Cannabis Oligopoly-Missouri

If you aren’t aware, we have three initiatives up for the 2016 ballot in Missouri relating to cannabis, hemp, marijuana. One is the subject of the following article, and the points are definitely salient. Another is the Show Me Cannabis/NORML complex medical cannabis initiative which would allow medical cannabis after a massive amount of hoops in the medical industrial complex are deftly jumped through. That one is “New Approach” Missouri’s initiative…backed by many attorneys and many. many pages long, And then there is the Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection Act initiative (MCRPA). That one is viewed as “radical” because it puts the people in the power of cannabis growth and usage and the legislature would need to make laws about age limits and things like that. Despite the opposition’s oft touted statement that driving under the influence of cannabis would be protected under the MCRPA initiative, it doesn’t provide for that. A simple fact is that the MCRPA wouldn’t make lawyers and bureaucrats wealthy, and since the objective for that ilk is to profit on people’s suffering is their bread and butter, they are against it. Those are the three initiatives (in a very, very small nutshell) that Missourians have the opportunity to support or oppose.

The article below is from the opponent of Brad Bradshaw, lawyer, surgeon and candidate for the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Missouri. He makes some very good points on Bradshaw’s (on it’s face) populist initiative. (Link to the source is in the title below)

The Missouri Legislature Must Not Let Brad Bradshaw Hijack Medical Cannabis to Create Constitutional Oligopolies and Grow Government

By Missouri State Rep. Tommie Pierson (D-North St. Louis County)

As a contender for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor and a sitting State Representative, I’ve got a unique perspective on an issue that is of increasing importance in this political cycle: medical cannabis. That’s because my primary opponent, Springfield attorney/physician Brad Bradshaw, is running electoral and initiative campaigns advancing a dangerous agenda attempting to hijack the overwhelming positive sympathy of Missourians in support of medical cannabis for the purpose of expanding the powers of the office of the Lieutenant Governor, creating a new state agency with new tax revenues and eminent domain powers, and establishing Constitutional oligopolies on cannabis commerce.

Pierson

Pierson

Various polls show that as many as 80% of Missourians support the notion that the government should not interfere in the doctor-patient relationship with respect to medically necessary cannabis therapeutics. Indeed, it now seems inevitable that this popular sentiment will soon be expressed in law — the only question is who will do it and how.

And it’s here where my wealthy self-funding opponent has seized the opportunity to package a set of dangerous ideas in an initiative petition nominally about legalizing medical cannabis. Bradshaw’s initiative petition 2016-128 would create a new state agency, the “Research and Drug Development Institute” to “find cures for presently incurable diseases”. This Institute would operate “under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor” and the Lieutenant Governor would appoint the Research Board governing the day-to-day operations of the Institute. The Research Board’s powers are wide and varied, and include the ability to sell revenue bonds to finance the operation of the Institute. The Research Board would also license and regulate the medical marijuana industry and derive revenues from license fees associated with commercial marijuana operations (such fees are $50000 for the first year and may be increased each successive year). The legislation also prioritizes license applications from pharmacists and health care providers, creating a Constitutionally unequal playing field for ordinary entrepreneurs (and ensuring there will be virtually no minority access to this industry). Additionally, the legislation allows for the Research Board to seize private property for the physical building housing the Institute through eminent domain in as many as 5 unique sites after having put such a question to the voters of the counties where such land may be located. Finally, the Research Board may enter into partnerships and revenue-sharing agreements with other private or public organizations.

In short:

  • This legislation threatens private property owners by creating a Constitutional regime for eminent domain takings
  • This legislation would create a Constitutional oligopoly where ordinary Missourians would find it virtually impossible to start businesses, deploy capital investments, or enter the cannabis industry
  • This legislation creates a new state agency with a dedicated revenue stream controlled by the office of the Lieutenant Governor and without any accountability from any other branch of government
  • This legislation taxes medical cannabis at 85%

Instead of allowing this travesty to proceed unimpeded, the Missouri Legislature should follow the recommendation of Jackson County Sheriff and incoming Missouri Sheriffs Association President Mike Sharp, who says:

“If a licensed medical doctor sees a need for the use of medical cannabis to improve the quality of life, that should be up to the doctor and the individual,” he says, adding that his nephew deserved at least a chance to try the treatment. “If this could help him have one good day, why wouldn’t I support that?”

With Bradshaw funding a multi-million dollar coordinated electoral and initiative campaigns to grow government and increase economic inequality, it’s time for the Missouri General Assembly to show leadership and bring together the diverse stakeholders necessary to implement medical cannabis in this state properly.

Cannabis is Food

Recently, the author of the only grass roots effort to legalize cannabis in Missouri, Mark Pedersen, put up a video on YouTube about some of the reasons he wrote the act. The video is about 25 minutes long, and the one criticism I have is that Mark doesn’t draw enough focus onto the myriad of issues concerning the medical only access to cannabis. I’ll be writing an article regarding these problems fairly soon. However, I can’t resist doing a mini diatribe on it right now! So if you want to skip the next paragraph and get straight to the video, you just need to scroll down a bit.

If you think that tightly controlled medical cannabis is the only way to go, then it follows that you have inherent faith in the medical industrial complex. While I will say that if I have a trauma, like a bad car wreck, or if I fall out of tree and break many bones, I want to go the hospital! However, if I have a chronic condition, like arthritis, or cancer, or irritable bowel, or Chron’s Disease, or PTSD, or migraines, or fibromyalgia, or psoriasis, or epilepsy, or about 60 other conditions, I want to take my health issues into my own hands and use supplementation, diet and-if I deem it necessary- cannabis. And I don’t need a doctor to give me pharmaceutical chemicals that have a myriad of side effects to deal with my health. Most doctors only get one class for one semester on nutrition. Yet Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”

Here is the video I mentioned at the outset:

Ohio Rejects Issue 3- Monopoly Marijuana

Yesterday, “Responsible Ohio” had their hat handed to them by Ohio voters. The main stream media is pushing that Ohio is against legalizing cannabis, but what they actually rejected was a cartel ensconced in their constitution that would only allow the ten entities funding the bill to grow cannabis for retail. This proposal was extremely flawed, and as someone who cherishes liberty, I am extremely happy that Ohio rejected this!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might find it funny that a wonk for Issue 3 called me a communist for speaking against this proposal because of the oligopoly it would enshrine in the state’s constitution. They said I was “crazy hippy communist” for thinking that there should be a level playing field and allowing for economic freedom for those that wanted to put their own money up to jump into the ring and grow and sell cannabis for retail.

