AlterNet.org: Phillip Smith https://www.alternet.org/authors/phillip-smith en Meet America's Most Powerful Drug Reformer: A Conversation with New Drug Policy Alliance Head Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno https://www.alternet.org/drugs/meet-americas-powerful-drug-reformer-drug-policy-alliance-maria-mcfarland-sanchez-moreno <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1080015'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080015" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Both opportunities and challenges await. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/maria_mcfarland_print2.jpg?itok=sasjThXh" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Led by Ethan Nadelmann since its formation 17 years ago, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has been the most influential drug reform organization in the country, with a hand in advancing the causes not only of medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, but of drug law reform more broadly, in all its manifestations and intersectionality.</p><p>Thanks in good part to Nadelmann's vision and the efforts of DPA—and its campaign and lobbying arm, the Drug Policy Action Network—in state houses and court houses, in Congress and in the bowels of the executive branch, in media outreach and educational campaigns, the drug laws in America have changed for the better. Pot has gone mainstream, the mass incarceration mania of the Reaganite drug war (abetted by too many Democrats) has broken, sensible and life-saving harm reduction measures are spreading.</p><p>But now Nadelmann is gone—off to well-deserved retirement and other pursuits—and DPA and the drug reform community face a  Trump administration apparently intent on reviving and revitalizing the worst of drug war practices from the last century. Nadelmann's successor not only has big shoes to fill, but also faces reactionary impulses in Washington.</p><p>That successor is Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, holder of a law degree from New York University School of Law and for the past 13 years Co-Director of the US Program for Human Rights Watch (HRW), where she picked up plenty of domestic drug policy experience. There, she managed a team that fights against racial discrimination in law enforcement, punitive sentencing, and deportation policies that tear families apart—all issues inextricably intertwined with the war on drugs.</p><p>The bilingual McFarland Sánchez-Moreno grew up in Peru and spent her early years at HRW researching Colombia, where drug profits helped fuel a decades-long civil war and corroded governmental legitimacy through corruption. That sharpened her awareness of the need for social justice and drug policy reform. She also pushed for the group to more directly take on the war on drugs as a human rights issue, and as a result, HRW became the first major international human rights organization to call for drug decriminalization and global drug reform.</p><p>She is regularly quoted and published in national and international media, has testified before Congress on multiple occasions and has extensive experience advocating with U.S. congressional offices, the White House, and the Departments of State, Justice and Defense.  She recently authored a non-fiction book, <em>There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia</em>, which will be published by Nation Books in February 2018.</p><p>Now, McFarland Sánchez-Moreno turns to drug reform as her primary remit, at the head of an organization with a $15 million budget, offices in California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, D.C.; a considerable cadre of experienced and talented professionals, and a well-earned reputation for being able to make drug reform actually happen. AlterNet spoke with McFarland Sánchez-Moreno on Friday about what lies ahead.</p><p><strong>AlterNet:</strong> You're about to head the most powerful drug reform group on the planet. What is it about you and your experience that makes you the person for this job?</p><p><strong>Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno: </strong>I don't know that I'm the right person to ask about that, but I will say I have been passionate about drug policy for a long time; it cuts across many of the social justice issues that I've been involved with throughout my career, starting in Colombia documenting atrocities committed by armed groups who were overwhelmingly financed by illicit drugs and for whom trafficking was their reason for existing. I came to realize that if you got rid of the illicit market, you could do serious damage to those groups.</p><p>And that continued in my work at HRW's US Program, covering issues like criminal justice and immigration, where you see so many vast problems in this country that are strongly linked to the war on drugs. From mass incarceration to large-scale deportations, a lot of it is people getting convicted of low-level drug offenses. And this also connects to a fundamental matter of justice: People shouldn't face prison time for choices about what they put in their bodies, absent harm to others.</p><p><strong>AlterNet:</strong> Does your selection suggest that DPA is going to be even more internationally focused than it is now?</p><p><strong>McFarland Sánchez-Moreno:</strong>It's too early to say whether we will invest more internationally, but our main focus has to be domestic. We're a national organization with offices in many states, and we want to build on that strength. There's plenty of work to do right here, so we will remain focused on the U.S. While there is an argument to be made for the importance of international work, you don't need to worry about us shifting away from the home front.</p><p><strong>AlterNet:</strong> What are some of the key global drug policy challenges? And where do you see opportunities for positive change?</p><p>Both domestically and internationally, there's real momentum around drug reform. After Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala called for an international discussion of drug policy, which led to last year's UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, the nature of the debate around drugs began to change, and we're seeing real openness to reform in many countries. At the same time, in places like the Philippines or Indonesia, you see serious backsliding, with large scale killings in the name of fighting the war on drugs in the former and use of the death penalty in the latter. And in places like Mexico and Central America, we're seeing very serious violence related to drug prohibition.</p><p>The international situation is complex: There are some openings, some room for progress—and when you have countries like Portugal and Uruguay moving toward reform and potentially setting good examples, that's something to point to here at home—but we still have very, very serious problems associated with the war on drugs that we need to monitor and speak up about.</p><p><strong>AlterNet:</strong> Here in the U.S., it's sort of a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, we have medical marijuana in 29 states, pot decriminalization in 13 or 14, and legalization in eight, with more likely to come in the next year or so. We have state legislatures enacting sentencing reforms and asset forfeiture reforms. At the same time, we have the Trump administration apparently leading federal drug policy down a retrograde prohibitionist path. How do you assess the overall situation?</p><p><strong>McFarland Sánchez-Moreno:</strong>It's similar to the international situation in that there are enormous opportunities for progress around marijuana law reform and harm reduction measures in some places, but we have a federal Justice Department that seems to be intent on doubling down on the war on drugs and using the most draconian measures possible.</p><p>All the horrors we're seeing with overdoses is leading many people to do some serious soul-searching about what's the best way to address this problem, so we're seeing some progress on harm reduction measures like access to naloxone, for example. Now, there's room to have some conversations where there wasn't before, such as decriminalizing the possession of all drugs. A few years ago, that would have been a hard conversation to have, but HRW released a report last year calling for it and DPA has just released its own report echoing that call, and there is a real receptiveness in the public to talking about that. We're in a different place now and can make progress at the state and local level.</p><p>But that fairly heated rhetoric coming from the attorney general, appealing to people's worst fears and often distorting reality, is a real problem. It's not just about what Sessions says and what policies he adopts at Justice; it's also about that dark narrative starting to take hold, people in other parts of the government thinking its more acceptable to return to those failed policies. It's disturbing to see bills filed that are headed in the wrong direction, like Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) Back the Blue Act (<a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s1134">Senate Bill 1134</a>). A year ago, he was part of bipartisan sentencing reform. Why is he going the other way now?</p><p>And then there's Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act (<a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s1327">Senate Bill 1237</a>), which would give Sessions the power to schedule new synthetic drugs without any scientific basis. I think having someone who is so extreme in his views at the Department of Justice is a green light for people in other parts of the government to take us in the wrong direction. This is a major challenge for DPA and the drug reform movement in general, and we will be focusing on that right off the bat.</p><p><strong>AlterNet:</strong> Let's talk about racial equity. How do we advance that? Whether it's participation in the legal marijuana industry or sentencing policy or consent decrees to rein in police departments, race is implicated.</p><p><strong>McFarland Sánchez-Moreno:</strong>It's all bound up with what's coming out of Washington and the broader policies we're talking about. It's hard to disentangle racial justice issues from some of these other issues. We've been working on drug reforms in New Jersey and New York, and one of our biggest concerns has been to ensure that new reforms have a strong focus on empowering the very communities most damaged by the war on drugs. Making sure drug reforms takes that perspective into account and creates new opportunities for those communities is a critical part of our work.</p><p>Sessions backing away from consent decrees, the demonization of Black Lives Matter, and all that is very clearly tied to rhetoric coming from the White House and the Justice Department that is designed to stigmatize groups and lump people who use drugs in with drug dealers, with communities of color, with immigrants. They use that demonizing combination to justify very harsh policies that will be devastating to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. We have to fight back against that; it's a big part of the story here.</p><p>And then there's the impact of the drug war on immigration policy. My colleagues at Human Rights Watch documented how a very large number of immigrants—and not just undocumented ones—ended up deported because they had a drug conviction, in many cases from many years back. They are torn apart from their families and often sent to places with which they have little connection, countries where they don't even speak the language. It's not just the deported—their kids, parents, spouses, sibling, all of them suffer serious consequences. It's cruel and senseless.</p><p>It's very clear this administration has made immigration enforcement a top priority. Some very extreme portion of its base really views this as a priority. It's hard to talk to them, but most of the country favors immigration reform, and a very large and increasing number of people understand that using the criminal law when talking about drug use is harmful and makes no sense. If we can make progress on drug reform, we also make progress on immigration by reducing the number of people convicted and exposed to deportation. We have to talk about these issues together and work with immigration reform groups and take them on board in our joint fight. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1080015'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080015" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:30:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1080015 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics World drug policy alliance Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno drugs prohibition donald trump jeff sessions marijuana immigration deportation harm reduction overdoses philippines colombia indonesia racial justice sentencing reform Drug Policy Alliance Names New Executive Director https://www.alternet.org/drugs/drug-policy-alliance-names-new-executive-director <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079921'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079921" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno will take over the helm of the nation&#039;s most powerful drug reform organization. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/maria_mcfarland_print2.jpg?itok=sasjThXh" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation's most powerful drug reform organization, has selected a replacement for founder and long-time executive director Ethan Nadelmann, who announced his retirement earlier this year. </p><p>The DPA board of directors announced Tuesday it had voted unanimously to appoint Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno as Nadelmann's successor. </p><p>McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is moving over from Human Rights Watch, where for the past 13 years she served as Co-Director of the US Program, where she picked up plenty of domestic and international drug policy experience. She also pushed for the group to more directly take on the war on drugs as a human rights issue, and as a result, Human Rights Watch became the first major international human rights organization to call for drug decriminalization and global drug reform. </p><p>She grew up in Peru and spent her early years at Human Rights Watch researching Colombia, where drug profits helped fuel a decades-long civil war and corroded governmental legitimacy through corruption. That sharpened her awareness of the need for social justice and drug policy reform. </p><p>"We are excited to have found someone with such passion to reverse and remedy the destructive effects of the drug war, and with the knowledge, experience and persistence to do it," said DPA board president Ira Glasser. </p><p>As Co-Director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch, she manages a team that fights against racial discrimination in law enforcement, punitive sentencing, and deportation policies that tear families apart—all issues inextricably intertwined with the war on drugs. </p><p>"The war on drugs is a root cause of many of the injustices I have fought throughout my career," said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. "I’m both honored and delighted to now take on the cause of ending the war on drugs, as part of an organization that has already been behind groundbreaking reforms in the U.S. and abroad."</p><p>McFarland Sánchez-Moreno takes over at a very interesting time for drug reform. On one hand, marijuana legalization is becoming more popular and more widespread, and a large number of states have also embarked on other drug reform policies, such as reducing harsh sentencing practices. On the other hand, the federal government under the Trump administration appears determined to move aggressively backward on drug reform. </p><p>"We cannot allow fearmongering, ignorance, and dishonesty about drugs to drive policy in the United States," said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. "At this critical time, the Drug Policy Alliance’s mission of educating the public and policymakers, and advocating for a rational, compassionate approach to drugs, is more important than ever."</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079921'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079921" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 13:15:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079921 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drug policy alliance Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno human rights watch war on drugs marijuana DONALD TRUMP ADMINISTRATION Jeff Sessions Wants More Asset Forfeiture—Especially in Drug Cases https://www.alternet.org/drugs/jeff-sessions-wants-more-asset-forfeiture-especially-drug-cases <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079844'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079844" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As more and more states respond to public outcry over asset forfeiture abuses, the attorney general wants to ramp it up at the federal level.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/jeff-sessions-800x430.jpg?itok=SEFzzH_s" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that the Dept. of Justice will seek to increase the use of asset forfeiture by state and local police forces</p><p>Asset forfeiture is a practice in which police seize cash and property. It has come under sustained criticism in recent years, with critics arguing that it amounts to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/10/report-in-lean-times-police-start-taking-a-lot-more-stuff-from-people/?utm_term=.1e135b7dc689" target="_blank">policing for profit</a>, and state legislatures around the country have moved to rein it in. But Attorney General Sessions is headed in the opposite direction.Sessions said in <a href="https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-delivers-remarks-national-district-attorneys-association" target="_blank">prepared remarks</a> for the National District Attorney's Association meeting, "We hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers. With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime."</p><p>But it's not just criminals who fall victim to asset forfeiture. Federal law and many states allow the seizure of cash or property without convicting or even charging someone with a crime, a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture. And some fairly significant chunks of money can be involved: As <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/17/jeff-sessions-wants-police-to-take-more-cash-from-american-citizens/" target="_blank">The Washington Post</a></em> noted, the Justice Department's Inspector General has found that since 2007, the DEA alone has seized <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/29/since-2007-the-dea-has-taken-3-2-billion-in-cash-from-people-not-charged-with-a-crime/" target="_blank">more than $3 billion in cash</a>, in cases in which the owners were never charged with crimes.</p><p>While <a href="http://ij.org/report/policing-for-profit/" target="_blank">many states</a> allow police to keep the cash they seize, others have enacted legislation directing that forfeiture funds go to the general fund or some other specified fund, depriving law enforcement of a revenue stream to which it had become accustomed. Police in such states evade such laws by turning over seizures to federal law enforcement, which then returns 80 percent of it to the local law enforcement agencies. The feds and the cops get their money; other state purposes that would have benefited do not.</p><p>It's called the Equitable Sharing Program, and that's the "adoptive forfeiture" Sessions referenced in his speech. He was making clear that he intends to undo <a href="https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-prohibits-federal-agency-adoptions-assets-seized-state-and-local-law" target="_blank">a 2015 Justice Department memo</a> authorized by then-Attorney General Eric Holder curtailing the practice.</p><p>"Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate," Sessions emphasized, "as is sharing with our partners."</p><p>That isn't sitting too well with Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney for the <a href="http://www.ij.org/" target="_blank">Institute for Justice</a>, a DC-based nonprofit that describes itself as "the Law Firm for Liberty."</p><p>"This is a federalism issue," Johnson told the <em><a href="http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/jeff-sessions-wants-police-to-take-more-cash-from-american-citizens/ar-BBECcJm" target="_blank">Post</a></em>. "Any return to federal adoptive forfeitures would circumvent limitations on civil forfeiture that are imposed by state legislatures… the Department of Justice is saying 'we're going to help state and local law enforcement to get around those reforms.'"</p><p>The move is also drawing criticism from at least one Capitol Hill arch-conservative, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). In a statement Monday, he told <em><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2017/07/17/sessions-announces-justice-department-wi" target="_blank">Reason</a></em> he had serious concerns with a return to aggressive federal asset forfeiture, and he cited Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2017/06/21/clarence-thomas-attacks-civil-asset-forf">remarkable dissent</a> in an asset forfeiture case before the court last month.</p><p>"As Justice Thomas has previously said, there are serious constitutional concerns regarding modern civil asset forfeiture practices," Lee said. "The Department has an obligation to consider due process constraints in crafting its civil asset forfeiture policies."</p><p>But Attorney General Sessions gave no indication he's going to be slowed down by such considerations. Between his embrace of asset forfeiture, his threatening comments about legal marijuana, and his call for a return to harsh federal drug sentencing practices, Sessions is turning out to be just as bad as reformers thought he would be.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079844'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079844" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:49:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079844 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics jeff sessions asset forfeiture dea drugs Equitable Sharing Program law enforcement Marijuana for the 1%: Meet the $420 Cannabis Cigar https://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-1-meet-420-cannabis-cigar <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079719'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079719" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Do you have too much money and not enough cannabis cachet? There&#039;s a product for you. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/leira-cannagars_1.png?itok=6K2kNcLf" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div><p>There's money to be made in marijuana, and one way of doing it is establishing a high-end niche. That's what Seattle-based <a href="http://www.leiracannagars.com/">Leira Cannagars</a> is hoping to do with their pot cigars, lovingly crafted, lavishly marketed, and not cheap.</p><p>Leira markets itself as "420 for the 1%" on their website and tempts potential customers to cough up hard cash for a product that "represents success, luxury, and sophistication."</p><p>Leira offers two cigar sizes—the cigarillo and the corona—with the former coming in at 3 ¼  inches long and weighing in at four grams of weed and a half-gram of rosin wrapped in an actual marijuana leaf. It's supposed to take an hour to smoke. It'll lighten your wallet to the tune of $110. </p><p>The corona comes in at six inches, which contains 12 grams of bud, three grams of rosin, and is advertised to last for five hours. It can be yours for only $420.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="320" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="320" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/leira_cannagars_3.jpg?itok=5Hfgpxkq" /></div></div><p>According to Alison Gootee at <em><a href="http://www.wweek.com/cannabis/2017/07/12/a-new-site-selling-luxury-cannabis-cigars-bills-itself-as-420-for-the-1-percent-so-we-tried-it/">The Potlander</a>,  </em>who actually tried one out, the experience was a bit of a disappointment. The hollow-centered cigar burned her lips when she tried to suck on it like a joint. "Since I have smoked pot way more times than I have smoked cigars, it took a long time to figure out the best way to hit this thing," she wrote.</p><p>And she couldn't get past the price: "For a 99 percenter like me, it was hard to enjoy the curling smoke without seeing it as money burning away between my fingers," she complained.</p><p>Still, if you've got too much money and want to burn some of it on bourgeois buds, there's a pot cigar waiting for you in Seattle. But don't hesitate—deep-pocketed hipsters eager to flaunt some cannabis cool ensure that the cigars "sell out within hours or on the weekend they're dropped," one shop owner told <em>The Potlander</em>.</p><p>In this video, Leira is happy to tell you all about their cannagars:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="540" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S0lqe4X9Hik" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079719'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079719" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:13:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079719 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video marijuana cannabis cigars Leira Cannagars seattle washington Outrageous Massachusetts Drug Bill Would Send You to Prison and Steal Your Car—No Drugs Needed https://www.alternet.org/drugs/outrageous-massachusetts-drug-will-send-prison-steal-car-no-drugs <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079601'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079601" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The proposed measure redefines reality to make a drug crime out of literally nothing.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/police_traffic_stop_millington_tn_2013-11-24_001.jpg?itok=s41LsbH8" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>With <a href="http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31112445/fitchburg-rep-eyes-hidden-compartments-vehicles">the support of state law enforcement</a>, a Massachusetts Democratic state representative has filed a drug war bill that would send violators to prison for a mandatory minimum two years (five years for a second offense) and allow police to seize their vehicles—all without the presence of any actual drugs.</p><p>Sponsored by Rep. Stephan Hay (D-Fitchburg), the measure, <a href="https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1266">House Bill 1266</a>, makes it a crime to have a hidden compartment in one's vehicle or to try to add one—and it <em>presumes</em> that any hidden compartment in a vehicle is for "for the purpose of transporting or distributing controlled substances" and related contraband, such as cash or weapons. As the bill specifies in its asset forfeiture section:</p><blockquote><p>Proof that a conveyance contains a hidden compartment as defined in this section shall be prima facie evidence that the conveyance was used intended for use in and for the business of unlawfully manufacturing, dispensing, or distributing controlled substances.</p></blockquote><p>This is a legislative attempt to redefine reality in the name of drug war priorities akin to South Dakota's law deeming meth use or possession by a parent as <a href="http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/377/sdlaw.shtml">child abuse</a>. Despite that law, meth use <em>is not</em> child abuse, although it could lead to it. Similarly, having a hidden compartment in a car does not mean one is involved in trafficking, although one could be. But in both cases, legislators seek to twist reality to sync with prohibitionist—and punitive—ideology.</p><p>Only one state, Ohio, actually has a similar law on the books, and it has only been used once, but that one instance should be disturbing. In 2013, state troopers stopped Norman Gurley and discovered a secret compartment in his vehicle. They found no drugs but arrested him <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/21/driver-arrested-in-ohio-for-secret-car-c">anyway</a> on charges he broke the secret compartment law. That case briefly became a <a href="http://reason.com/archives/2013/11/27/court-hearing-raises-more-questions-abou">national news sensation</a> before fading into obscurity, but it still lives: Gurley is set for a jury trial in December.</p><p>Police in Massachusetts are supporting this bill not only because it gives them one more tool in their war on drugs, but also because they get to keep any cars they seize. Massachusetts has the worst civil asset forfeiture laws <a href="http://ij.org/pfp-state-pages/pfp-Massachusetts/">in the country</a>, and unlike states that are lining up to end forfeitures without a criminal conviction, as neighboring <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/instituteforjustice/2017/07/11/connecticut-just-banned-civil-forfeiture-without-a-criminal-conviction/#14a67f6952e7">Connecticut did this week</a>, cops only need to reach the threshold of probable cause that someone's cash or car or other property is related to a crime to seize it. This bill would make it all the easier, and they wouldn't even need to find any drugs. