Posts Tagged ‘pot’
By MAIA SZALAVITZ TIME: Commonly used baby soaps and shampoos, including products from Johnson & Johnson, Aveeno and CVS, can trigger a positive result on newborns’ marijuana screening tests, according to a recent study. A minute amount of the cleansing products in a urine sample — just 0.1 milliliters or less — was found to cause a positive result.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, began studying the issue after an unusually high number of newborns in their nursery began testing positive for marijuana exposure. Newborn screening for marijuana at hospitals, particularly among babies of women who are considered at high risk of drug use, is not uncommon: at U.N.C. Chapel Hill, 10% to 40% of newborns are tested.
Positive results can precipitate an investigation by child welfare authorities. “We really did this to help protect families from being falsely accused,” study co-author Dr. Carl Seashore, a pediatrician in the U.N.C. Chapel Hill newborn nursery, told My Health News Daily.
Soaps that were specifically associated with false-positive marijuana test results include Johnson & Johnson’s Bedtime Bath, CVS Night-Time Baby Bath, Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash and Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo.
Other products, such as Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash, CVS Baby Wash, Baby Magic and even standard hospital gel hand soap, also indicated the presence of marijuana metabolites when tested, but not at sufficient levels to qualify as a positive result according to the hospital lab’s standards.
The problem is almost certainly not limited to these products, however. Researchers also tested ingredients used widely in soaps and shampoos, including polyquaternium-11 and cocamidopropyl betaine, which both elicited positive marijuana test results. So far, there is no explanation as to why the chemicals interfere with the test’s function, but importantly, they aren’t intoxicating; they don’t cause symptoms of marijuana exposure in children. The researchers think minute amounts of the substances were simply washing off the babies’ skin into their urine samples and confounding the screens.
While more sophisticated and expensive testing can easily distinguish between true and false positive results, most hospitals don’t use such tests because of the time and costs involved. And positive tests found at the hospital aren’t typically sent to outside labs for confirmation, which makes false positive results — and possible investigations afterward — all the more troubling.
Indeed, why hospitals test infants for marijuana exposure in the first place is not entirely clear. Twelve U.S. states designate prenatal exposure to any illegal drug as child abuse; however, there is no scientific evidence that connects marijuana-smoking by a parent with abuse.
The question is not whether it’s acceptable for expectant mothers to use illegal drugs. No child-health expert would characterize recreational drug use during pregnancy as a good idea. But it’s not at all clear that the benefits, if any, of newborn marijuana screening — particularly given how selectively the tests are administered — justify the potential harm it can cause to families.
“If the issue is that the mother broke the law and therefore the child should be removed, we might want to consider going after mothers who exceed the speed limit while driving,” says Carl Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University and author of a leading text on drug effects. “Of course, this is ridiculous.” (Full disclosure: Hart and I are currently collaborating on a book project.)
To remove children from their home at birth because of a positive marijuana test is immediately and inexorably harmful, says Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. “Even when the test is accurate, there is no evidence that smoking pot endangers children,” he says, adding, “There is overwhelming evidence that needless foster care endangers children.”
Wexler explains that the odds of abuse and neglect are higher in foster care than they would be at home for the babies. “These infants are being taken from homes where there is no evidence of abuse, and placed in a situation where the odds of abuse are at least 1 in 4,” he says. “The odds of this kind of separation doing emotional damage are nearly 100%. Children risk enormous emotional trauma when they are torn from their mothers during a crucial period for infant-parent bonding.”
One study of infants who were exposed to cocaine in the womb found that their physical growth and development increased when they remained with their biological mothers, compared with being removed from the home because of maternal drug use. “For the foster children, being taken from their mothers was more toxic than the cocaine,” Wexler says.
The effects of prenatal drug exposure can vary widely. Maternal cocaine use during pregnancy has been linked with subtle developmental problems in children. But despite the popularized notion of permanently disabled “crack babies,” the research shows that the harms of cocaine use in pregnancy are on par with those associated with smoking cigarettes. Both can increase the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. Neither is as dangerous as alcohol, which can cause irreversible intellectual disability.
The evidence on marijuana is inconclusive: some studies link marijuana use in pregnancy with reduced fetal growth and behavioral problems, but other research has found no effect. Again, the science shows no damage that approaches the harm linked with alcohol or cigarettes.
Although marijuana exposure has not been associated definitively with child harm, testing for it and placing children in foster care unnecessarily has been. Worse, the risks of custody loss are not applied equally to all women.
Determining whether a mother is considered at high risk for drug use — and warrants newborn testing — is ostensibly based on objective factors like whether she failed to obtain prenatal care or has acknowledged being a drug user. But in reality, characteristics like race often dictate which women are singled out for testing: a 2007 studyfound that babies born to black mothers were 50% more likely to be tested than white infants, even though rates of drug use and odds of positive results didn’t vary by race.
If you now consider the additional risks of false-positive results due to bath soaps, it’s hard to make the case for continued newborn marijuana testing — especially if the ultimate goal is to help children thrive.
An Aug. 7 trial date has been set for six men charged with violating federal drug laws in connection with the operation and supply of G3 Holistics, a three-store chain of medical marijuana stores in the Inland area.
All defendants entered pleas of not guilty during an arraignment appearance Monday, June 18, in a downtown Los Angeles federal courtroom. Four of them are free on bond.
Brothers Aaron Sandusky, 41, of Rancho Cucamonga, and Keith Alan Sandusky, 44, of Rancho Cucamonga, remain in custody as the government challenges terms of their proposed bail. A hearing for them was set for Monday, June 25.
A six-count federal indictment unsealed last week claimed that G3 Holistic was using California’s Prop. 215 and other state laws regulating legal medical marijuana sales to cover an illegal for-profit marijuana growing and sales operation.
Aaron Sandusky and John Leslie Nuckolls II, 31, of Rialto were called co-founders of G3, while Keith Sandusky was in charge of day-to-day operations of the stores that at one time operated in Moreno Valley, Colton and Upland, the government said.
Defendants Paul Neumann Brownbridge, 29, of Upland; Richard Irwin Kirchnavy, 45, of Rancho Cucamonga; and Brandon Anton Gustafson, 30, of Yucaipa, were linked in the indictment to the operation of a marijuana-growing warehouse in Ontario that supplied the stores.
Forensic accounting by the Internal Revenue Service claimed that 19 different bank accounts associated with G3 Holistic and two of the defendants showed how about $3.3 million in deposits and withdrawals were shuffled to mask that G3 was a for-profit outfit, the government claimed.
Under Prop. 215 and subsequent state guidelines, medical marijuana dispensaries are legal when they are a nonprofit collective, with members cultivating and supplying a limited amount of marijuana for sale only in the facility.
Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug in all circumstances. U.S. prosecutors in California said in late 2011 they would begin investigating dispensary operations they believed were skirting Prop. 215′s regulations.
The indictment charges all six defendants with conspiracy to manufacture and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, and also with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The two charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
Each defendant is also named in at least one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises, which carries a mandatory sentence of 20 years, if convicted.
By BRIAN DOWLING firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Hartford Courant HARTFORD — A marijuana dispensing machine, not loaded with goods, is on display Tuesday in a Pratt Street storefront as its developer hopes to spark state rules allowing the automated distribution system for medical use of the plant.
If the system were to come to Connecticut for regular operations, customers with a prescription would be able to walk up, swipe a credit or debit card, have their fingerprints scanned, and get their prescribed leafy drug — a system that’s in place in six western states and Canada.
“The technology was created in order to have a safe, efficient and regulated way to dispense the drug,” said Bruce Bedrick, CEO of Kind Clinics, a consulting firm for marijuana dispensaries, and Medbox, the machine itself.
Bedrick, a chiropractor and holistic health advocate from Scottsdale, Ariz., is in the Capital City to show the system to people interested in signing on as franchisees, and to prompt faster movement by the state in creating rules for the sale of marijuana. The legislature last month adopted a law that goes into effect Oct. 1, allowing patients of certain diseases and conditions to buy pot legally.
Bedrick said he favors the strict regulation contained in the Connecticut law — which, lawmakers said, will be far more tightly constrained than in other states. It remains unclear how and whether Bedrick’s machines would fit into the legalized marijuana market in Connecticut, which calls for pharmacists to dispense the drug.
But Bedrick said his vending system is the least risky and most secure. He noted that in other states, sellers take cash, store the pot in glass jars and lack controls to keep employees from stealing the drug.
“Anybody, whether it’s a patient or a resident, wants to make sure that when the system gets up and running it is the safest, most secure and legally compliant for everyone,” Bedrick said in an interview. “And that’s exactly what the technology does….in our opinion this is the only way to do it.”
As a business, it is also less risk, he said. “In terms of operational costs, you only really need roughly 10 patients a day, to sell 3.5 grams to break even with our business model.”
The machines, which Bedrick calls Medboxes, are about the height of a Redbox, the movie-dispensing machine usually at grocery stores, though twice as wide. They are automated and armored. They dispense the drug to someone with a card who verifies their identity via a fingerprint scan, and a clerk is on the premises while the machine is operating.
Medboxes are able to dispense 50 kinds of the drug, via touch-screen, Bedrick said Tuesday. The Medboxes do not accept cash.
Bedrick said he would have them wired into the state’s Department of Consumer Protection for transparency and oversight.
The rules around marijuana dispensing in Connecticut have not been set yet, so Bedrick’s explanation of how the boxes would operate is still evolving. He is not sure, for example, whether patients will directly operate the machines or whether pharmacists will be on-site.