Here are a couple of article links about the big happy fail:

Ohioans Reject Legalizing Cannabis

Ohio voters vote no against legal and medicinal marijuana!

Ohio Issue 3- Cartel Cannabis- On Ballot Now

The attorney responsible for pushing the “Responsible Ohio” legalization effort for cannabis isn’t openly admitting that he is an oligopolist, or a fascist, but I’ll say that he is. If he takes umbrage with it, he is welcome to call me and we can argue semantics and right and wrong in person. The people paying for it because they will be the ten entities allowed to grow it there are the same. If it bothers them, oh well. In effect, they are entering into a realm of not being protected from public comments putting their character into question because they are attempting to ensconce a cartel into a state’s constitution. Nothing about it indicates any respect for the idea of a level playing field or free market economics.

Here is an article on this issue. If my spidey-sense is serving me right, this is likely to be similar to what Show Me Cannabis might offer up in 2020 if we fail to get the Missouri Cannabis Restoration Act (2016-013) through in 2016…Hopefully, we won’t have to go down that path:

On Ballot, Ohio Grapples With Specter of Marijuana Monopoly

Don Wirtshafter, an Ohio lawyer who has long fought to make marijuana legal, nonetheless said he opposed Issue 3, a legalization amendment, seeing it as “opportunists seeking monopolistic gains.” Credit Andrew Spear for The New York Times

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, a collector of antique marijuana apothecary jars, the founder of an industrial hemp business and “a pot smoker consistently for 47 years,” Don Wirtshafter, an Ohio lawyer, has fought for decades to make marijuana legal, calling it “my life’s work.”

But when Ohio voters go to the polls Tuesday to consider a constitutional amendment to allow marijuana for both medical and personal use, Mr. Wirtshafter will vote against it.

Issue 3, as the proposed amendment is known, is bankrolled by wealthy investors spending nearly $25 million to put it on the ballot and sell it to voters. If it passes, they will have exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. The proposal has a strange bedfellows coalition of opponents: law enforcement officers worried about crime, doctors worried about children’s health, state lawmakers and others who warn that it would enshrine a monopoly in the Ohio Constitution.

A selection from Don Wirtshafter’s collection of antique marijuana apothecary jars. Credit Andrew Spear for The New York Times

The result has been one of the nation’s oddest legalization campaigns. It pits a new generation of corporate investors against grass-roots advocates like Mr. Wirtshafter, who deplores “opportunists seeking monopolistic gains” and laments that America would have been much better off “if they would have just let the hippies have their weed.”

A recent poll by the University of Akron shows voters evenly split, but if the proposal passes, Ohio will be the first state to approve marijuana for personal use without first legalizing medical marijuana. That would put Ohio, a swing state, at the forefront of the national movement to overhaul marijuana laws — just in time for the 2016 presidential campaign. Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, a Republican candidate for president, opposes Issue 3.

“If Ohio wins, it will be a significant step forward for the broader movement — nothing will excite attention like that,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which has helped lead the national drive for legalization. But his group is remaining neutral rather than endorsing Issue 3, he said, “because of the problematic oligopoly provision.”

To complicate matters, the Ohio General Assembly has put a competing initiative, Issue 2, on the ballot; known as the antimonopoly amendment, it would block Issue 3 by prohibiting the granting of special rights through the State Constitution. There is certain to be a protracted legal battle if both measures pass.

The story of how Issue 3 got onto the ballot begins here in Columbus, the capital, with Ian James, a political consultant whose company, the Strategy Network, specializes in gathering signatures for ballot initiatives. In 2009, his firm helped legalize casino gambling in Ohio through a measure that amended the State Constitution and specified where casinos could be located.

Jan Lefebre, a ResponsibleOhio staff member canvassing in Columbus, Ohio, met Shannon Lakanen, left, who supported Issue 3, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow marijuana for both medical and personal use. Credit Andrew Spear for The New York Times

Mr. James said he had “taken that premise and applied it to marijuana.” In early 2014, he said, he began meeting with lawyers and a potential investor, James Gould, a Cincinnati sports agent, to talk about a “tightly regulated system” to make marijuana available in Ohio. An organization called the Ohio Rights Group, then represented by Mr. Wirtshafter, was already gathering signatures for an initiative to make medical marijuana legal.

But Mr. James had a more ambitious plan.

With help from Mr. Gould, he found 10 investment groups willing to put up a minimum of $2 million each to finance a campaign to pass an amendment that would legalize marijuana for medical use and personal use in small amounts; set up a commission to regulate it; and designate 10 parcels of land — each owned or optioned by funders of the initiative — where marijuana could be legally grown and cultivated for commercial use.

Adults 21 and older would also be allowed to grow small amounts of marijuana — up to four flowering plants — for themselves. The state commission would license retailers, who would be required to win elections in local precincts.

The backers call themselves ResponsibleOhio. Among the investors: the former professional basketball player Oscar Robertson, the fashion designer Nanette Lepore, Mr. Gould and two great-great-grand-nephews of President William Howard Taft. Each investment group has committed as much as $40 million to build facilities if Issue 3 passes.
Photo
Ian James, a political strategist, has worked extensively with ResponsibleOhio, the pro-legalization group led by wealthy investors. If Issue 3 passes, they would have exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. Credit Andrew Spear for The New York Times

Mr. James, whose detractors note that his firm is earning more than $5 million to run ResponsibleOhio, makes no bones about what critics call “the corporatization” of the marijuana business. He said the sale of marijuana would, beginning in 2020, generate $554 million a year in tax revenue for Ohio; 85 percent would go toward safety services and infrastructure repair.