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079601'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079601" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 15:26:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079601 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs massachusetts asset forfeiture mandatory minimums drugs hidden compartment Rep. Stephan Hay WATCH: The British Military Doses Some Marines With LSD https://www.alternet.org/drugs/watch-british-military-doses-some-marines-lsd <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076208'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076208" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Hilarity—not military efficiency—ensues. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/psychedelic_mind.jpg?itok=mnisGJv_" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The U.S. Army and the CIA weren't the only people experimenting with LSD as a potential battlefield weapon back in the Cold War days. Our British allies were also testing the possibility of neurochemical warfare—and using their own soldiers as guinea pigs.</p><p>The CIA project, code-named <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/mkultra?page=6">Project MK Ultra</a>, and the Army's strange drug-testing program at the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/high-anxiety-lsd-in-the-cold-war">Edgewood Arsenal</a> both struck out when it came to LSD. The powerful psychedelic produced effects too unpredictable and untamable to prove useful for military or clandestine warfare purposes. As the video below demonstrates, the British came to similar conclusions.</p><p>The video shows footage of a field test of LSD-25 on British marines, who were unaware they were being dosed. Within minutes of ingestion, the drug begins to take effect.</p><p>"The men no longer take cover. They relax and begin to giggle," the narrator explains. "The troops have lost their air of urgency, and many men are laughing. Men with no specific task to perform have lapsed into laughter and inconsequential behavior."</p><p>Inconsequential behavior? Well, that just won't do, will it?</p><p>"With one man climbing a tree, the field commander gives up," the narrator explains. "I cannot control the men, and I can take no action myself. I am wiped out as an attacking force."</p><p>The British military very shortly thereafter gave up on LSD as a weapon of war.</p><p><em>Watch what LSD did to the 41st Royal Marine Commando in December 1964. Video is courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London</em>:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KWodyapGNxI" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076208'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076208" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 18:59:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076208 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video Project MK Ultra Edgewood Arsenal lsd british military 41st Royal Marine Commando Colorado's "Walmart of Weed" Comes to Telluride; Competitors Concerned https://www.alternet.org/drugs/colorado-walmart-weed-telluride-competitors-concerned <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079389'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079389" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As competition heats up, Colorado marijuana retailers face not a drug war, but a price war. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/telluride_from_the_ski_hill_wiki_0.jpg?itok=SWABqyGw" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Is it too much of a good thing? The Colorado ski resort town of Telluride already has four pot shops. Now, a Denver-based chain is moving in, and the existing marijuana retailers aren't happy. </p><p>It's a mark of progress of sorts: The state has moved beyond fighting marijuana legalization; now the fights are about who has the opportunity to rake in big bucks from selling it.   </p><p>As the <a href="http://www.summitdaily.com/opinion/mountain-town-news-starbucks-of-marijuana-unwelcome-by-other-telluride-stores/">Summit Daily reported</a>, the Green Dragon chain of pot shops has 10 stores, including ones in the ski towns of Aspen, Breckenridge, and Glenwood Springs. Green Dragon sells only recreational weed and it sells it cheap: $5 a gram. </p><p>That's causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Telluride competition, with one store manager calling the chain "the Walmart of Weed" and another calling it "the Starbucks of marijuana." The competitors complain that Green Dragon is undercutting them and, more controversially, "that those with medical needs will be hurt by this price-cutting." </p><p>Green Dragon's imminent arrival also has some existing pot shops calling for new rules to regulate marijuana sales. Currently in Telluride, there are no caps on pot shop numbers and no special zoning requirements, such as limiting them to industrial areas. But now there is talk about caps and even banning chain pot shops. </p><p>Such is life in the post-pot prohibition era. In states where it is legal, marijuana moves from the crime section to the business pages. And that's good for everybody—except, perhaps, pot shop owners facing tough competition. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079389'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079389" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 07 Jul 2017 13:46:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079389 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs colorado marijuana pot shops Telluride medical marijuana Green Dragon Watch: Snorting Chocolate for an Ecstasy-Like High? Apparently, It Works https://www.alternet.org/drugs/watch-snorting-chocolate-ecstasy-high-apparently-thing <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079383'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079383" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Are you looking for &quot;a steady rush of euphoric energy and motivation that is great for party goers to dance the night away without a crash&quot;?</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/coco-loko_legal_lean_0.jpg?itok=HW94aDKn" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in">Snortable chocolate offering a high "similar to ecstasy" is now available for sale in the United States. Sold under the brand name Coco Loko by Florida-based Legal Lean, the "infused raw cacao snuff" costs $19.99 for a 1.25 ounce tub.  <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in">Legal Lean owner and CEO Nick Anderson said he got the idea after seeing the craze take off in Europe a couple of years ago.<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in">"It's basically crazy chocolate because it's chocolate mixed with other things for a crazy effect," a wide-eyed Anderson told Good Morning America. <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in">Those "other things" include the popular energy drink ingredients taurine and guarana. <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in">"Anybody who wants to just party, dance, and have a little bit of extra energy, that's mostly our market," said Anderson. <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in">His marketing makes that clear: "<span style="color:black">A sudden rush of serotonin will produce an elevated mood and state of euphoria similar to the feeling of ecstasy. This is the feeling that will make music sound better and overall happiness," the website explains. <p></p></span></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in"><span style="color:black">And it's not just ecstasy that gets a call-out: "When endorphins are released, it triggers a feeling of well-being in your body similar to morphine."</span></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="452" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="452" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/coco_loko.jpg?itok=kn7ajjU4" /></div><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:.2in;margin-left:0in"><span style="color:black"><p></p></span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><span style="color:black">Anderson apparently figured this all out on his own: "I didn’t consult with any medical professionals, I basically just saw what was going on with Europe," he said. "There was no health issues, it’s been out two, three years, everybody seems fine, it’s very popular. There’s really no negative publicity so I thought we’re good to go."</span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><span style="color: black;">But a physician consulted by Good Morning America was chary of a product that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.</span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><span style="color: black;">"In medicine and science we like decades ideally, or many, many years, tens of thousands of patients — we just don’t know, that’s the short answer," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton. "But to be clear, when there are stimulants involved, we know that there can be physiological effects on the body. It can increase the heart rate, it can increase blood pressure, obviously it can give a jolt of energy, and potentially — if you’re talking about high doses — these can be significant."</span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"> </p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;vertical-align:baseline"><span style="color: black;">Here's more on Coco Loko:</span></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="353" scrolling="no" src="http://metro.co.uk/video/embed/1497079" title="Metro Embed Video Player" width="540"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079383'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079383" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 07 Jul 2017 12:41:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079383 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video Coco Loko chocolate taurine guarana ecstasy morphine Legal Lean Nick Anderson Legal Marijuana Is a Big-Time Job Creation Engine https://www.alternet.org/drugs/legal-marijuana-american-job-creation-engine <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079135'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079135" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">And that&#039;s not even counting people making a living in the black market. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_dispensary_sonya_yruel_dpa.jpg?itok=ct2kG0ik" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It's been less than four years since the first legal recreational sales in the United States took place in Colorado, but since then, the U.S. marijuana industry has been creating jobs at rapid pace, and there are now more people employed in the pot industry than in a number of common professions.</p><p>That's according to a new report from <em>Marijuana Business Daily's</em> <a href="https://mjbizdaily.com/factbook/">Marijuana Business Factbook 2017</a>, which pegged the size of the pot labor force at somewhere between 165,000 and 230,000 full- and part-time workers.</p><p>That's compared to 169,000 massage therapists, 185,000 bakers, and 201,000 dental hygienists. And pot industry workers are on a path to shortly exceed the number of telemarketers (238,000) and pharmacists (297,000).</p><p>Granted, the legal marijuana industry begins with a base of several tens of thousands of workers producing and selling medical marijuana products, especially in California, with its loose medical marijuana law, but the boom is being propelled by growth in the recreational market, and that is only set to continue and accelerate as more legal states come online next year, including California, Maine and Massachusetts. Nevada joined the ranks of the legal pot selling states on July 1.</p><p>California's recreational pot market by itself could generate around $5 billion in annual retail sales within a few years, doubling the size of the current legal weed market and creating a massive impact on job creation there.</p><p>In arriving at its numbers, <em>Marijuana Business Daily</em> included employment figures for retailers, wholesale growers, edibles and concentrates producers, testing labs, and ancillary firms, such as companies providing legal, marketing, security or other services to marijuana companies. The industry daily used a variety of methodologies, including survey data, on the average number of employees for each kind of company in the business, and that data was then applied to the estimated number of companies in each sector to arrive at final estimates.</p><p>One important caveat: The employment numbers mentioned here cover only a fraction of the people involved in the marijuana business—those involved in the <em>legal</em> marijuana business. Even when California, Maine, and Massachusetts begin legal retail sales next year, the legal pot states will only amount to about one-fifth of the U.S. population, and people are growing and selling marijuana in all the other states, too. From black market growers to clandestine dabs lab workers to cross-country couriers to dorm-room dealers, the number of people making a living in the illegal pot industry undoubtedly still dwarfs the number doing it legally. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079135'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079135" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 01 Jul 2017 12:41:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079135 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana jobs marijuana business daily bakers dental hygienists massage therapists telemarketers pharmacists california colorado maine massachusetts nevada 'Conduct that Shocks the Conscience': South Dakota Forcibly Catheterizes a Toddler in the Name of the War on Drugs https://www.alternet.org/drugs/conduct-shocks-conscience-south-dakota-forcibly-catheterize-toddler-drugs <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079118'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079118" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The barbaric practice is commonly used on drug defendants in the benighted state, but toddlers, too?</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/south_dakota_flickr_0.jpg?itok=N0qwSnz6" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The state of South Dakota is practicing a form of drug war excess tantamount to torture or sexual assault, according to a pair of federal lawsuits filed by the ACLU on June 28. One suit charges that law enforcement and medical personnel subject drug suspects to forcible catheterization if they refuse to submit to a drug test.</p><p>The second suit charges even more outrageous conduct: State social workers and medical personnel subjecting a screaming toddler to the same treatment, in a fruitless bid to bring a child abuse or neglect charge against his mother.</p><p>Let's be clear here: We are talking about a person having a plastic tube painfully inserted in his penis without his consent and with the use of whatever physical force is necessary by agents of the state. In the name of enforcing drug laws.</p><p>Law enforcement has an incentive to coerce people into consenting to warrantless drug tests, with the realistic threat of forced catheterization, because its state laws punish not just possession of drugs, but having used them. Under the state's "internal possession" or "unlawful ingestion" statutes, testing positive for illicit drugs is a criminal offense. </p><p>"Forcible catheterization is painful, physically and emotionally damaging, and deeply degrading," said ACLU of South Dakota executive director Heather Smith in a statement announcing the filings. "Catheterization isn’t the best way to obtain evidence, but it is absolutely the most humiliating. The authorities ordered the catheterization of our clients to satisfy their own sadistic and authoritarian desires to punish. Subjecting anyone to forcible catheterization, especially a toddler, to collect evidence when there are less intrusive means available, is unconscionable."</p><p>In the case of the toddler, the ACLU is suing on behalf of Kirsten Hunter of Pierre and her three-year-old son. According to <a href="https://www.aclusd.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/70629.child_.complaint.stamped.pdf">the complaint</a>, their ordeal began on February 23, when police arrived to arrest her live-in boyfriend for failing a probationary drug test. Accompanying the cops was Department of Social Services caseworker Matt Opbroeck, who informed Hunter that she and her children would have to take drug tests, and that if she failed to agree, her two kids would be seized on the spot.</p><p>Hunter agreed to take her kids to St. Mary's Avera Hospital to be tested the next day. Here, in the dry language of the legal filing is what happened to her three-year-old, identified as "A.Q.:"</p><blockquote><p>Ms. Hunter was met by [SMA medical staff] and told that she and her children needed to urinate in cups on orders of DSS.</p><p>At the time, A.Q., was not toilet-trained and could not produce a sample in a cup.</p><p>Even though other methods, such as placing a bag over his penis, would have yielded a urine sample, [SMA medical staff] immediately began to hold him down and to catheterize him.</p><p>At the time, [they] did not inform Ms. Hunter of altemative methods of getting a urine sample or explain the risks associated with catheterizing a child.</p><p>Ms. Hunter did not know that she could object nor was she given any opportunity to object. Ms. Hunter did not speak with or see a doctor.</p><p>A.Q. was catheterized and screamed during the entire procedure.</p><p>On information and belief, A.Q. was catheterized with an adult-sized catheter.</p><p>Ms. Hunter was humiliated and upset about A.Q.'s catheterization.</p><p>A.Q. was injured physically and emotionally.</p></blockquote><p>In the aftermath of the state-sanctioned assault, A.Q. had to be taken to a hospital emergency room in Huron for constipation and pain and discomfort in his penis three days later, and make another emergency room visit to ASM two days after that, when he was diagnosed with a staph infection in his penis.</p><p>Hunter and the ACLU are suing DSS caseworker Opbroeck; his bosses, Department of Social Services Secretary Lynn Valenti and DSS Division of Child Protective Services Director Virginia Wieseler; and St. Mary's Avera, Registered Nurse Katie Rochelle, Nurse Practitioner Teresa Cass, and four unnamed SMA medical employees.</p><p>The ACLU argues that forcible catheterization of A.Q. violates the Fourth Amendment's proscription against warrantless searches, the Fifth Amendment's right not to be forced to testify against oneself, and the 14th Amendment's due process clause because "it shocks the conscience, it was not medically necessary, and it was not reviewed by a judge." The lawsuit seeks monetary relief as well as declaration that the procedure is unconstitutional.</p><p>"The Fourth Amendment guarantees people the right to be free from unreasonable government searches,” said Courtney Bowie, ACLU of South Dakota legal director. "There is nothing reasonable about forcibly catheterizing a child. The Constitution’s purpose is to protect people from government intrusions exactly like this."</p><p>There is nothing reasonable about forcibly catheterizing drug defendants either—especially when the only drug use suspected is of marijuana—but the <a href="https://www.aclusd.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/70626.complaint.adults.stamped.pdf">second lawsuit</a> filed by the ACLU alleges the practice is widespread among law enforcement agencies in the state, including repeated allegations of forced catheterizations after the victims have agreed to provide urine samples.</p><p>"State agents, including law enforcement officers, in multiple cities and counties in South Dakota have conspired to attempt to rationalize, justify, and illegally forcibly catheterize drug suspects, and illegally coerce drug suspects to provide urine samples by threatening them with illegal forcible catheterization if they will not voluntarily provide a urine sample," the complaint says.</p><p>The conspiracy violates the civil rights not only of those subjected to forced catheterization, but those threatened with it, the ACLU argues.</p><p>The lawsuit has five plaintiffs, all of whom were subjected to the procedure, and lists 20 unnamed police officers from Pierre, Sisseton, and the Highway Patrol, as well as one named Pierre officer, and the cities of Pierre and Sisseton. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to stop the practice, as well as "compensatory and punitive damages."            </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079118'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079118" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 30 Jun 2017 21:34:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079118 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs south dakota pierre sisseton St. Mary's Avera ACLU of South Dakota Kristin Hunter Will Las Vegas Be the New Pot Tourism Capital of the U.S.? https://www.alternet.org/drugs/legal-pot-sales-nevada-8-things-you-need-know <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079054'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079054" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Legal pot sales begin in Nevada: eight things you need to know.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/las_vegas.jpg?itok=xZjnehJZ" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As of 12:01 a.m Saturday, legal adult marijuana sales begin in Nevada. And they will commence immediately, with dispensaries on the Las Vegas Strip announcing plans to be open to usher in Sin City's newest attraction.</p><p>But don't go lighting up on the Strip! Smoking in public is not allowed.</p><p>Nevada now joins Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in allowing people to legally buy and sell weed in pot shops. It's the first of the states where voters legalized it at the polls last year to see shops open, getting out of the gate ahead of California, Maine, and Massachusetts.</p><p>That's because the state fast-tracked legal pot sales by granting licenses to a few dozen existing medical marijuana dispensaries so they could sell to any adults while officials finalized regulations for the legal marijuana market, which was mandated to begin by January 1, 2018.  </p><p>So, now that you can add legal weed to Las Vegas's allures, here's a few things you need to know:</p><p><strong>1. How much can I buy?</strong> Visitors and residents alike can purchase up to an ounce of buds and up to an eighth-ounce of marijuana edibles.</p><p><strong>2. Where can I buy it?</strong> Look for medical marijuana dispensaries that have been granted recreational sales licenses. Those are clustered in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, including dispensaries on the Strip. There's a complete list of dispensaries <a href="http://www.rgj.com/story/news/marijuana/2017/03/20/map-all-nevada-marijuana-dispensaries/99280952/">here</a>, but remember, not all have the recreational sales okay, so if you're about to go shopping, contact them directly to find out.</p><p><strong>3. What do I need?</strong> You need to be at least 21 and have government-issued ID that says so. If you're a medical marijuana card holder, you don't have to be 21. And you need to have cash. That's because the federal government refuses to let banks handle marijuana business since pot is still federally illegal. Congress is working on this issue, but in the meantime, hit the ATM ahead of shopping.</p><p><strong>4. What should I buy?</strong> Regular consumers will have a pretty good idea what they like, but novices can consult their budtenders. There will be a variety of high-quality, high-potency strains on sale, both "stimulating" sativas and "enervating" indicas, as well as a dizzying plethora of hybrid strains.</p><p><strong>5. What about edibles?</strong> Edibles will be on sale, too, in a wide variety of forms, but because of <a href="http://www.rgj.com/story/news/college/2017/06/28/nevada-makes-emergency-changes-marijuana-edibles-law/437360001/">emergency regulations</a> issued Monday by the Department of Taxation, those products can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose or 100 milligrams per package. That 10 milligram measure is a good one; novice users will certainly feel an impact at that level. But those emergency regs, which also restrict packaging and labeling, are likely to produce initial shortages of edibles given the short lag time between their roll-out and opening day.</p><p><strong>6. What's it going to cost?</strong> Grams will be going for $10 to $15, ounces for anywhere from $150 for bargain buds to $325 for the primo. Edibles prices will depend on the various products. k</p><p><strong>7. Where can I smoke it?</strong> Well, therein lies the rub, especially for visitors. The only places smoking pot is allowed are at your home or on your front porch. There's no smoking it on the Strip, in clubs or casinos, at rock concerts, or any other public place. And there's no smoking it in hotel rooms, either. Either a lot of tourists are going to end up with public smoking citations, or they start making local friends in a hurry, or they end up paying smoke damage surcharges on their hotel room credit card bills, or all of the above. This is going to have to change, especially since estimates are nearly two-thirds of legal pot buyers are going to be visitors. In the meantime, it could make edibles more attractive.</p><p><strong>8. Can I take it home with me?</strong> Not if you live in a state where it is illegal. And if you live in a state where it is legal, why bother? If you get caught trying to bring it onto an airplane, the TSA won't bust you (because they're after terrorists, not tourists), but will turn you over to the local cops, who also won’t bust you (since your weed isn't illegal in Nevada), but the hassle might cause you to miss your flight. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079054'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079054" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 29 Jun 2017 21:42:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1079054 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana legalization nevada las vegas Reno medical marijuana edibles indica sativa Getting High the Canadian Way: 10 Tips for Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Use https://www.alternet.org/drugs/getting-high-safely-canadian-way-10-tips-reducing-harms-marijuana-use <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078887'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078887" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Public health experts from north of the border don&#039;t want you to use pot, but have some suggestions if you insist on it.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/canada_pot_flag_2.jpg?itok=OS4zI6Ud" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As Canada moves forward with marijuana legalization, the Canadian public health establishment is busily attempting to deal with the reality of legal weed in an oh-so-Canadian fashion: pragmatic and practical, but very, very concerned.</p><p>Canada is a country that bedecks cigarettes packages with photos of diseased lungs and bilingual warnings of certain doom, and its public health experts are not so keen on pot either. In fact, they'd prefer people didn't use it at all. But they recognize that Canadians like their weed—about 10% of adults and 25% of teenagers report using in the past year—and they accept that legalization looms.</p><p>So the Canadian Institute in Substance Abuse has put together <a href="https://www.camh.ca/en/research/news_and_publications/reports_and_books/Documents/LRCUG.KT.Professional.15June2017.pdf">Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines</a> to "protect public health and public safety" and "reduc[e] cannabis-related harms and problems in the population."</p><p>The guidelines aren't exactly party central, but neither are they hysterical. Instead, they represent a cautious, public health approach to marijuana use, concentrating on potential negatives and how to reduce them. As U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempt to round up a posse to confront legal marijuana here, the Canadian approach appears downright civilized. But that's the kind of place Canada is; the kind of country that has civilized things, like national health care.</p><p>Here's how the Canadian public health experts think people should consume marijuana in order to have the fewest negative consequences.</p><p><strong>1. Don't use it at all</strong>. "As with any risky behavior, the safest way to reduce risks is to avoid the behavior altogether," the guidelines say. "The same is true for cannabis use." D'oh! Of course, that what public health experts would say.</p><p><strong>2. Hold off until you're out of your teens.</strong>"Early initiation of cannabis use (i.e., most clearly that which begins before age 16) is associated with multiple subsequent adverse health and social effects in young adult life," the guidelines say. "These effects are particularly pronounced in early-onset users who also engage in intensive/frequent use."</p><p><strong>3. Watch out for wax and dabs.</strong>The guidelines warn away from super-high THC products such as "cannabis extract or concentrate products," advising that higher THC potency is related to "increased acute and long-term problems," but noting that CBD seems to ameliorate some of THC's effects and suggesting that using products with high CBD:THC ratios "typically carry less severe health risks."