Posts Tagged ‘ganja’
Courtesy of CBS Money Watch
AMSTERDAM — Dutch coffee shops owners went to court Wednesday in a last ditch bid to block a government plan to stop foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands.
Lawyers representing the coffee shops oppose what would be the most significant change in decades to the country’s famed soft drug tolerance: turning marijuana cafes into “members only” clubs open solely to Dutch residents.
Members would only be able to get into the coffee shops by registering for a “weed pass” and the shops would only be allowed a maximum of 2,000 members.
The move comes into force in the south of the country May 1 and is scheduled to roll out nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013.
Whether it will be enforced in Amsterdam, whose coffee shops are a major tourist draw card.
The city has strongly opposed the pass idea and mayor Eberhard van der Laan says he wants to negotiate a workable compromise with the country’s Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.
Lawyers for the cafe owners told a judge at The Hague District Court that the move — aimed at reining in problems caused by foreign “drug tourists” who buy marijuana in the Netherlands and resell it in neighboring countries — is “clearly discriminatory.”
Lawyer Ilonka Kamans argued that Dutch drugs policy gives citizens “the fundamental right to the stimulant of their choosing” and should not deprive visiting foreigners of the same right.
Another of the coffee shop lawyers, Maurice Veldman, told The Associated Press outside the court that the problem of drug tourism is confined to southern provinces close to the Dutch border with Germany and Belgium and should be tackled with local measures, not nationwide legislation.
But government lawyer Eric Daalder defended the measures.
“Fighting criminality and drug tourism is a reasonable justification” for the crackdown, Daalder told the court.
He said the government wants to bring coffee shops back to what they were originally intended to be: “small local stores selling to local people.”
Marc Josemans of the Easy Going coffee shop in Maastricht said he expects the government will lose because it hasn’t thought through consequences or tried other ways of achieving its aims.
“We understand that this topic is something that’s of interest to tourists, but it’s equally important to our Dutch customers, which is most of them,” he told the AP ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.
“The limits on membership are going to lead to immediate problems in cities that don’t have enough coffee shops.”
Josemans said that if the court’s April 27 ruling goes against them, the Maastricht coffee shops plan to disregard the ruling, forcing the government to prosecute one of them in a test case.
Though the weed pass policy was designed to resolve traffic problems facing southern cities, later studies have predicted that the result of the system would be a return to street dealing and an increase in petty crime — which was the reason for the tolerance policy came into being in the 1970s in the first place.
The cities of Tilburg, Breda and Maastricht have now said they oppose the pass system, though Eindhoven plans to move ahead with it and the eastern city of Dordrecht wants to adopt it in anticipation of an influx of foreign buyers — even though it is not yet required to do so.
Marijuana cafes are a major tourist draw for Amsterdam, with some estimates saying a third of visitors try the drug, perhaps in between visiting the Van Gogh Museum and other major attractions.
Mayor Van der Laan says the Dutch capital doesn’t suffer major problems from pot smokers, and it doesn’t make sense to apply the same policy developed for the border cities here.
According to U.N. data, the use of marijuana by Dutch nationals is in the mid-range of norms for developed countries — higher than in Sweden or Japan but lower than in Britain, France or the United States.
In the face of growing evidence linking marijuana smoking with mental illness, the Dutch government has been placing new restrictions on coffee shops for a decade. It has set limits on the amount of active chemicals that can be contained in weed and hash; refused to renew licenses for shops that cause problems or are located too close to schools; and banned tobacco smoking at coffee shops in 2008.
Corder reported from The Hague.
Courtesy of the Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas – Country music legend Willie Nelson helped unveil a statue honoring him in downtown Austin by singing his new song “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” on Friday, a date long reserved to celebrate marijuana use.
The faint smell of marijuana smoke wafted through a crowd of about 2,000 people as Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell accepted on the privately funded statue as a gift from a private arts group. Organizers said they didn’t intentionally choose April 20 for the event, but once they found out, they scheduled the unveiling at 4:20 p.m. as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Nelson’s openness about his marijuana use and advocacy for its legalization.
The statute stands in front of the Moody Theater, where the Austin City Limits Studio is now located. Nelson, a 10-time Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 40 million copies of his 150 albums, appeared on the first episode of the public television show in 1974.
“He is the man who more than other made Austin the live music capital of the world,” Leffingwell said.
Nelson was born in Abbott, a tiny town about 120 miles north of Austin, but he has lived in Texas’ capital city since 1971.
Longtime friend and fellow singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson congratulated Nelson, saying he couldn’t have imagined the city honoring Nelson during the early days of what became known as the Cosmic Cowboy movement in music.
Nelson, who wore black jeans, a black T-shirt and a black cowboy hat, is notoriously shy about such honors. Before he began performing, with his sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, he thanked the organizers and joked with the crowd that had gathered to watch the ceremony.
“What time is it?” he joked as the clock approach 4:20 p.m. “I feel it’s getting close to something.”
Nelson’s career was built on not conforming to country music norms. He fused country music with jazz and rock in the early 1970s to create the “outlaw country” movement in Austin and helped give the city a reputation as a music city. His first major hit came when Patsy Cline recorded his song “Crazy” in 1961.
The monument shows Nelson in a relaxed, standing pose and holding his guitar to the side as if in conversation. Philadelphia sculptor Clete Shields said the leaning pose and heroic scale are intended to show Nelson’s openness and whimsical side while honoring his tremendous influence on music and the city.
“We wanted to get a timeless Willie, an ageless Willie,” Shields said.
Nelson was also a founder of the Farm Aid movement to help family farmers and has appeared in 37 films and television shows, ranging from a starring role in the 1982 western “Barbarosa” to making a cameo in the 1998 Dave Chappelle stoner comedy “Half Baked.”
The unveiling was fitting on April 20 – or 4/20, which is slang for smoking marijuana – a day pro-marijuana legalization forces have used for annual gatherings to demonstrate in support of the cause. Nelson is a well-known advocate of legalizing marijuana and has been arrested several times for possessing it.
The Willie Monument is the third statue put up by Capital Area Statues Inc., a group of prominent Texas writers, film producers and musicians. One of the others honors three Texas writers and is located at Barton Springs and the other honors the woman who fired a cannon to prevent the removal of the state archives from Austin. Capital Area Statues was formed to add more statues in Austin’s public places and raises money for them by selling scale models of the work.
Lawrence Wright, one of the group’s founders, said April 20 was chosen because Nelson was scheduled to perform at a tribute to Johnny Cash in Austin that night, not because of the counterculture significance.
“We didn’t know anything about it; it seems everyone else knew the story on this,” Wright said, laughing. He said he didn’t think Nelson was doing it intentionally either, but said the group decided to embrace the city’s unofficial motto of “Keep Austin Weird” by scheduling the unveiling at 4:20 p.m.
by Jim Spellman, CNN
Boulder, Colorado (CNN) – Steps taken to thwart a public marijuana smoking event Friday at the University of Colorado appear to have worked. Protesters who gathered at a quad on the campus for the customary 4:20 light-up time dispersed without an apparent toke.
In past years the Norlin Quad on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder had drawn 10,000 to 12,000 people for the event, which falls on April 20 (4/20). Marijuana smokers traditionally wait until 4:20 in the afternoon to light up as a celebration of marijuana culture and a protest against drug policy.
This year, the school closed the campus to outsiders and spread an unpleasant-smelling, fish-based fertilizer on the quad before enclosing it in yellow police tape and stationing police officers around the perimeter.
Hours before the planned event, three students who crossed police lines and went onto the field were led away in plastic handcuffs.
Several hundred students gathered around the quad as the time approached. A man began shouting into the crowd, becoming its de facto leader. When asked his name he replied, “It doesn’t matter.”
“Alright, it’s 4:20 who is ready to get weird?” he shouted.
The crowd cheered.
“Who is with me?” he called out.
The crowd seemed to expect him light up a joint, but instead he dashed under the police tape and ran across the quad as police gave chase on foot.
None of his encouragers followed.
Police ultimately nabbed him and carted him off in plastic handcuffs.
Their leader gone, no one in the crowd seemed to know quite what to do. No one could be seen smoking marijuana and by the less legendary time of 4:30 the crowd had gone on their way.
The number 420 has become synonymous with all things marijuana, but exactly why is less clear.
Whatever the number’s origin, “420″ events across the country have become opportunities to advocate the legalization of marijuana. The expansion of medical marijuana in California, Colorado and other states is making efforts to legalize marijuana more mainstream and making more people comfortable coming out and smoking pot in public, according to Chris Conrad, curator of the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum in Oakland, California.
Boulder’s is one of the biggest pro-pot rallies, and attendance had grown from year to year, according to university spokesman Bronson Hilliard.
“People fly in from around the country to participate,” Hilliard explained. “We don’t understand why they have to come to (this) campus.”
Prior to the Colorado event, university police spokesman Ryan Huff said the smoke-ins have become too dangerous.
“It’s hard to keep track of that many people high on marijuana,” he said.
Why these marijuana advocates congregate each year on April 20 is a bit of a mystery steeped in the hazy lore of the American pot culture. Some have said 420 is a local police code for someone smoking marijuana. Others have said it refers to the number of active chemicals in marijuana.
Another theory holds that 420 is a nod to Bob Dylan and his 1966 song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″ which contains the lyric, “Everybody must get stoned.” Multiply 12 by 35 and you get 420.
Conrad said the leading theory traces the beginning of 420 to the early 1970s when a group of students at San Rafael High School in California would meet at 4:20 each afternoon to smoke marijuana.
“It (was) the time between when classes were over and their parents came home,” he said. “The number 420 signifies that somebody is smoking marijuana right now and it becomes a clarion call for others to join.”
According to Conrad, the story goes that the San Rafael teens named themselves “the Waldos” and would meet very day at 4:20 p.m. near a statue of Louis Pasteur to smoke joints.
A website that claims to be associated with the Waldos declares them to be “The Founding Fathers of 420,” although it doesn’t appear to be current. Attempts to reach the owners of the site were unsuccessful.
No matter what the origin, the number now signifies the pro-marijuana culture: Craiglist ads for roommates, or for even so-called “casual encounters,” often note “420 Friendly.” An episode of the animated TV show Family Guy called “420″ involves a plot in which marijuana becomes legalized and 420 Magazine is devoted to marijuana culture. The 2003 California State Senate bill that became the law that established medical marijuana in the state was called SB420.
What began as a secret code word between stoners has gone mainstream.
“It’s a form of shorthand essentially. As far as being a secret code, it’s one of the least secret,” explained Conrad with a laugh.
I have spent the last couple of weeks organizing and fundraising for the Patients Access to Regulated Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 in Sac County, CA. This effort will lift a ban there that makes any patient who currently grows cannabis an outlaw in their community. The proposed initiative also allows for about 20 registered dispensaries to serve the unincorporated part of the county, which is a huge land mass with over 500,000 people, which are currently forced to drive long distances or access their medicine on the black market. It is also going to be a huge victory for medical cannabis, as it will show that our community WILL coome together and use our civic responsibilities to pass laws that represent the true will of the people. But in order for any of this to happen WE NEED MONEY!
In the last year Sacramento County lost over 100 dispensaries that created dozens of jobs and served tens of thousands of qualified patients. They have also lost the right to cultivate personally, or as part of a collective. Medical cannabis is banned outright there, with no exceptions. It is a devastating blow to the cannabis community, and an injustice of mega-proportion. This initiative will roll back this injustice and create a legal framework for patient access to personal choice medicines. When deciding whether to support an effort like this, I would think it was a no brainer; but alas, not all humans are create equal. My experiences have been more difficult than expected in some areas, but refreshing and inspiring in others. I guess it just shows that in this world we have three types of folks…the good…the bad…and the stupid.
Let us start with the good. I have been extremely lucky to work with some true cannabis warriors, who understand the magnitude of the effort at hand and have stepped up to help make this idea into a reality. Amazing people, groups and collectives have put their money, time, energy, and resources where their mouth is and have helped us get this thing off of the ground. The great ones never hesitate for a moment to do the right thing and put what is right for the community before what is most profitable for them. These folks are the heroes…the good guys, if you will. Some are gooder than others, but when you are working to raise $100,000 it is hard to split hairs and say this guy is better than the other because he has done more or given more. It is all relative and debatable; but the fact is that folks know in their hearts if they are doing what they can really, or if they are just doing the bare minimum. That is between them and their karma, but the big magnet in the sky will surely bless those who are the good and the universe will reward them for their actions. The fact that people are willing to step up and put their resources on the line is inspiring to me, and I look forward to becoming better friends and associates with the folks who I now know are the pure of heart and willing to be soldiers in this army for cannabis freedom. It is relatively clear to me who is who at this time, so it is easier for me to understand the landscape and not waste time on those who are simply unwilling to do what it takes to make the world a better place. So to the good out there, I just wanted to say “Thanks.” It is you guys who have kept me from losing my fucking mind completely, and for that I am very grateful.
