Legislation Alert: Commitee on HB 548 Meeting Tomorrow Morning!February 28, 2011
Toke of the Town:Texas Bill Could Make Pot Possession Like Traffic TicketMarch 3, 2011
TX NORML open meeting notes, March 2nd, 2011
During last month’s meeting we covered these stories:
– National NORML announced the dates for the 40th Anniversary Conference in Denver, April 21-23rd , and also announced the updated version of the Emerging Clinical Applications booklet
– The New Jersey medical marijuana drama continues
– Cincinnati City Council suspended their RE-criminalization law
– Spanish study re-affirms 2006 study finding that THC & CBD can induce tumor cell death in glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer
– Pre-clinical trial in UK finds potential anti-seizure use of CBD
– Greek/Israeli pre-clinical study finds CBD improves brain and liver function in hepatic model
– Denver Police analysis finds no crime increase due to dispensaries
– Washington lawmakers debating legalization bill
– Legislative Update, will be talked about again tonight
Now for the news from the past month:
Marijuana Compounds Hold Promise In Treatment Of Cardiovascular Diseases
Jerusalem, Israel: The active constituents in marijuana influence the cardiovascular system and hold promise in the management of certain cardiovascular diseases, including arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and ischemia (restriction of blood flow), according to a scientific review appearing in the journal Cardiovascular Therapeutics.
They reported: “[T]he endocannabinoid system has a physiological role in the cardiovascular systems. [T]herefore . . . cannabinoids offers intervention opportunities to alter the course of cardiovascular diseases. . . . there is evidence that activating the cannabinoid system may prevent ischemic injuries and arrhythmia.
Median CBD Potency Decreasing In Confiscated Marijuana Samples, Study Says
Santa Monica, CA: Detectable levels of the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) are declining, according to a review of over 5,000 marijuana samples seized by law enforcement in California. The review appears on the website of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Investigators at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica assessed changes in the median THC and CBD levels of cannabis samples seized in California between the years 1996 and 2008. Researchers reported that median THC levels rose during this time period while median CBD levels fell.
“Median THC potency has increased from 4.56 percent in 1996 to 11.75 percent in 2008,” authors reported. “The increase in THC was far more dramatic in non-border areas (from 4.18 percent in 1996 to 13.95 percent in 2008) than in border areas (4.52 percent in 1996 to 6.84 percent in 2008). … [W]e see the opposite trend for CBD. … The median level of CBD dropped from 0.24 percent in 1996 to 0.08 percent in 2008.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid that is believed to temper the psychoactive effects of THC. In preclinical trials, the compound has demonstrated the ability to both treat symptoms and modify the course of various diseases. A recent reviewpublished in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences reported that CBD possesses over a dozen separate therapeutic properties – including anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic properties, anti-epileptic properties, and anti-bacterial properties.
Arizona: Lawmaker Introduces Measure To ‘Defelonize’ Marijuana Possession
Phoenix, AZ: First-year member of the state House of Representatives, Republican John Fillmore (Apache Junction) introducedlegislation this week to ‘defelonize’ Arizona’s marijuana possession penalties.
House Bill 2228 amends state law so that the adult possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is reduced from a potential felony (punishable by 1.5 years in prison and a $150,000 fine) to a “petty offense” punishable by a $100 fine.
In November, Arizona voters narrowly approved Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which allows the state to regulate the use and distribution of medical cannabis to authorized patients. On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health released draft rules for the forthcoming medical marijuana program, which is expected to be implemented later this spring.
Drug Dogs More Likely To ‘False Report’ When Their Handlers Believe Contraband Is Present
Sacramento, CA: The performance of drug-sniffing dogs is significantly influenced by whether or not their handlers believe illicit substances are present, according to a study published in the January issue of the journal Animal Cognition.
Investigators at the University of California at Davis assessed the accuracy of 18 drug and/or explosive detection dog/handler teams in a four-room church. No drugs or target scents were present in any of the rooms, but handlers were falsely told that contraband was present in two of the rooms, each marked by a piece of red construction paper.
Authors reported 225 incorrect responses overall, but found that dogs were more likely to provide false alerts in rooms where their handlers believed that illicit substances were present.
In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Illinois v. Caballes that an alert from a police dog during a traffic stop provides a constitutional basis for law enforcement to search the interior of the vehicle.
Nearly 60 Percent Of Americans Say Tax And Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
Nearly six out of ten people believe that marijuana should be “treated like alcohol and tobacco,” according to a national poll of 1,000 Americans. The poll, conducted by YouGov America and commissioned by The Economist, has a margin of error of ±4.2 percent.
Thirty-four percent of respondents said that they ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement: “Some people say marijuana should be treated like alcohol and tobacco. They say it should be regulated and taxed and made illegal for minors. Do you agree?” Twenty-four percent of respondents agreed with the statement.
