Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

LaWall continues campaign against medical marijuana

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and other attorneys from her office are continuing their campaign against medical marijuana, which is on the November 2 ballot as Prop 203.

LaWall and Deputy County Attorney Thomas Rankin used the same fear tactics on AM1330’s John C. Scott Show recently as she did at her public non-forum a few weeks ago.

To his credit, Scott started the show by asking how she can campaign for or against an issue when she is county attorney. LaWall said she is allow to “voice her opinion” but is not allow to tell anyone how to vote. Technically, LaWall didn’t say, “Vote NO on Prop 203”, but she spent nearly an hour of the two-hour show lambasting medical marijuana and sneering at anyone who would “demand” it.

LaWall called medical marijuana a “smoke screen” and a “prescription for disaster.” Comically, she used the same “it’s so long!” defense that the anti-healthcare-reform folks do. Problem is the medical marijuana legislation is 36 pages, and the healthcare reform bill is 2000. Come on, Barbara, 36 pages is too long?

Under Prop 203, a person can get a medical marijuana patient card for any of a number of major illnesses like cancer or HIV/AIDS or to sooth the side effects from treatment for a major illness or to provide palliative care for chronic ailments like depression or chronic pain. The patient card allows you to buy 2.5 ounces of pot every 2 weeks. If you live more than 25 miles from a dispensary, you can grow up to 12 plants in a locked room, closet, shed, green house, or anything else that can be secured. (Of course, you don’t want anyone stealing your plants.) People who are licensed as unpaid caregivers can take care of as many as 5 patients, which allows the caregivers 5 times as much pot.

Rankin and LaWall contend that there are already prescription drugs for pain, and people should just use those. The problem is prescription drugs are expensive, and they usually have side effects. Cancer treatment, for example, is thousands of dollars; why add hundreds of dollars of addition cost for palliative care when you can grow 12 marijuana plants in your bedroom closet? Medical marijuana is a very affordable, natural drug– unlike most pharmaceuticals.

Personally, it really riles me up when LaWall starts putting down cancer patients who want marijuana to help them endure the side effects of treatment. She did this at the forum and on Scott’s show. After a few minutes, I couldn’t take it and called the show. She claimed that no doctors at the Arizona Cancer Center want marijuana for their patients. This is a flat out lie.

I pointed out that at her non-forum, there was a cancer doctor and a cancer nurse from the Arizona Cancer Center and a breast cancer patient; none of them were allowed to speak. When I interviewed the doctor and nurse outside later, they were appalled by the way LaWall’s performance that evening. The doctor told me, “I want to be able to prescribe marijuana for my patients. They need it.”

LaWall moves into Reefer Maddness mode when she talks about dispensaries and growing operations. Prop 203 limits the number of dispensary licenses to 120 statewide. Both Pima County and the City of Tucson have been working on zoning regulations for dispensaries.

Arizona voters have passed medical marijuana laws twice before, but the Arizona Legislature stopped the measures from becoming law. Since then, another voter initiative was passed that forces the Legislature to make anything law that the voters vote for.

If you want an unbiased report about medical marijuana, I recommend Diane Rehm’s recent National Public Radio show. NPR has had several other shows about the topic like this one about it’s medicinal properties. From the New York Times, this story Marijuana, Once Divisive, Brings Some Families Closer talks about adult children supplying marijuana to their aging parents. The quotes from patients who have had experience with both prescription pain relievers and marijuana are enlightening.

For the law enforcement point of view, check out Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). This is a group of current and retired law enforcement officers and lawyers who believe that prohibition of marijuana and other drugs escolates violence. They advocate legalization. (By the way, on Scott’s show, I asked LaWall and Rankin if they had ever heard of LEAP, but they didn’t answer.)

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana. Will Arizona be next? I hope so. I have worked in healthcare and public health for more than 20 years– including several years at the Arizona Cancer Center. I have interviewed patients, family members, caregivers, and physicians about cancer, cancer prevention, and cancer treatment. When you have seen the courage these people have and witnessed their struggle first hand, you would never deny them something that helps them become disease free. Vote YES on Prop 203.

19 comments on “LaWall continues campaign against medical marijuana

  1. Three Sonorans
    October 10, 2010

    I love you…
    blogging on this site that is 🙂


  2. Carolyn Classen
    October 10, 2010

    LD 29  House Rep. Matt Heinz, a physician at Tucson Medical Center, stated in his debates that he is in favor of this proposition.  Most people I know are voting for it, esp. since it is a citizen initiative.