Then there are the bad. It is no secret that there are some bad operators in the medical cannabis game. There are bad players in ANY game, but the lack of meaningful regulation and the possibility of fame and fortune have brought more seemingly bad folks to the table than I am really comfortable with. In my recent fundraising experiences I have been downright flabbergasted at some of the self-centered and egotistical responses I have gotten when asking people to contribute to the cause to lift the ban and expand safe access. For instance, as I went door-to-door at collectives yesterday to sell tickets to our BBQ Bonanza Fundraiser, a super fun event that goes directly to gathering signatures for our initiative, I was taken aback by some of the responses I got. I went to a collective and spoke to a person named “Billy.” I told him about the fundraiser and the initiative and how it would directly help the patients he claims to be serving. His response was a flat “We are not interested.” HUH? How is this possible, I thought? How could a person who runs a dispensary in Sacramento, who serves hundreds of patients from the unincorporated county not be “interested” in an effort that returns his patients’ right to grow their own medicine and allows them to have access points closer to their home, so they can save time and resources in accessing their medicine. I was astonished at the response, and even had to ask twice…”Are you sure?” The response was unwavering..”Yup.” I point this out not just because this person did not want to buy tickets to the event, but because several other local activists have told me that these folks have also made statements to the effect of “We do not want places to open in the county. Our business is just picking up again.” It is these types of self-centered and inconsiderate statements that make me wonder about some people. Obviously some do not have the game required to compete on a level playing field and feel their interests are better served by forcing people to drive long distances to spend their money with them, rather than having safe and convenient access where they live. Super. I am not sure how people like this sleep at night, as my theory is that patients deserve options and there is enough market for everyone. Here is the first clue…If you have good medicine, good prices, and a friendly and caring staff you can succeed anywhere, regardless of how stiff the competition is. Obviously, anyone who is so worried about their success that they would not support, and seemingly work to undermine, an effort to lift a ban on their own patients right to cultivate because of the thought that they might actually have to step their game up to compete, likely is missing one of those key elements. Maybe their medicine is lacking, as often the great growers gravitate towards collectives that treat them well. Or maybe their service stinks. Who knows? God knows these cats are not alone, but are representative of a larger underlying issue in our community….the desire for people to get ahead at the expense of others.
It is shameful really, and breaks my heart to think there are actually people who would sacrifice an effort to lift a ban on local patients rights in hopes of gaining market share for themselves. I am sure the karma faerie will be buy to meet these folks soon enough though, so I digress. Just know that there are people out there who would sacrifice your rights for their own benefit, and that this is very sad. When you go to pick up your medicine, do yourself a favor and look around. Does it look like your collective is a group that supports efforts to advance cannabis freedom and/or goodwill in the community, or does it just look like a weed store who wants nothing more than to sell you their goods and use their resources to benefit their own. That is a big deal. If we, as Americans, took more time to research where we spend our money based on the conduct of the companies we patronize, chances are a lot of these companies would do more to make the world a better place, and medical cannabis is no different. I have not shopped at Target in months because of their political affiliations and their policies, and while it can be inconvenient to go elsewhere, it makes me feel better about where I spend my money and in turn makes it more difficult for Target to spend my money on their causes that I do not agree with. So if you look around your collective and notice that it is devoid of any signs of activism, support, and outreach to make the world a better place for YOU, the patient, find a new collective whose morals are more in line with your own. It is really that simple.
Then there is the stupid. Some might say you have to be stupid to even be in the medical cannabis game…or at least a little crazy. I mean who wakes up everyday to go to work in an industry where any day armed gunmen can take you to prison, and where you constantly have to defend your right to even exist from the evils of cannabis prohibition. It can be a difficult existence at times, but that is no excuse to be stupid though. In an industry like this, people need to be educated and intellectually curious. Ignorance can get you into some hot water, as we have seen time and time again. Many are just too caught up in their own mess to see the bigger picture, I suppose. It amazes me sometimes that folks cannot see that we are all an inter-connected group of people that share mutual goals and similar objectives. We are all fighting for the right to exist and be contributing members of our community…at least most share those goals. For a person not to make a real effort to understand how their piece makes up the whole is unacceptable. When we, as a community, do not understand how our actions affect others and how others’ efforts can help or hinder the people we serve, we lose.
This industry is WAY deeper than selling medicine. This is a political and social fight for justice that tears at the fabric of our society. We are on the front lines of a battle for the hearts and minds of our community. It is our duty to be an active and informed member of that community. So in my recent experiences in fundraising for a very worthy cause, I guess I have been a bit taken aback by some folks pure lack of knowledge. Now I do not expect everyone in medical cannabis to be as obsessed with cannabis policy and politics as I am. Very few are. But I would expect for people to know the basics about the law and be aware of what is happening in their own communities. Many do, but there is definitely a constituency of those who do not, which makes me feel a bit dismayed. I almost feel responsible. Have I not done enough to reach out to people and to offer my knowledge for them to be more informed? It is almost like when I used to tutor college students in English at Laney College. There were some cats in college who literally could not make a sentence, much less a paragraph, and the were in college. I could only think to myself, “The system has failed these people.” I somewhat feel like our system has failed many operators, or that the operators have just failed to make any effort to be more knowledgable. That is a harsh reality, and unfortunately for the rest of us, a very dangerous situation. We, as a movement, are often held to our lowest common denominator in the press and in the court of public opinion. So when ill-informed people operate organizations that have the ability to seriously damage the reputation of an entire industry, one can see how there might be a real problem. Most of the public does not discern between good and bad operators. All they hear is that this stupid pot club did some really stupid shit and they think “Those dispensaries are bad for the community.” If people do not see that and work to be more informed, then I suppose the movement will continue to be hampered by the ignorance of those who make up the ranks of the stupid.
Fortunately, there are MANY very good people in this movement and I have been heartened by those experiences. Sacramento is a great microcosm of the entire state and the entire industry. The community is learning to come together to solve the bigger problems and it seems as if some of the inherent division is going away. Nothing like Federal interference to make people put aside differences and be more open to working together…myself included. I have come to learn that I do not dislike some people as much as I did, and that some others were not as great as I once thought they were; but overall I have been impressed with my experiences and have learned a hell of a lot. Each person and organization that make up the fabric of this community are unique and interesting in their own right. But when you can step back and assess the community as a whole you see a mosaic of beauty and inspiration that can touch your heart. Sure, it is tattered and torn in some areas; but the beauty of this industry, and the people who are willing to put their asses on the line to make it happen is inspiring. Yes…there are the good, the bad, and the stupid. But as a whole, there is mostly the good and the stupid are coming around, as we educate and inform them of their duties and responsibilities to activism and social change. I look forward to working with these folks and helping them to grow in their journey. We should all be interested in seeing the movement grow and grow up. Together we are a mighty force to be reckoned with. Never forget that.
If you are good…be better. If you are bad…get good. If you are stupid…get educated.
On this Easter I sit here thinking about the parable of Jesus’ dying and then rising from the dead to save his people. It is a common story woven throughout the fabric of our religions and beliefs across the world. Regardless of your religion or thoughts on Easter, the story is a valuable one. Jesus was persecuted for his beliefs to the point they actually killed him, but the inherent good of the universe could not be stopped; and three days later Jesus arose from the dead. Why is this an important story? Because it is meant to teach us that no matter how much the evils of this world can seem to overtake us and bring down our spirits that our existence and purpose transcend the secular world, and that the spirit and powers of the universe trump those who would use their powers to try and overcome what is good and right in the world.
Now I am not saying Richard is comparable to Jesus in any way, of course. That would be silly. But the story of the crucifixion and the rising from the dead is an important story for our community to understand in this current cannabis climate; and what happened to Richard Lee this week parallels the injustices that Jesus faced in his day and age. The reason Jesus was arrested was that chief priests and pharisees saw him as a threat to their self-proclaimed authority. That is right. Jesus and I are both convicted felons, so that helps me to feel better. But can you see how Jesus, like Richard and thousands of other people being persecuted for cannabis, was convicted and tried because his thoughts and sermons threatened the core power structure of the time. Richard also has posed a threat to the current power structure by succeeding in changing the dialogue and showing the world that not only is cannabis safe, enjoyable and helpful, but it is also a positive benefit for our society.
Cannabis itself poses a huge threat to the power structure of this country and world because it opens people’s minds up and gives them the ability to think more clearly for themselves. Prohibition of cannabis is one of the biggest lies that our society has ever told, and we have ruined millions of lives as a result of these deceptions. Richard’s work has made it much harder for these oppressors to carry on with their lies and their profitable drug war. Richard’s Oaksterdam University has trained over 4,000 people to understand, love, and respect cannabis. Those 4,000 folks are taking their knowledge and passing that on to others, and thus a wildfire has been created. It has been so awesome to watch. I remember when Rich came up with the genius of Oaksterdam U, in a small room on 15th St. It was more of a publicity stunt that was meant to show the world that the cannabis industry was legit; but what was born was one of the greatest ideas that cannabis reform has ever known. Oaksterdam has brought cannabis WAY out of the closet and into the living rooms of middle America. Which is why when armed gunmen stormed the OU castle the other day over a hundred of this industry’s brightest and best came out to defend her honor. We did not have militarized forces, but we had our voice and our presence. At the end of the day, while the thugs made off with plants and evidence, we came away the victors- and we have Richard Lee to thank for that.
How did we win you might say? Read the paper. Watch the news. Google Oaksterdam right now. Almost EVERY story is slanted in the favor of the cannabis community and seems to question the validity of our Nation’s continued failed war on cannabis. Because Richard pioneered so many aspects of this industry, he is a difficult target for them to understand. He is more than a weedhead. He is more than a patient. He is more than an activist. He is more than a businessman. He is more than a leader. He is more than your run-of-the-mill weedlebrity. He is a fucking cannabis icon. Richard Lee is a real life cannabis hero and I am glad to know him.
What I love about Richard Lee is that regardless of the topic or the strength of the opposition, he ALWAYS tells the fucking truth. That is rare in this day and age. Most people can blow in the wind for one reason or another; but not Richard. He will not bullshit you and he will not sugar coat things. He understands the value of an honest dialogue and is not afraid to have the tough conversations. I have a hell of a lot of respect for the way Richard goes about his business. There is a cool and calming confidence that I have always admired from afar and have worked to emulate. Richard has always been a powerhouse in cannabis reform, and there are many times when we have not seen eye-to-eye on things, but I have always respected his opinion because I knew it was well-thought and researched. I knew that Richard had done his homework. Regardless of where we personally sit regarding a particular issue you can be guaranteed Richard knows his shit.
His vision and implementation has been astonishing to watch in the place we all now know as Oaksterdam. Richard Lee is the Mayor of Oaksterdam, whether he wants the job or not. No one has done more to revitalize an entire section of a major city than Rich, his crew, and the other many soldiers who put their asses on the line and made this part of Oakland more legendary than Amsterdam. His effort to legalize cannabis through Prop. 19 was a paradigm shift in the way our community views cannabis. People know that it is just a matter of time before we cross that threshold the victors and the drug war criminals are held responsible for their actions.
So maybe we should dub what happened this week GOOD MONDAY, and we will also have a divine resurrection on whatever the cannabis equivalent of three days is (stoner time). While our community is down and a little out right now, we are bigger than the evils of this government that clings to power in an effort to control a large portion of our society that enjoys a safe, effective and helpful plant. The first Monday of April every year I will now observe GOOD MONDAY, the day the evil bastards crossed the line so far that they changed the world and helped us to win the battle for cannabis freedom. We are in the final days of this prohibition and they know it. We know it. The whole fucking world knows it. The toothpaste is out of the tube and it will be nearly impossible to put back. You can thank Richard Lee for getting a hell of a lot of the toothpaste out of that tube.
The bastards tried to crucify cannabis users on GOOD MONDAY. We rose up to meet them and let the world know that they cannot kick in the door of one of our most cherished institutions without a fight, and without having to answer for their actions. They have lost the battle. I would say 95% of the stories of the Oaksterdam raid have called bullshit on the continued waste of resources by the Feds and have praised OU’s work.
