Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's About Time : Medical Marijuana in Delaware

Senator Margaret Rose-Henry, Wilmington Democrat and advocate of a compassionate approach to drug abuse issues, has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana sale and use for medical reasons.

Medical marijuana bill introduced
News-Journal - Ginger Gibson

Sen. Henry confident she has votes to pass measure this year

Under Senate Bill 94, residents would be allowed to have up to 6 ounces of marijuana, considered a month's supply, Henry said, and would be issued identification cards to prevent them from being prosecuted for having that amount or less. The state would also license centers to grow and sell marijuana to be sold for medicinal purposes.

Nationwide, efforts like Henry's got a boost last week when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to California's medical marijuana law, allowing the law to stand and the sale of medical marijuana to continue.

Henry said her proposal would not decriminalize marijuana or prevent people who sell or purchase it illegally from being prosecuted.

The bill calls for setting up compassion centers or centers with the right to grow marijuana," Henry said. "You would not be able to go on the street corner and buy. We're not talking about heroin or the drugs we see on street corners."

The legislation gives the Department of Health and Social Services 120 days after its passage to establish rules and regulations to oversee the issuance of ID cards and licenses to sell marijuana. Henry said the regulations would model other states that allow medical marijuana as a treatment option for residents.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Hazel Plant, D-Wilmington North, and also lists Sens. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, Robert Venables, D-Laurel, and Liane Sorenson, R-Hockessin.

"I want to thank them for being brave enough to join me on this journey," Henry said of the co-sponsors, "because any time you do something something that is new or innovative in a state, some times it takes people with courage."

Henry said while several people expressed apprehension about having their names listed as co-sponsors, she has spoken with several members of her caucus and believes she has the support to get the legislation passed this year.

Joe Rogalsky, spokesman for Gov. Jack Markell, said the governor is still studying the issue of legalizing medical marijuana and does not yet have a position on the bill.

Personally, I support a complete end to the prohibition of marijuana everywhere in the United States.

I used to have some trepidation in this sense about confining marijuana to the realm of narrow medical uses, when it is so beneficially and safely used by millions of Americans on a daily basis.

For goodness sake, it's a natural plant. It is used 'right off the vine'. In my view cannabis was a gift to man from God, a completely-natural means to many positive human ends...not the least of which is access to medicine as ubiquitously as food can be grown for sustenance. But hey, that's me.

Knowing that this represents a sea attitude change from the prohibitionist excesses of the last 80 or so years, it is a very positive step forward for Delaware.

Notably on the legislation is Senator Bob Venables, the socially-conservative downstate Democrat who was recently on the vanguard of protecting property rights against eminent domain abuses in Delaware but also in support of codifying marriage to exclude same sex couples. Senator Venables' co-sponsorship will prove key to passage of this bill.

I applaud these courageous lawmakers for bringing this bill forward and disregarding the vestiges of political risk-aversion from being labeled "soft on drugs", should a politician hint at supporting a sane rational fact-driven liberty-based drug policy rather than criminal prohibition.

These legislators have made progress merely by introducing this legislation. They are bringing us out of the stifling dark ages of political inertia on this issue, and allowing an outlet for what will be a public outpouring in support for drug policy progress.

As with so many issues, the public is ahead of the politicians on this one. As such, we are at a rapid tipping point with majority support growing from all points along the political spectrum. Let's hope the politicians get the message.

Perhaps the Delaware Senate will wisely follow the lead of another state's Senate, occupied in the not-too-distant past by our president.

I urge everyone reading this, who believes we have had enough of the drug war and police state enforcement tactics in Delaware and America, to call your legislators and offer your support to this excellent legislation...a first step toward rational, reality-based public policy on personal drug usage.


Brian Shields said...

I was shocked to see that Venables was a sponsor too.

It is a step in the right direction. Let's hope that it comes out of committee.

Looking at the Health and Social Services committee, I see that Senators Henry, Petersen, and Sorensen are three of the six on the committee.

McDowell, Blevens, and Hall-Long are the other three. How would they vote? Do they have the power to keep it from going to the floor?

Would the power of Venables as a cosponsor immediately get it to the floor?

Does anyone have any idea when this could be scheduled for a hearing?

a most peculiar nature said...

Brian, it looks like it is on the agenda for the committee's meeting on 6/3 at 2:00 PM. That doesn't always mean it will be heard, but it is on the agenda.

Brian Shields said...

Knew it had to be soon because of the media support being drummed up for it.

Anonymous said...

I Agree.
{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }
Good bill.
{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }
It Twill help me conzentrake butter at schoul.
{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }
Da teachr should smoke two.
{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }
dey be too anal otherwize.
{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }

Can I still drive?
Operate machinery?
Fly a plane?
Work in critical positions of public safety?
Will this help 'Pubic' safety?

Wood eye become less of an asshole?
Can it cure dat?

