Tennessee

Medical marijuana by state.

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Tennessee

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:10 pm

The Tennessean wrote:WSJ article says Constance Gee smoked marijuana in Vandy mansion, citing medical reasons

By RALPH LOOS
Staff writer
The Tennessean

Published: Tuesday, 09/26/06

A story in today's Wall Street Journal contained a look at oversight by Vanderbilt University Trustees over Chancellor Gordon Gee. Included in the story was the fact that the chancellor's wife, Constance Gee, has smoked marijuana in the university-owned mansion.

Michael J. Schoenfeld, vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt, said today that Constance Gee is on faculty at the university and that he cannot comment on whether or not she was reprimanded for using marijuana in the mansion.

Along with being married to the chancellor, Constance Gee is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt.

Gee said the drug was for medical purposes, according to the article.

For complete coverage, pick up a copy of The Tennessean Wednesday.

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Comments

This is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I always believed the Wall Street Journal had more important things to write about (I'm not a Vandy grad). I couldn't care less what Ms. Gee is doing in her home on Vanderbilt property. If she isn't tearing the place up and making a menace of herself, then there is no story and I am truly disappointed with the WSJ.

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:47 pm

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Gee sent this out to the VU community this afternoon:


Dear Colleague,

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal described the changing nature of corporate governance in higher education and featured Vanderbilt University as a case study. While the article pointed out just a few of the many exciting things that are happening at our University, I am writing to let you know that the Journal’s report on this important issue presented an incomplete portrait of Vanderbilt.

We have created a website to address the specific issues raised in the Wall Street Journal’s article: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/news/wsj. There, you can find detailed information – all of which was provided to the newspaper during the reporting process – as well as a summary of Vanderbilt’s accomplishments over the past six years.

I want to assure you that Vanderbilt is as committed to excellence in governance as we are to excellence in education, research, and public service.

Over the past year, the Vanderbilt Board of Trust has undertaken a thorough review of institutional governance to ensure that we are following the best practices that are being adopted in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. As a result, we have instituted a range of reforms designed to update what had been, in some cases, either outdated or nonexistent processes. With these changes, we are confident that Vanderbilt is, and will continue to be, a leader in addressing the sometimes difficult challenges of governance in a complex and dynamic environment.

By every measure, Vanderbilt is one of the world's most important higher education institutions. Our success in reaching very ambitious goals in education, research, diversity, fundraising, service to the community, and financial stability is indisputable. One only has to look at the quality and satisfaction of our students, faculty, staff, patients, and alumni to see that Vanderbilt is stronger and more confident than ever before.

This progress can be attributed to several factors: sound leadership from the Board of Trust; innovative management; the tremendously creative energies of dynamic faculty, staff and students; and the loyalty, passion, and support of alumni and friends around the world.

I am proud of Vanderbilt’s progress and growth in recent years.

Our investments in students, faculty, facilities, and programs have brought tremendous dividends to the University. We will surpass the $1.25 billion goal of our “Shape the Future” Campaign two years ahead of schedule, with a principal result of ensuring that a Vanderbilt education will be possible for the best and brightest students regardless of their ability to pay. And, we are equally enthusiastic about initiatives such as The Commons, perhaps the most comprehensive first-year experience for students, the Academic Venture Capital Fund that has spawned new research centers, and our expanded hospital.

Our results are obvious and our methods sound.

I thank you for your commitment to Vanderbilt, and I welcome you comments, questions, and thoughts.

Cordially,

Gordon Gee

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:14 pm

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I guess if you are an elite vandy liberal, such minor things as, oh, drug laws, don't apply to you.

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:45 pm

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Martha Ingram had to inform Mrs. Gee that smoking pot in the mansion was unacceptable!?! Are you kidding me. I am curious how Mrs. Gee acquires her "medicinal" weed. Its not only unacceptable, last time I checked it was ILLEGAL! $700,000 a year for parties but no one is checking the books? I have no problem with the money being spent as long as its being spent in proper fashion, this would include a complete and thorough accounting of the University's money.

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:47 pm

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Vandy shrugs off Gee revelations

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Sep 27, 2006 4:26 pm

The Tennessean wrote:Wednesday, 09/27/06

Vandy shrugs off Gee revelations

'Lavish' spending, wife's pot smoking cited


By RALPH LOOS, RYAN UNDERWOOD AND MICHAEL CASS
Staff Writers
The Tennessean

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/vandy_student.jpg width=300></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Vanderbilt student and editor of the Slant newspaper on campus, Joe Hills, left, reads an article in the Wall Street Journal about Chancellor Gordon Gee that describes what it calls lavish spending on the official residence and annual expenses.</td></tr></table>Spending, decorating and entertaining at Vanderbilt University were topics of a long-anticipated Wall Street Journal expose that hit the newsstands Tuesday.