The school shooting and murder of 7 innocent people in Oakland that day at a different college juxtaposed the injustice for the world to see. Why are we chasing weedheads around and not focusing on real issues, like illegal guns? The world has just about had it with the dumb bullshit and the wasteful policies that are cannabis prohibition. The raid of Richard Lee and his historic institution is a huge black eye of the Federal policy of interfering with regulated medical cannabis. It shows that our priorities in this country are all fucked up. While hundreds of heavily armed federal zealots performed a military style raid on a man and a school that have hurt no one and have helped so many, so many died at the hands of gun violence that day across town, and the world watched in disgust. Once again, Richard Lee was leading the charge and educating the world on why cannabis prohibition is not working.
So MANY THANKS to Richard Lee and I look forward to fighting in the trenches with him until we end this fucking prohibition once and for all.
Here is a message and call to action from Richard himself:
Dear Friend,On Monday, April 2, my school — Oaksterdam University in Oakland — was raided by the DEA, IRS, and US Marshals. Oaksterdam provides training to the medical cannabis industry, and is fully compliant with state and local law.President Obama promised at the beginning of his administration to respect state medical marijuana laws. He has broken this promise time and time again — and the consequences have been devastating.This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I’ve been an activist far too long to become intimidated — and with the majority of Americans and common sense on our side, I know this is a fight we can win.With our government trillions in debt, why is our government using taxpayer dollars to come after me, Oaksterdam, and the thousands of patients who need medical marijuana just to get through the day?Tell President Obama and the DEA: Enough is enough. Keep your campaign promise, and stop the raids on the medical cannabis industry!
Thanks for your support,
What’s the difference between a traditional cookbook and a Cannabis cookbook? Dosage and a “Legal Heads Up” are two obvious distinctions.
In fact, dosages in Cannabis as medicine is a deal-breaker for many divided on the topic of good medicine vs. plants for pleasure, and why big Pharma is chomping at the bit to get a piece of the pie – with good reason – the stuff works.
Chef and author Cheri Sicard penned “The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook” after discovering Cannabis at the never-to-late-to-medicate age of 40. She went from a closet smoker to an all-out activist within six months of discovering its benefits, which is a common tale in the Canna world.
“There is no such thing as a “typical Marijuana user,” Sicard said, repeating an old mantra. “We are everyone – all ages, races, and all political persuasions.”
Sicard suffered a good portion of her life from a medical condition of chronic nausea with digestive issues. Already a professional recipe developer and cookbook author, Sicard easily fell into the role of Ganja Chef with her first effort, and is already working on the second edition.
With edibles barely covered by city, county or state ordinances, the cookbook goes out on a limb as a proponent of concentrates – ground Hash in particular – a misunderstood ingredient often frowned on by authorities as a “manufactured substance.” It works well in many foods, without the strong Canna flavor found in oil-based concentrates such as butters or oils.
Research indicates there is more medicine in ingesting than smoking, and patients are hungry for education on how to do it, but flavor has always been a downfall of Cannabis and the sensitive palate.
Sicard took on the task head-on, creating tasty dishes such as “Apple and Cornbread-Stuffed Pork Chops,” “Asian Shrimp Salad Rolls,” and “Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarts,” with the flavor of the food, not the medicine, shining through.
Humboldt County Chef Lauren Sarabia, owner of Comfort of Home Catering, is a Locavore and co-Author of “Locally Delicious: Recipes and Resources for Eating on the North Coast.” Sarabia, who already markets her own line of Cannabis salves, was more than happy to test a few recipes from the cookbook in her beautiful home in the woods. Using all local and organic ingredients, she prepared “Cornish Game Hens with Peach, Sausage, and Rice Stuffing,” with a side dish of “Over-Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes.”
Both dishes called for ground Hash and it’s important to note that Hash is not measured by the teaspoon-full, but by weight, so a handy gram scale would be advised for proper dosage.
Aside from insisting on local and fresh ingredients, Chef Sarabia observed that Sicard’s recipes were easy to prepare, and includes recipes for making butter and oil.
“All the ingredients were easy to obtain,” Sarabia shared. “In Humboldt County we grow a lot of our own food and I can for winter. We had peaches left over from our summer harvest and homemade peach preserves to use in the stuffing – and, of course, we used local Humboldt derived Cannabis concentrates – the best in the world!”
Sarabia said she Loved the use of orange juice in the rice, and was able to use Cara Cara oranges – a winter ripening citrus with a red center and wonderful flavor.
“Citrus in the rice is inspiring, and I was thinking that rose water might be a nice addition, as well,” she added.
Sarabia cooked the hens longer than the recipe allotted for a rich, brown presentation and enhanced flavor.
“This cookbook gives easy ways to ingest cannabis,” Sarabia surmised. “The flavors of the other ingredients totally hid the flavor of the Cannabis, and that night sleep came easily.”
For desert this author prepared the “Mini Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes,” but in a cake pan rather than individual custard cups. The cake was so moist it was like pudding, and while you could taste the Cannabis in the butter, it wasn’t the typical, overwhelming green found in most Canna baked goods.
This recipe called for butter and I made a batch to Sicard’s specifications in a crock-pot, using water to absorb the color of the Cannabis – giving a cleaner, lighter color and flavor.
Sicard’s past effort, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Freezer Meals,” came in handy for her gourmet Cannabis cookbook, as freezing and storing medicated foods is imperative. I mean, I could have eaten that entire cake it was so good, but it is medicine, after all, and saving portions for later is much needed.
That kind of control is what Sicard said preparing your own medicine is all about.
“When you make it yourself you control the amount of medication as well as the type, so you can really customize the edibles for your specific needs and conditions,” Sicard explained. “You also have control of the rest of the recipe, meaning it can be customized for your needs and tastes. Whether you have Diabetes, are a Vegan, or need gluten free, it’s no problem.”
For those who have lost the fine art of cooking at home, making medicine just might be the way back into the kitchen. Chef Sarabia agrees, “I enjoyed looking over the recipes in the book and I would definitely make most of them with or without the cannabis.”
“The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook” is self-published by Z-Dog Media, LLC, and can be purchased online via its Web site, www.cannabischeri.com for $24.95.
by Chris Roberts, SF Weekly’s The Snitch
Not every innocuous schoolboy joke becomes a worldwide cultural phenomenon, but this one — 4/20, 4-20, four twenty — has had legs since it began 41 years ago at San Rafael High in Marin County.
This year, the universal code for marijuana use is being co-opted by everyone’s favorite “hacktivist” collective, the masked men and women at Anonymous. The group announced an “operation” for this Friday called Operation Cannabis, stylized as #OpCannabis.
It may be worthwhile to note that #OpCannabis first appeared on the web last summer, when a pair of YouTube videos claiming association with Anonymous appeared in August. Since then, Anonymous announced Phase 1 of Operation Cannabis last week, with some website hacking announced as Phase 2 over the weekend.
In its latest OpCannabis video, Anonymous decries marijuana’s subjugation by the corporate and political establishment, and urges participants in the operation to go visible with turning their social media profiles green. That’s not quite like hacking into government websites or shutting down a few BART trains — two actions Anonymous has been associated with recently.
But it may be enough. And what can the general citizenry do to assist, aside from attend drum circles, visit a favorite medical cannabis dispensary, or flaunt the magic plant?
Some might call this slacktivism — to sign a petition demanding President Barack Obama undo the War on Drugs, reschedule marijuana, and halt the attacks on state-legal medical marijuana as well as turn their Facebook profiles green for the day. But consider this: Even with the full legal protection offered by medical marijuana states, this is a substance that can get a person removed from employment, disqualify them from housing, and otherwise wreck a life if the authorities so decree.
Would it be so easy if everyone who disagreed with the country’s marijuana laws chose to go visible? Considering the movement favoring legalization of marijuana in America appear inching closer to a majority every year, probably not. But the code words used in 1971 to gather teenagers in front of a statue continue today in furtive language and general uneasiness with owning marijuana use. As blogger and activist Mickey Martin put it, marijuana users are still in the closet.
The metaphor is fitting: The modern-day medical marijuana movement was born out of the general LGBT movement, where gay men dying from AIDS found relief in marijuana. That led to Dennis Peron’s first cannabis clubs in the Castro District, even before the establishment of the 1996 Compassionate Use Act.
Gay rights only came after LGBT people came out of the closet. Will marijuana follow the same script?
Quite possibly. At the very least, it’ll keep the conversation going — though lately, the federal government’s been its own hatchet man.
Thus far, websites have been hacked, YouTube videos have been uploaded, and cannabis smokers have been asked to turn their social media profiles green. But what else can we expect?
Courtesy of the Huffington Post
Your plans to celebrate 4/20 this Friday could actually make the government some money, if only such activities were legal. That’s according to a bunch of economists, and some prominent ones too.
More than 300 economists, includingthree nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.
That’s as much as $13.7 billion per year, but it’s still minimal when compared to thefederal deficit, which hit $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
While the economists don’t directly call for pot legalization, the petition asks advocates on both sides to engage in an “open and honest debate” about the benefits of pot prohibition.
“At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition,” the petition states.
The economic benefits of pushing pot into mainstream commerce have long been cited as a reason to make the drug legal, and the economists’ petition comes as government officials at both the federal and local levels are looking for ways to raise funds. The majority of Americans say they prefer cutting programs to increasing taxes as a way to deal with the nation’s budget deficit — marijuana legalization would seemingly give the government money wtihout doing either.
Economist Stephen Easton wrote inBusinessweek that the financial benefits of pot legalization may be even bigger than Miron’s findings estimate. Based on the amount of money he thinks it would take to produce and market legal marijuana, combined with an estimate of marijuana consumers, Eatson guesses that legalizing the drug could bring in $45 to $100 billion per year. Easton’s name doesn’t appear on the petition.
Some argue that the economic argument for pot legalization is already proven by the benefits states and cities have reaped from making medical marijuana legal. Advocates for Colorado’s medical marijuana industry argue that legalization has helped to jumpstart a stalled economy in cities like Boulder and Denver, according to nj.com.
by Lauren Fox, US News & World Report
President Barack Obama touted a progressive attitude on medical marijuana on the campaign trail, but since taking office, Obama’s administration has hardened its stance and supporters of the drug are crying foul on the flip-flop.
“I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Obama said. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
But the numbers tell another story.
Since October 2009, Americans for Safe Access, a group committed to legalizing medical marijuana, estimates the Justice Department has carried out 170 raids on dispensaries and cultivation facilities in nine states.
“Every time a dispensary is shut down, there are literally hundreds of people waking up that day wondering where they will get their medication,” saysKris Hermes, the spokesperson for the Americans for Safe Access.
Hermes says he’s confident that the number of raids since the president took office is actually around 200.
“He’s broadened his attack,” Hermes says. “Until Obama was elected, George W. Bush had the most aggressive posture toward medical marijuana…he’s been even more aggressive than his predecessor.”
Americans for Safe Access estimates that during the entire eight years of the Bush administration, roughly 200 raids were carried out, something Hermes says the Obama administration has accomplished in less than four years.
Asked why the Obama administration had been so aggressive in pursuing federal drug law violations involving medical marijuana, the DOJ told Whispers, “Sorry, we do not have statistics to support [that accusation].”
Pro-marijuana groups say Obama has expanded the attack on medical marijuana from DOJ to a wide array of other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, which has lead dozens of audits of medical marijuana businesses. The IRS has also aggressively penalized medical marijuana businesses for selling an illegal drug by requiring the businesses to pay federal taxes on gross income, not net income, eliminating the tax break most businesses receive from deducting payroll costs.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a memo in 2011that allows public housing agencies to evict tenants who use medical marijuana. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also issued a memo in September banning the commercial sale of firearms to medical marijuana patients.
There are 16 states and the District of Columbia that have their own medical marijuana laws.
And experts say U.S. attorneys’ threats against local and state officials who enact medical marijuana laws in their states have even slowed down the implementation of new laws in Arizona, Montana, Rhode Island, and Washington.
“It’s a weaselly threat, but it has scared a few governors,” says Bill Piper, the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, a group committed to finding alternatives to current drug laws. “The intensity and multi-agency assault is far worse than the Bush administration and the Clinton administration.”
Courtesy of CBS HealthPop
(CBS/AP) A company dubbed the “Walmart of Weed” is putting down roots in America’s capital city, sprouting further debate on marijuana — medical or otherwise.
