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US states legalise medical marijuana -

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Almost half of the states in the US have moved to legalise medical marijuana, just over a dozen
years since California became the first state to do so.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: In the United States, it's more than a dozen years since California became
the first state to legalise the medical use of marijuana. Now almost half the country's following
suit. It's a thriving business, but there are still critics, as North America correspondent Lisa
Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR, REPORTER: It's 9 o'clock in the morning and Yvonne Moore is about to have her
medicine. She rolls a joint, inhales and gets high.

YVONNE MOORE, MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENT: That was all I needed, about three or four puffs, and I
put it down and I'm able to go on easier with my daily functions after I have smoked marijuana.

LISA MILLAR: The 60-year-old suffers from osteoporosis. She smokes pot every day with her family's
blessing.

YVONNE MOORE: So I'll tell them, "Grandma's getting ready to get medicated, so why don't you go
find something to do for a few minutes?" And they will and then they'll come back. So, there's like
an understanding that it is my medication.

LISA MILLAR: She's one of a growing number of people in the United States legally allowed to use
marijuana to ease their pain.

This is Oakland, a 30-minute drive from the centre of San Francisco, and ground zero in the debate
over medical marijuana.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY, BERKELEY PATIENT GROUP: Medical cannabis is likely to become legal in our
lifetime, which some people thought would never happen.

LISA MILLAR: Debby Berkeley runs the Berkeley Patient Group. See a doctor, get their recommendation
and a special ID card, and you can go shopping at one of these marijuana dispensaries.

Everything is on offer. If you don't want to smoke it, you can eat it, put drops of it on your
tongue, or rub into your muscles. And here at this dispensary, patients can sit in the cafe and
consume it.

California was the first state to allow the sale of marijuana for medical purposes 13 years ago.
Twelve other states have their own versions of the law - another 15 are considering their options.
And the Obama Administration says it will no longer prosecute people or businesses who break
federal marijuana statutes if they're not breaking state laws.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: In fact, last year - we just got the report today that said more than 800,000
people have been arrested and sent to jail for personal use of cannabis. It's a huge cost to our
economy - it's a huge cost to our families in the United States. Any thinking person, whether
they're a medical cannabis supporter or not, is starting to think that the war on drugs and the war
on cannabis is absolutely ridiculous.

LISA MILLAR: The industry has become so advanced in California, you can study it at college.

This is the first class of a 13-week course at Oaksterdam University. They had to turn students
away. Thousands have already paid the $500 to study and graduate and Richard Lee has now opened his
third campus.

RICHARD LEE, FOUNDER, OAKSTERDAM UNIVERSITY: We're dedicated to teaching people how to grow and
sell cannabis in a safe and responsible way.

LISA MILLAR: All the equipment's included in the price of the course.

RICHARD LEE: Once they finish politics and legal issues, then we go on to the more fun courses like
horticulture, cooking with cannabis, hash-making, bud tending, for those who want to work at a
dispensary.

LISA MILLAR: Not far away, nestled on the river, is another dispensary.

James Anthony is rattling through the official tour. He's done it so many times, he's lost count.
Harbourside Health is considered the glamour child of the industry and its founder, Stephen
DeAngelo, one of the leading lights.

JAMES ANTHONY, HARBOURSIDE HEALTH CLINIC: People tend to believe that it should only be used for
people who have one foot in the grave. But what we've found is that cannabis is such a safe
medicine that almost everybody can use it and I think it belongs in everybody's medicine cabinet.

LISA MILLAR: Last year, he turned over $15 million and the cash registers never stopped. Don't
worry if you're short of cash - they take credit cards as well.

This dispensary's now been open almost three years and boasts 30,000 patients. There's a
never-ending stream of people, and on their busiest days, they can see as many as 800.

And in the back room, they'll buy your home-grown marijuana if it's good enough. This bag of
cannabis will be packaged into small medicinal amounts and sold for around $14,000.

STEPHEN DEANGELO, HARBOURSIDE HEALTH CLINIC: A fair bit of the medicine that comes in is in fact
rejected. It varies, I think ....

WORKER: It's about 80 per cent.

LISA MILLAR: 80 per cent gets rejected.

The counters might be glossy, the sales pitch perfected, but like any infant industry, scratch the
surface and you'll find a degree of infighting.

Venice Beach is buzzing with the interest in the latest entrant into this already crowded industry.

LOCAL MAN: All you have to do is come inside, fill out a couple of pieces of paper, a little bit of
a background check, you know, background information, and then you can have an evaluation with our
doctor. It all takes about 20 minutes. And if you qualify, then you'll be able to possess and grow
marijuana legally here in the state of California.

LISA MILLAR: There are now more dispensaries in some parts of LA than there are McDonalds and
Starbucks, and there's even an application for iPhones to let you find them. It's this kind of
entrepreneurship that's worrying the Oakland operators.

JAMES ANTHONY: In places like LA, where there are no regulations and there is no licensing of
dispensaries, that we have lot of inappropriate operators who are acting in ways that bring
discredit to the industry.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: No, I've seen that location and I haven't been able to go inside or see if what
they're doing is really up to standards. But from the outside, I just didn't think it looked good,
and I hope that as we regulate further into the future that our industry will become more and more
sophisticated.

LISA MILLAR: They've even launched an ad campaign suggesting further legalisation will help solve
California's budget woes. But medical marijuana remains caught between state and federal rules,
with police still raiding dispensaries and a large number of critics fighting any further weakening
of the laws.

ROBERT CHARLES, ANTI-DRUGS CAMPAIGNER: It really is a hoax and a bit of a fiction.

LISA MILLAR: Robert Charles was Colin Powell's assistant secretary of state for law enforcement and
counter narcotics. He says simply calling marijuana medicine doesn't make it so.

ROBERT CHARLES: We have many safe, medically-approved analgesics, painkillers and anti-nausea
medications. The last thing we need to do is to put forward a smokeable, addicting,
health-damaging, organ-damaging drug and propose that the government get behind promoting drug
abuse.

LISA MILLAR: Narcotics trafficking to some, compassionate care to others. However the industry is
viewed, it appears to be at a tipping point, with some wondering if the complete legalisation of
marijuana is not far away.