Kind Clinics and Medbox have franchised operations in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington and Arizona, with about 100 of the machines already in use and many more in the application process.
Kind Clinics is Bedrick’s firm that helps people get into the marijuana dispensing business through the franchised use of the Medboxes. To get one going, he said, a franchisee would need about $25,000 of investment in the application process on top of the about $150,000 to pay for the machine, real estate and other costs. He also consults on the marijuana cultivation.
“We are in the embryonic stage of the industry right now,” Bedrick said. “It’s just coming out of its shell.”
The Huffington Post | By Katherine Bindley Marijuana use among teens has been on the rise for some time–it’s become more popular than smoking cigarettes in recent years–but a provocative new study shows that legalizing pot for medical purposes doesn’t increase the chance that teens will abuse it or certain other drugs.
“There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there’s no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use,” Daniel I. Rees, an economics professor at the University of Colorado Denver who worked on the study, said in a written statement.
Rees and his team looked at nationally representative data from high school students from 1993 through 2009–medical marijuana was legal in 13 states during that time–and found that legalization didn’t affect marijuana use at school. According to study co-author Benjamine Hansen, assistant professor of economics at the University of Oregon, the data showed the opposite: There was often an inverse relationship between legalization and marijuana use.
What’s more, the researchers found no evidence that medical marijuana legalization led to an increase alcohol or cocaine use.
“This result is important given that the federal government has recently intensified its efforts to close medical marijuana dispensaries,” Hansen said in the statement.
The news adds another layer to the ongoing debate over whether medical marijuana should be legalized in more states. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 17 states.
Just last month, a judge suffering from cancer wrote a New York Times op-ed in favor of legalization for medical reasons in New York state, confessing that he sometimes smokes before meals to relieve nausea and pain resulting from his illness and the medicines used to treat it.
In December, a study out of Rhode Island found that legalization of the drug did not lead to an increase in illegal use among teens.
SAN DIEGO, June 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Medical Marijuana, Inc. (Pink Sheets: MJNA)
From excerpts of an article written by the Medical Marijuana Business Daily; (click here to download full article)
Several prominent medical marijuana companies are focusing on what they see as the wave of the future in the MMJ industry: products infused with cannabidiol, or CBD.
The marijuana compound offers some of the pain-relieving benefits of THC, without the psychoactive effects. In other words, you don’t get stoned. Studies show that CBDs can help with a variety of medical conditions, including anxiety, nausea, inflammation and convulsions.
Just as importantly, hemp-based CBDs are legal in the United States, meaning patients don’t need to live in a state with MMJ laws and don’t have to worry about the government knocking on their door.
Publicly traded Medical Marijuana, Inc. last month paid $1.45 million to acquire Dixie’s intellectual property, formulas and recipes. The two companies have created a third, Red Dice Holdings, to license and market Dixie’s brand and NON-THC products in other states, focusing on hemp-based extracts.
Dixie Elixirs & Edibles is the latest firm in the medical marijuana industry to jump on the trend. The Denver-based company – which is now part of Medical Marijuana, Inc. – is preparing to roll out anew line of hemp-based CBD products including tinctures, salves and capsules. Dixie will officially launch the product line tomorrow and expects to add new CBD offerings at a rapid clip going forward, hoping to tap what it says is a $5 billion market.
The company initially will sell the products to dispensaries but then plans to make them available to the general public via mail order and an online e-commerce platform.
Other MMJ players are taking an interest in cannabidiols as well. Medical Marijuana, Inc. has taken an aggressive approach to CBD research, filing a patent last year for a process to extract cannabidiol and other cannabinoids from cannabis. It also inked a deal to distribute CBD-infused beverages. At the same time, individual dispensaries are producing high-CBD strains, and C3 Patients Associationis distributing a CBD-infused pill called Idrasil. Most of these products are only available to card-carrying patients in MMJ states however, as they contain CBDs derived from cannabis and in many cases also contain THC.
The company has plans for several additional product launches over the next few months and has nearly 600 retail stores now carrying its products.
About Medical Marijuana, Inc.
Our mission is to be the premier cannabis and hemp industry innovators, leveraging our team of professionals to source, evaluate and purchase value-added companies and products, while allowing them to keep their integrity and entrepreneurial spirit. We strive to create awareness within our industry, develop environmentally friendly, economically sustainable businesses, while increasing shareholder value.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. does not grow, sell or distribute any substances that violate United States law or the controlled substance act.
For more information, please visit the company’s website at: www.MedicalMarijuanaInc.com
This press release may contain certain forward-looking statements and information, as defined within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and is subject to the Safe Harbor created by those sections. This material contains statements about expected future events and/or financial results that are forward-looking in nature and subject to risks and uncertainties. Such forward-looking statements by definition involve risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Medical Marijuana, Inc. to be materially different from the statements made herein.
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Stuart T. Smith
DENVER (Reuters) – Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama hasn’t exactly been a friend to marijuana users.
Sure, he has acknowledged smoking pot as a young man, but he has disappointed marijuana advocates by opposing its legalization, regulation and taxation like alcohol.
And the Justice Department’s occasional crackdown under his administration on medical marijuana dispensaries, which 17 states and the District of Columbia allow, has angered others.
So now, with Obama facing a stiff challenge from Republican Mitt Romney in the November 6 election, it’s ironic that his chances of winning the key state of Colorado could hinge on marijuana legalization, supported by a growing number of Americans.
At issue is whether Obama will get a boost from young voters expected to be among the most enthusiastic backers of a Colorado ballot initiative that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot for recreational use – and give the state the most liberal marijuana law in the nation.
The initiative is a reflection of Colorado’s unique blend of laid-back liberalism and anti-regulation conservatism that helped make the state the birthplace of the Libertarian Party.
It’s a state where people of different political stripes see marijuana laws as an example of government needlessly sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
It’s also a proving ground for advocates who see legalization as a way to ease crowding in prisons, generate much-needed tax revenues, create jobs and weaken Mexican cartels that thrive on Americans’ appetite for illegal drugs.
The Rocky Mountain State already allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes such as severe pain relief, and some communities have embraced it enthusiastically.
The prevalence of medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver has moved pot into the mainstream in Colorado’s capital city.
In Denver County, home to about 600,000 people, one in every 41 residents is a registered medical marijuana patient, leading to chuckles about the “Mile High City.” Denver is roughly a mile above sea level.
The number of places licensed to sell medical marijuana products has reached 400 here, according to the Denver Post. That means there are more dispensaries in the capital than there are Starbucks coffee shops (375) statewide.
A similar bill is on the ballot in Washington, another state that already allows use of medical marijuana. If approved, the initiatives would put the states squarely in the crosshairs of federal law, which classifies cannabis as an illegal narcotic.
PATH TO THE WHITE HOUSE
It’s unclear precisely how the U.S. Justice Department – whether led by Obama or Romney – would respond if Colorado, Washington or other states legalize marijuana for recreational use. Both politicians oppose legalizing the drug.
But in a close presidential election in which Colorado could be a tipping point – and with polls showing Obama has up to a 30-point edge over Romney among voters age 30 and under – the state’s marijuana initiative could be a factor if it inspires waves of young voters to cast ballots on November 6.
“This is an issue that is really meaningful to young people, people of color, disenfranchised communities,” groups that typically lag in registering and showing up to vote, said Brian Vicente, 35, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a group seeking less restrictive marijuana laws.
“Democrats and Obama need these groups to win,” Vicente said. “The path to the White House leads through Colorado. We feel we can motivate these groups.”
Last winter, Public Policy Polling found that 49 percent of Coloradans favored legalization, while 41 percent opposed it.
As much as some Democrats feel they have the wind at their backs, they are fighting history in Colorado. Obama won the state in 2008, but he was the first Democratic presidential contender to do so in 16 years.
And even though a majority of the delegates at the Colorado Democratic Party’s convention last month said they supported legalization, some party officials are skeptical the politically diverse movement will help Obama much this fall.
They note that Colorado voters rejected such a legalization measure in 2006, and that Californians blocked a similar initiative two years ago.
“If they get 40 percent” of voters supporting legalization, “they should throw themselves a party,” said Matt Inzeo, spokesman for Colorado’s Democratic Party.
Others see more potential in the legalization debate’s impact on the presidential race.
Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling said that if the state-by-state race for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency comes down to Colorado’s 9 electoral votes, marijuana “could be a difference maker.”
During a recent visit to Colorado, Romney seemed irritated when a local television reporter quizzed him on his views about gay marriage, immigration reform and marijuana legalization.
“Aren’t there issues of significance you’d like to talk about?” an exasperated Romney asked.
In Colorado, however, marijuana is significant. And its acceptance hasn’t been limited to more liberal areas.
Colorado Springs, home to the U.S. Air Force Academy and the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family, is one of the most conservative cities in the United States. But the city of 400,000 about 70 miles south of Denver has nearly as many marijuana dispensaries as churches, according to city records.
Supporters of Colorado’s initiative point to a broadening coalition of those who support legalization, including local civil rights and union leaders.
Those opposing marijuana legalization often cite the drug’s impact on youths.
Roger Sherman, a strategist for the campaign against Amendment 64, said “there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and a high level of concern” among those who oppose legalization. His group cites increased drug use among children and increasing cases of impaired driving.
Nationwide polling on marijuana legalization, although sparse, suggests that support now equals support for marriage equality, which just found a new backer in Obama.
In October, 50 percent of Americans said “yes” when asked by Gallup, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” When Gallup asked that in 1969, 12 percent said yes.
