Archive for February, 2009

Maryland to Ban Salvia?

The Maryland State Senate is considering Senate Bill 9, which would categorize Salvia Divinorum as a Schedule I substance. (Salvia is currently legal in Maryland).

In North Carolina, a similar law is being proposed. State Senator Bill Purcell, says, ‘I think the fact that it’s not illegal says that it must be ok.’

In Arizona, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee rejected a bill to ban salvia.

These bills do not directly affect marijuana, but the implication is clear, when one looks at the arguments used to attack the herb. The logic used is strikingly similar to the logic for keeping marijuana illegal – usually something along the lines of  ‘if it’s illegal, people won’t use it as much’:

Except that logic failed. It failed with alcohol, and it failed with marijuana. We don’t need to test this out to see that it will fail with salvia (if the bill is passed). Contact your senator and tell him/her that you strongly oppose the measure and except him/her to vote against it.

February 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

State Medicinal Marijuana Laws to be Upheld

Is this too good to be true?

If this video is to believed, then no. It’s true. Eric Holder, US Attorney General, is on record saying that the DEA raids on law-abiding medicinal marijuana providers are a ghost of the past.

I like to think of myself as a ‘cautious optimist’ in these situations, so I’ll hold the champagne for the time being, but this represents a huge victory for drug policy reform.

Why am I being cautious? Partly because there’s some transition time necessary. Even though this theoretically was US policy at noon on January 20th, because the administration is in transition, it sometimes takes time for policy shifts to be reflected in action. (For an example, take the raids in California not a week after Obama’s inauguration).  That, and the DEA still does not even have a new permanent drug czar, so I am afraid of being a bit too presumptuous.

That said, I think that we can all congratulate ourselves for helping effect this policy shift. And, if you feel so moved (which I hope you do), please take the time to thank Holder for these statements (as NORML asks you do). Just as it is important to call/urge/persuade before the fact, it is also important to let officials know after-the-fact that we appreciate their efforts.

This also has huge implications for states like New Jersey, which is considering a bill to legalize medicinal marijuana at the state level. During the debate in the state senate on Monday, Senator Gerald Cardinale condemneed the bill, arguing that it condoned violation of federal law. This new policy removes yet another argument against passing such bills, which are also being considered in Minnesota and Rhode Island.
Congratulations, and keep up the good work!

February 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

New Jersey Senate Passes Medicinal Marijuana Bill

Not ten minutes ago, the New Jersey State Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 119, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Archive footage of the proceedings is available.

Despite Gerald Cardinale’s preposterous arguments, at least 22 votes were registered in favor of the bill (21 are required to pass).

February 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

New Jersey Votes Tomorrow

Tomorrow, New Jersey will vote on legislation that could legalize medicinal marijuana in the state. Given the prospect of a drug czar who (hopefully) will respect this state right, this could be a tipping point. (If the bill passes in New Jersey, for example, I would not be surprised to see New York come under increasing pressure to pass similar legislation).
Call your state senator to urge him/her to support Senate Bill 119 tomorrow. (To find the number of your state senator, go to Project Vote Smart). A sample script follows:

Dear ________ (name of state senator),

I am calling to voice my support for Senate Bill 119. Cannabis has many documented medicinal properties, and as many people as possible should have the option of this form of treatment for their ailments if they need it. I hope that Senator __________________ respects patients’ right to well-being by supporting this measure to permit medicinal marijuana in the state of New Jersey.

February 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Gil Kerlikowske – New Drug Czar?

There have been reports that Gil Kerlikowske, the police chief of Seattle, will be the next drug czar. Other recent reports disagree. In either case, the new drug czar would have to be confirmed by the Senate.
So how does Kerlikowske size up?

Well, for one, he’s not Ethan Nadelmann. But that was a very far fetched goal from the start, and a statement more than anything else.

