Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Study: War on Weed Is A War on Women

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 9:29 AM

On Monday, local radio station KQED devoted an episode of Forum to the potential economic benefits of California cannabis legalization, noting that a $6.5 billion industry could exist in a few years.  Proposition 64 could also generate $1 billion per year in taxes and tens of millions of dollars in court savings.

What the episode failed to account for was the untold cost of ongoing cannabis prohibition, which critics say has ruined countless lives without decreasing cannabis use or availability.

Now, a new report helps detail some of those costs — especially as it pertains to women and children.
In a new report “Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform,” the group Safety and Justice Challenge notes that the war on weed has been an unprecedented war on women.

Since 1970, when President Richard Nixon declared a war on (some) drugs, the number of women in jail nationwide has increased fourteen-fold, from less than 8,000 to nearly 110,000, the report finds.

“Once a rarity, women are now held in jails in nearly every county—a stark contrast to 1970, when almost three-quarters of counties held not a single woman in jail.”
  • Today, nearly a third of women in jails are there for nonviolent drug offenses.
  • Between 1980 and 2009, the arrest rate for women possessing drugs tripled, while it only doubled for men. 
  • Nearly two in three women in jail are black or hispanic, making them vastly over-represented in the system.
  • And nearly 80 percent of women in jails are mothers, who are, by and large single parents, solely responsible for their young children.
About 700,000 Americans will be arrested this year for pot, including roughly 20,000 Californians. The cost in terms of lost jobs, shattered families, and diminished life trajectories is immeasurable.
“Once incarcerated, women must grapple with systems, practices, and policies that are designed for the majority of the incarcerated population: men. With limited resources, jails are often ill-equipped to address the challenges women face when they enter the justice system. As a result, many women leave jail with diminished prospects for physical and behavioral health recovery, with greater parental stress and strain, and in even more financially precarious circumstances than before becoming caught up in the justice system.”
The report is one of a series from the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and the Safety and Justice Challenge—a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation initiative to reduce over-incarceration in America. The purported “land of the free” has more men and women in cages than any regime on Earth — with five percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

The reports offers some solutions — like increased "cite and release" for low-level offenses like possession of marijuana. Prosecutors can also decline to prosecute citizens for certain low-level offenses like pot, the report states.

“In October 2014, the City of Philadelphia decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. During its first year in effect, the new law resulted in police officers issuing 1,012 civil citations, compared to 3,686 arrests made during the previous year for the same infractions.”

(h/t California NORML)

Friday, August 26, 2016

California Legalization Proposition 64 Raises $11.45 Million

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 10:17 AM

Proponents of a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in California, Proposition 64, have raised $11.45 million in donor support, reports.

That’s 61 times the amount of campaign cash as the opposition, who has raised $185,870.

Cannabis legalization supporters report raising $11.45 million in California. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Cannabis legalization supporters report raising $11.45 million in California.
Private donors and groups — not the medical marijuana industry or pot users — are providing almost all the funding for legalization, records indicate.

Major donors include billionaire philanthropist Sean Parker ($2,303,965), the New Approach PAC ($1,500,000), the non-profit Drug Policy Action ($1,250,000), the pot shop listings site Weedmaps ($750,000), Drug Policy Action ($500,000) and Nicholas Pritzker ($250,000).

By contrast, the No on Prop 64 team has raised $185,000 from anti-pot group Smart Approach to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) ($64,510), plus $25,000 from the CA Teamsters Public Affairs Council, $25,000 from the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, $12,500 from the California Police Chiefs Association $10,000 from a Los Angeles County lobby, and $10,000 from the California State Sheriffs' Association.

No on Prop 64 spokespeople have stated the legalization measure is a bid to enrich cannabis capitalists.  Both WeedMaps and Pritzker work in the state's medical marijuana industry, which generates about $2 billion in revenue each year.

The Yes on 64 disputes this claim. “[Sean] Parker supports the initiative as a social justice priority, but has no personal financial interest in the marijuana industry, nor will he invest in it in the future,” Yes on 64 spokesperson Jason Kinney told the Sacramento Bee today. Other major groups like DPA have spent decades fighting to end America's war on some drugs.

No on 64 is funded by groups who stand to lose money on legalization, reports indicate. The Teamsters stand lose lucrative pot distributor contracts if Prop. 64 passes, insider say. The state’s police chiefs and sheriffs benefit from billions of dollars in federal anti-drug grants, as well as asset forfeitures related to pot.