“We have clearly taken this from the tie-dye to the suit-and-tie approach, there is no question about that,” Mr. James said. “Right, wrong or indifferent, this is the way legalization is moving in this country now.”

National advocates are split: The Marijuana Policy Project, like the Drug Policy Alliance, is neutral on Issue 3, while the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or Norml, gave it an uneasy endorsement. Some legalization proponents say Mr. James has created a new model.

“If he is successful with this, a bunch of very rich people will be interested in hiring him to try it in other places,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University who has advised ResponsibleOhio.

Mr. James says he has no plans for other states, though at least five — including California and Nevada — are expected to have ballot initiatives in 2016.
Photo
Buddie is the mascot for ResponsibleOhio, a pro-legalization group led by wealthy investors. Credit Andrew Spear for The New York Times

Outraged lawmakers in Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature, unwilling to cede control over drug policy, responded with Issue 2, which passed the House with bipartisan backing and the Senate along party lines. State Representative Michael F. Curtin, a Democrat and former editor of The Columbus Dispatch, helped draft the measure, and is a driving force behind Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, the opponents’ coalition.

He calls Issue 3 “a prostitution of the initiative process.”

ResponsibleOhio is making its case to voters on the airwaves (Mr. James said his group would spend as much as $9 million on radio and television ads); with celebrity endorsements (Montel Williams, the talk show host who touts medicinal marijuana as treatment for his multiple sclerosis, was here last week); and with paid canvassers who, Mr. James said, will have knocked on one million doors by Election Day.

But perhaps the group’s most contentious marketing effort has been Buddie, an anthropomorphic marijuana bud who looks a bit like a spear of asparagus wearing green cowboy boots and a blue cape, and who has been turning up on college campuses around the state. Critics liken him to Joe Camel, the cartoon character accused of marketing Camel cigarettes to children.

On the campus of the University of Cincinnati on Thursday, Buddie posed for photos and found no shortage of fans among students; most eagerly accepted free T-shirts (with messages like “O-High-O”). Many who stopped were passionate about legalization. Others said it mattered little to them. One, Lee Idoine, told campaign workers who accompanied Buddie that he “worried about the big businesses getting an edge on the market right away.”

Mr. Wirtshafter, who practices law in Athens, Ohio, but resigned as the lawyer for the Ohio Rights Group after it endorsed Issue 3, said Buddie proved “how little the organizers of Issue 3 knew about cannabis, its politics and its users.” Mr. Wirtshafter is now active with a new group, Legalize Ohio 2016, which plans its own ballot initiative next year.

On Saturday, he planned to attend a Halloween celebration with a mascot of his own: Monopoly Man.

 

Medical Marijuana…Not such a great thing for those in need

If you’ve heard me speaking on the issue of cannabis and legalizing this plant the produces food, fiber, fuel, and medicine, you may have heard a little bit about why the “medical” initiatives are actually not a wonderful deal. Usually you have to exhaust all pharmaceutical attempts at addressing your issue. Then have a special doctor recommend medical cannabis for you or your loved one’s issue, then you have to get approved by the state for it, and then you have to get to an approved dispensary that sells it. In effect, it can be “legal” in name only and if you are found to have it without all the hoops being properly jumped through, you could be a felon.

Putting sick people through the meat grinder of the medical industrial complex with all the negative effects of pharmaceuticals doesn’t seem compassionate to me at all. Below is an article on this issue in New Jersey:

Medical marijuana patients still face hurdles in New Jersey

– Associated Press – Saturday, October 31, 2015

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) – Michelle Teel sees a pain specialist to help her manage the devastation that five years of breast cancer treatment has wreaked on her body. The 35-year-old Deptford woman suffers from bone pain and a stubborn six-inch leaking wound on her chest that won’t heal.

Oxycodone does little to ease her discomfort.

“I’m in pain every day,” the former reporter said.

“If I come up with the money, I want to try the (medicinal) marijuana,” Teel said. “I want to be on something that works.”

Though five alternative treatment centers are now open across the state, including two in South Jersey, patients still face hurdles accessing legal cannabis. Widely praised by doctors for its strict regulations, the state’s marijuana program faces bitter criticism from patients and their advocates.

“The program is so artificially restrictive, the vast majority of people who can benefit from medical marijuana therapy can’t access it in New Jersey,” said Ken Wolski, who leads the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey.

Since New Jersey launched its patient registry three years ago, about 5,600 people have enrolled in the medicinal marijuana program. In the three weeks since Compassionate Sciences, Inc., opened its dispensary in Bellmawr, it has served more than 460 patients, most commonly for intractable skeletal muscular spasticity, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

Doctors have been slower to sign on.

Currently, 354 physicians in New Jersey can write prescriptions for marijuana, 29 more than last year. Another 79 doctors are registered, but inactive. New Jersey is the only state that requires doctors to register in the program before they can write prescriptions for cannabis, Wolski said.

The state limits marijuana prescriptions to patients with certain qualifying conditions, including glaucoma; inflammatory bowel disease; intractable skeletal spasticity; lateral sclerosis; muscular dystrophy; multiple sclerosis; seizure disorder; severe or chronic pain due to cancer and HIV/AIDS; terminal cancer; and terminal illness.

Psychiatric conditions, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety, are not included. More debilitating conditions could be added to the state’s list, if they are approved by a review panel.

Though the state Department of Health must convene the review panel at least once a year, it hasn’t done so yet, according to Donna Leusner, a department spokeswoman.

“The Department is in the process of contacting individuals that were recommended to gather more information on their background and expertise,” Leusner said in an email.

Even if a review panel agrees more conditions should be approved, its decision can be overruled by the state health commissioner, Wolski said.

“It seems like an exercise in futility,” Wolksi said. “We’re not really hopeful there’s going to be meaningful expansion” of the medical marijuana program.

Parents of children with epilepsy have urged the state for years to permit the sale of edible marijuana products. For now, they brew marijuana-infused oil in their home kitchens, unable to test their homemade concoctions for potency.

