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Text of the Department of Justice’s “Cole Memo” – June 29, 2011
|| 7/31/2011 || 1:59 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Following up on the Ogden Memo, I decided to post the “Cole Memo” below:


MEMORANDUM FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM: James M. Cole
Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Guidance Regarding the Ogden Memo in Jurisdictions
Seeking to Authorize Marijuana for Medical Use

Over the last several months some of you have requested the Department’s assistance in responding to inquiries from State and local governments seeking guidance about the Department’s position on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in jurisdictions that have under consideration, or have implemented, legislation that would sanction and regulate the commercial cultivation and distribution ofmarijuana purportedly for medical use. Some of these jurisdictions have considered approving the cultivation of large quantities of marijuana, or broadening the regulation and taxation of the substance. You may have seen letters responding to these inquiries by several United States Attorneys. Those letters are entirely consistent with the October 2009 memorandum issued by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana (the “Ogden Memo“).

The Department ofJustice is committed to the enforcement ofthe Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. The Ogden Memorandum provides guidance to you in deploying your resources to enforce the CSA as part of the exercise of the broad discretion you are given to address federal criminal matters within your districts.

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Text of the Department of Justice’s “Ogden Memo” – October 19, 2009
|| 7/30/2011 || 1:56 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

In the yesterday’s newspaper article the DOJ’s 2009 Ogden Memo was mentioned, here is the full text of the document:


USDOJ Seal
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Deputy Attorney General
The Deputy Attorney General
Washington, D.C. 20530
October 19,2009

MEMORANDUM FOR SELECTED UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM: David W. Ogden
Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Investigations and Prosecutions in States
Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana

This memorandum provides clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana. These laws vary in their substantive provisions and in the extent of state regulatory oversight, both among the enacting States and among local jurisdictions within those States. Rather than developing different guidelines for every possible variant of state and local law, this memorandum provides uniform guidance to focus federal investigations and prosecutions in these States on core federal enforcement priorities.

The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime and provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. One timely example underscores the importance of our efforts to prosecute significant marijuana traffickers: marijuana distribution in the United States remains the single largest source of revenue for the Mexican cartels.

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Safe Access DC’s Protest at the Department of Justice
|| 5/2/2011 || 10:12 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Today I attended the Americans for Safe Access demonstration at the Department of Justice Building in downtown Washington, DC.

Safe Access DC's Protest at the Department of Justice


Safe Access DC's Protest at the Department of Justice


Safe Access DC's Protest at the Department of Justice



This was written by Steph Sherer:

Stand in solidarity with me for a National Day of Action this Monday, May 2, 2011. Our community is sick and tired. We are suffering from chronic or debilitating conditions, and we are weary of false promises that do nothing to protect our rights as patients.

After previously giving us a false sense of security, the Obama administration now continues to ignore state laws and raid medical cannabis patients and facilities, while creating new ways to marginalize our community, including issues related to patient privacy, access, banking, taxation, and threats of filing suit against state employees who participate in upholding state law. This community is still under attack.

Just yesterday, our community witnessed raid activity in Washington State and on Monday, our community will lose two more of our brothers and sisters to the failed war on drugs. Dale Shafer and Dr. Mollie fry will turn themselves over to federal agents to serve five-year mandatory minimum sentences for legally participating in state sanctioned medical cannabis programs. Enough is enough and Monday, May 2, 2011 is our time to take stand against federal interference!

Fellow community members and local activists are preparing to deliver ASA’s Cease and Desist to local DEA offices and federal buildings across the country. Commit to do the same. Join activists in several cities across the country. Locations include, but are not limited to, the following areas: Washington State, Oregon, Rhode Island, Colorado, Montana, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Washington, DC, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Maryland. To find out what is going on in your area, email action@safeaccessnow.org, or print out the Cease and Desist Order and take it to a local DEA Office or Federal Building near you on Monday!! Remember: if you don’t stand up for safe access, who will?

Special Patients’ Rights Rallies will be occurring in both Washington, DC outside of the Department of Justice at 12pEST (event flyer) and outside of the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, CA at 12pPST for Dale Schafer and Dr. Mollie Fry (event flyer).