An analysis by the Los Angeles Times’ columnist Robin Abcarian finds Prop. 64 is likely to pass.

“These days, you can’t really find anyone who dismisses cannabis as intrinsically evil. You don’t even hear the “gateway drug” argument very much,” Abcarian reports.

Correction: This story previously reported that Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana has ties to the makers of OxyContin and Vicodin, according to The Nation. That is incorrect.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Politifact: Sen. Feinstein Spread 'Mostly False' Information About California Legalization

by David Downs
Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 9:40 AM

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is fibbing when she says kids are going to see pot ads on television if California legalization measure Proposition 64 passes. At least according to Politifact, which on August 5 rated the aforementioned Feinstein claim “mostly false,” though it promises to be widely advertised among voters through Election Day.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein made 'Mostly False' statements about Prop 64, Politifact concludes.
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein made 'Mostly False' statements about Prop 64, Politifact concludes.
If passed by voters, Prop. 64 would end California's century-long policy of cannabis prohibition — which opponents say hasn’t worked, and has cost the state untold billions of dollars. Prop. 64 allows adults 21-and-over to possess up to an ounce of pot in public and grow up to six plants on their property, as well as regulates the commercial growth, distribution and sale of cannabis.

It’s opposed by some in law enforcement as well as Feinstein, who stated in a July press release that Prop. 64 "allows marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers."

Feinstein should know better, experts say. Federal law prohibits the advertisement of federally illegal drugs like cannabis on federal licensed broadcasts. There are no pot ads on TV in other states, Politifact notes. It would be equivalent to broadcasting ads for heroin.

“If Prop. 64 passes, nothing will change in terms of what radio and television stations can legally broadcast," Joe Berry, president of the California Broadcasters Association, told Politifact. "The federal government licenses the radio and TV stations in California. The federal government’s position is that marijuana is an illegal substance. So, it’s illegal to advertise that substance."

Stations that air pot ads could lose their license, and they would be promptly turned in by their local and regional competitors — all of whom are in a cutthroat competition for viewers.

“We rate her claim Mostly False,” Politifact stated.

Still the No on 64 plans to use it heavily citing a poll that shows support for Prop 64 dips when they mention pot ads on TV.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Weed Talk at OMCA Saturday: "Perspectives on Legalizing Marijuana"

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 8:56 AM

The Oakland Museum of California keeps its hot season of cannabis programming rolling with a Saturday event “Perspectives on Legalizing Marijuana” featuring some of the brightest minds on the subject.

More …

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

9th Circuit Smacks Down Rogue Pot Prosecutors: Dispensaries’ Legal Shield Holds Up in Federal Appeals Court

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 5:07 PM

United States prosecutors broke federal law if they went after lawful, state-legal medical pot shops since December 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in a historic precedent, published today.

Circuit Judges Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, Barry G. Silverman, and Carlos T. Bea settled ten pending federal appeals, vacating lower court rulings. That could result in freedom for several pot shop owners. Any other lawful medical cannabis actors in the 37 states with related laws on the books cannot be interfered with by DEA agents.

More …

Thursday, August 11, 2016

DEA Fails To Reschedule Marijuana: Five Things You Need To Know

by David Downs
Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 9:38 AM

Marijuana will remain officially among the most dangerous drugs in the world, as per a decision by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced this morning.

The DEA has formally denied two petitions to “re-schedule” pot down from its place atop the list of the world’s most dangerous drugs, stating that there’s not enough science to prove pot has some medical use or a lower potential for abuse than they thought.

Keeping an eye on the green. - D.E.A.
  • D.E.A.
  • Keeping an eye on the green.

Instead, the DEA promised to end its monopoly on the only supplies of pot deemed worthy of research. Up until now, the DEA only allowed one government-licensed medical pot farm, at the University of Mississippi.

Under the new rules, many more licensed farms could exist, and provide researchers the weed they need to get pot rescheduled once and for all.

John Hudak with Brookings put together a great explainer on how more research pot farms could accomplish marijuana law reformers’ goals, just at a more incremental pace. Here’s five things to know:

1) Rescheduling Isn’t Salvation or Damnation
Changing pot’s official federal status changes little on the ground in the now 37 medical pot states, who are going their own way.

“All those who believed rescheduling would be manna from Heaven, or the devil incarnate tossing the cannabis industry into eternal flames, exaggerated a minor administrative action.”

2) Ending the Monopoly on Research Weed is a Big Effing Deal
The DEA has been under broad, bipartisan and even State Department pressure to end its stranglehold on so-called research weed. After decades of opposition — they’ve caved. It’s historic.

