Government Forced NCI To Censor Medical Cannabis Facts


Government Forced NCI To Censor Medical Cannabis Facts


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In March, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component agency of the National Institutes of Health, acknowledged the medicinal benefits of marijuana in its online treatment database. But the information only stayed up a few days, before it was scrubbed from the site.

Now, newly obtained documents reveal not only how NCI database contributors arrived at their March 17 summary of marijuana’s medical uses, but also the furious politicking that went into quickly scrubbing that summary of information regarding the potential tumor-fighting effects of cannabis, reports Kyle Daly at the Washington Independent.

Phil Mocek, a civil liberties activist with the Seattle-based Cannabis Defense Coalition, obtained the documents as a result of a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request he filed in March after reading coverage of the NCI’s action. Mocek has made some of the hundreds of pages of at-times heated email exchanges and summary alterations available on MuckRock, a website devoted to FOIA requests and government documents.

The treatment database on NCI’s website is called the Physician Data Query (PDQ). The PDQ entry on cannabis and cannabinoids is maintained by the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Editorial Board. The lead reviewer on the marijuana summary statement is CAM board member Donald Abrams, director of integrative oncology at the University of California-San Francisco cancer center.

Abrams advocates the use of cannabis in cancer treatment, and his wish to accurately portray its medical applications becomes clear early in the documents.

On March 24, just a week after the finished summary had gone online, Susan Weiss — chief of the Office of Science Policy and Communications within the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — sent NCI officials an email saying her agency had just become aware of the summary. Weiss told them the NIDA wanted the summary changed to acknowledge that the FDA hasn’t approved marijuana; to take away any implication that it was recommending prescribing marijuana; to highlight the supposed "addiction potential" of marijuana; and to link to the NIDA’s own page on the supposed "adverse effects of marijuana."

The NCI balked at the last two requests: "I am unaware of any convincing evidence indicating that marijuana is addictive," communications officer Rick Manrow of the the NCI reasonably said.

But the agency agreed the first two requests were fair. The CAM board grappled for days with how to cooperate with the NIDA without compromising its independence or editorial integrity. Meanwhile, yet more federal agencies offered their two cents’ worth.

"[A press officer with the FDA] contacted me this morning because he has been getting calls from FDA staff, as well as at least one high-profile reporter, asking about NCI’s ‘endorsement of medical marijuana.’ I provided him with the background I had," wrote Brooke Hardison, NCI media relations analyst. "He needs to provide information for staff at the FDA, and they are trying to figure out how to respond to this issue. I suggested that it might be good for him to have a conversation with those more closely involved in this issue."

Meanwhile, national attention to the story continued to grow, and NIDA, notoriously anti-pot, was worried about this whole "marijuana treats cancer" thing.

On learning that Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance had tweeted about the summary, the NIDA’s Weiss wrote to NCI, "We will be contacting our colleagues at ONDCP [Office of National Drug Control Policy] just to give them a heads up about it."

Weiss also wrote to her NIDA colleagues, saying "We think that ONDCP needs to be informed."

The ONDCP, of course, is the office of the Drug Czar. Current czar Gil Kerlikowske, as with all drug czars, is bound by law to oppose marijuana legalization for any purpose, even to save cancer patients.

In any event, the NCI caved to the NIDA’s demands by removing any implied support for prescribing marijuana — noting that the FDA hasn’t approved cannabis as as prescription drug — and, much to the consternation of lead reviewer Abrams, removing a reference to marijuana’s anti-tumor properties.

"You know, the epidemiological data from Kaiser and Tashkin do possibly support an anti-tumor effect in humans," Abrams wrote. "After reflecting for a few hours, I am not happy that NIDA has been able to impose their agenda on us. The text was vetted by the whole Board. I would ask that we [involve] the whole Editorial Board in the discussion before being bulldogged.

"I am considering resigning from the Board if we allow politics to trump science!" Abrams wrote.

All the relevant CAM board members eventually agreed to the version that went up on March 29 and 30. That last day was when Phil Mocek submitted his FOIA request and is thus the last day that appears in the records given to him.

It is interesting to note that, toward the end of the correspondence record, NCI and NIDA officials were discussing the latter agency providing further information on the supposed "adverse effects of marijuana" so that the CAM Board could "take it into consideration" during its May 6 meeting. Several NCI and CAM members said any "convincing evidence" could result in larger changes to the entry.

NIDA prepared a list of anti-marijuana talking points, including the claim that nine percent of cannabis users "become addicted to the drug" and a completely undocumented claim that marijuana use leads to permanent cognitive impairment, in the hopes of causing just such changes in the NCI’s entry.