Just blocks from the White House and federal buildings, a company that candidly caters to medical marijuana growers is opening up its first outlet on the East Coast. The opening of the weGrow store on Friday in Washington coincides with the first concrete step in implementing a city law allowing residents with certain medical conditions to purchase pot.
Like suppliers of picks and axes during the gold rush, weGrow sees itself providing the necessary tools to pioneers of a “green rush,” which some project could reach nearly $9 billion within the next five years. Admittedly smaller than a big box store, weGrow is not unlike a typical retailer in mainstream America, with towering shelves of plant food and vitamins, ventilation and lighting systems. Along with garden products, it offers how-to classes, books and magazines on growing medical marijuana.
“The more that businesses start to push the envelope by showing that this is a legitimate industry, the further we’re going to be able to go in changing people’s minds,” said weGrow founder Dhar Mann.
Although federal law outlaws the cultivation, sale or use of marijuana, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized its medical use to treat a wide range of issues from anxiety and back pain to HIV/AIDS and cancer-related ailments. Fourteen states also have some kind of marijuana decriminalization law, removing or lowering penalties for possession.
Nearly 7 percent of Americans, or 17.4 million people, said they used marijuana in 2010, up from 5.8 percent, or 14.4 million, in 2007, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. A Gallup poll last year found a record-high of 50 percent of Americans saying that marijuana should be made legal, and 70 percent support medical uses for pot.
For many states, there’s no way to tell how many people have medical marijuana cards. California only has 9,637 valid card holders, but registration is voluntary. In Colorado, where you have to sign up, there 82,089 valid ID cards since December 2011. If Californians signed up at the same rate as Colorado, more than 615,000 would have had cards by now.
Marijuana advocates also tout revenue benefits, as well as cost and efficiency savings for not prosecuting or jailing people for pot.
But a recent push from the federal government to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries has led several states to delay or curtail their dispensary programs for fear of prosecution. It means some medical marijuana users may seek to grow their own– paving the way for companies like California-based weGrow to open a budding number of locations across the country to help legal users and larger cultivators grow their own pot plants.
WeGrow doesn’t sell pot or seeds to grow it. The store, however, makes no secret that its products and services help cultivators grow their own plants for personal use or for sale at dispensaries. Selling hydroponic and other indoor growing equipment is legal, but because those products are used to cultivate a plant deemed illegal under federal law the industry has tried to keep a low profile.
“For the longest time, it’s been a don’t ask, don’t tell industry,” Mann said. “Most people still want to hide behind that facade.”
Mann, who opened the first store in Sacramento last year, said he started his venture after he was kicked out of a mom and pop hydroponics store in Berkeley, Calif., just for mentioning marijuana. HealthPop reported the first 10,000-foot weed emporium grew out of a warehouse called iGrow.
WeGrow has since opened a location in Phoenix and also will open stores in San Jose and Flagstaff, Arizona, in the near future. The company has franchisees in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and plans to expand into Oregon, Washington state and Michigan.
The frankness of the business comes as public attitudes toward marijuana use and legalization in the U.S. transform. But federal pressure on customers means companies catering to the marijuana industry could take a hit — in their wallets and with jail time.
“There’s a whole host of risks associated with investing and opening up shop here,” said Jason Klein, a D.C. attorney who represents medical marijuana operators. “These entrepreneurs see themselves as doing yeoman’s work, putting themselves in personal risk … to get medicine to the sick people who deserve it.”
D.C. officials on Friday are set to announce those eligible to apply for permits to grow and sell medical marijuana to dispensaries under the district’s 2010 law. Applicants must sign a statement saying they understand a license doesn’t authorize them to break federal law.
“They do so at their own peril because I can’t imagine that the federal government is going to allow marijuana selling for any purpose right in their backyard,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser to the president’s drug czar and a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Substance Abuse Solutions.
“Whether it’s D.C. or all the way out in California, the government’s been pretty clear that medical marijuana doesn’t pass the giggle test.”
Sabet said the idea of dispensaries trying to be passed off as a medical establishment is a joke, adding that the grow store will be the first in a series events where people are going to try to “make big money off an illegal drug.”
The national medical marijuana market was estimated to be worth $1.7 billion in 2011 and is projected to reach $8.9 billion within five years, according to an economic analysis done for the American Cannabis Research Institute. The study also says that nearly 25 million Americans are potentially eligible to use medical marijuana based on current state laws.
“There’s great potential for the industry across the country,” said Steve Fox, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, a D.C.-based trade group representing marijuana-related businesses. He said support for the businesses has emerged in states like California, Colorado and Washington state. “They are showing that just like any other industry, there’s a demand for a product and these businesses are sprouting up to address the need.”
The issue of marijuana in the nation’s capital isn’t new. A public referendum to legalize medical marijuana overwhelmingly passed in the late 1990s but Congress blocked it from taking effect for years. Allowing the city’s latest move on medical marijuana use could also indicate an attitude shift on a federal level.
“The political winds on a federal level really affect our ability to get things done on a local level,” said Brendan Williams-Kief, spokesman for D.C. councilmember David A. Catania, who co-sponsored the medical marijuana legislation. “When the (legislation) was passed, it happened at a time when there was a Congress that was less-inclined to exert their will on the District. … But they’re always up there on the Hill looking down.”
Klein believes that, despite being next door to Congress, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Justice, the D.C. medical marijuana program will avoid the ire of the federal government because it was crafted to tightly control the industry.
“It’s the sort of thing the feds will probably just look the other way elsewhere, but given the fact that it’s right under their noses, is going to really be unique conundrum,” Klein said. “I’m really looking forward to getting a couple of Congresspeople in a cab and caravaning them over to a dispensary … so that they can see that this is not the danger that they imagine it might be.”
For Alex Wong, the franchisee of the D.C. weGrow store, his involvement in the industry is both personal and professional. The mid-40s entrepreneur was drawn to the business after seeing the firsthand effects of his mother’s colon cancer and learning that medical marijuana might have made her more comfortable during treatment.
“It is a viable medicine,” said the. “All I can do is use my small business expertise to lend a hand in this movement.”
Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, issued a statement saying science and research — not politics — should drive the approval process for medicine, and to date the “smoked form of marijuana has not met the modern standard” established by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Chronically ill and suffering patients deserve access to modern medicine that is proven to be effective and safe,” Lemaitre said. “We ardently support continued research into medical uses for the components of marijuana and will continue to do so.”
Mann, however, says medical marijuana cultivation and distribution is going to happen with or without federal government approval.
“Regardless of how rigorously they want to enforce intervention, it’s not going to stop the industry,” Mann said.
Jake Sternberger, Keystone Politics
APRIL 1, 2012 –Late yesterday evening, Governor Tom Corbett stunned both liberals and conservatives alike when he drafted and signed an executive order that legal experts believe legalizes the possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana, commonly referred to as “weed.”
Corbett, who served as Attorney General before he was elected Governor, had generally been known as hard on drugs and an advocate of zero tolerance by law enforcement personnel. Sources close to Corbett are stating on condition of anonymity that the Governor has been under a lot of stress lately in his tenure, receiving criticism from virtually every group except wealthy drilling executives.
In recent months, these same sources report, Corbett has taken to locking himself in his office for hours at a time, blasting Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and King Crimson to “deal with the stress for just a minute.”
The order legalizing marijuana was reportedly written during one of these hours-long sessions.
The text of the order, which aides say was personally drafted last night by Corbett himself, has an unprecedented length of a mere single sentence. The full text of the order is as follows:
“As Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania I hereby order that weed is now totally legal, like for everybody.”
Republican House Leadership was quick to respond to the news, and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai immediately advocated the privatization of all future marijuana sales.
“Government has many responsibilities–providing a good education, ensuring safe streets, clean air and water,” said Turzai. “Selling marijuana is not one of them, and we should leave this to private corporations and businesses. I will be adding marijuana privatization to my next round of PLCB hearings.”
State Representative Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), author of H.B. 1424 which made “Pennsylvania Preferred” the official trademark of agricultural goods produced in Pennsylvania, said in a statement to Keystone Politics that “Pennsylvania farmers are ecstatic about the possibility of converting their corn farms into cannabis fields. I personally can’t wait to see the PA Preferred label on dime bags.”
“PA Preferred is a marketing tool that consumers associate with quality products, and I know Pennsylvania farmers will produce the bombest, headiest fire ganja in the Mid-Atlantic Regional of this great country,” Bloom added.
The entire Democratic delegation was unavailable for comment with the exception of Mark Cohen (D-Philadelphia) who answered a phone call from Keystone Politics but quickly hung up after laughing uncontrollably for over 12 minutes, for no apparent reason.
UPDATE: Sources at the PA Department of Transportation are confirming that Corbett also has filed to legally change his middle name from “William” to “Hannibal” so that his initials can now be THC, apparently a reference to Tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical in the marijuana plant.
by Irma Widjojo, The Times-Herald
For the second time in 30 days, a Bay Area marijuana dispensary was raided Friday afternoon.
At about 4:25 p.m., Vallejo police officers served search and arrest warrants at Better Health Group, 3611 Sonoma Blvd., police said.
During the raid, owner Jorge Espinoza, 25, and three other workers at the dispensary were arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana, police said.
They were identified as Jeffrey Hughson, 38, of Novato; Aaron Castillo 21, of Daly City; and Jonathan Linares, 22, of Vallejo.
It was not immediately disclosed if any marijuana or other products were seized Friday, which marks the fourth marijuana dispensary raid since Feb. 21. There may be as many as 20 other dispensaries operating in Vallejo.
Better Health Group, located inside a former Chinese restaurant, was first raided on Feb. 29. At that time, police said they seized about 400 plants from the dispensary, and booked into evidence about 340 marijuana food products, an ounce of hash and 30 pounds of “processed” marijuana, during that raid. Espinoza was also arrested then.
However, the dispensary recently opened its doors again to its members.
In an interview earlier this week with the Times-Herald, Better Health Group’s attorney said no cease and desist order was ever issued, and that the collective believes it is doing nothing wrong, at least under state law. Federal law prohibits marijuana possession and sales.
On March 20, Vallejo City Manager Dan Keen released a memo addressing concerns about what he viewed as the mixed message the city was sending by passing measures to tax dispensaries, while at the same time raiding them. Keen also cited a number of conflicting court cases dealing with medical marijuana.
At the same time, Keen also suspended the city’s plan to begin issuing business certificates to those dispensaries that have paid a $500 city business fee. The fee was authorized under a ballot measure voters overwhelmingly approved in the November election. The measure’s passage has also led to the city approving a 10 percent tax on medical marijuana sales.
Times-Herald staff writers Jessica A. York and Tony Burchyns contributed to this article.
by Chris Roberts, San Francisco Examiner
The City’s 21 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are all illegal, according to a court filing by District Attorney George Gascón that could portend a seismic shift in San Francisco cannabis policy.
City law allows medical marijuana to be bought in businesses called dispensaries and delivered to patients who have been prescribed marijuana by a licensed physician. Dispensaries must acquire business licenses and seller’s permits from the state Board of Equalization before receiving city Department of Public Health permits to sell marijuana.
Yet in December, a woman was arrested for making a delivery on behalf of Mr. Nice Guy, a city-licensed dispensary whose storefront was shut down under pressure from the federal Justice Department. Police said the woman was arrested with $631 in cash, more than 100 plastic bags of dried marijuana buds and hashish, and 48 “edibles” — marijuana-laced cookies, brownies, or other treats.
Despite being presented with paperwork showing that the woman and buyer were licensed patients and that she was working on behalf of a registered dispensary, the DA charged her with two felony counts for marijuana possession and sales, said her attorney, former District Attorney Terence Hallinan.
In a legal brief, Gascón argued that the law is not on her side.
“While California’s medical marijuana laws may be complex, the law is clear that all sales of medical marijuana are illegal,” Gascón wrote. “The … shell game that continues to be played with medical marijuana immunities does not change that conclusion.”
Gascón’s office cites the 1996 Compassionate Use Act as well as state court decisions to make his argument, which says medical marijuana patients must “participate directly in the cultivation of marijuana” to enjoy protection under the law.
“This means that people with AIDS have to be out digging in the dirt to enjoy protection under the law,” countered former District Attorney Terence Hallinan, who is representing the woman in court. “This is impossible.”
Gascón’s office declined to comment on the pending court case, but spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said the brief in question actually dates back to the administration of former District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is now state Attorney General. Her nuanced comments suggest that the DA’s office may be having second thoughts about its position.