“The government was complicit in holding science back and the monopoly was largely to blame. While the result was not a malicious effort from the grower(s) charged with administering the monopoly, the results of the policy were dangerous for the empirical study of cannabis, nonetheless.”

3) More Research Farms = More Pressure on DEA
Hudak confirms cannabis policy is trapped in a "Catch-22" where researchers are not allowed to prove cannabis should be allowed to be researched.

“Ending the DEA-mandated NIDA monopoly will mean that better, more careful, more precise, more theoretically-driven research can be conducted. That means better, more convincing answers to one of the central questions in this policy space: does marijuana have medical value.”

4) 'Schedule 1' Marijuana Remains Doomed
Widely considered a farce by both physicians and lawmakers, cannabis’ Schedule 1 status is more about bureaucratic lag than scientific validity. About 60 percent of Americans support legalizing pot, including a majority of doctors. A super-majority supports medical use. Hundreds of studies attest to both its medical efficacy and low potential for abuse.

“The days of prohibition, the days of public fear of marijuana, and the days of a public agreeing that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin or LSD have come to an end. In the process, policies like marijuana’s Schedule I status have adopted a very short shelf-life,” Hudak writes.

5) DEA Rejection Is A Windfall for Legalizers
A bigger DEA victory could have been used to take wind out state-level legalization efforts. The argument being, 'why rush ahead at the state level when the feds are coming around?' Instead, marijuana law reform groups could seize on the DEA's overt rejection of science, reason, public and doctor opinion to energize reform efforts over the next 88 days until the election. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Anti-Legalizers Sue California Over Prop 64 Ballot Language

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 10:06 AM


Time for some legalization lawsuit tit-for-tat, folks.

Supporters of cannabis prohibition sued the California Secretary of State on August 4, alleging voters could be misled about legalization initiative Proposition 64.

The ballot arguments for and against the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will go to the courts this week.
  • The ballot arguments for and against the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will go to the courts this week.

No on 64 alleges that Yes on Prop. 64's ballot arguments are false and misleading for two reasons: 1) TV advertising; and 2) pot delivery services.

When voters get their sample ballots, Prop. 64’s arguments in favor state that: “Nothing in 64 makes it legal to show marijuana ads on TV. Federal law prohibits it!”

The Prop. 64 arguments also state that: “Sale of nonmedical marijuana will be legal only at highly-regulated, licensed marijuana businesses, and only adults 21+ will be permitted to enter.”

But opponents of the measure — which allows adults 21 and over to carry one ounce in public and grow six plant at home — are saying those statements are false.

“The first statement is false and misleading because the initiative specifically contemplates TV advertising.  In fact, although Prop 64 includes an exhaustive list of advertising prohibitions – it does NOT include television broadcast.  In addition, the measure even spells out exactly how the television piece would work:

‘Any advertising or marketing placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital communications shall only be displayed where at least 71. 6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data.’

No on 64 says the second statement about where legal sales can occur is false and misleading because “Proposition 64 does much more than allow sale of marijuana in brick and mortar retail stores.  Proposition 64 also authorizes sale by delivery service.”

But on its face, both of No on 64’s lawsuit claims seem to lack merit.

Regarding the first claim, Prop 64 cannot make it legal to show pot ads radio or TV, which are federally controlled. If the feds suddenly legalize pot, Prop 64 actually protects consumers by saying where the ads could run.

The second disputed claim is factually accurate: “sale of non-medical marijuana will be legal only at highly-regulated, licensed marijuana businesses”. It in no way implies those businesses are only brick-and-mortar, in an era where Americans get literally everything delivered.

Here is the link to the No on Prop. 64 lawsuit.

Earlier last week, Yes on 64 started the legal challenges by filing suit alleging No on 64 was making false and misleading arguments on the ballot.  That lawsuit has much more merit. Led by Sen. Diane Feinstein, the No on Prop. 64 ballot arguments state that the law will expose children “to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.”

In reality, Prop. 64 prohibits pot products “designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods," the law states Prop. 64 has four explicit separate child protection provisions.

“[I]t is provably false to suggest children will in any way be exposed to advertisements promoting marijuana gummy candy or brownies,” Prop. 64 states.

