Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waiting to Inhale Banned at HIV AIDS Conference in Palm Springs

This is a first. After 135 screenings and discussions on four continents, and winning five important awards, Waiting to Inhale is NOT being screened and discussed at the Inland Empire HIV AIDS Conference.

I was on my way to screen Waiting to Inhale at the Inland Empire HIV AIDS Conference today in Riverside County. I got a call from Aaron Smith, California Organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project who was to be on a panel with me at 5PM today. He was just called by conference organizers and told that the event was canceled at the request of County officials.

Riverside County is one of a few counties in California that have been opposed to Proposition 215, and who have refused to implement California Senate Bill 420.

As Lanny Swerdlow, director of the THC Foundation Medical Clinic at 647 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501 explained on the phone there is a anti-drug foundation, The Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition , that works with a Dr. Paul Chabot , who have refused to accept the evidence of the NIDA DEA approved studies conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams at UCSF that cannabis provides relief to patients suffering from AIDS related neuropathy (see attached study from Journal of Neurology-exclusive footage from the study is featured in "Waiting to Inhale'), and other international studies of medical efficacy of cannabis for treating serious diseases such as MS, glaucoma and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on cancer patients. I have been told by Lanny Swerdlow and Aaron Smith that this organization is associated with local law enforcement officials and the Riverside County supervisors. Their mission is to stop legitimate patients from legally obtaining cannabis under California Proposition 215 or Senate Bill 420.

This is the first time in 34 years of making and presenting social issue films that a screening and discussion has been canceled.

Swerdlow is setting up a free public screening tonight, Wed, March 11th at 7PM at the THC Foundation Medical Clinic at 647 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501. Aaron Smith and I will be there to present and discuss the film. However, this screening is 45 minutes away from the AIDS conference site, and many, if not all, of the conference attendees will find it hard to attend.

Ironically, this censorship by local public officials comes on the heels of U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder's statement on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 that ending federal medical marijuana raids "is now American policy."

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