Montana Supreme Court to Hear Medical Marijuana Appeals This Week
Starting Wednesday morning the Montana Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in two separate appeals of a 2011 law that severely restricted medical marijuana access in the state, one appeal by the Montana Cannabis Industry Association and one by the state of Montana.
The state is appealing whether the District Court Judge James Reynolds was wrong to block the law’s ban on medical marijuana cardholders compensating providers for marijuana products and its limit that a provider can provide pot for a maximum of three cardholders. The MCIA is appealing the same judge’s ruling that denied a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the entire 2011 Medical Marijuana Act as the Cannabis Industry had sought instead of just the five sections he blocked.
As many of you know, the medical marijuana industry has been decimated in Montana with over 90% of caregivers eliminated, thanks to federal crackdowns and state Senate Bill 423, which destroyed much of the 2004 MMJ law that was approved by voters.
Lawyers for the MCIA called SB 423 “an unconstitutional broadside on the rights of Montanans” and said in the brief the filed in their appeal that “The central problem with the act… is that it is calculated to deny all reasonable access to medical marijuana” and it seeks “to choke off access to medical marijuana for those in need by eliminating caregiver producers.”
Attorneys for the state say that commercially selling marijuana is illegal under federal and state law.
Arguments are expected to begin at 9:30 am local time in a case that will likely decide Montana medical marijuana law for some time to come. Hopefully patients have their access restored. Lawyers for the state can strut around all they want talking about their version of “the law,” but all they are really doing is hurting sick people.
Recall Elections in Wisconsin Could Pave the Way for Medical Marijuana
The June 5th recall elections of several Republicans could remove some major opponents of medical cannabis in Wisconsin.
Governor Scott Walker is an opponent of medical cannabis, saying “Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic and I believe state law should reflect this as well," when asked if he supported medicinal marijuana.
Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is a former cancer patient and still opposes medical marijuana.
Four Republican State Senators are also facing recall, including State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who is a longtime opponent of MMJ. Most of his constituents supported a medical marijuana bill in the legislature a couple years ago, according to records.
State Senators Pam Galloway and Terry Moulton are also opposed to MMJ and are facing recall.
No matter what happens with the others, if Governor Walker remains in office there is no chance for medical marijuana to become legal in Wisconsin, as the legislature doesn’t have enough votes to override his veto.
If things go well in Wisconsin next month, it could help send a major message to politicians across the country. Medical marijuana is overwhelmingly popular is every state and nationwide. Those hoping to secure elected office should assess how out of touch they are with voters on the MMJ issue.
The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA) languished in the state legislature in 2009 and 2010, and all of the officials listed above opposed it publicly, and they are being opposed in the recall elections by mostly JRMMA supporters. So medical marijuana is likely to play a key role in the minds of voters on June 5th.
The feelings of elected officials need to be brought into line with those who are voting for them. Which means many elected officials need to lose their jobs.
9th Circuit Court Rules MMJ Not Protected By Americans with Disabilities Act
Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, California have been trying to ban medical marijuana dispensaries for several years and today the 9th Circuit court agreed with the cities, saying that medical marijuana use wasn’t protected by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Several patients had filed suit in federal court trying to overturn the bans, seeking relief from the government under the ADA. "We recognize that the plaintiffs are gravely ill, and that their request for ADA relief implicates not only their right to live comfortably, but also their basic human dignity," Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the majority. "We also acknowledge that California has embraced marijuana as an effective treatment for individuals like the plaintiffs who face debilitating pain. Congress has made clear, however, that the ADA defines 'illegal drug use' by reference to federal, rather than state, law, and federal law does not authorize the plaintiffs' medical marijuana use. We therefore necessarily conclude that the plaintiffs' medical marijuana use is not protected by the ADA."
In other words, marijuana’s illegality under the federal Controlled Substances Act means there is really nothing patients can do to protect themselves, from the feds or even from their own city. Which means the battle over federal marijuana policy continues. Until federal laws are changed, there is nothing a state can really do to allow medical cannabis.
