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Bill Introduced To Free Missouri Man Serving Life In Prison For Marijuana

Category: News | Posted on Wed, February, 18th 2015 by THCFinder
bill-for-man-who-is-serving-life-in-prison-for-mjIf you are not familiar with the case of Jeff Mizanskey, you should really research it. Jeff Mizanskey is serving a life sentence in a Missouri prison for marijuana only offenses. I always say, no one should spend even one day in a cell for marijuana, let alone a life sentence. But, sadly, that’s the case with Mr. Mizanskey, who has already served over twenty years in prison, despite the fact that he didn’t harm anyone.
 
That’s why we put a banner on the sidebar of everyone of our non-mobile pages dedicated to Jeff Mizanskey, and will continue to do so until he is free and home with his family. A bill was introduced this week in the Missouri Legislature that would free Jeff Mizanskey in August. The bill, Missouri House Bill 978, was introduced by Representative Dogan, and states the following:
 
Notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, the board shall order the release and parole of any offender who is incarcerated on August 28, 2015, is serving a sentence of life without parole, and has only been convicted of a marijuana offense or multiple marijuana offenses. For the purposes of this section, the term “marijuana” shall be as that term is defined under section 195.010
 
Locking someone up for marijuana is a colossal waste of resources, even if it’s just one day. To lock someone up for over 20 years for marijuana only offenses is an enormous injustice, and keeping that person in prison for the remainder of their life is flat out unacceptable. Any person with a brain realizes that. It’s time that Jeff Mizanskey was released, and it’s also time for the laws that put him there end too.
 

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Study: Marijuana Use Not Associated With Changes In Brain Morphology

Category: News | Posted on Tue, February, 17th 2015 by THCFinder
mj-not-associated-with-changes-in-brain-morphologyIt was less than a year ago when the mainstream media was chock-full of headlines like this one: ‘Brain changes associated with casual marijuana use in young adults, study finds.’ The alarmist headlines were in response to a controversial paper published by researchers at Harvard University in Boston and Northwestern University in Chicago which alleged to have found differences in brain morphology in a cohort of 20 college-age marijuana users as compared to 20 non-users. The study’s investigators attributed the differences to subjects’ cannabis use.
 
But a funny thing happened when a team of scientists from the University of Colorado and the University of Kentucky tried to replicate these results in a separate, larger sample (158 participants) of subjects after rigorously controlling for both groups’ use of alcohol.
 
They couldn’t.
 
Writing in the January 28 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, authors summarized:
 
“[T]his retrospective study examined brain morphology in a sample of adult daily marijuana users (n = 29) versus nonusers (n = 29) and a sample of adolescent daily users (n = 50) versus nonusers (n = 50). Groups were matched on a critical confounding variable, alcohol use, to a far greater degree than in previously published studies.
 
We acquired high-resolution MRI scans, and investigated group differences in gray matter using voxel-based morphometry, surface-based morphometry, and shape analysis in structures suggested to be associated with marijuana use, as follows: the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus, and cerebellum.
 
No statistically significant differences were found between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest. Effect sizes suggest that the failure to find differences was not due to a lack of statistical power, but rather was due to the lack of even a modest effect.”
 
Why the contradictory results? Investigators speculated that previously reported imaging studies failed to adequately control for the impact of alcohol, a substance that “unlike marijuana, … has been unequivocally associated with deleterious effects on brain morphology and cognition in both adults and adolescents.” In other words, researchers theorized that previously reported differences in the brain images of marijuana consumers as compared to non-users were likely because of subjects consumption of booze, not cannabis.
 
They concluded, “In sum, the results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures. … [I]t seems unlikely that marijuana use has the same level of long-term deleterious effects on brain morphology as other drugs like alcohol. The press may not cite studies that do not find sensational effects, but these studies are still extremely important.”
 

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Program offers alternative punishment for marijuana charges

Category: News | Posted on Mon, February, 16th 2015 by THCFinder
alternative-punishmentHOUSTON -- If you want to know what it looks like to get caught with marijuana in Houston, picture cuffs on your wrists and a ride in a squad car.
 
But for certain offenders, that drive now has an alternate ending—not a jail cell, but a classroom.
 
It's called the First Chance Pilot Program.
 
People caught with up to two ounces of marijuana, who have never been in trouble before, won't be charged with a crime in Harris County as long as they finish eight hours of community service or an eight-hour class.
 
