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Working to Reform Marijuana Laws in Western Pennsylvania
May 13, 2011 - Matthew McDermott, New York, NY
In case you missed it (and you certainly may have in the midst of other current world affairs) it's Hemp History Week. The second annual one in fact. I imagine most TreeHugger readers don't need much convincing that the US ought to legalize industrial hemp production--remember, though it's perfectly legal to important hemp products into the US, it's illegal under Federal law to grow hemp--so I won't regale you with all the reasons I think hemp prohibition (alongside marijuana prohibition) is, to be blunt, moronic.
Hemp's Really Good Food
One of the foci of the latest campaign to tout the many virtues of hemp is the nutritional benefits. So factoid #1: In addition to being an excellent source of protein, hemp seed have a "perfectly balanced 1:3 ratio of naturally-occurring omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids...unlike other seeds and nutritional oils, such as flax and fish fish oil, hemp seeds also contain super omega-3 stearidonic acid and super omega-6-gamma-linolenic acid in nutritionally relevant amounts that help to reduce inflammation and improve mental functioning, as well as make up for potentially impaired fatty acid metabolism."
In other words, while it's probably not a good idea to rely solely on hemp seed for these nutrients (as dietician Ashley Koff reminded us at Candle 79), a more balanced intake being preferable, hemp seed is seriously good for you.
US Is Missing Out in Millions of Dollars From Hemp Prohibition
Factoid #2: The United States is the only industrialized nation where growing industrial hemp is illegal. And because of that we're missing out on huge economic opportunity. Not insignificant when we're in less than ideal economic conditions and the potential for hemp is huge. Retail sales of hemp products in the US were $400 million in 2010 (so Vote Hemp tells me)--with $0 of the raw materials produced in the US. Based on Canadian stats, an acre of hemp is worth $200-400; and acre of soy or corn just $50.
Apparently even though Canadian cops can tell the difference between high-THC cannabis plants (marijuana) and low-THC plants (industrial hemp), the US DEA can't be bothered.
Ron Paul Supports Hemp Legalization
And, factoid #3 -- what's being done to rectify the situation. For environmentalists some support is coming from a seemingly unlikely quarter (considering his opposition to government regulating industry and greenhouse gas emissions, though the view is consistent), Ron Paul (R-TX).
Paul has submitted, for the second year in a row, an official Congressional Record statement in support of industrial hemp legalization. The last time Paul did this 25 additional members of Congress signed on.
What can you do? On the Hemp History Week site you can sign your name to letters to both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder urging them to let US farmers grow industrial hemp.
Happy Hemp History Week everyone.
May 13, 2011 - Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Coordinator
Earlier this morning Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed legislation to make the “First State” the sixteenth to approve the physician supervised use of medical marijuana. This measure will allow qualifying patients to possess up to 6 ounces of usable marijuana acquired from any of three state-supervised distribution centers. Qualifying conditions for the program include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. Full text of the bill can be read here.
NORML would like to thank all of the activists who contacted their State Senators and Representatives in support of this important legislation. The law must now undergo a one year regulatory and licensing process before the state’s three dispensaries begin operation. We will be sure to keep you posted on Delaware’s medical marijuana program as it develops.
May 12, 2011 - Norml
May 12, 2011 - TheAlyonaShow
Many states that were headed towards a medicinal legalization path have started to back off after the DOJ recently sent letters to states, threatening that they will go after state employees and will look at both civil and criminal penalties for those who run large scale operations, even if they are acceptable under state law. So why the drastic shift in policy? Scott Morgan with StoptheDrugWar.org weighs in.
May 12, 2011 - ACLU
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; email@example.com
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union has called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to make clear that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not prioritize prosecution of people who comply with state medical marijuana laws, in keeping with previous DOJ policy.
In a letter sent late yesterday, the ACLU expresses deep concern about recent letters from several U.S. attorneys from across the country that threaten people who comply with state medical marijuana laws, including state employees and state licensed providers of medical marijuana, with federal prosecution.
“Patients, providers and legislatures need clear guidance from DOJ so they
can proceed in confidence that state law will be respected,” said Jay Rorty,
Director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and one of the authors of the
ACLU’s letter. “Patients who suffer from serious medical conditions need safe
and reliable access to their medicine without the fear of federal prosecution.”
The ACLU’s letter was also signed by Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU
Washington Legislative Office and Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Senior Legislative
U.S. attorneys in Washington, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Rhode Island and Vermont have in recent weeks issued letters that diverge widely from what was previously understood as DOJ policy to not use federal resources to prosecute those who are clearly complying with state medical marijuana laws.
In a 2009 memo issued to all U.S. attorneys, then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden wrote, “As a general matter, pursuit of [DOJ drug enforcement] priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the use of medical marijuana.” And in a subsequent 2009 statement, Holder said, “For those organizations that are [possessing and distributing medical marijuana] sanctioned by state law and do it in a way that is consistent with state law, and given the limited resources that we have, that will not be an emphasis for this administration.”
But in a New York Times story Sunday, a Justice Department spokesman says the recent letters issued by the U.S. attorneys are “a reiteration of the guidance that was handed down in 2009 by the Deputy Attorney General,” a glaring inconsistency the ACLU says in its letter “requires clarification and an unambiguous statement from [Holder] that the prosecution of those complying with state law is not a priority for the department.”
According to the ACLU’s letter, the recent efforts by U.S. attorneys to dissuade states from enacting and implementing medical marijuana laws through threats of prosecution is an abuse of their role as impartial prosecutors and creates the appearance that the DOJ is attempting to undermine the outcome of lengthy and public legislative processes by various sovereign states.
“Nearly one-third of the states have now decriminalized [medical marijuana] in recognition of the unique and substantive benefit this drug provides to patients with certain serious conditions,” the ACLU’s letter reads. “The states to which the recent U.S. Attorneys’ letters have been directed have wisely recognized not only the needs of patients and the value of marijuana as a medicine, but also the need for a rational distribution scheme that channels this drug to humanitarian uses without contributing to a black market.”
The ACLU also says in its letter that the recent U.S. Attorneys’ letters conflict with a DOJ representation to a federal court that the Ogden memo represented a significant policy shift, under which those individuals and entities that use or distribute medical marijuana in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws would no longer be targeted by federal law enforcement. Based on that representation, the ACLU in 2009 voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit against the federal government arising from a 2002 DEA raid of a California medical marijuana garden, in which the ACLU represents a group of plaintiffs including Santa Cruz, Calif. city and county officials, which sanctioned the garden. The federal court had previously upheld the ACLU’s 10th Amendment claim alleging the federal government had selectively enforced federal marijuana laws in an improper federal attempt to undermine and disable the functioning of state medical marijuana laws.
“If, contrary to the assurances its attorneys provided the court in the Santa Cruz case, the federal government’s enforcement policies now include ‘vigorously enforcing’ federal drug laws against individuals and entities who manufacture and distribute marijuana on a completely non-profit basis and in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws, it marks a significant departure from the federal government’s position in the Santa Cruz litigation and could lead to that case being reinstated in its October 2009 posture with discovery proceeding as originally planned,” the ACLU’s letter reads.
The Letter Can be downloaded here