Friday, October 31, 2014

Berkeley Declares Today “Berkeley Patients Group Day”

by David Downs
Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Congressmember Barbara Lee, state Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, and Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore will celebrate the birthday today of the nation’s oldest medical cannabis dispensary — Berkeley Patients Group.

The party starts at 4 p.m. today and goes until 9 p.m. with live music, refreshments, and patient specials all day. Staff sing Happy Birthday to BPG at 4:20 p.m. and a press conference begins 4:30 p.m. in the dispensary’s parking lot at 2366 San Pablo Ave.

More …

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Anti-Weed Warrior in Oregon: ‘I Want to be on the Other Team’

by David Downs
Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Oregon is on the brink of legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and over, and even hardened former drug czar staffers are joking about defeat.

Former drug czar staffer Kevin Sabet worries about Oregon legalizing cannabis - KEVINSABET.COM
  • Former drug czar staffer Kevin Sabet worries about Oregon legalizing cannabis
“It looks bad — I want to be on the other team,” Kevin Sabet told The New York Times in a Wednesday story. Sabet fronts the anti-marijuana group Project SAM — which seeks mandatory re-education for all cannabis users.

Pro-reform groups have outspent Sabet and others by more than 25 to 1 in Oregon. Oregon Measure 91 supporters also quashed a statewide anti-pot tour funded with federal grant money. At one anti-pot event in a suburb of Salem, “no one even mentioned Measure 91: Audience participants and organizers, many of them from government-funded nonprofit groups involved in drug treatment services, were afraid of violating laws that ban politicking with public money.”

More …

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Washington DC Considers Pot Legalization Next Week

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Washington DC appears set to legalize cannabis for adults next week on Election Day.

And tomorrow, the DC City Council is holding historic public hearings to discuss how to regulate the newly legal industry.

About 65 percent of likely voters are thought to support District Initiative Measure 71, which would legalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and three mature plants.

Belly of the Beast: The District surges to the forefront of legalization this Fall. - DCMJ.ORG (VIA FACEBOOK)
  • (via Facebook)
  • Belly of the Beast: The District surges to the forefront of legalization this Fall.

The District Council Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will discuss analogous legislative measures tomorrow: one to legalize it; another to monetize it.

Critics of Measure 71 say Washington, DC doesn’t need another legal substance that can be abused. The “Two is Enough” campaign highlights society's problems with alcohol and tobacco.

Activists say problems are drug policy-related, rather than drug-related. About half of Americans have tried pot, researchers estimate. Cannabis policy liberalization hasn't hurt Colorado, new working papers conclude.

About 7.5 percent of adults are estimated to have used cannabis in the past month, and it is the second most-popular mind-altering substance behind alcohol. Americans consume an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 metric tons of cannabis each year, despite an estimated $10.7 billion in annual spending on pot arrests.

“Marijuana is going to be sold in our nation’s capital one way or another,” stated Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“We can regulate it, as this bill would do, or we can continue to force it into the underground market where we have no control over it. It is time to take marijuana sales out of the hands of criminals and put them behind the counters of licensed, taxpaying businesses.”

The joint Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing meeting starts at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Colorado Legalization Report Card: No Impact on Crime or Teen Use; $84 Million in Taxes

by David Downs
Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Jeffrey Miron, a noted Harvard University economist and director of economic studies at the Cato Institute, released a working paper Thursday disproving critics of Colorado legalization. Miron also stated that legalization’s proponents over-estimated the tax revenue and economic benefits of legalization.


Before Colorado voted in 2012 to become the first state in history to legalize cannabis, law enforcement officials and politicians promised the worst:

  • Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said the number of children using drugs would increase.
  • Former attorney general Edwin Meese and Charles Stimson argued violent crime would surge. 
  •  Kevin Sabet, a former senior White House drug policy adviser, warned of high addiction rates, spikes in traffic accidents, and reductions in IQ.
  • Former DEA director John Walters claimed “what we [see] in Colorado has the markings of a drug use epidemic.” 
  • And Jack Healy and Josh Voorhees’ said marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime.

They were wrong.

Miron reviewed fifteen years worth of public health and safety data spanning the rise and explosion of medical cannabis in Colorado by 2010, followed by its 2012 legalization. He found that “the most important outcome of marijuana policy is marijuana use.”