Marijuana smoking by the chancellor's wife may have been the article's lone surprise.

Reaction to the piece, which referenced a $6 million renovation to the chancellor's mansion, was mixed. Board of Trust members said it contained little news. Students who'd been told for weeks the story was going to be published had come to believe it never would.

"We figured it was dead," said Joe Hills, a junior from Tullahoma and editor of The Slant, a twice-monthly satirical campus newspaper. "Students didn't really know what was going to be in it, but we were assuming it was going to be about wasteful spending."

Vanderbilt officials spent Tuesday answering questions from staff and students and media outlets. An e-mail from Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee was distributed to the campus community, touting a Web site with a reaction to the article and a list of accomplishments by the university in recent years.

In the e-mail, Gee wrote, "I am writing to let you know that the Journal's report on this important issue presented an incomplete portrait of Vanderbilt."

Members of the board contacted Tuesday shrugged off any suggestion that the reports would spark a significant reaction within the Vanderbilt community.

John W. Rich, a trustee emeritus who has served on the board since 1987, and other board members said they were not surprised by the $6 million figure.

"Frankly, I had heard higher numbers than that," said Rich, chairman of Nashville-based Delta Coals Inc. "The amount doesn't bother me at all, especially when you've got the chancellor using it to entertain donors or alumni or students probably 200-300 times per year."

Wife admits pot use

<table class=posttable align=right width=320><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/gee_constance.jpg></td><td class=postcell><img src=bin/gee_gordon.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap><center>Constance Gee</center></td><td class=postcap><center>Gordon Gee</center></td></tr></table>Constance Gee confirmed Tuesday she has used marijuana to manage symptoms of Meniere's disease, an inner ear ailment that can cause dizziness and hearing loss.

"I've suffered from it (Meniere's) for about two years," Constance Gee said. Asked if the disease caused her to feel dizzy, she replied, "It's more serious than that."

Her use of medical marijuana apparently came to the attention of trustees, who confronted the chancellor about it.

Gordon Gee wouldn't discuss the details of his wife's marijuana use Tuesday but did say her inner-ear problems were a concern and that she faced the possibility of losing much of her hearing.

"I applaud her (for what she's been through)," he said. "I will not comment on anything else."

Students were mostly indifferent to their "first lady," who is also an associate professor of public policy and education, using marijuana.

"On one hand, it's illegal, and one should not be allowed to do it anywhere but at home," said Ally Scott, a junior music major who said she supports legalizing marijuana. "Then again, her home is part of the university, so ..."

Rules for students and faculty at Vanderbilt prohibit the possession or use of illegal drugs in campus facilities, and the most recent crime report the university submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation cited 82 drug violations in 2005, three times more than two years earlier.

Possession of marijuana in Tennessee, medical or not, is illegal. Paul Kuhn, a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and a Vanderbilt graduate, said no legislation is pending on the issue.

"It rarely gets introduced during an election year," said Kuhn, whose wife, Jeanne, died in 1996 from cancer. His wife used medical marijuana during chemotherapy, Kuhn pointed out. "I expect a bill on it to be introduced again, maybe next year."

Meniere's disease affects about 1 in 500 people and can cause episodes of vertigo, ringing in the ears, a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss, Dr. Timothy Hullar of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said.

Washington University's department of otolaryngology is one of two major centers of study on Meniere's. Hullar said the disease typically strikes people at early middle age.

"And then by late middle age, it tends to burn out," he added.

Hullar said he's never heard of anyone using medical marijuana to treat symptoms of Meniere's.

"There are a whole lot of other ways to treat it — lowering salt intake, taking water pills, many other things — I can't imagine going to the extreme of marijuana."

A handful of pro-marijuana Internet sites do link medical marijuana to Meniere's.

"My own personal thought on the matter is that it certainly was not for recreational use. Knowing that lady as I do, I can't imagine that it was for anything other than medicinal purposes," said Monroe Carell Jr., executive chairman of Central Parking Inc. and a Vanderbilt Board member.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/vandy_braeburn.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Braeburn, which is in Belle Meade, had not been used as a residence for almost 20 years when Gordon Gee became chancellor in 2000. Renovations cost an estimated $6 million.</td></tr></table>Renovations cost $6M

The Gees moved into Braeburn, the university-owned mansion in Belle Meade, in June 2001. They have "hosted almost 20,000 people at an average of 100 events a year, as well as an equal number of small, private breakfasts, lunches and dinners," the Vanderbilt Web site said.

