Thursday, July 31, 2014

Washington Post Columnist: Marijuana Is About as Addictive as Video Gaming

by David Downs
Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:07 AM

The shockwaves continue from the New York Times’ bold call to end the national prohibition on marijuana this week.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, the ONDCP, also known as the drug czar’s office responded to the op-ed, saying that pot is bad for the teen brain and makes kids do worse in school. Pot is addictive, the drug czar states, and stoned drivers threaten our roadways.

Anyone who follows this column knows how specious these arguments are: Pot is easily available to kids under prohibition. Illegal pot dealing is the most profitable job a teen can have, and schoolyard dealers don’t check IDs.

But it’s great to see none other than the Washington Post's Wonkblog take the drug czar’s office to task for its empty rhetoric.

“[The ONDCP’s case for prohibition], as it turns out, is surprisingly weak. It's built on half-truths and radically decontextualized facts, curated from social science research that is otherwise quite solid. … we really do need a sane national discussion of the costs and benefits of widespread marijuana use. But the ONDCP's ideological insistence on prohibition prevents them from taking part in that conversation.”

Here’s the point by point breakdown:

Point: Marijuana use affects the teen brain.
Counter-point: Also true for alcohol and tobacco. "This is a great argument for restricting young peoples' access to the drugs (as Washington and Colorado have done with marijuana), but a poor one for banning it completely.”

Moreover, the government’s data comes from heavy, heavy stoners smoking 4.5 joints every single day for 16 years. “This is far outside the realm of normal, moderate use. A recent Colorado Department of Revenue report found, for instance, that the majority of users in that state smoked five or fewer times per month.”

Point: Pot is associated with small effects on IQ
Counter-point: The same is true for alcohol and tobacco. The IQ effect is small and limited to very heavy users. “Setting aside that there's zero causality implied in these findings, the only argument here is, again, for keeping marijuana and alcohol out of the hands of minors.”

Point: Pot is addictive.
Counter-point: This is from a 20-year-old research paper and is probably wrong. Setting aside that fact, “the 9 percent addiction rate for marijuana users is substantially lower than the 15 percent addiction rate for alcohol drinkers and the 33 percent addiction rate for tobacco users. This comports with more recent research showing that marijuana is a relatively non-addictive substance. … Or, to put it another way, marijuana is about as addictive as video gaming.”


: Drugged driving is dangerous.
Counter-point: No doy! No one is legalizing stoned driving. Furthermore, marijuana’s effect on driving is minimal compared to alcohol and insignificant compared to driving+eating, or driving+talking. “Marijuana was a factor in about 12 percent of the fatal crashes studied in 2010. Alcohol was a factor in nearly 40 percent of fatal crashes throughout the study period. Distracted driving was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes, on the other hand.”

Point: Alcohol and tobacco already cost society more than the taxes they generate.
Counter-point: “This is a weak argument for alcohol prohibition, and a terrible one for marijuana prohibition,” Washington Post finds. “The study ONDCP cites estimates the total societal cost of excessive drinking to be $223.5 billion. On the other hand, the alcoholic beverage industry estimates it generates about $400 billion in economic activity. And since marijuana is widely regarded to be a less harmful substance than alcohol, the economic cost of marijuana legalization would be even lower than for alcohol.”

Point: Legalization would not eliminate the black market but would dramatically lower pot prices.
Counter-point: “For starters, these two statements are at odds with each other — if marijuana legalization results in dramatically lowered prices, how would there be an incentive for black market trade?”

The study ONDCP cites doesn’t even mention national legalization’s effect. “It's hard to see how the ONDCP's citation of this study ... is anything other than a deliberate attempt to mislead.”

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Medi-Pot Rules Still Struggling With Basics Like Cost, Jurisdiction

by David Downs
Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM

'Who would be in charge?'

'How much would it cost?'

These are two basic questions to answer before you open up a lemonade stand let alone spearhead a landmark bill to regulate California's $1.8 billion legal medical pot industry. But with just one month left to do the deal, politicians in Sacramento really haven't gotten past these two basic steps.

More …

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New York Times Creates Shockwaves With Endorsement of Legalization

by David Downs
Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 9:49 AM

The News York Times' editorial board created shockwaves over the weekend with a sober, full-throated endorsement of marijuana legalization. The board stated that marijuana prohibition has been a failure, and has gone on too long. The pro-legalization endorsement is part of a six-part series the paper dubs “High Time” and is ongoing this week. The editorial elicited more than 4,000 pro-weed comments by Monday morning, versus just 206 against.

Defenders of marijuana prohibition like David Brooks have decried the editorial, saying it sends the wrong message to teens. Other critics of the editorial said scientists don’t know enough about marijuana.

The Times' weedy op-ed graphic
  • The Times' weedy op-ed graphic

Marijuana policy activists called it a watershed moment in the failed War on Drugs.'s Tom Angell told The Cannabist: "... it’s significant because it will probably encourage some political figures who agree with us behind closed doors to come out and say they agree with us publicly. When The New York Times’ editorial board says something, it shows it’s a mainstream position.”

Many note how The New York Times is trying to lead from behind on this issue, as voters have moved on this issue long ago. The East Bay Express endorsed marijuana legalization in 2010, the year this blog started.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Monster Marijuana Bushes in Eastern Washington By October

by David Downs
Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:07 PM

The start of legal weed sales in Washington was more of a soft launch than a grand opening. But big things are afoot. Specifically, Eastern Washington’s newly legal pot farmers are expecting twelve- to fourteen-foot-tall monster outdoor marijuana bushes come harvest season.