    • Pamela Powers
      October 10, 2010

      On the radio show, LaWall said specifically that she didn’t know any doctors who want medical marijuana; that was the statement that prompted me to pick up the phone and call in. I work for a medical journal. I have been surrounded by doctors in my work for 20+ years. I don’t know any of them who are against it! Glad to hear Matt’s stance and Ted’s (below).


    • RevRayGreen
      October 11, 2010

      as a former resient of  Tucson, my fingers are crossed for a VICTORY !!!!


  3. Ted Downing
    October 10, 2010

    I support Prop 203. It will pass and the sky will not fall.


  4. Kirk Muse
    October 11, 2010

    Prop. 203 is about freedom.  The freedom of adults to self-medicate in the privacy of their own homes without going to jail with violent criminals for doing so.

    Today, our nanny-state government tells us which recreational drugs
    we may or may not consume.  (Note that Viagra is OK, but marijuana
    is not).  Note that nicotine is OK, but marijuana is not.

    Tomorrow, our nanny-state government will tell us which foods we
    may or may not eat.  Of course, they will cite noble reasons for
    doing so.


    • Pamela
      October 11, 2010

      I totally agree, Kirk.
      There are certainly no public health reasons for marijuana being illegal when alcohol and tobacco sold 24/7 across the nation. Tobacco cigarettes are the only product that– when used as directed– kill you.


  5. Jim Hannley
    October 11, 2010

    Well done, Pamela. This is a civil rights issue as far as I am concerned. A government which represses millions of citizens is tyrannical and that is what is happening around the issue of marijuana prohibition. Perhaps we should ask Barbara how goes the “war on drugs”? If she’s honest she’ll say that our nation throws billions of dollars on “interdiction” but has nothing to show for it but millions of Americans incarcerated and millions more with lives needlessly damaged by law enforcement and the courts.


  6. Carolyn Classen
    October 11, 2010

    Blog for Arizona just came out in favor of Prop. 203 (http://arizona.typepad.com/)
    “Prop 203: Medical Marijuana (Again…)
    The only real citizen’s initiative on the ballot, Prop 203 would decriminalize the use of marijuana for palliative care of certain medical conditions. Arizona voters voted for this in 1996 and 1998 and the GOP conspired to block implementation.
    This is not a marijuana orgy initiative. Dispensaries are closely regulated and limited to 120 state-wide, use requires a prescription for a listed condition (no “anxiety” disorders), and it is self-financing. You still won’t be allowed to drive or do other dangerous stuff while effected by marijuana, but employers can’t fire you for failing a drug test for marijuana metabolites if you have a prescription.
    Simple fact is that a Yes vote is not approval of recreational use of the plant, but an act of compassion for those suffering from debilitating and painful diseases.”


  7. RevRayGreen
    October 11, 2010

    Less than four-weeks until Judgement Day Nov.2 2010 10/9/2010 Show#8 – Green central Station’ Roundatble discussion on pending elections Nov.2 2010 with ballot measures in California, Arizona, South Dakota, Oregon. Recent televised debates in the ‘Colbert Report’ and ‘C-SPAN’. Combing thru the New Jersey medical marijuana program ‘rules’and the Iowa Elected officials either in office or running that have had documented battles with the ‘bottle’ and put the public safety at risk by driving drunk, later charged/plead/convicted. http://www.desmoinesamplified.com/show_date.asp?showid=116&id=828


  8. Carolyn Classen
    October 11, 2010

    Also– the Tucson Weekly has endorsed Prop. 203 in their 10/7 issue:
    “Proposition 203 (Medical Marijuana): Yes
    Prop 203 would legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients who register with the state and get a doctor’s recommendation. Dispensaries would face a variety of regulations. If smoking a little pot makes sick and dying people feel a little better, they shouldn’t have to break the law to do it. Don’t buy into the ridiculous scare tactics being pushed by the opponents of this measure. Vote yes.”


  9. Pamela Powers
    October 12, 2010

    Thanks for the links, Carolyn. Yes, vote YES on 203.