Last week, a Rasmussen Reports survey said 56 percent of likely U.S. voters favored legalizing and regulating marijuana.
Supporters of legalization also argue that regulating marijuana – and capturing tax revenue from its sale – could help governments, cities and towns face increasingly tight budgets.
In 2011, taxes for medical marijuana generated $5 million for Colorado. Denver-based political strategist Rick Ridder said that depending upon the cost of an ounce, legalization would likely generate $20 million to $80 million in annual tax revenue for Colorado and local communities.
As designed, Amendment 64 would designate its first $40 million in tax revenue for rebuilding public schools. As part of a bond issue, that amount could turn into a treasure chest for public education funding in Colorado.
Legalization advocates see Obama’s crackdown on some medical marijuana outlets as hypocritical, noting that in his memoir “Dreams from My Father” he acknowledged smoking pot as a youth.
“It’s really insulting with this president. He actually smoked pot in high school and college. The only difference is he didn’t get caught. If he had gotten caught, he would not be president,” said Wanda James, 48, whose business, Simply Pure, supplies 300 Colorado dispensaries with edible marijuana.
She tells community leaders that legalization is not just about pot smokers having a good time, legally. She sees it as a way to ease prison crowding, help cash-strapped governments, provide jobs and weaken drug cartels.
Legalization, of course, would mean a larger market for James’ indica sesame brittle bars and sativa peppermint cups.
To James, legalizing marijuana boils down to what could be a good slogan for this year’s elections: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”
(Editing by David Lindsey and Todd Eastham)
by Melanie Eversley, USA Today
A New York State Supreme Court judge out of Brooklyn is generating buzz because of his public appeal to legalize medical marijuana, as outlined in an opinion piece that he wrote forThe New York Times.
The plea from Judge Gustin Reichbach to the New York State Legislature, which is debating a medical marijuana bill, has prompted follow-up pieces in the New York Daily News, The American Bar Association Journal and Reuters, among other news organizations.
Support among New York State officials is mixed, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has said the problems with medical marijuana outweigh the benefits, according toMetroFocus, a site produced by New York City-area public television stations.
Reichbach writes that three and one half years ago, on his 62nd birthday, doctors told him he had Stage 3 pancreatic cancer and that he had four to six months to live. His grueling treatment has included “chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery,” he writes. The cancer disappeared but returned, prompting doctors to prescribe a more aggressive course of chemotherapy.
Reichbach writes about the constant nausea and pain, about forcing down food, and about the side effects of the many drugs to treat the disease and ease the symptoms of chemotherapy, including loss of appetite, constipation, insomnia and raised glucose levels.
“Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep,” Reichbach writes. “Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep.”
Reichbach notes 16 states have legalized medical marijuana and that Connecticut and New York are weighing bills.
“I implore the governor and the Legislature of New York … to join the forward and humane thinking of 16 other states and pass the medical marijuana bill this year,” Reichbach writes. “Medical science has not yet found a cure, but it is barbaric to deny us (cancer patients) access to one substance that has proven to ameliorate our suffering.”
by Maia Szalavitz, Time Magazine
Among the voluminous evidence released Thursday in the shooting death of 17-year-old Florida high school student Trayvon Martin is a toxicology report showing that the teen had trace levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his blood and urine.
The evidence includes abundant new information: conflicting witness statements, an autopsy report showing that Martin, who was black, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest and medical records documenting that Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who will stand trial for second-degree murder, had a broken nose the day after Martin’s death. Yet the media is focusing on the marijuana findings.
That’s a mistake that only serves to distort an already contentious case. The levels of THC detected don’t reflect Martin’s character or even his state of mind the night he was shot. For one, they are so low as to almost certainly not be connected to recent intoxication: 1.5 nanograms of THC were found as well as 7.3 nanograms of THC-COOH, a metabolite of THC that can stay in the system for weeks after cannabis has been smoked. Immediately after inhaling, THC levels typically rise to 100 to 200 nanograms per milliter of blood, although there can be a great deal of variation.
“THC in blood or urine tells us nothing about the level of intoxication,” says Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University and author of the leading college textbook on drug use and behavior. “That would be like someone going to have a beer some evening, and when he goes to work the next day, you can find alcohol metabolites in his bodily fluids. That says nothing about his functioning.” (Full disclosure: Hart and I are working on a book project together).
Moreover, even if Martin had been stoned out of his mind, it wouldn’t predispose him to violence. “I have given hundreds of doses of marijuana to people in the lab, and no one has gotten violent ever and everyone has been able to respond to the situation in an appropriate manner, when given low or large doses and single or repeated doses,” Hart says.
The night of the killing, Zimmerman began following Martin, who had gone to a 7-Eleven to get Skittles and an Arizona iced tea during a break in the NBA All-Star game. Zimmerman told a 911 operator that he was worried about Martin because he “looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs.” He was informed that the police would handle the situation and that he should not take further action. Zimmerman didn’t heed that advice; an altercation ended with Zimmerman shooting Martin in what he says was self-defense. He was charged months after the Feb. 26th killing, following widespread public outrage over the perceived lack of an appropriate criminal justice response.
“If people are trying to discount the acts of Zimmerman or excuse him because [Martin may have smoked] marijuana, they need to think about their own marijuana use and think about whether they ever get violent,” Hart says. “More than half the country has used marijuana and they really need to use some common sense.” The drug that has the strongest pharmacological link to violence is the legal one, alcohol.
And despite the fact that black youth are actually equally or even less likely to use — or sell — marijuana compared to whites, they are arrested for drug crimes at a rate ten times higher. In New York City, a recent analysis found that 80% of those arrested for marijuana were black or Latino, despite whites outnumbering them by far.
As Michelle Alexander points out in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, our drug laws have become little more than a pretext for arresting, imprisoning and disenfranchising people of color in a way that is no longer permissible to do based on race alone. Once someone is charged with a drug crime, liberty, property and voting rights can all be rescinded— in a manner that appears colorblind if you ignore the selective enforcement.
Says Hart: “If Trayvon was a white kid, we wouldn’t be here talking about drugs. George Zimmerman would have long been in jail.”
Hopeful pot-shop owners will have until 5 p.m. on May 25 to submit the applications. Besides paying a $5,000 application fee, weed-trepeneurs must include a business plan and details on how they’ll control their inventory.See the state Department of Health Services checklist for applications by clicking here.
Under Arizona law, the stores will be able to grow and sell marijuana legally for a growing population of qualified patients, now topping 28,000. After the close of the application process, DHS will evaluate the submissions and make their approvals or denials. Some stores are expected to open by late summer, offering patients a wide range of cannabis strains, pot-infused foods, tinctures and other concentrates.
DHS has begun a Web page that shows the public where the potential shops can go. Rural Arizona appears to be getting a head start. The number is small enough so far to list them here:
Sedona, Williams (2), St. Johns, Yavapai County South/Bagdad, Prescott, Paradise Valley Village (These are the names of the “CHAAs” — the designated areas where dispensaries can go), Camelback East, Mesa West, South Mountain, Ajo, Tucson East Central
The first thing you probably noticed is what’s not on the list yet. A dispensary in Ajo before Tempe? Really?
In fact, officials expect most of the 100-plus CHAAs to be filled up with applications in the next 10 days, meaning it’s likely the Valley will have several dispensaries to choose from.
At the least, these first 15 pioneers demonstrate that the dispensary industry is far from dead, despite problems caused by the ongoing conflict between federal law and the wishes of state voters. Last month, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge allowed a Colorado dispensary to blow off a $500,000 loan from a Valley couple simply because marijuana is against federal law. That was just one unwelcome sign that spurred local lawyer and bloggerRichard Keyt to write a “warning” for people considering investing in or running a dispensary.
Though the medical-marijuana industry has more than its fair share of obstacles, it’s also necessary to serve the thousands of registered patients in the state — many with bona fide medical conditions they use the drug to treat — who can now possess marijuana legally under Arizona law.
The classification of cannabis as a schedule one narcotic is among the least defensible aspects of prohibition.
Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UC San Diego, recently helped run a study that provided multiple sclerosis patients with either a marijuana joint or a placebo that looked, smelled, and tasted like marijuana. After smoking whichever substance they were given, patients were tested to see if it reduced their muscle spasticity — an affliction, common to MS patients, that causes painful, uncontrollable spasms of the extremities. Spasticity was unaffected among the placebo patients but dropped 30 percent on average among the patients given real marijuana. The side effects? “Smoking caused fatigue and dizziness in some users,” says Reuters, “and slowed down people’s mental skills soon after they used marijuana.”
The UC San Diego study is just the latest to suggest that marijuana has some medical benefits. Sixteen states, thousands of doctors, and tens of thousands of sick people concur in that judgment. It is dramatized by the personal testimony of sick people who are offered much more powerful drugs, but nevertheless insistthat consuming marijuana was most effective at helping them. (Don’t miss the video at the top of this post, as powerful a testimonial for medical marijuana as you’ll find.)
Marijuana is nevertheless classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule One drug. Under the law, drugs placed in that category must meet all of the following criteria (emphasis added):
- The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
- The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
Critics of the Obama Administration’s drug policy, myself included, have focused on the president’s broken promise about federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in jurisdictions where they’re legal. But an even less defensible aspect of Obama’s drug policy is how marijuana is scheduled.
