Friday, August 29, 2014

Foes of Legalized Marijuana Are Shills for Pills

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Earlier this summer, The Nation published a damning exposé on pharmaceutical companies funding anti-marijuana groups like Community Anti-Drug Coalitions for America and members of Project SAM. This week, the same author, Lee Fang, expands on the exposé with a piece for VICE that names more names.

More …

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Washington's Legal Weed Market Gaining Momentum; $38 Grams in Vancouver

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Washington marijuana legalization is off to a slow, expensive start — and that’s deliberate, researchers say.

One gram of marijuana — which would fit on a teaspoon — hit $38 in licensed Vancouver stores this week. That’s anywhere from double to eight times the street price for pot, and an effect of price gouging on behalf of Washington’s small cadre of state-licensed growers.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just Say Yes: Marijuana Use Radically Cuts Deaths from Pill Overdoses

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Given the abundance of anecdotal information and new research data on marijuana, it's fair to say that the prohibition o pot isn't just ineffective, expensive, racist, and amoral, it's downright damaging to public health amid a government-sanctioned pill addiction and overdose crisis of epidemic proportions.
Here’s the massive number to remember: 25 percent.

States that have legalized medical cannabis have 25 percent fewer deaths from prescription pill overdoses than states that have not, according to a major study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Legalizing medical marijuana (shown above under magnification) is associated with a 25 percent decrease in deaths from prescription pill overdose, a new study finds. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Legalizing medical marijuana (shown above under magnification) is associated with a 25 percent decrease in deaths from prescription pill overdose, a new study finds.

Researchers tracked deaths in all 50 states between 1999 and 2010, as well as those states’ medical marijuana laws, finding that “about a 25 percent lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose” after medical cannabis was legalized for medicinal use.

In 2010 alone, legal medical marijuana saved about 1,700 people from overdose deaths, the research indicates.

That’s because cannabis is a useful painkiller, especially for people with pain that does not respond to conventional painkillers, doctors say.

Medical marijuana patients are partially or entirely substituting the plant for deadly opioids like hydrocodone and oxycontin, researchers have found. Prescription painkiller overdoses will kill about 16,000 Americans this year. Marijuana also has no lethal overdose level.

The University of Pennsylvania research team is not ready to attribute the drop in overdoses to marijuana, but we are.
“In summary, although we found a lower mean annual rate of opioid analgesic mortality in states with medical cannabis laws, a direct causal link cannot be established," the authors write

Marie J. Hayes of the University of Maine writes in a release: "If medical marijuana laws afford a protective effect, it is not clear why. If the decline in opioid analgesic-related overdose deaths is explained, as claimed by the authors, by increased access to medical marijuana as an adjuvant medication for patients taking prescription opioids, does this mean that marijuana provides improved pain control that decreases opioid dosing to safer levels?"

Yes, Dr. Hayes it does. There are already studies to that effect.

"A UCSF study suggests patients with chronic pain may experience greater relief if their doctors add cannabinoids – the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana – to an opiates-only treatment," UCSF reported in 2011.

Furthermore, 66% of Bay Area medical cannabis patients in one 2009 survey reported using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs.

UPenn's researchers conclude:
"If the relationship between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality is substantiated in further work, enactment of laws to allow for use of medical cannabis may be advocated as part of a comprehensive package of policies to reduce the population risk of opioid analgesics."
It's substantiated. Enact them now, especially in the South.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Atlantic Gives Legalization in Boulder Two Big Thumbs Up

by David Downs
Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf went a little native in Boulder, Colorado for the magazine's August 13 feature — a ringing endorsement of the implementation of Amendment 64. There’s still many questions left unanswered, he wrote, but:

Weed War-Free Zone of the hippie highway: Boulder, Colorado - ABOUTBOULDER
  • AboutBoulder
  • Weed War-Free Zone of the hippie highway: Boulder, Colorado
“One thought I never had was that Boulder would be better off if its marijuana smokers were all imprisoned, or at risk of arrest, or casually breaking the law to facilitate a habit that isn’t going away.”