When Gee was appointed in 2000, Vanderbilt's chancellor's residence hadn't been a residence for almost 20 years. Gee's predecessor, Joe B. Wyatt, chose not to live there, though the university still entertained donors and others at the Belle Meade mansion.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Gee and his wife toured the mansion on the day of his appointment, and Gee asked for the installation of a conservatory, guest quarters and a commercial kitchen. Those and other upgrades cost more than $6 million, the story said.

Gee declined to comment on costs Tuesday.

"Whatever amount was spent, we've raised $1.2 billion, and we've raised a lot of it in that house," he said. "It's not in any sense opulent. To be able to live there and make it work, we had to do a host of renovations. We did what was necessary to make it a home that would serve the university."

Vanderbilt has owned the 20,000-square-foot home, built in 1915, since 1964. The university wrote on its Web site Tuesday that the renovations in 2000 and 2001 included a catering kitchen, a space to accommodate large groups for dinners and receptions and "comfortable living quarters for the Gees and guests to the University."

The upgrades also addressed "almost 20 years of wear and tear;" brought the house into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; removed asbestos and lead-based paint; updated heating, electrical and other mechanical systems; and reinforced walls, ceilings and the foundation.

According to Metro property records, the house and its 5.35 acres were appraised at $5.75 million as of Jan. 1, 2005.

A spokesman for Vanderbilt Board Chairman Martha Ingram said yesterday that she would make no further comments about the issues raised in the Journal, other than what she said in the newspaper's report.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/vandy_chancellor.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>In this 2000 photo, Gordon Gee and his wife, Constance, greet former Vanderbilt chancellor Alexander Heard, left, and others after an announcement that Gee would be the new chancellor. </td></tr></table>No lasting effect seen

Gee said his administration went through the appropriate channels to get the renovations funded and that "senior officers and a board committee" managed the process.

The issues in question, Carell said, came to light as the result of a gradual process to add more transparency and oversight responsibilities to the full board instead of keeping matters confined to individual committees.

"Let me be clear on this point, none of this was a matter of dishonesty or fraud," Carell said when asked about other cases at universities in which leaders have been in some cases ousted for lavish or inappropriate personal spending.

Trustee Edward G. Nelson, the former chairman of the board's Audit Committee, said Vanderbilt had "scrubbed itself to the nth degree" to uncover issues that should fall under the board's guidance.

"And what we found — well, it is what it is," Nelson said. "At the end of the day, what we have is a very popular, energetic chancellor."

Rich said he does not worry about any harm to either Vanderbilt or Chancellor Gee's reputation from any revelations. Nor does he see any fundamental disgruntlement among board members that may have sparked the story.

"This was a situation where I think there probably was a lot of smoke, but there was just nothing there," said Rich. "I don't see this having any sort of major impact. I remain very supportive of the chancellor and the administration." •

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On the books

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Sep 27, 2006 4:36 pm

The Tennessean wrote:Wednesday, 09/27/06

On the books

The Tennessean


Federal law: It is unlawful to manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver, sell or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver or sell controlled substances, including marijuana.

Tennessee law: The offense of possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance (such as marijuana) is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor (eleven months, twenty-nine days and/or a fine of $2,500).

A medical marijuana law was pushed in 2004 but failed. It is expected to be revived again in 2007.

Vanderbilt University: The university prohibits the unlawful possession, use or distribution of alcohol and illicit drugs by faculty and staff on its property or as part of any university-sponsored activity. … and will impose disciplinary sanctions on faculty and staff, up to and including termination of employment and referral for prosecution, for violation of the alcohol and illicit drug policy. – Vanderbilt Human Resources Web site

Vanderbilt University will impose disciplinary sanctions on students, ranging from a warning or reprimand, to disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion and referral for state or federal prosecution, for violation of its alcohol and controlled substances policy. – Vanderbilt Student Handbook

Other states: Voters or lawmakers, or both, in 11 states have approved medical marijuana initiatives. A breakdown by year:

• 1996: Arizona and California

• 1998: Alaska, Oregon and Washington

• 1999: Maine

• 2000: Colorado and Nevada

• 2004: Montana

• 2005: Hawaii and Maryland. •

SOURCE: Staff research and The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws


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Rallying Around Gordon Gee

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Sep 27, 2006 4:52 pm

Inside Education wrote:Rallying Around Gordon Gee

Inside Higher Ed
September 27, 2006

As E. Gordon Gee moved from presidency to presidency in his career, he wasn’t always beloved by professors. But at Vanderbilt University, where he has been chancellor since 2000, there was strong evidence of his campus backing on Tuesday, as faculty and student leaders rallied around him following publication of a newspaper article critical of “loosey-goosey” oversight of Gee’s spending.