The Stranger’s insightful feature, "Where Does Your Legal Weed Come From?" takes readers on a tour of Washington's legal mega-farms, and it's guaranteed to make some California growers salivate.

Eastern Washington's first season of legal outdoor weed could reach heights of fourteen-feet-tall. Above, a Northern California outdoor grow. - COURTESY OF KYM KEMP
  • Courtesy of Kym Kemp
  • Eastern Washington's first season of legal outdoor weed could reach heights of fourteen-feet-tall. Above, a Northern California outdoor grow.

As California struggles to regulate even medical marijuana, it's great to see regulations actually working in Washington. Man-sized pot plants are an attractive robbery target, so Washington licensees must install adequate security measures. It’s already working.
“Earlier this month, a man jumped over the fence to steal a handful of early-maturing plants. ‘He set off the alarm when he opened the greenhouse,’ says the farmer, pointing to a hut in the corner of his field of pot bushes. ‘The cops were very happy to help me out. He is in jail now.’”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

San Jose Pot Shops Fail in Bid to Block Ban

by David Downs
Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

Medical Marijuana Business Daily reports Tuesday that a bid to overturn San Jose’s new, de facto ban on pot shops failed.

San Jose’s de facto ban took effect July 18, the last day for the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition to turn in more than 60,000 valid signatures from registered San Jose voters. Enough valid signatures would have triggered a vote of the people to remove the most onerous parts of the new law.

“The initiative’s backers turned in signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Friday afternoon. But city officials announced this week that the group came up about 10,000 short of the required number of valid signatures needed to make the ballot,” MMJD reports.

The Merc reports:
"At some locations, 75 to 80 percent of the people who told us they were registered voters actually weren't," said Hodges, who owns the All-American Cannabis Club in San Jose.”


“The vast majority of the city's 80 dispensaries will have to close by July 2015 under regulations — approved by the City Council last month — that limit pot clubs to less than 1 percent of the city's parcels. A few dispensaries near homes already have shut down.”

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pot Politics: Did 500 Stoners Swing Betty Yee's Race for Controller?

by David Downs
Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 9:44 AM

This week, former California Assembly leader John Perez conceded the race for State Controller to Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. Democrat Perez had called for a recount after losing the second place spot to Democrat Yee by just five hundred votes in the primary.

Now, any number of factors could have made the difference in such a tight race. But it bears mentioning that among the factors that clinched the race for Yee was her progressive leadership on the issue of medical cannabis.

More …

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Subscribe To Our New Podcast About Pot - 'The Hash'

by David Downs
Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Hi, everyone. Legalization Nation asks your forgiveness as we plug our new audio accessory to this blog: a new podcast called The Hash.

The Hash is a pot news, culture, and commentary podcast that comes out every other week, and is thirty minutes long. You can subscribe to it here for free and we'll send you one email every other week with a link to the show. 


The Hash is produced in San Francisco by Peabody Award-winning, UC Berkeley radio instructor Ben Manilla at Ben Manilla Productions in the Mission district. Your humble Legalization Nation columnist handles news duties. So does David Bienenstock, formerly of High Times, now a contributor to VICE.

The Hash includes a mix of canna-centric headlines, in-depth features, along with the latest in pot-friendly music, arts, and culture. 

In our July 10 pilot, we dove deep into the FDA's bias against female sexual aids in an interview with Mathew Gerson founder of Foria.

Next Thursday's podcast theme is edibles. You won't believe what we've got cooking up. Thanks, as always, for listening and reading, and feel free to contact us with feedback, story ideas, and requests for advertising rates.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Number of Weed Dealers in America Is ...

by David Downs
Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Roughly 77,791, according to Walt Hickey, lead writer for lifestyle at the statistics news website

Hickey estimates that the number of pot dealers in the country using the Fermi Estimation — "a back-of-the-envelope strategy that is generally good about making sure you’re in the right order of magnitude if not exactly correct."

More …

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

30,000+ Free Medical Marijuana Recommendations and Up to 100 pounds of Weed for San Jose

by David Downs
Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 10:05 AM

The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition is promising free medical cannabis recommendations to 30,000-plus people and up to 100 pounds of pot as part of its referendum effort to rollback portions of San Jose's new medical pot ordinance — which we report today is a de facto ban. The SVCC has until July 18th to submit about 70,000 valid signatures.

The group wrote Monday:

The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition has secured vouchers for 30,000 free medical marijuana evaluations as well as over 45,000 vouchers for free grams of medical marijuana. The group plans to pass the vouchers out to San Jose residents over the next 3 days. Starting today the group will also be putting on an “occupy style” protest at San Jose City Hall for the remainder of the week. All patients, collective employees and community supporters are urged to attend the protest and to sign a petition for a referendum that would stop the city from closing collectives in just 4 days, on July 18th.

The group plans to pass out the vouchers at 10-12 locations throughout San Jose. A google map with the of locations for the free medical marijuana evaluation & medical marijuana can be found at the SVCC website.


Read more about San Jose's unworkable new rules and efforts to amend them in the today's issue of the East Bay Express.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oakland to Feds: Stop Pot Raids; Feinstein: Keep Raiding

by David Downs
Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 10:05 AM

The Oakland City Council threw its support behind efforts to end the three year-long federal medical marijuana crackdown in California. Councilmember Libby Schaaf announced last week that the council had voted unanimously for her resolution to support the policy direction of the Rohrabacher Amendment to end federal raids on state-legal businesses.

More …

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