The state hasn’t yet permitted dispensaries to manufacture other forms of the herb, such as topical ointments, lozenges or oils. Compassionate Sciences, Inc., in Bellmawr submitted an application earlier this year to produce two topical treatments and a lozenge. Leusner said it was still under review.

The program also requires a doctor’s approval before patients can get a marijuana card.

Physicians can only prescribe marijuana to patients they’ve seen at least four times. Typically, doctors only accept direct payment for such visits, Wolski explained.

Once approved by a doctor, patients are charged $200 to register in the state’s medicinal marijuana program for two years. Nearly half of those registered in the program last year qualified for a reduced $20 charge to register.

Patients must pay out of pocket for marijuana, which costs $480 an ounce at the Bellmawr dispensary. The marijuana is taxed at 7 percent.

New Jersey’s legal marijuana is “the most expensive” in the country,” Wolski said.

“Anybody whose been impoverished by their illness or marginally employed, they can’t afford this program,” Wolski said. “It’s a shell of what it could have been.”

Even so, patient demand is high, said Dr. Andrew Medvedovsky, a neurologist and pain specialist with RA Pain Services in Washington Township.

“Over the 2½ years I’ve been in practice, many, many patients have asked me about medical marijuana,” said Medvedovsky, who referred patients elsewhere before he joined the state’s program in July.

Since then, he has prescribed cannabis to about 50 patients, including children with severe epilepsy. He sees patients with complex conditions that can be difficult to treat with conventional pharmaceutical drugs.

Some of his patients take four pills at night to ease painful spasms, “and they still can’t fall asleep.” He’s also concerned about the side effects and addictive nature of powerful opioids and benzodiazepines.

“They don’t provide relief,” Medvedovsky said. “They don’t really help a large population of patients.”

Marijuana offers another option for patients who have hit the limits of conventional medicine, he explained. Still, some of his patients don’t qualify for the program, because they don’t have one of the approved conditions.

“Many patients told me if they could smoke marijuana legally,” Medvedovsky said, “they would be so happy to get off their other medications.”

But it’s not easy, even for those who clearly qualify. The program permits terminally ill people to receive medicinal marijuana, for example. Just over 300 of them were enrolled in the program last year, according to state records.

Wolski pins the blame on the state’s restrictions and its lack of outreach about marijuana’s therapeutic benefits. Besides controlling pain, the herb improves appetite, helps with bladder control, and raises the spirits of those facing a terminal prognosis, he said.

“It really helps people who are elderly and dying in so many ways,” Wolski said. “It’s a sin, really, to keep it from these people.”

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Missouri Cannabis Initiatives…Attorney’s Thoughts on Show Me Cannabis Fail

I was sent the following Facebook post from a friend who is also working on the Missouri Cannabis Restoration Act. Since there may be some people who, like me, are not on Facebook, I decided to share this post so people can get an idea of what is going here in the Show Me state with three very different (and two incredibly insanely taxed) cannabis initiatives.

While there are numerous particulars that actually demand another in depth article on this issue, the following will at least cover some of those issues and let people know a bit of what is actually going on with this issue.

One thing that Attorney Groce points out here is of major importance…Why is Show Me Cannabis, the biggest cannabis group in the state, not putting up their own initiative, and not lending their support to the best initiative that actually frees people to access cannabis?

Here’s the post:

 