It’s thanks to the support from our members that ASA is able to hold Days of Action like this one. Please consider making a donation to ASA today, so we can continue to strengthen our fight for safe access.

I look forward to participating in our National Day of Action for patients’ rights with you on Monday, May 2, 2011.



[UPCOMING] 02/10/11 – Town Hall Meeting on the Implementation of the District of Columbia’s Medical Cannabis Program
|| 1/19/2011 || 10:41 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

As you may remember, I helped organize a similar town hall meeting a little over one year ago. The week after the previous town hall meeting, the District Council introduced amendments to Initiative 59 that substantially altered what was originally approved by District voters over 10 years ago. In May of last year, the District Council approved these new amendments, in July Congress approved the amendments, and starting in August the previous Mayor’s office began drafting regulations to implement the medical cannabis program. Today we are waiting for the Mayor to sign off on the final proposed regulations and begin implementing this important program. In my work with the DC Patients’ Cooperative, I’ve been involved in every step of the process and I’m looking forward to helping host the upcoming town hall meeting. We filled the entire venue last year, so please RSVP.


E-Flyer for the Town Hall Meeting

TOWN HALL MEETING ON THE DISTRICT’S MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM

Thursday, February 10th at 7:00 pm in Pierce Hall at All Souls Unitarian Church located at 16th and Harvard Streets, NW in Ward One of Washington, DC.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP



The District of Columbia Patients’ Cooperative  (DCPC), a non-profit corporation that formed one year ago to provide high quality and affordable cannabis ‘marijuana’ to qualifying DC patients will host a town hall meeting on the implementation of the District of Columbia’s medical cannabis program. 

The aim of the meeting is to provide residents with a better understanding of the laws and regulations that were drafted over the last year.  The meeting will cover different topics ranging from how the patient registration process will work to the rules surrounding the cultivation and dispensing of the medicine.

The town hall meeting is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, February 10th at 7:00 pm in Pierce Hall at All Souls Unitarian Church located at 16th and Harvard Streets, NW in Washington, DC.

Confirmed Panelist:  Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans For Safe Access

Invited Panelists: Councilmembers Jim Graham, David Catania, Phil Mendelson, & Michael A. Brown, a representative from the Mayor’s office, and a representative from the DC Department of Health.

WHO:  DC Patients’ Cooperative, invited panelists, and members of the public
WHAT:  Town Hall Meeting on DC’s Medical Cannabis Program
WHEN:  Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm
WHERE: Pierce Hall in All Souls Unitarian Church, 16th and Harvard Streets, NW, Washington, DC

Click here to download a PDF of the e-flyer


Space will be limited, so please RSVP at http://www.DCpatients.org by February 9th.

We hope you can attend!





THE EXPECTANT HAND – The Mahoning Dispatch, June 04, 1909
|| 8/28/2010 || 12:02 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The article below is a condensed short story from a biography by Frank Allaben on the life of Gen. John Watts De Peyster. I chose this article because it describes a doctor recommending Indian hemp, which is the colloquial name for one of these five plants: Cannabis indica, Apocynum cannabinum, Sida rhombifolia, Asclepias incarnata, Hibiscus cannabinus. The doctor was most likely recommending Cannabis indica because it is the only variety of Indian hemp which has medicinal properties. Sadly, today in America a doctor would lose their license to prescribe drugs if they were to assist their patient in acquiring Cannabis indica as described below.


Scan of the newspaper article

THE EXPECTANT HAND


No Charge Made, But a Present of Money Not Refused.

In recording an illness of his grandfather, Gen. John Watts De Peyster tells an amusing story in connection with Indian hemp. It is printed in his biography by Mr. Frank Allaben.

Indian hemp was recommended as a remedy during my grandfathers illness, but where to get it was the question. Finally some one said it was grown in the garden of old Mr. Henry Brevoort, who owned a large plot on the east side of Broadway, extending through to the Bowery above Tenth street. Grace Church stands on part of this ground.