As John Walker points out, the Controlled Substances Act gives the executive branch the power to unilaterally change a drug’s classification:
Obama can instruct the relevant agencies under him to take an honest look at the research and reschedule marijuana so it qualifies as having legitimate medical uses. The Obama administration could easily and justifiably move marijuana to, say, schedule III, which happens to be the same schedule that synthetic THC is in, making medical marijuana legal under federal law.
There would be nothing unusual, extraordinary or legally suspect about Obama doing this. The executive branch has often moved certain drugs to lower or higher schedules based on new data without Congressional involvement. In fact, multiple sitting governors have petitioned the Obama administration asking him to move marijuana to a lower schedule, so he should be aware of the flexible authority he has. Obama is not some hapless victim whose actions on this issue are constrained by congressional law. The truth is pretty much the exact opposite. Under current law Obama effectively has the power to unilaterally make medical marijuana legal.
His failure to do so is frustrating and to his discredit because it’s what the language of a law duly passed by a bygone Congress and signed by a past president demands. There just are accepted medical uses of marijuana today. Pretending otherwise is every bit as much an affront to science and empiricism as the most ill-informed denial of evolution or climate change.
Yet here is how the Obama White House touts its drug policy:
Congress also bears substantial responsibility for the anti-scientific, anti-empirical aspects of American drug policy. If Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are able to define the terms of the upcoming presidential election, this issue won’t come up. But voters have consistently shown interest in the subject when permitted to directly question politicians, and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, is eager to challenge Obama and Romney on this issue given the chance. When opportunities for these challenges arise, the classification of marijuana is one of the most vulnerable parts of the status quo to attack.12 states have pending medical marijuana legislation.
Walking Buster was the hardest part of watching his friend’s house. It meant he had to walk around the neighborhood with the dog, without making eye-contact with the neighbors.
“Just don’t offer any information,” Jake lectured. “I don’t even know their names,” he added. “And they don’t know mine, and that’s the way we all like it.”
Jake said there were a lot of grow houses here in Cutten. The town was an old, established neighborhood in Humboldt’s County seat, and still considered a family neighborhood with parks, a school and a town center.
This was just one of Jake’s houses and no one lived here. A four bedroom California ranch-style, with four grow rooms for the ladies and a false room in the garage for growing babies. Nick was just one of several house-sitters keeping watch at any given time.
Unlike other neighborhoods he worked in, you could still see the occasional mom walking with a stroller, and parents walking kids to school in the morning.
Nick quickly led the dog out of the cul-de-sac and onto the busier street of Walnut. “Less people wondering who I am on this street,” he thought, averting his eyes from a passing car.
School was letting out and he had a moment of dread as carpool mom’s filed past him in a sea of mini-vans. “Note to self: don’t walk dog during school rush.”
Back at the house Nick rinsed out Buster’s water dish and filled it up again, reminding himself to dump the humidifier in the big room.
“It was nice outside, eh boy?” he said, patting him on the head. If only he could open a window or the blinds for some light. But that wasn’t going to happen.
The list of have and have-nots lie face-up on the kitchen table. “No open curtains or shades, no open blinds. When opening front door, make sure hallway curtain is pulled shut. When opening grow room door, make sure other doors to outside doors are blocked…” The list went on and on.
The house was always too warm from the hot lights in the grow rooms, and no matter how many fans were on back there you could still smell the green of thriving plants. Well, thriving except for the occasional spider mite, but that’s another story altogether.
Nick propped pillows on the open futon in the living room and eyed the cover of an old North Coast Journal, “Best Weed Strains.”
“How would they know,” he laughed to himself. “Let’s see what they think…‘OG Kush’ and ‘Headband,’ well, I can agree with Headband – that’s stuff’s killer. Wonder if they even know what the ‘OG’ stands for. Obviously not, or they wouldn’t spread the lie of its So Cal creation. Ocean Grown in Petrolia, on Humboldt soil, assholes.
The futon felt hard as a rock. Jake said he could sleep in the bedroom, but the noise from the fans was deafening, so he slept on the couch in the living room. Not that he slept much. All of the work was done at night when the lights in the rooms were on.
Last night was exhausting, first pinching back larger plants, then spraying babies with Neem for the never ending mite situation, then fertilizing. Feeding the plants was a bear, as Jake’s notes were always sketchy and each set of plants had different requirements at various stages.
Nick stuck the pH tester into the runoff water in the drain dish under the more mature ladies and checked the meter. “Six-point-eight, time for vinegar,” he whispered to himself.
There were at least 15 gallon jugs of fertilizers to choose from in Mike’s garage and he used them all – Tiger Bloom, Big Bloom, Open Sesame, Beastie Bloom, Bio Bud, Bio Weed, you name it. He was always amazed at the amount of stuff needed to get a few pounds out of this small,
The money was good at a hundred bucks a day, but his better side felt guilty about the waste, the runoff and the energy consumed. He read that grow houses use sixty percent more than the average household. And most of the growers he worked for didn’t recycle all those big, plastic jugs of “organic” fertilizer for fear of being found – either at curbside, or at the recycle yard.
Regulations are out the window too, with spraying without a mask or bending over in cramped spaces a given – with no complaint department, and no Christmas ham.
Yes, everything about this gig was bleak with no future, sans a bigger black market grow to tend.
Nick pulled the brochure from the Small Business Center out of his backpack. “Developing a Business Plan,” he read the first entry aloud.
Outside a car door slammed. The dog began to bark wildly. Inching the curtain away from the blinds, he carefully peeked out and held his breath.
by Shannon Young, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut lawmakers’ approval of the use of medical marijuana includes strict regulations for the cultivation and distribution in an attempt to avoid problems other states have run into when legalizing the plant for medical use.
The bill, passed early Saturday by the state Senate, is headed to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who said in a statement that he plans to sign it, as he believes the law would “avoid the problems encountered in some other states.”
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana. Since California passed the country’s first such law in 1996, states have struggled with disorganization and clashes with the federal government, which considers the drug illegal and of no medicinal value.
“Everything from California back is trying to get away from chaos,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws.
Advocates say the Connecticut proposal goes further than any other state in regulating the drug.
Under the legislation, marijuana would be sold in multiple forms at dispensaries, which must have a licensed pharmacist on staff. It would be marketed only to patients authorized to use it. The measure also outlines diseases that would be treated by the drug, establishes a registry for patients and caregivers and restricts cultivating the plant to growers with permits.
“Experience has shown that having statewide structures in place makes it easier for everyone to understand what the rules really are,” said Alan Shackelford, who serves on a state advisory work group for medical marijuana in Colorado and helped advise Connecticut lawmakers on their proposal.
Opponents in Connecticut, however, point to a letter from U.S. Attorney David Fein, who wrote that while the Department of Justice would not go after seriously ill patients who use the illegal drug, federal laws would be enforced against those who manufacture and distribute it.
“The violation of a federal law to me is a big stop sign and I just can’t bring myself to go through it,” said Rep. Steven Mikutel, a Griswold Democrat who voted against the legislation when it passed the state House.
In addition to federal efforts to shut down dispensaries in California and, to a lesser extent, Colorado, problems with regulation have arisen in states where the drug was legalized through ballot initiatives and the system was implemented without regulations in place, advocates say. Likewise, some states don’t allow medical marijuana dispensaries and patients are left to grow their own.
Because of this, several states have been taking steps to strengthen regulations.
Colorado imposed tight regulation and state government control over dispensaries in 2010. New Jersey and Delaware also have passed laws to strictly regulate medical marijuana.
California state Sen. Mark Leno said he was working to enact legislation that would further clarify that care providers be exempt from prosecution for providing the drug to patients.
But Leno said he is uncertain how states’ attempts to improve regulation will succeed in reducing federal scrutiny. He points to small patient-owned and patient-run dispensaries in his district that the federal government has shut down.
Allison Price, a DOJ spokeswoman, said in a statement the department “is focusing its limited resources on significant drug traffickers, not seriously ill individuals who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statues.”
I am not writing this because I have an answer to that question. Far from it. I am writing this to try and flush an answer out of my spinning brain.
I have never understood this reality. Medical cannabis seems like a no brainer to me. I just do not get living in a world where other humans would deprive sick people of a safe and effective plant to serve some strange ideology, or to create wealth from its prohibition. When I stood in Santa Cruz in 1996 collecting signatures for Prop. 215, I never imagined over 16 years later we would still be fighting this battle. I have grown old watching patients and providers struggle to find their place in this society. The evolution of the medical cannabis movement has been astonishing at times, but more so, it has been plain weird.
I cannot wrap my head around the concept that because Nixon, the Nation’s most corrupt President, ignored reports that warned of the dangers of prohibition and decided to outlaw weed through the Controlled Substances Act, that some how we are stil trying to reverse that insane decision decades later. What is more appalling is the real lack of a conscious and meaningful conversation on the obvious failures that cannabis prohibition has resulted in.
Law enforcement, elected officials, community leaders, and every citizen should be very concerned with the incredible harm cannabis prohibition has created in our communities. Our world is far less safe as a result of the lucrative black market we have created for illegal weed. We have made criminals out of millions of our friends and neighbors in what we can only call a huge failure by any metric used. We lock up mostly poor people and use “the system” to create income for corporations who have bought our prison system, forced us to be tested regularly for drug use, and who have law enforcement in their pocket. It is an absurd police state we live in. When Nixon first outlawed weed it was the conservatives who thought he was nuts for telling people what they could and could not do to their own bodies. But as these assholes turned archaic laws into huge profits, their understanding of liberty changed and now they only believe in those freedoms for certain issues…like education, healthcare, and finances. On those issues, fuck it…you are on your own. Too much big government, ya’ know? But not for weed…for weed we have all the government you need.
