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NORML Attorneys file multiple constitutional challenges to federal medical marijuana crackdown

NORML Attorneys Matt Kumin and David Michael, with attorney Alan Silber, have filed suit in the four federal districts in California to challenge the Obama Administration’s recent crackdown on medical marijuana operations in the Golden State. Aided by expert testimony from NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano and research from California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, the suits seek an injunction against the recent federal intrusion into state medical marijuana laws at least and at most a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act with respect to state regulation of medical marijuana.

*** JOIN US AT 1:00 PM PACIFIC TODAY FOR NORML SHOW LIVE’S INTERVIEW WITH ATTORNEYS KUMIN AND MICHAEL. You can view our live stream at http://live.norml.org or by visiting the “Audio/Video” link on the menu above ***

The NORML attorneys allege the federal government has engaged in entrapment of California patients and their caregivers.  They point to the courts’ dismissal of County of Santa Cruz, WAMM et al. v. Eric Holder et al. where the Department of Justice (DOJ) “promised a federal judge that it had changed its policy toward the enforcement of its federal drug laws relative to California medical cannabis patients.”  So after 2009, California providers had reason to believe that the federal government had changed its policy.  The legal argument is called ‘judicial estoppel’, which basically means that courts can’t hold true to a fact in one case and then disregard it in another.

Kumin, Michael, and Silber also argue the government has engaged in ‘equitable estoppel’, which most people commonly think of as ‘entrapment’.  That is to say, you can’t bust a person for committing a crime when the authorities told him it wasn’t a crime to do it!

Under established principles of estoppel and particularly in the context of the defense of estoppel by entrapment, defendants to a criminal action are protected and should not be prosecuted if they have reasonably relied on statements from the government indicating that their conduct is not unlawful. That principle should be applied to potential defendants as well, the plaintiffs in this action.  Such parties, courts have noted, are “person[s] sincerely desirous of obeying the law”. They “accepted the information as true and [were]…not on notice to make further inquiries.” U.S. v. Weitzenhoff, 1 F. 3d 1523, 1534 (9th Cir. 1993).

The US Constitution figures prominently in the legal challenge as well.  The 9th Amendment says that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  The NORML attorneys argue that threatening seizure of property and criminal sanctions violates the rights of the people to “consult with their doctors about their bodies and health.”

The 10th Amendment provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  The NORML attorneys argue that the States have the “primary plenary power to protect the health of its citizens” and since the government has recognized and not attempted to stop Colorado’s state-run medical marijuana dispensary program, it cannot suggest Colorado has a state’s right that California does not.

The 14th Amendment says that all citizens have equal protection under the law.  The NORML attorneys argue that the federal government:

1. Actively provides cannabis for medical purposes to individuals through its own IND program.
2. Actively allows patients in Colorado to access medical cannabis through a state-licensing system that allows individuals to make profit from the sales of medical cannabis.
3. Actively restricts scientific research into the medical value and use of cannabis to alleviate human suffering and pain.

Thus, according to Kumin, Michael, and Silber, the government can’t be allowing Colorado medical marijuana commerce, engaging it its own IND program that mails 300 joints a month to four federal medical marijuana patients yet squelching all attempts to study medical value of marijuana, then have a rational basis for shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries in California.  Under the 14th Amendment, the feds can’t treat Californians differently than Coloradoans and differently than four US citizens who get legal federal medical marijuana.

Finally, while acknowledging that Raich v. Gonzales 545 US 1 (2005) set the precedent that the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause does allow the feds to prosecute California’s medical marijuana, the NORML attorneys argue:

…it is still difficult to imagine that marijuana grown only in California, pursuant to California State law, and distributed only within California, only to California residents holding state-issued cards, and only for medical purposes, can be subject to federal regulation pursuant to the Commerce Clause. For that reason, Plaintiffs preserve the issue for further Supreme Court review, if necessary and deemed appropriate.

We will keep you posted on all updates related to this groundbreaking lawsuit.  Archive of our interview with the lead attorneys in this case is available in our “Audio/Video” section on The NORML Network.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Marijuana Law Reform June 2010 (NORML)

Some cool marijuana find images:

Marijuana Law Reform June 2010 (NORML)
4823669540 dfb60fc122 Marijuana Law Reform June 2010 (NORML)

Image by madaise
Just found this map regarding the legal uses and future interests of marijuana use, etc. Not a smoker myself, but found it interesting. Know it could potentially help with IBS, specifically, for me, crohn’s disease… Interested to see how things play out in Ohio.