Doctor Bibby gave me some money, told me to jump into his gig, drive up to Brevoort’s old low-storied cottage house on Bowery, and tell the owner that I wanted some Indian hemp for my grandfather, John Watts. I was to use diplomacy if necessary, but not to return without it.

I trotted briskly, roused Mr. Brevoort from a nap, stated my case, found no demur, and got the Indian hemp, which he dug up with his own hands.

“How much am I to pay?” I questioned.

“I never sells it,” Mr. Brevoort replied, “because if I takes money for Indian hemp, it weakens the vartoo.”

I stated that I was ordered to pay, and we discussed the matter, walking across the garden toward the gig, which I had left on Broadway.

I had made up my mind that I had met with a disinterested Christian, had replaced the money in my pocket, when I felt a brawny, sunburnt, freckled hand restraining me, and heard these words whispered in my ear: “I never sells Indian hemp, for that weakens the vartoo, but if I gives it, I never refuses a present.”

I extricated the money confided to me, placed it in the expectant hand, hurried home and related my story, and I have heard it laughed over many times.



If you don’t get the joke, don’t worry, its not that funny. My reading on this story is that “vartoo” is Mr. Brevoort’s Dutch pronunciation of the word “virtue.” As in, virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. By selling something medicinal, Mr. Brevoort is saying that he would weaken the plants effectiveness by profiting off the sale. A contemporary aspect of this moral concept is that some medical cannabis dispensaries in California only take donations instead of selling their medicine. Maybe they don’t want to weaken the vartoo either.



Enrolled Text of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010
|| 7/24/2010 || 12:30 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

With Congress about to finish up their 30 legislative day review of the District’s medical cannabis law, I decided to post the updated text of the law. I had previously posted an earlier draft of the law and I feel its important to have the most up-to-date version for others to use a resource.


ENROLLED ORIGINAL

AN ACT

IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
______________________

To amend the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 to define key terms, to clarify who is permitted to cultivate, possess, dispense, or use medical marijuana, to require a written recommendation from one’s physician, to restrict the use of medical marijuana, to protect physicians from sanctions for recommending medical marijuana, to establish a medical marijuana program, to establish requirements for dispensaries and cultivation centers, to authorize the Board of Medicine to audit physician recommendations and to discipline physicians who act outside of the law, to set out penalties for violating this act, to prohibit the public use of medical marijuana, to establish a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, to require fees collected to be applied toward administering this act, to establish liability provisions, to clarify that this act does not require any public or private insurance to cover medical marijuana, and to authorize the Mayor to issue rules; and to amend the District of Columbia Health Occupations Revision Act of 1985, the Health Clarifications Act of 2001, the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981, and the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to make conforming amendments.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010”.

Sec. 2. The Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999, effective February 25, 2010 (D.C. Law 13-315; 57 DCR 3360), is amended to read as follows:

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The Strange Narcotics Used in Asia and South America – The New York Sun, February 8th, 1880
|| 3/24/2010 || 6:01 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

This text is from a longer article about global drug use that was first printed 130 years ago. Since I have been working on DC’s medical cannabis legislation, I have found it very interesting to research the historical uses of cannabis and to see how it was written about before the “reefer madness” of the 1930’s. What I found most interesting is that today’s marijuana was then called “Indian hemp.” I have added a few notes in [brackets] as well as hyperlinks.


The Strange Narcotics Used in Asia and South America

The New York Sun, February 8, 1880

One of the earliest attempts to expand the popular acquaintances with the practical lessons of chemical science was made in Jonhsons’s Chemistry of Common Life, first published twenty-five years ago [in 1855]. The progress of inquiry since that epoch has rendered a new edition of the book desirable, and the work of revision and addition has been carefully performed by Mr. A. H. Church in the volume now issued by the Appletons. Mr. Church is himself favorably known as the author of several lucid and trustworthy handbooks on topics relating to the applications of chemistry, and in the portions here contributed by himself he has striven, not unsuccessfully, to emulate the cogency of method and simplicity of style which distinguished the original treatise. His additions comprise some valuable matter which had been gleaned by Prof. Johnston and inserted in that writer’s private copy of the first edition. Altogether, the book, in its present form, deserves to maintain its old preeminence as a readable exposition of the main uses of chemistry in the daily life of man. Of peculiar interest will be found the chapters which discuss the effect of the various narcotics, including opium, tobacco, Indian hemp, the betel nut, the coca leaf, the red thornapple, and the Siberian fungus. Some of the data relating to the least familiar of these narcotising agents deserve particular attention.