Not much has been reported regarding Kerlikowske. He has supported gun control, which does not relate directly to drug policy reform, but could at least serve as an indicator that he’s not your average cop. In addition, Seattle has some of the better marijuana policies in the country – some years back, the city deprioritized marijuana. (A caveat: in certain places, such as Santa Cruz, deprioritization has mostly symbolic meaning, as the police enforce the laws regardless – sometimes even more. I have not been able to find any information on whether or not the Seattle police department has been respecting this policy).

Still, I keep my expectations low for anybody who comes from a law enforcement background. I have not found any open statements on marijuana or other drugs, but he did oppose the 2003 measure to deprioritize marijuana in Seattle. Who knows if his policies might change if he begins to work at the national level (as, say, Kirsten Gillibrand’s positions have changed within the last few weeks).

Either way, we can’t expect Kerlikowske to make definite remarks before he is confirmed – especially if he is planning an overhaul of the DEA. Conclusion: This could potentially be a massive improvement over John Walters, or it could just be more of the same. (It could also be much worse, but my cautious optimism tells me that, under Obama, even stricter drug policies are not very likely. I hope.)

February 11, 2009 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

Calls Flood Kellogg’s – Is Yours One?

So many people have called Kellogg’s already that the very first option when I called the main number (800 962-1413) three minutes ago that the very first thing I heard was ‘If you would like to share your comments about your relationship with Michael Phelps, please press 1.’

I’ll let that speak for itself. Or maybe I won’t, because that never makes for a good blog post, does it?

If you have already called, tell us (by email or comment) how your call went. If you have not called, here is a sample script below, as provided by NORML (I prefer theirs to the one provided by the DPA). The toll-free number is (800) 962-1413, and the hold time is very short (mine was less than ten seconds).

“Hi, my name is _____________ and I am a frequent consumer of Kellogg’s products.

Nearly one out of two Americans has used marijuana. This includes tens of thousands of prominent, highly successful Americans — including our current President. Michael Phelps should not be stigmatized nor condemned for private behavior that he, and millions of others, engage in.

The majority of the public, as well as those in the media, are standing behind Michael Phelps and so am I. I will no longer be purchasing Kellogg’s brand products until your company reverses its decision and reinstates Michael Phelps as spokesperson.”

Thank you for standing up against the needless discrimination of  cannabis consumers.

February 9, 2009 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Kellogg’s Cancels Phelps’s Contract

In the wake of the photograph ‘scandal’ (if you could call it that), Kellogg’s has decided to end its sponsorship of Michael Phelps. There is no doubt that this is some attempt to maintain their image as a ‘family’ brand; however, they fail to realize that nearly every family in this country (if you go by the statistics) has a member who has used marijuana.

It’s not that big of a stretch – if nearly half of all people in the country have used marijuana, and the average family has about four people (this includes immediate family members only), then finding a family without a member with a history of marijuana use is an anomaly.

Kellogg’s needs to hear about this. NORML has a good rundown, quoted below:

You can call Kellogg’s main telephone number during east coast business hours, Monday through Friday, at: (269) 961-2000 or toll free at: 1 (800) 962-1413.

You can e-mail Kellogg’s consumer services department by visiting: http://www2.kelloggs.com/ContactUs.aspx.

You can contact Kellogg’s media relation department at: 269-961-3799 or via e-mail at media.hotline@kellogg.com.

You can e-mail Kellogg’s corporate responsibility department at: corporateresponsibility@kellogg.com.

You can e-mail Kellogg’s investor relations department at: investor.relations@kellogg.com.

Or finally, you can write the Kellogg Company a letter at:

One Kellogg Square
P.O. Box 3599
Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

When contacting the company, please be polite and concise. Tell them:

“Hi, my name is _____________ and I’m a frequent consumer of Kellogg’s products.

Nearly one out of two Americans has used marijuana. This includes tens of thousands of prominent, highly successful Americans — including our current President. Michael Phelps should not be stigmatized nor condemned for private behavior that he, and millions of others, engage in.

The majority of the public, as well as those in the media, are standing behind Michael Phelps and so am I. I will no longer be purchasing Kellogg’s brand products until your company reverses its decision and reinstates Michael Phelps as your spokesperson.”