"You look at the positive consequences and the negative consequences," the teacher said, reading from a board in front of a class full of marijuana offenders. They're mostly late teens, many still in high school. But the subject of the day was learning how not to repeat a dumb mistake.
 
"Folks are much better off if we teach them how to make good decisions," said Dr. Brian Lovins, assistant director for the Harris County Community Supervision Corrections Department.
 
So the offenders learn how to turn away from risky behaviors to stay out of the justice system.
 
"It's like that slap on the wrist that's like, if you really want to change, you'll do it and you'll never face this problem again. But then if you stay the same way, then you'll come right back," said 17-year-old Abraham Arias, a program participant.
 
It's a cycle Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson is trying to break.
 
"We need to recognize who we're mad at and who we're scared of, and the people we're scared of, we're locking them up for as long as we can," said Anderson. "But what we need to start focusing on are the people who are making mistakes but can be salvaged."
 
About 400 marijuana offenders are going through First Chance right now. Since it started in October, close to 400 more have finished, with less than 50 dropping out.
 
"[That is] pretty phenomenal in the criminal justice world," said Anderson.
 
She's hoping to expand the approach to stop putting criminal charges on other low-level misdemeanors, like trespassing and petty shoplifting.
 

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Michigan lawmakers seek clarity on edible marijuana

Category: News | Posted on Mon, February, 16th 2015 by THCFinder
lawmakers-seeking-clarity-on-ediblesLansing – — Four state lawmakers are reviving bills to legalize an array of medical marijuana products and dispensaries where they'd be sold after last year's effort was shot down by last-minute criticism from law enforcement and health groups.
 
Republican Rep. Mike Callton of Nashville, main sponsor of one of the bills, argues Michigan needs clear laws and regulations allowing "provisioning centers" where patients legally get marijuana in various forms suited to their needs.
 
Last year's bills died during the two-week lame-duck legislative session in December as opponents said police and public health agencies hadn't been allowed to weigh in and saw problems with what was proposed. The sponsors promise to remedy any shortcomings this time around.
 
Callton, a chiropractor by profession, said two related bills with House and Senate sponsors aim to "establish safe access for patients and allow for the use of alternative forms of marijuana, such as medibles and topicals."
 
His provisioning center bill calls for law enforcement access to make sure laws are being followed, at least annual health inspections, mandated laboratory certification that the products on sale are safe and a set of rules developed by the state's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department. The second measure would clarify that smokable marijuana isn't the only form of it that's legal.
 
The other bill sponsors are Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, and Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.
 
Their legislation seeks to clarify a shadowy area of state law so patients know what forms of the marijuana they can buy that 63 percent of state voters approved for medicinal use in 2008.
 

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California Bill Introduced To End Organ Transplant Denials For Medical Marijuana Patients

Category: News | Posted on Fri, February, 13th 2015 by THCFinder
end-organ-transplant-denials-for-mmj-patientsCalifornia State Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) has introduced AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, a bill aimed at preventing medical marijuana patients from being unduly denied organ transplants. The Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act issponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which has long advocated for patients seeking organ transplants, including Norman B. Smith, a medical marijuana patient who died in 2012 after being denied a liver transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
 
Specifically, AB 258 states that, “A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient’s status as a qualified patient…or based solely on a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient.” The bill simply establishes the same protections that currently exist for other transplant candidates with mental or physical disabilities.
 
“Arcane public health policies view medical cannabis patients as drug abusers,” said Assembly member Levine in a prepared statement. “Too often, patients are denied a life-saving organ transplant solely because they are prescribed medical cannabis. These patients have died after being dropped from the list, and many more are in jeopardy right now. This legislation will save lives by ensuring medical cannabis patients are not discriminated against in the organ transplant process.”
 
The bill’s introduction comes less than two months after the California Medical Association adopted a resolution stating that medical marijuana should not be used as a criteria for denying organ transplants. Laws already exist in Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Washington that explicitly protect qualified patients from discrimination when seeking organ transplants.
 
According to ASA, several patients have reported being denied organ transplants in California over the past few years, including patients at UCLA Medical Center, Standford Medical School, UCSF Medical Center, and Cedars-Sinai. Most transplant centers will disqualify patients from receiving organ transplants or refuse to place them on a waiting list unless they test negative for marijuana for 6 months and take drug abuse counseling for the same period of time. Smith was attempting to comply with Cedars’ policy when he died.
 
