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A group of prominent medical marijuana opponents are the latest drug warriors to evolve their thinking on cannabis. In a letter to Congress, the group Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse wrote that marijuana’s current Schedule I status “effectively limit[s] the amount and type of research that can be conducted” on the drug. The group’s Board of Scientific Advisors includes several prominent legalization opponents, including Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s Kevin Sabet, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), former White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey, former National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Robert DuPont and former Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Director Bertha Madras, according to the group’s letterhead. Representatives of the Partnership for a Drug-free America, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the American Society of Addiction Medicine sit on the organization’s executive committee.
One Republican candidate for governor in Colorado believes medical marijuana cardholders are gaming the system. Businessman Doug Robinson appeared with two other GOP candidates last month at a debate where the moderator asked him to address the issue. [MODERATOR CLIP: “The last time we talked, you said that you thought a significant portion of the Coloradans who hold a medical marijuana card are gaming the system and don’t really need them.”] Robinson pointed to medical marijuana program statistics and commercial marijuana advertisements to bolster his point. [ROBINSON CLIP: “You know, before we legalized marijuana in the state, there were about 6,000 people on the medical marijuana registry… Today, there’s over 100,000… Just go and Google it online, and there’s so many ads for ‘save money, don’t pay taxes, come and get a medical red card.’”]
Medical marijuana opponents in Utah are trying to convince voters to take their name off the petition that has already qualified for the ballot. The Utah Medical Association and Drug Safe Utah are teaming up to pay canvassers $25 an hour for the effort. The strategy is to remove the signatures from the three Senate districts with the lowest signature totals. Utah law requires ballot initiatives to collect signatures in 26 of the 29 districts. By law, a petition signer has until May 15 — 30 days after the initiative signatures were due — to ask that his or her name be removed. At least 409 signatures would have to be rescinded in the lowest-threshold district, plus many more in at least two more districts, to take the measure off the ballot. Polls have consistently shown that 3 in 4 Utahns support medical marijuana.
A young woman in Katy, Texas, is suing over allegations that she was raped after being jailed for possessing one-half gram of marijuana. An officer pulled the woman over for speeding and claimed he smelled marijuana. [COP CLIP: “The minute I stopped you, the minute I made contact with you, I could smell marijuana emitting from the vehicle.”] The woman suffers from seizures and explains that the one-half gram of marijuana he found is for medicinal purposes. [WOMAN CLIP: “I use it and I swear I don’t do it all the time.”] Then, despite Harris County instituting a decriminalization policy for marijuana possession under four ounces, the officer arrested the woman. [COP CLIP: “Well, unfortunately, ma’am, you’re going to jail today.”] Shortly after being placed in the jail, the woman says an unknown jailer raped her. [WOMAN CLIP: “He pulled my pants down and then he pulled his pants down and I just, like, I froze. I asked him not to do it.”] Katy ISD claims that the woman had to be arrested because she was possessing that one-half gram of marijuana within a school zone.
Michigan Senate Republicans would like to vote on the citizen’s legalization initiative to keep it off the November ballot. Under state law, the legislature has 40 days during which it can vote to approve and amend a qualifying citizen’s initiative rather than placing it on the ballot. Senate Republicans believe the measure would drive Democratic turnout in an election already thought to be favorable to the left. Their plan would bundle the initiative with an income tax cut, with marijuana revenues intended to pay for it. The Republican Speaker of the House, however, says there is no desire in that chamber for voting on marijuana legalization. State Democrats say they want the issue decided by voters, naturally favoring the option they believe helps their chances to take control of one or both chambers this November. If the measure is passed by voters, the legislature could only amend it with a three-fourths majority, as opposed to the simple majority they need currently to amend the terms on the citizen initiative.