No on 64’s lawsuit goes to a hearing on Friday at 11 a.m. in Superior Court in Sacramento County.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Marijuana Legalization Proponents Sue Sen. Dianne Feinstein Over Proposition 64

by David Downs
Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 8:04 AM

Lying about the potential impacts of marijuana legalization is often par-for-the-course for law enforcement, but this election season reformers are calling foul.

Time is not on her side: "DINO" Sen. Dianne Feinstein
  • Time is not on her side: "DINO" Sen. Dianne Feinstein
The proponents of California legalization initiative Proposition 64 announced Thursday a lawsuit against their opposition for making false and misleading statements to the public.

The official “Arguments in Opposition to Prop. 64” contain false and misleading statements regarding advertising and consumer protections, according to Prop. 64 supporters.

“Defenders of the failed war on marijuana are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts,” stated Jason Kinney, spokesperson for Yes on 64, in a release. “More so than any I’ve seen in recent memory, the ballot arguments submitted with a straight face by the opponents fundamentally and factually misrepresent this ballot measure and are riddled with obvious falsehoods. These aren’t evidence-based arguments – they are scare tactics – and they’re sadly reminiscent of the ‘reefer madness’-style disinformation campaigns that subverted honest dialogue around this issue for decades.”

“California’s voters demand and deserve better – and I have every confidence that an objective legal authority will reject these false and misleading statements out of hand,” he stated.
Prop. 64’s lawsuit demands that the official “Argument Against Proposition 64 or the Rebuttal to the Argument in Favor in Proposition 64” be rejected, deleted, or substantially amended.

Prop. 64 is a marijuana decriminalization and regulation measure that would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of bud in public and grow six plants. The multibillion-dollar cannabis industry would be subject to first-ever consumer protection regulations and licensure.

Prop. 64 is one of the most endorsed legalization initiatives of all time, with support from the California Academy of Preventative Medicine; the California Medical Association; sitting California Lt Gov. Gavin Newsom; bipartisan elected officials including Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu and Jared Huffman and Republican U.S. Rep Dana Rohrabacher; and an unprecedented coalition of environmental, business owners, small farmers, civil rights, public safety and social justice groups. 

According to campaign-finance reports, The No on Prop 64 is primarily comprised of groups affected by the end of the war on weed — such as prison bosses, police chiefs, rehab clinics, prescription drug makers and alcohol interests — who stand to lose billions of dollars on legalization's shift away from arrests, prison, pills and booze. About 20,000 Californians will be arrested and adjudicated for pot this year, at a cost of about $100 million in tax dollars, state officials report.

The Prop. 64 lawsuit names opposition leader Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other argument authors. In the argument against, Feinstein says Prop. 64 will expose children “to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.”

In reality, Prop. 64 prohibits pot products “designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods," the ballot initiative states. Prop. 64 also bans weed ads aimed at people under 21.

“[I]t is provably false to suggest children will in any way be exposed to advertisements promoting marijuana gummy candy or brownies,” Prop. 64 states.

Prop. 64’s foes also misstate the initiative would “repeal countless consumer protections,” when in fact “it builds on those laws and protections.”

Opponents of prohibition’s end also argue Prop. 64 “rolls back the total prohibition of smoking ads on TV.” That’s false, since multiple federal laws, not state laws, control advertising on television stations, which are federally licensed.

Opponents of marijuana law reform have begun to lean heavily on "what about the children" arguments.

Pro-cannabis groups are also claiming to speak for children. Moms United To End the War on Drugs states that the "country's failed drug policies" have wrecked havoc on the American family.

"Over 30,000 people are in prison in California for a drug offense; two-thirds for a possession offense," Moms United noted.

The No on 64 campaign is currently paying for targeted Google ads stating, that Prop 64: "Legalizes smoking ads on TV in CA."


Friday, August 5, 2016

Bay Area Weed Authors Throw Free Book Party 'Lit LIT!' Aug. 17

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 12:01 PM

lit lit new pot book author showcase flyer

Once a taboo topic, marijuana-related books now flood American stores, promising everything from gardening and cooking tips, to hours of stoned coloring joy.

On Thursday, August 17 in San Francisco, hundreds of Bay Area cannabis fans and allies celebrate the bumper crop of books with the free event Lit LIT! — The New Pot Book Author Showcase, featuring leading voices, free food, drink, music, readings, signs and book sales. Coming to 60 13th St. #D in San Francisco — the headquarters of the Meadow pot tech company, Lit LIT! includes interviews and panel discussion with:

Just in time for the legalization vote, Ed Rosenthal’s Big Book of Buds Greatest Hits distills the best-selling series into 95 essential, commercially available strains, with gorgeous, mouth-watering art high resolutions photos and insider tips on cultivation. Chief editor Ellen Holland updated and curated the reference book. Holland coordinates the content for Cannabis Now Magazine, the first marijuana magazine available on iTunes with publications now available at airports nationwide, and is working with Rosenthal on the 2017 release This Bud’s for You: Selecting, Growing and Enjoying Legal Marijuana.