“We have since reviewed the brief and while it accurately reflects state law, we have determined it needs to be revised to reflect the positions of the city of San Francisco and also the policies of the District Attorney’s office,” Stillman wrote via email.
Local defense attorneys say they haven’t previously seen this argument in San Francisco, and that it resembles filings made in Los Angeles by District Attorney Steve Cooley, who ran against Harris and lost in 2010.
“It’s disappointing to see the San Francisco district attorney’s office parroting the garbage spewing out of Steve Cooley’s office when they try to torture an interpretation of [state law] beyond any recognition,” said Oakland attorney Robert Raich, who argued a 2005 medical marijuana case before the United States Supreme Court.
The inconsistent policies — with one county agency calling illegal what another one issues permits for — is “emblematic of the ongoing disconnect in San Francisco with regard to the city’s approach to medical cannabis,” complained Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/03/gasc-n-all-sales-marijuana-are-illegal#ixzz1qNn8aZEr
by David Klepper, Boston Globe
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Rhode Island’s state-licensed marijuana dispensaries could open within months, but they may not last long if the state adopts strict rules on the amount of marijuana they can have, medical marijuana advocates said Tuesday.
State lawmakers are set to review a proposed compromise on Wednesday that was crafted to let the three state-picked dispensaries to open, potentially within six months. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, blocked the dispensaries from opening last year after the state’s top federal prosecutor warned they could face prosecution.
The compromise seeks to avoid federal intervention by setting limits on the amount of marijuana the dispensaries could have. But medical marijuana supporters said the dispensaries must be allowed to have enough marijuana on hand to meet demand. Otherwise, they might not be able to pay their bills, said JoAnne Leppanen, director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.
“Everybody wants this to happen,” she told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “But the fear is that we’re going to come in too low, that we’re going to put such a burden on the compassion centers that it may not be possible for them to sustain themselves.”
It would be up to the state’s Department of Health to set the limits once lawmakers approve the compromise. The Health Department plans to hold public hearings on the regulations once the bill passes.
Lawmakers who brokered the compromise with Chafee said it’s designed to be flexible. If federal authorities again threaten to prosecute, the limits on the dispensaries could be tightened. If the dispensaries complain the limits are too strict, they could be relaxed.
“The challenge was getting a bill that will pass,” said Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence. “Yes, some of these details may be problematic. But we’re moving ahead.”
Perry said she hopes the General Assembly can pass the legislation quickly to allow the dispensaries to open, perhaps within six months.
The uncertainty means the dispensaries must plan to open without knowing how much marijuana they will be allowed to dispense.
Seth Bock, chief executive of the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center of Portsmouth, said he’d like lawmakers to suggest a rough idea of how much marijuana would be allowed. The state could fine-tune the restrictions later, he said.
“Give us something in the law that allows us to move forward,” said Bock, who practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine. “Without any guidance on volume it’s impossible to decide if it’s worth investing X amount of money to get this off the ground.”
Greenleaf is one of the three dispensaries chosen by the state. The other two are the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence and Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Peter Neronha said federal authorities have not endorsed the compromise and remain opposed to large-scale commercial operations for medical marijuana.
In his letter to the state last year, Neronha warned that while patients wouldn’t face prosecution, dispensary operators might.
Rhode Island enacted a law in 2006 allowing patients to legally possess small amounts of marijuana to treat conditions including chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and multiple sclerosis. In 2009, lawmakers passed legislation to set up nonprofit dispensaries — known as compassion centers — where patients could obtain marijuana in a state-regulated environment.
More than 4,400 Rhode Islanders are now enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program.
George DesRoches said the dispensaries will play a critical role in the state’s medical marijuana program by giving patients a safe and reliable place to purchase their medicine. The 45-year-old Providence man grows his own marijuana to treat chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Earlier this month four men held him at gunpoint and stole marijuana and his laptop computer. DesRoches said Tuesday that the dispensary compromise is good news, but he’s waiting to see how the state decides to regulate the facilities.
“I’m pretty jaded at this point,” he said. “I’m hopeful they can find a way to do it, but if you set people up to fail, they will.”
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Proponents of a medical marijuana bill are trying to line up enough votes for the measure to withstand the governor’s likely opposition before it debuts in the New Hampshire Senate.
Two of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Jim Forsythe, R-Strafford, and state Rep. Evalyn Merrick, D-Lancaster, led a news conference Tuesday to promote their home cultivation approach to medical marijuana. With Gov. John Lynch’s historical opposition to medical marijuana bills, supporters are looking for a veto-proof majority in both chambers.
The proposed law would allow patient with “debilitating medical conditions” or their designated caretakers to possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana, six mature plants and 12 seedlings at a single, registered “cultivation location.” They could also avoid penalties for possessing up to two ounces of marijuana elsewhere.
The patient would need a registry identification card, which would require written certification from their doctor that medical use of marijuana would help treat a “debilitating medical condition.” Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV, AIDS and post- traumatic stress disorder. Some symptoms or treatment results like severe pain or severe nausea would also qualify.
Patients with a qualifying condition visiting from out of state could also possess marijuana without a card, but not cultivate it.
Caretakers would need a card as well and would be subject to a background check.
Merrick lent her personal experience as a cancer patient to the debate.
“The fact remains it was medical cannabis that proved to be what ultimately gave me the strength to live,” said the third-term representative.
Supporters said the bill’s home cultivation approach would reduce the risk of abuse or federal prosecution. Caretakers would be volunteers — most likely family members, they say. The law permits compensation for actual costs like electricity, but not labor, which supporters say eliminates the business aspect.
“We very purposely made this bill so it doesn’t have a profit incentive,” said Forsythe.
Forsythe said Vermont has similar restrictions to those in the bill and has several hundred patients.
The bill would not legalize marijuana possession for anyone beyond registry identification card holders or visiting qualifying patients. Card holders who provide marijuana to anyone not allowed to have it would have their cards revoked and face a class B felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison. Additional penalties for illegal marijuana sale would also apply.
The proposed law also would expire after three year unless lawmakers acted to renew it.
The bill is coming before the Senate on Wednesday with the Health and Human Services Committee’s unanimous support, including that of Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley. Both chambers would need a two-thirds majority to pass the bill over a near-certain veto by the governor.
Lynch vetoed a medical marijuana bill in 2009 to establish three dispensaries to provide severely ill patients with 2 ounces of marijuana every 10 days, citing his concerns over cultivation and the possible availability of the drug beyond the dispensaries. Although the House voted to override his veto, the Senate fell two votes short.
Another medical marijuana bill last year passed the House but died in the Senate after Lynch promised a veto. He has also said he will veto a decriminalization bill that narrowly passed the House this month.
Although Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the governor’s position is unchanged, Merrick said she is still hopeful for a change of heart.
“I am going to anticipate the governor will realize this is not about the legalization of marijuana but that it is a medical matter for the sickest and neediest patients,” said Merrick.
by The Associated Press, USA Today
Police Lt. Alan Henley told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune the victim had just made a delivery to a patient on South Sunset Avenue and was headed to his car when the pair confronted him and chased him with batons.
Henley says the attack took place just before 10 p.m. Friday.
Henley says the victim, in his 40s, was scared and dropped a bag containing marijuana and money and the attackers took it.
The lieutenant says he knows of no other ninja-style thefts recently.
or trial since July 8, 2010 at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i for failing to cease and
dismiss distribution of his THC Ministry’s Holy Sacrament of Cannabis to ministry members. A series of
court dates have come and gone, with the next set for August 8, 2012.
Christie sites the multiple postponements as being “inconvenient, uncomfortable and unfair,” but said
that time may work in their favor, for a few reasons.
“For one, this coming election day might have as many as six states voting to legalize ‘marijuana,”
Christie said in an e-mail from the detention center. “All that upcoming publicity might help to sway a
jury in our favor. Also, the progressing time factor has us getting clearer on our defense as time goes by,
and attracting more support. ”
Christie’s Hilo-based store front Ministry was first raided in March, 2011 and Christie was arrested and
released with its “Green Fourteen” ministry members. The sting included a farm and other residences
where members were growing Cannabis for the ministry, well above State mandates for Medical
Cannabis. Christie said the church was never run as a dispensary, nor did its workings fall under the
State’s compassionate care laws.
A plea bargain offered to Christie and now wife, Share (St. Cyr), was rejected by the couple on January
18, 2012, and Christie explains, “Share and I were legally separated from the other twelve defendants of
our ‘Green Fourteen,’ and offered a plea together.”
The deal would have given Christie a mandatory Federally imposed five year prison sentence (less time
served), with a two to three year sentence for Share (less time served, 18 months).
The Federal Prosecutor’s bargain also included half of a forfeiture sale of the couple’s condo in Hilo, a
$6,000 I.R.S. fine for failing to file (as a Ministry, Christie holds firm it was exempt from paying taxes),
and five years’ probation each.
“Realistically that meant about 18 more months in prison for me at a Federal ‘Camp’ (minimum security
facility), and about 18 months at a Federal Camp for Share, plus the other stuff,” Christie surmised.
While most opt to plea, the couple is going forward with a trial on principle, and the hope the Federal
Government will acknowledge Cannabis Ministries as any other organized religious group in this
In 2009 USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-03-09-american-religion-
ARIS_N.htm) ran a story on the decline of religion in America, citing “2.8 million people now identify
with dozens of new religious movements, calling themselves Wiccan, pagan or Spiritualist.” Many are
recognized by the Federal Government, including Wiccan’s who are allowed its five-pointed-star symbol
on Veterans gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.
“We are a determined, activist couple,” Christie informed. “To live in the land of the free requires us
to be the home of the brave. The arrest has brought us closer than ever, and although physically apart,
we are spiritually strong and deeply committed to the shared dream of a happier, healthier and more
harmonious world with Cannabis freely available for all those who deserve its many benefits.”
Roger and Share were married at the detention center on January 6, 2012 in an intimate ceremony that
included a kiss with no opportunity for consummation.
Other items lacking were a hemp prayer shawl and the now infamous Holy Anointing Oil, mandatory
in all marriage ceremonies associated with the ministry. The Cannabis-based oil is made from a recipe
found in the Bible (Exodus 30). Christie opted for oil without Cannabis, but was denied either.
Religious accoutrements, such as prayer chapels, kneeling pews, Bibles, and other items necessary in
accompanying and completing spiritual rituals are often a given for those incarcerated. So far, Christie
has had to file grievances, but to date, has not been allowed even the simplest icon.
“So far, I have been denied my religious rights; access to my religious diet of hempseeds, my hemp cloth
prayer shawl and holy anointing oil – with or without the Cannabis, he lamented.”
Seemingly abandoned by key groups such as The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana
Laws (NORML), and ignored largely by mainstream media, Roger prepares a motion to dismiss, while
amicus briefs are still needed. The cost of preparing from the center is $600 a month, and the Ministry’s
remaining “Green Fourteen” members are working round the clock to raise it (www.the-last-marijuana-
Their defense is dual with a focus both on “religion” and “necessity,” stating that Cannabis was the
lesser evil to “ice” or the “meth” that flooded the islands after the U.S. Government’s failed “War on
Drugs” eradicated fields of green from the islands in the 1990s.
“We look forward to presenting a ‘defense of necessity’ as a lesser of evils comparing Cannabis to toxic
pharmaceuticals, and as a barrier of sorts to alcohol and ‘meth.’ Does Cannabis build and protect brain
cells? Science says ‘yes.’ We say that the proper dosage of Cannabis is mandatory to good health and
Christie believes there is a larger picture than simply having all charges dropped. The religious freedoms
this country was founded on based on the First Amendment; the right to “… every seed bearing plant”
(Genesis 1:29); the Tenth Amendment, allowing Christie to practice his “Cannabis Sacrament, as granted
by the State of Hawaii more than 10 years ago.
There is also the world to save, as he and Share both believe “Ganja-nomics” is nature’s economic
stimulus, and a Cannabis/Hemp future is desperately needed to turn current world-wide fiscal calamity
“Where did Moses meet his God? In the smoke and fire of a burning bush,” Christie surmised. “I was
licensed for life by the State of Hawai’i to marry people specifically as a ‘Cannabis Sacrament’ Minister
many years ago. My new wife Share and I are dedicated to the bigger picture, we willingly risk some of
our precious time on Earth, for the goal of liberty and justice for Cannabis, for all.”