The Wall Street Journal’s front-page story used Vanderbilt to illuminate the trend toward greater pressure on trustees to oversee presidents and their compensation packages. The Journal reported that Gee, whose annual compensation package of $1.4 million makes him among the most highly paid college leaders, oversaw the expenditure of $6 million for improvements to the chancellor’s mansion, Braeburn, without full board approval. The article also reported that Vanderbilt spends more than $700,000 annually on parties at the residence, described a potential conflict of interest surrounding a contract with a parking vendor, and, in a particularly personal turn, reported allegations that the president’s wife, Constance, an associate professor of public administration and education, used marijuana in the house for medical reasons. The newspaper also noted that Constance lowered an American flag to half-staff outside Braeburn after President Bush’s re-election.

On many a campus, such an article might encourage professorial critics to pounce. But it was striking that faculty and student leaders Tuesday were strongly endorsing their chancellor.

In an e-mail message sent to the Vanderbilt students and professors Tuesday, and posted online by the student newspaper, Gee said that the article “presented an incomplete portrait of Vanderbilt,” and referred readers to a Web page describing the university’s accomplishments under his tenure.

“Much of what the article portrays is ancient history,” said Vanderbilt spokesman Michael Schoenfeld. “In general, the story portrayed a university that is successful by every financial and academic measure, thanks to Gordon Gee’s leadership, and a board that is addressing the same governance issues that every private university in the country is dealing with.” Schoenfeld said the university underwent a governance review about a year ago and has since adopted new policies, including a tightening of internal procedures and the creation of a new trustee committee that scrutinizes spending by the chancellor.

“The article articulates the importance of oversight by the Board of Trust for spending, and I am confident that the Board of Trust at Vanderbilt has a strong working relationship with the chancellor,” Catherine Fuchs, chair of the Faculty Senate and associate professor of psychiatry, said in an e-mail.

Gee enjoys immense popularity among students and faculty members at Vanderbilt where he has overseen the successful completion of a $1.25 billion fund-raising campaign two years ahead of schedule, a 50-percent spike in applications and corresponding increase in selectivity, a doubling in research funding, a tripling in financial aid for undergraduates, a 50-percent increase in minority enrollment, and a 100-point increase in average SAT scores. Gee has also personally involved himself in recruiting faculty members — and has helped attract stars, most recently in literary and African-American studies.

“From my vantage point, Gordon Gee has had and continues to have the respect, admiration, and enthusiastic support of the great majority of the faculty,” said Norman Tolk, vice-chair of the Faculty Senate and a professor of physics. “Chancellor Gee has as his stated objective to bring an already excellent university into the front ranks of the great universities in the world. He has made significant progress in this direction. The article, I believe, makes this point very well. On a personal level, I have never met a man who is more concerned with the well-being of the people he has responsibility for, faculty staff, and students.”

Boone Lancaster, president of Vanderbilt’s Student Government Association, echoed Tolk’s enthusiasm. “When it comes to popularity with the students it would be difficult to imagine anyone that is more appreciated and well-liked than Chancellor Gee. He always makes it a point to be out and about frequently talking with students in our dining center, dorms, and during the weekends at football games. From a student leader perspective there is no doubt in my mind that he truly cares for Vanderbilt and ensuring that we are an ever-improving university, and knowing that the board proactively addressed any possible concerns of financial oversight only furthers my confidence in Vanderbilt and our chancellor.”

The Vanderbilt Hustler, the student newspaper, quoted students as backing the chancellor — and published a photograph in which one dormitory let Constance Gee know that she was now considered an honorary resident there. An editorial noted that Gee had let many on the campus know that a critical article was coming, and said that many considered the piece “old news.” While the editorial said it was important for the university’s trustees to have more oversight over spending, the newspaper announced that it was “unimpressed” by the Journal article.

Kane Jennings, associate professor of chemical engineering and a Faculty Senate member, added that he thinks concerns regarding renovation costs for the chancellor’s mansion are misplaced, as it serves as a nexus for fund-raising and college events. Schoenfeld said that since renovation of 90-year-old Braeburn in 2001, more than 20,000 people have attended events there.

“I just don’t really see a big deal about spending money to renovate it when it is such a central forum for university relations with faculty, students, and others,” Jennings said.