{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }
{ smoke, smoke, puff, puff }

Munchie party at Leg hall 6-3-2009?

tom said...

and this illustrates why SlashDot calls posters who are too ashamed to identify themselves "Anonymous Coward"

Anonymous said...

As long as the blog allows anonymous postings,
there will be those of us who take advantage of posting comments for thought,
that stand on their own merits without confusing the source, and inviting ad hominem attacks.

"Anonymous Coward"

tom said...

yeah, whatever.

like most WNJ articles, this one was pretty much devoid of information content, but if you had actually bothered to read the synopsis of the bill, the so-called merits of your "thoughtful" comment would have been revealed as a straw man argument.

and no. marijuana could not cure you of being an asshole. that would take a stronger drug, like arsenic.

David said...

I too see it as immoral to prevent sick people from getting the medicine that is most effective for them. I am not sure that I like this bill. I wonder about the technical aspects. Will we keep records about the people who get ID cards? Will the feds then be able to access them? Will it just create a fraudulent market of people selling what they grow for personal use? Will that then create turf conflict with the drug criminals? Overall, it deserves debate and would be as step in the right direction.

Personally, I would rather just tax it, regulate it, and move on. Use the tax proceeds for treatment facilities of hard drugs. Free our probation officers to keep better track of domestic abuse stalkers.

You get the idea.

Anonymous said...

It still leaves the issue of MJ use while performing actions and duties that require concentration and focus.

Like driving a bus, flying a plane, and for the youth - attending school in a manner conducive to learning.

These are not straw men, these are and have been examples of misuse of drugs, any drugs, that resulted in accidents that hurt the public in areas that the operator of a vehicle should be sober.

Tom, make your arguments, try not to take the short cut of ad hominem attacks.

This is hilarious, "read the synopsis of the bill" -- READ the synopsis? Why not read the whole bill? You criticize the WNJ and then you rely on Cliff's notes. You still in HS?

the coward.

tom said...

"This is hilarious, "read the synopsis of the bill" -- READ the synopsis? Why not read the whole bill? You criticize the WNJ and then you rely on Cliff's notes. You still in HS?"

And clearly you still refuse to do even that much. you'd rather keep repeating tiresome objections that you would know the bill addresses if you had bothered to read so much as the "Cliff Notes" version.

and BTW, I not only read this bill in its entirety, I wrote a better one three years ago but no one in the General Assembly was willing to introduce it. So this is indeed progress.

You can find my objections to some of the particulars of this bill in a comment that I posted on the LPD site about 3 days ago.

And while I do not oppose medical marijuana bills such as this one (after all, who could be so cruel that they would make sick and dying people suffer by denying them an effective medicine?), in general I am not in favor of wasting a lot of time and effort fighting for medical marijuana, which is just a distraction from the real issue. This is because:

It does absolutely nothing to solve the problem of crime & violence caused by drug prohibition.

It will have, at best, only a trivial effect on the millions of dollars our state wastes on keeping non-violent people in prison for violating drug laws (Delaware is the #1 state in the #1 country for per-capita imprisonment of its own citizens, with almost 1 of every 80 persons locked up. This is not a statistic to be proud of!)

It does nothing to shift the source of drugs from criminals to legitimate merchants who would have a strong incentive not to sell to children.

It merely creates a privileged class of people who are exempt from some of our unjust and ill-considered drug laws. and worse, it generally does that in a way that massively violates the privacy of everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to this passing, so that I can reduce the amount of Oxycodone, that I take for chronic pain.

Todays drug tests can determine if you were "high" when driving, or if you just had it in your system, from weeks ago.
Right now, it's an automatic DUI if they can find any amount of THC in your system, even if it's only 16nG from 10-30+ days ago.
The bill clearly says that you can't operate any motor vehicle while under the influence, and if you are flying, then you have to answer to the feds.
...That said, MJ does not affect a motor vehicle operator as much as alcohol does.

Peter in Bear.

Anonymous said...

I completely support the legalization AND decriminalization of marijuana.
I recently moved to Delaware from California and medical marijuana saved my life. Having an abusive alcoholic father the legalization of medical marijuana pulled me out of a deep depression that had put terrible thought in my head which I wouldn't wish on my worst foe's. Medical marijuana also made having a physically demanding full time job possible for me. I wrestled throughout high school and college which gave me an extensive list of injuries that would make a surgeon cringe, 30 years later I feel the pain of my broken fingers, sprained ankles, broken collarbone and so on. Medical marijuana brought my quality of life up drastically.
In high school I was a kid who stayed away from drugs, "marijuana was for losers." I say now, with glee, I was wrong.
My only worries with marijuana is there is absolutely no way to tell how much a person has smoked before they decided to go out and drive. Alcohol is a water solubility substance, it enters the blood and makes it easy to tell how much alcohol you have in your system. Marijuana there is no test. You can take a urine test and 4 days later the lab will have the results of how many nano-grams of THC you have in your urine but can't tell how much I smoked on any given days. See if I smoke one gram every day then one day smoke a pound the test has no way of knowing that I smoked a pound that one day, the test just knows that over the past two weeks I have smoked a pound. I could have smoked a bit more then an ounce a day for two weeks or I could have smoked the pound in one day.
Technology needs to be a bit more advanced and prepared before the government can legalize and decriminalize marijuana. I keep praying the day comes soon.