Missouri Marijuana Law and Reform
October 28 at 12:05pm ·
MISSOURI: 3 Ballot initiatives, and opinions. By: Steven Groce, Attorney.
Each is presented below.
The Show Me State, is not short on ideas for Cannabis reform for 2016.
Three possible Ballot initiatives. Each, different. The only problem, is
that no one is on the same page for Legalization. For those of us that
worked hard prior to the 2012 Presidential election for an actual
“Legalization” initiative to be on the 2012 November Ballot, there simply
were not enough signatures for the initiative to make the ballot.
Following that effort, most of us still held our heads high, and resolved
that 2016 would be a different story. Why 2016, rather than the Primary in
2014? Simply because it has always been the case that more people come out
to vote in a Presidential election, than in a Primary. So, despite the
fact that it meant waiting 4 more years, rather than 2, everyone involved,
primarily Show-mecannabis, seemed to be in agreement that it would be best
to go for Legalization in 2016.
It was generally assumed that Show-mecannabis would head up the
Legalization initiative for 2016, and also that in 2016, there would be no
problem getting the signatures to put actual “Legalization” on the ballot.
In addition to volunteers, professional payed signature gatherers would be
hired, and therefore no shortage of signatures.
Moving forward to October 2015, barely 1 year away from the 2016
Presidential election, much has changed. Show-mecannabis, has decided,
against the wishes of many people and supporters, to not even put forth a
Legalization initiative. This is perhaps the greatest disappointment for
the entire State, not to mention many people that supported
Show-mecannabis, with both time, and also financial resources. Instead,
Show-mecannabis has decided to put forth a voter initiative for a limited
and restrictive Medical Cannabis initiative only. While I can personally
attest that Show-mecannabis has done some great work over the last few
years, many people still feel completely let down by the very organization
that they supported, again with both time and money, to go for
Legalization in 2016.
Once again, We, the People, should never assume or presume anything, even
if it involves people that we believed were all on the same page. For the
record, this is not to be construed as an attack on Show-mecannabis. It is
simply a great feeling of being let down that is shared by many. So, the
reality now, is that many of us who thought we were all on the same page
for Legalization in 2016, apparently are not on the same page at all.
So, while Show-mecannabis has come out supporting a limited and
restrictive Medical cannabis initiative, the organization has effectively
caved in regard to going for actual Legalization. What makes this even
worse, and more disappointing, is that if you consider the arguments
Show-mecannabis made for waiting until 2016, to go for Legalization again,
(because it would be the next Presidential election), then not going for
Legalization in 2016, most likely means, that at least for
Show-mecannabis, that organization will not consider it again until 2020
(which would of course, once again, represent the next Presidential
election after 2016), which was the argument for waiting until 2016,
rather than 2014, to try for Legalization again.
From a personal standpoint, I felt that the organization should have tried
for Legalization in 2014, during the primary. To not try in 2016, during
the Presidential election, is not just a let down, but from a personal
standpoint, unbelievable. Sometimes, you just have to go for it. I don’t
mean to be harsh. It is just how I, and many others, feel. I will always
try to support Show-mecannabis; but when it comes to a vote, I will
support Legalization.
The fear of losing, should not be such a fear, that it stops one from
trying. Also, in Life, if you are going to go for something, anything, it
should be what you really want and believe in. Noteworthy is Oregon.
Oregon was not successful with Legalization the first time around; but it
did not adversely hinder, in any way, going for it again the next time,
which proved to be successful. It should also be noted, that Oregon
successfully passed Legalization during the 2014 mid-term Primary. They
did not even wait until 2016; and because they went for it, they have it!
As President Roosevelt said:
“It is hard to fail; but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
So, what are the options for Missouri Voters?
As of this writing, there appear to be three. Whether all of them will
actually be on the Ballot in 2016, remains to be seen. Much of that
depends on the efforts of each organization.
Each of the initiatives in Missouri, and the organizations, or in one case
the person behind it, is set forth below:
1. FOR TRUE LEGALIZATION, we have some very hard working people
representing the Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection act. The
Legalization initiative can be read by clicking on the link below:
http://www.cannabisrestorationandprotectionact.org/the-init
MCRPA 2016, as it is also known, has already been circulating Signature
gathering Petitions around the State, holding meetings to both explain the
Legalization initiative and to garner support; and they already have a
good start in getting the required number of signatures for this
initiative to make the 2016 Ballot.
For the record: I have personally signed this Legalization initiative, and
I encourage everyone else that would actually like to see Cannabis
returned completely to pre-prohibition status, to sign the Petition as
well. A Google search will quickly inform you of how to find an
opportunity to sign this Petition.
2. For Medical, (limited, restrictive and taxed), there are now two
initiatives.
First, is the Show-mecannabis initiative, which is being promoted under
the name of “New Approach Missouri.”
The lead spokesperson or consultant for New Approach Missouri, is a person
by the name of Jack Cardetti. It is somewhat confusing; but this is really
Show-mecannabis, and represents the Medical initiative of that
organization. Remember, this is the organization that many people thought,
assumed and supported, that would go for Legalization, even though we knew
we would have to wait until 2016 for Show-mecannabis to do so, because
Show-mecannabis thought that was necessary.
After receiving an email on 10-16-15, from Jack Cardetti, inviting me to a
fund-raising launch party for New Approach, (the Show-mecannabis Medical
only initiative), I wrote a reply email back. I do not know if it was
received by Mr. Cardetti, since I never received a reply. I was informed
that it may have been a No Reply address that he sent me the invite from;
but at the time I replied on the same date, it did not appear to be so,
and the email did not come back as undeliverable. Regardless, I have
decided to include that email below for all to read. Perhaps if Mr.
Cardetti, or Show-mecannabis, did not get to read it, then everyone can do
so now. I encourage everyone to read it, as it also provides some insights
(definitely not all), as to why I feel that Legalization, rather than
Medical, is the only way to go.
October 16, 2015
To: Jack Cardetti
New Approach Missouri Missouri (Medical Cannabis only)
Dear Jack,
Thanks for your email regarding New Approach Missouri.
As you may, or possibly may not know, I am a Life Member Attorney for NORML,
and I also sponsor the Facebook Community Page:
Missouri Marijuana Law and Reform
http://www.facebook.com/SupportLegalization
I support all efforts for legalization.

To be honest, the fact that Show-mecannabis decided to only go for Medical, rather than legalization, is a huge disappointment. It is even a step backwards from the
legalization effort that we had hoped for in 2012!
I am willing to write about it on the Community page; but I have also
written about the efforts of the Missouri Cannabis Restoration Act for
full Legalization in Missouri. Therefore, I will support both; but I will
first and foremost support full Legalization. However, to be clear, I will
only support what you are doing if you and Show-mecannabis also are
willing to support the Missouri Cannabis Restoration Act.

This conflict between the two organizations is not helping the cause for anyone; and it
is very unfortunate for everyone in the State that two organizations are
not on the same path, and not seeking the same objectives.

Medical Marijuana has many problems that promoters of it rarely ever tell the
people that they ask to vote for it. Such as the fact that regardless of
whether you get a prescription, you may very likely be denied many jobs,
and also licenses for many things. Doesn’t matter if the prescription
makes your use legal. People need to be told that, especially young
people. In fact, I still think that you and Show-mecannabis should forget
the medical and go for full Legalization. It is not too late. Medical will
help some people; but it will also hurt some of those same people in ways
they never even dreamed. It will not be helpful to many people with a
career and a variety of professional licenses.

