Daily Roundup: Americans Pay $25 Billion Per Year for Bud; CA Drug Warriors Cry for 'Help'

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Two murders at separate pot clubs in Los Angeles rock the medical marijuana community, InsideBayArea reports. "Four robbers gunned down an employee and wounded another at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Higher Path Holistic Care Collective on Sunset Boulevard in the Echo Park area, said Commander David Doan, chief of detectives. Killed was Matthew Butcher, 27, of Los Angeles, a coroner's official said. The other employee, whose name was not released, was hospitalized in critical condition, police said. … Five hours after the first attack, the owner of the Hollywood Holistic dispensary found the body of an employee at the Hollywood store, Doan said. The man was in his 30s, but his name was not released. He appeared to have been stabbed to death."

— Americans spend roughly $25 billion a year on marijuana, according to the Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which gives some idea of the popularity of this drug, The New York Times reports in an economics piece. A spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws told the paper hedge fund investors and an assortment of financial service firms are starting to call around to sniff out opportunities. Also, a pound of marijuana can be sold at retail for somewhere between $5,500 and $7,500. To buy that quantity wholesale will cost about $4,000. Grow it yourself and the same pound will cost just $750 to $1,000.

— More news from the first ever San Francisco High Times Medical Cannabis Cup. Attendance was roughly 4,000 people, Counterpunch reports. Lab analysis revealed cup entrants averaged a 15-16% THC, whereas the buds the lab ordinarily tests average 10-12% THC. "The winners all had high THC levels," according to Lab tech David Lampach, "but not necessarily the highest." Winner "God's Pussy" was found to contain 18.2% THC; Cali Gold had 18.4%; and Ingrid hash marked 45.5% THC. Lifetime achievement award winner Dr. Lester Grinspoon "winced when he learned the name of the winning Sativa, and High Times promptly took the offensive term down from its website. Grinspoon has an idea to promote more dignified nomenclature in the future: judges should give weight to the name of a strain when evaluating its worth as a medicinal product."

— Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. released the California Department of Justice's annual crime report for 2009, which showed declining crime rates in California, including a 6.6 percent reduction in the state's violent crime rate since statewide crime peaked in 1992. Crime rates in all three categories have been cut in half — the rates have tumbled -58.9 percent for violent crime, -51.7 percent for property crime, and -48.5 percent for larceny and theft. In total, more than 1.4 million arrests were made in California in 2009, down from more than 1.9 million 20 years ago. Drug law-reform advocates note the crime reduction has come amid a new thaw on drug laws, further disproving a correlation between increased use and crime.

Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign has hit 100K Facebook fans. The opposition: 6

— Speaking of the opposition, Fox News fails to fact-check Tax Cannabis 2010's paid opponent John Lovell in a poor piece dubbed, Going To Pot: CA’s Legalization Initiative.

"If this initiative passes you will see an increase in use by minors, and you will see an increase in highway fatalities," says John Lovell, a Sacramento lobbyist who represents a number of law enforcement groups, and who's leading the fight against legalization.

Along with skyrocketing public health and safety costs, Lovell argues the promised taxes may be impossible to collect because growers and distributors might open themselves up to federal prosecution. The state also risks billions in federal funding, as legal marijuana could violate federal workplace safety laws."

Actual lawyers disagree and say the bill does not threaten workplace safety rules. Experts also say marijuana-impaired drivers are safer than alcohol-impaired drivers, and decriminalization in other countries has led to decreased use by minors, not an increase.

— Adding insult to injury, California marijuana advocates outpace opponents on ads, the National Journal reports.

"We need help," said the Coalition for a Drug Free California's executive director, Roger Morgan. Morgan's group and the Community Alliances for Drug Free Youth, another major opponent of the initiative, told NationalJournal.com that they do not have the amount of money that the other side has to produce ads. 'We hammer away at it as best we can with pamphlets that we put together [and] with this book I've just written that might get on the street in time,' Morgan said. Wayne Johnson, the head of the campaign strategy team for Public Safety First, said the group is still 'quite a ways away from ads hitting the waves' at this point since the big day is in November. ... Dan Newman, a spokesman for California's Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign, said the fact that the other side does not have that many ads makes it clear where the donors are.

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