</p><p><strong>4. Don't use synthetic cannabinoids.</strong><strong>"</strong>Recent reviews on synthetic cannabinoids indicate markedly more acute and severe adverse health effects from the use of these products (including instances of death)," the guidelines say. "The use of these products should be avoided." And why bother if you can get the real thing?</p><p><strong>5. Don't smoke it.</strong>Regularly smoking "cannabis adversely affects respiratory health outcomes," the guidelines warn. Vaping it is better but "not entirely risk-free" and edibles are best because they bypass lung-related risks, although that isn't risk-free either because ingestion delays the onset of psychoactive effects and can lead to higher highs than desired.</p><p><strong>6. If you're going to smoke it, don't do that deep hit, holding-your-breath thing.</strong><strong></strong>That just increases the amount of toxic materials absorbed by the lungs. Holding the smoke doesn’t get you any higher.</p><p><strong>7. Limit your use.</strong><strong>"</strong>Frequent or intensive (e.g., daily or near-daily) cannabis use is strongly associated with higher risks of experiencing adverse health and social outcomes related to cannabis use," the guidelines say. "Users should be aware and vigilant to keep their own cannabis use—and that of friends, peers or fellow users—occasional (e.g., use only on one day/week, weekend use only, etc.) at most."</p><p><strong>8. Don't drive or operate other machinery while under the influence.</strong> Driving or operating machinery under the influence increases your risk of being involved in an accident, the guidelines say. Users are advised to wait at least six hours after using the drug before driving or operating other machinery. And using alcohol and marijuana together before driving "categorically should be avoided."</p><p><strong>9. Don't use if you have a family history of psychosis or substance abuse disorder or are pregnant.</strong> People with those personal or family histories have "a higher or distinct risk of cannabis-related adverse effects," while pregnant women should abstain "based on precautionary principles" to avoid any possible harms to the fetus or child.</p><p><strong>10. Don't combine high-risk behaviors.</strong> "Combining any of the higher-risk behaviors described above is likely to further increase and amplify the risks of adverse health outcomes from cannabis use." Especially don't be a pregnant teenage daily dabs-smoker driving to a job as a heavy equipment operator.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078887'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078887" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:15:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078887 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health canada marijuana cannabis wax dabs cannabinoids smoking vaping drugged driving Legalizing Marijuana Dramatically Reduces Traffic Stop Searches https://www.alternet.org/drugs/legalizing-marijuana-dramatically-reduces-traffic-stop-searches <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078764'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078764" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">When weed is legal, cops have one less reason to search. That&#039;s one less opportunity for a potentially lethal confrontation. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/traffic_stop_socosher.jpg?itok=K6bo1K_G" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In states where marijuana has been legalized, traffic stops resulting in searches by state police are down dramatically, according to a <a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/06/21/how-to-cut-down-on-traffic-stops-legalize-pot">new analysis</a> from the Marshall Project and the Center for Investigative Reporting.</p><p>With marijuana possession being legal, police in legal states can no longer assume criminal activity merely because of the presence of pot, which would have given them probable cause to conduct a search. And that means fewer interactions between drivers and police, reducing the prospect of dangerous—or even deadly—clashes.</p><p>But even though the number of searches dropped for all racial groups, black and brown drivers are still being subjected to searches at a higher rate than whites, the study found. And because the report only studied state police (Highway Patrol) stops, not stops by local law enforcement, which patrols urban areas with higher minority population concentrations, it may understate the racial disparity in traffic stop searches.</p><p>The report is based on an analysis of data from researchers at Stanford University, who released a <a href="http://openpolicing.stanford.edu/">report</a> this week studying some 60 million state patrol stops in 31 states between 2011 and 2015, the most thorough look yet at national traffic stop data. The results from the legal pot states of Colorado and Washington are striking.</p><p>In Colorado, the number of traffic stop searches dropped by nearly two-thirds for whites, 58% for Hispanics, and nearly half for blacks. In Washington, the search rate dropped by about 25% for whites and Hispanics, and 34% for African Americans.</p><p>Still, racial disparities in search rates persisted in both states. In Colorado, the search rate for black drivers was 3.3 times that for whites, and the rate for Hispanic drivers was 2.7 times that for whites. In Washington, blacks were twice as likely to be searched as whites, while the search rate for Hispanics was 1.7 times that of whites.</p><p>The traffic stop search data parallels what happened with marijuana arrests in legal states. In Colorado, for instance, a 2016 Department of Public Safety report found that while the number of pot arrests dropped by nearly half after legalization, the arrest rate for blacks was still nearly three times that of whites.</p><p>"Legalizing marijuana is not going to solve racial disparities," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. "We need to do a lot more before we get at that."</p><p>But legalizing marijuana does reduce the number of traffic stop searches, and given the fraught relationship between police and the citizenry, especially communities of color, that is a good thing in itself. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078764'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078764" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:36:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078764 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana legalization driving traffic stops traffic stop searches colorado washington racial disparity black white brown hispanic african-american Marshall Project Center for Investigative Reporting Watch: Shocking Video Released of Minnesota Drug Task Force Cop Brutally Assaulting Motorist https://www.alternet.org/drugs/watch-minnesota-drug-task-force-cop-assaults-motorist <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078772'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078772" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It took nearly a year for damning video to emerge, but now the heat is on. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/promvongsa2.jpg?itok=FRtWpIt_" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">Worthington, Minnesota, resident Anthony Promvongsa, 21, had a run-in with an angry motorist as he drove through the streets of town last July 28. Promvongsa went on his way, but that agitated motorist—who turned out to be an off-duty cop—called on his colleagues to go after the young man, and this is what happened:</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in"><p></p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="326" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6HvdJ3OCEuw" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">The cop doing the cursing, kicking, and punching in the video is Agent Joe Joswiak, a city of Worthington police officer and a member of the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">“I had no idea what was going on when I was approached and attacked by this officer,” Promvongsa said in a statement released Thursday by the ACLU. “I did not even have the opportunity to take off my seatbelt before I was literally blindsided with this unnecessary attack. I immediately pulled over for the Worthington squad car and before I knew what was happening, I was beat and ripped from my vehicle.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:16.5pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;vertical-align:baseline"><p></p></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 16.5pt; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; max-width: 700px;">"I know I am not the first person to have this type of traumatic experience with law enforcement in Worthington,” Promvongsa added.<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">Not only did Joswiak brutalize the young man, he and local prosecutors then charged Promvongsa with multiple felonies over the alleged traffic incident. He faces charges of fleeing in a motor vehicle and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (his car), but, as the ACLU notes, "no matter what happened before the dashcam video began rolling, Anthony did not deserve to be abused by the police in this way."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">Joswiak claims that Provongsa refused his order to leave the car, but the video makes clear Joswiak never gave him any chance to do so.  Instead, the ACLU notes, "it shows a textbook case of excessive force."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">There was no mention of any drug offense in original police reports, although police searched Promvongsa's vehicle after assaulting him. Later in the video, Joswiak can be heard hopefully asking Promvongsa  "Have you been in trouble with narcotics?" He received a negative response.  <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">The ACLU says it and Promvongsa are weighing their options, and calls on the Worthington Police and the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force "to immediately investigate the incident, take all appropriate personnel actions, and ensure this never happens again." It also calls for Agent Joswiak to be "held accountable for his actions, up to and including termination and prosecution."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">The ACLU's concern that "this never happens again" suggests that it has happened before. "Based on additional complaints that we are receiving, this does not appear to be an isolated incident," the ACLU said. "Rather there’s evidence that racial profiling and police brutality are systemic problems that span the Worthington Police Department, Nobles County Sheriff’s Office, and the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force as Worthington becomes a much more diverse city."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">The incident has drawn the attention of U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who represents the area. “Like many Minnesotans, I found the video released today deeply disturbing," he said in a statement Thursday. "I have had a chance to speak with local officials and leaders in the community and believe all parties are passionate in pursuing justice. I will continue closely monitoring this situation. Addressing situations like this one in our communities and in Minnesota is an absolute necessity and we are all in this together.”<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:16.5pt;margin-left:&#10;0in;vertical-align:baseline">The Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, Worthington Police Department and the Nobles County Attorney’s Office issued a joint press release Thursday afternoon that amounted to hunkering down and evading the issue of excessive force altogether. <p></p></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 16.5pt; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; max-width: 700px;">“The July 28, 2016 video released by ACLU is one piece of evidence in a pending criminal case,” the release begins. “Release and discussion of evidence in pending criminal cases is limited by the data practices law and criminal court procedural rules. The video, viewed in a vacuum, shows only a short segment of the incident that is the basis of the criminal charges.<p></p></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 16.5pt; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; max-width: 700px;">“Because the case is now awaiting a jury trial date, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, Worthington Police Department and the Nobles County Attorney’s office feel it is inappropriate to comment further.”<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:18.65pt;margin-left:&#10;0in">The Buffalo Ridge Drug Task force lauds itself for "<a href="http://www.ci.worthington.mn.us/buffalo-ridge-task-force"><span style="color:windowtext">aggressive enforcement</span></a>" and brags about "seizures of vehicles, firearms, jewelry, and large amounts of cash." But now it's becoming known nationwide because of the "aggressive enforcement" actions of one of its officers.<p></p></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078772'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078772" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:13:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078772 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video Anthony Promvongsa ACLU of Minnesota Worthington Police Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force police brutality excessive force How America's Idiotic Drug Prohibition Helped Kill Philando Castile and Give the Policeman Who Killed Him an Excuse to Walk Free https://www.alternet.org/drugs/how-reefer-madness-helped-kill-philando-castile <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078716'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078716" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Drug war madness strikes again.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/castile_dashcam_credit_848x480_972288579670.jpg?itok=cgSQPXcs" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The Minnesota cop who was acquitted last week of killing Philando Castile used the fact that he smelled marijuana in the car as part of his defense. Whether Officer Jeronimo Yanez really believed Castile's presumed pot use made him more dangerous or whether the testimony influenced the jury's decision to acquit remains unknown, but its use in his defense illustrates the enduring demonization of the plant and its users.</p><p>Castile's killing last year sparked angry demonstrations and made national headlines after his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DUfa4LTgOs">aftermath</a> of the shooting on Facebook, with a mortally wounded Castile moaning as Reynolds cries, "That police just killed my boyfriend, he's licensed, and he was trying to get his wallet out of his pocket, and he let the officer know he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him in his arm."</p><p>In the video, Yanez is visibly agitated: "I told him not to reach for it; I told him to get hand up!" he yells.</p><p>"You told him to get his ID, sir," Reynolds responds, as her four-year-old daughter in the back seat attempts to comfort her. "Oh my God, please don't tell me he's dead," Reynolds moans. "Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that."</p><p>Castile did go just like that, though. He was pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center 20 minutes after Yanez opened fire, shooting seven bullets at him.</p><p>Dashcam video from Yanez's patrol car, not released until Tuesday, shows it only took 30 seconds before Yanez opened fire:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="409" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/z1ac7Zblqyk" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Yanez didn't mention marijuana in Reynolds' video, but in <a href="https://www.ramseycounty.us/sites/default/files/County%20Attorney/Yanez%20BCA%20Interview%20Transcript%207.7.16.pdf" target="_blank">court transcripts</a> of his testimony, Yanez said he opened fire on Castile in part because he could smell marijuana and he assumed Castile had been using it in front of the child.</p><p>"I thought I was gonna die and I thought if he's—if he has the guts and audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke, and the front-seat passenger doing the same thing, then what—what care does he give about me?" Yanez said.</p><p>The argument is that smoking pot in front of kids makes one a stone-cold killer. Never mind the hyperbole; in Yanez's mind, someone who would smoke pot around kids is not only endangering his own life, but would be willing to kill a cop over a pot charge or a broken taillight (the original reason for the traffic stop).</p><p>Police later did find traces of marijuana in the vehicle, and defense attorneys used that fact and the marijuana odor to insinuate that Castile was so high he was slow to comply with Yanez's demands. That made Yanez even more suspicious, the defense claimed.</p><p>But Yanez's claims about secondhand smoke border on the bizarre. Yes, ingesting secondhand pot smoke <a href="http://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-01-06/secondhand-marijuana-smoke-and-your-children" target="_blank">can be harmful</a>, but secondhand smoke is quite different from intent to harm a police officer. And the most notorious source of unwanted secondhand smoke is cigarettes, yet no one insinuates that smoking tobacco around kids makes one more likely to be a cop-killer. Yanez and his defense attorneys were singing a Reefer Madness tune with this claim.</p><p>Despite Yanez's claims and phobias, pot smokers are no more likely to behave violently than non-users, and in fact, some research shows they are less likely to. A <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/26/study-couples-who-smoke-marijuana-are-less-likely-to-engage-in-domestic-violence/?tid=a_inl&amp;utm_term=.47ac171f4b56" target="_blank">2014 study</a> in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors found that marijuana use among couples was associated with lower risk of domestic violence.</p><p>Philando Castile was black. That was strike one. He was armed (and admitted it). That was strike two. And he was a pot smoker. That was strike three. Reefer Madness, either in the mind of Officer Yanez or the minds of the jurors, or both, helped kill Phil Castile. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078716'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078716" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:01:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078716 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video Philando Castile Diamond Reynolds Jeronimo Yanez minnesota police shootings marijuana reefer madness secondhand smoke guns Vermont House Republicans Kill Last-Chance Marijuana Legalization Bill https://www.alternet.org/drugs/vermont-house-republicans-kill-last-chance-marijuana-legalization-bill <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078685'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078685" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">But the state could still become the first legalize pot legislatively.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_21.jpg?itok=S7KDzQ51" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Vermont will not become the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process—at least for now. House Republicans on Wednesday evening killed a last chance effort to get it done this year by refusing to take up a compromise legalization bill that had been passed by the Senate earlier in the day.</p><p>A marijuana legalization bill, <a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/S.22">Senate Bill 22</a>, had passed the legislature earlier this year, setting the state up to be the first the free the weed legislatively, only to be vetoed last month by Gov. Phil Scott (R). In his <a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/All-Senate-Documents/S-22-Veto-Message.pdf">veto message</a>, Scott said he was not philosophically opposed to legalization, claiming "a libertarian streak in me," but had public safety concerns about marijuana and driving and marijuana and kids. The veto message contained specific recommendations for crafting a bill the governor would find acceptable.</p><p>The bill passed by the Senate today, an amendment to <a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2018/Docs/BILLS/H-0511/H-0511%20As%20Passed%20by%20the%20House%20Official.pdf">House Bill 511</a>, which has already passed the House, attempted to address Scott's concerns. Like S.22, it would have legalized the possession of up to an ounce and the cultivation of up to two mature and four immature pot plants by adults, but not create a legal marijuana market. Instead, it would have created a legislative study commission to develop legislation for taxed and regulated cannabis commerce.</p><p>Changes to the bill to appease the governor included giving the study commission a broader membership and extending the time given for it to issue its report, as well as stiffer penalties for driving while high, providing marijuana to children, or exposing it to them in cars. The bill didn't contain a roadside marijuana "impairment testing mechanism" desired by Scott, mainly because there are none on the market.</p><p>But all of that is moot for now. For the bill to pass during the veto session, House Republicans would have had to agree to waive normal legislative rules, but in Wednesday evening's GOP members largely refused. A motion to waive the rules needed 107 votes to pass (out of a House of 150), but with only 83 Democrats, it needed substantial support from GOP House members to pass. It didn't get it; failing on a vote of 78-63.</p><p>Vermont will not legalize marijuana in 2017, but H.511 remains alive. It can and will be taken up by the legislature when it reconvenes next year, and Vermont could still end up being the first state to legalize marijuana legislatively. It's just not happening this year. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078685'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078685" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 18:07:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078685 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana legalization cannabis vermont Gov. Phil Scott If You're Serious, America: Here Are 24 Concrete Policy Steps to Reduce Opioid Addiction and Overdoses https://www.alternet.org/drugs/if-youre-serious-america-26-concrete-policy-steps-reduce-opioid-addiction-overdose <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078268'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078268" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The science and the knowledge base are there. What is needed is political will. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/drug-overdose-280x212.jpg?itok=v_QEaUs8" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Drugs, mainly opioids, are killing Americans at a record rate. The number of drug overdose deaths in the country quadrupled between 1999 and 2010—and compared to the numbers we're seeing now, those were the good old days.</p><p>Some 30,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2010. According to a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/05/upshot/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-are-rising-faster-than-ever.html">new estimate</a> from the <em>New York Times</em>, double that number died last year. And the rate of increase in overdose deaths was growing, up a stunning 19% over 2015.</p><p>The <em>Times</em> estimate of between 59,000 and 65,000 drug overdose deaths last year is greater than the number of American soldiers killed during the entire Vietnam War, greater than the number of people who died the year the AIDS epidemic peaked, and higher than the peak year for gun deaths. In the first decade of the century, overdoses and addiction rose in conjunction with a dramatic increase in prescription opioid prescribing; since then, as government agencies and medical professionals alike sought to tamp down prescribing of opioids, the overdose wave has continued, now with most opioid OD fatalities linked to illicit heroin and powerful black market synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil.</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says we are in the midst of the "worst drug overdose epidemic in history," and it's hard to argue with that.</p><p>So, what do we do about it? Despite decades of failure and unintended consequences, the prohibitionist reflex is still strong. Calls for more punitive laws, tougher prosecutorial stances and harsher sentences ring out from statehouses across the land to the White House. But tough drug war policies haven't worked. The fact that the overdose and addiction epidemic is taking place under a prohibition regime should make that self-evident.  </p><p>More enlightened—and effective—approaches are now being tried; in part, no doubt, because today's opioid epidemic is disproportionately affecting white, middle-class people and not the inner-city black people identified with heroin epidemics of the past. But also because an ever-growing drug reform movement has articulated the failures of prohibition and illuminated more effective alternatives. The drug reform movement's most powerful organization, the Drug Policy Alliance, this spring published <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Opioid_Response_Plan_041817.pdf">A Public Health and Safety Approach to Problematic Opioid Use and Overdose</a>, which lays out more than two-dozen specific policy prescriptions in the realms of addiction treatment, harm reduction, prevention, and criminal justice that have been proven to save lives and reduce dependency on opioids. These policy prescriptions are doable now—and some are being implemented in some fashion in some places—but require that political decisions be made, or that forces be mobilized to get those decisions made. Some would require a radical divergence from the orthodoxies of drug prohibition, but that's a small price to pay given the mounting death toll.</p><p>Here are 24 concrete policy proposals from the DPA's report that can save lives and reduce addiction right now. All the facts and figures are fully documented in the heavily annotated original. Consult it if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty. </p><p><strong>Addiction Treatment</strong></p><p><strong>1. Create Expert Panel on Treatment Needs:</strong> States should establish an expert panel to address effective treatment needs and opportunities. The expert panel should evaluate barriers to existing treatment options and make recommendations to the state legislature on removing unnecessary impediments to accessing effective treatment on demand. Moreover, the panel should determine where gaps in treatment exist and make recommendations to provide additional types of effective treatment and increased access points to treatment (such as hospital-based on demand addiction treatment). The expert panel must also set evidence-based standards of care and identify the essential components of effective treatment and recovery services to be included in licensed facilities, especially with regards to medication-assisted treatment, admission requirements, discharge, continuity of care and/or after-care, pain management, treatment programming, integration of medical and mental health services, and provision of or referrals to harm reduction services. The expert panel should identify how to improve or create referral mechanisms and treatment linkages across various healthcare and other providers. The panel should establish clear outcome measures and a system for evaluating how well providers meet the scientific requirements the panel sets. And, finally, the expert panel should evaluate opportunities under the ACA to expand coverage for treatment. </p><p><strong>2. Increase Insurance Coverage for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):</strong> Seventeen state medical plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not provide coverage for methadone or buprenorphine for opioid dependence. Moreover, the Veterans Administration’s insurance system has explicitly prohibited coverage of methadone and buprenorphine treatment for active duty personnel or for veterans in the process of transitioning from Department of Defense care. As a result, veterans obtaining care through the VA are denied effective treatment for opioid dependence. Insurance coverage for these critical medications should be standard practice.</p><p><strong>3. Establish and Implement Office-Based Opioid Treatment for Methadone:</strong> Currently, with a few exceptions, methadone for the treatment of opioid dependence is only available through a highly regulated and widely stigmatized system of Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs). Moreover, several states have imposed moratoriums on establishing new OTPs that facilitate methadone treatment despite large, unmet treatment needs for a growing opioid-dependent population. Patients enrolled in methadone treatment in many communities are often limited to visiting a single OTP and face other inconveniences that make adherence to treatment more difficult. Initial trials have suggested that methadone can be effectively delivered in office-based settings and that, with training, physicians would be willing to prescribe methadone to their patients to treat their opioid dependence. Office-based methadone may help reduce the stigma associated with methadone delivered in OTPs as well as provide a critical window of intervention to address medical and psychiatric conditions. Office-based opioid treatment programs offering methadone have been implemented in California, Connecticut, and Vermont.