So that is where we are as a society. In some fucking alternate universe where grown ass people are afraid to have an open and honest discussion about weed because we have brainwashed people for decades to think a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant is evil. Even the rational people who know this is not true do not want to get accused of being a dope lover or, God forbid, a Liberal. We continue to dance the medical weed dance and allow for the “who is sick enough for weed” game to go on. Instead of demanding our society just stop the madness and cut the shit, we allow the squeaky wheels to get the oil, and the prohibitionists have created quite the machine to ensure that their profits from making criminals out of innocent people does not go away. It sucks.
So the “what now?” question is a difficult one to answer. I can assure you the answer is not to run and hide. I can assure you the right thing to do is not to start stuffing the mattress and heading for the hills. It is time for our community to double down on the progress we have made and ensure that the future is not one where we continue to see almost a million people a year in trouble for weed. We must put aside our internal issues to rise up and ready for battle. We continue to see support swell for cannabis freedom and we must not let the continued attacks by those who make their living off weed being illegal stop us. We are the many. We are mighty. Weed is bigger than all of us.
Understand that I, or anyone else, can not truly answer the “what now?” question. Fate is seldom wrong. We all have a responsibility and a duty to work to create the society we want to live in. I do not want to live in a society where we lock up 25% of the world’s prison population, but only have 5% of the actual population. I do not want to live in a society where we allow people to suffer and where we compromise people’s health for money. I do not want to live in a world where we authorize militarized local police forces to violate people’s right to privacy because they smell weed. My WHAT NOW has a lot to do with changing those things, and making our community one where we do not continue to oppress people for their personbal choices. I hope you will join me.
by Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times
VALLEJO, Calif. — On a suburban block with six family homes, palm trees and views of the surrounding green hills, nothing at 110 Windsor Court stood out. Its occupants, who had moved into the foreclosed house a few years earlier, were quiet types.
On a street in Vallejo, a burned-out house that had been used to grow marijuana. Unsafe wiring for lights for the plants often causes such fires.
Until the noise from falling roof tiles alerted neighbors to a fire there one recent morning, and Stephen Snowden, who lived nearby, banged on the front door. Nobody was inside, but firefighters discovered that the house had been converted into a type of illegal business found increasingly in suburbia: a marijuana grow house.
The entire second floor of the five-bedroom, 2,251-square-foot home, as well as parts of the first floor, was used to cultivate marijuana plants.
“They just blended right in,” Mr. Snowden said of the residents. “They left early for work and came back late in the afternoon. They mowed their lawn, took out their trash and got groceries. There was never any extra foot traffic.”
Organized marijuana growers are shifting to the suburbs from rural and commercial areas, helped by a housing crisis that created a glut of affordable, spacious houses and a stream of new residents to previously more stable communities. Houses that sold for $1 million before the crisis have been turned into grow houses, equipped with the high-intensity lights, water and air-filtering systems necessary to produce potent, high-quality marijuana.
Many grow houses go unnoticed, even by next-door neighbors, until there is a fire, typically caused by unsafe electrical wiring. Local police forces, especially in California, which has permitted the limited cultivation of marijuana for medical use since 1996, have stopped seeking out grow houses.
Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said crime syndicates used to concentrate production in low-income areas. But now, he said, “you’re hearing more and more in middle-class, upper-middle-class, high-end neighborhoods.”
“They either buy them or rent them,” Mr. Payne said. “They’re buying them in places like Northern California, where the real estate market’s really taken a turn for the worse.”
In Northern California, grow houses have been discovered in older suburbs hit hard byforeclosures, including Vallejo, a city 25 miles northeast of San Francisco that declared bankruptcy in 2008. They have also been found in newer communities that mushroomed during the housing boom, like Elk Grove, near Sacramento.
“They were located in suburbia, pretty much,” Officer Christopher Trim, a spokesman for the Elk Grove Police Department, said of the grow houses discovered there. “Residential streets, kids playing outside and going to soccer practice, folks going to and coming from their work.”
California accounted for more than 70 percent of all marijuana plants confiscated nationwide in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The authorities seized 188,297 plants at 791 indoor grow houses, compared with 107,047 plants at 572 locations in 2005.
Vietnamese-American crime groups have specialized in running grow houses, which produce marijuana that can fetch up to twice the price of the outdoor kind, Mr. Payne said.
Law enforcement officials, especially in local forces that have been downsized during the financial crisis, say they lack the resources to go after grow houses. They also say that California laws have created an environment tolerant of marijuana cultivation in general.
“Ten years ago if there was a grow house, we’d seize all their equipment and lamps, and they would be prosecuted,” said Sgt. Jeff Bassett, a spokesman for the Vallejo Police Department. “Now the chances of being caught, or of being prosecuted if you are, are substantially less than they were 10 years ago.”
No one has been arrested in connection with the grow house at 110 Windsor Court or at another previously foreclosed house that also caught fire in Vallejo recently, the police said. Firefighters responding to that house — a one-story, 1,304-square-foot house on Evelyn Circle — quickly realized that it was a grow house.
Like other neighbors, Tim Langford, 54, said nothing aroused suspicion about the occupants, who had been spotted at the house for a couple of years. But Mr. Langford said the housing crisis had weakened the social ties on his block.
“You have a much more transient population now, so you mind your business,” he said. “It’s not the day when you take an apple pie over and say, ‘Hi, I’m your neighbor.’ ”
The housing crisis also led to the emergence of grow houses in new real estate developments, creating lasting problems for those communities.
In Pittsburg, a city about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, marijuana growers occupied a five-bedroom house on Pilar Ridge Drive, across the street from an elementary school. The house, part of a sprawling, luxurious community that was built about a decade ago, sold for nearly $1 million in 2007 but went into foreclosure three years later.
In June 2010, acting on a tip from a neighbor, the police found that the house had been transformed into a grow house. Last fall, Stephen Tucker and his wife, Tomasita, bought the property from a bank for $363,000, Mr. Tucker said, after looking at hundreds of other places.
“My daughter came to this house, and she’s the one who said, ‘That’s the house I want,’ ” Mr. Tucker, 51, said of his daughter Veronica, 8.
Mr. Tucker said he learned after the purchase that the house had been used as a grow house. He began discovering mold and other damage under the new carpet and in the drywall.
Not all stories involving foreclosed houses and grow houses have ended unhappily, though. Mr. Snowden, who banged on the door of the house on fire, said that despite the discovery of a grow house on his block, he did not regret moving there three years ago. In 2009, he purchased his house — which had been foreclosed the year before — for roughly 60 percent of what it had sold for in 2004.
“It was cheaper than renting,” he said. “This is actually a pretty quiet, decent neighborhood.”
by Peter Hecht, The Sacramento Bee
ARCATA – The pot market is crashing in California’s legendary Emerald Triangle.
The closure of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries across California and a federal crackdown on licensing programs for medical pot cultivation are leaving growers in the North Coast redwoods with harvested stashes many can’t sell.
Some pot cultivators who sought legitimacy through the medical market are fleeing to the black market. So much cheap weed is getting dumped in the college town of Arcata, some local dispensaries say business is down 75 percent. Even the region’s itinerant and colorful bud trimmers are going broke.
By the scores, people have long trekked into the marijuana fields and indoor greenhouses of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties. Workers used to earn as much as $200 a pound meticulously cutting leaves from marijuana buds, prepping them for display at dispensaries or for sale in a purely illicit market.
These days, a 47-year-old man called Mover, a dreadlocked migrant from Ohio who is a fixture in downtown Arcata, says the tedious work isn’t worth his trouble as the per-pound pay rate has dropped to $100 or often just a few nuggets of pot.
“I got paid in weed,” Mover, who refused to give his real name, said of his last trimming job. “It’s worthless here. You can’t give it away. And I’m not going to transport anything. I’m too old, and I don’t want to go to jail.”
The region’s pot pilgrimage had accelerated in recent years as people were drawn by local cannabis traditions and dreams of cashing in on the medical marijuana market. They planted marijuana in the backwoods and in rewired houses with high-intensity grow lights.
But the saturation of pot growers set off a price tumble by 2010, as a pound of prime Emerald weed slipped from $5,000 to the $3,000 range for marijuana grown indoors and to the $2,000 range for product grown outdoors. Lately, prices are in free-fall.
“Last I heard, a pound of marijuana is $800 for outdoor grown,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman in Ukiah. “That’s plummeting. You might do better with tomatoes.”
The marijuana meltdown could have major regional effects. In Humboldt County, a recent study by a local banker estimated marijuana accounts for more than a fourth of the county’s $1.6 billion economy.
In recent years, many locals already thought the influx of pot growers exceeded demand in the state’s sanctioned medical pot market. When U.S. authorities in October announced a crackdown on medical marijuana businesses that they contended were profiteering in violation of federal and state laws, it darkened growers’ fears.
Raid heightened fears
Lelehnia Du Bois, 41, was one who thought she had found a safe niche. A former fashion model in Southern California, Du Bois started growing marijuana indoors in Eureka after rupturing her spinal cord. She supplied her unused home-grown “Sweet God” to a Eureka dispensary, earning $5,000 a year on top of her disability income, she said.
Du Bois had spent her childhood in Trinity County and remembers growers having “a big potluck” meal after the outdoor marijuana harvest. She said the weed culture changed markedly as indoor growers in Arcata and Eureka competed for access to the medical market – and many went into illegal trafficking.