Hawaii’s Marijuana Minister, Roger Christie, with Share (St. Cyr) Christie. The couple married at the
Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i, where Roger has been held without bail or visitors since
July 2010 on Marijuana charges.
by Shannon Young, Norwich Bulletin
A bill that would allow Connecticut adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if the drug is prescribed by their doctor, has cleared its first legislative hurdle. Members of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee voted 35-to-8 in support of the bill Wednesday, after an hour-long discussion of the measure.
This year’s bill proposes a system for licensing medical marijuana producers, dispensing the drug, and registering qualified patients with debilitating conditions. Under the proposed bill doctors could prescribe marijuana to patients who suffer from certain specified illnesses. Additionally, the bill would limit medical marijuana prescriptions to a one year supply and require all drug manufacturing and distribution to be done in Connecticut. Many Connecticut lawmakers have said the bill is the best that has been presented before the committee, and even the legislature, as it addresses many concerns that opponents have raised in previous years.
Bill supporters said marijuana should be legalized for medical purpose to help state residents who are suffering from debilitating diseases. Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, a ranking member of the committee, said the issue comes down to a matter of human compassion. “When you sit here year-in and year-out and you listen to these individuals facing these really horrific circumstances in their lives, who are we to not allow them to access this if it gives them some comfort?” he said. Despite this, some committee members voiced concerns on how the potential state law legalizing medical marijuana could be affected by the federal intervention.
Rep. John Shaban, R-Redding, said because the issue is in violation of the federal law, it would create a dual policy where the drug is not illegal under state law, but federal law. Other opponents raised concerns that federal intervention under the law could result in arrests of state employees and doctors who prescribe or distribute the drug. Committee co-chair,
Rep. Gerald Fox III, D-Stamford, said he is not concerned on with federal intervention, however, as the legislation is careful to operate within state law. “We have crafted a bill that is very controlled and it’s our hope that it will alleviate a lot of the concerns people have had in the past,” he said. The bill’s passage comes shortly after a new poll shows a sizeable majority of Connecticut voters support allowing legalizing the drug for medical purposes. According to the poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, 68 percent of registered voters said legalizing medical marijuana for adults is a good idea while 27 percent said it’s a bad idea.
The survey of 1,622 registered voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Mike Lawlor, the undersecretary of Criminal Justice Policy for the Office of Policy and Management, said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy supports the concept of the legislation. He said he is confident the governor will sign the bill if it reaches his desk this session. A bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana in Connecticut failed during last year’s legislative session.
by Ron Dicker, Huffington Post
Warning to marijuana shops selling Linsanity weed: Your buzzkill has arrived.
Jeremy Lin’s legal team has sent a flurry of cease-and-desist letters to medical marijuana dispensaries offering “Linsanity” brand pot, and a few shops have already complied, a lawyer for the New York Knicks star told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.
“Their enthusiasm for Jeremy Lin got ahead of their understanding of the law,” said Pamela Deese of the Washington, D.C., firm Arent Fox.
Although Deese would not name the companies, HuffPost found at least three California dispensaries that have stopped their doobie-ous enterprise.
The owner of 420 Specialists of Moreno Valley confirmed that he had received the notice and deleted Linsanity from the menu a week and a half ago. “They also wanted me to write a letter of apology,” Josh Leibowitz said Thursday, adding that he hasn’t done so yet.
Gourmet Green Room of West Los Angeles would only say that it had replaced Linsanity with Insanity.
L.A. Confidential Caregivers in Hollywood, which was listed in a Marijuana.com post about Linsanity sellers, seems to have removed Linsanity from its menu as well. We reached out to L.A. Confidential Thursday morning, and we’ll provide an update if it responds.
Word of Linsanity reefer madness spread when rappers Rick Ross and Stalley tweeted in early March aboutLinsanity OG cannabis, providing photos. As the jar in one photo indicated, Linsanity OG was priced at $60 for an eighth of an ounce.
That was back when Linsanity, the popular label for Lin’s rise from benchwarmer to star, had apparently already peaked. But now that the Knicks have won five straight as of Thursday, with Lin as the fourth-quarter hero in Wednesday’s victory, companies might be looking to cash in again.
There were an estimated 1,000 state-legalized pot shops in California before a recent federal crackdown. Five or six are violating Lin’s rights, according to the NBA player’s attorney. “We’ve identified those entities,” said Deese, who also wouldn’t share their names.
TRADEMARK COMPETITORS CUT
In a related matter, Deese said that cease-and-desist letters to 24 entities who applied for a trademark on Linsanity or some other Lin term have been effective in weeding out claimants. Many applicants said they were sorry and withdrew their claim, according to the lawyer.
“You can’t file a trademark when there’s a clear connection to someone else’s name,” Deese said. “In this case, Jeremy Lin has the right to his name and related names and marks, as well as his signature, voice and likeness. That’s all part of his intellectual property.”
Lin filed his own claim for Linsanity on Feb. 13, asserting his rights to sell merchandise from underwear to beverage sleeves with that mark. Ganja did not make the list.
by Chris Roberts, SF Weekly
Melinda Haag finally gave us a reason. The United States Attorney for Northern California broke her media near-silence last week week, granting an extensive, exclusive interview to KQED in which Haag sought to explain the Justice Department’s crackdown on medical marijuana.
The reasons why the DOJ has already shut down five licensed, taxpaying San Francisco medical cannabis dispensaries, and moved to shut down at least four more on Feb. 21, are simple: Pot clubs cause crime, and pot clubs threaten kids.
“Many” people across the state have complained to Haag about this, she told California Watch’s Michael Montgomery. “When a dispensary comes to my attention that is close to a school, a park, a playground or children, that’s a line I’ve decided to draw,” she said.
Yet this explanation rings a bit hollow in the Bay Area, where concerned citizens like the mayor of Berkeley “lamented” the shutdown of dispensaries in that city. Haag has also picked neighborhoods such as the Tenderloin — where strip clubs, liquor stores, and porn shops remain open near clubs shuttered by Haag — to wage her war on the state’s marijuana industry.
In the East Bay, Haag, a Berkeley resident herself, is shutting down Berkeley Patients Group, a large dispensary operating in an old car dealership on San Pablo Avenue. “There have been no complaints [about BPG],” said Mayor Tom Bates. “We get compliments from neighbors.”
“There were no instances of violence, they were excellent neighbors, they had good security, they contributed to the economy and helped local nonprofits by making contributions,” Bates said. “The voters of this city voted unanimously that they wanted to have four dispensaries in Berkeley and that was it. We grandfathered them in. But evidently we get trumped by the federal government.”
Bates’s protests are not falling on deaf ears — and are in fact making their way to Haag. “I hear them,” Haag said, “but I have a hard time making that distinction [between good and bad dispensaries]. I’ve already drawn a line.”
“When a dispensary comes to my attention that is close to a school, a park, a playground or children, that’s a line I’ve decided to draw.”
“There is a belief, backed by facts, that marijuana operations are often times the victims of criminal activity,” she added. “Armed robberies at dispensaries, armed robberies at grow operations, and people who are nearby are at risk [to wit: school children] as a result of that.”
Haag described a dispensary in Santa Cruz that operated near a preschool, which generated numerous citizen complaints from neighbors. There’s a high school somewhere in her district, she added, that suffered an explosion in marijuana use following the opening of a nearby dispensary.
We asked Haag spokesman Jack Gillund to specify these dispensaries, as well as to share the citizen complaints. “We have no comment,” Gillund wrote in an e-mail.
Haag is correct in saying that crime has happened around pot dispensaries: A man was robbed of a pound and some cash out front of Divinity Tree in 2011, and several years ago, a man was murdered outside of Mr. Nice Guy on Valencia Street. Both dispensaries were shut down by Justice Department letters from Haag.
But the theory that “pot clubs equal crime” has been exploded by San Francisco’s Planning Commission; several members have been staunchly anti-pot, and would surely have used such an excuse to deny permits had it been available.
“No one, including the police department, has ever brought before this commission any factual evidence of that statement [that crime and blight accompany dispensaries],”Planning Commissioner Ron Miguel said. “It has not been proven.”
“We have not had direct testimony of law enforcement that they believe there is an increase in crime in areas because there is medical marijuana dispensaries,” added Planning Commissioner Michael Antonini, who with one exception has consistently voted against permitting new dispensaries (and did so March 1, when he made the statement).
So the feds won’t name the schools, won’t name the complainants, and won’t provide the statistics used to justify the crackdown. But trust them: The problems are real.
On the ground in San Francisco, the crackdowns led to some head-scratching situations: Two of the clubs closed by Haag were in the Tenderloin, where medical pot surely ranks somewhere below open-air heroin- and crack-dealing, open-air heroin- and crack use, and prostitution as threats to children.
“The Divinity Tree is two blocks away and around the corner from the [Tenderloin Children's] playground,” the reason why that dispensary was closed, said David Goldman, a member of San Francisco’s chapter of Americans for Safe Access. “In the intervening space are several massage parlors, bars, and liquor stores. Across the street from the playground stands an adult theater with a marquee blatantly advertising an ‘erotic circus.’”
“All of this makes nonsense of Haag’s and the DOJ’s pretense to be protecting children,” Goldman said.
By Pastor Bob Enyart of the Denver Bible Church, Huffington Post
Regarding marijuana use or any moral question, arguing right and wrong in today’s society is especially difficult because a growing number of people reject absolute right and wrong. Producing a documentary titled Get Out of the Matrix, our video crew walked onto a college campus and asked random people in the student center, and a philosophy professor and her class, whether or not it was absolutely wrong for a man to violently rape a woman, or for the National Socialists to slaughter millions of Jews. “No,” was the answer we would get. “Not absolutely wrong.”
So if you likewise assume that there is no right or wrong (and thus reject arguments against pot), then you’ve got problems way more serious than marijuana and you need to find help.
Pot should remain as a controlled substance, with marijuana-based medicines (like cocaine-based medicines) available by subscription fulfilled not from your home-grown stash but through a pharmacy. Why?
It’s wrong to get high. For in doing so you reject the counsel of the God who made you. And by intoxication you lose what should be a full control of your mental and moral faculties. You become a threat to yourself and a risk to those around you.
Billions of people cannot get drunk on a sip of wine. Hundreds of millions cannot get drunk even on a glass of wine or a can of beer. Conversely, there are countless millions of people who get high with the normal use of even only one, two, or three drags on a joint. Thus for billions of people, normal use of alcohol does not automatically get them intoxicated but the opposite is true for marijuana.
It should be illegal to get high and any substance should be controlled whose normal use makes one high.
Pot has been politically correct on college campuses for decades and so studies are easily biased, which is why it’s surprising that so many of them warn of the serious risks. But looking at the candid testimony of the masses, millions of people believe that smoking pot makes you stupid. Yes, stupid.
Long-term cigarette smoking is bad for your lungs but unlike for pot, there are not millions of people who believe that tobacco makes you intoxicated, lowers your IQ, and makes you slow and stupid. But why the difference? These millions haven’t weighed conflicting scientific studies (including those showing learning and memory impairments from using pot). Rather, they’ve seen the results first hand. While studies conflict, many confirm what millions have perceived — that routine pot use leads to serious mental health issues. On the other hand, a nightly glass of red wine has the opposite reputation, of not making anyone slow or stupid, but of sustaining health and even decreasing the likelihood of dementia.
Many studies show serious problems, for example, with schizoid psychosis while smoking. And marijuana can act as a cancer-causing carcinogen and damaging DNA for pot smoke contains higher levels of certain toxins than tobacco, which is why pot smokers face rapid lung destruction, with theimpact on lungs from one joint equaling up to five cigarettes. Pot also opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma. And for pregnant moms, it can harm their unborn child by impairing growthand by causing long-lasting neurobehavioural problems. (And if you’ve read online that marijuana has never caused a single death, just assume you’re reading a pothead’s website.) For habitual use is strongly associated with car crash injuries and smoking marijuana doubles the risk of fatal accidents.
So, millions of people believe that smoking pot makes you stupid because it does. And it impairs one’s healthy inhibitions. And like with many other problems as identified at KGOV.com/pot, parents who use pot at home will, at unexpected times including in emergencies, end up driving their own children after they’ve smoked half a joint. And pot makes folks paranoid (as I’ve seen firsthand even aside from criminality). And pot’s quick intoxicating effect will weaken a man’s moral compass and then, as the Bible warns of drunkenness, increase his lust for other women.