There was one small ray of hope in the 9th Circuit’s decision as Judge Marsha Berzon dissented from their opinion, saying, "Looking at the language of § 12210(d)(1) alone, I would come out where the majority does - concluding that the statute is ambiguous," she wrote. "But unlike the majority, I would not declare a near-draw. Instead, looking at the words alone, I would conclude that the plaintiffs have much the better reading, but not by enough to be comfortable that their interpretation is surely correct. Turning then to the legislative history, I would again declare the plaintiffs the winner, this time sufficiently, when combined with the language considerations, to adopt their interpretation, absent some very good reason otherwise. And I am decidedly not convinced that the majority's facile 'trump' via the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) works, because, among other reasons, the supposed tension relied upon does not exist."
Small hope indeed as the onslaught against medical marijuana continues on all government levels across the country.
N.Y. judge battling cancer makes case for medical marijuana
Who Would Be Worse For Medical Marijuana: Obama or Romney?
Sadly it looks like the 2012 U.S. Presidential election is going to be between President Obama and Mitt Romney. If you are a medical marijuana patient you probably see this as a depressing outcome, and you’re right.
We already know President Obama’s feelings on the matter. He used to be in favor of not using federal resources to override state law, but he has since altered his feelings on the issue. Mitt Romney is a Republican who has said in the past he opposes medical marijuana and even gets snippy when someone brings it up in his presence (http://www.thcfinder.com/marijuana-blog/politics/2012/05/medical-marijuana-is-an-important-issue-mitt-romney).
While pre-President Obama seemed to have a common sense grasp on the issue, Romney clearly has given it no thought whatsoever and simply parrots what conservatives have told him to say. The odds of a President Romney doing something positive about medical marijuana (especially in a first term when his base will have him by the nugs, so to speak) couldn’t be any worse. You’re more likely to buy a winning Powerball ticket while being struck by lightning than to see President Romney lift a finger for medical cannabis patients.
So this leaves us with President Obama – unless Gary Johnson makes a miracle run to the White House. Things in the first term have been bad, there’s no doubt about that. But some seem to believe that Obama’s second term will bring about the change we keep hearing about on medical marijuana. While there is some precedent for Presidents being bolder in their second terms, there is also precedent for 2nd terms to be incredible crash and burn events (see George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Harry Truman and Abraham Lincoln – he won the war but got shot in the head and killed). Will he even have time to consider the matter in between bouts of golf and picking NCAA Tournament brackets?
Is there still hope with Obama? Unlikely, but since we can’t trust his word on the matter, it could really go either way. I guess that’s where the “Hope” comes in.
New Study Says Smoking Marijuana Helps Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
A new study out of the University of California, San Diego shows what several other studies have shown, and that is marijuana’s beneficial effect on the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and consisted of 30 MS patients – 63% of them women. Some patients were given cannabis while some received placebos.
Those who smoked cannabis scored lower on the spasticity scale and reported a 50% decrease on the pain scale. But researchers also found some short-term cognitive impairment – the “high” of medical grade marijuana in other words, something that can be remedied with low THC, high CBD strains and concentrates.
"Smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in symptom and pain reduction in participants with treatment-resistant spasticity," researchers said. "Future studies should examine whether different doses can result in similar beneficial effects with less cognitive impact."
Most regular medical marijuana users already know that amazing advances have been made in cannabis breeding and have produced potent medicines that lack much of the psychoactive effect of THC. But I guess there’s not a study on that yet, so we have to wait for it to be “official.”
Beyond that, this is yet another study that shows marijuana’s ability to combat pain. And it does so without the side effects and addictiveness of prescription pills. Medical marijuana opponents act as if pain is some sort of cop out, or like patients are faking it to get legal weed.
While I’m sure some do fake it, there are a lot of people who endure physical and mental anguish every day and they shouldn’t be looked down on or treated like criminals just because they prefer an herbal remedy to their symptoms.
Keep doing your cannabis studies; it’s all good news for patients.
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