But, the Independent reports, May 6 came and went without any additional changes being made to the database.

One can only imagine the kinds of behind-the-scenes wrangling that continues as we speak. sized.jpg

Graphic: NORML Stash Blog

"NCI apparently got a talking to from someone" ~ Radical Russ Belville, NORML.

Turns out Radical Russ was right, and NIDA was doing the talking.



Imprisoned Prince of Pot Marc Emery calls out anti-legalization marijuana activists on Washington’s I-502



I have written thousands of words on the controversy surrounding Washington State’s I-502 legalization initiative.  I even get people in my comments sections who hate me because of my opinions on the issue.  Now, Marc Emery, the British Columbian marijuana seed seller doing federal time in America, also known as “The Prince of Pot” and one of the leading funders of the legalization movements in North America, has some harsh words for people who proclaim themselves supporters of legalization, but are actively opposing this legalization.

Most of our people in the cannabis culture who smoke, grow, or sell the herb don’t vote. The vast majority will never give money to political reform of any kind, most won’t gather signatures (unless they are paid) and will never write their congressperson or even a letter to the newspaper to condemn prohibition.

For the most part, our people are politically useless, unwilling and unable to organize, distracted by petty acrimony, and won’t actively support candidates or initiatives that will further the legalization of cannabis. For all the 250,000 stoners/pot people who come to Seattle Hempfest each August, the organizers can’t even get this mass to contribute pennies per person in donations, so pathetic is the sense of political responsibility among our people. Even a tremendous event like Hempfest suffers deficits because our people can’t collectively volunteer to give even ten cents per attendee to pay for its costs. Sad, sad, sad.

Should I-502 fail to pass in November, we’ll know who to blame, and who can be held responsible. The so-called grassroots could not manage to get their own initiative on the ballot, and in their frustration, they may choose to sabotage the best opportunity Washington State has had in the long history of prohibition to do what is possible – under the political reality of the day – to legalize marijuana.

via The Importance of Washington’s Legalization Initiative I-502 | Cannabis Culture.

The primary objection to legalization comes from a tiny minority of the Evergreen State’s medical marijuana community.  More accurately, the growers, doctors, and lawyers who serve the community, and the patients they’ve managed to frighten.  The issue at hand is the legalization includes a per se DUID of 5ng/mL THC in blood*, which is “a ‘legal limit’ like alcohol for DUI” in layman’s terms.

What they’re righteously angry about is that having a number on a test about the pot in your blood is not a scientifically accurate determination of impairment, especially not as low as 5ng/mL and especially not for people who smoke (use) a lot of pot all the time.  Like medical marijuana patients.  And they are factually correct.

But that has been ratcheted up by the tiny minority to mean “No patients will ever be able to drive!  They’ll all be getting DUIDs!  There will be more DUIDs to replace all the 1 ounce pot arrests!” and so on.

The fact is that if someone who smokes (uses) a lot of pot all day every day gets behind the wheel today, they are most likely a DUID waiting to happen.  Any amount of THC in blood is evidence to convict you of a DUID today.  After I-502, there will actually be a “legal limit” of 5ng/mL you could be under!

Now, the difference, as opponents are quick to note, is the per se means “in and of itself” in legalese, which translates to “slam dunk” for the prosecutor who wants to try you for a >5ng blood test.  If it’s per se, you’re guaranteed guilty, just like a drunk who’s over 0.08 BAC on the breathalyzer, even if he’s the best driver on the road.  Today, it’s not per se, which means a prosecutor, while he can enter blood tests into evidence, must still prove the driver was impaired.

But if a >5ng/mL DUID case is a “slam dunk” after I-502, it is a “fast break lay-up” right now.  If you go to court having tested at >5ng/mL, you’re not very likely to be acquitted.  Especially since the cop had to have a) evidence of smoke in the car (in which case, you should get a DUID), b) evidence of your impaired driving (dash cam of you weaving out of lanes, failed field sobriety test, etc.), and/or c) you wrecked your car in order to get your blood in the first place.

And to extend the NBA Playoff metaphor, right now, DUID charges with <5ng/mL blood tests are “mid range jumpers”.  There are plenty of examples of convictions below 5ng where that blood evidence convinced a judge or jury to convict, because who the fark knows what a nanogram per milliliter is and how much of it makes you too high to drive?  ”She was at 1.6 ng/mL Your Honor…” OK, so is that a lot?  What’s ‘high’, 100? 10? .08?