As indoor pot prices dropped as low as $1,800 a pound, “People started taking risks. All of a sudden, people were not farmers. They were drug dealers,” Du Bois said.
Last year, months before federal prosecutors began targeting California dispensaries for closure, Du Bois got out of the pot business and moved out of Humboldt County. She now lives in Utah.
At Arcata’s Humboldt Patient Resource Center, a dispensary that grows its marijuana on site, cultivator Kevin Jodry said fewer people are coming to buy seedlings for this year’s outdoor marijuana crop or quarterly indoor yields.
“Many people distributing in the medical marijuana market didn’t get into it for the risk situation,” he said. “The people who were formerly in the black market were able to stay functioning. People who were not criminals can’t move their product.”
Pressures on growers intensified after federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided a marijuana farm that had been licensed by Mendocino County and was considered a model for establishing local compliance rules for medical cultivation.
The raid prompted Mendocino County supervisors in January to rescind a program that allowed the sheriff to enforce a 99-plant limit on pot farms by attaching $50 zip ties to each plant and inspecting the gardens of nearly 100 growers who provided documentation to show they were serving medical pot users.
The program, which also offered cheaper tags for smaller quantity growers, brought in $630,000 in county fees in two years.
Sheriff Allman said it allowed his department – which spends 30 percent of its $23 million budget on pot enforcement – to target major cultivators who he says are illegally growing thousands of plants, diverting water and fouling the environment.
Humboldt County had sought to put a similar program in place last summer as District Attorney Paul Gallegos called for licensing to ensure “sustainable and responsible cultivation.” After the federal government launched its crackdown, supervisors tabled work on the plan, and Eureka and Arcata placed moratoriums on new dispensaries.
Outdoor growers struggle
Among the most worried cultivators are the outdoor growers who increasingly struggle to compete with the exotic strains produced in climate-controlled indoor grow rooms.
Alison Sterling Nichols, executive director of the Emerald Growers Association, which seeks to protect the Emerald Triangle’s sun-grown pot traditions, said outdoor growers were most directly affected by the collapse of local licensing programs. The group backs legislation to regulate medical marijuana statewide as long as it would preserve growers’ ability to supply dispensaries.
“People shouldn’t have to sleep with one eye open,” Sterling Nichols said. “People should be able to move from the black market into the light. We haven’t been able to bridge that gap. We have hills of healthy outdoor product we can’t take to the market.”
Meanwhile, many worry that the Emerald Triangle will go back to being the hub of California’s illegal marijuana trade.
Last month, authorities in Pennsylvania arrested the former operator of a Humboldt dispensary for allegedly shipping more than 25 pounds of pot in heat-sealed packets to a home he was visiting. State officers in Nebraska also stopped a Mendocino County man and a companion with 62 pounds of weed stuffed in duffel bags.
On consecutive days in late February, Humboldt authorities conducted two separate raids on growers suspected of criminal distribution, seizing nearly $700,000 in cash and 7,000 plants.
In Mendocino, Allman said his officers last year eradicated 642,000 plants, some loosely tied to Mexican trafficking networks but most involving Californians or residents from other states who secretly grew on public lands and private property.
With a federal crackdown and a shrinking market, Allman said, many out-of-towners may leave and “everything is going to go underground.”
Courtesy of the Daily Mail
Smoking marijuana was ‘part of the culture’ at classic children’s TV programme Play School, according to a former presenter.
Rick Jones revealed the scale of drug use at the show, following claims by ex-presenter Johnny Ball that Jones and another presenter, Lionel Morton, were ‘stoned out of their minds’ before filming a nativity scene during the 1970s.
Jones, now 75, who went on to present children’s show Fingerbobs, told The Sun said that the drug was ‘part of the culture, definitely’, adding: ‘Marijuana was like cornflakes.
‘The BBC was really liberal. Once you were in all laws were forgotten. I had a wonderful time.’
He said around ‘half a dozen’ were doing it – and that toys on the programme, Humpty and Hamble, were even put in sexual poses on the set.
Earlier this week, Ball revealed the use of marijuana behind the scenes of the seemingly-innocent show, when he told a BBC4 documentary: ‘There was Rick Jones, Lionel Morton and myself. They got stoned on the biggest joint you’ve ever seen – in the studio.
‘We were in silhouette as the three shepherds with our crooks. They were absolutely stoned out of their minds. So when we recorded, who cocked his lines up? Me.’
Ball, 73, father of TV and radio presenter Zoe, insisted he had not used the drug on air himself as it would have left him incapable of working – a claim supported by Jones, who told the newspaper Ball was a ‘good egg, but he was too dull to do it’.
Play School ran from 1964 until 1988 and its presenters also included Brian Cant, Floella Benjamin and Derek Griffiths.
Revelations: Childrens’ television presenter Johnny Ball has told how his co hosts on Play School got stoned before one scene
On a high: Presenter Lionel Morton smoked a joint before filming one of the scenes from Play School
Each episode included a film about the outside world to which access was gained through one of three windows, with viewers asked to guess which it would be: round, square, or arched.
The documentary, Lights! Camera! Action! Tales of Television Centre, lays bare the liberal atmosphere at the BBC in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Presenter Joan Bakewell is also seen confessing that many of the pop groups of the time were stoned when they appeared on shows.
At times the aroma was so strong in the corridors of the BBC’s West London studios that Sir David Attenborough, who was controller of the BBC2 at the time, complained about it.
He recalls on the programme how he told staff: ‘Look, please don’t smoke that stuff openly so we can all smell it. Just be sensible.’
There are also revelations about the rampant antics of stars who used dressing rooms and green rooms for sex because ‘nobody cared if you did’.
Former Doctor Who actress Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant, says: ‘People were bonking all over the BBC. Everybody was doing it on the premises.’
Former Blue Peter and Going Live presenter Sarah Greene confesses that she enjoyed such trysts with Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith, whom she went on to marry.
The show features interviews with BBC staff and personalities including Sir Terry Wogan, Jeremy Paxman and Penelope Keith along with archive clips from hit shows such as Till Death Us Do Part, Top of the Pops and Doctor Who.
Barry Norman also gives an interview for the programme in which he reveals he was almost fired because a corporation executive thought he was wearing a wig on screen and took a dislike to it.
He said: ‘I wasn’t actually wearing a wig, I was just having a bad hair day.’ Lights! Camera! Action! Tales of Television Centre will air on BBC4 on May 17.
by Michael Steininger, The Christian Science Monitor
For visitors to the Netherlands who enjoy the relaxing effects of marijuana, life has just become a little less easy going, particularly for those Germans living just west of the border who used to just pop over for a fresh supply. New legislation is restricting the sale of cannabis to residents of the country and banning tourists from purchasing the drug at the coffee shops, famous for selling it.
The new law, drafted by the center-right government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, officially came into effect on Jan. 1. It demands that the approximately 700 coffee shops in the country, where the sale of small amounts of soft drugs is tolerated, turn into members-only clubs, allowing only Dutch residents 18 and older and over to apply for membership.
“The ‘open door’ policy currently pursued by coffee shops will come to an end,” Mr. Rutte said in a statement. “The objective is to combat the nuisance and crime associated with coffee shops and the trade in drugs.”
The lax approach to drugs in the Netherlands has irritated its European neighbors for some time.
Officially, the possession and sale of cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands too, but under the so-called gedoogbeleid (policy of tolerance), owning a maximum amount of five grams for personal use is not prosecuted. Under that same policy, coffee shops are allowed to stash a maximum of 500 grams at any given time and sell that in amounts of up to 5 grams.
The practice led to a flourishing of coffee shops as drug outlets and a tourist industry depending on them. An estimated third of all visitors to urban centers like Amsterdam and Maastricht are believed to be looking not just for museums full of Dutch masters or a boat ride on a canal but also for pot, according to the Amsterdam City Council. In the border town of Maastricht, some 70 percent of coffee shop customers are non-residents.
Given the possible effect the new rules could have on tourism, and the likelihood of legal procedures against the discrimination against fellow Europeans, the Dutch authorities opted for a slow start – enforcement of the law began only this month in three southern provinces, next to Belgium, France and Germany. Those are the locations outside the capital where so-called drug tourism is busiest. The rest of the country is meant to follow in January 2013.
Coffee shops and the political opposition are putting up resistance.
In a last-ditch attempt to stop enforcement of the new law, 19 coffee shop owners took the government to court, arguing that the exclusion of tourists discriminated against EU rights of free movement and infringed on people’s privacy. However, the Hague court ruled last week that it could see no such discrimination and that the law aimed to reduce drug tourism and drug-related crime.
The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, said his city had no problems with drug crimes and that a compromise was needed. He is also expected to stage a legal challenge before implementation in his city.
Lea Bouwmeester, a member of parliament (MP) with the opposition Labor Party, argues that the tolerant approach to possession has worked well at keeping drugs in check. “It is the supply side that we need to control,” she says. “The growing of cannabis and the wholesale supply take place in the illegal circuit.”
The outcome of the policy change is uncertain and could be influenced, of all things, by the eurozone crisis. Last month Rutte’s minority government collapsed after it lost the support of the populist Freedom Party in a debate over a new package of austerity measures. What course on drugs a new government ( when it comes in after September elections) is still up in the air.
Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
Clemson freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins was arrested by Clemson, S.C., police and charged with simple marijuana possession and possession of a controlled substance, the university announced Friday.
Also arrested was men’s soccer player Amadou Tidane Daniel Dia. Both men, 18, were arrested early Friday morning, according to a police report.