So when the normal use of a substance makes a person high, then the government correctly outlaws and classifies that drug as a controlled substance. Thus while marijuana-based medications should be available on a prescription basis from a pharmacy, pot use should not be normalized and the marijuana drug should be illegal.
by Robert Gearty, New York Daily News
A former Jay-Z business partner who invested in Roc-A-Fella Records pleaded guilty Thursday to participating in a massive marijuana trafficking ring, federal prosecutors said.
Kareem (Biggs) Burke, 38, faces five to six years in prison during his sentencing May 18 for conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilos of marijuana, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Under the plea deal, Burke agreed to forfeit cash, his house and a BMW, Bharara said.
Burke was nabbed with more than 50 others in a federal drug sting called “Operation Green Venom,” which targeted a massive drug trafficking operation that dominated much of the wholesale pot market in the city.
Burke started Roc-A-Fella Records with Jay-Z and Damon Dash in the 1990s. The trio parted ways in 2004.
by Caleb Hutton, The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM – Police raids on three Bellingham medical marijuana cooperatives revealed they had far more marijuana – and hundreds more members – than is allowed under state law, according to police.
Search warrants were carried out Thursday afternoon, March 15, at three cooperatives acting outside of state guidelines, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young.
Five people associated with the co-ops were arrested.
“This has nothing to do with medical marijuana,” Young said. “This is about illegal drug operations.”
Cooperatives can have no more than 41/2 pounds of pot, according to a state law passed in July 2011.
Police said they seized:
• 15 pounds of marijuana from The Northern Cross, 1311 Cornwall Ave.;
• 11 pounds of marijuana from The Joint Cooperative, 1311 11th St.;
• 7 pounds of marijuana from KGB Collective, 1130 Finnegan Ave.
Employees at the Northern Cross told police they had more than 3,000 members, Young said, while the two other cooperatives had hundreds of members.
State law says medical marijuana co-ops are allowed to have up to 10 members.
At two locations in Skagit County, police and drug task force officers found more than 300 marijuana plants and “dozens of weapons,” including a semi-automatic rifle with a scope and laser, handguns, rifles and a shotgun, Young said.
“I’ve been at a lot of drug raids, and the one constant is guns,” he said. “This one was no different.”
Young declined to say how police established the grow operations and the co-ops were connected.
Jason Crawford, assistant manager of Northern Cross, said he wasn’t “100 percent sure” where his cooperative’s marijuana came from. When asked about the firearms found in the Skagit raids, he said, “They’re probably just hunters that keep a lot of guns.”
Crawford said his understanding was that each member of the co-op was allowed to have about 11/2 pounds per member. He said he hadn’t heard of the 41/2 pounds rule.
Crawford was not arrested during the raids, but the owner of Northern Cross, Martin O. Nickerson, was being held in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail. Crawford expected him to be bailed out by Friday evening.
The city started revoking business registrations for medical marijuana dispensaries and co-ops in December 2011.
Without those registrations, the businesses were operating in violation of municipal code.
Police sent letters to all three medical marijuana collectives March 9, ordering them to cease operations because they were engaging in criminal activity.
The collectives remained open after the letters, and Nickerson and the owner of The Joint were planning to fight the city’s closure request.
Because Friday was a closure/furlough day for Whatcom County offices, Seattle attorney Hilary Bricken was unable to file for a temporary restraining order seeking to keep the businesses open. She said she plans to request the order first thing Monday.
The timing of the raids “had nothing to do with the temporary restraining order,” Young said. “It had to do with people selling marijuana illegally, outside of the guidelines.”
Bricken, who is representing Northern Cross, said the city has not explicitly laid out its code on medical marijuana, leading to a hazy legal situation for cooperatives.
She’s also representing Star Buds, another co-op she said was shut down during the raids.
Young could only confirm that three co-ops were busted.
The following people were arrested in connection with the raids: Saroj Sidhu, Nickerson, Dennis M. Crowley, Heather M. Kimber and Jennifer M. Detmering.
All five were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Young declined to comment on police investigations of other cooperatives in the city.
by Erica Meltzer, Your Daily Camera
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett wants federal prosecutors to “back away” from enforcement efforts against medical marijuana businesses that comply with state and local law.
In a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Attorney John Walsh, Garnett said local regulations of the medical marijuana industry were working well, and medical marijuana enforcement should not be a law enforcement priority.
“Although we will prosecute significant marijuana distribution and possession cases that are outside the medical marijuana dispensary framework, there is a limited role for criminal enforcement relating to medical marijuana dispensaries,” Garnett wrote.
Garnett said he believes the U.S. Attorney’s Office should focus on “terrorism, serious economic crime, organized crime and serious drug dealing.”
Garnett’s letter comes as federal prosecutors prepare to send another round of enforcement letters to dispensaries that are within 1,000 feet of a school. Last month, 23 Colorado dispensaries faced a deadline to either close or move, and federal authorities have indicated more letters are on the way.
“The purpose of this enforcement is to protect children,” said Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Boulder regulations prohibit dispensaries from being within 500 feet of a school, though some marijuana businesses that opened before the rules were adopted have been allowed to stay at their current location.
The city estimates that 12 dispensaries are within 1,000 feet of a school. None of those dispensaries was in the first group targeted for federal enforcement.
Several other Boulder County cities prohibit dispensaries, including Longmont and Superior. Lafayette’s regulations left it with just one dispensary.
In the letter, Garnett said state and local rules are working to keep the medical marijuana industry compatible with community standards, and the businesses provide significant tax revenue.
“The people of Boulder County do not need Washington, D.C., or the federal government dictating how far dispensaries should be from schools or other fine points of local land use law,” Garnett wrote.
Garnett asked Walsh not to pursue action against any Boulder County dispensaries that are otherwise compliant with state and local rules.
“Speaking solely on behalf of myself as the District Attorney in the 20th Judicial District, I am urging you to exercise your prosecutorial discretion to back away from the threatened criminal prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in Boulder County if they are compliant with state law and local land use regulations,” Garnett wrote.
“In my opinion, such prosecution would serve no practical purpose, would expend important resources and would be very disruptive to communities who have spent significant time and resources exercising their right of local control to balance the competing issues around medical marijuana,” he added.
Dorschner said Walsh would review the letter, which his office received Tuesday night, and communicate directly with Garnett about it.
Just what is a “Growgirl?” How about a “Potwife?” The covert underworld of growing Cannabis, even in a “legal” state, is rife with questions. Much has been written on the politics of the plant, but what of the day to day work of actually tending to good medicine? While no one wants to spill the beans or go to prison, knowledge is power and the more we know about the inner workings of the industry, the better chance we have at dispelling the myths, weeding out the bad apples, and making it, well, normal.
The young girl with snot running down her nose, seemingly frightened to death in the psych-horror film “The Blair Witch Project” is a vision actress-turned-writer Heather Donohue would like to forget – or at least push to the back of her proverbial life story. But what does a girl pegged for B-Horror films do next?
Pan to a house at the end of a dirt road and in the window you may see… a young woman with snot running down her nose, peering out a closeted house, terrified that the grow in her garage will be discovered.
For California is still the land of opportunity, but the gold now grows upright and is green and sways covertly across the plain (or in a back bedroom, garage, or outbuilding).
Happenstance and one man later brought Donohue to the other industry, the other California multi-million dollar industry of legal Medical Cannabis, formerly known as Marijuana, otherwise known as Cali’s largest cash crop.
Donohue followed the trail of those looking for a simpler way of life since 1969 and the “Summer of Love,” when “Back-to-the-landers” left San Francisco and headed north to grow their own.
Today, Cali’s cash crop tallies in the multi-millions, and while the cozy confines of the Emerald Triangle in Nor Cal is where it all began, grow rooms can be found in every corner of the golden state. It’s safe to assume Donohue’s “Nuggettown” (somewhere in the Sierras) can be found in any State where Cannabis is deemed good medicine.
The collective or “The Community” Donohue joined is a loosely based communal way of life, where fellow growers support each other based on sheer trust, and intimate relationships are begun and end with the grow intact and in mind. With Donohue the reader experiences the pang of a break-up where the final word is the safety of the plant, not her heart.
In Humboldt County where this writer makes her home, the community Donohue joined could be found in Southern Humboldt amongst the back-to-the-landers, turned modern-day-hippies. For whether you are growing for yourself and an illness, a collective, or for the hungry black market, there are no rules, only a community making it up as they go along.
The Occupational Safety and Health Association or OSHA doesn’t exist in a backroom grow. Cramped conditions and seemingly unfair monetary splits are common in a world where everything is done via word of mouth. With nothing written down and everything left to faith, environmental standards are out the window too.
Donohue felt the pang of her dirty indoor grow and followed her conscience, planting outside along with kale and tomatoes. We see that her story is a reflection of everything wrong about the industry of Cannabis and everything right, as she openly examines everything, sharing her most personal finds with the reader who becomes her best friend in the process.
If the theory humans are part of the plant world, Donohue found herself in her “girls.” For her analogy of a life lived among the bud is also an analogy of life itself – comparing her own needs, desires – even her sexual organs to the plant. She learned to coax them into beauty the hard way, carefully planning each light cycle, coddling them to completion, but in the end, they completed her.
“Growgirl” could have been a story of any city dweller arriving in the country, digging up a parcel and setting down roots. Gardening is life changing, whether its cucumbers or Cannabis in the ground, once human hands touch dirt transformation takes place.
Not really a stoner, we watch as Donohue microwaves her first harvest, packing it into a pipe, feeling the effects, and wondering aloud, how in the world anyone could smoke the stuff daily.
Donohue skirts the smoky debate on recreation versus good medicine. Her story is about making a living versus merely surviving, and the opportunity found in growing.
Her story is about relationships in the covert, but common Cannabis community. Even a break at Burning Man is documented and recognized as part of the grow experience during her time in the scene.
The draw of Growgirl isn’t just the secrets shared of a grow community, or the “riches made” (As with any first-time business start-up, Donohue’s one year grow didn’t turn a profit). The importance of a journal of this nature written by someone of notoriety is the normalcy of the process sharing brings to the table.
Christians Evangelize about God to get the word out and build community. Canna activists could learn a thing or two from them. Until the words come from our mouths, public opinion will not change.
Donohue’s putting her face out there telling an intelligent and personal story for the greater good is key. For it’s that face in all its former terror that can part the smoky screen of national media for the cause, with her nose wiped clean.
by Scot Kersgaard, The Colorado Independant
Declaring that marijuana has no known medical value, The DEA’s new regional chief Barbra Roach has also let it be known that she would find a place to live that does not allow medical marijuana businesses. It is not surprising that in Colorado, where voters have approved medical marijuana, some find her comments to be more than a little offensive.
“By federal law, marijuana is illegal,” she told the Denver Post. “There is no medical proof it has any benefit.”
Roach told the Post that marijuana is illegal despite state law that legalizes it for medical use. She has not returned a call seeking further comment.
She concludes that her goal is to “focus on dismantling the “top echelon” of drug organizations.” And “to strive for the large drug trafficking organizations – not just domestically, but internationally.”
On this, I wish her well. Ironically, Colorado’s legalized and regulated marijuana industry has probably done more damage to large drug trafficking organizations than her work will ever accomplish, but I certainly wish her well in her efforts unless she starts raiding legal Colorado businesses who are abiding by our laws.
Polis is not the only person in Colorado a little miffed that the Drug Enforcement Administration would promote someone to run the DEA’s operation in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah who is openly hostile to medical marijuana.
“Kudos to Rep. Polis for highlighting and responding to DEA Agent Roach’s silly comments about marijuana and derision of communities throughout Colorado,” said Mason Tvert, one of the leaders of efforts to legalize marijuana in Colorado. “Polling shows a majority of Colorado voters believe it is time to end marijuana prohibition, and this November they will have the opportunity to do just that. As a recent transplant to Colorado, I hope Agent Roach will respect our state’s ongoing discussion about the benefits of regulating marijuana like alcohol and refrain from using her government job to interfere with the debate.”
“Medical marijuana has saved my son’s life,” Shan Moore told The Colorado Independent. Moore’s son, Chaz Moore, also known as Bill Smith, has a rare neurological disorder that causes upper body spasms. The teenager missed about a year of school, much of it spent in hospitals, before the family reluctantly agreed with a physician recommendation that they try medical marijuana, which they credit with reducing the frequency, duration and intensity of the attacks.
“Medical marijuana saved Cash Hyde’s life. It saves people’s lives. Period,” said Moore. “I challenge Roach and (U.S. Attorney) John Walsh to a debate on the medical value of marijuana,” he said.