Friedersdorf really nails one key factor: the legal sales of cannabis on January 1 in Colorado was part of a decades-long evolution, despite media efforts to make it look like some radical jump. Much like Berkeley, Boulder is part of a well-travelled constellation of safe zones for hippies, heads, itinerant musicians, and “circuit homeless.” The piece lends a more humane counterpoint to headlines about "legalization attracting more homeless kids to Colorado." Yeah, they’re dirty. They’re also de facto drug war refugees.

“Into the wee hours of that night, and again the next morning, I sought out folks who were down and out in Boulder. For many, I soon learned, legalization had made life noticeably better.

“Here, I honestly feel protected and served by the police, because they’re not trying to steal my pot and charge me for it,” said one 22-year-old, a recent college graduate, who had been first victimized by the police at age 18. He had called the police over his stolen backpack, and ended up with a ticket for the pipe they found in it. He received 11 months, 29 days probation, plus paid $5,000 in fees.  

“People have their lives ruined over it. Just knowing that won’t happen to me here is an almost indescribable feeling.”

And we get another data point on effects in the black market, which seems doomed over the long run. (When’s the last time you bought bootleg liquor?)

Twenty-one year-old traveling hippie Boots said: “One thing I’ve noticed, something I’ve learned from talking to the people who’ve been around here awhile, is that unless you go to the dispensary it’s getting harder to find weed."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cheaper, Stronger, Earlier Weed — The 1st Annual Golden Tarp Awards Celebrates This Year's 'Light Dep' Crop

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 9:45 AM

The trending practice of using light deprivation to quickly bring greenhouse-grown medical marijuana to harvest now has its own contest.

The Golden Tarp Award will take place Saturday, September 13 at the the Mateel Community Center in Redway, which is a few hours north of the Bay Area. The $30 event includes awards for the best light dep crop, plus workshops, speakers, music, and panels. Attendees will be the judge of the top sixteen entries and the bud with the highest score will win the 2014 Golden Tarp Award
Greenhouse-grown medical marijuana is coming to harvest now, instead of in October, due to light deprivation techniques. - THE GOLDEN TARP
  • The Golden Tarp
  • Greenhouse-grown medical marijuana is coming to harvest now, instead of in October, due to light deprivation techniques.

Light deprivation is taking off for one main reason: money. A crop grown in a greenhouse uses far less electricity than an indoor crop. The use of light deprivation — usually through tarps — mimics the short days of the Fall, tricking the plant into flowering and finishing early. Early crops sell better than crops sold during the harvest glut —which sends prices through the floor. 

“Light dep drastically reduces, or completely eliminates, the need for high-powered grow lights, allowing farmers to keep more of the profits, reduce their carbon footprint and cutout the “silent partner” known as the local utility company or diesel supplier. When grown under high quality, light-diffusing greenhouse fabrics, buds have a similar frosty look to those grown under lights. This is another element that makes for a quicker sale and increases it’s per-pound price when compared to “full sun” plants.” …

Light dep is quickly becoming the standard for cultivation. Compared to growing indoors, it has a much smaller environmental impact and drastically reduces the monthly overhead. Compared to growing outdoors, it affords the grower more control over changing weather patterns, provides privacy and allows for fresh product when plants under full sun are still in their vegetative stage or in early flowering.”
Light dep is a common practice in modern agriculture, and yet another mainstream technique to be adapted for the cannabis industry, which has also added near-infrared sensing, and genetic sequencing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another Medical Marijuana Bill Poisoned by Police

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM

This is starting to sound familiar.

Medical marijuana advocates are calling for the last-minute death of Senate Bill 1193 — which was supposed to be a compromise between patients and police, until police successfully deleted the patients’ part at the last minute.

SB 1193 would have reduced the amount of pot that cops confiscate during a dispensary investigation, and also mandated that police give back or compensate collectives for weed deemed unlawfully seized.