Gee has previously served as president of West Virginia University, the University of Colorado, Ohio State University, and, most recently, Brown University. He left Brown after just two years to come to Vanderbilt in 2000, amid a sense by Gee and some at Brown that it was not a good fit for either the president or the institution.

— Elizabeth Redden

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Marijuana issue hits home

Postby Midnight toker » Mon Oct 02, 2006 2:11 am

The Tennessean wrote:Sunday, 10/01/06

Marijuana issue hits home

Adherence to law should go in hand with broader medical research

The Tennessean


A Wall Street Journal report on Vanderbilt University Chancellor Gordon Gee certainly became a talking point in Nashville last week, but if there is any portion that bears more public scrutiny it's the issue of medicinal marijuana.

The Journal story, which appeared on its front page Tuesday, dealt with Gee's $1.4 million annual compensation and oversight of his spending at the university-owned residence where Gee and his wife, Constance, live. The spending at the mansion is Vanderbilt's business and up to the board of trustees at the school. But the story's revelation that trustees learned Constance Gee was using marijuana at the residence for an inner-ear ailment is certainly fodder for discussion.

Possession of marijuana in Tennessee, whether or not it is for medical purposes, is illegal. The university's rules for students and faculty prohibit possession of illegal drugs in campus facilities. Constance Gee's ailment is Meniere's disease, which affects about 1 in 500 people. A doctor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis last week said he had never heard of anyone using medical marijuana to treat Meniere's, but a handful of pro-marijuana Internet sites do present a link between medical marijuana and the illness. Constance Gee has confirmed that she has used marijuana to manage the symptoms of her illness.

The issue of medicinal marijuana needs to be rekindled. Many people suffering with illnesses have found that marijuana can help ease the symptoms of disease. The issue is prevalent enough that many doctors advocate legalizing the drug for medical purposes. Lawmakers should constantly be urged to consider the value of legislation that would approve marijuana for such use. Any item that can ease suffering should always warrant consideration.

The issue for the Gees may be twofold. No one can condone ignoring a law, compelling though a reason might be. Further, even if it is a private matter for the Gees, it leaves the question of whether the university would tolerate similar explanations from a Vanderbilt student in a dormitory or other university facility. The best answer on the entire issue of medicinal marijuana is to legalize the practice. There's nothing recreational about trying to ease suffering. •

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Former president still welcome to speak at WVU

Postby budman » Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:22 pm

<span class=postbold>See:</span> Former president still welcome to speak at WVU
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Family ties hurting Jr., says Cohen

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:54 pm

<span class=postbold>See:</span> Family ties hurting Jr., says Cohen
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Mother vows to fight abuse, drug charges

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 17, 2007 3:34 pm

Knoxville News Sentinel wrote:Mother vows to fight abuse, drug charges

by Brad Williams, Knoxville News Sentinel
November 3rd, 2007


If Suzette Evans lived in North Carolina, where marijuana possession is decriminalized, it's unlikely she'd have gotten more than a $50 citation when police found a pipe in her home.

In Grainger County, however, like most of Tennessee, possession of a marijuana pipe can cost nearly $1,000 - and your children.

Evans' 15-year-old son was taken away from her the night of Aug. 10, to remain in protective custody for 34 days. They are reunited now, after a special meeting with the Department of Children's Services, but a hearing set for Nov. 16 will determine whether Evans' medicinal use of marijuana constitutes child abuse, neglect or endangerment.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src="bin/evans_suzette.jpg" alt="Suzette Evans."></td></tr></table>"I have narrow-angle glaucoma," Evans said. It is a rare condition even among those with glaucoma.

Though Evans admits she recreationally used marijuana when she was younger, she says she resumed smoking small amounts to help her eyes.

"I come from an old hippie family," Evans said. "Do I agree with the abuse? No."

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said uncontested medical research dating far back has shown that marijuana smoking reduces intraocular pressure with the first inhale to combat glaucoma, one of a number of illnesses marijuana is used to treat.

St. Pierre said a man in 1976 successfully sued the government to get medical marijuana.

"The disparity of how marijuana is treated in our society is terrific," St. Pierre said. "Twelve (states) have actually decriminalized the possession of marijuana," usually less than 1 ounce. Marijuana can be legally medically used in 12 states as well.

"Tennessee is a state which has no accommodations for people who use cannabis for medical purposes or nonmedical purposes," St. Pierre said. "The Southeast Untied States really yields no quarter to marijuana smokers."

He said in California, for example, people can medically smoke marijuana on the street in accordance with state law.

"It's night and day between what's happening in eastern Tennessee and the entire Western United States," he said. "This woman is a victim of geography."