But after I-502 passes, those types of prosecutions become “half court shots”.  Any competent defense attorney will just say, “Your Honor, my client is a medical marijuana patient who has developed a tolerance to her medication and, after all, she was only at 1.6ng/mL, which is less than a third of the legal limit for THC.”


Judge tosses 150 pounds of marijuana over GPS use in Kentucky


LOUISVILLE — When Kentucky State Troopers stopped 49-year-old Robert Dale Lee on Interstate 75 in September 2011, they knew he would be coming their way and what to look for in his car.

The Drug Enforcement Administration had been following Lee’s car from Chicago using a GPS — a tracking device placed on the vehicle as part of a multi-state drug probe — and troopers found 150 lbs of marijuana in his car.

Now, a federal judge has ruled the stash inadmissible in the case against Lee because the DEA and troopers didn’t have a warrant to place the device on the car.

“In this case, the DEA agents had their fishing poles out to catch Lee,” Judge Amul R. Thapar wrote. “Admittedly, the agents did not intend to break the law. But, they installed a GPS device on Lee’s car without a warrant in the hope that something might turn up.”

Lee is charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. No trial date has been set. His attorney, Michael Murphy of Lexington, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Kyle Edelen, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Lexington, said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and evaluating whether to appeal Thapar’s decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January struck down law enforcement’s use of GPS tracking in investigations without a warrant. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the 5-member majority that it was the attachment of the device that violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. That case involved a GPS placed on the Jeep of suspected Washington, D.C. drug kingpin Antoine Jones. The ruling overturned Jones’ conviction and life sentence.

Lee’s case predated that ruling, so the admissibility of the marijuana remained in question until Thapar’s decision.

The case arose after a cooperating witness told investigators that Lee, who previously served 42 months in federal prison for gun and drug convictions, had been buying marijuana in Chicago and bringing it back to eastern Kentucky in his car.


Medical Marijuana Raids To Continue After House Defeats Defunding Bill

Posted: 05/10/2012 7:47 pm

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan measure that would have eliminated funding for federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they’re legal failed Wednesday in the House of Representatives. The legislation, introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), was part of the appropriations bill to fund the Department of Justice for fiscal 2013. It failed 262-163.

The bill came as the administration of President Barack Obama has unleashed an interagency crackdown on the cannabis industry, with raids on pot dispensaries, many in California operating in full compliance with state law. Since October 2009, the Justice Department has conducted more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids in nine states that allow medical marijuana, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, according to data compiled by Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group. While medical marijuana is legal under laws in 17 states and the District of Columbia, federal law says any use of marijuana is illegal.

The failed bill’s text reads as follows:

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Of the 190 Democrats in the House, 134 (more than 70 percent) voted in favor of the bill. Only 29 of the 242 House Republicans (less than 12 percent) did.

"If states’ rights aren’t a good enough reason to pass this amendment, do it because of compassion. Compassion demands it," said Farr in his statement Wednesday on the House floor. "We offer this amendment for terminal cancer patients," he added, "for AIDS victims, for persons who suffer chronic pain. We offer this amendment not only to protect those people, but we offer this amendment to protect the states that are progressive enough to provide alternative medical options to those who need it."

Watch Farr’s address to Congress below.


Dixie Elixirs & Edibles and PhytoSPHERE Systems, Portfolio Companies of Medical Marijuana, Inc, Grow Relationship with New Licensing Agreement

press release May 10, 2012, 8:30 a.m. EDT

Colorado’s Leading Manufacturer of Edible Medical Marijuana Products Looks to Ensure Global Product Consistency and Enhanced Cost Control with PhytoSPHERE’s Systems

DENVER, May 10, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Dixie Elixirs & Edibles (Dixie), Colorado’s premier Medical Marijuana infused products company, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with fellow Medical Marijuana, Inc. MJNA -4.76% portfolio company, PhytoSPHERE, to purchase the rights to PhytoSPHERE’s proprietary indoor planting, cultivation and extraction technology. While Dixie currently operates only in Colorado, this agreement will make Dixie one of the first medical marijuana infused product manufacturers in the world to own end-to-end production of its products. In addition, this technology will be made available to all licensees of Dixie’s intellectual property as outlined in the recent announcement of the formation of Red Dice Holdings, LLC which was formed to legally license the Dixie brand and propriety product development process beyond its current Colorado borders.