Also, what you and Show-me Cannabis has decided to do, will very likely delay any chance for
legalization in Missouri until 2020, (seriously, think about that alone);
and people need to be aware of that also. So, while you act like this is
some great thing, and ask for support and money from people, the real
truth should be presented.
Sincerely,
Steven F. Groce, Attorney
P
Tel. 417-883-4950 Office
WWW.ATTORNEYDWI.COM Law Office Web Site
Life Member Attorney: NORML (National Org. for Reform of Marijuana Laws)
Life Member Attorney: NACDL (National Assoc. of Criminal Defense Lawyers)
Member: Missouri Bar
Member: Texas Bar
Member: Federal District Court Bar
Member: Bar of The United States Supreme Court
http://www.facebook.com/SupportLegalization
On Oct 16, 2015, at 2:29 PM, Jack Cardetti <info@newapproachmissouri.com>
wrote:
Steven —
You’re invited to help us celebrate the kickoff of the campaign to bring
medical cannabis to Missouri at the New Approach Missouri Launch Party on
Friday, October 23 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m at Nebula in Saint Louis. Drinks
and light appetizers will be provided. For more details and to rsvp, click
the link below.
Come meet campaign leaders and help set us on a path towards victory on
Election Day 2016!
-Jack Cardetti
New Approach Missouri
For more info. on New Approach, they can be found at:
http://www.newapproachmissouri.com
3. The third and final Medical only initiative currently being discussed,
(which hopefully, in my opinion, also has the least chance of success), is
being put forth by Physician and Lawyer Brad Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw, is
apparently running for Lieutenant Governor of Missouri. A very important
point to note about Brad Bradshaw, is that HE TOTALLY OPPOSES
LEGALIZATION. So, ask yourself, do you want to even elect a person into
our Missouri government, that opposes Legalization? I think not.
As I was writing this post, a friend stopped by, and of course I was
explaining what I was currently working on. He said to me, “I heard that
Brad Bradshaw was running for Lieutenant Governor and was also pushing for
Legalization.” The power of the Media, and buzzwords! What he took from
the Media stories was apparently that Bradshaw wanted Legalization. I had
to explain to him that nothing was further from the truth. When I showed
him what Bradshaw really wanted, he was shocked. The point though, is that
a lot of people don’t really pay enough attention to the details, and they
hear a few buzzwords, and think a person stands for one thing, when in
fact, quite the opposite is true.
To be fair to Mr. Bradshaw, the following is a link that will provide more
info. regarding Mr. Bradshaw’s attempt for a power grab in Missouri, as
well as his ideas regarding Medical Marijuana. As with each of the other
initiatives presented, everyone is encouraged to investigate each on their
own. The link below is from an article written by The Pitch, which is a
magazine/newspaper in Kansas City, MO. If you take time to read this, one
thing you should immediately take note of is that Bradshaw would impose a
75% Retail tax, on Medical Cannabis, and an additional wholesale tax! I
would not want anyone in any political office, who would even think for a
minute that taxes like this are appropriate on Cannabis, or for that
matter, on anything else, let alone the fact that he also completely
opposes Legalization. Electing Bradshaw would be a setback to Missouri,
like nothing else. The Link below will take you to the real story of what
Brad Bradshaw is proposing.
http://m.pitch.com/…/brad-bradshaw-pushing-to-put-medical-m…
Substantial time was put in to writing this, as with a lot of Posts on
this page.

It is my hope that all of this information regarding these
three different initiatives, that are currently being sought in Missouri,
to be on the November 2016 ballot, has been helpful. Everyone should check
each one out for themselves. Although my personal biases, which obviously
favor True Legalization, are apparent, I have tried to also be fair in
presenting all three, with links for information regarding each one. Each
Voter will have the opportunity to make their choice on whatever ends up
on the Ballot.
Missouri Voters should not settle for anything less than actual
Legalization. We don’t need excessive or additional taxes of any kind on
Cannabis sales. We already pay a substantial Sales tax on everything we
buy. We, The People, also need to get away from the idea that we need the
Government to regulate everything. There seems to be a mindset by
individuals growing up in our current tightly regulated, and over policed
society, that we somehow have to have every aspect of our lives regulated.
I suggest to everyone, that thinking needs to be discarded.
One more point, regarding medical. Ask yourself: Isn’t any use of
Cannabis, medical? For example, let’s say you are not suffering from
seizures, or severe pain, but you have had a stressful day of work. You
are stressed, and rather than taking one of a hundred different
prescription Pills, you feel that a little Cannabis in the evening before
going to sleep will be the most healthy. The point: There could be a
thousand reasons why one might want to either ingest or smoke some
Cannabis. Maybe, just because you feel like it. Personal Freedom alone is
enough of a reason. Each reason, arguably, was due to a perceived need;
and that alone makes any use, for any reason that a person might desire,
medical. The Medical Marijuana proposals, however, will not provide for
this. Only Legalization will return freedom to the people, and end a
wrongful prohibition, that should have never happened.
We have become Slaves to a Government that wants to control every aspect
of our lives, spy on us, listen to our phone calls, mock the Constitution
given to us by our Founding Fathers, and tax the life out of us, only to
take care of the Government itself. It is time to take a stand. Stand up
for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
By: Steven F. Groce, Attorney
STAND UP, SPEAK OUT, AND DEMAND LEGALIZATION;
and: LET US PROTECT ALL OF OUR RIGHTS!
Steven F. Groce, Attorney, Life Member Attorney for NORML
Facebook Community Page: “Missouri Marijuana Law and Reform”
http://www.facebook.com/SupportLegalization
http://www.attorneydwi.com/ (Law Office Web Site)

Fully Informed Jury And Medical Marijuana Case

If you’re not familiar with the FIJA, I would ask that you go to their website and become familiar with the issue. It is the way that Prohibition on alcohol was really ended. They couldn’t get enough juries to convict, so the “law” became basically unenforceable. Yet in today’s court climate, everything is about plea bargaining and never actually getting  peers apprised of the issues involving charges against the accused unless it is a heinous crime. Also important to note, most states have made jury duty incredibly difficult to do without intensive financial hardship.

Here is the story link froman email I was sent by someone from the FIJA…I hope you take the time to read and contemplate the issue:

-Jon Peditto to Use Jury Nullification Strategy in MMJ Case

Marijuana (2)This week we have learned of a courageous New Jersey resident who is openly pursuing a jury nullification strategy in a medical marijuana jury trial coming up at the Ocean County Courthouse in Towns River, NJ. Jon Peditto is a photographer and marijuana grower and activist who was arrested in 2012 and charged with several counts regarding completely victimless marijuana-related offenses.

Despite knowing how biased courts are against jury nullification, and after turning down several plea bargains and the option of having his offenses handled through drug court (which circumvents the right to trial by jury), Peditto is opting for trial by jury and is openly pursuing a jury nullification strategy.

In this interview with Ken Wolski, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Peditto discusses his case in detail, including why he is opting to exercise his Sixth Amendment right instead of forfeiting it to go through the alternative drug court.

Exercising one’s right to trial by jury virtually guarantees that if one is convicted, one will suffer substantially more punishment than what one would suffer under a plea bargain. We refer to this as the arithmetic of injustice.

The cost of trial by jury is the difference between the sentence imposed under a plea bargain (i.e. what the prosecution thinks is a just sentence for the offenses committed) and the sentence imposed if one is convicted in a trial by jury. All of that extra punishment is for no other purpose than to bully defendants into forfeiting their Constitutionally-guaranteed right and to punish and make examples of them if they refuse to knuckle under to abusive authority.

