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Meeting Notes June 2nd, 2010

TX NORML open meeting notes, June 2nd, 2010

During last month’s meeting we covered these stories:
-Philadelphia DA says no more criminal prosecutions for minor possession; will now be a fine only offense, like traffic ticket
-Florida Legislature passes law restricting paraphernalia sales to only those stores which get 75% or more of their annual revenue from tobacco products
-Fruita, Colorado, passes that state’s first medical marijuana sales tax of 5%
-Oregon Supreme Court rules in favor of businesses who fire state licensed medical marijuana patients for off-the-clock use
-Maine Legislature approves medical marijuana dispensary rules, creating up to 8 dispensaries statewide, one for each public health district
-Canadian study finds urine drug tests ineffective for identifying employees under the influence at work, and also ineffective at reducing workplace accidents
-Washington DC city council unanimously approves creation of 5-8 medical marijuana dispensaries
-Jack Herer, “Emperor of Hemp”, died on April 15th
-National Farmers Union adopts new policy in support of industrial hemp, and urges the Federal Govt to differentiate between it and medical/recreational marijuana

Recap of last month’s events:
-We set up on May 7th at Ruta Maya for Ashes of Babylon, GreenSeeds, & Seedlove
-Texas NORML sponsored a private disc-golf tourney
-It’s summer, so we are moving a little slower

Now for the news from the past month:

Video of Missouri SWAT raid on Feb 11th goes public, and viral

Columbia, Missouri: The incident in question happened in February, and due to a freedom of information act request, the video (shot by one of the SWAT team members), was released early last month.

The raid in question happened due to a confidential informants information regarding “large amounts” of marijuana. There as also a 6 year old child in the home at the time of the raid. The SWAT team found only a water pipe with residue, and a minimal amount of cannabis; less than 5 grams.

In the video, you see the SWAT team approach the house, bang on the door, yell “police, search warrant” about 5 times, and then break the door down. Upon entering the home, gunshots are heard within the first minute and immediately a dog can be heard screaming in pain.
About a minute later, several more shots are heard, which was the second dog being shot to death.
The first dog that was shot, a Welsh Corgi, was not killed. It was shot in the foot.

Upon realizing that they would not recover “large amount(s)” of marijuana, the police promptly charged the homeowner with child endangerment! Yes, you hear that correct, the police who discharged an automatic assault rifle inside of the home multiple times with the child present, had the nerve to charge the parents with child endangerment.

We all know this kind of raid happens all the time, but did you realize that it happens 100-150 times EVERY SINGLE DAY!

And this, of course, isn’t the first time (by far) that a SWAT team has murdered in cold blood the family pets of people during a raid.
There are many accounts of pet murder to be found during the carrying out of militaristic SWAT raids;
The LAPD has infamously killed dogs during raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, and a story from Buffalo, NY, last year, where a man pleaded with police to spare his pets only to have them both murdered in cold blood; and the police found nothing against the law in that raid.
In Berwyn Heights, Maryland, last year, the MAYOR of the town had his home mistakenly raided, and both his black lab dogs murdered by SWAT officers, after which he was forced to sit handcuffed beside a pool of his pets’ blood.

And these are only stories of animals being killed, there are many stories of innocent civilians, as well as SWAT members themselves, being killed during a botched or mistaken raid.
Perhaps the most infamous of those, is the case of Atlanta, GA, resident Kathryn Johnson, whose home was mistakenly raided (on a tip from a confidential informant) in 2006. Ms. Johnson, who lived in a rough neighborhood, mistook the SWAT team for robbers and shot at them when they came through the door. She was shot and killed, at which time the SWAT team found no drugs or paraphernalia, so a few of the police on the scene decided to plant marijuana (taken from an earlier bust) in the home, and attempt to use that as justification for her murder. Thankfully, one of the police there that day had a moment of conscience, and told what happened.