Police officials said Watkins’ car was pulled over after officers witnessed the vehicle scrape against a curb on campus. The officer smelled marijuana upon approaching the car and the vehicle was searched. Both athletes have been released on bond.
The controlled substance charge relates to two schedule-2 non-narcotic pills found on Watkins for which he did not have a prescription.
Last season, Watkins led the Tigers with 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns.
by Rob Kampia, Special to the Washington Post
Rob Kampia is executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama raised hopes among those who support medical marijuana by pledging to respect state laws on the issue. But his administration has reversed course and massively escalated the federal government’s attacks on medical marijuana businesses, most of which are legal under their states’ laws.
This is perplexing because medical marijuana is far more popular than Obama is. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from January 2010 found that 81 percent of Americans supported legalizing medical marijuana. A CBS News poll from October found that 77 percent of Americans support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for serious medical conditions. By contrast, the president’s approval rating last October hovered around 42 percent — and is currently about 47 percent.
The shift has been clear. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced in March 2009 that the Obama administration would end the Bush administration’s practice of raiding medical marijuana providers that violated federal statutes. A memo from the Justice Department later that year said the department would not prioritize prosecutions of individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
But last year the tide turned. Obama’s Justice Department authorized a series of letters from U.S. attorneys across the country threatening to “vigorously” prosecute individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. In some cases the U.S. attorneys suggested that government employees who help regulate their states’ medical marijuana systems could be prosecuted for “facilitating” a crime.
There was more. The IRS cracked down on medical marijuana dispensaries, refusing to allow them to deduct such standard business expenses as rent and payroll. Last September the National Institute on Drug Abuse refused to provide federally grown marijuana to a Food and Drug Administration-approved research protocol seeking to measure the extent to which marijuana helps combat veterans with their post-traumatic stress disorder. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives outlawed gun sales to medical marijuana patients. And federal prosecutors in California announced that they would crack down on dispensaries across the state, saying that they intend to seize the property of landlords who lease space to these businesses that are legal under state law.
Last month Obama clarified his position on medical marijuana, saying on a late-night show that “we’re not going to be legalizing weed . . . anytime soon.” This after he had recently told an interviewer: “I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana — and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law.”
Simply put, Obama has become more hostile to medical marijuana patients than any president in U.S. history.
To put Obama’s implosion in perspective, consider what Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) wrote in his 2010 book “Fed Up!”: “When the federal government oversteps its authority, states should tell Washington they will not be complicit in enforcing laws with which they do not agree. Again, the best example is an issue I don’t even agree with — the partial legalization of marijuana. Californians clearly want some level of legalized marijuana, be it for medicinal use or otherwise. The federal government is telling them they cannot. But states are not bound to enforce federal law, and the federal government cannot commandeer state resources and require them to enforce it.”
Perry also wrote, “If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.”
The five presidents from Richard Nixon through George H.W. Bush allowed medical marijuana research to proceed unhindered.
The three presidents from Jimmy Carter to George H.W. Bush allowed patients to apply to the federal government for waivers to use medical marijuana legally under federal law.
Obama appears to be to the right of Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Ronald Reagan and even George W. Bush on this issue. It’s hard to imagine how this helps Obama politically, and it’s easy to imagine how forcing patients to purchase their medicine from an illicit provider instead of a regulated business hurts people who are suffering from cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
by Jeff Barnard, The Associated Press
After scraping together a mound of zucchini, broccoli, beef, pineapple and noodles on a big round Mongolian grill, Kevin Wallace measured out a shot of grapeseed oil infused with hashish and poured it over the steaming food, setting off a sizzle.
Thirteen years after Oregon became one of the first states to make medical marijuana legal, Wallace and business partner Michael Shea think they’ve found a way to fit in the big gray area between making a living from medical marijuana and going to jail.
Marijuana is indelibly associated with food, whether it is chemotherapy patients using the drug to try to develop an appetite, or, farcically, a couple of stoners with an overpowering case of the munchies in “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.” Secret “herb dinners” with appetizers, entrees and desserts are reported in newspaper food sections. One restaurant chain, CHeBA HUT, is based on a marijuana theme. And patrons of the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland can get a burger or lasagna packing a pot punch in between choruses of karaoke.
But restaurants where marijuana is the focus have had trouble gaining traction. The customer base is, after all, limited to medical marijuana cardholders. And any enterprise associated with medical marijuana will quickly come under scrutiny.
At the Earth Dragon Edibles Restaurant & Lounge in Ashland, Wallace and Shea are trying to bring Mongolian barbecue dosed with medical marijuana to a higher level, though they are still feeling their way through the fuzzy legalities of it all.
An Oregon medical marijuana card is required to get in the door. Inside, the place looks and operates pretty much like any other little Asian-style restaurant, with the smells of teriyaki and sounds of the grill filling the air. A wall hanging at the back depicts ganja guru Bob Marley. Diners go through a check list of vegetables, sauces, meats and tofu, and whether their bowl will be regular, large, or unlimited. One difference is the boxes to check for medicated or unmedicated. If medicated, there are three strengths. Cheesecake, candies and cookies, medicated or not, are also available.
While they wait, diners can use the hash bar, choosing from an assortment of glass pipes, a vaporizer, or a bong, hashish or bud. Marijuana donations are encouraged.
Operating under the theory that it is no crime for one patient to share medicine with another, all the marijuana — whether in the food or at the hash bar — is free. And unlike the marijuana cafes in Portland, there is no membership fee.
“I know it’s a little weird,” said Shea.
Ashland itself could be considered a little weird. Close to the California border and home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, it is an outpost of liberalism in conservative southwestern Oregon. Think of it as a little Berkeley in the middle of Orange County. It is also within the Green Triangle, one of the nation’s best marijuana-growing climates. This corner of Oregon has the highest per capita rate of medical marijuana use in the state.
Wallace and Shea render their medical marijuana into hashish, infuse that into oil or glycerin, and eat it, believing that is healthier than smoking. With few patients able to do that, they felt they should share their skills to help others.
“That’s how Mommy raised me,” said Wallace.
by Connor Friedersforf, The Atlantic
Nominated for a Supreme Court seat in 1987, Douglas H. Ginsburg withdrew from consideration when it was revealed that he’d tried marijuana decades earlier as a student. Five years later, America elected Bill Clinton to the presidency despite his admission that he tried marijuana. The taboo against the drug was still powerful enough that he hedged his answer by claiming that he never inhaled. It was the last time we’re likely to hear an excuse so absurd, for everything started changing very quickly after that. Presidential candidates began candidly admitting marijuana use. Sixteen states enacted laws legalizing marijuana for medical use, starting with California in 1996. An additional 12 states are now considering similar legislation. And Obama took office having said that inhaling was the whole point when he was a young marijuana user, and promising that Department of Justice resources wouldn’t be used to thwart state cannabis laws.
Of course, President Obama has governed as an unreformed drug warrior, even breaking his promise about federal behavior toward states where medical marijuana is legal. Early in his presidency, he also treated questions about marijuana policy as if the subject was somehow a joke. It’s a dodge that doesn’t work anymore. Jann Wenner asked him about the issue in Rolling Stone. Reform advocates immediately seized on the misdirection in his answer. Jimmy Kimmel raised the subject again at the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday, polling the room to see how many people had used the drug and stating in a moment of seriousness, “Mr. President, I hope you don’t think I’m out of line here but marijuana is something that real people care about.”
The new reality: 70 percent of Americans favor legal medical marijuana, and half think the drug should just be legal. As Gallup notes, “Support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62% approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31% among those 65 and older.” Eventually, the drug warriors are going to lose, and the country is going to win.
All of which brings us to Gary Johnson.
Widely expected to emerge from this weekend’s Libertarian Party convention as its presidential nominee, the former New Mexico governor has announced that he wants Judge Jim Gray to be his running mate.
Who is Jim Gray?
Among other things, a former prosecutor turned outspoken critic of the War on Drugs. See for yourself:
The kicker: “The best thing I can do for my country is to help us repeal drug prohibition. It’s the most patriotic thing that I’m able to do.” It’s an opportune moment for a libertarian ticket to offer a serious, forceful critique of drug policy, for beyond fortuitous changes in public opinion, there’s an incumbent with broken promises and a lackluster record on the issue; and a Republican challenger who is even more of a drug warrior in his avowed positions and such a teetotaller personally that he eschews even caffeine.
Are Johnson and Gray the right team to make this critique? Whatever their shortcomings, they’re ideal in this respect: one is an extreme athlete and health nut; the other is a veteran, former prosecutor, and judge who used to be a drug warrior and switched sides based on what he saw in his own courtroom. Can they succeed in injecting the issue into the general election campaign?
Only time will tell.
Six men have been charged in the first federal prosecution in Oregon of medical marijuana growers, accused of growing much more pot than patients needed and conspiring to sell the excess on the black market.
The arrests follow harvest-time raids in Southern Oregon last fall when federal agents ripped out hundreds of plants with backhoes and hauled them off in dump trucks.
The government said the haul was 4,000 pounds.
Federal authorities have complained that pot grown under the state’s medical marijuana law has been turning up as far away as Florida. An affidavit filed with the new charges says some of the pot involved was sent north to Washington state.
The six are accused of conspiring to grow and distribute thousands of pounds of marijuana from four gardens in Jackson County.
“We would hope that this sends a message and has a deterrent effect on other would-be drug dealers who would operate under the medical marijuana law,” U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said.
Oregon’s law allows users of medical marijuana to designate growers who can supply them with up to 1.5 pounds a year.