PhytoSPHERE’s highly efficient growth, packaging and extraction technologies will provide Dixie a compact, safe, pollutant-free facility which will allow it to:

Greatly increase plant production through yields that significantly exceed traditional methods

Completely control the cultivation environment resulting in superior plant growth, uniform strain purity, quality crop production, and year-round production potential

Reduce per-unit costs compared to traditional methods by eliminating the use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides

Produce Pharmaceutical grade extracts

Establish antibacterial environments and packaging systems

Control post production processing with proprietary standardization methods

PhytoSPHERE’s three core technologies consist of:

A module that places rows of plants perpendicular to an interior light source, which helps accelerate the growth rate and efficiency of the particular plant that is being cultivated. Computer operated sprayers ensure even distribution of nutrient feeding solutions to the crops resulting in an abundance of plants with strong, compact, and multi-directional growth. This state-of-the-art technology is fully contained, meaning crops can be grown year-round in any location using precise combinations of light, water, and nutrients to maximize production.

A proprietary antibacterial product clipping, curing and packaging system, allowing for a truly pharmaceutical grade method of cultivation.

An extraction and production process for cannabinoid based compounds derived from the cannabis plant, which uses standardized processes and technology to create the world’s leading pharmaceutical grade extracts.

"Currently 80 percent of all medical cannabis and hemp is grown outdoors, but at PhytoSPHERE we know that while this method is still dominant, it is also highly inefficient with lower yields than indoor cultivation and does not allow for a true pharmaceutical grade cannabis based product," said Michael Llamas, President of Medical Marijuana Inc. "With outdoor cultivation you cannot ensure the quality, consistency or potency of the product nor can you establish a contaminant free environment. Dixie is clearly a thought leader in the area of alternative medical marijuana delivery systems and when partnered with our software driven, indoor growing and extraction technologies, there is a tremendous opportunity to increase production, stabilize consistency and offer patients the very best quality medicine available."

"As we continue to grow our operations, serving more patients across Colorado and adding new dispensaries daily, we have recognized the need for greater cost-control and 100 percent consistency across Dixie’s products," said Tripp Keber, President and CEO of Dixie Elixirs and Red Dice Holdings, LLC. "However, cost control and consistency are arguably very challenging given the various environmental factors that can affect the key ingredient in our products. In fact, the only way to ensure that each and every plant grown meets our rigorous standards and matches the cannabinoid profile we desire for Dixie products is to manage the growth and cultivation process from seed to sale in a very controlled environment. We are lucky enough to have a true innovator and leader in that end-to-end solution development, PhytoSPHERE, as a sister company in the Medical Marijuana, Inc. portfolio. The execution of this licensing agreement is a true game-changer and puts us in the unique and enviable position of being able to cost-effectively cultivate consistently superior medical cannabis for our products."

About Dixie Elixirs & Edibles

As Colorado’s premier Medical Marijuana infused products company, Dixie Elixirs & Edibles(TM), based in Denver, CO has been providing alternative medicated relief for patients in Colorado since 2009. Dedicated to providing the strength, taste and discretion required by medical marijuana patients, Dixie Elixirs & Edibles provides a complete line of smoke-free medical marijuana products including Dixie Elixirs(TM) medicated beverages, Dixie Edibles(TM) infused edibles, Dixie Scrips(TM) cannabis and herb supplement capsules, Dixie Botanicals(TM) all-natural transdermal topicals, Dixie Dew Drops(TM) concentrated tinctures, and Dixie Tonics(TM) medicated energy boosts. Dixie Elixirs & Edibles products are sold through licensed medical marijuana centers in Colorado in compliance with CO HB 1284.

About Medical Marijuana, Inc.

Our mission is to be the premier cannabis and hemp industry innovators, leveraging our team of professionals to source, evaluate and purchase value-added companies and products, while allowing them to keep their integrity and entrepreneurial spirit. We strive to create awareness within our industry, develop environmentally friendly, economically sustainable businesses, while increasing shareholder value. For more information, please visit the company’s website at:


This press release may contain certain forward-looking statements and information, as defined within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and is subject to the Safe Harbor created by those sections. This material contains statements about expected future events and/or financial results that are forward-looking in nature and subject to risks and uncertainties. Such forward-looking statements by definition involve risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Medical Marijuana, Inc. to be materially different from the statements made herein.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Corporate Contact:

Medical Marijuana, Inc.