Among high school students, ‘the overall trend is downward and not materially affected by the changes in marijuana policy. … These results provide little indication that marijuana or other substance use changed in Colorado after commercialization of medical marijuana in 2009.”

As for crime, Miron states that “no measure indicates a significant change in crime after medical marijuana commercialization, legalization adoption, or full legalization implementation.”

What about traffic accidents? “ No measure exhibits a substantial change at the time of marijuana policy changes.”

Emergency room admissions? “No change in trend is evident after medical marijuana introduction or commercialization.”

The high school drop-out rate? “The rate is little different between the beginning and end of the sample. The four-year graduation rate shows an upward trend that slows slightly between 2012 and 2013.”

Reports of weed suspensions did jump amid a change in weed laws, but many school administrators started tracking weed-related suspensions for the first time,

Miron said annual cannabis tax revenues of $84 million were lower than earlier estimates of $134 million.

And Colorado hasn’t saved any money on courts and prisons, Miron said. “Neither judicial and legal employment nor corrections employment shows any meaningful change after a marijuana policy change.”

Legal cannabis has not amounted to an economic game-changer, Miron said.

For “state gross domestic product and personal income; neither indicates any effect of the policy changes.”

Bottom line: don’t believe the hype for or against legalization, Miron writes.

“The evidence here indicates that strong claims about Colorado’s legalization, whether by advocates or opponents, are so far devoid of empirical support.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Ten Questions Police Use to 'Lock In' Medical Marijuana Patients

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Sometimes it pays to just shut up.

This October, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access posted the latest training article from one the main opponents of medical cannabis in the state — the California Narcotics Officers Association. In the summer 2014 edition of the group's quarterly magazine, The California Narcotics Officer, an article detailed some of the more unsavory ways police attempt to discredit and imprison qualified medical cannabis patients.

Seth Cimino of the Citrus Heights Police Department wrote in the article, “The key is to lock your marijuana user into a statement. … You are more than likely to get cooperation from qualified patients, primary caregivers, etc. if you use soft words. These people will normally talk to you.”
A 2014 training manual for 'locking' California patients into incriminating statements about marijuana. - ASA
  • ASA
  • A 2014 training manual for 'locking' California patients into incriminating statements about marijuana.
“We can then use their answer throughout our investigation. … All right, let’s get to it.”

Here are ten questions police are using to strip a medical defense from a patient they stop.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Warrantless Medical Marijuana Raids Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Finds

by David Downs
Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Pot may be federally illegal, but so is police activity that violates due process.

This week, a federal court sided with California medical marijuana patients who are suing Lake County officials for the possibly illegal removal of their cannabis plants. Federal judge Thelton Henderson issued an injunction against the county Tuesday, saying police have to stop ripping up gardens without due process.

That’s a major victory for medical cannabis advocates. They say California officials are policing medical marijuana activity illegally some eighteen years after California voters legalized the plant for medical purposes.

Lake County narrowly passed Measure N thus June, banning medical cannabis cultivation on parcels one acre or smaller, and limiting cultivation to six mature plants on larger parcels. Illegal gardeners are supposed to get a five-day warning.

More …

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

California Election: Jay-Z, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz Come Out As ‘Artists for Prop 47’

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Four days remain to register to vote in the November 4 election, and as we wrote in our last column, every progressive vote counts in an off-year election in which conservatives usually dominate.

As mail-in ballots hit mailboxes, California’s celebrities are standing up for a key issue: prison sentencing reform. Proposition 47 changes the way we sentence people for nonviolent, low-level crimes, such as drug possession and petty theft. Today, possessing a little hash can carry felony charges, but Prop 47 will change it to a misdemeanor.

Artists for 47” include Brad Pitt, Shawn Jay-Z Carter, Cameron Diaz, John Legend, Olivia Wilde, Edward Norton, Kerry Washington — the list goes on and on. homepage
  • homepage

Artists for 47 support sentencing reform because, “Today, over-incarceration continues to devastate families and communities all across America. In California, taxpayers now spend $9,100 per K-12 student while spending $62,300 per prisoner each year. As a result, California has built 22 prisons and only one UC university in the last 30 years.”

And Sacramento’s quasi-celebrity Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is also doing some heavy lifting for the Prop 47.

“Sure, it's controversial,” he wrote in a letter for Californians for Safe Neighborhoods and Schools. “But it's the right thing to do. Time and again, we've seen hot-button issues ultimately become widely accepted as simple common sense.