Few persons appreciate to what extent certain races are addicted to forms of narcotic indulgence with which Anglo-Saxons are almost wholly unacquainted. According to the work before us, the use of Indian hemp obtains among upwards of 200,000,000 of human beings, dispersed over a large part of the earth, viz. in Persia, India, and Turkey, throughout the whole continent of Africa, from Morocco to the Cape of Good Hope, and even in Brazil. One hundred millions of men in China, Hindostan, and the Eastern Archipelago consume, for the same narcotic purpose, the betel nut and betel pepper. Again, the chewing of coca is more or less practised among some 10,000,000 of the human race.

As regards the first named of these agents, Indian hemp, it seems at first sight curious that the narcotic properties of hemp should never have obtained popular recognition in southern Europe, when we consider that our common plant [Cannabis sativa], so extensively cultivated for its fibre, differs in no essential feature from the Indian variety [Cannabis indica] which, from the remotest times, has been celebrated in the East for its care-dispelling virtues.

In northern climates, however, the peculiar resinous substance residing in the sap is so small that it would naturally escape observation. Yet even in such latitudes the growing plant emits a peculiar smell, which sometimes occasions headache and giddiness in those who remain long in the field.

In parts of India resinous exudation is so abundant that it may be gathered by the hand in the same way as opium. The resin obtained this way is the most highly prized, and is known as the chorrus. It appears that that even the tops and tender parts of the plant, when dried, are powerful narcotic agents, but the seeds, it said, are not used for this purpose.

The preparation known as hashish in Syria is made by boiling the leaves and flowers of the hemp with water, to which a certain quantity of butter has been added, and evaporating and straining the decoction. The butter thus becomes charged with the active resinous principle of the plant, and acquires a greenish color. It is apt to have rancid taste, and hence is commonly mixed with sweetmeats and aromatics, so as to form a sort of electuary. One of these confections used among the Moors is called el mogen(?), and is sold at an enormous price; another is well known at Constantinople under the name of madjoun, and is reputed to possess aphrodisiac powers.

The dried plant is also smoked, and sometimes chewed, five or ten grains reduced to powder being mixed with tobacco in a pipe or narghile. The pure resin and resinous extract are generally swallowed in the form of pills or boluses.

In one or other of these forms the hemp plant appears to have been used from very early times. Herodotus, for instance, tells us that ancient Scythians excited themselves by inhaling its vapor. The potion which Homer makes Helen administer to Telemachus was prepared from a plant said to have been procured from Thebes in Egypt, where, there is reason to believe, a knowledge of the qualities of hemp existed as early as the eighteenth dynasty (1700 B.C.).

There is no doubt that hemp is often mentioned under the name of beng in the “Arabian Nights;” we may add that the derivation of the English word assassin from the hasisheens, or the hemp-eating followers of the Old Man of the Mountain, seems to be generally acknowledged.

The effects of the churrus, or natual resinous exudation, have been carefully studied in India by competent physicians. We are told that when taken in moderation, it produces increase of appetite and great mental cheerfulness, while, in excess, it causes a extraordinary kind of delirium and catalepsy. In the latter case, limbs of the patient can be placed in every imaginable attitude, and they will remain perfectly stationary in violation of the laws of gravity, the brain, meanwhile, being almost insensible to impressions from without.

It has been proved also by experiment that the hemp extract exercises the same extraordinary influence upon other animals as as well as upon man, and it is believed that the wonderful feats of the Indian Fakirs and snake charmers of India should, in many cases, be explained by their employment of this agent. It appears that after the cataleptic trance has passed, the patient is left entirely uninjured.