Toll Free: 888-OTC-MJNA (888-682-6562)

Investor Relations Contact:

Equiti-trend Advisors, LLC

Toll Free: 800-953-3350

CONTACTTripp Keber, Dixie Elixirs (303) 945-2049,

SOURCE Medical Marijuana, Inc


VIDEO: Colorado marijuana legalization effort launches first TV ad

By Scot Kersgaard
Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (Amendment 64) will run its first television ad beginning tomorrow, May 11, during NBC’s “The Today Show.” The ad will also air during “Ellen,” and the Mother’s Day episode of “The Doctors.”

The ad features a young woman sitting at a laptop sending an email to her mother, explaining why she prefers marijuana over alcohol and asking her mother if she would like to talk about the issue. In particular, she tells her mother that marijuana poses less harm to her health than alcohol and that she feels safer around people using marijuana than she does around those using alcohol.

Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol addresses the media in Denver a few weeks ago. She is surrounded by campaign volunteers. (Kersgaard)

“Our goal with this ad is to start a conversation – and encourage others to start their own conversations – about marijuana,” said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “As more people talk to their family and friends about marijuana, more people understand that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol and ought to be regulated like alcohol.”

The ad directs viewers to, a website in support of Amendment 64. The site complements the campaign’s strategy of encouraging young pro-legalization voters to talk about the issue with their parents, grandparents and other older voters.

“We will win this election if more older folks come to appreciate that marijuana is an acceptable and less harmful alternative to alcohol for adults,” Aldworth said. “For years they have been led to believe marijuana is more dangerous than it actually is, and that marijuana users are all slackers and losers. Once they hear from those closest to them that marijuana is used by millions of hard-working and professional people for the same reasons most adults use alcohol, they’ll be forced to think about why they would prefer people use alcohol instead of a less harmful substance.”

Polls have shown a tight election, but one in which the measure has a strong chance of passing. Even Denver Republicans voted in favor of the measure during the recent county assembly.


Democrats Look to End Federal Intervention of Medical Marijuana

Submitted by Marijuana Policy Project on May 10, 2012

WASHINGTONDemocrats in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve an amendment to the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill late Tuesday that would effectively end the ability of federal agencies to enforce federal marijuana laws against individuals who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment stated that federal agencies may not use any funds to target individuals in states with medical marijuana laws, as long as those people are following the laws of their respective states. This amendment, which was debated five times last decade, was reintroduced after an increase in federal actions against state-legal medical marijuana providers throughout the country over the last year.
The amendment was supported by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (D-California), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-New York), Rep. Sam Farr (D-California), and Rep. Tom McClintock (D-California). It was defeated in the House by a vote of 163-262 at the close of voting. Of those in favor, 134 were Democrats and 29 were Republicans, with 72% of Democrats backing the measure.
The strong support among Democrats is notable in light of recent criticism of the Obama administration’s crackdown on medical marijuana providers despite campaign promises that he would not use federal resources to undermine state medical marijuana laws.
“It is encouraging to see so many members sending a clear message to the Obama administration,” said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These 163 members are tired of seeing federal resources dedicated to undermining state medical marijuana laws. They understand, especially members from medical marijuana states, that when the Obama administration forces the closure of medical marijuana dispensaries, they are driving patients back to the streets to acquire their medicine. States are doing the right thing by ensuring that patients have safe access to medical marijuana. It is only a matter of time before every member of Congress accepts this truth.”
Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with a recommendation from their doctor. Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state to pass a medical marijuana law. Another ten states are considering bills to make marijuana legal at this time. CONTINUE READING…

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Marijuana: Mitt Romney doesn’t like your questions about cannabis


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Mitt Romney doesn’t like marijuana or medical marijuana, and he doesn’t want to hear your insignificant questions about the subject, either. At least, that’s what he told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd in an interview yesterday.

As you can see in the video below (starting at around 33 seconds), the reporter asks the presidential candidate a viewer’s question about medical marijuana after discussing gay marriage, a hot-button issue for Romney.

Medical cannabis is a big issue here and in sixteen other states, but Romney doesn’t seem to think so. Nor did he like the question: He chastises the reporter like a father lecturing a mouthy high schooler for asking him about something he clearly finds trivial.

"Aren’t there issues of significance that you’d like to talk about?" Romney asks. "The economy, the economy, the economy. The growth of jobs. The need to put people back to work. The challenges of Iran. We’ve got enormous issues that we face, but you want talk about — go ahead — you want to talk about marijuana?"

Then he dodges the issue of state-legal medical marijuana by equating it and it’s users with illegal drugs: "I think marijuana should not be legal in this country. I believe it is a gateway drug to other drug violations. The use of illegal drugs in this country is leading to terrible consequences in places like Mexico — and actually in our country."