  10. Edgar Suter MD
    October 16, 2010

    Prohibition, highly restrictive zoning, and other high restrictive regulations of marijuana are inappropriate.
    Despite immense institutional hostility and prejudice, over 20,000 peer-reviewed medical studies document that marijuana is safer than any common over-the-counter medicine, safer than aspirin, safer than Tylenol, far safer than alcohol, far safer than any drug I prescribe. Cannabis reduces pain, nausea, and wasting, but research also suggests curative effects in a variety of medical conditions.

    As far back as 1988, after an extensive review of the research, the DEA’s own chief administrative judge Francis L. Young concluded: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known.” The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine found similarly. The DEA ignored the research then and ignores the research still. In 2010, at least 15 double-blind crossover studies, the Gold Standard of research, are among the 20,000 studies showing the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis and NO evidence it causes cancer—by far more supportive research for marijuana than any drug ever approved by the FDA! In 2009, forced by the overwhelming weight of research evidence, the American Medical Association overcame its previous hostility to support “that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.” The supportive 2010 University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research Report to the Legislature is available online.

    Primarily because of irrational marijuana laws, America has more people behind bars per capita than Red China! The current black market status of marijuana denies patients safe access to a useful medicine, but profits only drug cartels, the prison industry, and wastes enormous law enforcement resources, your money. We can no longer afford to keep such a safe and useful drug illegal. Oppose “Reefer Madness” Prohibition. Vote YES ON 203.
    And when the Medical Marijuana Initiative passes, I urge public servants to assist, not thwart, the will of the people.


    • Pamela Powers
      October 18, 2010

      A very thoughtful post. Thanks! Yes, as you point out, we are wasting valuable funds locking people up for victimless crimes.

      I wonder if LaWall’s department gets to keep some of the funds for the diversion programs. Basically, when you get a ticket for a minor crime (in my case, the leash law), the prosecuting lawyers *strongly* encourage you to pay more than the fine and take a diversion class “to wipe the ticket from your record.” I paid an extra $70 on top of the $110 ticket and spent 1/2 day in a leash law class. I was ticketed on July 4– along with about 100 other people who all showed up to court on the same day. For the people nabbed for small amounts of pot, the pot possession charges were dismissed, but they received a $300 fine for paraphernalia + the cost of the diversion class. The government makes a bundle on those fines and diversion classes.


  11. tiponeill
    October 16, 2010

    and wastes enormous law enforcement resources
    But how would we survive without the daily press releases touting the Border Patrol ? 🙂


  12. Marsh Mellows
    November 13, 2010

    Pamala , your wrong . Alcohol and almost all pharmaceuticals kill you to when used as directed . God’s given herb was not made by God to kill you .
    Oh no , here comes the hypocrites saying ” Well , Heroin is natural derived from a poppy plant  & that drug will kill you ” and ” its made by God ” .
    Wrong . Heroin is man made . You just can’t pick a poppy & shoot it in your vein . Alcohol – same thing , man made by the Devil himself .


  13. Marsh Mellows
    November 13, 2010

    Alcohol is man made by the Devil causing death & destruction . Addiction , a host of medical problems , blood & murder on our Highways yet BIG Alcohol is telling us that Marijuana is the Devil’s drug but truly i say onto you ; It is exactly the opposite of what they are attempting to make you believe ; Alcohol is the Devil’s drug – not marijuana .
    Marijuana saves lives . Alcohol kills lives . They are opposites .


  14. Marsh Mellows
    November 13, 2010

    How do you tell when an Attorney is lying ?
    Answer ; When their lips move .


  15. Rain
    February 28, 2011

    Wise up Ms. LaWall,Being smart on crime means going after the bad guys, not the teenagers in
    the park who get caught smoking a joint.  How about we take
    our resources, our precious law enforcement resources and focus them on
    violent crimes and REAL criminals??

    The research is in and in response the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest physician’s group in the US, recommends reclassification of marijuana away from being a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical uses.  Double blind medical research has proven the legitimacy of marijuana as medicine.Their findings are based on SCIENCE not Myth and Propaganda.The fact is
    that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes.

    The fact is  we arrest and prosecute over 800,000 people  a year in this country for marijuana possession alone.The fact is we need to end this war on drugs and consider less harmful options for our communities, like HB 2228, .in the Rules Committee of the AZ house right now to decriminalize for small amounts.The War on drugs is a war on people, our people.  Please help stop the war on drugs and support policy that is good for our citizens.  Allow medical marijuana patients access to their medicine without harassment by legislators and law enforcement.thanks,Rain Baker, RNwww.camp420.net


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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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