In general, indeed, the effects of hemp upon the human system are pronounced less deleterious than those of opium. Hemp does not lessen, but rather excites appetite. Moreover, it does not occasion nausea, constipation, dryness of the tongue, or the lessening of any of the secretions, and is not usually followed by that melancholy state of mental depression to which the opium eater is subject. It appears, however, that a long and gradual training to its use is requisite before its agreeable effects can be fully experienced; it is affirmed, also, that the remarkable cataleptic state above described has never been produced in a European.


Click here to continue reading the article on Chronicling America.



Map Mashup: Healthcare Heartburn
|| 3/23/2010 || 5:39 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Healthcare Heartburn by Nikolas Schiller

Above is Amy Martin’s “Keep America Healthy – Public Option Please” with a map of the average federal revenue per capita by state in 2007 superimposed. At over $34,000 per citizen, the District of Columbia pays the more any jurisdiction in America, yet the 600,000 citizens have no representation in Congress….

Ironically related is my entry on Hartburn, DC.



Tonight! Town Hall Meeting on Medical Marijuana in the District of Columbia
|| 1/14/2010 || 11:01 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Flyer for the District of Columbia Patients Advocacy Coalition's Town Hall Meeting on Medical Marijuana in the District of Columbia

For the last few weeks I have been working with the District of Columbia Patients Advocacy Coalition helping to organize and promote tonight’s Town Hall Meeting on Medical Marijuana in the District of Columbia. I am very excited about this event and I hope it goes well. From the DCPAC website:

January 14th, from 7pm to 9pm at All Souls Unitarian Church (2835 16th St., N.W. Washington, DC) On hand will be current medical marijuana patients, doctors, concerned citizens, and hopefully, you.

This meeting is open to the public and we encourage all who are interested to attend. For the privacy of the patients, we ask the members of the media that there will be no recordings or photographs allowed until after the meeting is over.

Scheduled to speak is Wayne Turner, the author of Initiative 59 and Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harborside Health Center. After their remarks we will have a moderated Question & Answer discussion.


#UPDATE – The event was very well attended with an estimated 200+ people filling up the entire seating area. I’m looking forward to the next DCPAC meeting on February 18th!


#UPDATE #2 – Shortly after this meeting, the non-profit organization DC Patients’ Cooperative formed out of members of the DC Patients Advocacy Coalition.



New Facebook Group: Medical Marijuana Patients of the District of Columbia
|| 12/9/2009 || 11:24 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

For the last 10 years, every District of Columbia appropriations bill passed by Congress has included this line of tyrannical text: Provides that the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998, also known as Initiative 59, approved by the electors of the District on November 3, 1998, shall not take effect. With the long-awaited news that Congress has finally decided to remove this line of text, I’ve created a new Facebook Group Medical Marijuana Patients of the District of Columbia:

After over 10 years of a congressionally imposed ban on medical marijuana in the District of Columbia, the passage of Ballot Initiative 59, known as the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998, *should* go into effect very shortly.

The Facebook Group “Medical Marijuana Patients of the District of Columbia” was created to help advance, advocate, and agitate for the responsible implementation of this important healthcare reform in the District of Columbia.

Until the legislation becomes law, the members of this group are not *yet* legal medical marijuana recipients. However this group is open to everyone, including those who plan on becoming patients in the near future and want to ensure they can find the cannabis that meets their medical needs when the laws are officially changed.

We hope this group can engender the support of everyone who believes in safe, legal, and affordable medical marijuana in the District of Columbia.

While I don’t expect the laws to be changed overnight, my aim is to create an informal body of concerned citizens who will help ensure that the law is implemented in a way that benefits those who need medical marijuana most. I imagine this change in the law is going to be a big can of worms that many elected officials are going to try to step lightly around, so it’s somewhat important that there is an organized group of concerned citizens willing to make sure that the law is enacted properly.


So what will medical marijuana look like in the District of Columbia? I don’t know yet. Hopefully its similar to Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, which is one of the best dispensaries in California. I think they have created a model that can easily be replicated in Washington. Watch their well-produced YouTube video to get a better idea of how medical marijuana can be dispensed:


[Watch On YouTube]

Below is the legislative text of Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998. It was originally passed with the support of 69% of the voters in the District of Columbia:

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