</p><p><strong>4. Provide MAT in Criminal Justice Settings, Including Jails/Prisons and Drug Courts:</strong> Individuals recently released from correctional settings are up to 130 times more likely to die of an overdose than the general population, particularly in the immediate two weeks after release. Given that approximately one quarter of people incarcerated in jails and prisons are opioid-dependent, initiating MAT behind bars should be a widespread, standard practice as a part of a comprehensive plan to reduce risk of opioid fatality. Jails should be mandated to continue MAT for those who received it in the community and to assess and initiate new patients in treatment. Prisons should initiate methadone or buprenorphine prior to release, with a referral to a community-based clinic or provider upon release. Vermont was the first state to pass legislation establishing a pilot project for the continued provision of MAT to its entire incarcerated population (both jails and prisons). In addition, drug courts should be mandated to offer participants the option to participate in MAT if they are not already enrolled, make arrangements for their treatment, and should not be permitted to make discontinuation of MAT a criterion for successful completion of drug court programs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will no longer provide federal funding to drug courts that deny the use of MAT when made available to the client under the care of a physician and pursuant to a valid prescription. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals agrees: "No drug court should prohibit the use of MAT for participants deemed appropriate and in need of an addiction medication."</p><p><strong>5. Offer Hospital-Based MAT:</strong> Emergency departments should be mandated to inform patients about MAT and offer buprenorphine to those patients that visit emergency rooms and have an underlying opioid use disorder, with an appointment for continued treatment with physicians in the community. Hospitals should also offer MAT within the inpatient setting, and start MAT prior to discharge with community referrals for ongoing MAT.</p><p><strong>6. Assess Barriers to Accessing MAT to Increase Access to Methadone and Buprenorphine:</strong> A number of known barriers prevent MAT from being as widely accessible as it should be. The federal government needs to reevaluate the need for and effectiveness of the OTP model and make necessary modifications to ensure improved and increased access to methadone. And, while federal law allows physicians to become eligible to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence, it arbitrarily caps the number of opioid patients a physician can treat with buprenorphine at any one time to 30 through the first year following certification, expandable to up to potentially 200 patients thereafter. Moreover, states need to evaluate additional barriers created by state law, including, among others, training and continuing education requirements, restrictions on nurse practitioners, insurance enrollment and reimbursement, and lack of provider incentives. </p><p><strong>7. Establish and Implement a Heroin-Assisted Treatment Pilot Program:</strong> Heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) refers to the administering or dispensing of pharmaceutical-grade heroin to a small and previously unresponsive group of chronic heroin users under the supervision of a doctor in a specialized clinic. The heroin is required to be consumed on-site, under the watchful eye of trained professionals. This enables providers to ensure that the drug is not diverted, and allows staff to intervene in the event of overdose or other adverse reaction. Permanent HAT programs have been established in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, with additional trial programs having been completed or currently taking place in Spain, Belgium and Canada. Findings from randomized controlled studies in these countries have yielded unanimously positive results, including: 1) HAT reduces drug use; 2) retention rates in HAT surpass those of conventional treatment; 3) HAT can be a stepping stone to other treatments and even abstinence; 4) HAT improves health, social functioning, and quality of life; 5) HAT does not pose nuisance or other neighborhood concerns; 6) HAT reduces crime; 7) HAT can reduce the black market for heroin; and, 8) HAT is cost-effective (cost-savings from the benefits attributable to the program far outweigh the cost of program operation over the long-run). States should consider permitting the establishment and implementation of a HAT pilot program. Nevada and Maryland have introduced legislation of this nature and the New Mexico Legislature recently convened a joint committee hearing to query experts about this strategy.</p><p><strong>8. Evaluate the Use of Cannabis to Decrease Reliance on Prescription Opioids and Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths:</strong> Medical use of marijuana can be an effective adjunct to or substitute for opioids in the treatment of chronic pain. Research published last year found 80 percent of medical cannabis users reported substituting cannabis for prescribed medications, particularly among patients with pain-related conditions. Another important recent study reported that cannabis treatment "may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects." The result of substituting marijuana, a drug with less side effects and potential for abuse, has had profound harm reduction impacts. The Journal of the American Medical Association, for instance, documents a relationship between medical marijuana laws and a significant reduction in opioid overdose fatalities: "[s]tates with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws." Another working paper from the RAND BING Center for Health Economics notes that "states permitting medical cannabis dispensaries experienced a 15 to 35 percent decrease in substance abuse admissions and opiate overdose deaths." There is also some emerging evidence that marijuana has the potential to treat opioid addiction, but additional research is needed. </p><p><strong>Harm Reduction</strong></p><p><strong>9. Establish and Implement Safe Drug Consumption Services:</strong> States and/or municipalities should permit the establishment and implementation of safe drug consumption services through local health departments and/or community-based organizations. California and Maryland have introduced legislation to establish safe drug consumption services, and the City of Ithaca, New York has included a proposal for a supervised injection site in their widely-publicized municipal drug strategy. In Washington State, the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force has recommended the establishment of at least two pilot supervised consumption sites as part of a community health engagement program designed to reduce stigma and “decrease risks associated with substance use disorder and promote improved health outcomes” in the region that includes the cities of Seattle, Renton and Auburn. </p><p><strong>10. Maximize Naloxone Access Points, Including Lay Distribution and Pharmacy Access, As Well As Immunities for Prescription, Distribution and Administration:</strong> Naloxone should be available directly from a physician to either a patient or to a family member, friend, or other person in a position to assist in an overdose, from community-based organizations through lay distribution or standing order laws, and from pharmacies behind-the-counter without a prescription through standing order, collaborative agreement, or standardized protocol laws or regulations. Though some states, including California, New York, Colorado and Vermont, among others, have access to naloxone at each of these critical intervention points, many others only provide naloxone through a standard prescription. Civil and criminal immunities should be provided to prescribers, dispensers and lay administrators at every access point. In addition, all first responders, firefighters and law enforcement should be trained on how to recognize an overdose and be permitted to carry and use naloxone. Naloxone should also be reclassified as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Having naloxone available over-the-counter would greatly increase the ability of parents, caregivers, and other bystanders to intervene and provide first aid to a person experiencing an opioid overdose. FDA approval of OTC naloxone is predicated on research that satisfies efficacy and safety data requirements. Pharmaceutical companies, however, have not sought to develop an over-the-counter product.88 Federal funding may be needed to meet FDA approval requirements.</p><p><strong>11. Provide Dedicated Funding for Community-Based Naloxone Distribution and Overdose Prevention and Response Education:</strong> Few states provide dedicated budget lines to support the cost of naloxone or staffing for community-based opioid overdose prevention programs. The CDC, however, reports that, between 1996 and 2014, these programs trained and equipped more than 152,280 laypeople with naloxone, who have successfully reversed 26,463 opioid overdoses. Without additional and dedicated funding, community-based opioid overdose prevention programs will not be able to continue to provide naloxone to all those who need it, and the likelihood of new programs being implemented is slim. A major barrier to naloxone access is its affordability and chronic shortages in market supply, which overdose prevention programs, operating on shoestring budgets, can have a difficult time navigating.</p><p><strong>12. Improve Insurance Coverage for Naloxone:</strong> Individuals who use heroin and other opioids are often both uninsured and marginalized by the healthcare system. States should insure optimal reimbursement rates for naloxone to increase access to those who need it most: users themselves.</p><p><strong>13. Provide Naloxone to Additional At-Risk Communities:</strong> People exiting detox and other treatment programs as well as periods of incarceration are at particularly high risk for overdose because their tolerance has been substantially decreased. After their period of abstinence, if they relapse and use the same amount, the result is often a deadly overdose. States should require overdose education and offer naloxone to people upon discharge from detox and other drug treatment programs and jails/prisons. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has declared that prescribing or dispensing naloxone is an essential complement to both detoxification services as well as medically supervised withdrawal. Vermont passed legislation making naloxone available to eligible pilot project participants who are transitioning from incarceration back to the community. In addition, there are other programs/studies that provide naloxone to recently released individuals on a limited basis, including in San Francisco, California, King County, Washington and Rhode Island.</p><p><strong>14. Encourage Distribution of Naloxone to Patients Receiving Opioids:</strong> Physicians should be encouraged to prescribe naloxone to their patients and opioid treatment programs should inform their clients about naloxone, if prescribing or dispensing an opioid to them. Pharmacists should similarly be encouraged to offer naloxone along with all Schedule II opioid prescriptions being filled, for syringe purchases (without concurrent injectable medication), and for all co-prescriptions (within 30 days) of a benzodiazepine (such as Valium, Xanax or Klonopin) and any opioid medication. The Rhode Island Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force found that offering naloxone to those prescribed a Schedule II opioid or when co-prescribed a benzodiazepine and any opioid would have reached 86% of overdose victims who received a prescription from a pharmacy prior to their death, and could have prevented 58% of all overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015.</p><p><strong>15. Expand Good Samaritan Protections</strong>: “Good Samaritan” laws provide limited immunity from prosecution for specified drug law violations for people who summon help at the scene of an overdose. But, protection from prosecution is not enough to ensure that people are not too frightened to seek medical help. Other consequences, like arrest, parole or probation violations, and immigration consequences, can be equal barriers to calling 911. States with Good Samaritan laws already on the books should evaluate the protections provided and determine whether expansion of those protections would increase the likelihood that people seek medical assistance. drugs. Twenty-two states criminalize syringe possession. Thus, even if there is a legal access point, such as pharmacy sales, paraphernalia laws still permit law enforcement to arrest and prosecute individuals in possession of a syringe. </p><p><strong>16. End the Criminalization of Syringe Possession:</strong> Syringes should be exempt from state paraphernalia laws in order to provide optimal access to people who inject drugs. Twenty-two states criminalize syringe possession. Thus, even if there is a legal access point, such as pharmacy sales, paraphernalia laws still permit law enforcement to arrest and prosecute individuals in possession of a syringe. Public health and law enforcement authorities should not be working at cross-purposes. </p><p><strong>17. Reduce Barriers to Over-The-Counter Syringe Sales and Permit Direct Prescriptions of Syringes:</strong> While the non-prescription, over-the-counter sale of syringes is now permitted in all but one U.S. state, access is still unduly restricted. States should evaluate the potential barriers to accessing syringes over-the-counter and implement measures to improve access. Moreover, doctors should be permitted to prescribe syringes directly to their patients, a practice few states currently permit.</p><p><strong>18. Authorize and Fund Sterile Syringe Access and Exchange Programs; Increase Programs:</strong> States should explicitly authorize and fund sterile syringe access and exchange programs, and states that have already authorized them should evaluate how to increase the number or capacity of programs to ensure all state residents – whether in urban centers or rural communities – have access to clean syringes, as well as evaluate any possible barriers to access such as unnecessary age restrictions.</p><p><strong>19. Provide Free Public, Community-Level Access to Drug Checking Services:</strong> Technology exists to test heroin and opioid products for adulterants via GC/MS analysis, but it has so far been unavailable at a public level in the U.S. (aside from a mail-in service run by Ecstasydata.org). Making these services available in the context of a community outreach service or academic study would lower the number of deaths and hospitalizations and also allow for real-time tracking of local drug trends. </p><p><strong>Prevention</strong></p><p><strong>20. Establish Expert Panel on Opioid Prescribing:</strong> Though the CDC has issued guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, the guidelines are voluntary and are likely to exacerbate disparities in treatment that already exist. Research has shown, for example, that African Americans are less likely than whites to receive opioids for pain even when being treated for the same conditions. Moreover, the CDC guidelines only address prescribing practices for chronic pain, not prescribing practices more broadly. States should accordingly establish an expert panel to undertake an assessment as to whether prescribing practices, such as co-prescriptions for benzodiazepines and opioids or overprescribing of opioids, have contributed to increased rates of opioid dependence, and, if so, the expert panel should develop a plan to address any such linkages as well as any treatment disparities. The plan must account for the potential negative effects of curtailing prescribing practices or swiftly reducing prescription opioid prescribing volume. A task force in Rhode Island found that while changes in opioid supply can have the intended effect of reducing availability of abuse-able medications, they have also been linked to an increase in transition to illicit drug use and in more risky drug use behaviors (e.g., snorting and injecting pain medications). The plan must also account for chronic pain patients, particularly those already underserviced, and not unduly limit their access to necessary medications. Finally, to the extent prescribing guidelines are issued as part of the plan, they should be mandatory and applied across the board.</p><p><strong>21. Mandate Medical Provider Education:</strong> States should mandate that all health professional degree-granting institutions include curricula on opioid dependence, overdose prevention, medication-assisted treatment, and harm reduction interventions, and that continuing education on these topics be readily available.</p><p><strong>22. Develop Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Health, Wellness, and Harm Reduction Curriculum for Youth</strong>: State education departments, in conjunction with an expert panel consisting of various stakeholders that ascribe to scientific principles of treatment for youth, should develop a comprehensive, evidence-based health, wellness, and harm reduction curriculum for use in schools that incorporates scientific education on drugs, continuum of use, and contributors to problematic drug use (e.g., coping and resiliency, mental health issues, adverse childhood experiences, traumatic events and crisis), as well as how reduce harm (e.g., not mixing opioids with benzodiazepines). Education departments should also establish protocols and resources for early intervention, counseling, linkage to care, harm reduction resources, and other supports for students. </p><p><strong>Criminal Justice</strong></p><p><strong>23. Establish Diversion Programs, Including Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion:</strong> LEAD is a pre-booking diversion program that establishes protocols by which police divert people away from the typical criminal justice route of arrest, charge and conviction into a health-based, harm-reduction focused intensive case management process wherein the individual receives support services ranging from housing and healthcare to drug treatment and mental health services. Municipalities should create and implement LEAD programs and states and the federal government should provide dedicated funding for such programs. Various other forms of diversion programs exist and can be implemented should LEAD prove unsuitable to a particular population or municipality.</p><p><strong>24. Decriminalize Drug Possession:</strong> Decriminalization is commonly defined as the elimination of criminal penalties for drug possession for personal use. In other words, it means that people who merely use or possess small amounts of drugs are no longer arrested, jailed, prosecuted, imprisoned, put on probation or parole, or saddled with a criminal record. Nearly two-dozen countries have taken steps toward decriminalization. Empirical evidence from the international experiences demonstrate that decriminalization does not result in increased use or crime, reduces incidences of HIV/AIDs and overdose, increases the number of people in treatment, and reduces social costs of drug misuse. All criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of controlled substances for personal use should be removed. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078268'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078268" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 13 Jun 2017 20:06:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078268 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health opiates opioids heroin fentanyl carfentanil overdose addiction harm reduction safe consumption sites syringe access medication-assisted treatment heroin-assisted treatment naloxone WATCH: Samantha Bee Rips Attorney General Sessions on His Hideous Drug Policies https://www.alternet.org/drugs/watch-samantha-bee-rips-attorney-general-sessions-hideous-drug-policies <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078161'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078161" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> The Full Frontal host slices and dices the &quot;apple-cheeked hate goblin&quot; in a bleakly hilarious critique of his embrace of longer drug sentences.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/samantha_bee_3.jpg?itok=efq-tRAO" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">Samantha Bee ripped into Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his embrace of a return to harsh drug war sentencing policies on <i>Full Frontal</i> this week. By directing federal prosecutors to seek the most serious charges possible in drug cases, Sessions is undoing long overdue sentencing reforms embraced by both the Obama administration and Congress.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in"><span style="background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;">The acerbic comedian was having none of it. Describing Sessions—who <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/12/02/jeff-sessionss-comments-on-race-for-the-record/?utm_term=.2745b2248c4b">once said</a> he liked the local Ku Klux Klan until he found out they smoked pot—as an "apple-cheeked hate goblin," Bee added,  </span>"It's like Trump nominated a VHS tape of<span class="apple-converted-space"> </span><i style="box-sizing: border-box">Reefer Madness</i><span class="apple-converted-space"> </span>to run his Justice Department."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">Noting that in recent years, reducing or eliminating mandatory minimums and other severe sentencing practices has been one of those rare areas where there have been signs of bipartisan consensus, Bee deploys clips of  Snoop Dogg and Charles Koch working to the same end to make her point. <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">"Criminal justice reform is one of the few precious things that the left and right can agree on," Bee said. "It's an issue that unites Rand Paul and Cory Booker, Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders, and I shit you not, Charles Koch and Snoop Dogg."<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">But Sessions didn't want any part of a sentencing reform bill last year, "like that asshole who didn't RSVP for the party and instead called the cops," as she put it. "Putting Jeff Sessions in charge of criminal justice is like putting that fifth dentist who never agrees with the other four in charges of all out teeth."</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="506" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ex-hyHZulNY" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078161'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078161" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 09 Jun 2017 18:32:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078161 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video samantha bee jeff sessions snoop dogg Charles Koch rand paul Corey Booker mandatory minimums sentencing drug policy The DEA's Top 10 Most Insanely Ridiculous Slang Terms for Weed https://www.alternet.org/drugs/dea-top-10-insanely-ridiculous-slang-terms-weed <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078097'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078097" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">When was the last time you scored some Booty Juice?</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_1.jpg?itok=LJv0aYAX" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Drug Enforcement Administration has long been known for its willful lack of knowledge about marijuana. Ignoring an ever-growing mountain of evidence, DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg declared late last year that medical marijuana is a "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/10/the-dea-chief-called-medical-marijuana-a-joke-now-patients-are-calling-for-his-resignation/?utm_term=.80d8ad4c4847" target="_blank">joke</a>," and the agency continues to expend taxpayer dollars desperately trying to maintain that low-THC hemp for food and fiber is the same thing as marijuana.</p><p>The DEA thinks it can provide a service to parents fighting the marijuana menace by compiling a list of <a href="https://ndews.umd.edu/sites/ndews.umd.edu/files/dea-drug-slang-code-words-may2017.pdf" target="_blank">Drug Slang Code Words</a> about weed, and a few days ago, the <a href="https://ndews.umd.edu/" target="_blank">National Drug Early Warning System</a>, a project of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, released the latest version. Some of the entries are common slang of the type seen in newspaper headlines (pot, grass, weed), some are foreign words that mean "marijuana" (maconha, mota, pakalolo), and some are simply strain names (Chernobyl, Girl Scout Cookies, Gorilla Glue). But some are simply ridiculous and appear to lack any actual basis for being included.</p><p>Here are 10 of the silliest DEA slang terms for weed, and remember, your tax dollars paid for this list.</p><p><strong>1. Bambalachacha.</strong>  Really? It shows up in a <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bambalachacha">2007 entry</a> in Urban Dictionary and a couple of other slang dictionary entries using the exact same phrasing and sentence example, but other than that, nada.</p><p><strong>2. Booty Juice.</strong> Whoever came up with this as a synonym for marijuana needs a shot of booty juice himself, which the Urban Dictionary <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Booty%20Juice">defines</a> as "a shot of medication giving to psychiatric patients." Urban Dictionary gives as a second usage "the personal possession of having a good butt," and there is a cocktail that goes by the name, as well as a 1994 tune with that title by rappers DWH on their "Fear of a Black Hat" album," but neither have anything to do with weed.</p><p><strong>3. Burritos Verdes.</strong> This must be marijuana slang so hip it isn't even on the internet, but if you search for it, you'll find a <a href="http://www.chef-in-training.com/2014/09/smothered-slow-cooker-chile-verde-pork-burritos/">mouth-watering recipe</a> for "Smothered Slow Cooker Chile Verde Pork Burritos."</p><p><strong>4. Fine Stu.</strong> Another mysterious entry. Google searches turn up no marijuana-related hits, but we do find out that a guy named Stu Fine was named among the <a href="http://www.complex.com/music/2013/02/the-25-greatest-hip-hop-ars-ever/stuart-fine">25 Best A&amp;Rs in hip hop history</a>.</p><p><strong>5. Good Giggles.</strong> The internet has never heard of anyone actually using this nickname for weed, although related terms such as "giggle smoke" and "giggle weed" go back to the days of Harry Anslinger, and pot media outlet <em>Leafly</em> gives us <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/7-giggly-cannabis-strains-for-inducing-laughing-fits">7 Giggly Cannabis Strains for Inducing Laughing Fits</a>.</p><p><strong>6. Joy Smoke</strong>. Kind of makes sense, no? But if you ever heard anybody use it, it was probably your great-grandmother. The Dictionary of American Slang dates this to the <a href="http://www.dictionary.com/browse/joy-smoke">1940s</a>.</p><p><strong>7. Love Nuggets.</strong> Buds are sometimes called "nugs," but we don't know who's using this variation. The Urban Dictionary <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20Nuggets">defines the term</a> as "a dude's balls, preferably utilized toward a female to entice her" and there was a <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/relationship-advice-and-romance/10995612/Are-love-nuggets-the-key-to-a-successful-relationship.html">2014 campaign in Britain</a> to improve relationships that used the term to mean "everyday acts of love [that] can lead to a happier, healthier and stronger relationship, even more than big gestures like chocolates or expensive holidays.” Neither has anything to do with weed.</p><p><strong>8. Pocket Rocket.</strong> This is 1950s truck driver slang for prescription amphetamines. Urban Dictionary has some more recent usages dealing with either erect penises or petite women, but nothing about weed. DEA needs to keep its drugs straight.</p><p><strong>9. Righteous Bush.</strong> The Urban Dictionary <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Righteous%20Bush">defines this</a> as "an extremely hairy vagina or excessive amounts of public hair on a vagina," although the Lingo Dictionary does <a href="http://lingodictionary.com/slang-definition/40072/slang-definition-of-righteous-bush">define it</a> as a "marijuana plant." Nobody defines it as the 43rd president of the United States.</p><p><strong>10. Smoochy Woochy Poochy.</strong> Do they just make this stuff up? This sounds like an excessively romantic dog, and we can't find anybody actually using this to refer to marijuana. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078097'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078097" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 09 Jun 2017 12:43:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1078097 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana dea slang cannabis alternet_originals 5 Big Investors Diving Deep into the Marijuana Industry https://www.alternet.org/drugs/commodification-cannabis-five-big-time-investment-firms-make-bank-bud <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077794'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077794" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Some get in the pot business to do good. Some get into it hoping to do good and do well. Others are just looking to do well. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_0.jpg?itok=KAS-8oBc" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This is not your father's marijuana industry. In a couple of decades we've gone from a completely black market in marijuana to a legal market valued at $4 billion a year—and projected to increase rapidly—and from tie-dyed Northern California pot farmers hiding from helicopters to people in suits and ties with dollar signs in their eyes.</p><p>Increasingly, marijuana is being seen as just another commodity, another profit-source for restless capital seeking to put itself to work in the endless task of creating more capital. Sure, Ma and Pa Pot Farmer are still out there trying to find a place for themselves in the legal markets being born, especially California's, where the legal, recreational pot business will begin next year, and sure, there are countless people in the industry who just believe in weed.</p><p>But the industry (and potential profits) is attracting a growing number of people for whom marijuana is no more inherently interesting than mops or mopeds. They're not about the weed or the good vibe or anything like that; they're about the money.</p><p>In a recent survey, Marijuana Business Daily reported that investors planned on average to invest half a million dollars in pot businesses this year, with a handful willing to risk more than $25 million. And business is booming: In just a few days, the industry daily has run headlines such as "<a href="https://mjbizdaily.com/200m-day-marijuana-industry-two-investors-unveil-separate-plans/">A $200M Day: Two Investors Reveal Big Plans to Fund Marijuana Businesses</a>" (the principals being "a California real estate investment firm and a wealthy Florida medical marijuana advocate") and "<a href="https://mjbizdaily.com/investors-pump-80m-oregon-mj-startups/">Investors Pump Up to $80 Million into Oregon Marijuana Startups</a>."</p><p>It's not just individual investors. Private equity and venture capital firms are also circling, looking for profitable opportunities to monetize marijuana. In fact, we now have any number of firms that are dabbling in doobage. Some have real roots in pot culture or the legalization movement, some don't. According to <em><a href="https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/debraborchardt/2017/05/26/here-are-the-top-5-financial-leaders-in-the-cannabis-industry/&amp;refURL=https://www.google.com/&amp;referrer=https://www.google.com/">Forbes</a></em>, the five below are some of the biggest.</p><p><strong>1. MedMen Capital</strong></p><p>The MedMen Opportunity fund that closed in April raised $60 million, and MedMen has another $30 million to invest as well. It's into seven different projects ranging from California and New York dispensaries to grow facilities in California, New York and Nevada. "We look for undervalued assets in strategic markets with large addressable demand, constrained supply and high barriers to entry," said spokesman David Yi.</p><p><strong>2. Phyto Partners</strong></p><p>This group tends to invest chunks of $500,000 to $750,000 in emerging pot businesses, which gives it a significant say in how it operates. "Since we have the ability to deploy a larger amount of capital, the fund can get more favorable terms. This usually means better valuations, more equity and more control," said managing director Brett Finkelstein.</p><p><strong>3. Casa Verde Capital</strong></p><p>Casa Verde's investments are smaller—typically $250,000 to $500,000 per new company—but its names are bigger. Cannabis culture hero Snoop Dogg is one partner, serial entrepreneur Ted Chung is another, and the other two are a former PriceWaterhouseCoopers director and a former Goldman Sachs exec. Casa Verde has Merry Jane, Flower Shop and ELLO as sister companies, and has invested in a delivery service and an e-commerce platform. "We believe in venture and ancillary markets because technology, software, hardware, products and services are scalable and will help to build the backbone of this burgeoning industry for decades to come," says partner Evan Eneman.</p><p><strong>4. Poseidon Asset Management</strong></p><p>Founder Emily Paxhia and brother Morgan started Poseidon in 2014 after their parents died of cancer. Because of their newfound knowledge about medical marijuana, they are committed exclusively to marijuana companies and have raised over $25 million, investing in 40 different companies, mainly in real estate and technology. Poseidon led the $3.5 million buy-out of the winery that is expected to switch to weed and also led on the April financing round for Wurk, a workforce compliance program.</p><p><strong>5. Arcview Group</strong></p><p>These guys grew up in the marijuana reform movement. Partner Steve DeAngelo, head of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, has been actively trying to free the weed since the 1980s, while partner Troy Dayton earned his spurs as a movement activist in his days with Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Arcview has provided capital for 141 companies including Mass  Roots, MJ Freeway, Medicine Man, and Eaze, and has $115 million invested. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077794'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077794" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 01 Jun 2017 20:54:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077794 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana investment ArcView Group MedMen Capital Phyto Partners poseidon asset management casa verde capital snoop dogg alternet_originals VIDEO: What Happens When You're Drunk AND Stoned at the Same Time? https://www.alternet.org/drugs/video-what-happens-drunk-stoned-same-time <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077793'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077793" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The guys at ASAP Science take on this burning question in an entertaining, science-based, 2 minute 20 second video. Enjoy.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/drunk-hipsters.jpg?itok=mbuiKkcm" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">Drug and public health policy wonks worry about whether marijuana legalization will mean that people smoke pot instead of drinking alcohol, which they see as a good thing, or that people will tend to use both drugs—not such a good thing. But the fact is, millions of people are already drinking and getting high at the same time. <p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">Is that a bad thing? The Canadian YouTube science geeks <a href="http://www.asapscience.com/">ASAP Science</a> are here to help, addressing the question head-on in their video <i><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTeaOTkjut0">What Happens When You're Drunk AND Stoned at the Same Time?</a></i> They don't offer up a moralistic answer, but they explain—through entertaining whiteboard drawing with voiceover—in a fun, but scientific way, just what mixing the nation's two most popular intoxicants does to a person.<p></p></p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">Along the way, you'll learn: <p></p></p><ul><li style="margin: 0in 0in 9pt;">What the combined use of weed and booze does to memory<p></p></li><li style="margin: 0in 0in 9pt;">Whether alcohol really does make you higher<p></p></li><li style="margin: 0in 0in 9pt;">The health benefit of pot use for heavy drinkers<p></p></li><li style="margin: 0in 0in 9pt;">The danger of pot use when drinking way too much<p></p></li></ul><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:9.0pt;margin-left:0in">And more, so without further ado:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zTeaOTkjut0" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077793'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077793" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 01 Jun 2017 18:35:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077793 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health Video marijuana alcohol drinking Liver alcohol overdose thc CBD cannabidiol alternet_originals The Astounding Size of the Marijuana Economy Dwarfs 10 of America's Most Popular Food and Drink Staples https://www.alternet.org/drugs/americans-hungrier-marijuana-10-products-services <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077668'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077668" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Legal pot sales alone swamp some surprising product lines, but when you add in estimated black market sales, marijuana is a real monster. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_27.jpg?itok=wIrX7RFI" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in nearly 30 (although often under quite restrictive regulatory schemes). Between the two, legal weed is generating total annual sales of between $4 billion and $4.5 billion.</p><p>But legal marijuana sales are dwarfed by sales in the black market, which according to a recent report in <em><a href="https://mjbizdaily.com/factbook/?utm_source=NewSiteSidebar&amp;utm_medium=Sidebar&amp;utm_campaign=Factbook2016" target="_blank">Marijuana Business Daily</a></em>, accounts for about 10 times the size of the legal market, or about $45 billion to $50 billion.</p><p>While that's still only about half the size of the legal beer and tobacco market, it is nothing to sneeze at, and it puts marijuana well ahead of some major American economic sectors. Here are 10 products or services already being surpassed by pot, with the first five being smaller than the legal market and the second five being smaller than the estimated overall market, including both licit and illicit markets. Some of these industries could hope for synergistic effects, though.</p><p><strong>1. Girl Scout cookies</strong></p><p>Thin Mints are the hands-down winner when it comes to Girl Scout cookies, accounting for 25% of all sales, but that's only around $200 million. All told, Americans shelled out $776 million for the treats last year. That's a lot of cookies, but that's less than one-quarter of the size of the legal pot market.</p><p><strong>2. Tequila</strong></p><p>Shots with lime and salt, margaritas, Tequila sunrises…Americans gulp down a huge volume of the Mexican agave concoction every year, but the $2.3 billion in annual tequila sales is only half the size of the legal marijuana market. Of course, tequila is only a fraction of the alcohol industry, which still rocks compared to weed. Beer sales alone are more than $100 billion a year.</p><p><strong>3. Music streaming services</strong></p><p>Who doesn't love music and want it handy on all their devices? Music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited are big, big, big, but at about $2.5 billion in annual sales, only half as big as legal weed.</p><p><strong>4. Erectile dysfunction medication</strong></p><p>Viagra and Cialis can't stand up against legal marijuana, either. There's a huge potential market out there, with an <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12179/abstract;jsessionid=C1069CF0998F858255467C8380FD9176.d02t01" target="_blank">estimated 52% of men</a> experiencing erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives, but annual sales for the two drugs combined is still only $2.7 billion.</p><p><strong>5. Frozen pizza</strong></p><p>From Tombstone to California Pizza Kitchen, take-home store-bought frozen pizzas are a traditional favorite of millions of Americans. And now, we're finally reaching sales parity with legal pot. Frozen pizzas account for $4.4 billion in sales each year, very near the amount spend on legally purchased marijuana.</p><p><strong>6. Ice cream</strong></p><p>Retail ice cream sales come to $5.1 billion a year, just barely exceeding the high-end estimate for legal pot sales, but barely one-tenth the size of the estimated black and legal marijuana markets. That's still a lot of scoops, though.</p><p><strong>7. Movie tickets</strong></p><p>Let's go to the movies! Even though movie tickets aren't exactly cheap, people still pay for that theatrical cinematic experience to the tune of $11.1 billion in ticket sales per year (not counting snacks). That's only about a quarter of the size of the overall pot market. Being stoned on weed could make some of those lame loser movies more palatable.</p><p><strong>8. The NFL</strong></p><p>Pro football is a monster, dominating sports TV, radio, and internet for half the year and generating $13.3 billion in annual revenues. At the rate legal marijuana markets are expanding (just wait for California!), legal pot sales alone could surpass NFL revenues within just a few years, and the total estimated market is more than three times what the league is bringing in.</p><p><strong>9. Gambling</strong></p><p>Pot is bigger than Vegas? Yep. And Reno and Atlantic City and all those casinos everywhere combined. Make no mistake—gambling is big business, with Americans burning through $34.6 billion a year, according to the <a href="https://patch.com/pennsylvania/bensalem/gaming-association-report-details-casino-industry" target="_blank">American Gambling Association</a>, but Americans are burning through even more weed, and we'd wager that's going to go up, too.</p><p><strong>10. Daycare for kids</strong></p><p>Daycare for kids isn't exactly inexpensive and it's an issue for millions of American working families. According to <a href="https://www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=1618" target="_blank">IBISWorld’s market research</a>, that's a $48 billion hit on the family budget. It's an awful lot of money. It's also more or less the amount Americans are spending on pot right now.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077668'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077668" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 01 Jun 2017 00:03:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077668 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy marijuana girl scout cookies tequila pizza viagra cialis nfl movie tickets day care gambling Deported for Smoking Marijuana? Trump's Taking America Back to the Bad Old Days of the Drug War https://www.alternet.org/drugs/trump-escalation-drug-war-exposes-immigrants-deportation-marijuana-drug-crime <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077297'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077297" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There exists a wicked synergy between the war on drugs and the war on immigrants. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ice-raid-photo-courtesy-of-ice-772x350.jpg?itok=PiObgNca" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This May, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) <a href="https://www.ice.gov/features/100-days" target="_blank">reported</a> a nearly 40% increase in immigrant arrests in the first 100 days of the Trump administration compared to the same time period in 2016. That included a nearly 20% increase in ICE arrests of immigrants convicted of a criminal offense from 25,786 people in 2016 to 30,473 people this year.</p><p>"Criminal aliens" conjures up images of rapists, murderers, gangbangers, and cartel cowboys, but many of those deported for criminal offenses were merely caught possessing drugs. The ICE data made available last week didn't specify what proportion of those deported for criminal offenses were because of drug charges, but a 2014 Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University report showed that nearly 250,000 — one-quarter of a million — people were deported for nonviolent drug offenses from 2008 to 2014. A nonviolent drug offense was the cause of deportation for more than one in ten (11 % of) people deported in 2013 for any reason — and nearly one in five (19 %) of those who were deported because of a criminal conviction.</p><p>TRAC isn't alone in highlighting the high number of people being deported for drug offenses.</p><p>Human Rights Watch released a <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/16/price-too-high/us-families-torn-apart-deportations-drug-offenses" target="_blank">report</a> in 2015 on drug deportations, noting that, "Thousands of families in the United States have been torn apart in recent years by detention and deportation for drug offenses." Last year, the ACLU released a <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/16/price-too-high/us-families-torn-apart-deportations-drug-offenses" target="_blank">report</a> noting that veterans who have served the country as lawful permanent residents have been "subject to draconian immigration laws that reclassified many minor offenses as deportable crimes, and were effectively banished from this country."</p><p>Some 6,600 people were deported for pot possession alone in 2013-2014, and nearly 20,000 people were deported for simple drug possession in 2014. And the Trump administration has made it clear that it intends to use marijuana prohibition to throw people out of the country.</p><p>"ICE will continue to use marijuana possession, distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build their deportation removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens living in the United States," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced last month.</p><p>Immigration and drug reform advocates are warning that Trump policies will see drug deportations rise dramatically and charge that the administration is exploiting drug war policing and prosecutions to target and deport large numbers of immigrants for drug law violations, even in cases where drug charges are dismissed or possession is lawful under state law.</p><p>"The Trump administration is seeking to escalate the failed war on drugs as a means to further criminalize immigrants and people of color," said Jerónimo Saldaña, Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. "Not only are immigrants more likely to be entangled in the criminal justice system for engaging in the same practice as whites, but the threat of deportations equates to an unconscionable double punishment. This double standard, along with hateful rhetoric that targets 'felons not families,' inflicts serious harm on countless communities."</p><p>There is some pushback from the states. The New York State Assembly passed <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2017/02/new-york-state-assembly-passes-landmark-legislation-seal-past-marijuana-possession-conv">legislation</a> that creates a process for sealing the criminal records of people arrested for simple possession of marijuana in public view, providing a measure of protection for immigrants by making it difficult or impossible for immigration authorities to meet their legal burden of proof for a judge to find a lawful permanent resident deportable.</p><p>Similarly, California legislators are considering a bill explicitly designed to shield immigrants from deportation for drug possession charges, as long as they undergo treatment or counseling. Under <a href="http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB208" target="_blank">Assembly Bill 208</a>, sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Sacramento) people arrested for simple possession would be able to enroll in a drug treatment for six months to a year before formally entering a guilty plea, and if they successfully completed treatment, the courts would wipe the charges from their records.</p><p>The bill would address a discrepancy between state law and federal immigration law. Under state drug diversion programs, defendants are required to first plead guilty before opting for treatment. But although successful completion of treatment sees the charges dropped under state law, the charges still stand under federal law, triggering deportation proceedings even if the person has completed treatment and had charges dismissed.</p><p>"For those who want to get treatment and get their life right, we should see that with open arms, not see it as a way of deporting somebody," Eggman said.</p><p>California, along with seven other states, has already legalized marijuana, removing the possibility of people being charged with pot possession under state law and then deported under federal law. But the California legalization initiative, <a href="https://www.oag.ca.gov/system/files/initiatives/pdfs/15-0103%20%28Marijuana%29_1.pdf" target="_blank">Proposition 64</a>, also made the reduction or elimination of marijuana-related criminal penalties retroactive<em>,</em>meaning past convictions for marijuana offenses reduced or eliminated can be <a href="http://www.myprop64.org/" target="_blank_">reclassified</a> on a criminal record for free. Having old marijuana offenses reduced to infractions or dismissed outright can remove that criminal cause for removal from any California immigrant's record.</p><p>With the Trump administration apparently fully committed to using marijuana prohibition as a tool in its anti-immigrant campaign, that's all the more reason for immigrant communities to get on board with marijuana legalization. For immigrants—and not just "illegal" immigrants—living in Trump world, changing the drug laws is an act of self-preservation.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077297'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077297" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 31 May 2017 11:56:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077297 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Immigration donald trump John Kelly homeland security immigration deportations drug policy alliance jeronimo saldana susan talamantes eggman marijuana war on drugs alternet_originals How Many States Will Legalize Marijuana This Year? It's Not a Pretty Number https://www.alternet.org/drugs/how-many-states-will-legalize-marijuana-year <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077542'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077542" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The legislative process is exceedingly complex and difficult. But the groundwork is being laid.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_12.jpg?itok=WV7B0wie" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In the euphoric aftermath of marijuana legalization victories in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada last November, the marijuana blogosphere was alive with predictions about which states would be next to free the weed. <em>Extract</em> listed <a href="http://extract.suntimes.com/extract-news/states-most-likely-legalize-marijuana-next/">10 states</a>, <em>MerryJane</em> went big with <a href="https://merryjane.com/culture/states-that-might-legalize-weed-2017">14 states</a>, the <em>Joint Blog</em> listed <a href="https://thejointblog.com/5-states-most-likely-legalize-marijuana-next-2018/">five states</a>, <em>Leafly</em> homed in on <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/what-states-are-most-likely-to-legalize-cannabis-next">six states</a>,  and <em>Weed News</em> went with <a href="https://www.weednews.co/7-states-to-watch-in-2017-for-marijuana-legalization/">seven states</a>. <em>AlterNet</em> got into the act, too, with "<a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/next-5-states-legalize-marijuana">The Next 5 States to Legalize Marijuana</a>."</p><p>But unlike the first eight states, which all legalized it via the initiative and referendum process, for legalization to win this year, it would have to be via a state legislature. Yet here we are, nearing the halfway point of 2017, and we're not seeing it. And we're unlikely to see it for the rest of this year. The states that had the best shots are seeing their legislative sessions end without bills being passed, and while bills are alive in a couple of states—Delaware and New Jersey—they're not likely to pass this year either.</p><p>To be fair, we have seen significant progress in state legislatures. More legalization bills have been filed than ever before, and in some states, they are advancing like never before. In Vermont, a bill actually got through the legislature, only to fall victim to the veto pen. But actually getting a legalization bill past both houses of a legislature and a governor has yet to happen.</p><p>And while there is rising popular clamor—buoyed by favorable opinion polls—for state legislatures to end pot prohibition, the advocacy group most deeply involved in state-level legalization efforts, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), understands the difficulties and intricacies of working at the state house. While it has worked hard, it made no promises for victory this year, instead saying it is committed to "<a href="https://www.mpp.org/states/">ending prohibition in eight more states by 2019</a>."</p><p>That MPP list doesn't include initiative states, of which we could see a handful next year. MPP is already involved in Michigan, where legalization is <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/new_poll_shows_57_percent_supp.html">polling above 50%</a>, and first-stage initiative campaigns are already underway in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and the Dakotas. It would be disappointing for reform advocates if they have to wait until November 2018 and the popular vote to win another legalization victory, and given the progress made in state houses this year, they hope they won't have to. Still, legalization at the state house is proving a tough row to hoe.</p><p><em>AlterNet</em> thought the best prospects were in Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Here's what's happened so far:</p><p><strong>Connecticut</strong>. Legalization isn't quite dead yet this year, but it is on life support. A legalization bill died in the General Assembly after getting several hearings this year, but failing to even get a vote in the judiciary and public safety committees. In <a href="http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-democratic-budget-proposal-20170516-story.html">a last-ditch move</a>, Assembly Democrats this month included marijuana legalization in their budget recommendations as a means of addressing budget problems, but they conceded they don't have enough votes in their caucus to pass it and said they added legalization merely "to spur conversation." The dour figure of Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) and his hints of a veto didn't help.</p><p><strong>Maryland.</strong> A Senate legalization measure, <a href="http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&amp;stab=01&amp;id=sb0927&amp;tab=subject3&amp;ys=2017RS">Senate Bill 927</a>, and its House companion, <a href="http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&amp;stab=03&amp;id=hb1186&amp;tab=subject3&amp;ys=2017RS">House Bill 1186</a>, both got committee hearings, but neither could get a vote out of disinterred committee chairs. A bill that would have amended the state constitution to legalize personal pot possession and cultivation, <a href="http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&amp;stab=03&amp;id=sb0891&amp;tab=subject3&amp;ys=2017RS">Senate Bill 891</a>, suffered the same fate. The General Assembly is now adjourned until January 2018.</p><p><strong>New Mexico.</strong> Hopes for legalization this year in the Land of Enchantment crashed and burned back in February, when a measure to do just that, <a href="https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?chamber=H&amp;legType=B&amp;legNo=89&amp;year=17">House Bill 89</a>, died <a href="https://www.abqjournal.com/958510/bill-to-legalize-recreational-marijuana-use-fizzles-in-house-committee.html">an ignominious death</a> in the House Business and Industry Committee. Four out of five committee Democrats joined all five committee Republicans to bury it on a 9-1 vote. And the legislature killed a decriminalization bill, too, before the session ended. Again, a veto threat-wielding governor in the background, Susana Martinez (R), didn't help.</p><p><strong>Rhode Island.</strong>Although a full third of House members cosponsored the legalization measure, <a href="http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/billtext17/housetext17/h5555.htm">House Bill 5555</a>, the House Judiciary Committee this month failed to vote on it, instead passing <a href="http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/billtext17/housetext17/h5551.htm">House Bill 5551</a>, which punts on the issue by instead creating a commission to study marijuana legalization and report back in March 2018. That bill now awaits a House floor vote.</p><p><strong>Vermont.</strong> The Green Mountain State became the first to see a marijuana legalization bill, <a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/S.22">Senate Bill 22</a>, approved by the legislature, only to see it vetoed last week by Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who cited concerns about drugged driving and youth access. Scott did leave the door open for a modified bill to win his approval this year, but that would require legislators to agree on new language and get it passed during a two-day "veto session" next month, which in turn would require Republican House members to suspend some rules. That's looks unlikely, as does the prospect of a successful veto override. But it's not dead yet.</p><p>For reform advocates, it's a case of the glass half full.