Then the reporter drops the issue, moving on to Romney’s official talking points about the economy.

Never mind the fact that medical marijuana is an economic issue in this state, a legal industry that brings in millions of dollars in tax revenue and also creates hundreds of jobs. Apparently an economic reality in 34 percent of the states in this country isn’t big enough for Romney to consider. CONTINUE READING….

More from our marijuana archives: "THC driving bill killed in plot that snuffed out civil unions measure"; "Stoner MacGyver marijuana review: High Times cannabis cookbook"

Contracts with medical marijuana companies unenforceable, Arizona court rules

Source: NewsCore

PHOENIX — Doctors and businesses in Arizona that are cheated out of money by medical marijuana dispensaries may have no legal recourse after a recent court ruling.
The new legal reality stems from a case in which two Arizonans, Michele Rene Hammer and Mark Haile, gave a $500,000 loan to a medical marijuana company in Colorado, which — along with Arizona and over a dozen other states — permits some medicinal use of the drug.
When the company failed to repay the loan, Hammer and Haile sued.
But Maricopa County, Ariz., Superior Court Judge Michael McVey threw out their lawsuit because federal law prohibits marijuana possession for all reasons.
"The explicitly stated purpose of these loan agreements was to finance the sale and distribution of marijuana," McVey wrote in his judgment of dismissal. "This was in clear violation of the laws of the United States. As such, this contract is void and unenforceable."
It is unknown whether Hammer and Haile will appeal.
Legal observers noted McVey’s ruling could make it impossible to enforce business agreements with medical marijuana companies.
"This is just one contractual relationship," Randy Nussbaum, managing partner of a law firm that represented Hammer and Haile, told The Arizona Republic. "The macro view of this is, if it’s true that anyone who has a contractual relationship with anyone dispensing medical marijuana and that contract is not enforceable, how does anyone enforce a legitimate contract in this business?"
Phoenix attorney Richard Keyt, who discusses legal issues related to medical marijuana on his blog, noted that McVey’s ruling means landlords who rent to medical marijuana dispensaries may not be able to take squatting tenants to court.
Doctors who provide services to dispensaries may also have no legal options if they are denied payments, according to Keyt.
"Until an Arizona appellate court reverses the result in this case it means that people who enter into contracts that relate in any way to Arizona medical marijuana will have to hope the other side to the contract satisfies his/her/its obligations because it may not be possible to sue for breach of contract and get a judgment against the party who defaults," Keyt wrote.

Read More: Contracts with medical marijuana companies unenforceable, Arizona court rules

NJ Weedman – Ed Forchion Burlington County Trial


Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion court verdict: Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion talks before and after the verdict is read in his Burlington County jury trial on charges of marijuana possession and possession with intent to distribute.


MOUNT HOLLY — A jury convicted medical marijuana activist Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion of possession Wednesday, but could not reach a verdict on the more weighty charge of distribution.

Following the verdict announcement in Superior Court in Mount Holly, an uncharacteristically agitated Forchion, dressed in a white T-shirt with a green cannabis leaf pictured inside the O of the letters LOVE, challenged an assistant Burlington County prosecutor that he would be ready for a retrial on the distribution charge.

“If he thinks he can get me again, let’s go,” Forchion told Judge Charles Delehey in regards to Assistant Prosecutor Michael Luciano. “I would go tomorrow.”

Forchion, who is representing himself, shot down his court-appointed lawyer’s plan to file a motion to have the court dismiss the possession with intent to distribute charge, saying angrily that the process would only delay the resolution of his case. The motion would have had to have been heard before a new trial could begin on the outstanding charge.

“I’m stuck here broke,” Forchion said. “I want to get this over with.”

Forchion, 47, grew up in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township but later opened a medical marijuana dispensary in California. He was arrested in April 2010 when he returned to New Jersey to visit his children and was stopped in Mount Holly with a pound of pot in his trunk.

Since then, Forchion has heavily promoted his case in an effort to further argue against New Jersey’s marijuana laws.

“This is bigger than me,” Forchion said while waiting for the jury’s verdict Wednesday. “I’m not in here just fighting for me.

“It’s the cause. I’m on the side of righteousness here.”

In his opening arguments last week, Forchion boldly proclaimed to the jury that the stash of pot was his but he maintained that he never had any intent to peddle his “medicine” to others.

During the trial, experts from both sides presented their opinions as to whether there was evidence that Forchion was intending to distribute the pot.


Reach George Mast at (856) 486-2465 or