Only 23 percent of those surveyed said that they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the notion of taxing and regulating adult marijuana consumption.
A majority of respondents in all age groups endorsed ending criminal marijuana prohibition, with those age 18 to 29 expressing the strongest support for legalization. Among those over age 65 with an opinion on the subject, approximately 45 percent endorsed regulating pot; fewer than 40 percent of older Americans opposed the idea.
Those respondents who identified themselves as Democrats were more likely to support the idea of taxing and regulating cannabis than Republicans, the poll found. Overall, however, majorities of both parties said that they supported legalization.
DEA Considering Reclassifying Plant-Derived THC Under Federal Law
Washington, DC: The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is considering reclassifying plant-derived THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, from schedule I to schedule III controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to a report published last week in The Daily Caller.
Under the proposed change, both the marijuana plant and plant-derived THC that is not contained in a FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug would remain classified as schedule I illicit substances.
New York City: Pot Arrests For 2010 Top 50,000
Montanans Oppose Lawmakers’ Effort To Repeal Medical Marijuana Law
Helena, MT: A majority of Montana citizens oppose efforts by House lawmakers to repeal the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law, according to a statewide poll published on Tuesday.
According to a Public Policy Polling survey of 2,212 Montanans, 63 percent of respondents “support allowing patients … to have the freedom to use marijuana for medical purposes with their doctors’ approval.” Only 20 percent of respondents said that the law should be “repealed entirely.” Of the respondents, 36 percent identified themselves as ‘independent’ voters; 35 percent said that they were Republicans, and 29 percent said they were Democrats.
On Monday, House lawmakers gave final approval to legislation, HB 161, which would repeal the state’s marijuana law. Virtually all House Republicans voted in favor of the measure while House Democrats largely voted against it.
House Bill 161 now goes to the Senate. If approved by Senate lawmakers, the repeal measure will go to the desk of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, who has previously voiced support for the state law.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS UNDER SIEGE IN MONTANA AND NEW MEXICO
Montana: As anticipated, on Monday members of House of Representatives gave final approval to HB 161, which would repeal the state’s existing medical cannabis law. The measure now goes before state senators, who are being targeted with anti-pot propaganda advertisements. Nevertheless, a new pollreleased this week of over 2,200 Montanans found that 63 percent of voters support allowing medical marijuana, and only 20 percent support current proposals to repeal the state’s compassionate medical marijuana law.
New Mexico: House Bill 593, introduced by Santa Fe Republican James Smith, aims to completely repeal New Mexico’s existing medical marijuana law, which was initially approved by the legislature and the Governor in 2007. Presently, over 3,200 patients are using cannabis legally in compliance with state law. In addition, state officials have licensed some 25 facilities to produce or dispense medical cannabis. Reports of abuses regarding the use or distribution of medical cannabis as authorized by the law have been minimal. Nevertheless, Smith — who admits “I’m not a medical doctor, I don’t pretend to be.” – states that the law sends a mixed message to young people and that other alternative medications are available. House Bill 593 has been assigned to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and awaits a scheduled hearing. Newly elected Republican Governor Susana Martinez, who recently stated that this issue would not be a legislative priority for her administration in 2011, now says that she will sign Smith’s bill if it reaches her desk.
Seattle Times, a well-known conservative paper, endorsed legalized, taxed, & regulated marijuana in a series of editorials,
Which resulted in their paper receiving a call directly from the Drug Czar’s office, and subsequently the Drug Czar himself has scheduled a “meeting” with the paper’s editorial board, seemingly to bully them into reversing their reversal. The meeting is scheduled for March 4th. Please contact the Drug Czar’s office, if you have time, and tell them what you think about them using your tax dollars to act like mobsters trying to bully an independent media source. Don’t we have something called freedom of speech AND the press???
Now for our legislative update:
HB 548 – had it’s public hearing held yesterday, March 1st.
The hearing for HB 548 started out with somewhat of a bang, as freshman Rep. Stefani Carter (House Dist. 102 in Dallas) immediately insulted the bill’s author, 14 term incumbent of Houston’s Dist. 142, Rep. Harold Dutton. A somewhat heated exchange ensued, which had to be stopped by the committee chair. During the exchange, Rep. Carter repeatedly voiced her opposition to the bill, and even said she would like to see possession of any amount be a felony.
The hearing commenced with testimony exclusively for the bill from people
who drove from Houston, San Antonio, Waco, among other places, totaling about 20 people giving testimony. I haven’t had a chance to review the video of the hearing yet to get a definite count.
The bill was left as “pending business”, and we are about to start another
action campaign to get people to contact the committee chair, as well as
the other committee members (except perhaps Rep. Carter, who I would like
to have constituents contact with complaints), to ask them to please allow
the bill to move on to the House floor.