World-class cannabis expert Chris Conrad teaches at Oaksterdam University and the International Pharmacological Academy and has given numerous presentations for continuing legal education (CLE) and continuing medical education (CME) programs. Conrad and Daw’s “The Newbies Guide to Cannabis & The Industry” helps direct the wave of green rush entrants toward success in the industry, which will generate $40 billion in economic activity by 2020. Daw graduated Harvard Law School and also authored Weed the People: From Founding Fiber to Forbidden Fruit.

Best-selling author and award-winning journalist David Downs wrote The Medical Marijuana Guidebook at the request of patients now living in U.S.' 37 medical marijuana states.

Called 'America's medical pot whisperer', Downs reaches a combined two million readers per month through his outlets, including the East Bay Express, Smell the Truth on, CULTURE Magazine, Cannabis Now Magazine, and The Hash podcast.  Downs contributed to 2014’s best-selling Beyond Buds by Ed Rosenthal with David Downs, and releases Marijuana Harvest by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs this Fall. Downs is producing Lit LIT! as part of a three-year-old author event series.

“Every author appearing is a huge book nerd at heart. It’s a privilege to be able to combine both the love of scholarship, the love of cannabis, and help change lives for the better,” he said.

The 2016 book authors will be joined in conversation with special surprise guests, before breaking for book sales, signings, and refreshments 6:00-8:00 p.m. Thursday.

The free event is reachable via BART’s 16th St. station and a 10-minute walk.

The event is made possible in part by media sponsors: East Bay Express - Legalization Nation; Smell the Truth on; Cannabis Now Magazine; Quick American Publishing; Reset.Me alternative health journal; The Hash podcast; as well industry sponsors like Meadow technology; the Berkeley Patients Group dispensary in Berkeley; Bay Area C.R.A.F.T. delivery and readers like you.

Stay tuned for more sponsors and guests. And RSVP for your place at Lit LIT! using eventbrite.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Las Vegas Now A Bust for Most California Medical Pot Patients

by David Downs
Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 10:41 AM

What happens in Vegas has to happen in Vegas, guys.

This week, the Nevada medical-cannabis industry is reeling from the news that Nevada pot shops cannot serve the biggest patient-base in the world: Californians with a doctor’s referral.

Las Vegas, via Flickr. - VIA BOB DASS - FLICKR
  • via Bob Dass - Flickr
  • Las Vegas, via Flickr.
Only Californians with an official state medical pot ID card can take advantage of Nevada’s “reciprocity” law, whereby out-of-state patients can buy legal medical pot, the Nevada Attorney General announced.

The Nevada AG’s new clarification makes Vegas a bust for Californians hoping to do some casual drug tourism. Californians comprise up to 40 percent of sales at some Nevada medical pot shops, the Las Vegas Sun reports

Most Californians simply get a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis, and do not complete the optional second step of signing up for a state ID card with their county.

"While there are estimates that as many as 2 million California residents have physician recommendations, the state has issued fewer than 100,000 cards," notes, New Cannabis Ventures.   A recommendation picked up on the Venice boardwalk, or via iPhone, or even Stanford Medical Center won’t cut the mustard in Nevada anymore.

“A recommendation from a California physician ad (sic) a driver’s license from another state cannot be used to obtain medical marijuana from a Nevada dispensary,” Attorney General Adam Laxalt told state health officials.

Even a completed application for a California state medical cannabis ID card will not work — you need the real thing, Laxalt stated.

Nevada officials are grappling with heated consumer and business demand for Sin City weed tourism, where "420 Tours” have taken out-of-state customers to: 

“obtain a medical marijuana doctor’s note through a Skype chat with a California doctor in the back seat of his “Cannabus” SUV. The patients, frequently picked up on the Strip, describe their symptoms, receive a doctor’s recommendation printed on the spot and are taken to a Las Vegas dispensary of their choice, sometimes all in a span of less than 15 minutes."

“You have to say some kind of pain or insomnia or something like that,” said Oregon resident and 420 Tours customer Swan Rhodes, 26, earlier this year. “Just give them something.”

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