8th grade (1988) schoolwork – paper – Marijuana Should Be Legalized
199142845 56ff9b5dc0 Marijuana Law Reform June 2010 (NORML)

Image by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL)
This is a paper I wrote in 8th grade. I think I found it while cleaning my closet out, prior to moving out of my parents house and into my own.

While I can’t agree with the arguments I used, at least my conclusions have remained consistent.

My blog.

vote marijuana party!
346381107 7129398043 Marijuana Law Reform June 2010 (NORML)

Image by émiliep
found this in my household. does not exactly represent my own political views.

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420 Attorney Tomas Dean ESQ Discusses Arizona Medical Marijuana Law Suit Phoenix NORML 9-23-2011

Listen up Caregivers and medical Marijuana patients, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has place our Medical Marijuana Dispensaries on hold, leaving my Arizona patients HIGH and DRY! Recently our Attorney General said NO compassionate clubs either, so whats a patient to do? The law suit filed in Arizona could effect Medical Marijuana laws across the entire United States. Check out the web site and blog for current cannabis, and medical marijuana news… Part 02: www.youtube.com azmmgablog.com http
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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NORML – NORML SHOW LIVE – The Official Marijuana Podcast from NORML

ps.sacxscpu.60x60 50 NORML   NORML SHOW LIVE   The Official Marijuana Podcast from NORML
NORML – NORML SHOW LIVE – The Official Marijuana Podcast from NORML

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Drug Czar’s Office To NORML: ‘We Can’t Legalize Marijuana Because Some People Abuse Prescription Drugs!’ Wait, Huh?

purple bud Drug Czar’s Office To NORML: ‘We Can’t Legalize Marijuana Because Some People Abuse Prescription Drugs!’ Wait, Huh?“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

What can I say? I’m flattered. David Mineta, deputy director for demand reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has taken time to publicly respond to little ol’ me. I wonder if they pronounce ‘Armentano’ phonetically at the Drug Czar’s office?

The back story: Last week NORML Board member Paul Kuhn and I published a guest commentary in Nashville’s largest daily newspaper, The Tennessean, opining in favor of H.R. 2306, the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011. Here’s an excerpt:

Marijuana legalization bill offers safer alternative
via The Tennessean

We know tobacco is the leading cause of death in America, contributing to 400,000 deaths each year. So it’s hardly any wonder the FDA will require the placement of prominent warning labels. Alcohol is the third-leading cause of death in America. The World Health Organization reported earlier this year that “alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence.”

… What about marijuana? With every other drug from Advil and alcohol to Zantac, a correct dose is effective, but too high a dose kills the patient. No dose of marijuana is capable of causing a fatal overdose.

… And unlike alcohol and tobacco, adverse effects of even heavy cannabis use are minimal. There is no epidemiological evidence in any country, after scores of studies and centuries of use by tens of millions of people, that marijuana smokers have a shorter life expectancy than non-smokers.

… They don’t become violent at sports events or beat their spouses and children. They don’t get heart disease, cancer, brain damage or any other deadly illness at a higher rate than those who abstain. In fact, a pair of studies conducted by Kaiser Permanente found that marijuana use, even long-term, was not associated with elevated levels of mortality or incidences of cancer, including types of cancers associated with tobacco smoking.

… America is on a path to allow adults to choose a safer alternative to tobacco and alcohol. And create more tax revenue and more jobs in Tennessee. And more freedom.

Apparently quite a few people read our editorial, including some folks at the Drug Czar’s office. And it must have gotten under their skin because today the White House responded with this.

Movement for legalized marijuana ignores dangers
via The Tennessean

Proponents of marijuana legalization often argue it will do everything from fixing our economy to ending violent crime (“Marijuana legalization bill offers safer alternative,” Tennessee Voices, Aug. 15). Yet, the science is clear: Marijuana use is not a benign drug and it is harmful to public health and safety.

… Would marijuana legalization make Tennessee healthier or safer? One needs to look no further than Tennessee’s current painful experience with prescription drug abuse. In Tennessee, prescription drugs are legal, regulated, and taxed — and yet rates of the abuse of pain relievers in the state exceed the national average by more than 10 percent.