“To get in there and talk to a jury, they’re gonna add decades to your sentence. They’re gonna add decades. They don’t want anybody talking to juries. I absolutely am sure of this,” notes Jon Peditto.

“Most attorneys won’t go to trial, mainly because they never do and they’re uncomfortable doing them. It’s actually work. They have to work for a living, which is something they don’t like to do like most people. Let’s get this done fast. So plea bargaining is the new America. Again, I can’t tell you how dangerous this is,” Peditto emphasizes.

Peditto speaks of his experience with the judge in his case, who so far seems a bit confused that he is not taking plea deals. “Why am I not taking these plea deals? One after another after another. I can see the confusion on his face. But I think now we’re getting to the point where he knows that I just want to talk to these twelve people. And I want to send a clear message, not just to the state of New Jersey but to everybody, that juries will NOT convict peaceful marijuana cases,” Peditto says.

Jon has previously shared his thoughts on jury nullification in cannabis cases on the Garden State Cannabis website. He noted that cultivating 15 marijuana plants in New Jersey is classified as a Class A felony, 1st degree, putting this completely victimless offense legally in the same category as murder, manslaughter, and rape.

“Even without juries being informed of jury nullification, cases have been won here in New Jersey with jurors, after watching defendant testimony, deciding for either moral or personal reasons not to convict, concluding that the charges were unjust,” Peditto said.

Peditto’s case is a sobering reminder of why it is CRITICAL to educate everyone about jurors’ full legal authority and their responsibility to deliver just verdicts, even if it requires setting aside the law to do so. We are currently looking for volunteers starting immediately for juror rights outreach both at the Ocean County Courthouse in Toms River, New Jersey, and at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, New Jersey. If you would like to join one of these efforts please contact us at aji@fija.org or 406-442-7800. If nobody is available to take your call, please leave a message letting us know which courthouse you are interested in volunteering at and your contact information and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!

Legalized, But Heavily Controlled Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Give Access in NY

Currently there are 23 states with some form of legalized access to cannabis. Most of these states have severely restricted the ability of people in need to actually get the cannabis that will likely help them or their loved one with the myriad of illnesses that cannabis can help to treat. Illinois, New York, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and even Colorado are having issues with medical patients getting access to what they need.

Here’s a story from New York. The daughter of the main interviewee has a terrible form of epilepsy that can kill…

Despite pleas, quicker medical-pot bill in flux

The fate of legislation meant to speed up New York’s not-yet-launched medical marijuana program remains in flux.

The state Legislature passed a bill in mid-June that would allow the Department of Health to suspend certain regulations in order to allow a company to produce and distribute the drug to chronically ill patients prior to the program’s official launch.

That bill, however, has not yet been formally sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk, an official act that would start a 10-day clock for the Democrat to sign or veto it.

And with the state awarding its five available medical-marijuana growing licenses last week, it’s unclear whether there would be enough time for one of those companies to get up-and-running before January, when the state’s full program is scheduled to launch.

“We are still pushing for it to get signed,” said Julie Netherland, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s great that the (registered organizations) were announced, but our concern remains that the program could be delayed and further delay access to patients who are critically ill.”

Under a 2014 law, the state Department of Health is required to launch its full medical-marijuana program by Jan. 5, 2016. But that date can be delayed until the health commissioner and State Police superintendent certify that the program can be implemented “in accordance with public health and safety interests.”

If the June bill is signed by Cuomo, the health department would be required to create a “special certification” for patients with a “progressive and degenerative” disease or those whose life or health is at risk without the drug.

Those patients would be allowed access to marijuana-based prescriptions before the full program launches, and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker would be able to suspend agency rules to allow a license holder to distribute the drug early.

The emergency-access bill was largely spurred by concerns from parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy, who traveled many times to the state Capitol to advocate for its passage. Some strains of medical marijuana — New York’s plan only allows non-smokeable forms — have shown promise for taming epileptic seizures.

Cuomo has not signaled whether he supports the bill. Since it hasn’t yet been sent to his desk by the state Assembly, he has not yet been forced to act on it. The sponsoring house of the Legislature and Cuomo’s office traditionally make joint decisions on when to send legislation to the governor’s desk.

In a statement Friday, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the Democrat’s administration will keep “all practical options open to ensure that those in pain receive the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”

“Our goal has always been to deliver relief to those in need and we’re pleased that the Compassionate Care Act is on track to have one of the shortest and swiftest implementation periods of any medical marijuana program in the nation,” he said.

Even if Cuomo signs the bill, it’s unclear whether any of the five license holders — each of whom can have one growing center and four dispensaries spread across the state — would be able to cultivate marijuana prior to Jan. 5, the deadline the state says it is working to meet.

Marijuana is a banned substance at the federal level, meaning it would be illegal to import grown marijuana from other states. A waiver request by Cuomo’s administration to allow it to import plants from other states was denied earlier this year.

Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, was the prime Senate sponsor of the state’s 2014 law creating the medical-marijuana program. She opposed the emergency-access bill, saying it will stifle efforts to get a more broad-based program up and running.

“Even if you wanted to issue a separate license for one group, they wouldn’t be able to do it any sooner,” Savino said Friday. “There’s really no opportunity to move it any quicker. You have to grow it in your own state. You have to process it in your own state.”

The sponsors of the emergency-access bill, however, say the legislation is still relevant and called on Cuomo to sign it.

Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, Oneida County, sponsored the bill in the Legislature’s upper chamber despite voting against the 2014 medical-marijuana law.

“The impetus for the bill was to find a way to help particularly these children who need immediate access, some form or manner of an opportunity to get that,” said Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, Oneida County. “That continues, from my perspective, to be relevant, because they still don’t have that access.”

At least one advocate said she’s not optimistic that any form of emergency access to the drug will come before January.

“I’m not hopeful, I guess,” said Kate Hintz, a North Salem, Westchester County, resident whose 4-year-old daughter, Morgan, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.