Canada Signs Off On Extradition Order For ‘Prince Of Pot’

Vancouver, British Columbia: Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has signed off on an order extraditing longtime Canadian marijuana activist and publisher Marc Emery to the United States.
United States law enforcement officials indicted Emery in August of 2005 for selling marijuana seeds to US customers.
Under a plea agreement, Emery faces up to five years in US prison. Under Canadian law, he would face no more than one month in jail (and probation), if convicted.
White House 2010 National Drug Strategy Calls For Expansion Of Per Se ‘Drugged’ Driving Laws

Washington, DC: The 2010 edition of the White House National Drug Control Strategy, released this week, calls on states to enact laws criminalizing motorists who drive with the residual presence of drug or inactive drug metabolite in their body.

Experts have criticized the implementation of per se DUID laws for cannabis because the drug’s metabolites may remain present in urine for weeks or months after past use. Studies have consistently reported that the presence of marijuana metabolites isnot associated with psychomotor impairment or an elevated risk of motor accident.

Colorado: Lawmakers Pass Controversial Regulations Governing State Licensed Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Denver, CO: Lawmakers have passed legislation regulating the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries. The legislation, House Bill 1284, now awaits final approval from Democrat Gov. William Ritter, who is expected to sign the measure into law.
The proposed law would require medical marijuana dispensing facilities to obtain state and local licensing approval and be in compliance with all local zoning codes. Under the regulations, dispensaries must pay a state licensing fee, shall be located no closer than 1,000 feet from a school or daycare (municipalities have the authority to issue exemptions to this rule), and operators must oversee the cultivation at least 70 percent of the marijuana dispensed at the center.
The forthcoming law also imposes a statewide moratorium on the establishment of new dispensaries, beginning in July. Licensed dispensary owners would also have to undergo criminal background checks by the state.
In addition, local municipalities will possess the authority to prohibit the establishment of dispensaries in their community though legal experts expect this provision to be challenged in court. Individual caregivers would be legally permitted to provide medical cannabis for up to five patients in localities that have formally banned dispensaries.
Lawmakers have estimated that the implementation of the new regulations will lead to the closure of approximately one-half of the estimated 1,100 facilities presently operating in the state.
Separate legislation approved by lawmakers, Senate Bill 109, limits the authority of physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to patients with which the doctor has had a prior counseling relationship.
California: Oakland City Council Endorses Statewide Pot Depenalization Initiative
Oakland, CA: Oakland city council members voted this week in favor of a resolution endorsing the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 – a statewide November ballot measure.
The measure seeks to allow adults 21 years or older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. It would also permit local governments the option to authorize the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis to adults. Personal marijuana cultivation or not-for-profit sales of marijuana would not be taxed under the measure.
City officials voted eight to zero in favor of the resolution. Oakland is the first city to formally endorse the proposal.
Proposal to legalize marijuana possession in Detroit, qualifies for November ballot

Detroit, MI: A local group called Coalition for a Safer Detroit turned in more than 6,000 signatures to place the initiative on November’s ballot. According to the Detroit News, the City Council now has 30 days to pass the initiative into law or it will be up to voters to pass it in November.

Marijuana Compound Halts Spread Of Biliary Tract Cancers, Study Says
Patumthani, Thailand: The administration of THC inhibits cell proliferation and induces anti-tumor effects oncholangiocarcinoma (biliary tract cancer) cells, according to preclinical trial data published in the May issue of the scientific journal Cancer Investigation.
Investigators at Rangsit University in Thailand assessed the anti-cancer properties of THC on both cholangiocarcinoma cell lines and surgical specimens from bile duct cancer patients.
Researchers reported, “THC inhibited cell proliferation, migration and invasion, and induced cell apoptosis (programmed cell death). THC also … reduced tumor cell survival.”
A 2008 scientific review published in the journal Cancer Research reported that cannabinioids inhibit cell proliferation in a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, andlymphoma.
A study published earlier this year in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics found that the administration of multiple cannabinoids showed greater efficacy at inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and inducing malignant cell death than did the exposure to individual agents.
Patients With Schizophrenia Report Subjective Benefits From Marijuana, Study Says
New Brunswick, Canada: Male patients diagnosed with schizophrenia report obtaining subjective benefits from marijuana, according to survey data published in the March issue of the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research.
Investigators from Edmundston Regional Hospital, Psychiatry/Mental Health Department in New Brunswick, Canada surveyed eight men with schizophrenia who had a history of current or past cannabis use.
Researchers reported that subjects consumed marijuana “as a means of satisfying the schizophrenia-related need for relaxation, sense of self-worth, and distraction.”
Survey data published in 2008 in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing also reported that many schizophrenic patients obtain relief from cannabis, finding that subjects consumed cannabis to reduce anxiety, mitigate memories of childhood trauma, enhance cognition, and “improve their mental state.”
The findings may help to provide insight as to why several recent studies have identified a non-causal association between the use of marijuana and schizophrenia.
Marijuana May Extend Life Expectancy Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease Patients, Study Says