Nationally, someone dies from an unintentional drug overdose — driven in large part by prescription drug abuse — on average every 19 minutes. What would America look like if we had just as many people using marijuana as we currently have smoking cigarettes, abusing alcohol, and abusing prescription drugs?

The classic ‘bait-and-switch’ goes on and on, but you get the idea. But I’m not sure the Drug Czar’s office does. After all, if their logic above had even a hint of consistency then they would be arguing for the criminal prohibition of cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs. And lots of other things.

Yet when it comes to Americans’ use of substances like tobacco, booze, and prescription drugs — substances that pose far greater dangers to health than does cannabis — the White House recognizes that prohibition is not the answer: regulation and education are. So why does the Drug Czar’s office fail to apply this same common-sense principle to pot? Perhaps it has something to do with the federal requirement requiring the office to lie about legalization.

Finally, as to the specific question: ‘What would America look like if we had just as many people using marijuana as are presently using tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medications?’ Well, what does America look like today? After all, the federal government imposed criminal prohibition over 70 years ago; yet today that very same federal government admits that over one out of ten Americans admit to having using cannabis in the past year. Among those age 18 to 25, almost half admit to consuming cannabis recently!

The question isn’t ‘What if Americans consumed marijuana?’ The reality is that tens of millions of Americans have and do consume marijuana. Most do so privately and responsibly. Legalizing cannabis simply acknowledges this reality and seeks to regulate the behavior appropriately. In a free society, why would even consider doing differently?

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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NORML Women’s Alliance: Connecting Female Activists

norml 300x225 NORML Women’s Alliance: Connecting Female Activists

Sister-To-Sister Interview:
Big Sister Kyndra Miller and Little Sister Melissa Sanchez discuss their reasons for becoming activists in the marijuana reform movement, as well as their participation in the NORML Women’s Alliance burgeoning mentorship program, Sister-to-Sister. Both women currently live in California working as attorneys within the Cannabis Industry.
By: Brooke Napier, intern with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy

Why did you get involved with the marijuana reform movement?

Melissa: As a Mexican-American, I was motivated to join the marijuana reform movement because marijuana prohibition in this country stemmed from racism, with enforcement policies disproportionately affecting minority communities. My family and friends in Mexico live with fear of violence because of our drug policies. I had to get involved!

What is your Little Sister like? What has she voiced as being important for her to get out of Sister-to-Sister?

Kyndra: Melissa is a very smart and beautiful human being.  When we first met, she was looking for someone in the movement to reach back and help her become a more informed activist.  She told me that prior to signing up for Sister-to-Sister she was having difficulty finding someone that would be willing to take the time to talk to her. Melissa never ceases to amaze me with her many professional skills and gifts. We seem to really balance each other out.  The experiences that I may not have – she has had – and vice versa.  I am a firm believer that the personal is political.  To that end, she has had a lifetime of experiences that led to her activism.

What kinds of activities are you planning on doing with your Sister?

Melissa: We have a tardeada, an afternoon party, planned for women in the movement in Fresno. At the High Times Cannabis Cup in June, we noticed that many women who were coming up to the NORML Women’s Alliance booth were from the Fresno area. Coincidentally, Fresno County passed a ridiculous anti-medical marijuana ordinance right before our event, so we expect a lot of people to come out and become activists.

Kyndra: During 2012 we will be expanding to other states within the western region.  Our goal is to educate as many people as possible about drug policy reform.

Why do you ladies think Sister-to-Sister is so important?

Kyndra: If I had to isolate one aspect of the program that is most significant, it would have to be the creation of a social network among women. It has helped decrease the levels of loneliness and isolation that some women feel as they fight to end marijuana prohibition.
Melissa: Exactly. It helps create and bring together informed, thoughtful and enthusiastic women activists. I have met some incredible women as a result of my participation in the program. We then all go on to talk about Sister-to-Sister, or the NORML Women’s Alliance to other women, and more of us join. The excitement is contagious. We know we can foster significant change.

What advice would you give to women just getting involved in the marijuana reform movement?

Kyndra: The best advice that I can give is to sign up for Sister-to-Sistah!

[Sister to Sister: Cultivating Female Activists Mentoring Program is designed to recruit and retain female activists in the marijuana reform movement by establishing big sister, little sister, or sister-to-sister peer relationships for new and seasoned activists.]

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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