As important as legislation is, a large part of it is driven by public perception (if indirectly).  Thus, Kellogg’s needs to understand the implications of their misguided conclusion that a person with any history of marijuana use does not represent their target market.

February 9, 2009 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Script for Calling the White House

This is adapted from the email I received from the DPA (using their talking points):

Hello. I am calling because I just read that the DEA made several raids recently on medical marijuana patients and providers in California. I’m calling to urge President Obama to put a stop to this.

I know that President Obama said last year that, as president, he wouldn’t waste law enforcement resources undermining state medical marijuana laws.

And yesterday, spokesman Nick Shapiro reaffirmed that the President’s views have not changed.

I would like President Obama to uphold his campaign promises and stop the raids on medical marijuana patients.

The direct number for the White House comment line is (202) 456-1111, but it is often engaged. To be put on hold, call the main line at (202) 456-1414 and ask to be transferred to the comment line. You will be on hold, but not for too long.

February 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Call the White House to Stop Medical Marijuana Raids

I don’t know about you, but I find the news that the administration is still raiding medicinal marijuana dispensaries disturbing. Especially since Obama promised on the campaign trail to stop using federal money to ‘punish’ citizens using medical marijuana under state law.

And especially since his spokesman reaffirmed that belief yesterday.

“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

This could be a turning point for medicinal marijuana… if we make sure it is. The following is an email that the Drug Policy Alliance sent a few days ago, and it includes steps for action.

Calling the White House can be fast and painless, as they show. And, in this case, it can make an impact on the federal level.

Note: The number listed in the email is the main number; when I called, they transferred me to the comment line, and the direct number is (202) 456 – 1111.

Dear (name),

Who’s really in charge here?

While on the campaign trail, President Obama promised to end medical marijuana raids in places like California where the right to use marijuana on a doctor’s recommendation is protected.

And now, the DEA has raided not one, but at least four medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Either those were hollow promises or President Obama’s Department of Justice is not respecting his stated positions.

Sick patients who use medical marijuana in states like California are in grave danger from these wasteful abuses of federal power. You can do something to help.

Last week, thousands of DPA Network supporters like you faxed the White House imploring President Obama to end these raids. He has yet to respond — so now is the time to take the next step.

By taking just a few moments to call the White House now and urge President Obama to honor his campaign promise to end these raids, you can protect sick and dying patients. There are detailed instructions on the website.

DPA Network is already working behind the scenes with our allies in Congress to pressure the new administration to stand up for justice. Together, we can ensure the safety of patients across the country, but only if you take action.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted as the situation continues to develop.

Sincerely,

Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance Network

P.S. Did you miss my note last week regarding Obama and Medical Marijuana? It’s not too late to join the more then 3,100 people who’ve faxed the White House on this issue. You can also read the news about the most recent raid, and I’ve pasted below the phone number for the White House, but it’s most helpful for coordination efforts if you use the take action button above and log your call.

Who to Contact: The White House, at (202) 456 – 1414.

What to Say: “I just read that the DEA made several raids recently on medical marijuana patients and providers in California. I’m calling to urge President Obama to put a stop to this.”

Additional Talking Points (choose one):

  • “I’m mad that my tax dollars are being used to harass cancer and AIDS patients.”
  • “I know that President Obama said last year that if he was president he wouldn’t waste law enforcement resources undermining state medical marijuana laws. I really hope he puts a stop to these wasteful raids.”
  • “President Bush spent eight years undermining state medical marijuana laws. I hope President Obama doesn’t spend eight years doing the same.”
  • “I support medical marijuana and hope Obama does, too.”

February 6, 2009 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

Don’t Let the Rockefeller Drug Laws Turn 36!

May 8th, 2008 was the 35th anniversary of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. In response, Drop the Rock has launched a petition to repeal these laws, and they are almost two-thirds of the way to acquiring enough signatures.

They still need several thousand more, so please take thirty seconds and sign the petition.

If you want, you can also print out a form and collect signatures from all your friends as well.

February 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

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