Lawful California collectives and cooperatives are routinely raided and prosecuted by local authorities who seize property, marijuana, and products. When defense attorneys get the cases thrown out, collectives get back from the police dead plants, moldy edibles, and no compensation.

The State Sheriffs Association and the Police Chiefs Association oppose fair compensation, "based on concerns that codification and/or expansion of claim eligibility could require potentially costly local indemnification," an Assembly analysis stated.

So police groups got the fair compensation part of the bill deleted as it exited Assembly Appropriations. 
This week, California police poisoned a compromise bill to return unlawfully seized medical marijuana. Above, authorities raid Oaksterdam University in Oakland. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • This week, California police poisoned a compromise bill to return unlawfully seized medical marijuana. Above, authorities raid Oaksterdam University in Oakland.

Patients now have to kill SB 1193 on the Assembly floor, writes advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

“Law enforcement should not confiscate legal medical cannabis and plants. If they do, they should have to give it back. And if they damaged or destroyed it, they should have to pay for it,” ASA wrote to its members.

The group is asking folks to contact the bill’s sponsor, Santa Rosa democrat Noreen Evans and send emails to their Assembly Members.

About 80 percent of Californians support medical marijuana and 54 percent support its legalization for adults 21 years of  age and older.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Historic Medical Marijuana Bill Dead: Cause of Death — Cost, Polarization

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Racks of medical marijuana at a licensed San Francisco dispensary. - DPA
  • DPA
  • Racks of medical marijuana at a licensed San Francisco dispensary.
Historic efforts to regulate medical marijuana through the legislature died yesterday when the Assembly Appropriations Committee held onto Senate Bill 1262 as the deadline for it to pass expired.

Lobbyists say the $20 million price tag was too high for a new, California Bureau of Medical Marijuana, especially given just how few marijuana businesses would seemingly qualify and pay fees to fund the new agency.

More …

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CA Pot Regs - SB 1262 - In ‘Suspense’ Until Tomorrow

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 12:46 PM

California’s landmark regulations for its medical marijuana industry were not heard, passed, or killed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing today. Instead, Senate Bill 1262 was moved to the "suspense file" and could face a hearing in Appropriations tomorrow.

According to insiders at the Capitol, it's unclear whether the bill will pass amid all the horse-trading at the end of the legislative session this year.

More …

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

California Does Not Have A Medical Marijuana Recommendation Problem

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 5:22 PM

California’s law enforcement leaders cannot say often enough that they think medical marijuana is a "con job," that it’s too easy to get a recommendation. They want to create new crimes for doctors who recommend the life-saving plant.

But neither law enforcement — nor the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board — is actually talking to the Medical Board of California, which oversees doctors in California.

Anyone can call the board and complain about a shady pot doctor handing out recommendations like Chiclets. Police claim it happens all the time. So we called the board this week and asked them: Is there a problem? The answer is a resounding "No."

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Free Hash This Weekend — Just Click Here

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Gotcha. Check out Episode #2 of our new podcast, The Hash, which is like the audio B-side to our written cannabis reporting.

In Episode 2, The Edibles Episode, Chef Gabriel Reeves explains how to cook and eat pot, Dr. Michele Sexton explains THC dosing, legendary High Times editor Steve Bloom gives us his top five favorite pot songs. We also got commentary from VICE contributor David Bienenstock, and headlines on new dispensaries in Las Vegas; Washington, DC decriminalization; Congress voting to allow pot banking; and Illinois' move to allow children to access its new mmj program.

click image thehash_710.jpg

Next week, look out for Episode 3 - The Mainstream Episode.

We’ll have several reports from the Denver County Fair’s first Pot Pavilion, interviews with Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell, Seattle Times weed blogger Andy Mannix, and best-selling Bay Area music critic Joel Selvin gives us his ‘High Five’ favorite stony tracks.

Subscribe for free to get our 'concentrated mix of cannabis news and culture' in your email inbox twice per month, and automatically enter to win books, grinders, and other goodies.

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