</p><p>"This is still a historic time," said Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "For the first time, we saw a state legislature pass a bill removing all penalties for the possession and consumption of marijuana by its citizens. We've had great victories in the past 10 years, but they've all been through the initiative process. Now, with the polls continuing to show majorities favoring outright legalization, legislators are feeling more emboldened to represent their constituents, but it won't happen overnight."</p><p>"We've seen bigger gains than any other year in history," said MPP Communication Director Mason Tvert. "There's never been a legislature in all our history that passed a law making marijuana legal for adults, and now one did. That's pretty substantial."</p><p>But Tvert conceded that legalization via the state house is a course filled with obstacles.</p><p>"In Rhode Island, the leadership is still holding it up, although it looks like it will pass a legalization study commission," he said. "In Delaware, a bill passed easily in committee, but it needs two-thirds to pass the House, and that's tough to do in the first year. In Vermont, last year, we had the governor, but not both houses of the legislature; this year we had the legislature, but not the governor," he elaborated.</p><p>"That's the nature of representative democracy and the structure of government in the US," Tvert said. "It requires a lot of pieces to fall into place."</p><p>"One of the biggest obstacles we face is the demographics of those chair those legislative committees," said NORML's Strekal. "They tend to skew toward older, more prohibitionist age brackets, but as these turn over to a new generation of legislators and elected officials, we should be able to get more of those bills out of committee, like we just saw in Delaware."</p><p>Tvert pointed to an example of the committee chair bottleneck in the Lone Star State.</p><p>"It's one thing to lose on a floor vote in the House," he said. "It's another thing to have a whip count showing you could win a floor vote, and you can't get a vote. That was the case in Texas with both medical marijuana and decriminalization. They had immense support and couldn't get votes."</p><p>Despite the vicissitudes of politics at state capitals, marijuana reformers remain confident that history is on their side.</p><p>"This is a situation where times are changing and people are becoming increasingly impatient," said Tvert. "When you have people's lives negatively affected by prohibition and obvious solutions staring you in the face, it's understandable that some people get antsy, but we've seen some pretty significant developments this year, and there will be more to come."</p><p>Tvert compared the legalization situation now with medical marijuana a few years back.</p><p>"With medical marijuana, we won in five initiative states between 1996 and 2000 before Hawaii became the first legislative medical marijuana state," he noted. "Since then, there've been nine more initiative states and 14 more legislative states. Now, we've seen eight states legalize in through initiatives in 2012 and 2016, Once this gets through one state legislature, the floodgates will open."</p><p>NORML's Strekal was taking the long view.</p><p>"In the grand scheme of things, this movement is chugging along much faster than other issues have advanced historically," he said. "It's important to keep in mind how far we've come."</p><p>But marijuana legalization is still a work in progress, and we've still yet to see that first legislative state fall. Maybe next year. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077542'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077542" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 27 May 2017 12:50:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077542 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana legalization decriminalization medical marijuana marijuana policy project norml connecticut maryland delaware new mexico rhode island Vermont. Mason Tvert Justin Strekal 4 Reasons You Should Grow Your Own Pot Plants https://www.alternet.org/drugs/4-reasons-you-should-grow-your-own-pot-plants <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077509'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077509" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;s planting time right now for outdoor growers. If you&#039;re trying to convince yourself you should join in, we&#039;re here to help. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_36.jpg?itok=w6k7Jph1" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>"Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal once famously proclaimed that he didn't get addicted to marijuana, only to growing it. Growing your own weed is indeed exciting, and consuming the fruits of your labors is gratifying. Doing so while you ponder the money you saved by growing your own is even more gratifying.</p><p>If you're a marijuana aficionado, it's time to think about doing it yourself. For outdoor growers, it's not too late to get your plants in the ground this year, but the clock is ticking. This Memorial Day weekend is the perfect opportunity to go out and get those clones. You can still get them in the ground with enough time to get some good vegetative growth on them before they go into flowering in the fall, but if you wait much longer, you're going to be faced with puny plants and small yields.</p><p>But why bother to go through the trouble of growing your own when you can just run down to the pot shop or the medical marijuana dispensary? Here are four reasons:</p><p><strong>1. Because You Can</strong></p><p>Marijuana is legal in eight states, and seven of those states allow for personal cultivation. Washington state is the exception. The majority of the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana also have provisions to allow personal grows (including Washington, which creates growing space for at least some Washington residents).</p><p>Most states allow only for the cultivation of a small number of plants, typically four to six, and specify that marijuana cultivation is legal for people 21 and over only. Medical marijuana states will typically require that the grower be a registered patient or designated caregiver.</p><p>There are also local issues to keep in mind. Some localities may ban or otherwise restrict pot growing, especially outdoors. Know your local rules.</p><p>But those caveats aside, if you're in a legal pot state or are a patient or caregiver in a medical marijuana state, you are free to grow marijuana up to the limits of your state law.</p><p><strong>2. Because You'll Save Money</strong></p><p>At the retail pot shop or medical marijuana dispensary, you're going to be paying $10 a gram or more for kind buds, with an ounce price of $200 or more. According to an analysis done by <em><a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/costs-of-cannabis-growing-vs-buying">Leafly</a></em>,  you can grow your own pot indoors for anywhere from about $2 to $5 per gram, depending on how much you pay for equipment and how proficient a gardener you are. For outdoor grown pot, production costs can drop to a dollar a gram, or even lower.</p><p>There are front-end costs associated with growing your own, especially indoors, where you have to purchase lighting and other equipment. <em>Leafly</em> estimated the cost for an indoor 6' x 6' grow at about $2,000 and smaller, closet-sized grow at slightly under $1,000. But that big indoor grow should yield about 500 grams—more than a pound—and could yield double that if you're good at pot gardening.</p><p>Outdoor gardening is even cheaper. You're using free sunlight instead of paying hundreds of dollars for electricity, you don't have to buy fans and lights, and your only costs are basically the cost of the clones or seeds, a few bags of soil and soil amendments, some organic fertilizer (please!), and some water. For a cost of less than $100 per plant, you can produce outdoor plants yielding a pound to a pound and a half or more.</p><p>You will save money, but it will consume some of your time. Grows require setting-up and growing plants require some attention. Count on spending an average of an hour or two a day tending your plants. Consider it an opportunity cost.</p><p><strong>3. Because You'll Be In Charge of What You Produce and Consume</strong>.</p><p>It's your grow; you're the boss. Not only do you control every aspect of your grow, you don't have to worry about some commercial grower cutting corners with icky pesticides, miticides, herbicides, or fungicides, or allowing molds to develop. You get to choose what you grow and how. Fortunately, there is a veritable deluge of information out there for novice growers, whether you're trying organic, hydroponic, indoor, outdoor, raised beds or big pots. You'll make the decisions, but you won't be alone—somebody's done it before and written a book or produced a video about it. And when you light up that finished product, you know exactly where it came from.</p><p><strong>4. Because You'll Get Acquainted With Gardening</strong>.</p><p>For many people, growing their own pot plants is their first introduction to the pleasures of gardening and horticulture. And the things they learn taking care of pot plants are things they can use in other gardening efforts, from flowers to vegetables. Once people develop a green thumb with marijuana, many are ready to expand their horticultural horizons, and that is a good thing. There's one other, intangible thing about growing your own, whether it's pot plants, potatoes, or peonies: It's oh-so-gratifying.</p><p> </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077509'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077509" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 26 May 2017 13:20:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077509 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana cultivation indoor grows outdoor grows gram price ounce price South Dakota GOP Attorney General Foiled in Bid to Persecute Tribal Pot Consultant for Personal Political Advantage https://www.alternet.org/drugs/south-dakota-gop-attorney-general-foiled-bid-persecute-pot-consultant-tribal <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077482'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077482" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Marty Jackley wants to be the next governor, and he was counting on winning this case to bolster his &quot;tough on pot&quot; credentials. Too bad. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/south_dakota_flickr.jpg?itok=fbmNdzUX" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) thought he had the perfect case to help burnish his tough-on-pot prosecutorial credentials as he eyes the governorship in the socially conservative state. It didn't work out that way, though.</p><p>Eric Hagen, who was set to be sacrificed on the altar of Jackley's ambitions, walked free on Wednesday after a jury in Flandreau refused to convict him of a marijuana trafficking conspiracy for his company's efforts to advise the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe on a marijuana cultivation operation and resort.</p><p>The tribe last year had announced plans for the operation after tribes across the country received an unsolicited okay from the federal government to pursue marijuana operations and hired Hagen's Colorado-based Monarch America to help get the operation up and running. But facing mixed signals—including threats of possible raids—from federal officials and staunch opposition from state and local officials, the tribe tore up its plants last fall.</p><p>State officials got what they wanted, the tribe gave up its plans, Monarch America closed up shop on the reservation, and the matter appeared to be settled. But nine months later, as Jackley geared up for his 2018 gubernatorial run, he brought marijuana trafficking charges against Hagen and Monarch Vice President Jonathan Hunt.</p><p>The move came even though state attorneys general can't prosecute non-Indians for crimes on reservations. In a novel move, Jackley argued that his office did have jurisdiction to prosecute victimless crimes committed by non-Indians.</p><p>Facing up to 10 years in state prison, Hunt copped to one count of conspiracy in August and agreed to testify against his business partner, but Hagen decided to fight and went to trial beginning last Friday. As a witness, Hunt testified that he did not think he was really guilty of crime, but accepted a plea bargain because he didn't want to risk a prison sentence.</p><p>At the trial, jurors had to decide whether Hagen possessed or intended to possess marijuana and whether he engaged in a conspiracy. The state's case took a blow when Santee Sioux tribal officials, including Chairman Tony Reider, testified that it was the tribe's marijuana, not Hagen's, and that Hagen and Hunt were merely consultants.</p><p>Defense attorney Mike Butler also successfully challenged the conspiracy claim, noting in arguments and questions to witnesses that there was nothing secret about the tribe's plans. As Butler noted, the tribe and Monarch America had been very open about their plans and had invited media, lawmakers, and even the FBI to tour the grow operation.</p><p>Butler also alluded to the political subtext behind Jackley's prosecution of the pot consultants. "My client and Mr. Hunt are collateral damage," he said.</p><p>The jury agreed, finding Hagen not guilty after only two hours of deliberation Wednesday.</p><p>Hagen is a free man, but his company must now be rebuilt, and the Sioux Falls native is calling out Jackley for attempting to ride to higher political office on his back.</p><p>"He tanked our company by spreading lies and rumors," Hagen said. "It was 100% politically motivated. This was simply a media ploy for Jackley because he's running for governor in 2018."</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077482'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077482" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 25 May 2017 13:57:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077482 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Marty Jackley Eric Hagen Jonathan Hunt Monarch America Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe marijuana prosecution Vermont Governor Vetoes Marijuana Legalization, but the Fight Isn't Over Yet https://www.alternet.org/drugs/vermont-governor-vetoes-marijuana-legalization-fight-isnt-over-yet <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077375'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077375" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republican Governor Phil Scott says there&#039;s a &quot;path forward&quot; for the bill&#039;s passage later this year.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/montpelier_vermont_state_house_20.jpg?itok=LseOeVwE" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) vetoed a marijuana legalization bill on Wednesday, ending for now an effort that would have seen the state become the first to legalize pot through the legislative process.</p><p>But Scott left open a "path forward" for passing the bill later this year, saying that if a handful of changes were made, he could support it. He added he thought the legislature still has time to incorporate them and pass a revised bill during this summer's veto session.</p><p>“We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session," said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals."</p><p>Marijuana is legal in eight states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—and the District of Columbia, but all of them legalized it via initiatives. Four states and DC did it in 2012 and four more last year.</p><p><a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/S.22">Senate Bill 22</a> would have allowed people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce and four immature or two mature plants, effective July 1, 2018. But unlike the legal pot states, it did not include a provision for taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Instead it called for a legislative commission to study whether and how to put such a system in place, making it more akin to law in D.C., which allows personal possession and cultivation but not legal sales, than to the tax-and-regulate states.</p><p>“Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward," said Simon. "The passage of S. 22 demonstrates most members of both legislative chambers are ready to move forward with making marijuana legal for adults. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.”</p><p>Although marijuana legalization has strong support in the state—it polled <a href="http://digital.vpr.net/post/vpr-poll-majority-vermonters-say-legalize-pot#stream/0">55 percent in a February poll</a> and <a href="http://www.thedailychronic.net/2017/70789/vermont-house-committee-approves-proposal-end-marijuana-prohibition-new-poll-shows-strong-public-support/">57 percent in a March poll</a>—getting a bill through the legislature very nearly did not happen. While the Senate wanted a bill that would include taxing and regulating legal marijuana sales, the measure passed by the House, <a href="http://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/H.170">House Bill 170</a>, only allowed for personal possession and cultivation.</p><p>It took last-minute maneuvering in the Senate to arrive at an acceptable compromise, incorporating HB 170 into the Senate bill and replacing the latter's tax-and-regulate provisions with the commission to study how to do it. After that, it took a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee to win passage.</p><p>But with the stroke of Scott's veto pen, all that work has come to naught—at least for now.</p><p>Efforts to legalize marijuana via the legislature have made real progress in several states this year, coming very close in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and advancing in other states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and New Jersey. But no other state has gotten over the final hurdle yet, and its unlikely any others will this year.</p><p>Those efforts at various state houses will continue next year, and 2018 will also likely see more marijuana legalization initiatives on state ballots. Campaigns are already underway in Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, and North and South Dakota. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077375'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077375" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 24 May 2017 21:04:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077375 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics vermont marijuana legalization Governor Phil Scott alternet_originals The Man Who Made Orange Sunshine: Remembering Acid Chemist Nick Sand (Watch) https://www.alternet.org/drugs/man-who-made-orange-sunshine-remembering-acid-chemist-nick-sand <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077092'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077092" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">His mission was to &quot;turn on the world.&quot; He didn&#039;t quite get there, but he did turn on millions to the wonders of LSD. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/nick_sand_kickstarter.png?itok=-SnpMClk" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">Nicholas Sand died over the weekend at the age of 75. He deserves to be remembered for his role in ushering in the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s. While not nearly as well known an acid exponent as Dr. Timothy Leary, who advised a generation to "tune in, turn on, and drop out," Sand and his partner in crime, Tim Scully, made it possible for millions to do just that, or at least, to get their hands on a tab of LSD. <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">Sand and Scully were the mad chemists behind a legendary form of acid—the Orange Sunshine that blew the minds of millions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The idea was to turn on a nation, and with their production run of 4 million hits of the potent psychedelic, they were well on their way. For Sand, it was fulfilling a mission.<p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">"My first experience with taking acid changed everything," Sand explained in a 2015 documentary about his life as an LSD chemist.  "I was floating in this immense black space. I said, 'What am I doing here?' And suddenly a voice came through my body," Sand continued. "'Your job on this planet is to make psychedelics and turn on the world.'" <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">That documentary, <i><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4456270/">The Sunshine Makers</a> </i>(now available on Netflix), recounts Sand' life, from his upbringing as an authentic Brooklyn red diaper baby (Dad was a Communist fired from the Manhattan Project after being seen with a Soviet intelligence agent; Mom was a Communist Party activist), through his years as chemical wunderkind, first cementing a reputation for fine home-made DMT and then teaming up with Scully in the Orange Sunshine adventure, and on to his years in Canada as a fugitive from American justice for his psychedelic caper.  <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">Scully was no slouch either, having worked as lab partner with the near-mythical acid chemist Owsley Stanley, and in fact, it was Scully who taught Sand how to make LSD. Between them, they planned of producing 750 million hits of Orange Sunshine to create a revolution in consciousness, or, in Sand's own words, "a new world of peace and love."<p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">The law stopped them before they got that far, but, as the <i>New York Times</i> noted contemporaneously, their Orange Sunshine, touted as the purest of the time, "showed up wherever hippies gathered: at Grateful Dead concerts, in California communes, in Indian ashrams, in the hashish havens of Afghanistan." <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">Although Scully had gotten out of the game after narrowly beating an earlier lab bust, Sand continued cranking out the Sunshine until 1973, when he wasa busted, bringing Scully down with him. At the time of his arrest, Sand still had a flowchart Scully had made showing the steps for producing LSD, and that was enough to make Scully equally culpable in the feds' eyes. <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">Scully accepted a 20-year federal prison deal, but Sand balked at a 15-year sentence, instead going underground and eventually slipping into Canada, where he spent the next 20 years devoting himself to his life's work: making LSD. But his luck eventually ran out, he was caught, and ended up doing six years in prison. <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">The law may have managed to cage him for a while, but it couldn't change Nick Sand. He emerged just as insistent on his calling to "turn on the world." <p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">"I have a vision to bring a new level of consciousness" to the human race, he wrote in 2001. "That is what I will continue to do to my last breath."<p></p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.15in; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><span style="background:#F4F4F4">At least he lived long enough to see the renaissance of the psychedelic vision he both lived by and helped turn into a cultural fact. Nick Sand was a true pioneer. </span></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hsvElED0-O0" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077092'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077092" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 17 May 2017 19:32:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1077092 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video Nicholas Sand Nick Sand lsd acid Tim Scully Orange Sunshine Sunshine Makers psychedelics 6 Ways People Are Consuming Marjiuana Without Smoking It https://www.alternet.org/drugs/6-ways-use-weed-without-smoking <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076976'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076976" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There are alternatives to inhaling burning plant matter. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/edible.jpg?itok=m7KgjD-U" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Smoking it is traditionally the way we've consumed marijuana, but lighting a plant on fire and inhaling the results isn't everybody's favorite activity. In fact, smokers of anything are increasingly shunned because of the noxious fumes and odors. And we won’t even get into those burn holes in your clothes.</p><p>While firing up a joint or a bong is unlikely to go extinct any time soon because of social pressure, there are ways to enjoy the herb without going all Cheech &amp; Chong. They may or may not get you high (depending on the product), but you will be consuming weed without smoking it. Here are six ways to do it:</p><p><strong>1.Infused Foods (Edibles)</strong></p><p>We've come a long way from the days of hippie kitchen brownies with green vegetable matter in them that left consumers melted into their couches. Cannabis cuisine is exploding as big name chefs and back country artisans alike try their hands at psychoactive concoctions ranging from gums and candies to chocolate bars, cookies, and just about everything else imaginable. There are recipes out there for <a href="http://herb.co/recipes/pulled-pot-pork-sandwich/">pulled pork</a>, <a href="http://www.thecannabist.co/2014/03/03/marijuana-recipe-kitchen-kush-smokin-mac-n-cheese-savor-entree-marijuana-enhanced/3962/">Mac &amp; cheese</a>, <a href="http://auntiedolores.com/ad_products/caramel-corn/">caramel corn</a>, and even <a href="https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/weed-infused-foie-gras-is-the-most-decadent-thing-youll-ever-eat">foie gras</a>, and with cannabis-infused butter, creative home chefs can join the pros in letting their imaginations run free.</p><p>Consumers should be aware of dosage in order to avoid the dreaded <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2014/06/09/why-eating-a-marijuana-candy-bar-sent-maureen-dowd-to-paranoia-hell/">Maureen Dowd syndrome</a>, in which the New York Times columnist famously over-indulged in cannabis chocolates to ill effect. Fortunately, regulators in pot- and medical marijuana-legal states are generally on the ball and are requiring labelling information about what's in those goodies. Read those labels!</p><p><strong>2. Beverages</strong></p><p>Who needs a cup of coffee and a joint when you've got <a href="http://www.houseofjane.com/#!janes-brew-cannabis-coffees/czvu">infused coffees</a> already preloaded with cannabis goodness? And if you're in trendy West Hollywood, you can go out and enjoy a nifty—if spendy--<a href="http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-weed-cocktails-20160606-snap-story.html">cannabis cocktail</a>. More working class types can indulge in a <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-drink/suds-and-buds-colorado-brewery-has-created-marijuana-infused-beer">cannabis-infused beer</a>, although, sadly, it will contain not THC, but only non-psychoactive cannabinoids. And thanks to companies like Dixie Elixirs and its competitors, there are whole lines of <a href="http://dixieelixirs.com/products/elixirs/">THC-laden sodas and lemonades</a>.</p><p><strong>3. Tinctures</strong></p><p>Or you can go old school with <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cannabis-tinctures-101-what-are-they-how-to-make-them-and-how-to">tinctures</a>, a favored 19th and early 20th Century form of administering marijuana. Tinctures are basically weed soaked in alcohol over a period of days, with the mixture shaken once a day before straining out the vegetable matter and leaving a concentrated dose of cannabis suspended in the alcohol. And we are talking concentrated: Typical tincture doses are measured in drops. Tinctures are also the basis of various sprays, which allow users to simply squeeze and squirt a THC or CBD tincture into their mouths. You can make tinctures yourself or you can go to an increasingly number of tincture and spray manufacturers, such as Denver-based <a href="https://www.buddyboybrands.com/">Buddy Boy</a>.</p><p><strong>4. Vaporizers and Vape Pens</strong></p><p>Vaping isn't just for tobacco users, and it's just about as close to smoking as you can get without actually inhaling burning plant matter. Hand-held vape pens and stay-at-home vaporizers alike both work by heating small amounts of marijuana (or oil) just enough to vaporize them—not enough to actually combust them—creating a smoke-like vapor that contains the THC and/or CBD but not the nasty chemicals associated with smoking. Vape pens are quite popular, being easy to carry and conceal (and use surreptitiously, being nearly odorless), while bigger vaporizers, such as the <a href="http://www.volcanovaporizer.com/shop_us/en">Volcano</a> and the futuristic, egg-shaped <a href="http://www.herbalizer.com/">Herbalizer</a> can take a place of honor on your coffee table. Vaping gives you the nearest thing to the pot-smoking experience without the smoke.</p><p><strong>5. Skin Care Products</strong></p><p>You won't get high off marijuana-infused skin care products, such as <a href="https://www.thebodyshop.com/en-us/body/hand-cream-and-moisturizers/hemp-hand-protector/p/p000461?gclid=COnqtdf38tMCFQ5Efgodmu8Hww">hand lotions</a>, <a href="http://herb.co/2015/07/24/top-cannabis-beauty-products/">shampoos</a>, and similar products because they are mainly made from low-THC hemp plants, and you won't stink of weed, either, because these products are also infused with natural scents such as citrus, lavender, and mint.  