Please see our website and Facebook for up-to-the-minute info and updates about HB 548, and please call the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to ask for them to vote in favor. Especially call the committee chair, Rep. Pete Gallego, to urge him to schedule a vote on the bill ASAP.
And, to let you all know, the action alert for HB 548 that National NORML put together for us, had the most action taken on it of any other bill in the country!! Please give yourselves and your fellow activists a round of applause for the support we are seeing with this.
The total number of letters sent to State Reps for this bill, through the NORML alert, is now at about 2000 letters!! That is absolutely the best response we’ve had on any bill, probably ever!
HB 1491 – an affirmative defense bill that would give medical marijuana patients in Texas an affirmative defense in court, AND would also protect those patients’ doctors from any punitive actions, was introduced by Rep. Elliot Naishtat, and we got word this afternoon that the bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Health.
The REALLY good news on this is that Rep. Naishtat is the Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee! This means he will have some significant sway as to which bills get heard and put up for a vote.
We just got word of this committee assignment, so we will have an action alert, with letter, up and going by tomorrow evening.
And we hope to get at LEAST as much action on this bill, as we are getting on HB 548, so please take action on both of these bills.
Kris Bailey, Candidate for Austin City Council, on his public stance regarding marijuana law reform, and how his campaign is coming along
Upcoming Events & Alerts
-Friday, March 4th, Party Glow Erotique, put on by Austin’s Party Scene & the Jiggle Watts, at the Madison, 307 W. 5th St, with musical entertainment provided by DJ V2 & DJ Exceed, and will also include the Jiggle Watts girls (similar to burlesque).
-NOT A NORML EVENT, but if you’re looking for a GREAT time on Saturday night, I will be here, at Flamingo Cantina, for one of the best ska/rocksteady bands ever, the Slackers. And if you haven’t seen them, I can promise you are missing out.
-ATX Wildfire, Thursday –Saturday, March 17-19, during SXSW, at Ruta Maya, is an all ages, totally FREE 3 day Reggae & arts showcase brought to you by E5, and Texas NORML will be the sound sponsor for one of the days. There will be so many Reggae & Dub artists during those three days you will not believe it, including Los Skarnales, Subrosa Union, Supervillans, Fortunate Youth, Ashes of Babylon, Seedless, The Contrabandits, General Smiley, McPullish, and many many more
-Also, during SXSW, Robert Platshorn, AKA, “The Black Tuna”, will be in town for the world premier of his biographical documentary, “Square Grouper”, and . . .
The High Times’ Doobie Awards has been scheduled for Sunday, March 20th, at Emo’s, from high noon till 6pm. Tickets for the Doobies are $15, and you don’t want to miss this party! The nominees list is available online at hightimes.com/events/bobbyblack
The Doobie Awards always has stoner celebrities in attendance, and is the best pot party of the year in Austin.
-April will bring a list of more happenings, including:
Austin Reggae Festival @ Auditorium Shores, April 15-17th
-Wednesday, April 20th, we’re working with Hot Mama’s Café for a 4/20 Potluck, so stay tuned for more info about that.
-Friday, April 22nd is the next Texas NORML Member’s Mixer, which will be at the US Art Authority/Spiderhouse, and this mixer will be much more open to the public, and cheaper to attend, plus we’ll have an indoor AND outdoor stage, and will incorporate comedy, speakers, art, video, and poets into the event!
We have 18 bands confirmed, ranging from singer-songwriter, folk, rock, punk rock, hip hop, funk, African influenced, and more.
We’ll also have live glass-blowing demonstration, food, and of course tons of fun!
-Friday, April 29th, Texas NORML is co-sponsor of an rock show at the Red Eyed Fly, on Red River St., with The Austin 420, and music by Thunderosa, Snake Skin Prison, Sunglasses & Mushrooms, and Zig-Zag Illusion.
-Saturday, May 7th, Texas NORML will be holding the Texas Marijuana March and rally at the Texas State Capitol, from 2-4pm, and we have a big announcement to make regarding that; we have confirmed that Russ Bellvile from National NORML will be coming to Austin to speak at the Capitol, plus former professional snowboarder, TV personality, current singer-songwriter, and NORML Women’s Alliance member Greta Gaines will be in Austin for the Marijuana March, as well as Chief Greenbud.
And the biggest news we have for the Texas Marijuana March, is that Texas NORML will be bringing former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson to Austin to be the keynote speaker at the Capitol Rally on Saturday, May 7th!
Gov. Johnson served as a Republican and outspoken advocate for marijuana law reform. He was also the keynote speaker at the National NORML Convention in Portland this past year, as well as the Portland Hempstalk.
Obviously, we are VERY excited to be able to bring these high profile speakers to the Texas Capitol for the Marijuana March, and I hope you will all spread the word that Saturday, May 7th, 2-4pm, THE place to be in Texas is at the State Capitol in Austin!
Questions or Comments/anything left out?