Without national guidelines, transplant centers like those in California are left to design their own policies, most of which discriminate against medical marijuana patients say advocates. Medical centers have also refused to change their policies despite being urged to do so in the case of Smith and Toni Trujillo, another Cedars-Sinai patient seeking a kidney transplant. After being on a waiting list for 6 years, Cedars-Sinai de-listed Trujillo because her medical marijuana use was considered “substance abuse.”
 
“Denying organ transplants to otherwise eligible medical marijuana patients is the worst kind of discrimination,” said ASA California Director Don Duncan. “The Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act will stop legal patients in California from being denied organ transplants and will bring the state’s policies up to date with a growing body of scientific evidence,” continued Duncan. “It’s time to change these punitive policies, and we look forward to working with the legislature to get that done.”
 
Patients being summarily removed from transplants lists is not just a problem in California, occurring in other medical marijuana states like Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. In 2008, Seattle resident and medical marijuana patient Timothy Garon died after being denied a liver transplant by the University of Washington Medical Center. A year later, in 2009, Big Island resident and medical marijuana patient Kimberly Reyes died at Hilo Hospital after being denied a liver transplant.
 

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'I'm Facing Years In Prison For Medical Marijuana -- For Me, That's A Death Sentence'

Category: News | Posted on Fri, February, 13th 2015 by THCFinder
facing-years-in-prison-for-marijuanaLarry Harvey, 71, thought he was doing everything right growing medical marijuana for his personal use. His home state of Washington legalized medical cannabis in 1998, and Harvey says his cultivation of plants with his wife, other family members and a close friend complied with the law.
 
But in 2012, state and federal law enforcers raided the Harvey home and shut down their operation. Harvey; his wife, Rhonda; their son, Rolland Gregg; Gregg's wife, Michelle Gregg; and family friend Jason Zucker all face federal marijuana charges that could land them in prison for 10 years.
 
But Harvey may not live long enough to see prison, let alone serve out his sentence. In recent months Harvey has developed cancer of the pancreas that has begun to spread to his liver. The average life expectancy for a patient with metastatic pancreatic cancer is three months to six months.
 
In the coming days, a federal judge will rule on a motion Harvey filed to dismiss his case because it conflicts with new medical marijuana protections in the recently enacted $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that says the Department of Justice shouldn't interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The judge may also drop charges against Harvey when he shows proof of his deteriorating health.
 
Federal law classifies marijuana a Schedule I substance "with no currently accepted medical use." The judge has told the group they may not invoke their status as state-legal medical marijuana patients as a defense.
 
This is Larry Harvey's story:
 
I live about nine miles north of Colville, Washington. We have about 34 acres on the side of a mountain over there. My wife Rhonda grows a big vegetable garden and she cans and freezes everything out of that garden. We have wild game on the property here -- turkeys, grouse, we eat a lot of venison. We’re both hunters. We try to live off the land all we can.
 
I’ve got a real banged up knee -- the meniscus is gone in my left knee and if I walk a quarter-mile, I’m crippled the rest of the day. I got it mostly from about 4 million miles from shoving a clutch, as well as some foolish things when I was younger.
 
But about four years ago, a friend of mine gave me a marijuana cookie. I was sitting in my chair, my knee throbbing. I ate that little cookie and in about five minutes the pain was completely gone. It’s kind of like having a toothache. Every time your heart beats it kind of boings. It’s such a relief. I didn’t feel “stoned” or whatever at all. The cookie I had was small and all it did was relieve the pain. So I felt like we needed to grow some of this stuff.
 
There were five of us -- my wife and I, her son Rolland and his wife Michelle, and then another family friend Jason. We all pooled together and we grew some pot. Everything was going good until the cavalry showed up.
 
The Civil Air Patrol was flying in the area. They spotted our grow and they called the Forest Service. The Forest Service, of course, is a federal outfit, so they got a hold of the DEA and sheriff and all that and they flew over. But they didn’t say a thing about the white flag with a green cross I was flying above the grow. In fact, they are editing that green cross flag evidence out of my trial because they don’t want the jury in a federal court to know it was a medical marijuana grow. It’s federal court, and we’re not to mention that we are legal medical marijuana patients in the state of Washington.
 

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