Evans has produced medical records showing she is being treated for narrow-angle glaucoma. The records show a decrease to an all-time low intraocular pressure during the time she says she was using cannabis, and an increase after she quit using it.

She quit when Rutledge police officer Adam Morgan found her pipe July 24 during a search Evans consented to. No marijuana was found.

Evans said her son did not know she used marijuana until her pipe was found, and he had not been exposed to it.

She had a court date set for the charge, and thought that was the end of the matter.

On Aug. 10, Evans and her son, Jesse Johnson, got into an argument and Evans called the police, as she had done before.

"My son has a history of mental, emotional and behavioral problems. He has been in treatment since the age of 7," Evans said. She said they've had arguments before and she's called the police.

"They've always been courteous, professional … (they've) handled us with great respect," Evans said of the Rutledge Police Department.

Officer Richard McGinnis responded to her call on Aug. 10 and took her son into protective custody. Evans and her son allege that he began asking Jesse questions only about Evans' use of marijuana.

"All of it" was because of the standing marijuana charge, Evans said. "That officer knew that I had not been sentenced yet."

The charge against her now is child abuse and child neglect or endangerment, for admitting to smoking marijuana in her home, which the warrant says "exposed her 15-year-old son to illegal drugs."

"If the mother is using marijuana in front of the child, does the child have accessibility to the illegal drug, too?" McGinnis said.

McGinnis said at the time he took Johnson into protective custody, he had no knowledge of the marijuana charge, that he made the decision because of the nature of the domestic dispute. He said there were other factors in the case which he could not yet comment on. He also made the decision because the police chief had been out to the house the previous night.

"I thought there needed to be a separation between the two individuals," he said. "(Evans) was irrational, would not speak with me."

DCS took action from there, and the formal charge was decided later.

Evans said she will fight back in civil court over a host of issues and is thinking of starting her own National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws chapter, since the only two in Tennessee are university affiliated. In the meantime, she says she is no longer smoking or receiving other glaucoma treatments, because of concerns about side effects.

"I have stopped all conventional treatment … for this rare form of glaucoma, and I realize I'm jeopardizing my quality of life. But if that's what I have to do to make a stand, (I will)," she said.

She also said she will not go to a state with medical-use laws.

"Why should I be forced to move from a state that I've lived in for 10 years?"
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Medical Marijuana Lights Up Debate Again

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:31 pm

WSMV TV wrote:Medical Marijuana Lights Up Debate Again

<span class=postbigbold>Officials Table Issue Until At Least Next Year</span>

by Tom Randles, WSMV TV
November 13th, 2007

Image Video


On Tuesday, Health and Human Resources Committee members got an ear full from those pitching pot as a way to heal and others who would like to see House Bill 486 go up in smoke.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation drug investigation supervisor and assistant Bureau Director William Benson talked about what might happen if Tennessee passes a medical marijuana bill.

"While the bill calls for a state or local agent, if they come across somebody in possession of the ID card, that we would honor that card if we're working with DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), that's going to put us in a precarious position,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Sherry Jones, who sponsored the bill, said she and several others at the hearing believe pot has a place in society and could benefit people suffering from a variety of medical ailments, including cancer.

"This is supposed to be directed at health care. That's all -- health care. So why don't you make an appointment and come by and see me and let's talk about this?” she said to Benson.

"It is both an effective therapeutic agent (and) extremely useful with many fewer side effects,” said Bernie Ellis of Americans for Safe Access.

Ellis, who has a background in public health, is passionate about legalizing marijuana to help patients.He's now on federal probation for growing marijuana after his Maury County farm was raided in 2002.

Opponents said this kind of proposed legislation sends the wrong message.

"This is an attempt to exploit our American sense of compassion for the sick, for the dying, for those in pain, to achieve a long-term goal of legalizing of controlled, narcotic intoxicants,” said president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee David Fowler.

Other important questions raised at the hearing are who would grow the marijuana and how would it be distributed?

Jones insisted that the bill is not about making marijuana legal across Tennessee.

She said she just wants to help sick people feel better.No action was taken at Tuesday's hearing.Committee members said they will continue to study the issue. They said it's possible, with some changes, this bill might be considered in next year's session.
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Medical Marijuana Debates Goes Before State Committee

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:49 pm

WKRN TV wrote:Medical Marijuana Debates Goes Before State Committee

WKRN TV
November 13th, 2007


Whether medical marijuana is beneficial for chronically ill patients and should be allowed in Tennessee was focus of a study Tuesday at Legislative Plaza.