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I hope the people considering this realize that not every pot-smoker is the same. I smoke regularly to help me sleep. Otherwise, i'm up until 5am rolling around. I get up on time every morning and start my day. I usually work 8-9 hours, pay my bills, drive my nice car. and i'm very active with my family. I do not smoke all day, sit on a couch, not working, or paying bills. The ONLY difference in my life since i discovered pot, was my sleep. Legalizing it would not change the way i smoke, although, I do believe it would be a great way to get out of debt with other contries. Look at how much money in taxes CA has paid so far since they legalized/sell it. Government can really benefit from this. Also, we will be saving MILLIONS on prosecuting the everyday pot-smokers. Why is this such a hard thing to decide.

and i'm anonymous because i don't have an account and don't want one.

Joel M.

Anonymous said...

I can speak from personal experience, I do actually drive better when I've been smoking, because I have ADD, when I'm sober I tend to get distracted from the road very easily, and I'm always driving fast, usually about 15 mph over the posted speed limit. If I have been smoking, I tend to overcompensate, slowing down to within 5 mph over if not right at the posted speed limit, and I limit my concentration to focus on the road, even if a song comes on the radio that I hate I end up listening to it, at least until I get to a traffic light, when I can change the station. when sober usually it is music that's my biggest distraction. But then I do find that marijuana use tends to improve alot of my symptoms of ADHD, and I wish they would test it for medicinal treatment in that field too. Other medicines don't help at all, there's one I'm taking now in a test study that does nothing. Yeah, I agree it's the truly suffering people that need it the most, the ones suffering from chemotherapy and such, but I still think if it's possible to help more of us just to feel like we're living a more normal productive day to day life, it should be looked at as well.

Hempman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hempman said...

94 is a horrible bill. It will dismantle the present affirmative defense that is keeping the cops from arresting all patients and replace it with a badly written limited list of only seven illnesses.

Sleep problems will not be covered under SB 94, nor will glaucoma (they removed it as a demonstration that they do not intend to cover all patients who may benefit, unlike the present affirmative defense), ADHD, ADD, most chronic pain applications, nor a whole long list of dis-eases that can presently use Delaware's available affirmative defense.

Senate Bill 94 is nothing but a stalking horse to derail more rational discussions about re-legalization. Screw taxation - that will become a stalking horse to deny individual rights to cultivation, and keep a thriving black market running.

SB 94, like all poorly crafted compromiser garbage, actually creates more anti-marijuana law than it dismantles.

This is a bill only rich people could like, for who, exactly, will be able to afford to doctor shop until they find one willing to write a recommendation? And who, exactly, will be able to afford a lawyer to argue the fine points of the tiny remnant of the present "lesser of two evils" medical necesity defense? And finally, who will be able to afford a locked facility that even one's own spouse will not be able to have access to, or the exhorbitant "compassion center" prices sure to rival the black market for profitability?

Hempman said...

I need to also point out a rational falacy in the article. While I could not agree more that Delaware is wasting tens of millions of drug war money trying to arrest their way away from ganja to no good effect, and while I could not agree more that Delaware is a violent, brutal police state, these two horrors rarely ever cross paths.

Of an estimated 250,000 regular ganja aconsumers (defined by the FBI and the DAWN report as at least twice a month) last year and the year before only a handful of ganja consumers were arrested, something slightly higher than 200 people. Way different than the bad old days when 5,000 people went to jail every year for ganja.

The fact is, most ganja consumers in Delaware, and no patients, will ever be harrassed by the police state. In fact, almost all people arrested for ganja are arrested while commiting some other crime, and the rest are arrested when they throw away their rights by giving permission to a search in a simple traffic stop.

I have to repeat an important part of that paragraph. Patients are not being arrested.

I also need to point out that in every state that has passed similar laws to SB 94, the arrest rate has skyrocketed. Most of those states arrest people at a higher rate not only than before they passed medicalization laws, but more than states without those assinine laws. CA for example, was arresting around 10,000 peoplke a year and had progressive re-legalization bills on the table. When they passed Prop 215, the arrest rate quadrupled, and now the are arresting 120,000 people a year. The same is happening on every state that passed medicalization laws.

And, despite the chatter coming out of CA, it is unlikely they will be able to revive the re-legaliation bills that died when prop 215 was enacted.

Why are some people so willing to compromise away the rights of others for some pretend "protections" that actually end up more draconian than what existed before

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