But you will be using a marijuana-based product and enjoying its therapeutic benefits, and you'll probably smell good, too.</p><p><strong>6. For Women Only</strong></p><p>We've heard that weed enhances lovemaking, but companies such as <a href="http://foriapleasure.com/">Foria</a> have taken it to a whole new level. Foria produces vaginal suppositories packed with 60 milligrams of THC and 10 mg of CBD and generates user feedback like "I was truly in awe of this weed butter vagina experience." And that's just part of its woman-centric product line. Meanwhile, Whoopi Goldberg has gotten into the action by teaming up with award-winning edibles maker Maya Elisabeth to create <a href="http://whoopiandmaya.com/">Whoopi &amp; Maya</a>, which focuses on "cannabis-infused salves, balms and edibles designed to relieve menstrual pain and discomfort."</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076976'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076976" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 15 May 2017 15:50:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076976 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana edibles marijuana tinctures cannabis hemp foria Buddy Boy VIDEO: Your Brain on LSD https://www.alternet.org/drugs/video-your-brain-lsd <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076816'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076816" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">What happens when you take acid? Here&#039;s a video that succinctly explains. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/psychedelic.jpg?itok=2dv2gqf2" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The good folks at <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AsapSCIENCE">AsapSCIENCE</a> are at it again. These purveyors of videos on various scientific topics have a whole playlist of videos about drugs and how they affect you, and they've just come out with a new one on LSD.</p><p>The three-and-a-half-minute cartoon video speeds through the discovery and early history of the psychedelic superstar, breezing through Dr. Hofmann's momentous discovery and on to LSD's popularization by the hippies and subsequent demonization and criminalization by the authorities before getting down to the meat of the matter: how acid works on the brain.</p><p>The video explains the hallucinations and altered state of consciousness as resulting primarily from the 5H2TA serotonin receptor, which folds over and traps LSD molecules, making the receptor continuously fire and causing hallucinations. The drug also causes the parts of the brain, especially the visual cortex, to communicate in strange ways, which also helps to explain the vivid and complex hallucinations.</p><p>And then there's decreased blood flow in the default mode network, a <em>network</em> of interacting brain regions known to have activity highly correlated with each other and distinct from other <em>networks</em> in the brain, which scientists say correlates to strong changes in consciousness characterized as ego dissolution. Users report that such changes help them feel better about themselves and their connections to the rest of the world.  </p><p>In fact, researchers have found that taking LSD makes people more open, optimistic, creative, and imaginative, leading some to suggest that it could be useful as therapy for patients with death anxiety around terminal illness.</p><p>AsapSCIENCE warns that research on both positive and negative effects of LSD is in its infancy and cautions that you might not want to take a trip just yet and reports that even experienced users can suffer bad trips with irrational fear, paranoia, and panic attacks. But it also notes that LSD usage carries no increased risk of suicide or psychosis.</p><p>But why waste time reading the written word when AsapSCIENCE was kind enough to make this nice video? Enjoy:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wG5JyorwYPo" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076816'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076816" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 11 May 2017 14:33:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076816 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video lsd ASAPScience alternet_originals DEA Warns Parents: Your Kid's Teddy Bear Could Be a Dope Stash https://www.alternet.org/drugs/dea-warns-parents-your-kids-teddy-bear-could-be-dope-stash <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076723'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076723" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A new DEA website wants parents to think of their children&#039;s possessions as potential drug paraphernalia.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_137884292.jpg?itok=IkluM0-7" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It takes a certain mentality to be a drug cop. When most people look at an interstate highway, they see, well, an interstate highway. But a drug cop looks at that same stretch of asphalt and sees a "drug trafficking corridor." </p><p>And so it is with the DEA's latest experiment with protecting the nation's youth from drugs. With a new website, <a href="https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/content/hiding-places" target="_blank">Get Smart About Drugs</a>,  the DEA looks around your home and finds the darnedest things.  You may see a teddy bear, but the  DEA sees a potential drug stash. You may see a graphing calculator, but the DEA sees a potential drug stash. You may see highlighting pens, but the DEA sees a potential drug stash. </p><p>The new website is supposed to be "a DEA resource for parents, educators &amp; caregivers," but comes off as mainly absurdly paranoid. Your distant, snotty teen may indeed own highlighters, a graphic calculator, and maybe even a favored teddy bear from his or her early years, but that doesn't mean those possessions are being used as drug paraphernalia. </p><p>The real shame is that, thanks to propagandistic efforts to stigmatize drug use, conducted by the DEA and others as a means of generating support for harsh anti-drug policies, it isn't easy to find good resources for dealing with teenage drug use and addiction. And the DEA isn't very helpful, here, either: Under the website's "<a href="https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/find-help" target="_blank">Find Help</a>" section, it links not only to standard Alcoholic Anonymous-based treatment programs and more DEA propaganda websites, but also anti-marijuana legalization advocacy groups such as Project SAM and <a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digitization/152055NCJRS.pdf" target="_blank">discredited</a> anti-drug campaigns like DARE. </p><p>Here's how the DEA is spending some of your tax dollars. </p><p>Watch out for highlighters:</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="472"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="472" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/dea_highlighters.png?itok=i1pcoG0M" /></div><p>And teddy bears:</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="342"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="342" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/dea_teddy_bears.png?itok=jFTcaka7" /></div><p>And graphic calculators:</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="371"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="371" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/dea_calc.jpg?itok=5yfi36QK" /></div><p>There are more scary household objects available for your viewing pleasure <a href="https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/content/hiding-places">here</a>. You might as well look; it's your tax dollars at work. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076723'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076723" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 10 May 2017 11:07:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076723 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs dea teddy bears drugs alternet_originals Trump Threatens to Defy Congress to Go After Medical Marijuana https://www.alternet.org/drugs/trump-threatens-defy-congress-go-after-medical-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076625'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076625" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Congress just passed a budget barring the use of federal funds to mess with medical marijuana. Now the president says that doesn&#039;t matter. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/discount_medical_marijuana_-_2.jpg?itok=q46wABzm" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Congress moved to protect medical marijuana by including in its stop-gap federal spending bill a provision barring the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after the drug in states where medical marijuana is legal, but now, President Trump says that doesn't matter.</p><p>Even though Trump signed the spending bill into law last Friday, he included a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/05/statement-president-donald-j-trump-signing-hr-244-law">signing statement</a> objecting to numerous provisions in the bill—including the ban on funds to block the implementation of medical marijuana laws in those states.</p><p>Despite those state laws, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which also does not recognize "medical marijuana."</p><p>The president said he reserved the right to ignore that provision and left open the possibility the Trump administration could go after the 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico where medical marijuana use is allowed.</p><p>"Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories," Trump noted in the signing statement. "I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."</p><p>The language suggests that Trump could give Attorney General Jeff Sessions his head when it comes to enforcing marijuana policy. Sessions has vowed to crack down on marijuana and has scoffed at arguments for its medical use as "desperate."</p><p>"I reject the idea that we're going to be better placed if we have more marijuana," Sessions told law enforcement officials in an April speech. "It's not a healthy substance, particularly for young people."</p><p>But the language also sets up a potential power struggle with Congress, which, under the Constitution, has the sole power to appropriate funds for federal government operations.</p><p>As Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington told <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-05/trump-may-ignore-congressional-protections-for-medical-marijuana">Bloomberg News</a>, the signing statement signals a desire to usurp power from Congress.</p><p>"It is the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to spend money and to put limitations on spending," said Bell, a former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and an aide to former Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico. "This is an extremely broad assertion of executive branch power over the purse."</p><p>Medical marijuana providers in states where it is legal thought they had some protection, thanks to the congressional budget action, but in typical Trumpian fashion, the president's signing statement has once again introduced chaos, doubt and uncertainty, leaving at risk not only patients and providers, but also traditional limits on executive authority. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076625'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076625" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 08 May 2017 11:56:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076625 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics donald trump congress medical marijuana budget Steve Bell jeff sessions The NFL Is America's Newest Marijuana Battleground https://www.alternet.org/drugs/nfl-gets-ready-tackle-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076521'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076521" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How the league responds to marijuana and medical marijuana use among its players is becoming an issue that can no longer be ignored. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/football_0.jpg?itok=fQ35lynH" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The attitudinal shift regarding marijuana that is sweeping the country has now also embroiled the nation's premier professional sports league, the NFL, and the end result could soon be that the league will retreat from its harsh stance on the herb. But someone needs to clue in Commissioner Roger Goodell first.</p><p>The league pays its athletes exceedingly well, but also subjects them to brutal, physically punishing competition, and has been embroiled in repeated scandals around the consequences of an NFL career for players. The NFL has taken a public relations beating over its long-time laissez faire approach to the issue of concussions, and it is similarly under fire over the <a href="https://www.marijuana.com/news/2016/11/ricky-williams-on-espns-nfl-painkiller-survey/" target="_blank">rampant</a> over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. According to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3095672/">one study</a>, former NFL players are dependent on opioids at a rate four times that of the population at large.</p><p>Acceptance of medical marijuana as a substitute for opioids has been slowing in coming, but the league has at least moved to lighten up somewhat on pot. In <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2014/10/23/national-football-league-marijuana-testing-policy/17784021/">2014</a>, the league and the NFL Players Association agreed to increase the threshold for a positive cannabis test from 15 to 35 nanograms, effectively doubling the amount of pot necessary to create a positive test result—and subsequent disciplinary action.</p><p>And this year, the clamor for a more enlightened NFL marijuana policy has only grown louder, but Commissioner Goodell is proving recalcitrant.</p><p>"Listen, you’re ingesting smoke so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say," Goodell told ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” morning show <a href="http://deadspin.com/roger-goodell-is-mewling-about-weed-again-1794740729" target="_blank">last week</a>. "It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. It’s not as simple as, you know, someone just wants to feel better after a game."</p><p>That isn't sitting well with some former players, who say that medical marijuana is a lifesaver for them.</p><p>"This pain is never going away. My body is damaged,” former Baltimore Raven Eugene Monroe told the <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/nfl-players-fight-pain-with-medical-marijuana-managing-it-with-pills-was-slowly-killing-me/2017/05/02/676e4e62-2e80-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html?">Washington Post</a></em>. "Managing it with pills was slowly killing me. Now I’m able to function and be extremely efficient by figuring out how to use different formulations of cannabis."</p><p>Last year, Monroe became the first active NFL player to publicly call on the league to allow medical marijuana. He was <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/06/16/did-eugene-monroes-marijuana-advocacy-contribute-to-getting-cut-by-the-ravens/?utm_term=.83879ba87fac">released by the Ravens</a> three weeks after he went public with his position. Since then, he's become a leading advocate for changing the league's policy toward medical marijuana.</p><p>Fortunately, Goodell is increasingly isolated in his outdated views on marijuana, and the league appears to moving in Monroe's direction. Both team owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are now calling for more enlightened policies.</p><p>Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last month made <a href="https://www.marijuana.com/news/2017/04/jerry-jones-urges-nfl-to-scale-back-marijuana-sanctions/">encouraging comments</a> about the league's need to revamp its approach to pot, reportedly calling on the league to drop its prohibition on marijuana in favor of a position more in tune with the times.</p><p>This week, the Cowboys doubled down, with Executive Vice President Stephen Jones going on <a href="http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/05/03/cowboys-want-nfl-to-re-examine-marijuana-policy/"><em>ProFootballTalk Live</em></a> to elaborate on his father's thoughts.</p><p>"I think Jerry’s opinion, my opinion, is this program, this system has been in place for a long time. I think it needs to be heavily scrutinized in terms of its results," Jones said in a clip that aired Thursday.</p><p>Changing societal attitudes toward marijuana should be factored in, too, he said.</p><p>"You know, I think it should be a part of what’s looked at," Jones said. "When you re-look at the whole program, I think you should take a look at every aspect of it. From the testing to the discipline to the amounts, anything to do with this. At the end of the day our goal should be to help players who have sicknesses and addictions and make them better people off the field, and then how we go about that I think is what needs to be looked at and make sure we’re doing everything the best way we can do it. Obviously, when you look at something like that you have to look at, ‘How do we do it in society right now? How does that affect the way a player sees his situation in that lens?’ And then make decisions based on that." </p><p>The NFLPA is ready, and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" this week that the union doesn't want to wait for the current contract to expire in 2020 to see changes to the league's pot policy—including not just medical marijuana, but also for players who just like to use weed.</p><p>"We intended to present a proposal to the league that has probably more of a therapeutic approach to those who test positive for marijuana," Smith said. "The idea is simply to make sure that we understand whether a player is suffering from something other than just a desire to smoke marijuana. I think all of us would want to have a process where if there was truly a problem, we’re treating the problem instead of just treating a symptom."</p><p>That would not be a comprehensive solution to the league's pot problem, but it would be a start. Focusing on medical marijuana as a way to reduce reliance on opioids among active and retired players would seem to be something even Roger Goodell could get behind. And he could earn the league some badly-needed brownie points after its concussion and opioid fiascos.</p><p>But the NFL is a league where at least six franchises--the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and Seattle Seahawks—play in states where marijuana is already legal, and where the vast majority of teams play in states where medical marijuana is legal. While the current collective bargaining agreement doesn't expire until 2020, it's already time for the league to get on the ball when it comes to adopting an up-do-date marijuana policy.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076521'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076521" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 05 May 2017 12:42:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076521 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs alternet_originals nfl pro football marijuana medical marijuana Eugene Monroe roger goodell jerry jones Stephen Jones Dallas Cowboys 7 Surprising Signs of Marijuana's Normalization in America https://www.alternet.org/drugs/7-surprising-signs-marijuanas-normalization-america <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076464'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076464" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Reefer madness appears to be fading into oblivion—at least when it comes to popular attitudes. The law lags behind.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/darrin_harris_frisby_group-adults-marijuana-watching-movie_7515.jpg?itok=mL3LMAl_" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A new survey from <a href="http://maristpoll.marist.edu/yahoo-newsmarist-poll/">Yahoo News and Marist College</a> examines Americans' relationship with marijuana, and it shows some surprising signals about how far acceptance of the herb has come. Pot is no longer a dirty little secret, to be consumed furtively and hidden from friends and family, and it's no longer limited to the fringes.</p><p>Marijuana is going mainstream and is now part of everyday life for millions of Americans. Here are seven signs of weed's newfound normalization:</p><p><strong>1. More American adults have tried marijuana than have not</strong>. The survey found that 133 million adults have tried pot, while 115 million have not.</p><p><strong>2. Some 55 million adults smoked pot in the last year</strong>. That's nearly a quarter (23.1%) of the country's adult population. Some 20 million were "current users," meaning they'd toked up once or twice in the past year, while 35 million were "regular users," meaning they used at least once or twice a month.</p><p><strong>3. Marijuana use is now socially acceptable</strong>. A solid majority of Americans—56%—now say marijuana use is "socially acceptable," while only 42% say it isn't. Another 2% are too befuddled to say one way or the other. Unsurprisingly, people who have actually smoked pot are much more likely (74%) to say it's socially acceptable than those who haven't (37%).</p><p><strong>4. Pot smokers don't bother to hide it very much anymore</strong>. A whopping 95% reported telling their significant other about their use and that same figure held for close friends. Nearly three out of four (72%) have told their parents they smoke pot, and three out of five (60%) have told their children. And it can be a family affair: Some 21% have either toked with or in front of their parents, and among older users, 35% have smoked with or in front of their adult kids.</p><p><strong>5. If people don't use marijuana, it's usually not because it's illegal</strong>. Among those who do not partake, only slightly more than one out of four (27%) said it was because marijuana is illegal. Another 26% said they just didn't like it, while 16% said it was because it is not healthy, 9% said for work or school reasons, 6% said they just had no interest in it, 5% cited family reasons, and 10% mentioned other reasons.</p><p><strong>6. Very few marijuana users say they use it just because it's fun</strong>. Pot people seem to need to justify their indulgence. Some 37% said they used to relax, 19% used it pain relief, 10% said to be social, 6% said to be creative, 3% each said to improve sex or sleep, and 5% gave other justifications. Fewer than one out of six (16%) said they used pot just because it's fun.</p><p><strong>7. Americans view marijuana as less dangerous than alcohol, tobacco, or opiates</strong>. Strong majorities agreed that pot is less harmful than alcohol (70%), tobacco (76%), or opiates (67%). But a slim majority (51%) said marijuana is health risk, while 44% disagreed. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076464'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076464" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 04 May 2017 12:04:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076464 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana alternet_originals Yahoo News Marist College poll GOP Congress Won't Give Jeff Sessions a Penny to Go After Medical Marijuana https://www.alternet.org/drugs/congress-will-give-doj-zero-dollars-go-after-medical-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076364'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076364" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Attorney General Sessions may not like weed, but Congress isn&#039;t going to let him spend any federal dollars to bust patients and suppliers.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_38.jpg?itok=maShdPNy" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The bipartisan congressional budget agreement to keep the federal government operating through September contains exactly no money for the Justice Department to wage war on medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The agreement reached Sunday instead explicitly bars the use of federal funds to go after medical marijuana.</p><p>And it sends a strong message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an avowed foe of marijuana and loosening marijuana laws, who told reporters in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-marijuana-comments_us_58b4b189e4b0780bac2c9fd8" target="_blank">February Justice Department briefing</a> that while states "can pass the laws they choose," it remains "a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."</p><p>The budget agreement eliminated funding for medical marijuana enforcement by adopting the language of an amendment that has been successfully used since 2014 to keep the feds out of medical marijuana states. Known originally as the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment and now as the Farr-Rohrabacher amendment, the measure bars the Justice Department from spending money to prevent states from "implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."</p><p>The move was greeted with studied approval by medical marijuana supporters, who are now calling for marijuana to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act.</p><p>"Medical marijuana patients and the businesses that support them now have a measure of certainty," said Oregon U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. "But this annual challenge must end. We need permanent protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs, as well as adult-use."</p><p>It is time to "amend federal law in a manner that comports with the available science, public opinion, and with America’s rapidly changing cultural and legal landscape," agreed Justin Strekal, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).</p><p>The best way to do that, Strekal said, is "removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that states possess the flexibility to engage in their own marijuana regulatory policies how best they see fit."</p><p>Adding restrictive amendments to the Justice Department budget bill has served in recent years to block the feds from interfering in medical marijuana states, but is only a stop-gap measure. The amendments have to be renewed each fiscal year, and there is always a chance they could fail. That's why activists and the industry want the certainty that would be provided by either changing the federal marijuana laws or by making the funding ban permanent.</p><p>"Medical cannabis patients in the U.S. can rest easy knowing they won’t have to return to the black market to acquire their medicine," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-state-marijuana-laws_us_59077dcde4b0bb2d087023df">said Jeffrey Zucker</a> of the marijuana business strategy firm Green Lion Partners. "Operators can relax a bit knowing their hard work isn’t for naught and their employees’ jobs are safe."</p><p>But only until September—and that's why it's not quite time to get comfortable, he said.</p><p>"While this is great as a continuing step, it’s important for activists and the industry to remain vigilant and getting cannabis federally unscheduled and truly ending the prohibition of this medicinal plant," Zucker said.</p><p>In the meantime, medical marijuana is protected in the 29 states where it is legal. But adult-use legal marijuana, legal in eight states, is not under the purview of the budget agreement and is still theoretically at risk from a Sessions Justice Department.</p><p>But even Sessions, a fire-breathing foe of the weed, increasingly seems disinclined to make good on earlier vows to go after legal weed. Like Donald Trump discovering that health care reform is "complicated," Jeff Sessions is apparently coming to understand, as he <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/2017/04/27/sessions-wise-to-hear-hickenlooper-out-on-weed/" target="_blank">reportedly told</a> Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff  last week,  that the Obama administraion's laissez-faire approach to state-legal pot is "not too far from good policy."</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076364'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076364" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 02 May 2017 14:56:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1076364 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana cannabis alternet_originals jeff sessions donald trump Farr-Rohrabacher medical marijuana Groundbreaking Drug Reform Conference Envisions Alliance with Black Academia and How to Take on the New Drug Warriors in Washington https://www.alternet.org/drugs/atlanta-drug-conference <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1075930'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075930" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Conference finds the roots of the problems in capitalism and deep-seated racism.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/img_2616_0.jpg?itok=Nv6w1YG3" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Hundreds of the nation's leading advocates for drug policy reform gathered in a groundbreaking meeting in Atlanta over the weekend aimed at building alliances with the black community to both advance smart public health approaches to drug policy and maintain and protect existing reforms in the face of hostile powers in Washington.