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration affidavit filed in federal court said medical marijuana growers in the Southern Oregon use drip irrigation, fertilizer, support structures and harvest techniques to grow plants ranging from 6 to 10 feet tall and, at the allowed rate of six plants per patient, yielding much more than the state law allows.
The affidavit said agents dried and processed a few plants from last fall’s raids, with yields ranging from 5 to 11 pounds each of marijuana bud.
Growers and medical marijuana advocates say the raids had an impact. State records this spring showed that the number of gardens planted to supply multiple patients will be down markedly, especially among those growing for 15 or more people.
Two of the six suspects made initial appearances Tuesday in federal court in Medford: Michael Grantski, 50, and Clifford Ruhland, 32. Two more were expected to appear Wednesday, and the final two later this week.
Arraignments for Grantski and Ruhland were scheduled for later in May. A federal public defender who represented them Tuesday did not immediately return a call for comment.
Courtesy of Tennessee News Channel 9
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Police in Winston-Salem have cited rapper Wiz Khalifa and members of his band and staff for possession of marijuana following a concert.
Local police were patrolling the parking lot at the Joel Coliseum Annex where the rapper was performing Tuesday. An officer approached the tour bus and smelled either burnt or burning marijuana. The officer said in a search warrant that the smell got stronger when he opened the bus door,
A search warrant said an officer seized a quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, but police wouldn’t say how much marijuana or paraphernalia was found.
The rapper, whose real name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz, is scheduled to appear in court in Winston-Salem on July 27.
Thomas was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Nashville, Tenn., last month.
Courtesy of HealthPOP CBS
(CBS/AP) Pot use is becoming a big problem for U.S. teens, a new survey suggests. The Partnership at Drugfree.org released a new survey Wednesday that found nearly 1 in 10 teens said they smoke marijuana at least 20 or more times a month.
That amounts to a whopping 80 percent rise in past-month marijuana use among teens since the organization’s 2008 survey. The report by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation also said abuse of prescription medicine may be easing a bit among young people in grades 9 through 12, but still remains high.
Based in New York, The Partnership at Drugfree.org is formerly The Partnership for a Drug-Free America – best known for the “this is your brain on drugs” ads of the 1980s and 1990s. The nonprofit group launched a new name in 2010 to position itself as more of a resource to parents and to avoid the misperception that the group is a government organization.
For the report, researchers gave anonymous questionnaires to 3,322 teens in grades 9-12 that they filled out at school from March to June 2011.
Partnership President Steve Pasierb says the mindset among parents is that a little weed or a few pills is no big deal.
“Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them,” said Pasierb. “Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy.”
Use of harder drugs – cocaine and methamphetamine – has stabilized in recent years, the group’s survey showed. But past-month usage of marijuana grew from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. Also alarming, says Pasierb, is the percentage of teens smoking pot 20 or more times a month. That rate went from 5 percent in 2008 to 9 percent last year, or about 1.5 million teens toking up that frequently.
Alex, 17, in Houston, says he started smoking pot at age 13, mostly on the weekends with friends.
“I just liked being high,” said Alex, who is in a recovery program and asked that his last name not be used. “I always felt happier. Everything was funnier and my life was just brighter.”
Alex then started abusing prescription drugs at 14. He blacked out one day at school, got arrested and ended up in rehab. After being sober for two years, Alex slipped and smoked pot last month. Still, he says he hopes to work toward a more sober life.
The findings on marijuana track closely with those in a recent University of Michigan study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. That study also found marijuana use rising among teens the past few years, reversing a long decline in the previous decade.
“These findings are deeply disturbing as the increases we’re seeing in heavy, regular marijuana use among high school students can spell real trouble for these teens later on,” Pasierb said in a written statement, adding kids who start in teen years are more likely to have substance abuse problems later in life.
Teens who smoked 20 times or more a month were almost twice as likely as kids who smoked pot less frequently to use ecstasy, cocaine or crack, according to the report.
Other findings from the report:
- One in 10 teens report using prescription painkillers – Vicodin or OxyContin – in the past year, down from a peak of 15 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2010.
- Just over half of Hispanic teens report using an illicit drug, such as Ecstasy or cocaine, in the past year. That compares to 39 percent for Caucasian teens and 42 percent for African American teens.
- Past-year alcohol use and past-month drinking is holding steady from the 2008 report at 56 percent and 38 percent respectively
The Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates legalization, says making pot legal for adults might help cut teen usage.
“We definitely don’t think that minors should be using marijuana any more than they should be drinking or using tobacco, but arresting people for doing that never stops minors,” said Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the group. “If we remove marijuana from the criminal market and have the market run by responsible business people that have an incentive to check IDs and not sell to minors, then we might see those rates drop again.”
Courtesy of Fox News
A Harvard instructor who was caught with a small amount of marijuana hidden in her underwear at this British territory’s airport was released Monday by a judge.
Mey Akashah, an environmental health instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, admitted bringing 6 grams (0.21 ounce) of pot into Bermuda for a weekend trip with her husband, but said a doctor prescribed it for medical reasons.
Prosecutors said a small plastic bag containing the marijuana was stuffed in her underwear. She was detained after her Friday flight when sniffer dogs alerted airport authorities.
At her court hearing Monday, the Boston resident acknowledged that she knew marijuana was illegal in Bermuda but she “responded illogically due to the amount of pain I was in.”
She could provide no proof for the magistrate hearing the case that she had legally been prescribed marijuana for post-operative pain and nausea. She said her doctor in California had all the documentation.
Making note of her education and position at Harvard, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner said he found it “strange” she could provide no proof, but he discharged her from custody with no fine. He said a conviction would have an “overwhelming effect” on the visibly emotional Akashah.
Julie F. Rafferty, a spokeswoman for the Harvard School of Public Health, said Akashah graduated with a doctorate last year and holds a temporary appointment as an instructor that’s due to end May 31. Citing privacy rules, Rafferty would not discuss if there would be any disciplinary action.
by Doug Oakley, Contra Costa Times
After nearly 13 years in business, a San Pablo Avenue medical marijuana dispensary in Berkeley was set to close Monday evening under pressure from the federal government for being too close to two schools.
The 9,000 member Berkeley Patients Group has not yet found a suitable new location in Berkeley and plans to open a delivery service, dispensary management said Monday. Sixty nine employees of the dispensary will be out of work come Tuesday, but they will be paid through the end of the month.
“There’s a lot to take into account in trying to follow state and local laws in finding a place,” said Sean Luse, chief operating officer, as customers streamed in to the dispensary on its last day. “There’s a lot of fear out there in the community and that’s part of the challenge. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
The dispensary at 2747 San Pablo Ave. is across the street from a school called the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness and three blocks from a second school called Ecole Billingue de Berkeley. City and state laws require dispensaries to be at least 600 feet from any school. The dispensary was established before city guidelines on proximity to schools were put into law.
Luse said Berkeley Patients Group signed an agreement with building owner David Mayeri to vacate the current location May 1. That agreement was overseen by an Alameda County judge with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco looking on, Luse said.
Goldsberry, who helped found Berkeley Patients Group but is no longer involved, and who now is a consultant to dispensaries, said the current federal pressure under President Barack Obama is the worst it’s been since former California Attorney General Dan Lungren went after dispensaries in the late 1990s.
“This is the most difficult period that we’ve ever faced because we can see the end of prohibition,” Goldsberry said. “The department of justice wants to unsettle us, but for most of us it just reinvigorates the fight. We’re fighting a war on drugs.”
Debby Goldsberry said she thinks the medical marijuana movement will emerge stronger from the latest crackdown because people in the industry have learned better business practices and “are more focused on politics and social justice issues than ever before.”
Mary Davis, 60, of Berkeley, was at the dispensary Monday and is sad to see it close its doors.
“Berkeley Patients Group is like family to us,” said Davis, a nurse who uses marijuana to combat the constant pain that comes with severe osteoarthritis in both her knees. “So many of us need it to get by day to day and to just start our day. It’s going to be really hard for all of us.”
¼ cup Hemp Seeds Soaked overnight and drained
¼ Cup Brazil Nuts Soaked overnight and drained
6 dates soaked overnight and drained
2 Tablespoons Coco Powder (Organic is best)
1 Avocado pitted
.5 gram of RSO style oil
¼ cup Medicated glycerin
2 cups water (Alkaline water is best here.) Or more to your liking.
Makes 1 super strong smoothie or 2 couch locked ones.
In a clean blender place all ingredients in and blend until smooth. I like this recipe to not be strained
so you can get small Hemp seed crunches with each sip. If you wish to have a smoother version, place
all the seeds and nuts in with just the water and blend. Strain through a nut bag and follow the original
steps. Enjoy!! Eat well, Detox Regularly and Ingest Cannabis.
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 Tomika Anderson, CNN
(CNN) — Seeing that Rihanna shared photos of herself partying at Coachella last weekend, it makes sense that the singer isn’t concerned about reactions.
MTV posted images Thursday of the pop star messing around with some sort of substance while at the music fest, writing along with it, “Yikes. @Rihanna’s marijuana photos from Coachella spark controversy.”
The tweet’s since been deleted, but not before Rihanna could write back, “@MTV Yikes… @rihanna ran out of f***s to give.”
“Well played,” was the music network’s response. (Well, would you look at that? A truce, just in time for 4/20.)
Rihanna’s been shrugging off the responses to her Coachella photo session all week. On Tuesday, she appeared to write in response to fan comments about the photos, “I’m crazy, and I don’t pretend to be anything else.”