officials say the information will help states decide where they should spend money for treatment and prevention programs. 
For marijuana, 5.1 percent of people around the country reported using marijuana in the previous 30 days. In Boston, the home of Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and several other colleges, 12.2 percent reported using marijuana in the previous 30 days.John Auerbach, executive director of the public health commission for the city of Boston, said the survey might not reflect current marijuana use in Boston because the data came from 1999-2001 national surveys."All that said, we're not surprised that substance abuse is a serious issue in the Boston area," Auerbach said. "The mayor and the health department have made the issue of substance abuse a top public health priority."Auerbach also acknowledged that the data may reflect the city's significant 20-something population."College students in general have a more relaxed attitude about marijuana than other age groups," he said. "But in general, I don't think Boston has a markedly differently perspective on marijuana than other parts of the country."The federal report doesn't explain why certain regions fare worse than others when it comes to smoking pot or cigarettes, or for heavy alcohol use, only that they do.In Boulder County, the home of the University of Colorado, 10.3 percent reported using marijuana during the same time period. But a public health official who has studied marijuana usage there said he too had doubts about the report.Dr. Chuck Stout, the county's public health director, said he has studied marijuana usage among teens. The percentage of high school students in Boulder County who acknowledged smoking marijuana differed little from state and national averages. He said he doubted that students at the university were heavier marijuana users than students at dozens of other universities around the country."Where you have concentrations of younger, active people, you'll have more experimentation with a variety of risk behaviors, but that's true for so many other parts of the country as well," Stout said. "I think this (report) is a huge stretch."Federal officials said they highlighted the marijuana report because it's the most commonly used illicit drug. But the survey also measures 11 other categories.For example, the survey measures binge drinking _ defined as five or more drinks in one setting.Nationally, 20 percent of people age 12 and older reported one or more episodes of binge drinking during the previous month.Boston scored high in that category, too, with nearly 30 percent of respondents acknowledging binge drinking. But the Northeast and Southeast regions of North Dakota reported binge drinking among 32 percent of residents of that age group. Overall, North Dakota had the highest rate of binge drinking when compared with other states _ 29.2 percent."The further north you are, typically, the more alcohol is consumed," said Douglas Wright, a mathematical statistician with the federal government who helped put the report together.On the Net:Government estimates on substance abuse: http://oas.samhsa.govA service of the Associated Press (AP)
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