Cash Hyde is a young Montana boy whose parents have given him cannabis oil to fight a brain tumor and to help combat the effects of chemotherapy. They credit the cannabis with keeping Cash alive. While the tumor returned after our original story was published, family friends told the Independent Cash’s cancer is again in remission, a fact confirmed by the“>Hyde family website. We did not talk to the family for this story.
As noted in the above video, few medical doctors are willing to talk about treating kids as young as Cash Hyde with cannabis. Here, we interview Hyde’s doctor, who says he has no doubt about the treatment.
“I’d like to ask them why they are trying to kill my kid,” Moore said. He said he worries that if medical marijuana dispensaries are shut down, he or Chaz–who turns 18 soon–will have to buy marijuana from street dealers.
“I worry about that. I know what I was like at 18, and I worry what will happen if dealers try to sell him meth or ecstasy along with the marijuana he needs. I worry about what else might be in the marijuana,” Moore said.
He said he also worries about the legal prescription drugs that Chaz used to take to control his seizures, many of which were so debilitating that Moore had to be hospitalized while on the drugs.
“Every 19 minutes someone dies from aprescription drug overdose. Why are they trying to put my son in harm’s way?” he asks. In fact, prescription drug overdoses are a rising cause of death in the U.S. and around the world, but finding an exact number of how many people are killed each year is difficult.
“They (Walsh and Roach) say they are trying to save children, but that is what I’m trying to do. When they shut down dispensaries, they send families like our to the Mexican cartels, where you don’t know what the product will be laced with. It scares the hell out of me. I don’t want to have to go to drug dealers for the medicine my family needs. Dispensaries don’t push meth or cocaine on my kid, but the drug dealers will,” Moore declared.
“This is just part of the DEA’s new approach,” said Jim Gingery, executive director of the Montana Medical Growers Association. “Are these people serious? I’m concerned that we have anyone in public office who is not up on the current research.”
The Colorado Independent reported earlier this year that the DEA was investigating Montana Legislator Diane Sands in connection with a drug trafficking case. Sands surmises the investigation is because of her support of the state’s medical marijuana laws.
“Nothing will change until President Obama says so,” said a spokesperson for Colorado’s Legalize2012 campaign, which is seeking to make marijuana completely legal in Colorado and is not to be confused with the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol initiative. “This doesn’t bode well for Colorado. Of course marijuana has medical value–there is 10,000 years of history with marijuana as medicine.”
Even the National Cancer Institute has acknowledged the value of cannabis in treating cancer. The NCI has since removed this information from its website.
Here, local attorney Kristy Martinez talks about her battle with cancer–and the role cannabis played in her fight for survival.
by Brent Bookhouse, Bloody Elbow
The UFC returned to the state of Michigan for the first time since UFC 9 when UFC 123 was held at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 20, 2010. The event wasn’t without some controversy as the first round of theGerald Harris vs. Maiquel Falcao bout ended early due to poor time keeping and may have cost Falcao a chance to finish a choke.
Now, sixteen months later, another bit of interesting news from that card is bubbling to the surface.
In the wake of the news that the Association of Boxing Commission had sent a letter to all its member commissions telling them to no longer license fighters from the state of Michigan and to not recognize fights taking place in the state, Bloody Elbow Radio’s Matt Bishop e-mailed me and asked if anyone was aware that Tyson Griffin had tested positive for something following UFC 123. Matt had found the information out while looking at some meeting minutes on the commission’s webpage.
After searching up and down the internet, I could find no mention of Griffin having tested positive for anything, but the meeting minutes were quite clear (emphasis mine):
2. TYSON LEE GRIFFIN – Complaint No. 316174
The Commission reviewed the Stipulation and complaint. The respondent admits to violation of Sections MCL 338.3648(6)(a) and R 339.269(3). The Stipulation, in part, provides for the following:
a. At the next unarmed combat or boxing contest Respondent participates in as a contestant, within the State of Michigan, Respondent may be specifically selected for a post-contest urine screening to measure the presence of alcohol or drugs.
b. Respondent shall pay a fine in the amount of $250 within 60 days from the mailing date of the Final Order.
c. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions within 60 days from the mailing date of the Final Order shall result in a suspension of all licenses or registration renewals and denial of future applications for licensure until compliance is made.
d. Respondent license was summarily suspended for at least 100 days.
It was moved by Mr. Mueller and supported by Mr. Packer to accept the Stipulation. The motion passed unanimously.
With Griffin a recognizable UFC fighter whose bout at 123 was his twelfth on the sport’s biggest stage, it simply didn’t make sense for this to have been a non-story.
The test failure not only wasn’t reported by any news website, it didn’t appear to be publicly acknowledged by the UFC either.
A call was placed to the Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission to determine why this information was never made public as well as to find out exactly what Griffin tested positive for. Carol Moultine of the commission informed me that the state followed their procedures exactly in this case and that if I wanted to know what Tyson tested positive for, I would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the file.
That’s exactly what I did and a week later I received the disciplinary action report for Griffin and found out that he had tested positive for Cannabinoids. A PDF copy of the relevant page of the disciplinary report can be read here.
It almost becomes more strange when the test is for marijuana rather than some sort of performance enhancing drug when it comes the UFC not making it public knowledge. Then again, in 2006, Diego Sanchez tested positive for the presence of marijuana following his defeat of Joe Riggs and when the California State Athletic Commission didn’t make that news public, the UFC also didn’t acknowledge it until the story was picked up by the Orange County Register.
Dana White said that he felt Griffin had been screwed in a big way when he lost the UFC 123 fight via split decision to Nik Lentz, but one has to wonder if he had won if the decision would have been changed to a no contest like Nick Diaz’s win over Takanori Gomi. And, while Tyson is not a star on the level of Diaz, we’ve seen the firestorm that accompanies positive tests for marijuana with the Gomi fight and, more recently, the UFC 143 bout with Carlos Condit where Diaz tested positive again.
There were already questions surrounding if Griffin would be let go following the loss, given it was his third in a row, but Dana elected to keep him and Tyson dropped to featherweight in his next bout. That move to featherweight is where a conspiracy theorist may look and think that the UFC was more than happy to have a drug test go unspoken with a fighter who was expected to be a game changer once featherweight came to the UFC.
In another strange moment during the research for this story, I contacted Stars MMA while waiting for the disciplinary action file to see if they (and Tyson) had a statement regarding the situation. Griffin’s manager returned the call and was very upset on the phone that I would report on the issue. He repeatedly told me that there was no sense reporting on the story and then getting upset that I would bring something that happened multiple fights ago to light. Given that I didn’t even know what Griffin had tested positive for at the time I asked how it was not news that someone tested positive for something that was kept from the public and asked if it was PED related, which would make a 10 pound drop in his next fight a much bigger deal. Rather than simply informing me that it was for marijuana he said “good luck with the Freedom of Information Act request, we have no comment beyond that” and ended our conversation.
It all adds up to such a strange story:
For a promotion which has voluntarily made positive drug tests public knowledge (Chris Leben being caught by UFC testing in England for UFC 89), why is this the second positive test for marijuana (that we know of) to have been kept out of the public eye?
For Michigan, why did they not make this information public? The public pays for the government commission to operate and pays for tickets/pay-per-views for the events, anything the commission does should be made easily accessible for the public.
And for Stars MMA, why would you not take advantage of a chance to get out in front of the story with me and offer comment? Why add another layer of resistance and mystery to a story I made clear was going to come to light?
In the end we’re left with a lot of questionable behavior around a simple 100 day license suspension during a time when drug testing is at the forefront of the media with Diaz’s marijuana conviction and the continued presence of testosterone replacement therapy in the headlines.
White brags about how heavily regulated the UFC is, but what does that mean when the public isn’t always fully aware of what that regulation detects?
As of the time of this writing the UFC has not responded to multiple e-mail and phone requests for comment on the issue.
by John Cloud, Time Magazine
The other day, we got solid proof that the media is biased toward the left. On a cable-news show seen by millions, a white-haired host declared that although the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, it detains a quarter of the world’s prisoners. “I just think it’s shocking to see how many of these young people wind up in prison,” he said. “And then they get turned into hard-core criminals because they have possession of a small amount of a controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.”
It’s a sensible position. Strikingly, it came from the host of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” — right-wing icon Pat Robertson. He went on to say that mere possession of pot should be decriminalized.
The 40-year-old “700 Club” isn’t known for advancing liberal causes. In fact, four days after Robertson, 81, called for the legalization of marijuana, he said on his show that “if enough people were praying,” Jesus Christ might have “stilled” the recent tornadoes that destroyed lives and homes in the Midwest and South.
Robertson has crept slowly into his pro-legalization position on marijuana. In 2010, he said on the “700 Club” that people shouldn’t get long prison terms for taking “a couple puffs of marijuana.” Shortly afterward, his New York City-based spokesman, Chris Roslan, issued a statement saying Robertson “unequivocally” opposes the use of any drugs. And yet when I spoke with Roslan on Thursday, he told me that Robertson now favors decriminalization of pot smoking.
“If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?” Robertson asked a New York Times reporter recently. He went on to say that imprisoning people made it more it more difficult to reach their hearts with a Christian message.
His comments raise at least two basic questions: is Robertson right that we spend too much to incarcerate drug users, and is he right that marijuana use is so benign that we shouldn’t prosecute users? The first question is barely a question. The budget of the Drug Enforcement Administration has more than quadrupled since 1990; it is now $2.6 billion per year. And yet all the spending has done little to reduce overall drug use. One could argue that drug abuse would have increased even further without DEA efforts, but at least when it comes to marijuana, the spending seems unwise.
That’s because there’s little evidence that marijuana is dangerous (and as Robertson points out, accurately, it’s certainly no more dangerous than alcohol). There’s also a decent body of evidence that pot has health benefits when used in moderation. In virtually every study, marijuana proves to be far less addictive than alcohol, let alone drugs like cocaine or heroin (here is one good summary–scroll down to the comparative ratings). Smoking marijuana does carry the same risks as smoking tobacco — lung and esophageal cancers — but there’s no good data showing that these risks outweigh the risks of liver problems from drinking. And yet we have spent billions of dollars incarcerating people (particularly young black men) for doing nothing more than smoking a joint.
Liberal advocates who work for a treatment-based approach to addiction rather than an incarceration approach have hailed Robertson’s comments as common sense in the debate over drugs. But most conservatives have remained silent since his call for legalization. The Christian-right group Focus on the Family released a quiet statement reiterating its opposition to drug legalization. Still, maybe Robertson’s comments will push some of his viewers to reconsider the hard-line approach to drug policy so dominant on the right since at least the ’60s, when “The 700 Club” first went on the air. If Pat Robertson can be convinced that marijuana should be decriminalized, that may give cover to G.O.P. members of Congress who are already wavering on the issue.
by William Weir, Hartford Courant
A bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana would “send a powerfully negative message” to the state’s young people, Sen. Toni Boucher said Wednesday at a public hearing of the legislature’s judiciary committee.
Boucher, R-Wilton, was the first speaker at the hearing, which brings attention once again to the potential use of medical marijuana.
Last year, a proposal to legalize marijuana for people with certain debilitating conditions failed to become law. One of the main points of contention over the bill, which Gov.Dannel P. Malloysaid he supported, was how patients would obtain marijuana for medicinal use. In 2007, then-Gov. Jodi M. Rell vetoed a similar bill that had the support of both the House and Senate.
“This is a dangerous drug. It affects the psychology of the brain; it affects the heart and the brain,” Boucher said, adding that recent studies have shown that marijuana “could affect offspring and not just one generation.”
This year, the proposed legislation includes a provision that pharmacists would distribute marijuana to patients with a certificate from a physician.
“You and I were on the same page last year, but we’re not on the same page when it comes to the use of medical marijuana,” state Sen. John Kissell, R-Enfield, said to Boucher.
Last year, Kissell said, he objected to the bill because it didn’t provide a legal means of obtaining marijuana for medical use. But because the current proposal would have marijuana dispensed by pharmacies, Kissell said, he’s more supportive of the proposal.
Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, asked Boucher what she would say to his wife, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. Pain medications prescribed to her leave her nauseated, and her anti-nausea medications keep her up at night.
Boucher said there are alternative medications, including marinol, a drug that includes THC, a chemical in marijuana.
“What I would hate to see is when she recovers from this that she now has damage to lungs, or damage to the heart because of this,” Boucher said.