"That's happening on marriage equality, it's happening on paid sick leave, and it's even starting to happen with issues like universal health care and the regulation and legalization of marijuana for adults.  Prop 47 is both radical and common sense, and it won't be long before states across the country are looking to California, once again, as the leader."

Interestingly, we saw self-professed, anti-voting, anarchist actor Russell Brand on "Artists for 47".

The Sex Pistol's Johnny Rotten responded to that notion, “If you’re not voting, not contributing, you’re demanding to be ignored. Not very smart at all. You don’t get nothing because you’ve done nothing. Stand up and be counted, make your voice heard or else you’re just going to fade into insignificance."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cannabis Protects Brain From Injury, New Study Shows

by David Downs
Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Medical and recreational cannabis users are less likely to die from brain trauma than those who don’t use pot. That’s the takeaway from a new study that builds on the evidence showing that the main active ingredient in cannabis, THC, has a neuroprotective effect on the brain.

The US government has already patented compounds in pot as neuroprotectants — even as it maintains that the drug is as dangerous as heroin with no medical benefit.

More …

Friday, October 10, 2014

Henry Rollins Visits Oaksterdam for History Channel’s 'Ten Things You Didn’t Know’

by David Downs
Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Oakland’s pioneering cannabis college Oaksterdam University gets some great air time on History Channel’s hottest new show, 10 Things You Didn't Know About featuring Henry Rollins.  

The intense, legendary Black Flag musician and writer dropped by Oaksterdam to learn about the origins of the word “marijuana.” 

The first of the ten things you probably didn’t know? “No one knows where the word marijuana comes from.”

Rollins explains how the US government once mandated that citizens grow hemp, and relates other insider tidbits mainstream America is just now un-forgetting. Taken with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's specials, historians will one day note shows like this were part of a national de-programming of sorts with regard to marijuana.

History Channel is streaming the entire, 44-minute episode online here.

Henry Rollins studies cannabis' etymology in Oakland for '10 Things You Didn't Know About' - HISTORY CHANNEL
  • History Channel
  • Henry Rollins studies cannabis' etymology in Oakland for '10 Things You Didn't Know About'

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pacific Fisher Extinction? Blame Federal Policy, Not A Plant

by David Downs
Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Last October we wrote the cover story “Greenwashing the War On Drugs” — about how federal drug warriors have pivoted from arguments about wasted youth to the environment to keep the war going. Since threats to society ring hallow, the Drug Czar is now trumpeting threats to the environment.

That greenwashing continues in the media this week, as news breaks that the Pacific Fisher — a type of weasel — is being nominated for the endangered species list. Pot growers are to blame, media reports state, because they spread rodenticides in the same wildlands frequented by the threatened fisher.

What’s missing from simplistic reports by outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle and Mother Jones is: federal prohibition fuels forest grows. No one’s brewing backwoods Budweiser, experts will tell you.

Drug War enforcers are increasingly pointing to the dangers of trespass grows to gain support among environmentalists for the War on Pot.
  • Drug War enforcers are increasingly pointing to the dangers of trespass grows to gain support among environmentalists for the War on Pot.

The federal drug war, which consists of 750,000 pot arrests each year, helps drive up the price of weed five to ten times its production cost. Those profits attract anyone without a job who thinks they can grow and sell it without getting caught. 
“Americans consume an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 metric tons of marijuana each year, according to estimates from the Rand Drug Policy Research Center. About 30 million Americans smoke or eat cannabis products annually, and about 6 million people use pot daily. Weed is the second-most popular recreational substance in the nation, behind alcohol.

Americans spend an estimated $15 to $30 billion per year on weed. The value of the nation's cannabis per square-foot is five times greater than that of poppies or coca, according to Rand."

International interdiction in the '70s created a domestic industry, historians say. And domestic interdiction in the '80s and '90s drove growers deep into the fisher’s territory.

If we want to protect the fisher and our wildlands, experts say we need to tax and regulate cannabis nationally.

As one expert told me:
"There's nothing about growing dope that has to involve massive amounts of energy, dangerous chemicals, water diversion, disrespect to your neighbors, and killing animal species — just like we don't have to do that growing tomatoes. And we don't grow tomatoes in Yosemite. These are unintended consequences of the policy, not the plant."

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