She continued: “I think it’s looking like January, if not the end of January. The state hasn’t let us know when we can register as patients. With the lack of details, I’m sort of losing my excitement over the whole program.”

Big Pharma Positioning itself on Cannabis

Hats off to the author of the following piece. She’s been around the issue for a very long time and is familiar with the political terrain. This issue brings up an awful lot of philosophical, and flatly scientific questions. On the philosophical side, shouldn’t we, as human beings created in the image of Yah, have the right to care for and to treat ourselves and our families as we see fit? In the intentional dumbing-down of our society, did we lose our capacity to make decisions? On the more scientific side, how do we know that taking an isolate of a plant is going to be as positive for health as taking the entire plant with all of it’s constituents? Do we actually know how all these various components work together within all the various components of the human being? Or did we just discover an aspect and then presume that we have full understanding? We only discovered DNA in 1952 and the endocannabinoid system in the early 1990’s and how do we know that there isn’t another system within that which we haven’t discovered yet?

At any rate, as one would expect, those who desire profit above all else are setting themselves up to control our access to natural substances in their natural forms. Here is the article:

For those hoping that Big Pharma could still be blocked from the medical cannabis scene there is bad news: the deal is done. Look for the first naturally-derived, Big Pharma-produced cannabis product to be on the market by the first half of 2016, perhaps even sooner.

Epidiolex is a liquid formulation of pure, plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD) manufactured by the British company, G.W. Pharmaceuticals. It is currently on the FDA Fast Track and has entered its final Phase 3 study for pediatric epilepsy disorders such as Dravet’s and Lennox-Gastaut’s syndromes with results scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.

Barring an unlikely catastrophic finding, there are plenty of signs that Epidiolex will breeze through this final stage and will thus have cleared the FDA’s testing requirements. For any other drug the remaining details would be purely administrative but Epidiolex is derived from cannabis and that puts a few more hurdles in the way before marketing can begin. There are, however, plenty of signs that government officials are literally paving the way for this new player.

Among the most significant occurred on June 24, 2015. Before a packed hearing room, the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, established in 1985 to “expand international cooperation against drug abuse and narcotics trafficking” took on the decidedly domestic issue of what to do about medical cannabis. The meeting was chaired by two unlikely medical cannabis proponents, Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

For long-time medical cannabis activists it was a surreal moment to watch these two veteran senators (with a cumulative total of 57 years in the Senate) bob-and-weave their way through unfamiliar territory. Normally these drug warriors would be proposing tougher penalties and increased enforcement. But on June 24th, and in a subsequent editorial in Time Magazine, Grassley and Feinstein supported “expanding compassionate access programs where possible, to benefit as many children as possible.

The hearings were eerily familiar for this medical cannabis pioneer. They immediately hearkened memories of another time when pressure on federal officials forced a “readjustment” of policy. It was 1980 and public interest in medical cannabis was being fueled by heart-wrenching stories from cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Their compelling stories of marijuana’s effectiveness in reducing or eliminating chemo-induced nausea and vomiting had led to the passage of state laws that recognized marijuana’s medical value and sought to establish state-wide programs of research using federal supplies of marijuana. There was a big problem, however. The federal government, which regularly grew a research supply of marijuana on a small plot at the University of Mississippi, didn’t have enough marijuana to supply the demand from these states.

In desperation federal officials turned to the synthetic version of the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The drug was developed in the late 1960s to facilitate animal research. It was not originally intended for human use although researchers did begin using it in humans in the 1970s and in 1980 it was all the government had to stem the demand for medical access to cannabis.

In May 1980, Rep. Stephen L. Neal (D-NC), a member of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, convened a Task Force on Therapeutic Uses of Marihuana and Schedule I Drugs.

The Task Force hearings lasted all day but it was the afternoon session that would bring the bombshell when representatives from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced that delta-9 THC would be released through the NCI’s Group C Treatment Program.

“Under Group C, a compound is considered to have documented medical efficacy for a specific indication and not be a research drug per se, although it remains investigational…We anticipate that this change would make THC available to practicing oncologists around the country….We would hope that at some time in the near future a pharmaceutical company would become interested in marketing this drug, but until that time, we feel a responsibility for providing this controversial, but useful substance, to relieve the suffering of cancer patients…” (Hearings, page 162)

It was an unparalleled moment. The federal government was agreeing to produce and distribute, via the NCI, the most psychoactive compound in cannabis. With the tacit blessing of the Congressional Task Force on Therapeutic Uses of Marihuana and Schedule I Drugs, delta-9 THC would be released to hundreds of NCI pharmacies throughout the country. Oncologists would be notified, patients would have access, and the public pressure to “do something” about medical marijuana would be assuaged.

The government would herald this action as the release of “the pot pill” and the American public, not yet sophisticated with respect to cannabinoid knowledge, would breathe a sigh of relief that relatives would no longer be forced to the black market for their chemotherapy anti-nausea drug.

The Neal hearings paved the way for Marinol and, similarly, the Grassley/Feinstein hearings will pave the way for Epidiolex. The scenarios are slightly different, of course. The involvement of GW Pharmaceuticals from the very beginning has been far more pleasing to the FDA and other federal agencies. There is no “Group C” for pediatric epilepsy patients but it is reported that more than 400 patients are already receiving the drug via expanded access INDs.

The question that haunts this senior observer of the medical cannabis movement is: what will the federal government do once Epidiolex is on the market? Will there be a “crackdown” on the growing and enthusiastic CBD market that is flourishing online? (“Legal” CBD is produced from hemp and contains less the 0.03% delta-9 THC.) As Epidiolex is scheduled in the Controlled Substances Act will authorities tighten the control of natural CBD? Consider that Marinol, a synthetic version of the most psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is Schedule III while the plant itself is Schedule I. Such inconsistency has, of course, been codified and is rather benignly referred to as “differential” scheduling. But, like so many things in the nation’s drug policy, it strikes many as a little crazy. The craziness of the federal policy with respect to marijuana should not be underestimated, nor should it be assumed that the growing tide of legal cannabis states will automatically signal a reform in federal law.

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