</p><p>Sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, Georgia State University's Department of African American Studies, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Amnesty International, the Ordinary People's Society, the Malcolm X Grassroots movement, and Peachtree NORML (the Georgia chapter), the event marked the first time the drug reform movement has come to the historically black colleges of the South and signals the emergence of a powerful new alliance between black academics and reform advocates.</p><p>The event included a series of panels filled with activists, academics, and public health experts, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrice Cullors and VH-1 personality and author Marc Lamont Hill, and was highlighted by a keynote address by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).</p><p>To the delight of the audience, "Auntie Maxine" slammed the drug war as aimed only at certain communities while those making fortunes at the top of the illegal drug trade go untouched. The representative from South Central reached back to the days of the crack cocaine boom to make her case.</p><p>"The police did everything you think wouldn't happen in a democracy," she said, citing illegal raids and thuggish behavior from the LAPD of then-Chief Darryl Gates, the inventor of the SWAT team. But if low-level users and dealers were getting hammered, others involved went scot free.</p><p>"Something happened to devastate our communities," she said, alluding to the arrival of massive amounts of cocaine flowing from political allies of the Reagan administration as it waged war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. "The CIA and DEA turned a blind eye," Waters related. "If you're the CIA and DEA, you know who the dealer is, but they take the lower-level dealers and let the big dealers keep selling drugs."</p><p>"Ricky Ross did time," she said, referencing the South Central dealer held responsible for unleashing the crack epidemic (with the help of Nicaraguan contra connections). "But those big banks that laundered all that drug money—nobody got locked up, they just have to pay fines. But for them, fines are just a cost of doing business. Even today, some of the biggest banks are laundering money for drug dealers," Waters noted.</p><p>"We have to defend our communities; we don't support drugs and addiction, but you need to know that people in high places bear some responsibility. One of the worst things about the drug war is that we never really dealt with how these drugs come into our communities," Waters added.</p><p>The selection of Atlanta for the conclave was no accident. Georgia is a state that incarcerates blacks for drug offenses at twice the rate it does whites. While blacks make up only a third of the state's population, they account for three-quarters of those behind bars for marijuana offenses.</p><p>The state has the nation's fourth-highest incarceration rate, with a prison population on track to grow 8% within the next five years, and one out of every 13 adults in the state are in prison or jail or on probation or parole.</p><p>Atlanta is also the powerhouse of the South—the region's largest city, and one that is increasingly progressive in a long-time red state that could now be turning purple. And it is the site of the Drug Policy Alliance's International Drug Policy Reform Conference—the world's premier drug reform gathering—set for October. What better place to bring a laser focus on the racial injustice of the drug war?</p><p>"The drug war is coded language," said Drug Policy Alliance senior director asha bandele. "When the law no longer allowed the control and containment of people based on race, they inserted the word 'drug' and then targeted communities of color. Fifty years later, we see the outcome of that war. Drug use remains the same, and black people and people of color are disproportionately locked up. But no community, regardless of race, has been left unharmed, which is why we are calling everyone together to strategize."</p><p>And strategize they did, with panels on human rights, drug war survivors and prison reform. While denunciations of white privilege were to be expected, the accompanying critique of capitalism's role in the perpetuation of oppression and inequality was surprisingly frank.</p><p>"We have to dismantle both white supremacy and capitalism," said Eunisses Hernandez, a California-based program coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We need to reach a place where trauma is dealt with in a public health model. The current system of law enforcement, prisons, and jails doesn't do anything for us."</p><p>"We're in agreement here," said Dr. Hill. "We have to eliminate white supremacy and capitalism."</p><p>That's not something you hear much in mainstream political discourse, but in Atlanta, under the impetus of addressing the horrors of the war on drugs, the search for answers is leading to some very serious questions—questions that go well beyond the ambit of mere drug reform. Something was brewing in Atlanta this weekend. Whether the initial progress will be built upon remains to be seen, but the drug reformers are going to be back in October to try to strengthen and deepen those newfound bonds. </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1075930'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075930" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:16:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1075930 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Activism Drugs atlanta drug policy alliance drugs marijuana imprisonment race capitalism white supremacy maxine waters Dr. Marc Lamont Hill asha bandele crack cocaine VIDEO: The Accidental Discovery of LSD https://www.alternet.org/drugs/video-accidental-discovery-lsd <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1075637'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075637" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Just in time for Bicycle Day!</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bicycledayjpg_0.jpeg?itok=mQxpTD13" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Bicycle Day is just around the corner, but it's not quite what you think. Rather than a holiday honoring two-wheeled, environmentally friendly transportation, it's a day to commemorate the birth of the Psychedelic Age. Bicycle Day (April 19) marks the anniversay of Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann's discovery of the mind-blowing effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, better known as LSD. </p><p>On that date in 1943, Hofman was continuing ongoing work on a migraine medicine made from a fungus when he accidentally discovered the psychelic substance. After accidentally exposing himself to it and feeling odd effects, he intentionally dosed himself with what he thought would be a negligible amount (250 micrograms) of LSD-25 and unwittingly ushered in a new era. </p><p>"Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh," Hofman reported in his lab notes. </p><p>Although early in the experience, that would be his last lab entry of the day. Overcome by the drug, Hofman asked his assistant to help him home. Because no cars were available due to war-time shortages, the pioneering chemist made his way via bicycle, tripping brains all the way and altering the course of human history. Thus, Bicycle Day. </p><p>The video below, a joint production of the American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Services, describes the chemical pre-history of the experimentation that led to the Psychelic Age, Hofmann's central role, and the vicissitudes of psychedelic research after LSD escaped from the lab to the masses. As the video notes, after decades of delay, psychedelic research is on the ascendant again. </p><p>Enjoy, and remember Dr. Hofman, a man whose work changed the world:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/L32mAiLXnLs" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1075637'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075637" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 08:03:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1075637 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Video lsd psychedelics Albert Hofmann Chemistry depression 8 Country Music Cannabis Classics https://www.alternet.org/drugs/8-country-music-cannabis-classics <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1075213'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075213" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We&#039;ve come a long way from &quot;We don&#039;t smoke marijuana in Muskogee.&quot; Just ask Merle Haggard.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/merle_haggard_in_1971.jpg?itok=zvwZf6l2" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>When we think about marijuana and music, we think of hippies and 1960s rock 'n' roll, or perhaps, blunt-puffing rappers and hip hop artists, or maybe even reggae musicians—not country-and-western artists.</p><p>But there is a surprisingly long history of reefer-related C&amp;W songs, and even more surprisingly, there were a lot of favorable ones even back in the days when country music was the stuff of flag-waving, hippie-hating, retro Americanism. Of course, back then, most of these tunes weren't the stuff of mainstream country—that poppish stuff coming out of Nashville then and now—but of performers on the fringes, whether counterculture-influenced country rockers or more folksy songwriters, but they fit well within the country canon.</p><p>The late country giant Merle Haggard bookends this list, and with good reason. His "Okie from Muskogee" was straight America's angry response to long-haired, dope-smoking hippies and a signal moment in the culture wars we're still fighting to this day. But times change, and so did Haggard, coming to openly embrace the virtues of weed, just as country music in general has come to terms with it.</p><p>All right, fire up the bong, clear the wax out of your ears and take a listen to these country cannabis classics.</p><p><strong>1. "Okie From Muskogee," Merle Haggard (1969)</strong></p><p><em>We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee,</em></p><p><em>We don't take our trips on LSD,</em></p><p><em>We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street,</em></p><p><em>Because we like living right and being free.</em></p><p>Meet the original culture warrior. Haggard had a monster hit with this hippie- and counterculture-bashing ode to traditional American values. The Hag said he wrote the song after becoming disheartened watching anti-Vietnam War protests, but he also he considered it to be a humorous spoof. That didn't stop it from becoming an enduring redneck anthem. But oddly enough, "Okie from Muskogee" also became a favorite of some decidedly counterculture musicians, being covered by the Grateful Dead, Phil Ochs, the Flaming Lips, the String Cheese Incident, and Hank Williams III with the Melvins, among others. While Merle claimed he didn't smoke marijuana, he had run-ins with a few other substances, most notably <a href="http://www.gq.com/story/merle-haggard-profile-chris-heath">alcohol and cocaine</a>. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/68cbjlLFl4U" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>2. "Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues," Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (1971)</strong></p><p><em>My dog died just yesterday, left me all alone.</em></p><p><em>The finance company came by today and repossessed my home,</em></p><p><em>That's just a drop in the bucket compared to losing you.</em></p><p><em>I'm down to seeds and stems again, too.</em></p><p>Arguably the finest and tightest bar band <em>ever</em>, the Commander (George Frayne) and the boys knew how to churn out crying-in-your-beer corn-pone tearjerkers in the finest country tradition even as they subverted their subject matter, and this is the classic example. The Commander's tinkling piano, the band's wailing fiddle and pedal steel and high lonesome harmonica provide the perfect musical accompaniment to this sad tale of woe and vocalist (and guitarist) Bill Kirchen's keening lament: "Everybody tells me there's other ways to get high, but they don't seem to understand I'm too far gone to try," he moans pitifully. The Lost Planet Airmen were not exactly country, growing out of the ferment of late '60s rock, but they incorporated elements of country, Western swing, rockabilly, and boogie-woogie in their only partly ironic homage to American musical traditions. As the Commander once said introducing the band, "On my left in every way, from Honolulu, Hawaii, the Reefaires, and on my right in every way, from Nashville, Tennessee, the sons of the rednecks." It was an intoxicating mix. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ydD2qMfAwEs" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>3. "Wildwood Weed," Jim Stafford (1974)</strong></p><p><em>Now, smoking them wildwood flowers got to be a habit.</em></p><p><em>We never seen no harm.</em></p><p><em>We thought it was kinda handy</em></p><p><em>Taking a trip and never even leaving the farm.</em></p><p>Composer, comedian, and country and pop performer Stafford hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his reeferized reworking of the mid-19th-century folk song "Wildwood Flower," this time drolly extolling the virtues of a certain weed and getting over on the G-men. The music is more folky than country, but it did make it to #57 on the country charts.</p><p>  <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I28sQls3R9A" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>4. "I'll Fix Your Flat Tire, Merle," Pure Prairie League (1975)</strong></p><p><em>I heard all those records you did,</em></p><p><em>Making fun of us long -haired kids</em></p><p><em>And now you know we don't care what you think</em></p><p><em>Merle, if you're gonna call the world your home,</em></p><p><em>You know you're gonna have to go out and get stoned,</em></p><p><em>And it's better with a joint than with a drink.</em></p><p><em>I think.</em></p><p>These Ohio-based country rockers were really hitting their stride by the time they released <em>Two Lane Highway,</em> their third album, which features this good-hearted jab at Haggard for his late-'60s anti-hippy tunes. This jaunty stomper features hot fiddling and tasty pedal steel work, as well as the band's good-humored entreaties to the country icon, so that egregious rhyming of "Merle" and "oil" can maybe be forgiven.  </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Yhpq2oDPT9w" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>5. "Copperhead Road," Steve Earle (1988)</strong></p><p><em>I volunteered for the Army on my birthday</em><br /><em>They draft the white trash first, 'round here anyway<br />I done two tours of duty in Vietnam<br />And I came home with a brand new plan<br />I take the seed from Colombia and Mexico<br />I plant it up the holler down Copperhead Road<br />Well the D.E.A.'s got a chopper in the air<br />I wake up screaming like I'm back over there<br />I learned a thing or two from ol' Charlie don't you know<br />You better stay away from Copperhead Road</em></p><p>The Texas-based troubadour and chronicler of gritty Americana hit it big with "Copperhead Road," his country-rock tale of a Tennessee mountain clan with a history of bootlegging moonshine and a son back from Vietnam who adds a new twist to the family tradition. And he doesn't like the DEA much, either. The eponymously named album did even better than the single, breaking the Top 10 in both the country and rock charts and earning Earle the first of his three Grammies. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xvaEJzoaYZk" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>6. "Smoke a Little Smoke," Eric Church (2009)</strong></p><p><em>Dig down deep, find my stash.</em></p><p><em>Light it up, memory crash.</em></p><p>Contemporary country troubadour Eric Church's many hits are all about chasing women, drinking Jack Daniels and smoking fine weed, and he's crafted a huge following with his good-time tales. He hit it big in 2009 with this one, whose title is pretty self-explanatory. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="352" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XxWjtWONuGc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>7. "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," Willie Nelson (2012)</strong></p><p><em>Roll me up and smoke me when I die</em></p><p><em>And if anyone don’t like it, just look 'em in the eye</em></p><p><em>I didn’t come here, and I ain’t leavin'</em></p><p><em>So don’t sit around and cry</em></p><p><em>Just roll me up and smoke me when I die.</em></p><p>If there's anybody more marijuana <em>and</em> country music than the Red Headed Stranger, we haven't met him. Willie Nelson has been happily puffing away for decades, with pot busts no more than road bumps in his transcendent career, and now he's got his own marijuana company, too. This little ditty makes abundantly clear just how he feels about the weed. And he released it on 4/20.</p><p>.<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="352" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kn-AB78kvvE" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>8. "It's All Going to Pot," Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (2015)</strong></p><p><em>All the whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee, don't hit the spot</em></p><p><em>I got a hundred dollar bill, you can keep your pills, it's all going to pot.</em></p><p>And the wheel turns. Nearly a half-century after "Okie from Muskogee," the Hag teams up with the Red Headed Stranger to sing the virtues of the demon weed. The video shows Merle and Willie hitting the joint as they lay down tracks and signals the attitudinal changes afoot in the land as the original country redneck extols cannabis consumption. Somebody must have fixed his flat tire—and his attitude.  </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="352" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A6c6eUeoa9Q" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1075213'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075213" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:44:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1075213 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Culture Drugs Video country music marijuana cannabis Merle Haggard willie nelson steve earle commander cody jim stafford eric church pure prairie league For 4/20, Peter Tosh's 'Legalize It' Rides Again https://www.alternet.org/drugs/420-peter-tosh-legalize-it-rides-again <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1075127'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075127" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The most classic marijuana legalization anthem ever is getting a makeover.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/peter_tosh_youtube.jpg?itok=pO-aWDfz" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Back in 1976, Jamaican reggae superstar Peter Tosh released the hit song "Legalize It" from his sizzling album of the same name, setting ganja-lovers the world over ablaze with its insistent rhythms and forthright call to free the weed. Ever since, the tune has been a rallying cry for the global Cannabis Nation, providing the soundtrack to hazy dorm room bull sessions and blaring from festival loudspeakers and from Seattle to Sao Paulo, London to Lusaka, Amsterdam to Addis Ababa.</p><p>Along with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingstone, Tosh formed the Wailers, the band that put reggae and the island's reefer-centric Rastafarian culture on the global pop culture map. But he left the band in 1974, striking out on his own and shortly releasing the platinum-selling "Legalize It."</p><p>Tosh wrote "Legalize It" as a response to his ongoing victimization by Jamaican police, and his sense of resistance to victimization and a call for righteousness reverberated wherever pot people were oppressed—which was pretty much everywhere. But the song was not just a complaint; it was a call to political action, to do literally what its title called for.</p><p>Now, 40 years after its initial release, with global attitudes toward weed having undergone a sea change, the Peter Tosh estate is releasing a remix of the classic canticle on International Peter Tosh Day, which it has set for—when else?—April 20.</p><p>The <a href="http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20170402/big-names-onboard-legalize-it-remake-part-celebrating-intl-peter-tosh"><em>Jamaica Gleaner</em> reports</a> that the remix project is a collaboration among Jamaican and international artists representing various genres, including Melissa Etheridge, Fishbone's Angelo Moore, Tommy Chong, Denroy Morgan, Roots of Creation's Brett, Marlon the Ganja Farmer, Dre Tosh, and Tosh 1, among others. Chris 'C Rod' Rodriguez is producing the initial version, with alternative versions remixed by other guest producers later.</p><p>"Tosh fans and music lovers have come to realise that Peter's bold stance was one of the first real calls to action for the legalization of ganja," Brian Latture, manager of the Peter Tosh estate and Peter Tosh 420, told the <em>Gleaner</em>. "And with Peter's dream now becoming a reality in many parts of the world, he has continued to be seen as one of the first real champions of this movement."</p><p>Tosh's social vision wasn't limited to marijuana. As <a href="http://petertosh.com/" target="_blank">Peter Tosh.com</a> succinctly puts it, "Among the causes about which he spoke most eloquently and campaigned most tirelessly: the peril of nuclear weapons, the injustice of Apartheid…and the benefits of legalizing herb." He was also a vocal critic of human rights violations by the Jamaican government who "frequently put himself in danger as a result of his activism—especially his constant needling of Jamaica’s rulers."</p><p>Tosh was gunned down in in a still-controversial "home invasion robbery" in Kingston on September 11, 1987, and was awarded a posthumous Grammy the following year for his album <em>No Nuclear War</em>.</p><p>They could kill the man, but not his ideas or his music. As you commemorate 4/20, spare a moment to remember Peter Tosh and check out the remixes. They do have a tough act to follow, though:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6cIePqdz03A" width="560"></iframe></p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1075127'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075127" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 13 Apr 2017 23:25:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1075127 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Culture Drugs Video Peter Tosh legalize it 4/20 marijuana ganja Bob Marley bunny livingstone wailers Senate Drug Warriors' False Claims Pave Way for Dangerous Bill https://www.alternet.org/drugs/senate-drug-warriors-false-claims-pave-way-dangerous-bill <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1075369'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075369" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley want to save kids from mythical drug menaces, but real people will get hurt.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ravestyle7_145837219.jpg?itok=rv9m6g37" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The two octogenarian senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are up to one of their favorite pastimes again this year. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have reintroduced a perennial bill that would increase penalties for drug dealers who sell products designed to entice children.</p><p>If the bill becomes law, anyone who knows or has "reasonable cause to believe" that a "modified controlled substance would be distributed to a minor" will be looking at a 10- to 20-year prison <a href="https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=AF949BEF-129A-4210-9DFE-DB7300280CBA" target="_blank">sentence</a>.</p><p>But SB 739, the <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/739/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22feinstein+grassley%22%5D%7D&amp;r=1" target="_blank">Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act of 2017</a>, is seemingly justified more by urban myth than by fact, and critics say it's both unnecessary and more likely to be used against real-life sellers of marijuana edibles than mythical dealers of strawberry-flavored meth.</p><p>"There are many instances of drug dealers altering flavor and packaging of cocaine or methamphetamines to appeal to children," <a href="https://twitter.com/SenFeinstein/status/847552114075340800" target="_blank">Feinstein tweeted</a> as the bill rolled out late last month.</p><p>"Law enforcement reports that drug dealers frequently combine drugs with chocolate or fruit flavors or package the drugs to look like candy or soda to attract youth," the senators claimed in a <a href="http://www.drugcaucus.senate.gov/content/grassley-feinstein-bill-combats-candy-and-fruit-flavored-drugs-marketed-children">joint statement</a>. "For example, there are reports of candy bracelets containing ecstasy; gummy bears laced with Xanax; and candy laced with THC." </p><p>"Cynical criminals take advantage of drug trends in the general population to market dangerous illicit drugs specifically to kids," Grassley added in a <a href="https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=AF949BEF-129A-4210-9DFE-DB7300280CBA">separate press release</a>. "It could be marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine or something else. The criminals are innovative, and the law should keep up with them. Federal law should make crystal clear that marketing potentially lethal drugs to kids will have steep consequences."</p><p>Feinstein and Grassley have unsuccessfully filed the bill three times before; the problem is that the crisis they wish to solve largely doesn't exist.</p><p>The first time around, they were inspired by media reports of strawberry-flavored meth, but those have been <a href="https://www.thefix.com/candy-flavored-drugs-myth-making-rounds-again">roundly debunked</a> as myths. Some of their other claims are even more ludicrous. "Gummy bears laced with Xanax" seem only to be found on the furthest fringes of the web (a Reddit user subforum, to be precise) dedicated to bored drug hobbyists with too much time on their hands.</p><p>The "candy bracelets containing ecstasy" claim appears to be based on a misreading of raver culture percolated through a concerned parents group.</p><p>"People (especially at raves) have started wearing bracelets lined with ecstasy as opposed to the old candy bracelets kids used to wear," warned a group called <a href="https://www.carefulparents.com/ecstasy-bracelets">Careful Parents</a>. "Much like the candy bracelets of old, people can eat the drug right off the bracelets. Google images of these bracelets for a better idea of what they look like and be on the lookout if your kids like to go to raves."</p><p>That warning was based on a 10-year-old <a href="http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20060402&amp;slug=garfield">story</a> about rave culture in the <em>Seattle Times. </em>The story indeed mentioned bracelets and ecstasy and "candy kisses" (the sharing of beaded bracelets), but did not claim that the bracelets were made of ecstasy. Wearing colorful bracelets is part of raver culture, but ecstasy bracelets are a myth based on misunderstanding.</p><p>The idea of drug dealers peddling candy-flavored drugs to kids may be an old bugaboo, but it just doesn't make much economic sense, said Sanho Tree, director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.</p><p>"Those are not popular commodities to sell to children," he told <a href="http://www.attn.com/stories/16079/senator-dianne-feinsteins-claims-about-flavored-drugs-dangerous">ATTN</a>. "Why risk already severe penalties for some kid's lunch money?"</p><p>"This reminds me of the horror stories that you hear every Halloween—where you have people handing out these infused products to children," Daniel Shortt, an attorney who focuses on cannabis law at the firm Harris Bricken, told ATTN. "There's really no data supporting that that happens."</p><p>While candy-flavored meth or ecstasy bracelets are mythical, marijuana edibles and beverages are not. They are sold legally under state laws in medical and adult legal marijuana states, but the text of the bill could certainly be interpreted as targeting them as well. It specifies that it would apply to people who sell federally illegal drugs to minors that are:</p><ul><li>Combined with a beverage or candy product,</li><li>Marketed or packaged to appear similar to a beverage or candy product, or</li><li>Modified by flavoring or coloring to appear similar to a candy or beverage product.</li></ul><p>"That's broad," Shortt said. "I worry about how that could applied to marijuana-infused edibles."</p><p>Edibles are often infused in candies, cookies and chocolates and in brightly packaged beverages. Mythical strawberry-flavored meth dealers aren't likely to be caught up if this bill ever passes, but people selling pot brownies, in the black market or in the legal pot shop, who sell to minors, either knowingly or inadvertently, are.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1075369'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1075369" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 22:56:00 -0700 Phillip Smith, AlterNet 1075369 at https://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics dianne feinstein chuck grassley strawberry flavored meth marijuana marijuana edibles xanax gummy bears ecstasy bracelets