Lou Gehrig’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or, ALS, is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord, brain stem, and motor cortex. An estimated 30,000 Americans are living with ALS, which often arises spontaneously and afflicts otherwise healthy adults. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of patients with ALS die within three to five years following the onset of disease symptoms.
Seattle, WA: Cannabis therapy may reduce symptoms and prolong survival in patients diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), according to a scientific review published online last week by the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine.
Investigators at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle and Temple University in Pennsylvania reviewed preclinical and anecdotal data indicating that marijuana appears to treat symptoms of ALS as well as moderate the course of the disease.
Authors wrote: “Preclinical data indicate that cannabis has powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. … Cannabis also has properties applicable to symptom management of ALS, including analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. … From a pharmacological perspective, cannabis is remarkably safe with realistically no possibility of overdose or frank physical addiction. There is a valid, logical, scientifically grounded rationale to support the use of cannabis in the pharmacological management of ALS.”
“There is an overwhelming amount of preclinical and clinical evidence to warrant initiating a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of cannabis as a disease-modifying compound in ALS.”

To date, however, no clinical trials have assessed the use of marijuana or any of the plant’s cannabinoids on patients diagnosed with ALS.

Why? Because of the Federal Govt’s refusal to fund research into the possible benefits of marijuana.

Marijuana Smoking Associated With Minimal Changes In Driving Performance, Study Finds
Hartford, CT: Subjects exhibit virtually identical psychomotor skills on a battery of driving simulator tests prior to and shortly after smoking marijuana, according to clinical trial data published in the March issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
Investigators from Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine assessed the simulated driving performance of 85 subjects in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Volunteers responded to various simulated events associated with automobile crash risk — such as avoiding a driver who was entering an intersection illegally, deciding to stop or go through a changing traffic light, responding to the presence of emergency vehicles, avoiding colliding with a dog who entered into traffic, and maintaining safe driving during a secondary (in-the-car) auditory distraction. Subjects performed the tests sober and then again 30 minutes after smoking a single marijuana cigarette containing either 2.9 percent THC or zero THC (placebo).
Investigators reported that volunteers performed virtually the same after smoking cannabis as they did sober and/or after consuming a placebo. “No differences were found during the baseline driving segment (and the) collision avoidance scenarios,” authors reported.
Investigators did note, “Participants receiving active marijuana decreased their speed more so than those receiving placebo cigarette during (the) distracted section of the drive.” Authors hypothesized that subjects’ reduction in speed on this task suggested that they may have been compensating for perceived impairment. “[N]o other changes in driving performance were found,” researchers concluded.
We are not condoning the use of marijuana while driving, just trying to give some perspective on the general danger of it, which obviously is minimal at worst.
You can find an official NORML assessment of the impact of marijuana use on motor skills titled, “Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review,” online at the National NORML website.
Upcoming Events & Alerts
-Our friends, and TCC performers, Ouachita, will be hosting their CD release party this Friday night, June 4th, at Momo’s Club
-This Saturday, June 5th, Texas NORML will have our booth set up for PRIDE Festival, at the Palmer Events Center.
-Also this Saturday night, June 5th, at the Historic Victory Grill, our friends at Run This Town, a unification of artists, businesses, organizations, and individuals with the purpose of making real change in Austin, are providing music, poetry, and speakers (including myself), in conjunction with Texans for Accountable Government.
-Friday, July 2nd, we’ll be making an effort to show up at Ruta Maya for TCC performers, Ashes of Babylon, and our friend Episode Phive.
-Our next members mixer is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 24th, so if you’re a member stay tuned, and if you’re not, please join tonight!

Past NORML News