The discussion stems from a proposed bill that would protect seriously ill Tennessee patients from arrest for using doctor-recommended medical marijuana.

Both sides of the debate went before the House Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday.

Advocates said medical marijuana is the only way many Aids and cancer patients can relieve their symptoms.

Bernie Ellis said the drug relieved his chronic pain caused by degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia.

He used the drug for nearly two decades.

“With consultation of my doctors, we decided marijuana might be a useful alternative and it was,” said Ellis. “I was able to use very little. Normally, the first part of the day and then go about my business."

Opponents argue marijuana has no proven therapeutic value and may not be safe or effective.

Dr. David Murray is the Chief Scientist for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He said, “The claims made from marijuana are really quite enormous and the problem is they haven't been shown in a court of science to actually be real. Thedanger is, in many instances, you might actually be harming the patient."

Federal law doesn't recognize state statutes that allow medical marijuana use.

By legalizing the drug, Dr. Murray said Tennessee would be making a big mistake.

He said, “That’s why we have the FDA, why we have the court of medicine so we don't make those kinds of mistakes Medical marijuana approved by the judicial process is an unsafe remedy that jeopardizes our medical system."

Committee members heard testimony about the bill but did not vote on it.

Twelve states currently allow medical marijuana use with no penalties.
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Fowler Witnesses Testify Against Medical Marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:54 pm

The Chattanoogan wrote:Fowler Witnesses Testify Against Marijuana For Medicinal Purposes

The Chattanoogan
November 13th, 2007


Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday heard testimony opposed to the legalization of marijuana for “medicinal” purposes from Dr. David Murray, chief scientist for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President, and Dr. Kent Shih, an oncologist currently practicing in the Nashville area.

The committee also heard testimony from Steven Steiner, who said he has been impacted personally by the loss of a child to drug abuse.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee, that is headed by former Chattanoogan David Fowler, secured the presence of the three witnesses.

The committee met to study and make a proposal regarding HB0486 (the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes) sponsored by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville).

“We appreciate the willingness of these individuals to come, at their own expense, to educate the committee members about what is really at stake in the debate over ‘medical marijuana,’” said Mr. Fowler, president of the Family Action Council and a former state senator.

“Having seen my own mother suffer and die from cancer, I know how much we all desire to see relief for those we love. But we cannot allow the compassion of the average American to overcome good science and good medicine. Nor can we allow that compassion to be manipulated by those who have, as their ultimate agenda, the legalization of marijuana and even other drugs.”

Mr. Fowler said, "Approval of a narcotic by legislative processes is highly irregular and we must ask ourselves why, if this is such good 'medicine,’ the FDA has not approved its use as it has with other drugs or why the American Medical Association does not support its use.”

Mr. Fowler also said the bill "would inevitably lead to increased public consumption of marijuana and make a mockery of our criminal drug laws. What has been observed in other states is that marijuana distribution becomes uncontrollable in society at large even when it is restricted to ‘medicinal uses.’ With an individual able to produce up to 13,000 joints per year under this bill, it is naïve to think that those joints won’t wind up in the wrong hands.”

Mr. Fowler also predicted that enforcement of the criminal law regarding marijuana will become impracticable. “In North Hollywood, there are now more medical pot clubs than there are Starbucks. In fact, the co-founder of the California medical pot referendum has now said that most of the medical pot dispensaries in California are ‘little more than dope dealers with store fronts.’”
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Allow marijuana to serve a purpose and ease suffering

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:15 pm

The Tennessean wrote:Allow marijuana to serve a purpose and ease suffering

<span class=postbigbold>Today's Topic: Medical marijuana gets a second look</span>

EDITORIAL, The Tennessean
November 30th, 2007


<span class=postbigbold>Our View</span>

Tennessee lawmakers should not only consider legislation allowing the medicinal use of marijuana, they should pass it into law.

A study committee of the General Assembly recently heard testimony on the issue, where various voices from interest groups and the medical profession expressed their opinions. Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, has a draft version of a bill for consideration. Efforts to legalize the use of the drug for medical reasons should move straight ahead, and caring citizens should urge legislators to approve the legislation.

Marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 12 states. Even many of its detractors acknowledge some of its benefits in easing suffering. But opposition to legalizing the use of the drug to help seriously ill patients find comfort seems to dwell more on the stigma associated with marijuana than anything else. Arguments against medical marijuana dwell frequently on what is heard about the drug's use elsewhere, frequently using California as an example, with tales of marijuana becoming a storefront for drug business or that use of the drug gets out of hand.

