November 2013 NORML Canada Newsletter
Health Canada Breaches Privacy
Health Canada sent out notices to the 40,000 licenced medical marijuana patients in Canada that disclosed on the outside of the envelope the patients’ involvement with Health Canada’s medical marijuana regime. This places patients across the country in danger of being robbed by predatory criminals. It exposes patients to the stigma that has plagued cannabis for the last century. And of course, it discloses private health information that is supposed to be kept private. Health Canada is subject to the federal Privacy Act which is intended to prevent such breaches. A class action law suit has been filed by the BC law firm of Branch MacMaster LLP in the Federal Court of Canada seeking damages. If you received a letter from Health Canada this month with the “Marihuana Medical Access Program” on the outside of the envelope please contact http://branchmacmaster.com/medical-marihuana/ for further information or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oregon to Reconsider Legalization
The Oregon Senate Judiciary Chairman, Floyd Prozanski, presented draft legislation that would ask voters if they want to legalize marijuana and allow the legislature to work out the details in the event of a ‘yes’ vote. Mr. Prozanski’s draft bill included a memo that cited some of the general principles set out by the US Department of Justice.
New Approach Oregon wants to avoid the petition process by asking the Oregon legislature to present voters with a measure that would include the details of a legalized regime. Oregon voters rejected a legalization measure on the Oregon ballot in 2012. The measure lost with 47% of the vote. The current New Approach Oregon proposal would limit adults aged 21 to possession of no more than eight ounces and four plants. It would be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) championed the 2012 legalization initiative in Oregon and is again bringing forward another legalization initiative. The CRRH is being spear-headed by Paul Stanford, the owner of a chain of medical marijuana clinics. The 2012 measure had been criticized for having no possession/growing limits and for proposing a self-governing board of commercial growers who would set prices. Stanford has modified his plan such that limits of 24 ounces and 24 plants would apply to all adults. Further, the regulatory board would be appointed by the governor.
It appears likely that, either way, Oregon will be voting on legalization in 2014.
Portland, Maine Legalization Ordinance
On November 5th 2013, Portland, Maine became the first city on the east coast of the United States to pass an ordinance that allows for the recreational use of marijuana for citizens aged 21 years and older. With roughly 70% of the vote, supporters of Portland’s Question 1 succeeded in passing a city ordinance that legalizes possession of up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, as well as the paraphernalia required for recreational consumption. Question 1 has become a symbolic legalization initiative for the larger initiative of statewide legalization in Maine.
Earlier this year Diane Russell of the Maine House of Representatives proposed a bill to tax and regulate marijuana at the state level. The bill fell short by only four votes. A more recent attempt for statewide legalization, also proposed by Russell, did not receive enough support to pass. The Maine Legislative Council voted 5-5 on moving the bill forward. A majority vote is necessary. With the failure of Russell’s proposal, Maine will have to wait until the legislature tries again in 2015 or the people put it to a vote in 2016. Despite the success of Question 1 and the majority’s attitude towards marijuana in Maine, legalization initiatives are halted for now.
Under Maine state law, possession of marijuana in amounts less than two and a half ounces constitute a civil violation punishable by fines of up to $1000. Despite the state law, the Portland Police Department’s attitude toward marijuana users remains fairly progressive compared to other states. In a one-year period, between June 2011 and June 2012, the Portland Police Department issued only 68 marijuana summonses, in a city of 66,000 inhabitants. In comparison, in 2011 the New York Police Department made more than 50,000 arrests and issued more than 8,000 summonses for marijuana possession in a city of 8.2 million. This means roughly seven times more arrests and summonses were issued per capita in New York than in Portland.
Czech Republic Imports Cannabis
The Czech Republic awarded its first licence for the importation of medical marijuana to Elkoplast Slusovice, an agriculture equipment company. The company is legally permitted to import from the Netherlands and Israel. They are expecting their first seven pounds to arrive from the Netherlands in the next few weeks.
Medical marijuana became legal in the Czech Republic in April 2013. There is strong public support and political backing. What they do not have are legal suppliers because of various administrative hurdles put in place by the Czech Ministry of Health. In particular there is a requirement that cannabis be sold through an electronic registry system which has not yet been set up. As a result, only imported cannabis is available. The government has indicated that 10 new commercial medical cultivation licences will be issued next year. There are believed to be about 20,000 medical marijuana patients in the country.
Peter Lewis, billionaire and great cannabis philanthropist, passes
Peter Lewis, billionaire and cannabis philanthropist, passed away on November 11 at the age of 80. Mr. Lewis is believed to have spent over $40 million funding cannabis causes since the 1980s. Mr. Lewis made his money in insurance, running Progressive Insurance and building the company from a tiny 40 person company into one of the three largest auto insurers in the United States.
My story is fairly simple. I grew up after college in a world where social drinking was the norm but marijuana was hidden. When I was 39 I tried marijuana for the first time. I found it to be better than scotch. But it wasn’t until I had serious medical problems that I realized how important marijuana could be. When I was 64 my left leg was amputated below the knee because there was an infection that couldn’t be cured. I spent a year after the amputation in excruciating pain and a year in a wheelchair. So during that period I was very glad I had marijuana. It didn’t exactly eliminate the pain, but it made the pain tolerable-and it let me avoid those heavy-duty narcotic pain relievers that leave you incapacitated.
Mr. Lewis, unlike many, was not shy about making his views on medicinal as well as recreational use public. He used his generous donations to move legalization forward. As recently as 2012 he spent $3 million on the Washington and Massachusetts’ legalization campaigns.
I don’t believe that laws against things that people do regularly, like safe and responsible use of marijuana, make any sense. Everything that has been done to enforce these laws has had a negative effect with no results.
Rest in Peace.