Regardless of what happens in California or any other state, this is Tennessee, and if the state cannot effectively administer a drug under carefully drawn regulations, that's a reflection on this state, not another. Pharmaceutical painkillers are often obtained illegally and abused, but that's no reason to prohibit the prescription use of painkillers. Marijuana should be no different.

<span class=postbigbold>Arguments based on fear</span>

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes is not an automatic precursor to rampant drug activity. Arguments against medical marijuana seem based more on fear and exaggeration than the logic of reducing suffering. Marijuana isn't nearly as risky as the objections make it sound.

The marijuana issue came up last year in the legislature. A House subcommittee approved the bill, but the measure did not get out of a Senate committee. The issue should be brought back. Testimony in the recent legislative hearing suggested that marijuana is not as preferable as some synthetic drugs available. But it is always pertinent to ask about the cost of other drugs, and people respond in different ways to different treatments.

Opposition to medicinal marijuana is making the issue far more complicated than it should be. It is a substance that can be grown naturally and can bring some relief to people who desperately need it. It makes little sense for it to be illegal when used strictly for medical purposes.
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Plan is to implement safe, effective program

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:22 pm

The Tennessean wrote:Plan is to implement safe, effective program

by Rep. Sherry Jones, OpEd, The Tennessean
November 30th, 2007


Have you ever had a friend or loved one who was being treated for cancer, and the medicine prescribed by their doctor simply did not help relieve the constant nausea or pain?

Have you ever known a family member or friend in chronic pain due to bone degeneration, diabetes or neuropathy? Have you known anyone who has suffered from Crohn's disease, glaucoma, MS, convulsions, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, severe spasms, AIDS, arthritis, epilepsy, Parkinson's or anorexia?

There is a natural remedy used by many civilizations for more than 5,000 years, that was a significant part of our country's medical profession until 1937. Canada, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Israel have all concluded that, unlike many prescription drugs, this medicine provides significant medical benefits with virtually no side effect. The Medical College of Virginia in 1975 concluded this medicine is a powerful tumor fighter and has been confirmed by scientists in many other countries. This wonder drug is cannabis. You may know it as marijuana.

In the 1980s, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation allowing physicians to prescribe marijuana to certain patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases and conditions. In the 1990s, the program was disbanded only because the federal government decided to no longer supply medical marijuana to states; yet, the same federal government continues to supply marijuana to "approved" patients nationwide.

<span class=postbigbold>Convincing testimony</span>

The House Health and Human Resources Committee recently heard testimony on re-establishment of a marijuana program in Tennessee. It was extremely informative. For example, a synthetic drug was engineered in the 1980s that contained only one of the principal ingredients in marijuana, THC, in capsule form to help with a variety of serious conditions. A physician who testified against using marijuana in its natural form admitted, nonetheless, that marijuana DID work and that a prescription for the THC pill would cost an average patient $700 per month. People who testified for allowing a doctor to prescribe marijuana stated they, their spouses or friends had received significant relief by using very little natural marijuana.

At the hearing, we learned there are 450,000 deaths annually in the U.S. from tobacco, 150,000-plus deaths from alcohol, up to 27,000 deaths from prescription drugs, up to 10,000 deaths from caffeine, as many as 1,000 deaths from aspirin and no deaths annually from marijuana. We also learned there has never been a single overdose death from marijuana reported.

The draft legislation we are discussing could be amended to address any issues on how to best govern use of medical marijuana. The bill should require an ongoing relationship with a physician before a prescription can be written and for that physician to monitor its use.

It is time to be open-minded and think about quality of life and the lives of the other people that you love and care about.

I hope that the residents of Davidson and surrounding counties will follow these discussions, try to stay informed, and let your legislators know your feelings on the subject when the hearings conclude.
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Nursing Aide Accused of Giving Pot to Patient

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Dec 22, 2007 8:21 pm

News Channel 9 Chattanooga wrote:Nursing Aide Accused of Giving Pot to Patient

News Channel 9
Nathan Frick
December 17, 2007 - 4:41PM


The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has arrested a certified nursing assistant after she was accused of giving a patient marijuana while employed at a Blountville, Tenn., Healthcare Facility.

Michelle A. Wilmer, 23 of Bristol, was indicted by a Sullivan County Grand Jury on one count of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a dependent adult and one count of Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance.

She worked at Graystone Healthcare, 181 Dunlap Road, Blountville, TN when the abuse occurred at the end of May 2007. Wilmer is accused of giving a patient marijuana. When the patient ingested the substance, it had implications on the patient’s current medical condition. The TBI’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated the case.

Wilmer was booked into the Sullivan County Tennessee Correctional Facility.
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